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* Carolyn Crane: Author Override | UTC Review
* J.T. Geissinger: Interview | UTC Review
* Men and Women of the Military Giveaway Hop
* Keri Arthur: Interview | UTC Reviews

Friday, 18 May 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Jim Frangione

We are so excited today at Under the Covers to be able to bring you an exclusive.  As some of you probably already know we love audiobooks.  One of our all time FAVORITE narrators is Jim Frangione.  He narrates the wonderful Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward, as well as the Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor series by Lori Foster, among other books.  Today he's here with us doing his first blog interview ever (yeah, we popped his cherry) so please help us give him a warm welcome to UTC.

Who is Jim Frangione? Tell us five interesting things about yourself that readers would not know about you.

I love to cook! I got into vegetarian cooking a few years back. I’ll eat chicken and fish but generally try to limit my amounts of meat. But a tofu stir-fry with greens? Get out! The trick is to marinate the tofu after dry-frying it to imbue it w/some different, unique flavors. I make a mean kale and squash and ginger combo that’ll get your engine going. I’m also a huge ice hockey fan. Yes, an odd combination (tofu and hockey) but it’s true. I played hockey through college and beyond and vent my need for fisticuffs (a la Vicious & Wrath?) vicariously thru my HDTV. What else? I’ve been getting into gardening lately and am fascinated with hummingbird-attracting bushes and plants. I have a few beautiful butterfly bushes (Buddleia Davidii) with more to arrive this summer. But let’s not forget bee balm, black-eyed susans and ox-eye sunflowers. When I’m narrating the BDB Series I’m in a studio in New York City near Union Square but spend as much time as possible in the country north of the city in the area where the three states (CT, MA & NY) meet… a magnificent part of god’s green earth and in the early stages of summer as the seasons change, one of the most colorful and aromatic places you can imagine. Why is it that the olfactory sense (smell) is one of the most powerful and erotic senses we have? Don’t you just love the smell of earthly things? Lastly, I have five sisters! I’m from a big Irish/Italian family; lots of drinking, fighting and laughing growing up. I’m close with all 5 of the girls and see them (and their kids) as much as I can. One of my sisters is also an actor and was a soap opera star many years ago. Prior to that she found herself on Broadway at the early age of 21, buck naked in the play Equus… doing the soap during the day then going to the theater at night. She’s raising a family and out of the biz.

How did you get into narrating?

I am a character actor and have always been interested in dialects and character voices. I started out (still am) a theater and film actor and worked for many years in several of the plays and films of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer/director David Mamet. But I had always been interested in working in the audiobook industry. Years ago, I remember writing to the producer at Recorded Books in New York where we record the series and asking her for an audition. She brought me in and gave me some copy to read. It was a globe-trotting crime thriller with lots of diverse characters, including a Jamaican thug and a few Russian mobsters. I got the gig and that was the beginning of my career as a narrator. She hired me for that particular book which led to many more. Then, some years ago I was brought in for an audition sample for the BDB Series. It may have gone to JR Ward for a final decision, but I’m not really sure. I got the gig and the rest, as they say, is history. I love narrating, and I really enjoy the BDB Series with all its different storylines. The most crucial part is delineating the different voices of The Brothers so that You (the audience) can tell who is speaking. The guys have such similar physical attributes and the narrator has to look for traits that will in some small way distinguish the characters from each other. For instance, Butch is from Boston so I give him a bit of Beantown (Oh yaa, wickid) flourish to set him apart. Wrath has a bit more vocal gravitas. But when it comes to narrating a series like the BDB, the key is “Less is More”. Nobody wants to hear a narrator “over-acting”. Agreed?

How long does it usually take to narrate a book and are there a lot of outtakes?

With the BDB Series, because the books are pretty hefty, I usually allow myself at least two full weeks, give or take, to get it in the can, spending anywhere between 4 and 6 hours a day in the studio. If the engineer and narrator are working well together things move in sync and the flow of the book is seamless. ​

You have put a voice to many great reads, but today we're going to focus a little more on some of the romance titles you have narrated. As a male narrating a romance book, was there any hesitation when deciding to take on these jobs? 

At first, the sex scenes in the BDB were a bit overwhelming. Let’s face it they ARE pretty graphic at times. And vey highly charged. What I found was that I didn’t want to do it if I wasn’t going to dive in and give a full-throated performance. I’ve embraced the erotic elements of the stories, the integral aspects of each storyline that the author intended, and I perform those parts with relish. I may have made an engineer or two blush on occasion, but hey in the final analysis I hope the story the author has written is being told honestly, truthfully and with all the passion it deserves.

Do you notice any similarities or differences when narrating a romance title and one that is of another genre?

