Behind the scenes with EMILY WOO ZELLER and a GIVEAWAY!

Oh my goodness! Life got away from me here — I’m in the middle of a cross-country move (more on that in another post) and things are topsy-turvy and I have sorely neglected this blog as a consequence.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series has been released in audio! Which means we have some catching up to do with spotlight interviews and giveaways!

Let’s start with DEAR PEN PAL, shall we?

DPP Audio

I am having SO MUCH FUN listening to these books. It’s almost like I didn’t write them. Seriously! Listening to a story is just a completely different (though equally wonderful) experience from reading one.

And I have been enormously blessed with a FANTASTIC cast of actors reading the parts of my book club girls. Wow, is all I can say!  The audio versions are produced by Ideal Audiobooks, and the stellar cast includes Amy Rubinate, Cris Dukehart, Kate Rudd, Emily Woo Zeller, and Shannon McManus. I’m truly honored to have these five AMAZING voice actors playing the parts of Emma, Jess, Cassidy, Megan, and Becca!  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.

In past posts, I spoke with Amy Rubinate, the voice of Emma Hawthorne; Cris Dukehart, the voice of Jess Delaney; and Kate Rudd, the voice of Cassidy Sloane. Today, we’re going to meet Emily Woo Zeller!

Emily Woo Zeller

I’m just bowled over not only by Emily’s voice, but also by her grace and beauty and TALENT! In addition to her work as an audiobook narrator (Audiofile Magazine named her one of the “Best Voices of 2015” — go, Emily!), she’s an actor, singer, dancer, and choreographer.

So Emily, how did you get into audio work? We’d love to hear about your career path.

My performance training started when I was very young, in dance and in music, and eventually theater.  I’ve also always been a big reader. I just love getting caught up in a story that I can read or listen to. While watching movies is fun and great in its own way, there’s something special about reading or listening to or acting out a story. Anyway, I’m getting distracted!

I started full time voiceover work in Hong Kong when I moved there after I got my B.A. I was dubbing film and television in Hong Kong. It was primarily animation, but we sometimes did live action films or series. I loved getting to play so many different characters and having fun with lots of different voices and emotions. When I moved back to the U.S. in 2008, I sent an audition in to what was then BBC Audiobooks America, when I heard that they were looking for people – and I auditioned and booked my first book in 2009! From there, it was a slow progression of training and doing the best work I could do and being connected to others doing the same. Even though both types of voiceover really use a range of characters, one of the ways animation is different from audiobook recording is that in animation, you can be expected to go really far with one character and bring it to a cartoonish level immediately. With audiobooks, characters are of course important but telling the whole story – communicating all the narrative parts in between character lines – is usually the bulk of the job.

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

Always read the book first. I take notes about characters, dialects, accents, unknown words, and the author’s and/or character’s personality. Over the years and certainly to this day, I am always working on improving my skills and adding different characters to my repertoire.  I take notes because I usually have more than one book going at one time. 

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

There is no real typical day for me overall. I run my own business so I wear many hats. Always, I am striving to eat well and get enough sleep and rest so that I can have my brain and body working optimally. I learned the hard way that my body needs a break. If I don’t take care of myself, I get sick … and then I can’t work! While the bulk of the work is recording, I spend a time reading the stories and preparing them, sometimes I take care of the business side of things, sometimes I spend time connecting with the audiobook community, such as getting to connect with you!

 On a typical recording day, which can be for many, many days in a row, I make sure I am extra hydrated the day before, and during the recording day, I stay hydrated and drink herbal tea that soothes the throat. I eat foods that won’t make my tummy grumbly or my mouth dry.  I give myself a little time in the morning for my body to wake up and I do a vocal warmup before I get into the booth. The hours are long in there when you’re recording books and it can be very taxing in both the short and long term.  I sit on a yoga ball in my booth to help me keep good posture and keep up the energy while recording.

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 didn’t listen to audiobooks much when I was a kid, but they weren’t as popular or available as they are now. I do remember listening to and loving Danny Glover reading “Brer Rabbit and the Wonderful Tar Baby.” I certainly listen to audiobooks now. It helps me to learn more about the industry and enjoy more books when my eyes are busy or I’m on a crowded subway and can’t hold up a book. Audio has a lot of possibilities.  How different is it to hear someone tell you a story? There are so many thoughts and experiences we have that are triggered by sound, but there’s still plenty of space for imagination and I think that’s really great. Actually, I can’t do anything that requires much concentration when I’m listening because I get totally absorbed!

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

Megan is a really interesting character for me. She’s helped me to grow as a person! I never really paid any attention to fashion but seeing it through her eyes, as a way to connect to people and see as an expression of personality and form, has made me appreciate it more. It’s great that she offers her talent to her friends. Certainly, as an artist, I understand her passion and her need to participate in the world through her medium.

