Posted by Holly Simpson on March 10
The Narrator Spotlight feature ListenUp’s fabulous narrators, one at a time. Get to know a little more about the voice behind the story and see what else your favorite narrators are up to!
This week’s Narrator Spotlight features one of our newest narrators, Carolyn Cook!
How long have you been narrating audiobooks?
I’ve been doing this professionally for less than a year, but I’ve worked in radio and voice-over, and I’ve been an actor for most of my adult life. I spent many years acting on stage and then coming home to read bedtime stories to my daughter. I was thrilled when I got the chance to begin working as an audiobook narrator, because it seemed like a natural extension of my life as an actor and a mom. Best of all, my daughter has started narrating audiobooks herself, so I guess all those bedtime stories paid off!
Of the books that you’ve narrated, which is your favorite?
My favorite fiction book so far is a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Spencer called Starting Over
. Each story ends just at the point where life breaks down and something new is about to happen to the main character, so you have a sense of expectation, of wondering what’s next (in a good way), at the end. My favorite non-fiction is a World War II memoir called Sins of the Innocent
. It’s by a French woman, Mireille Marokvia, who married a German man in Paris before the war and lived through the war years in Germany. I had never read anything from that perspective, and I found it fascinating
What do you do to prepare before narrating an audiobook?
I go through the book to make sure I know who the characters are and how to pronounce any names or foreign words I’m unfamiliar with. I do funny-looking facial warm-ups on the way to the studio, to get my mouth ready to articulate. Then it’s just a matter of committing to the story, keeping my voice in good shape, and drinking plenty of water!
How do you create different character voices?
I play around with the different elements of speech: pitch, breathiness, speed, accent, energy, nasality, and so on. Different combinations work for different characters. A squeaky, nasal, high-pitched voice is totally different from a low-pitched, breathy, slow and sultry one. I love the challenge of making each character sound unique.
What is something people might be surprised to know about the job of an audiobook narrator?
When I was a kid, I always pictured radio announcers at fancy desks, wearing suits and ties and being formal. Then I worked in radio and found out how casual and scruffy you can be when nobody sees you all day. It’s the same with audiobooks. I think people would be surprised to see us in the studio in sweats and fuzzy slippers.
If you could narrate any book, what would be your dream audiobook?
Definitely one of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis! I read those books so many times when I was growing up, I felt like I lived in Narnia. I think my favorite is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so as long as I’m dreaming, I’ll pick that. Or maybe The Horse and His Boy. Oh forget it, it’s too hard to choose. I’ll do the whole set.
This month, you can see Carolyn in Nearly New Festival in March with Theatre du Reve. Next month, you can see her in a workshop production of a new play called Blackberry Winter with Out of Hand Theater. Next fall she’ll be in Detroit with Horizon Theatre.