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Interview With The Narrator – Darla Middlebrook

Hi there, friends and fans!

Darla Middlebrook is one of the amazing narrators who have helped bring many of my books to life as audiobooks! She’s already narrated six titles in the Quantum Series, as well as “Opsaal“, a novelette, and I’m happy to say, has been an absolute joy to work with! Not only that, but she has a wicked sense of humor, and she’s also a firm fan of my writing, which is a truly humbling experience for me!

Darla recently agreed to an interview, and this is the result!

Let’s begin with a quick introduction: According to her bio, Darla Middlebrook was born on November 24, 1950 in Mansfield, Ohio, USA. She’s an actress, credited with appearing in the sci-fi movie Android Apocalypse (2006) and the series Over the Fence (2014). As an audiobook narrator, she is described as a voice-over actress, and has at least 87 audiobooks to her credit (listed on Audible and Amazon).

To give you an idea, of the 14 audiobooks released since 2020, Darla has narrated 7 of them. This is exactly half my audiobooks! Below are my audiobooks as narrated by Darla Middelbrook (covers designed by Brandon Mullins, Moon Books Publishing):

Me: Darla, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview! To start with, you were born in the US but have lived in Canada for many years, what would you say was the reason for this?

Darla: I fell in love with the Saskatchewan Prairies. I really believe that I must have lived here in a past life (or someplace very much like Saskatchewan).

Me: How would you describe your family, life experience and background?

Darla: I am the youngest of Rev. JD & AnnaMae Middlebrook ‘s 4 daughters. My sisters were 17, 15 and 8 years older than I. My father became a Baptist Minister when I turned 12 years old. Both parents were civil rights activists and businesspeople in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio.  When I was quite young, I met Martin Luther King and Carl Stokes (1st black mayor of Cleveland, Ohio), but I don’t remember the meetings very well. My father met JFK while he was campaigning for president. My mother was extremely smart and encouraged me to read as much as I wanted to (the Bible, encyclopedias, various countries’ mythologies) because she wanted me to expand my mind. My last two years of high school were at an all girls school in Providence Rhode Island where I read a lot of Hawthorne (go to school in New England = read Hawthorne).

Me: That’s really fascinating! I’m quite envious! Now, before you retired, you worked as a school speech pathologist, would you like to describe what a speech pathologist does, and perhaps elaborate on any high (or low) points of your experiences in that career?

Darla: Here is a good explanation of my former profession: Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work with people of all ages. They help clients restore or improve their ability to speak or swallow. In general, speech-language pathologists: assess, identify and diagnose language, speech, voice, resonance, fluency and swallowing disorders. (An SLP is NOT a doctor, although we often work in medical settings as well as school settings)

Me: That sounds like fascinating and rewarding work! Did you find working as a speech pathologist and helping people improve or regain their speech rewarding?

Darla: Yes, I did. Especially when a stroke patient was able to re-enter society or a child was able to move ahead in school and life with improve speech and language skills.

Me: Before doing audio narration work, you’d already been an actress on stage and in several movies – would you like to elaborate?

Darla: Years ago, I was involved with the amateur theatre life of Regina, Weyburn and Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Mostly musicals and some opera in Regina. I also directed a couple of plays. Saskatchewan had a booming film industry for a while and a couple of movies were filmed here (Regina, Weyburn and Moose Jaw). I only worked as an extra in the films, so my experiences were mostly sitting or standing around until the cameras rolled.

Me: I think that’s really pretty impressive! I also love the name “Moose Jaw” – it cracks me up! Must be my warped sense of humor!

Darla: There are lots of “different” names used for towns, villages and bodies of water here in Saskatchewan J. For example: Assiniboia (actually named after one of the tribes of indigenous people in this part of Canada), Forget (pronounced as “for-jay”…it’s French), Swift Current (named because of the fast current of the river that flows there) and Saskatoon (named after the small tasty berries which look like small blueberries and grow near streams here in Saskatchewan – Saskatoon berries).