I’ve done lots of thrillers and books from several other genres. Each requires a different type of preparation as well as execution. The BDB Series is unique and requires a certain approach that is much different than I would use in other books and other genres. For instance, I narrate a series called The Chet and Bernie Mysteries, by Spencer Quinn. These are really fun books but are geared toward a much different, much younger, demographic. I prepare for and attack those books with a much different voice in my head. But as a narrator, you have to bring your “A Game” to each book you perform. Once you think you can phone something in, you’re not giving the audience your full talents and the audio you hear will reflect that lack of passion. I usually have no trouble getting psyched up for a BDB Series book. JR Ward is a really good writer and I look forward to getting into the studio to tell her stories. Oh, those lovely, dangerous and sexy Vampires. And all that blood! And those pale, nasty Lessers… Lots of fun. 

Our readers may be most familiar with your work with J.R. Ward's books. You narrate the bestselling paranormal romance books, the Black Dagger Brotherhood. What do you do to get into character?

To be honest Angela, there is little I do to get into character with these BDB books. I just settle into the studio with my mug of green tea with a touch of lemon and maybe some honey and let ‘er rip. The series is a lot of fun to do and the characters are well drawn which precludes me from having to do too much prep. I read the book ahead of time, of course, to find the voices I’m looking for as well as the various characterizations.

Can you describe to us the process of narrating a book from the time you accept the job and the finish product? 

Generally, after I’ve been assigned the job by the producer and given the material, either in book or galley form, I go through it and do what we call “prep the book”, which means poring through it and marking up the text and even on occasion making different color notations to remind me to differentiate specific characters and perhaps particular vocal things about those characters. After I’ve finished with the narration, the book (in digital file form) goes to be proofed by the producer and then by the publisher. Someone will sit and listen to the entire book and take notes for accuracy and look for errors. At some point, usually a few weeks after the studio aspect, I’ll be called in to do what we call “retakes”, that is, fix any errors or words that didn’t come through properly, or any extraneous sounds that need to be re-voiced over. Or a mistake I’ve made reading the text. Yes, we all make mistakes on occasion and it’s a good thing when a proofer grabs it before it goes out. At that point, the audiobook goes into production and is readied for the market, either as a download-only audiobook, or the traditional way, with a jacket, etc and cd’s or tapes. Many books are download-only these days, which is where the market seems to be heading.

Do you receive input from authors on how to pronounce names and terms for a particular book?

I almost always put together a wordlist for the author to verify. Most times there will be words that are unfamiliar to me, especially in fantasy books where there is a pronunciation I’m not sure about. In those instances, I’ll submit my wordlist to the producer and then the research department will contact the author for verification on the pronunciation on certain words. When I arrive in the studio for my first day there is a phonetically spelled out wordlist waiting for me with the correct pronunciation for each word I’ve requested. This is very important, especially with character names and all the ancient historical references in the BDB Series. For those of you have actually read the books (but why would you when you can listen to them?) there are many words you might think would have multiple possible pronunciations. I take great pride in getting it right.

What has been your favorite book to narrate? Is there a book you enjoy that you would love to narrate?

Here’s the thing; because I narrate so many books, these days I find it increasingly difficult to just read for pleasure. When I go on vacation, I find myself reading a lot of news and periodicals. In addition, I have tons of reading to do in my other profession as an actor, director and playwright, that I guess I need to give my poor eyeballs a rest.

I narrate lots of individual books. Additionally, I’m a narrator for three different series of books, each with several volumes. Narrating a wide variety of books has allowed me a great opportunity to actually stretch myself, whether it’s crime fiction, mysteries or romance. What I’ve found is that it’s exciting to be exposed to different styles of literature. Ultimately, there is always something I can hang my hat on, that draws me into the story. But is there a book I’d like to narrate? I honestly haven’t found it… yet.

Any thoughts on BDB plot, characters, etc?

Well, the one thing I’m curious about is how JR Ward will continue, and perhaps resolve, the storyline of Blaylock, Qhuinn and Saxton. Beyond that, I probably shouldn’t talk too much. Wouldn’t want the residents of Caldwell NY on my trail…

Thank you so much for stopping by today Jim and taking the time to let us and our readers get to know the man behind the Brothers.

We have a special treat for you maidens!  We are going to be giving away any one of Jim's audiobooks via Audible.  This giveaway is open internationally.  To see a list of the audiobooks he has available to choose from, click here.

And on a good note, he told us he's finished recording A Perfect Storm by Lori Foster, so keep an eye for the audiobook of book four in the Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor coming soon.

To enter:

1. Be a follower
2. Leave a comment below (be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win)


Lupdilup said...

This is just AWESOME!! I'm colossal fan of your work, in fact, I consider you another character of BDB series. I love the way you bring this world to life, I love the way you truly got a hold of the characters, and how perfectly you deliver the urban feeling of the series.
To the girls at UTC "YOU GUYS ROCK"

Susan W. said...