I love seeing her grow through the series. She was a bit of a mean girl at first but she’s slowly learning that you can still do what you love without putting anyone else down and that her awesome friends, all of whom have at least one trait I connect to, have something to offer to her and to the world. It’s so great seeing them all grow up and have fun doing it, even if it is hard sometimes.

I also love her grandma, Gigi. She totally reminds me of someone I know (I won’t say their name here!). And Megan’s mom really makes me think of what I might be like as a mom because I love eating healthy and philanthropy and have strong political opinions. It made me consider how that might be difficult if I had a kid like Megan, and think about how I would make space for someone like Megan to be herself and grow, and also let her know that I love her.

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

I was trained as a kid first in Chinese Folk Dance and eventually moved into Chinese martial arts in college.

I haven’t done as many triathlons as Cris Dukehart [the voice of Jess Delaney], but I have done one and I loved it!

I play the piano and a little guitar.

I dye my hair with a streak of purple because I like the look and I never dyed my hair as a kid.  See? Fashion expression!

I love the color purple.

EmilyWooZeller purple

I told you she was fabulous! Thanks so much for visiting with us, Emily. I’m so thrilled that you agreed to play the role of Megan 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 Emily and her stellar work, click here to visit her website. 

Now, how about that giveaway?  

One of you will receive a free download of the new audio version of DEAR PEN PAL. All you have to do is comment below, telling us if you’re a fashionista like Megan, or a fashion faux pas like me!

The winner will be chosen at random at midnight on February 1, 2016. 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.) 

54 thoughts on “Behind the scenes with EMILY WOO ZELLER and a GIVEAWAY!”

  1. Hi Heather!
    Your post made my Monday way better!
    I’m not much of a fashionista, but I try. Megan’s definitely very different from me (I’m more of an Emma), but I still love her! I get how she feels stuck in the middle throughout the series, whether it’s between her mom and Sophie, her mom and Gigi, or the MDBC and the Fab Four.
    Thank you for posting, and good luck for your Cross-country move!
    Also- when is Yours Truly, the second book in the Absolutely Truly series, coming out? I miss the Lovejoys!

    • Yours Truly will be published late 2016/early 2017. I’ll let you know as soon as I have a firm date!!!

  2. I am a fashion faux pas who pretends to be a fashionista. Don’t quite know if it’s working out for me yet 😉

  3. I hope the cross country move has been going well, Mrs Frederick! <3
    I'd have to say that I am a fashion faux pas just like you, because I am far from being a fashionista! I wear what's comfortable, even if it isn't the best in terms of being 'stylish'. 😉

  4. I’m an in between but I would say more of a fashionista as I’ve gotten older but nowhere near Megan and her fashion sense.

  5. In the eyes of myself I am most definitely a fashionista and love what I wear. In the eyes of society I am most definitely not a fashionista!

  6. I’m more of a faux pas. I listen to audio books in the car with my boys. While I love your series,I’m not sure what they would think, but I really want to hear the characters.

  7. I’m so excited!

    I’m definitely a fashionista. Additionally, like Megan, I want to be a fashion designer some day.

  8. I am definitely a fashionista but I’m just like Emma!! I love your books so much and can’t wait for the new one to come out:) One question… Are Stewart and Emma going to get back together? Because I love Stewart and me and my friends are so sad that they broke up;(

  9. I hope your move has been going smoothly!
    I am a fashion paux. I care about clothes about as much as Cassidy. I dress comfortably and hardly ever wear a dress or a skirt.
    I would really love to win 🙂

  10. I am definitely not a fashionista like Megan! I’m definitely a fashion faux pas. I don’t know anything about fashion and don’t really care that much. I wear whatever fits and is comfortable!

  11. Hi Heather,

    I am not really sure, I like fashion, and shopping for gorgeous clothes and accessories like Megan, and I try to look great all the time, but I wouldn’t say I am a ‘Fashionista Jane’ like Megan.
    It’s interesting, in the second book Cassidy says that all of the girls have something in common with Anne from Green Gables… It’s sort of the same with us readers of the Mother Daughter Book Club series. We all have something in common with all of those girls. But Megan is my complete favourite!!!

  12. HI HEATHER! Yes I am a fashionista. Well I wasn’t when I was younger. Its just as you grow up more things matter. I mean being more responsible, kind, wise, and doing hw. But being chic or stylish doesn’t really matter. See its a way to express yourself and show if you are stylish. I am not saying I wear stylish stuff to be popular or chic. Its just when u grow up wearing old clothes and stuff isn’t , how do I say this… hmm maybe comfortable for me. I think that since I am getting older I should wear a little more chic clothes. But that is just my opinion so if anyone is reading this then do what u feel is good and right! I started looking at my wardrobe one day and thought , ” I should wear more new and stylish clothes. I guess it’s just a thing/ So yes I am a fashionista now…! And I feel that whatever you wear and think is right so don’t think you need to be stylish too! Everyone is awesome the way they are! U are all stylish in the way u are! I also pick comfortable clothes to wear too!

