As Vivatera’s audiobook comes closer to release, I thought I would spotlight the very talented actress that took on this series with such enthusiasm.
First, let me tell you of the unusual circumstances that led Aly to my door.
We met on a hot summer day when I picked her up from the airport. She wore this completely out-of-my-normalcy steampunk-y bowler hat, that stood out immediately in the quiet, pretend-to-be-normal atmosphere… It was so charming. I liked her instantly. This is very much Aly, my fated twin sister from across the nation. She flew to Salt Lake City from Chicago to stay with my family and I, and attend Salt City Steamfest, a local Steampunk festival with our collective publisher. She is an author as well, so we knew each other cyberly, but not formally.
Within two hours of landing, Aly had climbed my tree, found my ukulele and serenaded us with Radiohead’s Creep, had a good conversation with my talking cat, and told me she wanted to see the UP House, from, yes, the Disney/Pixar flick “Up.”
It was serendipitous, one of those cosmic moments when you couldn’t believe someone so alike lived on the same planet. The friendship forged that weekend went on to alter both of our paths. Now, you could call her my ‘sister.’
I knew Aly was a voice actor, and she mentioned wanting to record my series, just a fleeting, playful idea maybe someday… but the timing was never right. She approached me this summer when an opportunity arose for her to record all three. Yes, of course I wanted her to, but I didn’t want a friendship to get ruined if it wasn’t right. So I approached this with a business mind, being very professional. I had her audition like I would have for anyone, both us knowing that if she wasn’t right for the series then I would hire someone else. I was blown away…. blown away. She was perfect for the job.
I know several of you have been waiting years for Vivatera to be on audio. I’m glad the wait is nearly over and so happy Aly could record all three.
So, meet the voice talent that brought the Vivatera series to life… Alyson Grauer!
When do you first want to be a voice actor?
What influenced you?
My dad loves audiobooks. I loved reading a lot as a kid, and I treasured the times when Mom or Dad would read to me at bedtime from a favorite story. As I got older, Dad got me into listening to professional audiobooks. I wore out several cassette tapes’ worth of Peter S. Beagle’s “The Last Unicorn” – I had the abridged version and the unabridged version! I loved the magic of hearing a voice carry you through the story in your mind’s eye. When I graduated college (I studied acting), I found out about a website called ACX – Audiobook Creation Exchange. I set myself up with a cheap mic and a determination to learn everything on the spot and that’s how I got my start.
I’ve always wanted to do voice over for cartoons or games, but I’ve yet to really get into that area of voice acting. It’s a wide spectrum of possibilities!
What is your favorite parts about recording a book?
What challenges do you face?
I love figuring out the characters’ voices. There’s so much that goes into it for me: how old are they? Where are they from? What is their odd personality quirk that comes through vocalization? Who do they remind me of in real life? It can be hard sometimes if there are a lot of characters to keep everything straight in my head – I keep a spreadsheet with notes and commentary to help me keep track. Sometimes I even have to record samples just to jog my memory of a certain type of voice.
Is it weird to hear your own voice?
I used to HATE the way my speaking voice sounded!!! In middle school and high school, despite my best efforts to ignore it, I had to record myself for various projects and absolutely despised it. I learned that it’s normal for people to hate the sound of their own voice – when we speak normally, we hear ourselves THROUGH our own skulls and various other body parts, so the resonance and the pitch are slightly different to us on the inside than it is to people on the outside of our bodies hearing us. It made me feel better to know that I wasn’t alone, but it took a long time for me to personally get over it for myself and learn to like my voice.
In college I took a dialects class and fell in love with that aspect of acting. Being able to mimic intonation, vowel changes, and rhythms was something that I took to very well, and through that I learned to like my voice.
And now, doing audiobooks, it’s not hard at all – I rarely hear ‘my’ voice on the recordings. There’s Narrator Me, and then there’s a million other characters. Rarely do I use my own natural voice.
What other endeavors do you have that prepared you for voice acting?
Like I said, I studied acting at Loyola University of Chicago and have performed in various shows, events, and venues since then. Listening closely to the voice patterns of people around me also helps – at work, while traveling, while watching TV. There are clues everywhere!
What was your favorite part about recording Candace’s series?
Candace has written a trilogy of magic, but for me some of the magic was nostalgia. It reminds me of some of the young adult fantasy books I read when I was younger, books that inspired me to imagine and create on my own. I love the nostalgia of some of the themes of these books: a hidden power, a journey to reunite severed pieces, learning how to be a person as well as a person with magic, taking control of destiny, etc.
As far as recording the characters goes… I gotta say, Katia is my girl. Her scenes with Landon are pretty fun to record. I also really liked creating very specific voices for Ferra and Micah, thinking I’d never have to do two ‘hard’ voices in a scene together, only to be proven wrong! If you could only see what my face and posture were doing when switching between those voices… It was very fun to do, though challenging.
When I first heard Micah and Ferra I couldn’t believe it. Aly sent me these two videos back in September to show how she was doing the voices. I found them adorable.
This one is Micah…
This one is about Ferra…
I had so much fun working with Aly on this project. Vivatera is set to release the first part of February. Conjectrix will soon follow in March, and Everstar early Spring.
I want to thank Aly for giving me some of her time. You can find the first book Vivatera on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. Click here for my Amazon Author page to find my audio books.
And find out more about Alyson Grauer here:
Alyson Grauer is an author, actor, podcaster, and voice actor. Her first novel, “On The Isle of Sound And Wonder” came out in 2014, and she has produced short stories for various anthologies and roleplaying game books. She narrates audiobooks and produces a podcast called Warda, which she co-creates with her husband Drew. Warda is an original fantasy roleplaying game, with magic, intrigue, and class warfare between humans and fey living in a utopian art deco fantasy realm. For more information, check out welcometowarda.com. Originally from Milwaukee, she lived in Chicago for many years before transplanting to Florida, where she currently lives with Drew and their cat, Queen Felicia. For more, please visit dreamstobecome.com.