I've listened to a few audio books at the middle school I work at and I find it hard to get into the book because their voice(s) are not how I hear the characters when I read and it can be annoying.

BUT I've heard nothing but good things about Jim's readings that I've been tempted to buy a BDB audio book just to hear him.

Thanks for the chance to win!


Delilah said...

I couldn't imagine anyone but Jim reading BDB. He does a wonderful job reading them.

Dionnek said...

I've never actually listened to an audio book, but would love to hear the BDB books read! Dying to know if I'm saying some of the words correctly and I want to hear Vishious speak!!!!!!!

fishgirl182 said...

what a fun interview. i am a fan of audiobooks but have never listened to one of the bdb on audio. tell the truth, i am a little wary or listening to romance books in audio. it just feels kinda personal. but i might give one of the brotherhood books a try cause jim sounds like a great narrator.

thanks for the giveaway!

twee66 at gmail dot com

debi01760 said...

Oh I would love to have a guy with a sexy voice read to me ;)
Debi Anne

CatsMeow said...

that was a great interview. gotta love them brothers. i listen to audiobooks at work everyday. :-)

DyslexicSquirrel said...

I've been getting into audiobooks a lot more lately and I LOVE the BDB. Awesome interview!

Kassandra said...

I have not listen to an audiobook is quite a while but I remember sinking into a good voice when I did. Glad to see that you enjoy your work ;)


Sue Sattler said...

I just listened to a sample of Lover Reborn on audio and now I want it. Thank you so much for a chance to win it.


Nikki said...

I haven't listened to audios in years! ( too distracted) But this was an amazing interview, and I just might need to go listen to BDB in audio :)

Thanks for sharing this interview. I'm so glad I stopped by. Interesting to hear how some of the process goes into this.

LeighAnna Thomas said...

If I'm in the car, I have my earbuds in listening to a book. Thanks for the Fab interview, Jim. It's fun to hear from the real you. :)


Under the Covers said...

Thanks for passing by ladies. Jim is one of the best Narrators out there. BDB audiobooks are my fave and can listen to them over and over and over....=)
If you haven't already, it's worth the try. I just don't advise to listen to the smexy scenes while driving can be dangerous.

Jim was nice enough to take the time to chat to us. Not to mention our intro vid, that I must've listened to just a few time on my phone.....slowing down the part, Annngeeela. *giggling*
Thanks Jim!!!


susan317 said...

These books sound interesting-!Would love to win an audiobook.

DiDi said...

This is sooo cool!!! I haven't used audio books yet, looks like I know what series to start with =)

Gale Nelson said...

wow awesome thanks for this great giveaway Gale

Lisa Cox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allison W said...

So I have yet to read the BDB books but hear they're great. An audio book could be an awesome way to read them!

Lisa Cox said...

I haven't listened to many audio books. I have trouble getting into the book. It could be the narrator(s) are too monotone on the ones I have tried.
I'd love to try out one of Jim's BDB audiobooks.
Thanks for the chance.


books4me said...

Love audiobooks when we are traveling, which we do more in the summer with school out. The teen watches videos and hubby and I listen to audio books...we both LOVE BDB series! Would be a great win for summer traveling!

GFC: books4me

books4me67 at ymail dot com

barbara said...

Fun interview! I haven't listened to any audiobooks but seems I truly need to. Would love to start with BDB and Jim. :)

Thanks for the giveaway!

bimmergrlmd at gmail dot com

msmjb65 said...

Great interview! I've never listened to an audiobook so this would be a really cool win. I'm a follower by email:
msmjb65 AT gmail DOT


Sophia Rose said...

What a great idea for an interview! I've always wondered about audio book readers and how that works. Good questions and I really enjoyed seeing the answers.

Thanks for the unique interview!

SdyLion said...

This was a great interview. I love the series you do the books for and it was great to hear them come to life. sdylion(at)gmail(dot)com

Shonna said...

Truly enjoyed this interview. Thank you for doing it Jim!!! A while back I was stopped at a light while listening to my audio. The weather was nice so I had my windows down. (You know where this is going don’t you) Well,..... it gets to a very sexual encounter that is (bag over my head) graphic. Out of the corner of my eye I can see the people in the car next to me all looking my way as they had their windows down also. All I could think was,PLEASE TURN GREEN, PLEASE TURN GREEN!!! That was the longest light I have ever sat at in my entire life!!!

Shonna said...

Gee, got so embarrassed telling my story I forgot to add my email

Jim Frangione said...

Thanks for all your great comments ladies. Glad there have been no motor vehicle accidents while listening. :) Jim

C.S. Maxwell said...