  13. I’m a fashion faux pas and I think I’m most like Cassidy when it comes to clothes! 😉

    And, Heather, are you coming to Virginia any time soon? I would love it if you would!

      • Ok! Thank you so much! Good luck to all who entered and congrats to the winner!
        Quick Question: If I send snail mail, do i send kit to the MA address? Also, do you look at mail as you get it, Heather? Do you respond?

        • Yes, send it to the new Massachusetts post office box, Mary — and yes, I do look at my mail as I get it, and respond as quickly as I can (sometimes it takes a while). 🙂

          • Is there an epilogue in the final MDBC book?. I hope there is . I love the series and it’s just too sad it will end. It’s so much sadness. . But atleast if there is an epilogue it would be gr8!

  14. Hi Heather,
    I would have to say that I am kind of a mixture of the two, because I love fashion, but sometimes I just want to cuddle with my favorite sweatpants. You know?

  15. I would say I am a little bit of both because there are some days where I feel like I dress really nice, but on my lazy days where I don’t feel like getting dressed I just put anything on and Mrs. Fredrick do you have an official date on when it the next MDBC book coming out?

  16. Good luck with your move! I am not a fashionista, but I love to look nice, especially when I go out. Cute sweaters are my favorite!

  17. I would probably group myself with the fashion faux pas. I like to dress up every once in a while, but my go to outfit is jeans and a sweatshirt. 🙂

  18. Totally a faux paux. Slacks I thought were black turned out to be blue; socks I thought were black turned out to be brown. And so on. Yikes.

  19. Definitely a mix of both. What I wear depends on how I feel 🙂 some days, I want to pull up the sweatpants and rock the ponytail, just like Megan on her lazy nights.

  20. I’m definitely a fashion faux pas 🙂 I’m a lot like Emma, and I’d much rather be reading a good book than anything else.

  21. Hi Mrs. Frederick! I don’t know, I feel like I’m somewhere in between a faux pas and a fashionista? Like, I don’t invest myself so much in my clothing, but I do like looking good 😉
    Also, will you ever be coming to Florida? I know you’re in the middle of your move (which is such a huge move at that!) so I understand if not right now, but I just wanted to know if you ever are in the future. We love your books! We have an aunt who lives in Boston, and she went to Concord to get books signed for us by you last year, but it would mean the world to meet you 🙂
    Hope the move goes smoothly!

  22. I am definitely a fashion faux pas. I care about what i wear but my usual outfit is athletic shorts and a t-shirt.
    Thanks for doing this giveaway.

  23. I am definitely a fashionista like Megan. In fact, I also want to be a fashion designer just like her. I just love that I can express myself with my clothes.

  24. When I was a little kid, my daddy dressed me as a fashionista with stylish dresses and fancy pants. I looked like a princess and I was totally spoiled. I believe my dad had good intentions and since I was an only child, my dad wanted to make my life be a fairytale. I am so grateful he did that for me because now when I look back at my past, I understand what drew into my fashion now. Alas when I was a tyke I didn’t really appreciate it because I was more interested in toys and books. I didn’t see clothes as a form of self expression. I just needed to grow up. When you are a child, clothes aren’t important but when you are older clothes can be a form of creativity. So I think that I am an in between right now. I love going shopping, I have a fabulous sense of style, I am creative even though I can’t draw well. I like to scrapbook, write poetry, song lyrics, and stories! I am a total Emma but I admire Megan because she describes the fashion shows in Paris so well! I love it! Wish You Were Eyre is one of my favorite books! The fashion shows are so inspiring. I love the way Mrs. Frederick described them! I was able to visualize Megan in her element. I don’t think I am a total fashionista because I can’t design clothes but I love to mix and match pieces of clothing!
    Thank you Mrs. Frederick for writing a new MDBC! I can’t wait to read it! I have the whole series! I hope you have a safe trip!

    • Mireya-I totally agree with everything that you said. I don’t know about anyone else, but I haven’t been able to read one MDBC book without laughing, crying, cheering, and grinning to myself the whole time… 🙂

      Heather-Thank you so much for writing another MDBC book! I was cheering and smiling the whole day when I found out. (literally ALL DAY) Please continue to inspire readers like me. Have a safe trip!

  25. I am both! I love buying new clothes and wearing whats in style but I’m not always like that, I’ll wear sweatpants out and about any day!

    • Alas, no plans to visit California anytime soon. 🙁 Stay tuned though — plans can always change.

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