Behind the scenes with Kate Rudd

September 22nd, 2015

If you read my blog regularly, you know just how excited I am about the recent release of THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB series in audio!

Mother-Daughter-final-600x600

In celebration of this thrilling new chapter for the MDBC, I thought it would be fun to get to know the amazingly talented voice actors who narrate each of the characters: Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan, and Becca. And so, as each book in the series is released, we’ll be going “Behind the Scenes” to meet the cast members.

MUCH ADO AUDIO

Recently, I spoke with Amy Rubinate, the voice of Emma Hawthorne, and Cris Dukehart, the voice of Jess Delaney. This month, to celebrate the release of MUCH ADO ABOUT ANNE in audio, we’re going “Behind the Scenes” with Kate Rudd, the voice of Cassidy Sloane.

Kate Rudd recording

Look at that sparkle! As accomplished as she is lovely, Kate won the 2013 Audie and Odyssey Awards for her narration of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, is a multiple Audie Award finalist and recipient of several Audiofile Magazine Earphones awards — including one for See You at Harry’s, by my friend Jo Knowles.

So Kate, how on earth did you get into audio work? I’d love to hear about your career path.

I started out as an actor doing indie film work around the Midwest. As a mom of young children, I eventually needed to find a supplementary income source and I searched for ideas that would keep me growing as a performer. Thankfully, I stumbled into audiobook recording, which I first viewed as a one-or-two gig opportunity that might help fill the gap while looking for steadier employment. Brilliance Audio gave me my first titles, and to my surprise it was a great fit for me! I’ve been recording books full time ever since. That was about seven years ago now.

What kind of preparation would you recommend for someone who wants to be an audio narrator/voice actor?

When I get this question, I tell friends that audiobook performance is a very competitive business and one that is fairly oversaturated with talent in proportion to the available work. Anybody wanting to enter this line of work should have sincere passion for storytelling(and the ability to sit still for hours at a time!). I recommend studying Audiofile Magazine‘s articles and reviews, the Audio Publishers Association website, as well as many popular narrators who are active on social media. If someone is determined and tenacious enough to unearth the information that will help them get started, it is readily available online. 

What’s your process in preparing to record/read a book aloud?

Usually the publisher or author contacts me with a project offer. After accepting the job, I receive a manuscript and begin reading. Ideally, this should be several weeks ahead of the actual recording session. Since I am usually scheduled out between six and eight weeks in advance, I’m often preparing several scripts at once. This time is devoted to researching pronunciations, the emotional atmosphere of the story, character traits, etc.

I do most of my preparation work on my iPad, so I can study from the sidelines of my children’s soccer games, at the barn while they ride horses, even in the waiting room for yet another orthodontist appointment. 

What does a typical day look like for you? (if there is such a thing!)

I generally wake up to the intense staring faces of two dogs wanting their breakfast. Then I drag two adolescent humans from their slumber and attempt to make them move in the direction of our neighborhood school.

After leaving the house without my coffee, I begin the commute to a studio location, remember I’ve left dogs in the backyard, return home to rescue the hounds and leave again without my coffee, which languishes in a very nice travel mug on my kitchen counter for the remainder of the day.

I aim to begin recording around 9:30 am, break for about an hour at lunchtime, then record again until 5:00 pm-ish.

Kate Rudd

What are the best parts of the job? Worst parts?

I absolutely love this work! Besides the joy of stepping into another world through the characters I get to perform, and being entrusted with the stories authors have poured their guts into, I also enjoy the practical benefits. As a self-employed creative, I have the freedom to plan my own schedule and work from any place that allows me access to my scripts.

As a single parent, I do keep to a fairly grueling schedule, so I sometimes miss my kids for long stretches of time while I’m immersed in a heavy stretch of studio sessions.

Any funny anecdotes to share from your recording experiences?

While preparing a huge fantasy novel, well past 600 pages, I caught whatever horrid virus my children had brought home from school. My fever was so high at one point that I became quite delirious while studying the script. Apparently I dreamt the entirety of the book’s plot from somewhere toward the middle though the end.  I remember waking up after the fever finally broke, with such a terrible headache but a wonderful sense of relief. “I might be miserable,” I thought, “but hey! At least I don’t have to prepare this book! I have never known a character so well! I remember everything single thing that happened and all the characters and, and, wait … that’s impossible … oh no.”

I had to go back and re-read the entire script, while occasionally encountering moments where I would think “but didn’t that character die? Oh … no, that was the fever dream version.”

I’ve never had a harder time preparing for a recording session. But I guess it turned out all right because that audiobook ended up getting good reviews!

Did you listen to audio books growing up?  Do you listen to them now? How does the experience differ for you from reading the printed word?

I did not listen frequently growing up, but the first book I remember hearing as a kid was Valley of the Horses, narrated by the very talented Sandra Burr. In a strange coincidence, decades later when I stumbled into the audiobook world, she was my very first director. It was surreal!

I listen when I can now, but wish it could be more often. One of the few drawbacks to this work that I love is having far less time available for my personal to-be-read/listened-to lists.

