After Episcopal

Will Damron '05

Will Damron is a frequent companion to the knowledge-hungry, entertainment-thirsty, multitasking consumer. He’s an audiobook narrator.
“You’re talking to one person,” he says. “It’s an intimate format. So many people become followers of a particular performer as much as they do the book or author. They love that person’s voice, and they will listen to that person read any story. It’s a relationship.”
The audiobook industry brings in more than $2.5 billion each year. Will has won an Audie Award — what he likens to the Oscars of his industry — and several Voice Arts Awards throughout his decade in the business. He estimates that he has narrated more than 300 books, ranging from partial chapters to full books.
Several have made it to the New York Times top 10 bestsellers list, including “American Kingpin,” by Nick Bilton (2018); “Bad Blood,” by John Carreyrou (2018); the graphic novel “Batman: Nightwalker,” by Marie Lu (2018); and “Digital Minimalism,” by Cal Newport (2019).
Though it comes as no surprise that Will enjoyed reading and had an adventurous imagination while growing up in coastal Virginia, this career was not on his radar. His first love was acting, and EHS is where he learned that he wanted to act.
It started in Stewart Gymnasium, while the Ainslie Arts Center was under construction. His first-ever role: Oberon in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“I became addicted to acting. It was a world that just made sense to me,” he says.
When Ainslie’s construction was complete, Will was cast in the Breeden Black Box’s inaugural play, “Oedipus Rex.”
Will was also attending classes and doing homework and living what is arguably a normal life as an Episcopal student. That is to say: he was busy. “As a student at EHS, your day is so full. It blows my mind now to think back to it. I don’t know how I got everything done — and I know I didn’t back then,” he laughs.
Now, as an independent contractor based in Los Angeles, Will books his own work and manages his own time. The narration of about 250-300 pages runs about eight hours, but to produce that, Will may spend up to six days reading for about eight hours each day. Like most independent audiobook narrators, Will has a recording isolation booth at home. “The very nature of this business is doing it yourself.”
Two years ago, Will wrote and independently published his own book, “The Tercentennial Baron.” Naturally, he narrated it as well. “I have to promote the book, and I’m the publisher. I have to wear many hats. I first got a sense of how I could really do that by doing everything I did at Episcopal. I continued into that in college.”
Will laid the foundation for his main character while at Episcopal. The character, what he calls a “bellirolt,” is a supernatural being who lives inside of a person’s body and extends his or her life.
“I had always loved fantasy and stories about other worlds, and I had always wanted to write. I wrote the first character outlines of that when I was at EHS, and then put it away for several years until after I graduated from college. I had to be away from the rigamarole of the academic world before I was able to make the space for myself to write it,” he says.
Will plans for this to be a trilogy, publishing the second installment later this year. And he hasn’t forgotten about his first love. With his audiobook career solidly under his feet, he has aspirations of acting in film and television.
“Narrating audiobooks is sort of the foundation of my life right now, but I want to write content for myself so I can do film and TV. The film business, even though there’s so much material right now, is all very accessible. Anyone can make a movie. And anyone can make an audiobook, as long as you have the right equipment. If you have the gumption and can manage your time well, and if you have something to say, you can you can break through and get your product and your story out there.”