Last week, I was in NY for BEA 2014. One of my favorite parts of BEA is the annual audiobook narrator-blogger lunch. Last year was my first one, and I was very excited to go again this year. It’s an amazing opportunity to sit down with a bunch of very talented narrators and talk to them about the process of bringing a book to life via audio. I was in heaven.
Therese Plummer (r) and me (l) at the narrator/blogger lunch at BEA 2014
I met a number of new narrators this year and also got to catch up with some friends who I met last year. At one point, I told Tavia Gilbert (who will be interviewed on EDIWTB later this month) that I had written a Top 10 Best Audiobooks post last June for June is Audiobook Month (JIAM). I read her the list of audiobooks, and she told me that one of the narrators – Therese Plummer, who narrated Faith by Jennifer Haigh – was sitting down at the other end of the table. I totally geeked out and had to go down to meet Therese in person. We hit it off instantly and bonded over our love of Jennifer Haigh. A week later, we’re connected on social media and she has answered a Q&A on EDIWTB.
So here is the Q&A with Therese, who is a FANTASTIC narrator. You can really get a sense of why she loves what she does, and why she’s so good at it. There is a lot of dedication there to making an emotional connection with the material and being faithful to the author’s story. I will definitely be seeking out more of Therese’s work.
Q: How did you get into audiobook narration?
A; I took a class with Robin Miles about 8-9 years ago and auditioned for something with BBC at what was then Talking Books in midtown Manhattan. Mike Charzuk, Executive Producer at Audible, Inc., heard my audition and called me at my day job. I was working as an assistant in a financial firm to pay my bills while auditioning and trying to make it as an actress. Mike mentioned hearing my audition and wanted to know if I was willing to come in and audition for him as a narrator? I had no idea who Audible was or what he was asking me but I said yes of course I will come and audition. I read and landed two contracts with Audible. I took a week’s vacation from my day job and that week I worked every day recording my first Audiobook, Susan Mallery’s “Delicious.” At night I was rehearsing for an off-off Broadway show. I was in heaven and knew this what was I was supposed to be doing. Working as an actress! The day I returned to my day job my boss called me into his office and said they had to let me go as there was not enough work to justify my position. 5pm that same day Mike called me and asked if I was available to start narrating earlier as his other narrator could not finish her contract due to pregnancy. I said, “Yes that should work out just fine, thank you so much!” Since then I have been so blessed to work for so many amazing publishers around NYC.
Q: How do you prepare for a new narration role? Do you read the whole book through to get a sense of the characters and story?
I absolutely do. I have to. I read the entire story and I learn about my characters and arcs and tones and moods and flow of the story. I go back and underline in different colors my characters so my brain registers once I am in the booth whose voice is coming up. I record off of an iPad these days and I use a program called iAnnotate that is a godsend in prepping my stories. The author tells me everything I need to know. I do not have to reinvent anything. My job is to honor the text and bring his/her words to life through my acting. It is such a gift to do this.
Q: What is your favorite book that you’ve recorded? Any books on your dream list?
A: My favorite book I recorded to date was Faith by Jennifer Haigh. I am not sure if it was because I grew up Irish Catholic and found the entire story so completely fascinating but I was able to connect to Jennifer’s characters in such an intimate way that I felt like I was in the living room telling this story to my sisters. It felt like family. She is a superb storyteller and my job felt so easy as she gave me such descriptive and palpable characters that to bring them to life was a joy for me. I told my producer, Paula Parker, the last day of recording that I didn’t want it to end. It is my Mom and Dad’s favorite audiobook to date. That makes me happy!
I’ve always wanted to record To Kill a Mockingbird or One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Q. Where do you do your recording?
A: When I am working for Audible I travel to Newark, NJ to record in their booths. I record in NYC for Recorded Books, Harper, Penguin and Hachette.
Q: What is your favorite genre for narrating?
I actually LOVE YA books! Julie Kagawa’s vampire series that I have been so lucky to narrate rocks my world with every book. I don’t know if it’s because I am emotionally 16 on a good day or what but I love those characters and stories so much! I also love Literary Fiction. Besides Faith my other favorites have been Return To Me by Justina Chen, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Want Not by Jonathan Miles and The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson. And I will admit I adore recording Romance. I have been working on a series for Robyn Carr for the last five years. I was lucky enough to do her Virgin River and Thunder Point series and I literally built this town in Northern California with each book adding more and more characters until I literally felt like they were my family.
Q: How much interaction, if any, do you have with the author while you’re recording?
I have adopted Robyn Carr as a second Mom and she has accepted. She and I were able to do an event together at the Mid-Winter Library Conference in Seattle for Recorded Books and it was amazing. I could sit and talk with her for days. She is literally the sweetest, nicest and funniest woman I have ever met. Recording Justina Chen’s Return To Me was another incredible experience for me. She was able to call us with input during the recording and was just so excitedI was narrating all I wanted to do when the book was over was give her a hug. The story was incredible. I realized she was in Seattle and I reached out to her the weekend I attended the conference with Robyn Carr asking her if she wanted to get tea. She said I am going to throw my book release party the weekend you are in town and would you be my guest of honor and read a section of the book? Well after getting off the floor I shrieked ”Yes of course!”. The book party was hosted in a bookstore and was packed with all of the people she had based the characters in her book off of. As I realized this I became very emotional. I said to her and the audience when I was finished reading, “Thank you for allowing me such an intimate seat on your life story. I realize at this moment why what we do as writers and narrators is so powerful.” That day shifted something in me about the work I do on such a fundamental level. What a gift it is to tell people’s stories and be a part of their healing journeys. I felt connected to the human race in such a deep way.
I will reach out to authors especially when working on their book has changed me in some way. I sent Jennifer Haigh and Jonathan Miles emails thanking them for choosing me to record their books and shared with them what the experience was like for me. They were both very grateful and gracious.
Q: What do you like to read in your spare time?
Ha! The joke is that I have started seven different books five years ago and can’t finish any of them because of needing to prep my Audio books. But on my nightstand right now is Her by Christa Parravani. I read a few pages before bed each night.
Q: Anything else you would like my readers to know about audiobooks?
I always heard my mom talk about audiobooks and how amazing they were and I was like yeah yeah just read the book! Little did I know how transformative a story can become with the right voice narrating it. I like to think I am able to bring some joy to someone listening to my narration. That service is why I do what I do but also because there are so many great stories to be told. It is the oldest form of entertainment and I am blessed and lucky to do it almost every day.
Phew! Well what a week indeed! It started with the APAC convention held at The Javits Center in NYC where I was asked by fellow narrator Johnny Heller to read a five minute excerpt from any book I wanted in a forum called The Listener’s Lounge. I was among my colleagues but honestly recording superheros in my book. Carol Monda, Suzanne Toren, Richard Ferrone, Coleen Marlow, Robert Fass and Mr. Dufris. I remember in conventions past coming to t he Listener’s Lounge and closing my eyes and listening to my idols read and take me places with just their voices. It was an honor to be a part of that. After we all settled in with a drink and some chat at the Happy Hour where I got to catch up with my good friend Paul Ruben.
The next night found us at The New York Academy of Medicine on fifth Ave. decked out in our finest apparel as we were honored with nominations for the Audie Award. I was nominated in the categories of Romance for Robyn Carr’s The Wanderer and Short Stories/Collections for Carson McCullers The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. Neither books won the award but I feel they won just being nominated. Robyn has created such amazing stories for men and women alike to loose themselves in and I am so honored to partner with her to bring you the audio interpretation. It was also an honor to work with my colleagues on the short stories of Carson McCullers whom I have been a fan of since youth.
Finally the week ended with a wonderful Blogger’s Luncheon held at Tir Na Nog in midtown Manhattan. Hosted by Karen White and Kristine Vham it was a wonderful day where narrator’s and bloggers could sit down and get to know each other better over good food and drink. A highlight for me was meeting Gayl Weiswasser of everydayiwritethebookblog.com who had introduced herself and mentioned loving Jennifer Haigh’s FAITH. WE hit it off and i look forward to building a friendship:-)
Well that was the busy week. I am back in the Audible studios this week and then packing for my move to Austin, Texas at the ned of the month. Keep listening and onward and upward!
Almost 12 years ago I showed up in NYC in my early twenties to give my dreams a shot. This adventure has been just that. I have met so many amazing and wonderful and beautiful people along the way that I know I will always be in touch with. I will be relocating to Austin, TX at the end of this month. I WILL continue to record my beloved Audiobooks especially Robyn Carr:) After these years living in the greatest city in the world my heart and spirit craves a quieter and simpler life. I have family in Austin that I can’t wait to start building memories with. LIfe is such an adventure and i know it is not a dress rehearsal and choose to show up for mine a day at a time in all its colors and glory. Thank you everyone for your love and support along the way. Onward and Upward!!
I am super excited to announce that the APA has released the nominations for the 2014 Audie Awards and yours truly has been nominated in two categories!
ROMANCE: THE WANDERER BY Robyn Carr for Recorded Books
SHORT STORIES/COLLECTIONS: THE BALLAD OF THE SAD CAFE by Carson McCullers for Audible, Inc.
I am humbled and honored to be nominated for my work and as always there would be no work without the amazing words of the authors so Brava to Robyn Carr and Carson McCullers and all of the incredible authors I have been blessed to work for this past year! Onward and Upward and Happy Listening:-)
In New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb’s new novel, Annie Oh falls in love with her Manhattan-based art dealer, Vivica, setting off a stick of emotional dynamite that blasts apart long-held secrets, a twenty-seven-year marriage, and her relationship with her three children. The all-star cast bringing the audiobook to life is led by the maestro George Guidall and the author. Also narrating the intricate and emotional work are Maggi-Meg Reed, Tavia Gilbert, Richard Ferrone, Edoardo Ballerini, Cynthia Darlow, Therese Plummer, Robin Miles, and Sandy Rustin. This team of actors weaves an intricate and wrenching story of a modern society in which changing mores are changing the definition of love and family. R.O. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine [Published: SEPTEMBER 2013]
THE NEWCOMER Thunder Point, Book 2
Robyn Carr, Read by Therese Plummer • Unabridged • OCTOBER 2013
Recorded Books • Library Ed.
Therese Plummer’s rich performance conveys how the arrival of a newcomer and the divulgence of some news shake up the lives of Thunder Point residents. Plummer’s expressive and superbly modulated voice offers persuasive portraits of the medley of characters, such as Mac, a single dad whose anger and suspicion surface with the appearance of his manipulative and melodramatic ex-wife, and Cooper and Sarah, who cope with the tension of working through their respective secrets. Especially affecting are Plummer’s heartfelt portrayals of young Eve, who is resentful of her once absent mother, and Ashley, a sobbing teenager who is grieving for a broken romance. Plummer reveals the pain but also the feelings of hope and new opportunities that arise from the chaos. M.F. © AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine
I have been working non-stop in the studios the last few months and have some really fun new titles coming out for this summer. Happy listening and as always thank you for the amazing notes and emails!!
ICONS by Margaret Stohl
Your heart beats only with their permission. Everything changed on The Day. The day the windows shattered. The day the power stopped. The day Dol’s family dropped dead. The day Earth lost a war it didn’t know it was fighting. Since then, Dol has lived a simple life in the countryside — safe from the shadow of the Icon and its terrifying power. Hiding from the one truth she can’t avoid. She’s different. She survived. Why? When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador’s privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn’t a coincidence. It’s a conspiracy. Within the Icon’s reach, Dol, Ro, Tima, and Lucas discover that their uncontrollable emotions — which they’ve always thought to be their greatest weaknesses — may actually be their greatest strengths. Bestselling author Margaret Stohl delivers the first book in a heart-pounding series set in a haunting new world where four teens must piece together the mysteries of their pasts — in order to save the future.
THE SURFING LESSON By: Elin Hilderbrand
Margot’s reservoir of romantic feelings for her husband Drum is running dry. But while the family is on vacation in Nantucket, Margot finds an opportunity to potentially regain her romantic love for her husband – in the form of Hadley Axelram, his ex-girlfriend. She is counting on jealousy as a relationship defibrillator.
But after forcing her surfing-god husband to make plans for a surfing lesson with Hadley and her son, Margot is left to reminisce about the summer she fell in love with Drum, and the unexpected blossoming of their relationship. When she sees Drum and Hadley spending time together, will the spark reignite – and will her marriage be saved? Or will she find that love is truly gone from this relationship?
This touching short story about a poignant stage in a marriage explores the backstory of Margot Carmichael, one of the stars in Elin Hilderbrand’s new novel BEAUTIFUL DAY.
BEAUTIFUL DAY By: Elin Hilderbrand
A summer wedding stirs up trouble on both sides of the family in this new novel from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.
The Carmichaels and Grahams have gathered on Nantucket for a wedding. Plans are being made according to the wishes of the bride’s late mother, who left behind The Notebook: specific instructions for every detail of her youngest daughter’s future nuptials. Everything should be falling into place for the beautiful event–but in reality, things are far from perfect.
While the couple-to-be are quite happy, their loved ones find their own lives crumbling. In the days leading up to the wedding, love will be questioned, scandals will arise, and hearts will be broken and healed. Elin Hilderbrand takes readers on a touching journey in BEAUTIFUL DAY–into the heart of marriage, what it means to be faithful, and how we choose to honor our commitments
Super excited to be nominated along with Christian Rummel for our narration in Peter Clines “The Junkie Quatrain” for the 2013 Audie Awards for the category of Original Work! All work produced by Audible, Inc. We shall see:-)