I so enjoy reading more than listenting to a book--But, hands down, Jim is one that I LURVE to listen to...and he is great at what he does. I have to make sure I have the windows rolled up in my car while listening to the BDB, especially the smexy times--which HAS caught me off guard a time or two. I received some pretty comical looks through the drive-thru when listening to Jim as "John Matthew" masterbating just shortly after his turning...

C.S. Maxwell said...

GAH----forgot to leave an email, my bad. And yes, glad that I haven't had any casualties while driving Jim. I have had to pull over though at least once, lol.

I follow as CS Maxwell

Helpet said...

Thanks for the giveaway. Have never read an audio book. Would love to have a try.


Jim Frangione said...

Just a quick note to to all the ladies of UTC bookblog to say thanks for breaking my blog interview cherry and for being so nice. I'm truly flattered by all the wonderful compliments. And of course, thanks to the lovely Angela for asking me aboard!

JoAnna said...

I have Revenge's story on CD. It was great! Thanks for the giveaway!

beckerjo at verizon dot net

Under the Covers said...

Awww, thanks Jim!!! *blushing*
Our Pleasure to pop that cherry!
Plus it was way over due! Fans needed to meet you!

C. S. -I was like that with Wrath. I mean. All if them.
Shona- LMAO.
Loupe- so do you babe!


Hollyjoy said...

I have never listened to an audio book, but I think I'll try now! Great give away!!

Harlie Reader said...

I will be honest here and I've never listened to a book on "tape". My mom does all the time. For her, she can do other things while the book is being read to her.

Great interview.

BTW, since you are a hockey fan...who is your favorite team? For me, the Dallas Stars (where I live) or the Chicago Blackhawks.


Bailey said...

Love the BDB and Jim's narration. I've read all the books and listened to them as well. Now when I go back and re-read a book that I've listened to already, I find myself hearing Jim's voice as the characters talk.

Cassie said...

I've only listened to one book on tape but I really enjoyed it. I love to read but listening to it on tape is just so relaxing.

Cassie said...

I've only listened to one book on tape but I really enjoyed it. I love to read but listening to it on tape is just so relaxing.

Julie Witt said...

I absolutely LOVE listening to audiobooks so this is a really cool giveaway!! Thanks so much! I haven't had the pleasure of listening to any of Jim's work but I'm really looking forward to it :)

jwitt33 at live dot com

Barbara said...

FAB interview!! I've never listened to an audiobook...but what a GREAT way to share my love for the BDB with my hubs! I talk about the books with him all the time...but can't get him to pick one up to read it to save either of us...however, I bet he'd LISTEN to one on the way to/from work!! You've got me thinkin'! Thx for the giveaway op.....and gift idea!! :)

barbbattaglia @ yahoo.com

Kanya said...

Very interesting interview! I listened to my very first audiobook on friday and I really liked it! I'd love to win one of Jim's audiobook!
Thanks for the chance to win!
Kanya :)
GFC: Kanya Chhet

Timitra said...

Wow! I had no idea so many things go into the making of audiobooks...very interesting and informative interview-thanks for posting!


Leagh Christensen said...

This is amazing! I am just starting with the BDB and have only listened to them. I love the way they are narrated and can't wait to get through the rest of them. Thanks UTC for a great interview =)

winnie said...

Great interview! I'm not a big fan of audiobooks in general but now I'm intrigued to give the BDB audiobooks a try.


Taryn @MySecretRomance said...

Fantastic interview! I never knew so much went into an audio book. I have all the BDB ones and now I want to go back and listen to them.

I loved the questions and answers and how indepth they are. Well done!

Proserpine said...

Awesome, I love the little intro! It's nice to put a face on this nice voice!!! That's a great (idea) giveaway! I would love to hear a book from Mr. Frangione! Thanks for this chance!


CC said...

Thank you to UTC and Ms. Angela for popping Jim Frangione's cherry. I have never listened to BDB audio books but after this interview, I will have to try listening to it in order to hear the Brothers speak and actually find out if I'm saying the words correctly. Just hearing him introduce the interview gave me goose bumps. Fantastic interview!!!

andieleah said...

I've been thinking of getting into audio books...I'm in the car 2 hrs a day. Great interview...I really wanna hear the Brothers come to life!!!!


Darlene said...

This was a fantastic interview! I've listened to the BDB series on audiobook from the beginning (own them all), and I've always gushed in my reviews about how wonderful Jim Frangione is!

You're right, Jim: The sex scenes in the BDB series are pretty graphic, and I think you bring the right amount of passion. I've often wondered whether the narrator gets as worked up as the listener!

Of all the different voices you use in the BDB series, your Fritz voice is my favourite!

Thanks to UTC for the chance to get to know Jim better!!