Viviana, from Enchantress of Books and I am so excited to have Karen White on our Audio Book Lovin’ Series.
Karen White has been narrating audio books since 1999, with more than 200 to her credit. Honored to be included in Audiofile’s Best Voices and Speaking of Audio’s Best Romance Audio 2012, 2013 and 2014, she’s also a two-time Audie Finalist and has earned multiple Audiofile Earphones Awards and Library Journal starred reviews. She currently lives with her family in Wilmington, NC.
Publishers Weekly says of Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, “Karen White delivers a stunning reading, her character interpretations are confident and well-rounded, and she forges a strong bond with the audience.”
Speaking of Audiobooks says, “Karen is one of my auto-buy narrators – if I think a book may interest me, her narration will sway me to give it a try.”
RECENT & UPCOMING RELEASES:
Hornet’s Nest by Patricia Cornwell
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
Unrequited: Women & Romantic Obsession by Lisa A. Phillips
Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton
This is the Water by Yannick Murphy
Here and Again by Nicole R. Dickson
One Mountain Away by Emilie Richards
Murderous Muffins by Lois Lavrisa
The Residence by Kate Anderson Brower
BnK: I know you have narrated a lot of books, but I would like to talk about how does an author/narrator relationship begin with Rebecca Zanetti and the Sin Brothers?
Karen: I’m actually not sure exactly how it went down since I just got an email saying “can you do this book on these dates?”, but I was cast in the Sin Brothers series through an audiobook production company that produced the books for Hachette Audio. Then, Rebecca’s editor at Grand Central (print publisher under the Hachette Group umbrella) introduced us via email, and set up a meeting in person when we were both at RWA in summer 2014. Over coffee we talked about her other series (as well as our kids, etc.) and that fall, when the audiobook rights for the Dark Protector series were up for auction, she contacted me to ask how she might get me attached to those books. Through my contacts on the casting side, I learned that when selling the rights, her agent has to include narrator choice in her contract, and then she has to communicate which narrator she wants to the audiobook acquisition staff to make sure it happens. In the end Audible Studios bought the rights and I recorded the entire Dark Protectors series for them in the first 4 months of 2015 (while finishing up the Sin Brothers series!)
BnK: What sort of information did Rebecca provide you with prior to starting the narrating process of her book(s)?
Karen: We didn’t talk until after I’d recorded the first two books. I didn’t have pronunciation questions, and the characters were so clearly drawn I didn’t need further info. But for the DP, I had a LOT of questions, since there are so many made up words and names. She was also able to give me a heads up on the main characters’ arcs through the series, since it was complete. With the SB, the series was still in process when I started recording the first book.
BnK: How do you go about selecting how each of the character are going to sound like?
Karen: Stage actors are trained to use the text as a guide when creating characters. I use the same process: I read through the entire book and highlight every descriptive word or phrase that’s written about every character. Then I type them all up so that each character, large and small, has a description. I pay attention to obvious things like “deep” or “raspy” voices, but also adjectives that describe people physically, e.g. “birdlike”, “wiry”, “predator” or emotionally, e.g. “calm”, “world weary” or “on edge”. These things help me have a visual picture of every character and help me sort of locate the person in my body. Then when I’m actually recording, I see where my instincts take me with all that information.
BnK: Along the lines of the previous question, how do you manage or what is your process of remember what the character from a previous book sounds like when they reappear in a new book?
Karen: Continuing from above, when I feel like I have “found” the right voice for a character by playing through the dialogue, I will cut and save a snippet for reference. Then I can listen to these anytime I need a reminder, whether it’s later in the same book for those characters that reappear after 200 pages, or in future books if it’s a series. Once I started doing this it made my job so much easier!
BnK: Karen, tell us about the narrating process (i.e. do you read the book before narrating it? How long are the recording sessions per day? How long does it take for you to narrator a book? If you make a mistake while recording, what happens?)
Karen: When I started out doing this work, I would go to a studio and work with a sound engineer and/or director who would mark the script for future editing and make sure everything remains consistent. These days I work almost 100% in my home studio all by myself. My husband is a sound engineer (for TV & film), so I have that resource, but the ProTools software allows me to edit as I go, so if I make a mistake or just want to do something over, I just click the mouse and a few keys. Working alone, I can schedule around my mom duties (chauffeur, cook, laundress, etc.). So after dropping off kids to school, cleaning up the kitchen and walking the dogs, and checking email and social media, I do a vocal warm-up and head into the studio. I record from about 10 – 4:00 with several breaks along the way. In that time I can finish 2 – 3 hours of finished audio. So if a book is 10 hours long, that took me 4 – 5 days. If I’m not in the studio, I’m usually prep-reading a book or on the computer networking.
BnK : Authors have writer’s cave, do narrators have something similar?
Karen: My studio is built in to our attic, so you go through a door into a linen closet and through another door into the attic and then another door into my recording booth, which is very cave-like at 6’ x 6’. Here are some pictures!
BnK: Here’s a fun question for you Karen that both Viviana and I have been wondering… as a narrator, do you get “oh say it in ‘the voice’” question often?
Karen: People sometimes want to hear me do a “sexy guy” voice, or say something in a particular accent. I have actor friends who are amazing at jumping into accents, but I’m pretty terrible at it. I have to really be in the moment and acting out written dialogue or I’m too self-conscious!
BnK: Of the Sin Brother books, which one has been your favorite to narrate and why?
Karen: I think it’s a toss up between BLIND FAITH and TOTAL SURRENDER. Nate was my favorite brother – I just loved his combination of rebel and caretaker. But the last book did such a great job of tying up the stories and was such an emotional roller coaster ride that it was very satisfying.
I had a similar experience with MARKED, the final book in Rebecca’s Dark Protectors series. Since I was recording the whole thing in such a short time, I was really immersed in the world. I’d “known” Janie and Zane, the main characters in MARKED, since they were kids! So the resolution of their story (with all kinds of obstacles of course) was very emotional. I love it when books make me cry.
BnK: Karen, if someone has not listened to any audio book before what would you tell them?
Karen: Two things – find books that are great in the audio format by following bloggers like you guys. Not all audiobooks are successful, so you want your first listen to be a good one. It’s been a long time since my first listen, but I’ve heard people say that it can take time to build up the ability to concentrate aurally, so give yourself time to build up those neurons and get used to reading a book with your ears. Soon, you’ll be reading while driving, exercising, gardening, cleaning like all the other multi-tasking listeners out there!
Let’s take a listen to Fated, book one in the Dark Protector series.
Here is a sample from Forgotten Sins, book one of the Sin Brother’s series Rebecca Zanetti’s other series narrated by Karen White.