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Me: Now, moving on to the recording of audiobooks, many audiobook narrators just start on their narrating careers without any formal training, perhaps just working it all out as they go along, but you’ve had extensive training in the field, and even a diploma! Would you like to describe your training and experience, and what that contributes to your work as a narrator?

Darla: My training as a SLP and my training as a singer helps me a great deal. 

Me: What made you decide to narrate audiobooks?

Darla: I have a couple of friends who are authors. These friends tried to encourage me to write a novel. I tried and found it was waaaaay to hard!! But, I was sure that I could read aloud much better. During my first voice over classes, I demonstrated that I was better at presenting a “story” in long form than in short. In other words; I sucked at doing commercials or PSAs (public service announcements) which required me to tell the story in 30 seconds or less, but I seemed to have a knack when it came to “telling the story” in long form(s).

Me: There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in the process of recording an audiobook, from preparing to record the story in chapters, to the actual recording, to the final uploading and submission. Would you like to describe your “process” as it were, from taking on a book, to determining what you need to do, to completion?

Darla:  First I read the entire book. As I read, I try to picture the characters. I try to imagine that each character feels that he or she is a “good” person.  Even if the villain is evil, he or she does not feel that he or she is bad. After I have made the recording, I listen to the product, editing out extraneous noise or adding (a minimum of) effect(s). Sometimes, I need to touch base with the author (if I can) to find out if what I see written in the script is correct. There have been instances wherein the text is not as the author wrote it (in other words misprints).

Me: What would pass for a typical day in the life of Darla Middlebrook? Do you have a daily routine? Do you plan your day around recording audiobooks, or do you plan your recording sessions around your day?

Darla: Usually early AM rising, breakfast with my cat, narrate chapters until lunchtime, check e-mails, lunch with the cat, edit/repair recordings, prep for the next day and/or record auditions, hit the hay with the cat (rinse and repeat for the next day until the project is finished).

Me: What would you say is the most rewarding aspect to being an audiobook narrator for you?

Darla: “Traveling” (in my mind) to other worlds, cities, times via the stories that the authors have created. Bringing the stories to life. You asked me, previously, about my prep process. I forgot to tell you that I always read the ending portion of the book first. It is something that I have always done. Before I started narrating audio books, I would read the endings of books to help me decide if I wanted to buy the book. Agatha Christy’s books were never a mystery for me. People think I’m weird because of this habit. Ironically, however, a few of my narration coaches advised their classes to do just as I do because (you never know) maybe it is not made clear until the end of a book that a main character has an accent or a limp or something that is important to the plot of the story. 

Me: You’ve recorded the Quantum series, and I have to say that it was a joy receiving your emails saying how you battled to keep a straight face and not to laugh out loud while recording, because my stories kept making you laugh! Does anything stand out, or what comes to mind that were the funniest bits in these books for you?

Darla: The first naming of the sun and planets in the prologue of the first book of the series always cracks me up.  I often will quote it to my friends. All of the books had funny parts. The funniest clip lately occurred in book 6 when Marla DeBris demonstrated her speed to the Governor and General causing both gentlemen to react. I had to read that section 3 times before I stopped giggling. (It’s really hard to maintain good breath control when your abdomen is quivering from laughter.)

Me: Lastly, do you have any message for your followers and fans?

Darla: Be nice to others. Never give up. Try to help others. Be kind to the planet!!

Me: Darla, thank you so much for doing this interview, it’s been fascinating to learn more about you – and a real privilege! Thanks once more for your friendship and support, I hope you know it is all deeply appreciated.

Lastly, I’d like to mention for the benefit of the audience, that all Darla’s audiobooks are available on Audible and Amazon. You can find out more on Darla’s website, Darla’s Voice.

Below you can listen to some of Darla’s narration of the Quantum Series:


Well that’s it, folks, until next time, keep reading!


All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2022.

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