DEBRA DEYAN: Multitasker Extraordinaire

JIAM2012 Behind the Scenes Interview #7
I have known and worked with the delightful Debra Deyan of Deyan Audio for a couple years now.  She is one of the sunniest personalities I have ever encountered, and that has always impressed me.  But now, having learned what all she does in a day, I am even more impressed.  Read on…

KW:  What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?
DD:  For 22 years I have worked in the audiobook field with my husband, Bob Deyan.  Our Los Angeles based company, Deyan Audio Services, Inc., works for 30 publishers and has won 3 Grammys and been nominated for a Grammy 11 times.

I handle all aspects of the audiobook creation process:  Business Management, Casting, Research, Recording, Editing, QC, Mastering, and Music Mix.
KW:  Can you describe a typical day for you?
DD:  My typical day is:

  • Answering hundreds of emails from clients, actors and engineers. Scheduling recording studio time for actors.
  • Catering or cooking lunch for 20-30 people six days a week.
  • Reading scripts and casting.
  • Making sure that our public websites are updated each day.
  • Interfacing with the recording, editing, QC and mastering staff and making certain that our deadlines are met for each client.
  • Helping new actors audition for audiobook work.
  • And, interfacing with agents.

KW: How did you end up working in the audiobook industry?
DD:  Twenty-three years ago, my husband Bob came home one day from work and showed me an audiobook that someone gave him to take the edge off his commute.
In those days an audiobook was an abridgment, sold through bookstores in a 2 cassette package; each cassette would have no more than 45 minutes of audio on each side, so the whole audiobook would be 3 hours long.
Bob said, “Honey, I know what I want to do with my life.  I want to produce these…audiobooks.”  And, in those days we didn’t quite know what to call them…””books on tape??? Bob was the Operations Manager of a radio station at the time with a BA in Radio and TV Broadcasting.  I was a Director of a national retail chain in “Corporate America”.
Bob discovered the name of the recording studio on the back of the audiobook package.  It was Marc Graue Studios in Burbank.  Bob called Marc and asked for a job.  Marc Graue taught Bob the craft of audiobook creation.  Then, Jessica Kaye (former owner of the Publishing Mills) helped us to buy our very first reel to reel deck and she introduced us to all her friends in publishing.
We were immediately hired by Kim Weeks of former Dove Audio as audiobook editors working first for Roger Helms and then Dan Musselman (currently of Random House Audio), and soon became producers.
Bob found happiness in directing and I found happiness using my MBA to handle much of the business parts of this wonderfully creative business.
KW:  What is your dream job?
DD:         I discovered very recently that creating audiobooks is my dream job.  A few weeks back, there was a crazy lotto jackpot of $640 million.  I had up until this point never purchased a lottery ticket.  But, I thought…what the heck.  Someone has to be the winner, why not me? So, I went to 7-11 with my dollar.  I came home with a ticket and of course Bob laughed at me.  He said I’d never win and it was a waste of money.  And, of course…he was right.  I did not win.
But, what happened next was certainly worth a dollar.  I asked Bob what he would like to do if we did win $640 million dollars.  We talked for 10-15 minutes dreaming away about all the things the money could afford and then we settled on what we would do with all that money.
Make audiobooks.
Okay, we would definitely go to Australia for a month on vacation, but when we returned home we both would make audiobooks.  And, that is how I am positive that I am working my dream job.
KW:  I love that story!  What do you love most about the work you do?
DD:         I love every bit of my job. First and foremost, I love the people.
Actors who will skillfully read audiobooks for days on end are rare and amazing beings.  They are usually selfless stage actors, many who have been on Broadway.  Others hold MFAs from Yale, Juilliard, Carnegie Melon, Rutgers, etc.  They could be acting in any genre at all…film, TV, video games, etc.  But, all who read audiobooks are doing it for the love of it and not for fame or riches.
Engineers come to work with extraordinary skills and education.  Most engineers have a least one Bachelors degree (many of our engineers have Masters degrees) and all have an additional Associates Degree in Sound Engineering. These special people make certain that every single word of an author’s book is pronounced and acted as the author intended.  They are the unknown heroes of our industry.
KW:  Do you have a favorite genre/author or narrator?
DD:  This field is way too complex to choose a favorite genre, author or narrator.  I think that is why I have been so amazingly stimulated for all these years.
KW:  What you think audiobooks will be like in 10 years?
DD:  I think audiobooks will be extremely accessible and sold predominately on digital sites in 10 years.  The CD will be gone.  More of the population will know what audiobooks are and will use them in some way.
I think there will be more interactive audiobooks and audiobooks will be paired with E-Books.
I have always hoped that the Spanish audiobook market would take off. Maybe in 10 years, that will start to happen.

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