Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Paul Heitsch Interview

Paul Heitsch is a composer, sound designer, and now audiobook narrator.  His first project was my own novel The Miraculous Plot of Leiter & Lott, now out at Audible and Amazon.  Since I didn't know him prior to hearing he'd be narrating, I've asked a few questions here:

Lowe)  You've done some video game composing, is that true?  How did you start doing this?  What is your background?

Heitsch)  Yes, guilty. I started in 1990 at Williams Electronics Games in Chicago. An old college buddy of mine worked there and told me they were looking for a composer to hire. I'd been working as a piano player, with occasional composing gigs, and was doing OK, but had recently gotten married and wanted to see if I could find something more stable to make a living with. I was pretty surprised to learn that there was an actual company who would pay me a salary and benefits to do music, so I applied, and got the gig. After seven years at Williams, I signed on with O'Donnell/Salvatori for a couple of years. While I was there I got to work on "Riven - The Sequel to MYST" and the two "Myth" games from Bungie Studios. More recently, I did music and sound design for "Sid Meier's Civilization V."

Lowe) That's amazing, about the Myst series, which was owned by Kevin O'Leary of the Shark Tank for a time. I like it particularly since it didn't have much violent interaction with characters, and was more of an otherworldly puzzle with a story behind it.  Thoughts?

Heitsch)  I prefer less violent or non-violent games that emphasize strategy myself. I'm a big fan of puzzles, too. I do at least one crossword a day, and will work on a Sudoku when I'm taking a break from work.

Lowe)  I'm honored that mine is the first novel you've narrated.  How did you approach it, and what seemed natural or difficult for you?  Was it what you imagined as a sound designer?

Heitsch)  Well, I have two teenaged children, and I've been reading to each of them every night since they were infants. When I decided to try doing audiobooks, I approached it as an extension of that, and just tried to imagine a different audience. That part came pretty naturally. "Miraculous Plot" was an especially challenging first project, though, because of all the different character accents and technical language I had to master. It was technically challenging as well, learning the physical technique of long-form narration, and developing efficient editing processes.

Lowe)  What other projects have you done, and what are you planning?

Heitsch)  I've done two more titles for Crossroad Press, "The Devouring," which should drop any day now, and "Oasis," which is in editing, now. And I'm about a third of the way through a science fiction title, "The Gates of Eden," for Wildside Press. I'll start sending out more auditions, soon, and hope to be able to keep myself busy for the foreseeable future. I'm also doing music and sound design for various clients, most recently for LeapFrog, and consulting with an eLearning company on producing audio for an online language learning product.

Lowe)  Ever thought of producing radio drama?  I know society is all visual all the time now, but imagination is a terrible thing to waste!

Heitsch)  I'm very happy narrating audiobooks right now, but radio drama is definitely something I might like to try at some point. I did a lot of theater in High School, and never really got over the acting bug.  And I think there's a growing niche for strictly audio content.  The recent growth of the audiobook market attests to that. There's even an audiobook channel on Sirius XM, that features a lot of dramatic readings with several cast members.

Lowe)  Yes, I was involved in that early on, doing short reviews and interviews for them.  Thanks for the heads up, and good luck on upcoming projects.  You did a great job narrating my offbeat suspense, understated yet emotional and believable for both characters and settings. 

Book Blurb: "Meet David Leiter and Valerie Lott. . . David is a former optics engineer in search of something more than revenge in glamorously rich DUBAI, and against the greedy banker and the televangelist who absconded there with his dead mother's money. With the aid of a former colleague, he's soon mingling with eccentric billionaires in his quest to undercover the truth about them, and himself.  What he finds is more than he could have imagined, as Valerie, a TV producer in Tucson, enters the plot on a quest of her own. Is it fate or chance that their worlds will cross? Certainly it's a miracle, and with a twist unlike any you've experienced. Suspense mounts as military drones attack spectacular architecture, while a romance begins which may be influenced by quantum entanglement, making this the most different yet unforgettable story you'll read this year." Also an ebook at iTunes,, Amazon, and Kobo.


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