Narrator Spotlight – Sean Crisden

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Sean Crisden is a multitalented actor and a multiple AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator who has recorded well over 150 audiobooks in almost every genre, from science fiction to romance. He has also voiced characters in numerous video games, such as the award-winning ShadowGun and Kingdom Rush, and appeared in many commercials and films, including The Last Airbender. A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sean now resides just outside Phoenix, Arizona.
Here is a list of the Highlights of his work. Check out a full listing on Audible
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/crisden
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seancrisden
Website: http://www.seancrisden.com

 

1 – How did you get involved in recording audiobooks?
Ah, are you sure you have the time for such a long and boring yarn? I can spin it with aliens and international spy intrigue if you like to actually make it interesting, maybe? Oh well, I warned you.
By day I was working in international espionage and awesomeness corporate middle management and watching my soul, which is creative in nature, simply wither and die a long, slow death. By night I was playing guitar and singing in the now defunct rock band “Divided Sky” which lasted almost ten years. I may actually rekindle my efforts at becoming a not-so Rock God at some point in the future as the bug has bitten me again. I’ll probably have to rename the band “Old Codgers Can Have Dreams, Too” and leave it at that.  Anywho, every so often after a gig I would be approached by unknowing folks who complimented my voice and would occasionally offer me something called a “voice over job”. It took me a long time to realize that VO was actually my vocational calling and I plodded away for a bit more in my office and dreams of trashing hotel rooms in a drug-fueled frenzy. Well, just to avoid confusion I guess I should mention that I’m actually not a drug user of any sort (I rarely even drink, and when I do it’s nothing other than my fav lil’ pinky-out mixed drinks that taste like fruit juice). Yet, I digress…
Where was I? Guitar rock antics and withered soul? Check. I sort of fell in to having my mug in a few commercials and films and somehow fancied myself as an actor. “I am a thespian, good sir!” I would prance around saying in my haughtiest British accent. However, I realized that I was much to lazy for early call times or that memorization stuff. Now let me see, where can I not bother to memorize everything, make funny voices and sit in a dark box by myself for the bulk of the day? There just must be a career out there for me that for me that involves all of that and eschews the use of a straight jacket.
Eventually I realized that there was a career path for me and I was already well suited for it. Being a musician and singer had given me the vocal training, audio wizardry and high tolerance for abuse and disappointment that made pursuing a career as a voice talent a piece of cake! Or pie, I do much rather prefer pie. Apple pie, double crusted, with vanilla ice cream. Mmmmmmmm.
So put all of my wits and charm into that and within a month of that decision had my first paying gig, which was narrating a m/m romance audiobook. This lead to the discovery that I really, really enjoyed narrating.  Apparently, some other folks shared that opinion and that brings us to today. You see, each and every time I picture myself sitting in a large recliner in front of a gently roaring fireplace, weaving a yarn about…aliens and international spy espionage and…lube? Well, something like that.  
2 – What is your favorite thing about recording books?
Bringing a story to life for a listener is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Those of you who are parents may very experience and share this joy at bedtime with your children. Or you may simply hate re-reading the same insipid book for the millionth time to disgustingly excited cheers of “Again! Again!” at its conclusion. Hey, I won’t judge you.  
3 – Do you have a favorite genre or author to record?
I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite genre per se. I do believe I’ve done more romance (and by romance I mean steamy, don’t let your mother or any decent person see you reading that erotica-smut-o-filth) than any other genre but that just may be where I’m favored. What I truly like best is a well written tale in any genre that reeks of confident, competent description and finely crafted prose from the mind/lips/fingertips of a truly talented author. Bringing such texts to life in a narration performance is truly a delight. It leads me jump up and down in my jammies and shout “Again! Again!” in the booth when I’m done.
4 – What do you think is the most important part of the recording?
Having the correct narrator matched to the correct story. I sadly admit that I am not the narrator for all stories, nor are all stories for me to narrate.  I have a great niche and I know where both I feel most vibrant and where listeners find me most pleasing, for the most part. I’ve done a few books here and there that I probably shouldn’t have but who’s counting?
5 – Do you have a narration superpower? Awesome accents, infusing emotion, super-fast read? What is your best trick?
Best trick? Well, I have this thing I that do with my tongue…er…for NARRATION! Yes, that’s it!
In all seriousness, I’m a master at the cold read. I was always quite decent at it even as a child and now I’ve come close to perfecting it. I do it often for scripts and eLearning gigs and it has extended into my audiobook narration. I have so many books in my queue these days that I actually have a prepper read the book and create a poor man’s “Cliff’s Notes” version for me with full summaries, character descriptions and breakdowns. I read that before starting the book, wrap my head around it and make a few notes and choices and then just dive into the narration. Some of my peers in the industry either frown at me or marvel at my ability (and witless willingness) to do this.
6 – What was your favorite book to read so far? And why?
I always love this question. I have a ton of favorites for various reasons. For some it’s the story, for others the character, for yet others it is the delightful tone in which the entire tale is told. However, my instant standout would be “Freeman” by Leonard Pitts Jr. The power and emotion of that love story, set in the uncertain times of the post-war south, is not to be missed.
7 – What was your most challenging read? What made it so difficult?
That falls into two very distinct categories. The first is a book that challenges me technically, meaning that there are dozens of characters to keep track of, ca multitude of accents or the book itself is a megajillion (scientific estimate) pages long. The second would be a book that goes nowhere, has utterly unbelievable characters or character actions or just appears to have been written by a very gifted everyday chicken. Sure it’s amazing that the chicken can peck on a keyboard and form the semblance of sentences, characters and a story of sorts but I’m unimpressed with the grammar, vision, mood and competence of the writing. That’s a clucking shame.  Of course, either way I will refrain from naming names. What? Who are you calling chicken?
8 – Is there a book out there that you desperately want to do the narration for?
Not really. I know, what a lame answer. It sucks any literary pedigree right out of most perceptions of   me. I do read and have my favorites but none that I would find myself particularly adept at narrating. Sometimes I think of narrating one of my favorite books as a child which was “Bunnicula” yet I don’t know how well I would do there. Most of my pleasure reading these days involves simply the back of shampoo bottles and the like,  which is curious as I have no hair.
9 – Do you have a ritual or routine when you are recording a book?
I actually don’t. It’s what I do every day so I just get my booty in the booth and have fun as part of my routine. That is, unless you count the turning in a counter-clockwise circle three times on one foot while creepily chanting the “Hokey Pokey” in front of my sacrificial narration alter made from the skulls of my vanquished enemies before I start to be classified as a ritual or routine? Nah, nobody counts that.
10 – What is a fun fact people might not know about you?
Hmm…perhaps about the fact that I was a nerd before it became cool in pop culture to be so. I was called a nerd when it meant you were smart, geeky, played D&D and video games, watched Nova on PBS, played the violin, loved both Star Wars and Star Trek, was in the chess club, had a rather prodigious vocabulary, passed tests in school without studying and was mercilessly made fun of for all it. Now being a nerd is trendy and every hip, wannabe chaotic-neutral nerfherder wants in on the action. Well the original nerds bled for you guys! I know, I know, you look at the suave, cool and sophisticated Kermit the Frog pajamas-clad man-child before you and wonder how it could be true that I was (and still am) a nerd. It’s ok.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I spend my distinguished days alone making funny voices and telling long stories to myself even when I’m not hard at play as a voice talent that threw you off?

