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Talking With Audiobook Narrator André Santana

Interview with André Santana about bringing bestselling titles to our ears.

By FierceScribePublished 7 months ago 5 min read

This edition of Talking With focuses on voice actor André Santana, who has been rising fast in the audiobook arena, lending his voice to several bestselling titles from top publishing houses.

In the last three years, the Brazilian-born Seattle-raised Satana has narrated nearly 100 titles. He received a 2023 Audie Award® nomination for Tiago Forte’s, “Building A Second Brain”; and the Earphones Award, RUSA 2022 Listen List, and Apple Book’s Must-Listen for the ensemble of Sidik Fofana’s, “Stories from the Tenants Downstairs.” He earned Audible’s Best of the Year: 2022 Debuts for Kimberly Garza’s, “The Last Karankawas”; and a YALSA Top Ten Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults for Aiden Thomas’ “The Sunberarer Trials”.

His most recent is Simon & Schuster’s tantalizing political tale, written by journalist Mark Chiusano’s, “THE FABULIST: The Lying, Hustling, Grifting, Stealing, and Very American Legend of George Santos.”

To learn more, we are Talking With André Santana:

How did you get into voice narration?

ANDRÉ SANTANA: In 2019, I was finding my way back to books as an avid audiobook listener after convincing myself for years that I just didn’t like to read. I stumbled into the independent audiobook production world and pretty quickly jumped to work with major publishers before deciding I’d found the love of my life in narration. All of my background was in psychology and sociology, so I dug into training as an actor to build up my work in audiobooks. Almost 100 titles later, I’m completely lost in the world of literature and have been loving every minute of it.

Where do you start when preparing a new audio narration project?

AS: Preparation is fundamental for me. I partner with someone who helps me deep dive into projects: pulling words for pronunciation checks, identifying accents to prepare, naming all the speaking characters in fiction, etc. When I narrate, I follow an instinct about how I hear the text in my head, so exploring the book and finding what voice the author has written with and what form of that I’m going to bring to the project is what really makes the work uniquely mine. Even though we mostly communicate through producers, I love being in conversation with authors about not just pronunciations, but how the project is going to come alive in the audio format. All of this information sets me up to record, which I usually do on my own at home.

Do you have to adjust your process when working on different types of books?

AS: Every book is going to need a different type of preparation. A sprawling high fantasy might need a clear sense of tone established to bring the listener into the world and an extended look at the huge cast of characters and how I’ll create their voices in identifiable ways that are honest to their writing. On the other hand, a long non-fiction title with quotes may require more time researching pronunciations or identifying how different components like tables or interstitials are going to be converted into an audio format. And sometimes those components mix—I’ve read non-fiction written like fiction and vice versa. It’s always fun when a book demands you see it with fresh eyes and bring a custom process to preparing and narrating it.

What’s the most difficult part of your job as a narrator?

AS: The hardest part of the job varies for every narrator, but I think many will agree that actually getting hired for projects and managing your portfolio of work can be one of the most difficult parts of working in this industry. All audiobook narrators are freelancers, so being hired for one project doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the full range of work you’ll need for the year. We work with dozens of companies all using different approaches and publishing different books. And once you fill your schedule, are they books you love? Are you being cast in a variety of titles that satisfies your interests as an actor and a reader? We want our focus to be the time we spend in the booth recording—that’s what we’re trained for. But how we build these relationships is an enormous and often under-considered part of making this profession sustainable.

Why did you want to lend your voice to the audiobook “The Fabulist”?

AS: When Simon & Schuster reached out to me about this project, I was so honored and excited to know I’d been in the mix for consideration and the author and producers thought I was the right voice for it. Not only was I fascinated to learn all the details of the George Santos story, but I found myself connected to the topic in a series of ways. For one, I’m a Brazilian immigrant, and it almost felt like a duty to talk about George Santos. I’ve also been attuned to civics and politics for a long time and wanted to be one of the first people to get a look at the story of George Santos. And Mark Chiusano’s approach to writing this book as his first-person narrative imbued with an impressively multi-faceted look at Santos called to me as a reader and actor.

Did you have an opinion of George Santos prior to narrating this book? And, did that change afterwards?

AS: Before reading “The Fabulist” I assumed that George Santos was just a lucky fool. That felt like how so much of the media painted him: someone who liked to hype himself up and got lost wading deeper than he ever imagined. But part of what was so captivating about Chiusano’s approach to telling his story is that he dives back and tells us about Santos’s upbringing and how his early adulthood experiences launched him into a position to do all the things he did. Now, to me, he is much more villainous, but also much more human. I see him as the result of his world and his vices, but also have more clarity about what his victims experienced in the wake of his lies.

What’s been your favorite book to narrate and why?

AS: I’ve had so many this year in particular that I’ve loved, but I keep coming back to “Tropicália” by Harold Roger. It’s a multi-generational family drama set in Brazil, written with fantastic thoughtfulness. I loved what the other narrators brought to their characters, and I had a blast performing Daniel who is so full of intricate rage and grief. The books that ask me to bring my most willing self to explore complicated characters are my favorites.

Finally, is there anything else you’re working on that we can keep an eye out for?

AS: I’ve just been asked by Dreamscape Media to narrate “The Words That Remain,” by Stênio Gardel, translated by Bruna Dantas Lobato, which just won the National Book Award for translated literature. I’ve already prepped the book and it’s gorgeous; I’m so excited to narrate it. I also recently recorded “You Only Call When You’re in Trouble” by Stephen McCauley for Macmillan Audio, which really surprised me as a quiet and powerfully human novel about family and boundaries and trust. Both of these titles come out in January, and I can’t wait to share them with listeners.

Connect with André Santana at: andreonthemic.com Instagram: @andreonthemic X: @andreonthemic TikTok: @andre.onthemic

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About the Creator

FierceScribe

I write about entertainment and the inspiring people who create it. Interviews with actors and filmmakers revealing their latest projects and what influences them creatively.

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