Friday, May 13, 2011

Alan Sklar reads LAWRENCE BLOCK

Alan Sklar has been a freelance voice actor for over twenty years, voicing radio/TV commercials and VNRs, narrating everything from audiobooks and documentaries to thousands of corporate and medical video projects.  Alan has been recruited to narrate over 150 audiobooks, among them, "A Civil Action" by Jonathan Harr, "Black Hawk Down" by Mark Bowden and the delightful 1898 yachtsman's classic "Sailing Alone Around The World" by Cap'n Joshua Slocum. Other challenging audiobook assignments were, "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" by Thomas Maier and the first Hannibal Lechter novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris, both of which earned Alan the prestigious Earphone Awards from AudioFile Magazine. He narrated eight murder mystery novels by Lawrence Block, including "Enough Rope" (the 900-page mother of all audiobook detective story collections.) Alan has also narrated many of Sikorsky Aircraft's marketing and equipment maintenance videos. When the Generals in The Pentagon watch a video introducing a new Sikorsky helicopter model, you-know-who's doing the talking. NASA, too, produces videos to show The Congress, The White House, and The Pentagon how they are spending taxpayer bucks. Alan was enlisted to narrate several of them.
Tower Review:  How did you begin narrating books, given your TV and corporate background?
Alan Sklar:  I began my first book narration in July 1992.  I had built a good business by then doing mostly non-broadcast narrations serving medical, corporate, financial clientele.  Plus radio and TV spots.  Having spent over 20 years in the business world prior to 1989, I had learned to speak business languages with some fluency...sales, marketing, warehousing, employee benefits, etc.  I had also become a relentless and assertive salesman and communicator from years of selling paint & decorative home repair products.  By 1992 I had become an avid audiobook listener with 4 or 5 books at any given time on the floor of my car.  I thought "I can do that." and started calling some audiobook publishers introducing myself and sending out demo cassettes.  Claudia Howard of Recorded Books, Inc. called me a few weeks later to come in and audition.  She gave me three selections to read...and then a week or two later she called to book me for my first audiobook.  I was thrilled and have a framed Xerox copy of the payment check ($610.00) on my office wall.  I read Confessions Of A Medical Heretic, by a doctor who urged the reader to avoid going to hospitals.  Kept sending out demos and calling the publishers and wore them down one by sales we call that "pleasantly persistent."

TR: Preferences in terms of genre, fiction or non-fiction?
AS:  One of my old acting teachers, Sandy Meisner (a genius!) used to say: 'The marketplace will tell you what it wants you for!' The audiobook marketplace keeps telling me it wants me to read business, political, murder mystery books.  I have done some funny ones...two of my favorites are: Why Business people Speak Like Idiots, and Executricks.  I did a lot of chuckling while recording those and had to redo many paragraphs.  Seven Dirty Words by George Carlin was a fun one as were two books by the village idiot, Donald Trump.  The books were titled to make you think you'd learn how to grow wealthy but all he did was talk about himself.  What an ego the bastard has!

TR:  Favorite audiobooks?
AS:  I love reading murder mysteries, cops and robbers, and the hero detective who solves the case. The marketplace has blessed me with perhaps 12 novels by Lawrence Block, great fun crime novels, others of which are read by the author.  I also enjoy books on business.

TR:  Given your paint business background, ever go out to shoot paintball for fun?
AS:  Sorry, no paintball.  Jonathan, I am a lunatic, single-minded, with tunnel's work work work...and when not working, I'm networking, marketing marketing marketing, making the calls, charming the receptionists, and getting all the information I need from her, attending VO industry meetings and parties, volunteering to be on committees, etc.  I have given up PLAYING.  Some of the work is so gratifying and such fun that don't really miss the European travel, going to the beach, skiing, spear fishing and skin diving in the Caribbean.  I've added another VO path to my career...reading stories to live audiences at libraries in Westchester County, NY, where I live.  It's such fun to make a live audience laugh or sit so hushed that one can hear a feather drop.  My work is 99% in a booth with engineer and producer on the other side of the glass.  It's a joy to entertain a live bunch.  Have I answered your questions?  If so, I shall send you an invoice, $20 per question.  Payment is due net 10 days.

TR:  That's funny.  Will Monopoly money do?
AS:  Sure, no ones or fives, though...make it two fifties or one hundred.  By the way, my wife not only thinks I'm funny...she also thinks I'm funny-looking!!! But I dominate her with two simple words....'YES, DEAR.'

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