Sunny Afternoon Conversation with Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie: Running Blind Blog Stop by Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes + Giveaway!


Thank you Rhys for letting us (Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes) invade your blog to help pimp our new book, Running Blind, which releases on November 7th!

The main character in the book, Kyle Green, is a voice-over artist, or VOA. He speaks many languages, but Japanese holds a special place in his heart. VOAs bring the local language translation to anime (cartoons), movies, and books. Venona had a chance at GRL to interview two popular VOAs-Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie. Greg has given voice to many artist’s books, such as Rhys Ford’s Cole McGinnis Investigation Series (among others), Mary Calmes’s Mangrove Series, Alexa Land, Jamie Samms, Cardeno C, Nick Webb, and Kim Fielding to name a few. He was also a resource for us to help mold Kyle into the VOA he is in the book.

Joel Leslie is also a popular VOA, and has brought to life, from book to audio, for such authors as Haley Walsh (Skyler Foxe Series), Kim Fielding, K.C. Wells, N.R. Walker, J.S. Cook, and Grace Duncan.

So, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, we had lunch and discussed books, authors, remedies, life, GRL, small rabid animals, conference attendance, and life in general while we debated over getting dessert and cappuccino. This is an excerpt from our conversation.

Joel: You’re recording this and typing this out?

Venona: Yes I am. You want a copy or be surprised when it’s transcribed onto the blog?

J: I want to be surprised. What is question one?

V: What is the hardest part of your job?

J: I think the hardest part for me, is working with an author that doesn’t listen to audio. Very often, when you get an author that doesn’t do audio, they think it should sound like the way they do their readings. Not to use the word monotone, but it’s uncolored with characterization and individuality.

Greg: It’s a non-dramatized reading.

J: There you go. See, Greg always speaks English better than I do. Which is the reason why we read other people’s words.

(Laughter at the table)

J: It can also be very tricky with writing pairs. They don’t necessarily always agree. So I have a rule to have one person that has the the power of Yes/No, and they (authors) can sort it out between themselves. I’ve done books where the one author wasn’t happy with the first fifteen minutes I recorded of a character which was a character they weren’t even writing. They had written another character, and it was just nuts.

G: Huh. The only one I did with a two author collaboration was for the publisher. So it was the publisher’s decision.

J: The other hardest/scariest part is not having contact with the author in some circumstances and having to do guess work. It’s really stressful because you want to given them (author) what is in their head or as close as you can. That’s my answer.

G: It’s a good one. You brought up a couple of things I hadn’t verbalized. You know, we’re striking the balance between wanting to create an internally consistent and artistically authentic performance that also properly represents an author’s intent. The vast majority of the work we do, I think, we do instinctively, comes very close to the author’s intent with some obvious interpretations. Every now and then, you get an author who writes something one way that does not read that way. That creates a disconnect, and it’s hard to get through. Trying to strike that balance preemptively, and make sure that you’re not simply becoming a recitation machine.

J: That’s right.

G: You’re still an artist bringing in something to the work. And that you’re paying attention to the work.

J: The more they listen to more audio…

G: The better that is because they recognize when you give them good audio, it sounds like good audio. It’s engaging, it has that performance note, and then it’s the feeling of “it’s my story told through good audio”, not “it doesn’t sound the way my story sounds in my head.”

J: When the process works right, especially on series, the author then starts to write with your voice…

G: They do, they do a little bit.

J: I know people said that about Rhys (Ford).

G: I think Cole’s voice changed a little bit to match mine.

J: In the Skylar Foxe series that I do, for instance, there’s a character I voiced a certain way in book one that she (Haley Walsh) loved, but when I was catching up with her in books two and three, she had that same character saying ‘dude’. I was like, the guy we created would never say ‘dude’! She said I know that now that I heard him! We started working together in book six, and the character’s voices have shifted.

G: I love that type of collaboration. It’s like a painting trust exercise. Some one blindfolds themselves and describes something that you painted. Once you become good at that, get a working relationship, you make amazing stuff.

J: I’ve sent Haley joke ideas. It’s a silly series of jokes and they (the characters) make puns on each other’s names. (And I suggest) What if a character says this? Then she says great! I’ll stick that somewhere in the book.

G: You get a sense in your head, when you work with these characters, not only how they sound but of how they talk. You get that feeling you can imagine spontaneous dialogue for those characters in the milieu of how they would say it.

J: The other thing that is the hardest is if they (the authors) never read their book out loud. Because there’s things that get past the editor.

G: Yeah things you don’t expect.

J: For me, it’s repetitious words in a sentence…

G: Billy got up and walked to the window. Billy runs a hand through his hair. Billy turned around…

J: Yeah!

G: And the authors don’t realize they said Billy so many times…

J: Until they read it out loud.

G: Every now and then, you get a note back from an author asking “Can I re-write this section…”

J: (Laughs) Yeah…

G: “…and have you record it again?”

V: That’s funny because on a short story I got back from my editor, she pointed out each sentence for the past two paragraphs started with the character’s name, and to write it differently. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It’s nice to know when you’re reading it (out loud), you can pause and say, hey wait a minute…

J: I think every author should read their work out loud before sending it to print.