 

 

2 Lucky Winners gets their choice of Sean’s reads on Audible!

1) K. BookLuver

2) Cyndi

39 Responses

  1. Ardent Ereader says:

    Hi Sean, I enjoyed your interview and I am impressed that you can do cold reads! I look forward to listening to your audio books. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. mlsimmons says:

    I’ve listened to Sean narrate the few Cut & Run books that he has done. I really wish that Abigail Roux, or whoever the powers that be, will someday allow Sean to finish the series on audio. I need to check out some of his other books.

  3. The Cut & Run series is one of my favorites. Hopefully we will hear my gums flapping soon for the further adventures of Ty and Zane. As for the cold reads, it’s how I stay cool here in the desert of Arizona. Ah, terrible jokes how I love thee…

  4. Cyndi says:

    Hello! Wow I’ve listened to a lot of your work, pretty much most of the romance! Thank you for making these books even better for your listeners. Did you have a hard time reading the steamier book at first?

  5. Mom says:

    Hi Sean, I love your work! I just recently finished the Breakneck Series and LOVED it! I agree with you when you said how important it is to have the right narrator for the story. Do you think there is a genre that just isn’t meant for you or do you think it’s a more of a book by book basis? Do you have any mystery/suspense in your narration list? If so what would you recommend for a big mystery/suspense lover?

    • Hi Mom! Wait…Mom, is that you? 😉

      Thanks for the compliments. I think less genre and more of the substance of a story and the often literal voice it needs for matchmaking with an appropriate narrator. I’ve done everything from children’s books to sci-fi to steamy erotica and certainly some turned out better than others. I think this is the result of more of my interpretation of what is needed as well as the (dare I say) limits of my own voice range. Mystery and suspense? Hmmm…I have done a handful here and there. Of course, none of them come to mind. D’oh! You can search by my name on Audible and see what comes up?

  6. K. BookLuver says:

    Wow!!! I am starstruck right now!!! Sean, I have listened to soooo many of the audiobooks you’ve narrated (9 to be exact) and thought you did a FABULOUS job narrating each one!!! Just off the top of my head, I clearly remember thinking to myself how perfectly you portrayed Jordan (in Trouble) and Picnic (in Reaper’s Stand). You really do an excellent job of bringing the characters to life!

  7. Kim N VM says:

    Hi Sean! I think you are amazing at what you do and I really enjoyed your spotlight interview; it was fun to learn about the man behind the voice I’ve heard many times!! You really cold-read these books? I always assumed that you must pre-read each book before narrating it since the finished products are so perfect. To learn that you narrate these books cold just blows my mind! I was already a fan but admire you even more now!! Even when I didn’t love the story (which was the case with one of the books you narrated), I still enjoyed listening to the audiobook and did not stop listening solely because of you! “Erotica-smut-o-filth” is my favorite genre so luckily for me, I will be enjoying your work again in the future!

