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.
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.
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.
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!