Our updated 2023 version of The Dyslexic Advantage is available in audiobook from places like Amazon / Audible, and Brock and I enjoyed hearing Tristan’s narration, so we reached out to him for this interview.
Brock listens to books at a high speed of playback and he was happy to discover that Tristan’s reading does well at all speeds!
Tristan has a prolific career as an audiobook reader, you can learn more at his site: www.tristanmorrisvoiceover.com/ and he even does a wide range of voices depending on what is needed for a book.
Wow- what a wide ranging conversation we had!
I was interested in talking to him for a variety of reason – first to learn more about the person behind the voice, but also over the years we had seen a few students that were testing who had the gift of hearing the different voices of different people. It made them natural mimics, but also emotionally perceptive – so talking to Tristan, I hoped to learn more about this side….and I did.
Here are some excerpts:
“Some people will actually do like sound changes where they’ll go through and write when there is a change of a specific vowel or a dropped consonant…I can keep a placement change in my mouth, so it’s not even like a different voice. It’s more a different intention to a character so the rhythm of the way someone speaks or the pitch placement and I’ll start to associate a feeling of a character or a rhythm of a character with a placement in the mouth…when I have multiple people speaking with distinctive voices in a scene…it’s very stop and go, to get all the rhythm of it right so that it flows…but it becomes like second nature…once I get those people at the beginning of a book, I have you here and I have you there, I will place them. You have a more nasal voice and you have a bass voice. I kind of use the colors of what my voice can do, so that I can use my instruments. Those are the colors I can make with my voice.”
Tristan is not just an audiobook narrator; he’s also an actor who got his MFA in Drama (along with his wife) at the New School of Drama in New York City.
Interestingly, in order to help him memorize his lines, he learned that the best way for him to remember was to read his lines aloud in the theater after everyone had gone for the day. This trick was much better than just writing out the lines or repeating them at home. Going through the lines in the space and going through the motions of the play helped him learn his lines and part by heart.
Another interesting discovery I had when speaking to Tristan was that he thought there might be some dyslexia in his family:
“I was an auditory learner from very young… I identified with certain aspects of the challenges that dyslexic people face, but not the full set. I didn’t have trouble learning to read when I was young, but I’ve always struggled spelling. I remembering being embarrassed having to spell in front of classmates. It was always really terrifying. You know, going up to write on the board, or on the overhead projector or whatever, I knew that I was going to misspell a basic word that I should have known. When I was in high school, I remember I misspelled a basic word and a close friend was just ragging on me in front of the class, and people laughed. It was just horrible. To this day, I have to spellcheck.”
Tristan also shared that he has to read slowly because he has to hear the book in his mind (something that many adult dyslexics tell us.) Tristan also spoke about his father who was a talented commercial designer who sculpted and designed wax museums. Fascinating.
Could it be possible that a talented audiobook narrator may also have stealth dyslexia? Yes, it’s possible, and it may also make a lot of sense.
Avid audiobook listeners don’t want dry and dusty dictionary reading, they want one who conveys the life of a story. And maybe dyslexic people will have an advantage there – especially those who have been listening carefully to stories and differences among people’s voices their whole life long.
Here is a small bit of my chat with Tristan. I will post our complete wonderful interview for our Premium subscribers. Thanks again, Tristan!