Narrator Update – David Brenin

Eargasms Narrator Spotlight Update David Brenin


David Brenin (Paul Heitsch)

Update – I released 24 books this year, under both my own name and as David Brenin. My goal was at least 20, so I’ve checked that box. I was invited to speak on a panel with Grover Gardner, Amanda Currier, and Amy Rubinate, at the APAC conference in May, about charting a career as a home studio narrator, which was great fun. I began narrating for Jennifer Ashley on her “Shifters Unbound” series, and am very excited to continue that work, as well as producing her “Captain Lacey” mysteries with James Gillies. Over the summer I was tapped by Audible Studios to narrate the complete “Omega Force” series of science fiction novels by Joshua Dalzelle (I had recorded the first volume in 2014). They were all simultaneously released in October, and have been selling well and garnering rave reviews.

I’m starting 2016 with more SE Smith scifi/fantasy/romance books, (of course). I will be speaking at a romance author’s get-together in Orlando this January. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Ms. Ashley, Mr. Dalzelle, and other authors for whom I’ve recorded books, as well as forging new partnerships with authors and publishers.

My releases for this year are listed below. 

As David Brenin –

As Paul Heitsch –


 As far as a giveaway, I currently have 8 of SE Smith’s Dragonlords series available, and am wrapping production on the fourth Alliance book, Challenging Saber. Two lucky winners, one for each series (which are fabulous and you can find reviews of them here on Eargasms!)
To enter the giveaway you must comment below with a relevant question or heap fan love on the narrator. Don’t be surprised if you get a reply on the day of the posting, most narrators will be checking in throughout their day. You have the whole month to enter, winners will be drawn on New Year’s Day. You can check in on the beginning post to see all the narrator in order. If you want to enter the Grand Prize Giveaway use the Rafflecopter on that page as well. Good luck and happy listening!!!

Thanks, again, for giving us narrators a chance to talk about our work, and connect with your readers, April!

25 Responses

  1. Hmmmm…I THOUGHT that was your pic, Paul! Didn’t know you used a pseudonym. Now the world knows, too….. 🙂

  2. Hmmmm…I THOUGHT that was your pic, Paul! Didn’t know you used a pseudonym. Now the world knows, too….. 🙂

  3. Susan T. says:

    You seem to narrate a lot of fantasy and sci-fi which must be really fun! These genres often have lots of made-up words or even whole languages. Is it challenging to pronounce these words and do you ever consult with the author to see how they think their words should be spoken?

    • pheitsch says:

      Susan – It *is* a lot of fun, and I plan to keep doing as much Sci-fi/Fantasy as I can. I haven’t narrated a book that included an entire alien language, but I have had several with alien names for characters, places and various cultural aspects. I do consult with the authors whenever there’s any ambiguity. A big part of preparing for a book, whether it involves names of fictional or real people or places, is making sure to get the pronunciation right. I learned that the hard way, and now I try to be extra careful to get them right.

  4. Jen B says:

    What do you find is the hardest part of narrating books?

    • pheitsch says:

      The two things I find most challenging are time-management, and handling accents.

      The time aspect is difficult because I work other jobs (I’m an adjunct instructor for the School of Music, and Director of Music for the School of Theatre and Dance, at James Madison University), as well as a husband and father, and carving out the blocks of time necessary to produce audiobooks is a struggle for me.

      Accents are fun, but are also something I have to continually work on. I often have a recording of someone speaking with the accent I’m trying to mimic handy, and listen to it repeatedly, then rehearse the dialog, before committing to a take. I’ve also worked with P.J. Ochlan, who is a terrific dialog coach, to improve on certain accents.

  5. nrlymrtl says:

    H2O looks like an interesting post-apocalyptic world story. And I see you’ve narrated a classic Brian Stableford novel too. Hooray! Are there other classic SFF authors/books you would like to get your vocal chords on?

    • pheitsch says:

      “H2O” was a fascinating read, and I’d like to do more with Irving Belateche. The Stableford book was beautifully written and conceived. I really wish I could have done it justice, but it’s my least favorite performance. It’s written in first-person by someone from the UK, and my attempt to render it authentically fell well short of what I would consider an acceptable standard. It was my third title, and I learned a hard lesson, which was to know when to walk away from a project that I’m not the right narrator for.

      As far as authors I’d like to work with – I’ve been an avid fan of William Gibson since reading his short stories in Omni magazine in the late ’70’s. I’ve read everything he’s written at least twice, and he remains one of the most intelligent and distinctive writers I know of. I’d also love to do anything by Usula K. LeGuin.

