Author: JC Alaimo
Narrator: Josh Horowitz
Length: 7 hours 29 minutes
Publisher: JC Alaimo
Released: Nov. 2, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age
“Sometimes a person needs to be lost.”
Alexander Biden counts his heart rate as often as he can and recites rap lyrics if it ever gets too high. Despite what brought him to the makeshift bedroom in the basement of his mother’s apartment, he manages to keep that count low.
But when an unexpected visitor shows up the weekend he moves to Augustine University, the stable world he constructed for himself is upended. While new friendships, one-night stands, and pharmaceuticals help him regain a fleeting sense of normalcy, it’s in a dangerous love affair that his fate lies.
To Laugh Well is available for review through the Adopt-An-Audiobook program!
Review: JC has a really funny book here! I like that all these crazy things happen unexpectedly and then the main character has to pick up the pieces. I laughed a lot and it brought my spirits up after something sad happened recently to me. If you want a good laugh I recommend. I give it a 5/5 stars!
The narration by Horowitz is great as well! He’s good with character distinction and putting in the right emotion to help me stay invested. His speech is clear and pacing is great as well. I give him a 5/5 stars
JC Alaimo is an indie author from Buffalo, NY. He holds a BA in Philosophy, MA in English, and has been writing fiction since participating in his high school literary magazine. He enjoys listening to hip hop and spending time with his wife and daughter.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Josh Horowitz appeared in various commercials, TV shows, and motion pictures as a child actor. Years later, Josh returned to entertainment through podcasting, co-hosting two “Movies by Minutes” podcasts and acting / writing for the “Old Time Radio” style podcast “Twelve Chimes, It’s Midnight”. He has gained experience through the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Radio Play series as both a performer and director, and has narrated several audiobooks for Audible.
Q&A with Alexander Biden, protagonist of To Laugh Well
- Share a bit about yourself.
- I’m from Sheffield, Ohio, not far from Cleveland, where I live with my mom and sister. We’ve been in that apartment since my dad left around the time I started high school. But I haven’t been there much since I started at Augustine. I’m an education major there, but I love my philosophy class.
- Why did you pick Augustine for college?
- A lot of people think I picked Augustine because it’s so close to where Mya, my girlfriend, ended up going, but I didn’t. We both applied to different schools, but I think we just lucked out that we’re only a half hour apart. I’m also not Catholic, so that’s not it either. I think I picked it because it’s so different from what I’m used to. It’s this beautiful old campus with these gorgeous buildings and stone walkways, and everyone there is so friendly. And it’s so small, nothing like the other schools I had on my list.
- What was the one thing you needed to bring with you to college?
- Definitely the thing I forgot: my headphones. I have this really nice set of headphones that blocks out the rest of the world when you put them on, and I always used to listen to music before bed. Something about the headphones and the beats and lyrics from the songs just calmed me to sleep. But when I forgot them in my mom’s car, I had to come up with something different.
- How would your friends describe you?
- It probably varies depending on which friends. In high school, I don’t think many people thought much of anything about me, except maybe that I had a great relationship with Mya. But at Augustine, I guess they’d describe me as fun. I throw a hell of a party.
- What’s your favorite place and why?
- There’s this spot on campus that Julia introduced me to. It’s kind of hidden behind one of the big academic buildings, but it’s this stone platform with this maze on it, and there’s a statue of Mary. I go there to get the kind of thing my headphones gave me and to think about the statue or Julia or whatever.
- Who’s your favorite person?
- Easy, that’s my mom. She saved us when everything fell apart, and she worked two jobs to keep us comfortable and get me to this school. But if family doesn’t count, it’s my roommate Nick. He’s the first friend I’ve had who I really connect with. He understands me, and I think I understand him.
- What inspires you?
- Music, mostly rap. When there’s the right beat for the right rapper and they just zone, it’s the best genre there is. I swear, I could do anything in the world if I had the right soundtrack.
Q&A with Josh Horowitz, Narrator of To Laugh Well
- How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
- I’ve always enjoyed listening to audiobooks during long work commutes over the years, and I’ve also had fun reading to my kids. After I got involved in podcasting a few years ago, it led to an interest in voiceover work in general. I started taking VO coaching, and between sessions, I decided to get extra practice by narrating short stories through Librivox, a volunteer service that covers public domain works. From there, I learned about ACX (Audible), and auditioned for a few books. I found I enjoyed the process, and have stuck with it through five published books so far.
- Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?
- For me, getting into audiobook narration was pretty straightforward – it was just a matter of registering with ACX.com, finding titles I was interested in doing, and auditioning for them. I already had a microphone and computer audio editing setup from doing podcasting – I just needed a comfortable setting and the time to take on the narration projects.
- What type of training have you undergone?
- I was once a child actor, but more recently I received training through Marla Kirban Voiceover in New York. I’ve also taken several audiobook classes and sessions through the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Voiceover Lab series, including one by audiobook narrator Scott Brick. Before doing books on ACX, I practiced by reading short stories through librivox.org.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Audiobooks are great! Especially with a good narrator. I’ve usually had to deal with long drives to and from work, and I would usually pass the time with books on tape, and later CD, and later streaming. The format offers listeners a great way to get through a long book they would ordinarily not have time for, and you get the bonus of interesting voiced characters or even sound effects to add to the experience.
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
- During the narration process, I really enjoy being able to perform different voices and act out different roles. It’s this acting component that can make the long process fun, especially if it’s part of an entertaining book. I also like adding different filter and sound effects during the editing process to make my voice sound like it’s on the phone, coming over an intercom, or from an echoey inner thought. I think the toughest part of narrating is the time involved. For ACX projects, you need time to read (and highlight) the whole book, record it, edit it, and master it. Doing all of this from home when you have a day job can be pretty exhausting.
- What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
- JC Alaimo contacted me directly about this title, inviting me to audition. That was a first for me, so I read through the summary and the audition script, and thought it would be a good experience to work on another Young Adult novel.
- How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
- JC was very helpful in providing descriptions of the different characters and their accents. I used that as a starting point and tried to do voices I felt a could perform consistently. For the main character (Alex), I kept his voice similar to the third-person narrator’s voice, which is close to my own. I try channel my inner teenager when performing young adults.
- How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?
- One analogy I like to use is that voiceover spots (commercials, etc) are like sprints, and audiobook narration is a marathon. For audiobooks, you need to have the stamina to keep reading for long periods of time (usually 30-60 minutes straight). The editing process is also much more involved, since there’s so much to fix. Unlike other VO I do, I actually use a clicker device for audiobooks so that whenever I mess up or need to re-read a section, it’s easily visible to me on the waveform when I edit.
- Do you read reviews for your audiobooks? If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?
- I look forward to reading what others think of my narration work – hopefully it’s a confirmation that I’m doing a good job as a storyteller, or at least provides some feedback on how I can be better. Some of the best comments I’ve received have been from listeners impressed with my readings of lines in foreign languages, which have included German and Polish.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
- Make sure you have the time to devote to audiobook narration – it’s considerable, but can be very rewarding. Practice your voice skills and make sure you have the stamina to read long chapters of a book. Get a decent microphone and editing setup, and find a good recording space that doesn’t have noticeable room echo – I use a walk-in closet and sound padding for this purpose. Try reading something on Librivox.org to get a feel for the process, and if you think you’re ready, sign up for ACX and audition for short royalty share projects. Once you finish your first book, you learn shortcuts to make the process easier. And most important: have fun!
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