    • Kim, I didn’t always cold read. It’s more a recent development to keep on top of my workload, say within the lat 12 months or so. I have too many titles and other projects to read, narrate, and effectively nap in between each one. I think Audible and Amazon should have an “Erotica-smut-o-filth” category. I’ll write a letter.

  8. luzmaria morneault says:

    Hello, I really enjoyed your interview. I have listened to a few of the audiobooks you’ve narrated and can’t wait to listen to more. I think you do a great job narrating. You do an excellent job of bringing the characters to life making it an even better experience. Thanks so much for that.

  9. Sean has such an amazing voice. I wish someday he’ll be the voice of one of my audiobooks!

  10. Bec says:

    Look at all those audiobooks! You are a one man reading machine!!!

  11. Sean Crisden is definitely a favorite of mine. I especially love his reading of Amy Lane’s books. The Johnnies series & The Locker Room are the best. I also like the Cut & Run books.

  12. Enikö says:

    Loved the interview, Sean is too funny. Listened to a few audio snippets, great voice.
    I am a big fan of Christine Feehan and was looking at the audiobooks.
    Thank you for the giveaway.

  13. bn100 says:

    interesting info about a cold read

  14. Lindsay says:

    Does narrating those steamy romances ever make you feel uncomfortable? 🙂

    • Uncomfortable? Are you trying to imply that I have some type of strong moral fiber, respectable dignity and don’t hang out at the docks whistling the melody of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke at sailors and sea maidens all day long? Why the noive of ya’… 😉

  15. Sam M-B says:

    Wow, there are a lot of Sean’s audiobooks on my wishlist but somehow I haven’t listened to one in full yet. Kage Baker’s The House of the Stag, Joel Rosenberg’s Keepers of the Hidden Ways series, Walter Mosley’s Crosstown to Oblivion, Megan Derr’s Prisoner…

    For a question, I’ve always wondered what it’s like as a narrator to pick up a series in progress, for example Feehan’s “Dark” series. Do you go back and listen to the first book(s) to match pronunciations or just forge ahead?

    • Ooh, great question Sam. Often there just isn’t the time (or sometimes the desire…shhh) to listen to a previous narrator’s work. I like to take fresh approach and develop my own feel for the pacing, world and characters. Sometimes the publisher/audience/author simply wasn’t happy with what came before so I’d rather come at it from the crazy recesses of my own creative mind than be influenced by what came before. Although with pronunciations I always run any obscure or created words/names by the pub/author for consistency not as much with the previous books but with the actual author’s vision. Hilariously, every so often (especially in fantasy and sci-fi) you come across an author who really doesn’t know how to pronounce their character’s name, which is “Zcz6fleep” or some such and their response is “use your best guess”. My job is to just try to keep it consistent so as not to confuse the listeners. So, “Bob” it is 😉

  16. Janie McGaugh says:

    I’m very excited that you’ve done some of Christine Feehan’s books, and I’m very impressed by your ability to do a cold read.

  17. Christine Maria Rose says:

    That’s an impressive collection of audio narrations Sean! It’s great to see that you’ve got a good variety of the different genres of romance. I look forward to picking up one of your audiobooks with my next audible credit 🙂

  18. Kimberly A says:

    How do you decide what books you will narrate and are there any you won’t

    • I receive titles from various publishers, producers and authors and have my general pick of the litter. The only titles I absolutely turn down are those that promote hate/discrimination or are politically slanted. Typically I’ll take on anything that seems fun, steamy or (best of all) well written and imaginative or highly informative. Of course, this all assumes that I have time in my session schedule and am not seeing just how much pie I can fit in my belly before I see it peeking out from the back of my throat.

  19. Sophia Rose says:

    Enjoyed the whimsy and humor that shone through in the interview answers. I thought it interesting about knowing your niche and capabilities. Look forward to listening to Sean’s works.

  20. Ilona says:

    Just want to say thank you for the great books I’ve listened to just because you were the narrator. I rarely have to be dubious about how much I will enjoy a book if I see your name on it.

  21. Dawn Cavenee says:

    I have not experienced Sean’s work yet, but from the information provided above, he is extremely comical! I will have to check out his narrations. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  22. nrlymrtl says:

    I’m jealous of your nerdy Kermit pajamas. And thank you for bleeding for us follow on nerds. At least I had other nerds to hang with by the time I hit highschool. Is there a long-standing geeky debate you still get into?

    • I’m a much more sophisticated nerd these days, but nerdy still the same. I have numerous long-standing debates on various topics although usually they seem to be with myself. Honestly, my favorites are those that most consider taboo, being religion, politics and the general ability of such self-described highly evolved critters as human beans to go to great lengths to be jerks to ourselves and everything around us. Ya’ know happy happy, joy joy stuff.

  23. Brianne Butler says:

    I loved your reading of Freeman! Thank you for sharing with us!