Turning to “The Mother-Daughter Book Club,” did you find any connections between yourself and the character that you narrated?  

I really empathize with Cassidy’s experience of grief as an adolescent, having gone through some of that myself as a young woman. I relate with her directness, practicality, and laser-sharp interest in her chosen sport (for me it was horses). It has been fun to watch her grow and develop through the series, as she lets down some of her defenses and build more meaningful relationships with the people she cares about!

Any fun facts about yourself that you might like to share with my readers?

I hate onions with the burning fire of 1000 suns. I get a little teary-eyed every time I fly in an airplane, because we live in this tiny privileged moment on the line of history, while so many before us would have given anything to be able to reach the sky. I perform a better-than-average wild turkey call, which alternately embarrasses and delights my children.

Thanks so much for visiting with us, Kate! I’m absolutely delighted and honored that you agreed to play the role of Cassidy in THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB audiobooks — your wonderful narration brought her to life for me in ways I couldn’t even have imagined. My readers and I can’t wait to hear what else you have in store for us in the future! 

For more information on Kate and her stellar work, click here to visit her website. And stay tuned for next month’s audio release of DEAR PEN PAL, when we go “Behind the Scenes” with Emily Woo Zeller, who plays Megan.

And be sure and stop by later this week, when I post a giveaway for the audio version of MUCH ADO ABOUT ANNE!

 

Behind the Scenes with Cris Dukehart

August 25th, 2015

If you read my blog regularly, you know just how excited I am about the recent release of THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB in audio!

Mother-Daughter-final-600x600

In celebration of this thrilling new chapter for the MDBC, I thought it would be fun to get to know the amazingly talented voice actors who narrate each of the characters: Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan, and Becca. Over the next few months, as each book in the series is released, we’ll be going “Behind the Scenes” to meet each of the cast members.

Last month, I spoke with Amy Rubinate, the voice of Emma Hawthorne. Amy is also the force behind Ideal Audiobooks, the company that acquired the series and is dedicated to bringing “books with heart” to listeners. I’m honored to be included in Ideal’s list! (Click here to learn more about Amy.)

This month, we’re going “Behind the Scenes” with Cris Dukehart, the voice of Jess Delaney.

headshot_2015_Cris-Dukehart_

Isn’t she a beauty? Such a great smile — do I detect a hint of mischief? You just know that if she lived next door, you’d be best friends.

So Cris, how on earth did you get into audio work? I’d love to hear about your career path.

I’ve been reading and listening to stories since I can remember. Growing up, my best friend’s mom was a professional storyteller and the director of The Cloisters Children’s Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. We would listen every day to folk tales and snippets of stories, the words painting pictures and making movies in our heads. The museum was located in part of a huge castle, and because my friend’s mom was the director, my best friend and I had TOTAL access to the WHOLE DARN CASTLE! Endless stories and endless adventures!

When I got my first audiobook as a Christmas gift in the 4th grade (Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass on cassette tape, with each chapter’s tapes a different pastel color … blue, pink, purple, green), I discovered the fabulousness that is audiobooks. I would listen for hours on end and I was HOOKED.

I still listen to audiobooks when I drive or work outside.

I didn’t start out narrating, though. I went to school for Forensic Science and Medicine because THAT, I thought, was a REAL, GROWN-UP job. And it WAS. But what I found was that science, particularly forensic science, is just made of stories…

When I was offered a chance to study with some really great actors and narrators in Los Angeles and New York, I jumped in with both feet and was on my way!

What kind of preparation would you recommend for someone who wants to be an audio narrator/voice actor?

LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN!  In order to tell really well, I think that the first thing you have to do is listen. Listen first to what you want to do … whether it’s cartoons or videogames, commercial work or audiobook narration.

Listen to the people who do it BEST.

And then … listen some MORE.

Listen to the way people talk — to how their voice changes when they are busy or sad or really, really angry. Listen to the different accents of people from different parts of the country and world; to how boys sound different from girls; to what happens to a voice as it ages. Once you’ve listened a bit (or a ton), see if you can make YOUR voice do that. Don’t be afraid to play with your voice and even be silly with it.

What’s your process in preparing to record/read a book aloud?

Reading a book out loud is almost like a marathon. You have to prepare before you ever set foot in the recording booth. You have to prepare YOURSELF, taking care not to yell a bunch (that’s so hard on your vocal chords), drinking lots of water, and getting your body ready to be VERY STILL for a long time. For me, that means running or doing yoga and stretching in the morning.

Then you have to prepare the STORY. I read the whole book and make notes about characters and the plot, and any hints the author might give as to how a character sounds. Sometimes, it’s super obvious, like “she lisped” or “he bellowed in his deep, deep baritone.”

But sometimes it’s about getting to know the characters, like if a character is shy or nervous, they might speak quietly, or sort of hesitantly.

If I have questions, I will sometimes talk with the author before I start, too. After all, they know all these characters the best.

What does a typical day look like for you? (if there is such a thing!)