  6. Mary C. says:

    How has recording audio books changed since you started?

    • pheitsch says:

      I started in late 2011, and since then I haven’t seen any significant difference in how audiobooks are recorded. A while back, long before I started, there was a shift from recording to analog tape to digital. But recording in general is done pretty much the same as it has been for some time; one person, in a sound-proof booth, talking into a microphone.

      My workflow has gone through a lot of refinement, with the result that I get more done in less time, and I’ve gotten better mechanically (better breath control, better mic technique, things like that). I’ve also made some physical improvements to my studio. About two years ago I began contracting out my editing and proofing, which has helped me be much more productive.

      The audiobook industry is changing, and growing rapidly, with many more titles being produced by narrators recording at home (like me), and more multicast productions (like “Locke and Key”). Audible Studios is actually starting up an entire production division to focus on audio dramatizations, so that’s definitely a growing market.

  7. Cyndi says:

    Hello Paul, Welcome back! I’m excited to see all the new SE Smith & Jennifer Ashley work you’ve done this year, I think I need to do some series catching up! What is your goal audiobook number for 2016? Do you have a 2015 favorite book?

    • pheitsch says:

      Thanks, Cyndi! If I can do 24 again this year I’ll be content, although I want to keep improving my output if I can. At this point, doing more books will mean doing less of other things, so that’s a decision I’ll have to make sooner or later.

      I love all my audiobooks equally. There was one, though, “Evil Grows,” a collection of noire short stories by Loren Estleman, that allowed me to really stretch out as a voice actor. Each story has a different cast of characters, and a different narrative style, and I really enjoyed being challenged that way.

      Happy New Year, everyone!

  8. julied says:

    Oh my lots of exciting listens coming from you in 16. They all sound amazing. Good luck with them all

  9. Love love love The Alliance books by S.E. Smith! The story is engaging and your narration is spot on! I’m going to need to put the Dragon Lords series at the top of my TBR mountain soon! Thanks for great performances.

  10. LilMissMolly says:

    Why narrate under two different names? I know authors write different genres under pseudonyms sometimes but I’ve never heard of a narrator do it.

  11. Do you ever find a situation in the books you narrate as uncomfortable? Also, do you pre-read the books before a narration or dive right in and play it by ear?

    • pheitsch says:

      Terri – what good questions!

      I pre-read every book all the way through before recording. Most narrators do this, and there are artistic and practical reasons. I need to be familiar with the characters, and their stories, before I can give them what I think is an authentic portrayal. A well-written book doesn’t reveal everything right away, and without the context of the whole story I might give a passage the wrong nuance, or miss the mark entirely. The way Johnny Heller puts it is “You can’t tell a joke without knowing the punch line.” The practical reasons have to do with avoiding surprises that would otherwise result in having to rerecord earlier material. For instance, there might be a description of a character’s accent or speech pattern that isn’t described until three quarters of the way through. If you come across that *after* you’ve already recorded a big chunk of that character’s dialog, you’re up the creek. Also, pre-reading helps me identify potential problems (like the above-mentioned alien names) before they can trip me up in recording.

      As far as being uncomfortable goes, I’ve narrated passages that affected me profoundly, and there has been some content I’ve performed that depicted behavior or attitudes that I find repugnant. In “Bloodroom,” for instance, there is one particularly horrific scene that I had to struggle to get through, but it was definitely part of the overall narrative, and worked to establish the level and nature of the danger faced by the heroine. As I said, I pre-read the books I narrate, so I knew it was coming, but when it was time to actually perform that passage, it was still difficult, and I had to stop recording for the day after that chapter was done. I haven’t encountered anything (yet) that my conscience won’t allow me to perform, but I like to think I know where that threshold is, and that I’ll make the right decision if I ever come up against it. I have turned down invitations to audition for a couple of titles that were either written to advance an agenda with which I strongly disagree, or were gratuitously obscene.

  12. JoAnna B says:

    I have Abducting Abby but I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet. But I did listen to another of S.E. Smith’s book recently so I checked and you were the narrator! It was Touch of Frost, loved it!

  13. Sophia Rose says:

    Great job making your goal especially with the conferences and other stuff you have going on. I enjoyed four of those from your list this year and didn’t realize Paul and David were one and the same. LOL!

    Happy New Year!

    • pheitsch says:

      Sophia – You heard me as both myself and David, but couldn’t tell we were the same person? I must be more versatile than I thought. Thanks for listening!