If you’re a fan of audiobooks, then Scott Brick is a man who needs no introduction.
One of the most recognized and sought-after narrators on the market, Brick has voiced books for some of the biggest names on the thriller scene, including Brad Meltzer, Lee Child, Vince Flynn/Kyle Mills, Nelson DeMille, Gregg Hurwitz, Clive Cussler, Steve Berry, Michael Crichton, William Kent Krueger, Tom Clancy, and many more.
Recently, Brick did the narration for The Sail—another brilliant book from author Landon Beach, one of the most underrated writers working today—and it’s everything you’ expect from one of the best in the best in the business and then some.
As good as he is though, Brick is only truly ever at his very best when the story and writing allow for him to be, and in this case, it’s a match made in heaven. Here, the story follows the father and son duo of Robin and Tristian Norris as they finally prepare to sail around Lake Superior, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. They’ve been planning the adventure together for years, but pretty much from the moment they hit the open water, nothing quite goes according to plan—and before they know it, they find themselves caught up in a dangerous situation that involves a mysterious stowaway and a band of ruthless, modern-day pirates as their dream vacation turn into a living hell . . .
Just before the audiobook version of Landon Beach’s The Sail was released, I caught up with Scott Brick, who agreed to go on the record for our Five Questions segment, and asked him about everything from how he goes about narrating a book to what made him want to get into the business in the first place.
Check out the full Q&A below, then be sure to pick up your copy of The Sail, now available in paperback, eBook, and audiobook.
TRBS: Before we get into Landon Beach’s audiobook, The Sail—your performance is incredible by the way—let’s talk about when you knew you wanted to be an audiobook narrator. Was there one standout moment when you realized that this is what you wanted to do, and what made you decide to start narrating your first book?
Brick: Well, first off, thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it. I always knew I wanted to narrate, even when I was just out of college, touring in a Shakespeare company, because I have always been a massive fan of old-time radio and love the spoken word. So when I got cast to do two short stories in 1999, I was thrilled. After that, I was doing a book or two a month, but after about two or three years, I looked at my work schedule and realized this had become pretty much an everyday activity. That’s the moment when I realized, “Wow, I’m a narrator!” Which was a wonderful moment.
TRBS: What was your narrating process like for The Sail? Did you do any research? Did you sit and read the book first, or just go right into narrating it? Did you try to hit a target number of performance hours each day while recording?
Brick: Sure, there are target numbers I try to hit every day, I typically aim for about three finished hours, which may take me six to eight hours in studio, but each book is different. You definitely need to read the book ahead of time, and for The Sail, I actually started reading it when I recorded the first few chapters as a preview at the end of The Wreck, and I got so hooked that I just kept reading!
Still, what I had to do was what I do with all the books I do, I sent the manuscript to my researcher, a wonderfully knowledgeable guy named George Weissberg, who actually does all the research for several publishers out there and handles my own, as well. He looks up the pronunciation for any word that I might possibly stumble over, especially dialogue sections in foreign languages, which comes up in almost every book I do. That’s why I can keep his spreadsheet open in front of me while I’m recording, and switch windows on my computer when I see a word I’m not prepared for. It’s hugely helpful.
TRBS: Okay, you are in the hall of fame and primarily deal with big-name, traditionally published authors, what was it like working with Landon Beach, who is an independent author, on his three current novels? Of the three books, The Wreck, The Sail, and The Cabin, do you have a favorite?
Brick: It was wonderful, frankly. It’s always nice to hear from people who know and value your work, but especially so when they’re proactive authors like Landon who really understand what can be done through audio storytelling. He’s inventive, he’s clever, he’s original, and he has a burning passion to educate people through his fiction about a subject that’s near and dear to his heart. And yes, I do have a favorite of his, but my thinking on this clearly mirrors his: as he says, The Cabin is his best novel, but The Sail is a sentimental favorite, as it hits home on such an emotional level.
TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors to narrate books for, and which narrators have been influential in your own narrating?
Brick: Well, I have favorites for a lot of different reasons. I have a deep and abiding love for Nelson DeMille and Brad Meltzer, not only because I love their work so much, but because we’ve become friends over the years and because of their generosity. Very much the same for Gregg Hurwitz and the Dune authors, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, I honestly couldn’t imagine what my life would look like without their friendship.
And in the same vein, Lee Child and his newly announced co-author, his brother Andrew. I have loved Lee’s Jack Reacher novels for over a decade now, read them voraciously just as a fan for years and deeply envied my friend Dick Hill for getting the chance to narrate them, and was completely gobsmacked when offered the chance to take over the series after Dick’s retirement.
When I met Lee shortly before my first installment on the series debuted, Past Tense, he wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug and said, “Welcome to the family,” a moment that I will always treasure. But what makes it so wonderful now that he’s announced he’ll be writing with his brother from here on out was the fact I’ve known Andrew and his wonderful wife Tasha Alexander for over a decade now. We met on a trip to Rome in 2010 and have been friends ever since, and I’ve often wished I could narrate Andrew’s work, but because he’s British I didn’t think I’d get the opportunity, as English narrators are typically chosen to record English authors. But because Jack Reacher is an American character, my dream came true!
TRBS: Lastly, now that The Wreck and The Sail have been released, and The Cabin audiobook is set to come out soon, what’s next for you?
Brick: Well, to be honest, it’s a rather bittersweet time in the studio this week. I’m recording Wrath of Poseidon by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell, and it’s the first time I’ll be recording one of Clive’s books since his passing. I’ve honestly lost track of how many Cussler titles I’ve recorded, but it’s around seventy-five, and it’s sad to know he won’t be here when this one debuts. Even though he was 88, we were all devastated to learn of his passing, and it feels rather lonely in the studio this week without him. The grandmaster of adventure is gone.
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.