Author Tamira Thayne wanted to take her book Foster Doggie Insanity into audio, but needed to find a narrator who ‘got’ her voice. She was thrilled to find Lee Ahonen, telling her: “Your reading is EXACTLY how I would have wanted it to sound if I did it myself. You got right into the character and created all the nuances and inflections the way I would do it or want to do it. Thank you!”
We asked Lee some questions about her narration and how she chooses her books.
Q & A with Lee Ahonen, Narrator and Producer of the Audiobook for “Foster Doggie Insanity: Tips and Tales to Keep your Kool as a Doggie Foster Parent” by Tamira Ci Thayne
Q: How do you choose the books you audition for?
A: When it comes to nonfiction, I look for books that interest me and that have a positive message. Then I review the writing itself. Does it flow when I read it aloud? Does it make sense? Will the listener be able to connect with it? I don’t expect all books to be written perfectly when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and spelling. However, the author’s meaning needs to come through so that I can inject the correct feeling behind the words and the listener can get caught up in the narrative.
Q: Is it difficult to interpret the meaning and feelings behind the author’s words
A: Well, sometimes, yes. That happens when books are poorly written, meaning there are incomplete sentences, the use of pronouns makes it confusing, and the information is disorganized, which makes it difficult to follow the story. I don’t audition for those books. But when a book is well written, the story flows and it is easy to get into character. That’s why I enjoyed narrating and producing Foster Doggie Insanity. I felt Tamira’s personality in every word, and she was consistent throughout the book.
Q: What does that mean – that you felt the author’s personality?
A: The author was able to express her feelings with words. Her caring nature and sense of humor were interwoven with the gritty, day-to-day work of rescuing and fostering dogs. Also, she made herself vulnerable by sharing some of the bad stuff she experienced during her many years of service to dogs. It was very real. I could feel what she experienced, and I hope listeners will feel it, too. It’s powerful.
Q: Was there anything in particular that stood out in this book?
A: There were a couple of things. First, there were many emotional moments in this book – happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, and more. Somehow, Tamira was able to balance the good and the bad with humor. As a result, while there was tension in the book, it was not overwhelming. However, this is the first book in which I found myself laughing or crying too much, forcing me to do more takes so that I didn’t sound too emotional in the recording. Second, I realized that much of her advice could be applied to anyone – not just people who foster. There are many great “life” tips in the book that can help people take care of themselves so they are healthy and happy while caring for others.
Q: To whom do you think this book will appeal?
A: I think this book has a very broad audience – not just people who foster or rescue, but anyone that has ever had a dog or thought about having a dog in their family. It certainly would make people think about adopting a rescue dog rather than “buying” one from a pet store or a non-reputable breeder. And for anyone who currently has a dog in the family, it will make them appreciate their doggie even more!
Q: When you do take time off, what are your favorite hobbies or things to do?
A: I love to read. I read all types of fiction – mysteries, romance, science fiction, etc. – and I read nonfiction, which includes self-improvement, health and nutrition, business topics, and more, while lounging with my dogs, Bella and Bear (both rescues). I also spend time with my granddaughter, which now that I think about it, also involves reading! Reading has always been a big part of my life. I guess it’s not so surprising that I got involved with audiobook narration.
Q: And where can we find you online? Do you have a narrator page link we can visit?
A: You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/leeahonen/, ACX at https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A28X5JDMI20RBN, and AudioFile at https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/referenceguide/detail/6193/.
Q: Do you have a couple other favorite books you’ve narrated our readers can check out?
A: Yes, I do. “Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Animals,” by Lori Gruen; “Don’t Stay Stuck!: Eliminate Your Excuses and Gain the Confidence to Achieve Your Dreams,” by Lori Chavez-Wysocki; and “Sport Is Life with the Volume Turned Up: Lessons Learned That Apply to Business and Life,” by Joan Cronan and Rob Schriver. Although, honestly, they’re all my favorites because I’ve learned something from every nonfiction book I’ve worked on. That’s another reason I enjoy the process so much – continuous learning.
About the Narrator, Lee Ahonen
I began my audiobook narration and production career a year ago. It was a couple of years after finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (with a concentration in management) and a Master’s Degree in Instructional Design and Technology while working full time. I tried to enjoy my free time after being so busy, but I became unhappy with so much time on my hands. I needed to be productive, and I wanted a creative outlet. Narration provides the creative outlet, and production satisfies my detail-oriented nature. I’ve completed 23 books to date while continuing to work full time as a legal assistant, and I have six books currently in production. It’s been a very busy year, and I love it!
Foster Doggie Insanity is available in paperback, kindle, kindle unlimited, and audiobook at the following links. For a limited time, buy Foster Doggie Insanity on Audiobook, and get the code to any of our other audiobooks FREE. Just forward your receipt to email@example.com:
Author Tamira Thayne lives in Northern Virginia, and is available for speaking engagements and author visits. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.