Author David Epstein’s new audiobook, Range, is packed with the kind of meticulously researched “aha!” moments that will have listeners buzzing. We caught up with Will Damron, the Audie Award-winning narrator of Range, on what it was like to read Epstein’s work, and other life lessons that can be drawn from the experience of narrating audiobooks.
Tell us a little about Range.
Range directly challenges the social/business narrative weâ€™ve been sold for years that you have to identify your one lifeâ€™s passion early on, and stick with it for the rest of your days. David Epstein introduces numerous true stories of people who have made incredible strides in various fields—medical, innovation, technology, and more—because they decidedly did NOT follow one direct path in their careers. Range argues that the meandering, curiosity-driven worker is the kind of person who might ultimately make the biggest impact on the world, because they incorporate all the knowledge acquired from their varied life experience.
Did the experience of narrating Range reveal something about you or your work that you didnâ€™t expect? If so, what?
One of the central tenets of Range is (and Iâ€™m paraphrasing here): If you donâ€™t have your life figured out by age 45, donâ€™t panic. Itâ€™s really OK, and it may even be a good thing. We all face professional and personal challenges, and itâ€™s refreshing to be presented with actual data that says, Hereâ€™s another way to approach your work and your life that may actually be better than the metric youâ€™ve been using. Following your personal curiosity, even though it may never fit into a neat lane of traffic in the working world, is perhaps the best thing you can do.
Is there a character or situation that youâ€™ve narrated that you feel contributed to your growth personally or professionally?
In all honesty, books like Range have a significant impact on me professionally. Iâ€™ve been very fortunate to have narrated several nonfiction books in the past few years that challenge my previous conceptions of how to approach work, productivity, and the pursuit of my passions. In taking on Mr. Epsteinâ€™s voice and bringing his research to the listening world, Iâ€™m able to internalize his message much more fully.
Related to that, whatâ€™s the most challenging character or situation youâ€™ve voiced and why was it a challenge?
The most challenging moments in narration for me tend to be when Iâ€™m describing truly horrific personal experiences of the characters, be they real or imagined people. At the end of the day, as a performer, I approach their pain the same way and want to honor its role in the story, so any time I know Iâ€™m dealing with rape, torture, murder, or other trauma, I know I have to prepare myself, because I want to dive fully into the experience of the story.
Our theme for the PRHA blog this month is growth. Growing up, did you have a favorite audiobook/book? (Or a favorite character whose voice you especially loved?)
My favorite series growing up was Brian Jacquesâ€™s Redwall books. I remember him reading the audiobooks in his rumbling English accent, and how the playful humor of the stories just shone through. I adored those books as a kid. Also, mice and badgers battling stoats and evil cats in the Middle Ages? Come on. Amazing.
Will Damron is an Audie Award-winning narrator as well as a three-time Voice Arts Award winner. He has recorded books in genres ranging from thriller to fantasy, young adult, nonfiction, romance, memoir, and more. He has performed off Broadway and in regional theater throughout New England and his native Virginia, and is also a published fiction author.
Listen to a clip of Will reading Range:
From the bestselling author of The Sports Gene, Range is a powerful argument for how to succeed in any field: develop broad interests and skills while everyone around you is rushing to specialize.
Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.
â€śSo much crucial and revelatory information about performance, success, and education.â€ť—Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet