Please note: the giveaway is now closed.
It’s here! Something About You is now available as an audiobook from Tantor Audio. If you can’t tell, I’m super-excited about it–as the first book in my FBI/US Attorney series, Something About You has a special place in my authorial heart. And, well, I just think Cameron and Jack are too darn cute and sexy together.
Joining us today to provide a special behind-the-scenes peek into the making of the audiobook is Karen White, the narrator. I first became acquainted with Karen after she narrated the audiobook for my first novel, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, and I’m absolutely thrilled that she’s back for Something About You. So without further ado . . .
Julie: I have to admit, I’m relatively new to audiobooks. In fact, the first one I listened to was Just the Sexiest Man Alive (which you rocked, by the way). Maybe you could start by telling us how you got into being a narrator?
Karen: My training is in acting, and the majority of my experience has been in the theatre. A friend suggested that I’d probably be good at doing audiobooks — she had a friend in Seattle that would probably answer any questions I had about getting into the business. That turned out to be the venerable Kate Fleming (aka Anna Fields) who very generously set me on my path. Long story short, I met Dan Musselman who produced books at Dove Audio in Beverly Hills and he hired me to edit audiobook recording sessions, as Dove only worked with celebrities. Then about 9 months later, he hired me as his assistant at the new Books-on-Tape studios in LA, where I started narrating as well as directing, casting and editing. It was a great crash course in audiobooks and it’s been a great thirteen years of work.
Julie: Would you mind taking us through the steps of the recording process? You’ve just received a new book to narrate–what happens from there?
Karen: I am pretty detail-oriented (OK, anal) person, so I always do my homework! I read the book all the way through, highlighting and underlining all words that I don’t know how to pronounce, all the characters and all details about them (physical descriptions, etc.) as well as all specific descriptions of dialogue (i.e. she said breathlessly). Then I create an Excel spreadsheet for the pronunciations and a Word doc where I type up and organize all my characters. If there are dialects that I’m not well-versed in, I research and practice those. I also try and choose a “hook” for each character – a placement in my body, or a rhythm, or a famous person or even a tag line – that helps me get into their head. I like to get everything set up so that when I’m recording I can let go of all that left-brain work and just go from my gut.
Once I’m in the studio (either my own in my garage, or at a production company here in LA) it’s all about staying present while staying on schedule. And the right snacks.
Julie: How about the creative process? What is your approach to narration with each new project?
Karen: We narrators are basically “cast” to match the writer’s voice. So while I play all these characters in the dialogue bits, the narration is usually pretty close to me. But, each writer (and each book) has it’s own specific tone and point of view. To me, that’s the “gut” part I was talking about before. Once I’ve read the whole book, I have a feel for its tone. I try not to intellectualize this part, but to just go with my instincts. And that’s what’s really fun about it, I think – to let the text tell me where to go, to essentially perform this one woman show, and to go on the emotional rollercoaster with all the characters.
Julie: I’m sure readers would love to hear anything you would care to share specifically about working on Something About You. Any particular challenges with that book, or behind-the-scenes anecdotes you can pass along?
Karen: For this book, the Chicago accents were a challenge. I’ve lived in New York and Boston, but not Chicago. I want the characters to not be caricatures, and the dialects to not be distracting, but assist in the differentiation between characters. Hopefully I succeeded (but as always I am sure there will be critics!)
Julie: You’ve narrated several novels in the romance genre, which often can have scenes with, shall we say, “adult situations.” Okay, I’ll just be blunt: do you ever get flustered reading the sex scenes? Or is it all just part of the process?
Karen: Well, speaking to the “behind the scenes” peek you mentioned in the previous question – I was able to record Something About You at my home studio – which, for the most part I prefer for all kinds of reasons (like I can pick my kids up from school and do laundry or walk the dog on my breaks). JTSMA was really my first romance, and I recorded it at Deyan Audio with a very nice young man engineering it. I have to say that while in the moment of recording the “intimate” scenes I was able to stay in the scenes (thank goodness they don’t have windows in their booths so I couldn’t see the engineer), it was always a little awkward when we’d take a break. I’d feel compelled to make a joke like, “wooo, it’s steamy in here” or something equally lame. At home, it’s just me all by myself so no awkwardness – except when my husband or my kids sneak up on me and I glance to the left (where I have a window in my booth) mid-uh-rapture and there’s a face staring at me. Luckily the booth is sound proof.
Julie: Tell us what you’re currently working on, and also some of the other novels where readers can hear your work.
Karen: I just finished recording an interesting family drama called The Roots of the Olive Tree. It’s about 5 generations of women, all alive (the eldest is 112!) and the secrets that both tie them together and keep them apart. I feel fortunate that I am offered a wide range of genres – so just in the past few months I’ve had a really cool science & contemporary culture book, Zoobiquity, a history about Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt called Guest of Honor, a thriller about Jack the Ripper and a young woman who may be his descendant called Riptide and a paranormal romance called Enemy’s Kiss (gargoyle sex anyone?). But I do love the contemporary romances. They are like dessert.
Julie: Thanks so much for coming by today and telling us a little about what you do, Karen!
And now for the giveaway part . . . to celebrate the big release, I’m giving away a copy of the audiobook of Something About You to one person who leaves a comment below. The giveaway will remain open until 8pm CST on Monday, July 2nd. (Please note that because of shipping restrictions/costs, this giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.)
Those of you who are interested in finding out more about the SAY audiobook can do so at the Tantor website. Or maybe you’d like to hear an excerpt? I’ve got one for you right here: SAY audio excerpt
And for a second chance to win the audiobook, check out Karen’s blog, where she’s giving away a copy and interviewing me!