G: Yup.

J: In their own room, by themselves.

G: Maybe before the final proofing—

J: Yeah, yeah!

G: After editing, content editing, streamlining it, read it out loud, fix those things and before you send it for final proofing, so they (editor) find the places you wrote, you know, “He had a hint of condensation in his voice.”


V: I remember that story!

J: A lot of the MM work that we do with independent writers, Dreamspinner has very good editors, but when you work with independent authors, sometimes the editing is scary.

G: Well, you fall prey, when you’re by yourself, to shortcuts because…

J: You don’t have the financial…

G: You don’t have the financial wherewithal, you’re the chief cook and bottle washer, you get so wrapped up in it sometimes, it doesn’t get what it needs. The proper editing process is there for a reason and it does work. You can get away with somethings that may not fly forever.


Kyle Green is on top of the world. He and Matt have been together for ten years, and—as the voice of Ecos, the wildly popular anime character—Kyle is treated like a rock star in anime circles. But in an instant, a stroke leaves him blind. When photographer Matt gets the opportunity of a lifetime, Kyle reexamines their relationship, discovers it has been a safety net rather than a true romance, and sets Matt free to pursue his dream. Kyle’s life and career as he knew them are gone, and he must now find the courage and creativity to draft a new plan.

After being away for fifteen years, Seth Caplan comes home to Chicago to care for his mother and to partner with a small start-up tech company. He and Kyle meet after Kyle’s collision with a child’s sidewalk toy, and they hit it off. Kyle wants to get back into running, and Seth becomes his guide. As they get to know each other, they start seeing each other beyond their three-times-a-week runs. But Seth’s revelation of the dark reason why he left his career in California sends the relationship into a tailspin and leaves both men running blind.




Kim Fielding is very pleased every every time someone calls her eclectic. Her books have won Rainbow Awards and span a variety of genres. She has migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States and currently lives in California, where she long ago ran out of bookshelf space. She’s a university professor who dreams of being able to travel and write full time. She also dreams of having two perfectly behaved children, a husband who isn’t obsessed with football, and a house that cleans itself. Some dreams are more easily obtained than others

You can reach Kim at:




Venona Keyes is a modern woman who believes in doing it all; if doing it all is only in her head. She amazes people that she can be wholly unorganized yet pack a perfect carry on suitcase for a ten day trip to Paris. Ms. Keyes is a believer in the just in time theory, and can be seen sprinting in airports to the gate before the plane door closes.

Venona has experienced love and loss at the deepest level, and is thankful for writing and daydreaming, for it kept, and still keeps her sane. Writing also introduced her to some of the most supportive and wonderful people, to which she will always be grateful.

Venona is a voracious reader, loves her feline boys, volunteers at an animal shelter, attempts to cook everything in her CSA boxes, is an accomplished speaker, is a seasoned triathlete, and enjoys swimming, biking, hiking, skipping, dancing, and her beloved overgrown garden.

You can reach Venona at:



Rafflecopter Codes and Giveaways!

Make a comment by November 14th and be entered into win a giveaway!

Giveaway #1 – Wordwide

Audio Books, E-Book, and DSP Gift Certificate

3 Audio Books (Treasure, The Downs, and Guarded)

E-book Coming of Age

$20 Dreamspinner Press Gift Certificate

Giveaway #1: Worldwide   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2 – US OnlyManga (Graphic Novels), Audio, and E-Books


Traditional Japanese Manga (translated into English):

Borders  Volumes 1-5 by Kazuma Kodaka

American Manga:

Longitudes and Latitudes, Volumes 1 – 3 by True Teargem & Tprinces

American Dōjinshi:

Kindly Assistance (A Sherlock Holmes & John Watson Romance) by Halloween Panda

Audio Books & E-books

3 Audio Books (Treasure, The Downs, and Guarded) E-book Coming of Age

Giveaway #2: USA only     a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #3 – US Only – Bento Ensemble, Audio, and E-Books

Bento Ensemble

Bento Box

Lacquered wooden chopsticks

Handmade drawstring cloth bag with decorative stitching

Audio Books & E-books

3 Audio Books (Treasure, The Downs, and Guarded)

E-book Coming of Age

Giveaway #3: USA only  a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Stops!

Oct 31 – MM Good Book Reviews – I Fought the Law

Nov 1 – The Novel Approach – Kyle at Yaoi Con Short

Nov 2 – Rhys Ford – VOA Interview with Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie

Nov 3 – Mary Calmes – Exclusive Excerpt from Running Blind

Nov 4 – DSP Blog – Siblings

Nov 7 – Divine Magazine – Release Day Exclusive Excerpt

Nov 8 – Gay Book Reviews – The Lord and the Amnesiac Rogue

Nov 9 – Kimmer’s Erotic Book Banter – Kyle and Ecos Short

Nov 10 – Love Bytes – Losing Sense

Nov 10 – Tammy’s Two Cents – Universities

Nov 11 – Sinfully Gay – Running

22 thoughts on “Sunny Afternoon Conversation with Greg Tremblay and Joel Leslie: Running Blind Blog Stop by Kim Fielding and Venona Keyes + Giveaway!

    1. Venona

      Thanks Debby!
      We had fun making this recording. Kim and I plan to post the rest of the interview on our blogs in the coming weeks. Good luck on the contest!!!!

  1. Michaelle

    Considering my adoration of Greg’s work, this story sounds right up my alley – can’t wait to read it.

    I need to start following more authors; I’m sure I would have stumbled onto this book eventually but with my luck it would have been months later!

    Also gonna have to check out Joel’s VO work; pretty sure I haven’t heard him yet seeing as I’m newish to the whole audiobook thing and I tend to stick with books narrated by Greg, Sean Crisden, Iggy Toma, Nick J. Russo, JF Harding & Tristan James. (Hey, I know what I like!)

    1. Michaelle–

      Greg was so generous with his time as Kim and I interrogated, err, politely inquired about VOA at GRL 2015. Joel does the Skylar Foxe series for Haley Walsh. He came onto our radar when he did the narration for Kim’s Treasure. Both he an Greg gave me so much more insight into narration during our Q & A session. In the coming weeks, the rest of the transcribed discussion will be on our websites. Once you listen to Joel, I think he might be on your radar along with the other wonderful narrators you listed.

      And I find stumbled upon books are some of the best books!

      Happy listening!!!


  2. Pingback: Running Blind blog tour=treats for you | Kim Fielding Writes

  3. Oh, wow! I discovered audiobooks earlier this year and now I’m totally enamored. I have several narrated by Greg Tremblay and now I have a new-to-me VOA Joel Leslie.

    The blog post was interesting. And I’ll add Running Blind to my wish list, it sounds intriguing.

    Thanks for the nice selection of goodies.

    1. Judy–
      I had the pleasure of hearing Joel narrate for an author at GRL this year, and he was fabulous! It’s nice to run into a new-to-me author or narrator.

      Thank you for commenting! We hope you enjoy the book!


  4. Thank you for visiting. I enjoyed that and look forward to now reading… and hearing when it comes… your book. Sounds wonderful!!!

  5. I know what you mean, Nora! My conversation with Greg and Joel really opened my eyes (and ears) about what they find when reading.

    Thanks for the comment! We hope you like the book.


  6. Sadonna

    Two of my favorite narrators! Add in Spencer Goss, Michael Stellman and Seth Clayton and I’m happy for days!

    1. Venona

      Sadonna – I have to admit, I don’t listen to audio books. Kimis the big audiophile I just prefer to read the books. After my conversation with Greg an Joel, I think I’ll get a few and try them again. 🙂 Of course, I’ll have to listen to others you mentioned too.

      Thanks for commenting!


  7. moonangel23

    Greg and Joel are some of my all-time favorite narrators. In the interview, the part about monotone/non-dramatized readings of books–this is one of my pet peeves. I read an absolutely amazing book, and when I got the audiobook version and listened to it, the narrator reminded me of my third-grade teacher reading to us. I was utterly disappointed, particularly when I realized that same narrator also did several other books I wanted on audio (including more of the series that amazing book was from)…which I am now strongly reconsidering taking off my wish list and just enjoying those as re-reads instead. When the narrator does the story as performance audio, it brings the books to life in a way that a basic reading never can-especially in those more emotional scenes and of course the passionate ones 😉

    1. Venona

      That is a very interesting observation. I too found the same on the few audio books I listened to. Greg and Joel covered this in another part of the conversation, which Kim and I will have on our blogs in the coming weeks. They comment on the fact that the first book they’ve read, they really wanted to go back and re-do it, because they have grown as artists, and have a hard time listening to the first books they narrated. If they did that, then they would be driving themselves nuts with perfection. I think it’s good they leave the narration as is, because in the series, the character grows as the narrator does…and then…they are the character. 🙂

      Thanks for the great comment.


  8. Juli-Anna Dobson

    Always such a delight to hear both of your thoughts on your craft. It was so nice to see you both last month..

  9. Cherry Starr

    Thank you for educating me a little about what goes into making a book audible. I never really thought about what the process was.

    1. Venona


      It was a education for me too! In the coming weeks, Kim Fielding and I will have the rest of the conversation on our blogs. It opened my eyes (and ears) to read an listen.

      Thanks for the comment!


  10. lisa44837

    I have a couple of audios Joel’s narrated in my iPod, waiting to be listened to and I’ve listened to a lot of Greg’s work. He’s right at the top of my favorite list. I’ll even get books by authors I’ve never heard of just to listen to Greg’s narration. Thanks for a great interview!

  11. I don’t listen to audiobooks but I was always curious about the narrators and the work they do Thanks for the interview to the voice-over artists, interesting post.

    1. Serena:

      Between the two of us, Kim is the big audiophile, I’m the bibliophile, so it’s rare that I listen to the audio version. What I thought made the interview interesting, was the suggestions they gave for writers: to read your story out loud! If written well, it reads well.

      Thank you for the comment!


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