Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Shorts 2014 - Peter Berkrot

As many of you know June is Audiobook Month! Last year Xe Sands spearheaded a wonderful project called Summer Shorts and I was honored to be a part of it with Peter Berkrot. We had a fascinating phone conversation that resulted in this interview. And he was generous enough to also do a Five on Friday last year.

I was asked to be involved in the Summer Shorts project for this year (so I didn't mess it up too bad last year) and I'm excited to be welcoming Peter back again. But first let me share with you a little about the project.

Summer Shorts 2014
The audiobook community is giving back! Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts '14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day via Going Public, as well as on various author and book blogs. As a "Thank you!" to listeners, pieces will be available for free online listening the day of their release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support of ProLiteracy, there are over 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download. The full release schedule can be found on the Spoken Freely page of the Going Public blog.

Formal info about Peter Berkrot
A veteran of stage and screen, Peter Berkrot's career spans four decades. Highlights include feature roles in Caddyshack and Showtime's Brotherhood, and appearances on America's Most Wanted and Unsolved Mysteries. His voice can be heard on television, radio, video games, documentaries and industrials. He is a prominent acting coach and a regular contributor to the award-winning news program Frontline produced by WGBH in Boston. Peter served as director of narration for the Emmy-nominated The Truth About Cancer. Peter has recorded over 170 audiobooks and over 100 for children. He has been nominated for the Audie Award and has received a number of AudioFile Earphone Awards and starred reviews. Favorite titles include Toby and the Secret of the Tree by Timotee de Fombelle, Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith, The Accident by Linwood Barclay and The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters.

To add a little to Peter's formal bio, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite of his narrations. Of course, I can't claim to have heard them all, but I felt he did a stellar job with David Handler's Runaway Man (more on that shortly), Paul Levine's Lassiter and Daniel Palmer's Delirious.

And here's a little nod to his film work:

We wanted to do something a wee bit different for you to shake things up, so I have what I am calling "Get to Know Peter Berkrot in Triplicate." I've put together a list of prompts for him to respond in threes, so let's get started:

3 Favorite Audiobooks You’ve Recorded:
a Toby and the Secret of the Tree.
b. Unholy Night
c. World of Trouble

3 Most Challenging Audiobooks You’ve Recorded:
a. Cain at Gettysburg
b. A Most Dangerous Method
c. The Simulacra

3 Words You Learned During Recordings:
a. Glucocortocoids
b. micropipetter
c. thujone

3 Audiobooks You’d Recommend That You Did NOT Narrate:
a. The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks (narrator: Scott Brick)
b. What is What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers (narrator: Dion Graham)
c. Lisey's Story by Stephen King (narrator: Mare Winningham)

Last 3 Audiobooks You Narrated:
a. The Girl from Nowhere by Christopher Finch
b. Dog Gone, Back Soon by Nick Trout
c. World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters

3 Jobs You Had Before Audiobook Narrator:
a. Acting Teacher, coach
b. Waiter
c. Journalist

3 Audiobooks You’re Most Proud Of:
a. The Accident by Linwood Barclay
b. 77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz
c. The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick

3 Favorite Characters from Audios You’ve Recorded:
a. Hank Palace from WORLD OF TROUBLE by Ben H. Winters
b. Glen Garber from THE ACCIDENT by Linwood Barclay
c. Junior Bender from CRASHED, LITTLE ELVISES, THE FAME THEIF and HERBIE’S GAME by Timothy Hallinan

3 Pet Peeves About Audios You’ve Listened to:
a. Books that leave no time for reflection at the end of a book
b. Books without intro outré music
c. I’m not recording it

3 Things You Enjoy Doing When Not Recording:
a. Deadheading flowers
b. Running on the treadmill at the gym to random musical theatre tunes
c. Too much Facebook

When Peter and I spoke last year, he mentioned casting Harry Potter as his read aloud for his son. So since one of my favorite recordings that Peter put out since then was Runaway Man written by David Handler, I asked him how he would cast the book if it were being made for TV or movies?

Well in the 80’s when I was young and casting everything, I would have cast Dustin Hoffman as Benjie, Shirley MacLaine as his mom, Susan Sarandon as the secretary and John Forsyth as the lawyer. Now all I got is Jim Sturges as Benjie, Meryl Streep as his mom, Renee Zellweger as the secretary, James Cromwell as the lawyer and Michael Sam as the professional young gay black college athlete!

I have to tell you, I like that 80s cast! Am I showing my age? Maybe we should move on to the highlight of the feature. For this year's Summer Shorts, Peter recorded John Mortonson's Funeral by Ambrose Bierce. Here's a little about it in Peter's words:

John Mortonson's Funeral by Ambrose Bierce is a short story. Very short, as if to say, we're already at the funeral, what did you expect? Unlike his iconic story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, there are no further adventures to take place at the end of a rope. There is only a slight twist at the end of this one. It is that slight twist that drew me in and caught my eye. And throat. Because it is also, as it turns out, very similar to an event in the narrator's own life, one that happened when he was very young. It might have been called What Happened to Your Cousin Rhoda, told to him only once as a young child and never discussed again. Peter hopes you enjoy listening. If not, he promises it will all over over in a second.

Thanks for sticking around for our long and wonderful celebration of Audiobook Month. Thanks once again to Peter Berkrot, who is a such a great sport when it comes to my hairbrained schemes for blog posts! And finally thanks to Xe Sands for having me back again on the Summer Shorts project. It's such an honor to be a part of this amazing undertaking.

I'd like to encourage you to check out the other participants in the project. Yesterday over at Book and a Latte, Cris Dukehart wrote a lovely guest post. She recorded one of my favorite children's stories--one of the first books I bought my niece--The Velveteen Rabbit.

And tomorrow Jo Anna Perrin will be at the Literate Housewife blog with her recording of The Girl in the Blue Feathered Hat

You can purchase the entire collection through the end of June for $9.99. Beginning on July 1st, the price goes to $14.99. A great deal for a wonderful collection of stories, poems and essays. Plus, your purchase benefits literacy. What could be better!


Beth F June 21, 2014 at 7:03 AM  

Love the words Peter learned! I need to look them up and figure out how to say them. I too love that 80s cast!

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