I try to have some sort of routine — up at 6:30, exercise and breakfast, getting everyone off to school and work, dressing in my “soft clothing.” Clothes can be extremely noisy in the booth and our microphones pick up EVERY EVERY EVERYTHING … even the soda bubbles POP POP POP that stay between your gums and teeth for hours after you drink soda!

But there’s always some something that comes up … a pooch that won’t stop playing and is making NOISE NOISE NOISE … a neighbor mowing their lawn (even though my booth is sound-treated, that low hum manages to get in EVERY TIME) … my stomach rumbling long before lunch….

And then sometimes, I get in the booth and start on a story and before I know it, hours and pages have passed! Those are the BEST days.

What are the best parts of the job? Worst parts?

Oh gosh, I don’t think I can pick a best part. Maybe getting so into a story that I forget that I’m telling it and it plays almost like a movie in my head instead.

The worst is … well, if you ask my daughter what I do for a living, she will tell you that I “hang around talking to myself in a padded room all day.” LOL!

And that is very true.

It can get a little crazy all by yourself in a small space for long periods of time, barely moving at all. Legs cramp up and your tush gets sore. And if I read for too long, my VOICE hurts. That stinks.

Any funny anecdotes to share from your recording experiences?

Often, I will be moving along in a book and come to a line that trips me up, or that I misread. For instance, yesterday while narrating I read the sentence, “He moved about the yard, happily watering his plants.” But what I NARRATED, what came out of my MOUTH was, “He moved about the yard, happily watering his pants.” I paused for a second, then hooted with laughter. It took me at least five minutes to get past that line because every time I tried to narrate it, I would imagine him watering his pants and then I would laugh all over again.

Turning to THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB, did you find any connections between yourself and the character that you narrated?

I play the role of Jess Delaney and boy do I EVER connect with her! I love when a character in a book draws me so deep and true inside their world that I find my own world outside of the book sort of mimicking theirs. That happened an absolute TON with Jess.

Jess and I share a lot of similarities I think. We both adore reading and science. Jess is a stalwart and devoted friend, and I like to think of myself as that way, too. And we are both, I think, of the soft-hearted variety — but also ready to fiercely defend those we love. It wasn’t difficult at all for me to find Jess’s “voice.”

I found myself stopping, too, in my everyday busyness and noticing things that Jess might notice … the palest peach color of my roses … the smell of the lavender and mint and lemon balm plants that grow along my fence line … how the fields outside of my house seem to make a puffy patchwork quilt.

I love hearing that, Cris! Nothing could make me happier. OK, last question — any fun facts about yourself that you might like to share with my readers?

Fun facts about me … hmm. I live in a little post-it note cottage (the previous owners painted the cottage post-it note yellow) with my 14-year-old daughter and our hairy white monster pooch.

Cris Dukehart_monster Pooch

I like to run and bike and swim — I’m a triathlete (that’s me below, holding my bike up in front of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.):

triathlon_CrisDukehart

Oh, and I have a positively EMBARRASSING number of pairs of Converse shoes — and I like to surf, though I’m not super good at it yet….

Thanks so much for visiting with us, Cris! I’m absolutely delighted and honored that you agreed to play the role of Jess in THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB audiobooks — your wonderful narration brought her to life for me in ways I couldn’t even have imagined. My readers and I can’t wait to hear what else you have in store for us in the future! 

For more information on Cris and her stellar work, click here to visit her website. And stay tuned for next month’s audio release of MUCH ADO ABOUT ANNE, when we go “Behind the Scenes” with Kate Rudd, who plays Cassidy. Oh, and there’s another audio giveaway in store, too!

 

 

It’s here! It’s here! Audio MDBC & a giveaway

July 30th, 2015

Mother-Daughter-final-600x600

Looks familiar, doesn’t it? But can you spot what’s new?  Yup. Those two magical little words “READ BY.”

It’s the AUDIO VERSION of THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB! And it’s fantastic.

Produced by Ideal Audiobooks, this recording’s stellar cast includes Amy Rubinate, Cris Dukehart, Kate Rudd, and Emily Woo Zeller. I’m truly honored to have these four AMAZING voice actors playing the parts of Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan! When you listen, I hope you’ll agree that they’ve beautifully captured the girls’ individual characters, which spring to life in a new way in their excellent hands … er, voices.

Stay tuned for an upcoming Q&A with each of these talented women.

Meanwhile, though, we need to celebrate, right?

:: balloons! ::

:: confetti! ::

:: fireworks! ::

Oh come on, let’s REALLY celebrate — let’s have a giveaway!

One of you will receive a free download of the new audio version of THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB! All you have to do is comment below, telling us either a) who your favorite character is in THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB series, or b) what book you’d have a mother-daughter book club read, if you were in one.

Winners will be chosen at random at midnight on August 15th, 2015. US and Canada only, please. Share this giveaway on your blog or Facebook or Twitter or other social media for additional entries. (If you share on social media, please leave a link in the comments below so I can assign you an extra entry.) 

 

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