Today I have a special treat for you. I recently conducted an interview with Liam Taylor, the narrator of The Last Word. Not only will you know more about Liam on a personal level, you will also see he is vigorously following his passions in life. I applaud him for it. As I’ve stated before on the novel blogs, I am so grateful to have found him for the audio book! Without further ado, let’s dive in!
When did you first discover your voice talent?
Sat in a university dormitory, I first really became cognisant of my ability to narrate and tell stories when I suddenly had a compulsion to create a “Let’s Play” of sorts of one of my favourite videogames. I wanted to do something different to what all the other YouTubers were doing, though – I wanted to tell a proper story whilst I played the game. I wrote a script and narrated it, talking as if I was producing a documentary rather than playing a video game. It was a lot of fun, but what really struck me was how well-received it was. The acclaim was so appreciative, in-fact, that I was invited to provide voice work for the very game I was playing.
For anyone interested, that project is called Europa Barbarorum II.
Do you use your voice for other professional works?
I’m very interested in getting involved in providing voicework for TV shows and video games, but there is something of a barrier to entry I am unsure how to breach. Getting work on Audible is reasonably straightforward – in fact, I’d wager anyone reading this could start doing it right now if they picked up a decent microphone – as ACX is an open market with no application requirements. Voice agencies, however, are a different story – it’s a challenge I’m working on now, as I truly believe I have the talent to make this work as a proper career; I just need the right opportunities.
Can you tell us about one of your passions in life?
I am a medieval reenactment enthusiast and a member of the UK group Historia Normannis
. Having always been a hobbyist fan of history and the ancient world, I greatly enjoy pondering the cultural differences between modern times and the heritages we have descended from; it’s endlessly fascinating to me what enormous potential the human mind has for diversity given a change in circumstance and beliefs. I enjoy reenactment for the opportunity to method act, and run thought experiments on how and why things existed or were done the way they were. In essence, I suppose, human psychology is what is very interesting to me – and that interest manifests as a delight in history and pre-industrial cultures.
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Did you go to college/university?
I grew up on the banks of the river Mersey in a place called Wirral. Liverpool and its surrounding area are well-known for their strong and distinctive accent, known as Scouse. I consider it a little ironic that I found myself in voice acting considering my background, as I’d submit that the Scouse accent is not particularly digestible for outsiders or suitable for narration (look it up on YouTube and you’ll hear what I mean). I never really picked up the accent because I spent a lot of my childhood isolating myself with books and video games; I am something of a computer addict, and most of my spare time is dedicated to being a cyborg.
When my parents divorced and I moved to Manchester with my mother, I suppose it only reinforced my idea within my head that no matter how nomadic you are, no matter how far away you’re taken, you can’t lose the friends you have online because you can reach them from anywhere in the world. That said, I suppose it’s questionable whether you can ever reach them at all? I will say that I do think my social skills and body language expression has suffered as a result of my lifestyle choices, but at least my speech is solid. I learned to read thanks to video games and the internet, where a vast amount of communication is done by text; I learned to read quickly enough that I can smoothly speak as I read, adding narrative inflection whilst processing information. This is a useful skill in my profession, I believe.
I studied for a law degree at the University of Keele – the only real parting knowledge it gave me was that I have no interest in law as a career. It is stuffy, obtuse and overbearing – ram-packed with hypocrisies, paradoxes, and unnecessary verbiage designed deliberately to confuse laymen and obfuscate the law so that the well-read can make a quick penny.
Have you traveled to other countries? Where is a place you would love to visit?
Thanks to the free movement within the European Union, I’ve done a fair bit of travelling around the area. I’ve been to Germany, France, Greece, Spain and a few others spots within Europe, and I’ve also gone further afield to South Africa twice before. South Africa is easily the most exotic place I’ve visited, with a very intriguing nature to it. It seemed to me like it was animated by the spirit of the Norse goddess Hel; half beautiful and splendid in places like Bloemfontain, and wretched and horror-inducing in the vast corrugated iron shanty towns that sprawl across the countryside.
Somewhere I’ve always wanted to go is Iceland. It seems like an absolutely stunning place, and I’m naturally quite suited to cold climates. I don’t handle heat very well!
What was your favorite project?
It’s sort of difficult to pinpoint what is objectively the most enjoyable project to work on, as each of them have different appeals and reasons for being interesting. In terms of excitement and fun, I’d easily say it’d have to be the video game modification Third Age Total War (Divide and Conquer). Providing voicelines for soldiers on a battlefield was a blast, and I had fun putting lots of energy and character behind the dialogue.
For emotional satisfaction, the work I’ve been doing on Nicolas Lietzau’s audiobook for Enderal known as Dreams of the Dying. The story of Enderal: Forgotten Stories had a strong and powerful emotional resonance with me, and it remains one of my favourite video games of all time. The lead story-writer for that game, Nicolas, invited me to work on bringing his work-in-progress novel to life, which has been a privilege for me and a very enjoyable experience.