How to Listen Closely: Questions on Proof-Listening with Darla Middlebrook

At Iambik, our diligent team of proof-listeners work tirelessly to make certain that the words you’re hearing are the words the author wrote, and not the inner monologues that sometimes escape a narrator’s lips.  Proof-listening also makes sure you don’t hear sneezes and sniffs, alien spaceship landing gear interference, and anything else that might make its way onto a recording.  As a secret but shamefully habitual lip-smacker, I am personally forever indebted to their work, and wanted to chat with a few of our proof-listeners about their contributions to our text.  Here’s narrator AND proof-listener (and apparently resident multi-tasking expert) Darla Middlebook.

Miette Elm: Let’s start with the obvious. What first compelled you to proof-listen audiobooks? How long have you been at it, and do you have a favourite genre to work in?
Darla Middlebrook: I’m new to voiceover work. I decided to proof-listen because I felt that doing so would help me to better understand the process of self-directing/monitoring/correcting and how to find pickup points for narrators.

Darla Middlebrook

Darla Middlebrook

ME: What are you up to? What have you been working on lately, what’s coming up next, and how’s it going?
DM: What am I doing now? I am in the process of narrating another book. Because of a non-disclosure contract, I can only say that 10 of 12 chapters are finished. Twice a month, I read to residents of a local nursing home. Once a month, I perform narratives and storytelling at a local coffee shop. At the end of the month, I will be attending a Story Tellers’ Retreat. Hoping to learn many things to help hone my skills.

I also do volunteer reading for AIRS-LA which produces podcasts of magazines for the visually challenged. My podcasts include Cat Fancy Magazine (weekly) and one article/month for the Canadian version of Reader’s Digest

ME: What’s the most difficult or daunting part of proof-listening work?
DM: The most difficult part of proof-listening is having to tell a narrator that he/she must redo part of his/her work.

ME: As a narrator, I’m sometimes self-conscious turning over my files to a proof-listener, thinking that it’s only a matter of time before I neglect to edit out some of my less-than-charming interjections or interruptions. We burp, we swear at passing buses or honking horns, we clear our throats, and sometimes we don’t successfully edit it all out. So (without naming names), tell me about one of the more interesting errors you’ve had to correct.
DM: The most interesting error has been the repetition or total omission of an entire page. I’ve done that myself as a narrator. When that kind of thing happens, I know it’s time to go to bed!!

ME: As a proof-listener, you must be the sort of person who listens very closely to the world around you. So, in your esteemed opinion: world’s best sounds? And its worst?
DM:  World’s best sound = children’s laughter.  World’s worst sound = children’s tears.

Darla Middlebrook’s most recent title as a proof-listener is Jennifer Pelland’s chilling Unwelcome Bodies. You should also check out Darla’s work as a narrator on The Autobiography of Jenny X.  And if you can’t get enough of her, you can also reach her via Facebook, Voiceover Universeher website, or check out all her available audiobooks via Audible.