Interview with narrator Nick J Russo!

Morgan: Help me welcome Nick J Russo!

Nick is a narrator whom you’ve all heard (probably) by now and whom we’ve reviewed here on Open Skye. He’s done many titles you are familiar with like:

and many, many more.

You can find his complete listings here:

He’s been so gracious as to stop by and answer some questions for us!

MS: Can you tell us a little about your background, training, experience, etcetera?  How did you get into narrating?  How did you get into narrating for Dreamspinner and Dark Night Sound?

– I’ve been narrating for almost five years now, having landed my first book at Falcon Sound Company in the winter of 2013/2014. My friend, fellow narrator John Solo, was looking for new narrators and I immediately auditioned. Other than various school productions over the years, I hadn’t had too much prior experience in acting/narrating. I was more of a musician than an actor. But almost five years and 130+ audio books later, what started as a fun side gig has morphed into a full time dream job. Not only do I voice for Falcon Sound (doing mostly Dreamspinner projects), but I also opened up a studio of my own, Dark Night Sound, which my wife and I run together.  


MS: Do you have a process that you go through to find the right voice for a character?  How do you keep track of voices when there’s a series?

– Certainly! Our process includes an initial pre-read of the book to get an idea of what makes each character tick. Often times, a voice just comes out of my preread and works organically with the material, other times I try to imagine a famous actor or actress I would cast in the role if it were a TV series or movie, then model my voice accordingly. For any given title, (but especially for series), we record a generic line for each recurring character to ensure consistency – you can imagine the challenge of keeping track of a series with 20+ voices! So keeping recordings to rely on is important.    

MS: Do you still audition or are you inundated with requests at this point?  Do you read the book before hand?   How long is your typical work day?

 – I still audition from time to time if I see something that piques my interest, but more often than not I have a pretty full schedule I’m focusing on instead! It’s very flattering to be approached by an author or publisher to voice their hard work. 

My typical work day is about four hours of booth time, and another four hours of post production work. That usually includes things like cleaning, (removing hard P or B sounds, tongue clicks, pops, etc), mastering, and rendering completed chapters. 


MS: I know you can’t pick a favorite story or author – that would be too hard I’m sure 😉

– It is! At this point I have about two dozen favorites! 😀 


But was there one character or another that was more fun to portray or more difficult or more unique… something about them that made them stand out in your mind?  One that took a lot of effort and planning for?  Something like that?

 – I have the pleasure to work with so many talented authors: they’re so good at writing such unique, fascinating characters! They are all fun in their own ways though. Whether it’s voicing a stoned vampire for LA Witt,

a steampunk caped crusader for Amy Lane,

or a down on his luck phone sex operator for Quinn Anderson,

there is ALWAYS a layer of enjoyment. One of my most recent collaborations with Lane Hayes, Leaning Into Forever,

was quite the emotional journey in the character of Geordie. He is such a layered and broken character, and an absolute thrill to voice. In one of his climactic scenes, I was so enthralled with the material that there wasn’t really any “acting” involved – I had to stop myself and wipe away some tears! 


MS: How many “takes” do you usually need to get through an hours worth of narrating (finished product).

– I’d say an hour chapter takes me about an hour and a half to record. I typically do a few takes on any given line of dialogue until I feel like I captured the tone that the author was going for in that moment. If I’m lucky, I nail it on the first take, but other times I’ll be sitting there saying the same line a half a dozen times until I get ‘the one’. 


MS: Where did you grow up? I know I saw a post from you in Oregon…   Sometimes you have what seems like an accent but other times you don’t!

– I actually don’t live in Oregon – but my wife and I eloped there last fall and LOVE IT out there! We’re actually from the Midwest and live in Columbus, Ohio. I’ve heard before that mid westerners have some form of accent, but I couldn’t tell you what it sounds like! 

What does your partner/family/coworkers think of your books?  Do they listen and critique or not? 

– Since my wife runs Dark Night Sound with me, she actually is in charge of our Quality Control, so she listens (and critiques) to every book we produce! My coworkers are other narrators, so we all try and support each other the best we can. Overall, my family and friends are very supportive and encouraging of my career! 

MS: Thank you so much for stopping by Nick and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

Thanks for having me, Morgan! Have a great week and thanks for listening! ?

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