Behind the scenes with Kate Rudd

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!


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.

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!


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


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


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.) 


Audibly impressed

So just last night I finished (finally — juggling too many deadlines around here) listening to the amazingly talented Amy Rubinate narrate my book ABSOLUTELY TRULY.

I am completely and utterly bowled over. Completely and utterly!

It is perfect.

In absolutely truly every way.

Thank you, Amy, from the bottom of my heart. You are a ROCK STAR, and you’ve made this author incredibly happy!



It’s kind of an out-of-body experience, listening to someone else read your book. I kept thinking, “Did I write that?” and “Hey, that’s pretty good!” I fell in love with my own story, as cheesy as that sounds.

Amy’s ability to ever-so-slightly change the pitch and timbre of her voice and become each of the characters is remarkable. Listening to the narration was like watching a movie in my head, as the story came alive for me in new and fresh ways.

I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks when my boys were small–it was an easy way for me to multi-task late at night, doing laundry or cleaning or whatever–but in recent years I’ve fallen out of the habit.

I’m falling back into it right now. What a fabulous way to connect with a story!

Click here and here and here to read more about Amy and her new venture, Ideal Audiobooks, and the part my books play in it.

I can’t wait for next month, when the audio version of THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB is released. Stay tuned for another giveaway the minute it’s available!

Ideal Audiobooks & a giveaway

I have BIG, EXCITING NEWS to share this morning, and a giveaway to celebrate because … my books are going to be available for the very first time IN AUDIO!

:: throws confetti! ::

:: dances around the room! ::

That’s right, my friends, you’re going to be able to LISTEN to my books in addition to READING them!

::  more confetti! ::

:: more dancing! ::

No, I’m not excited.

Not one bit.

(Liar, liar, pants on fire.)

ABSOLUTELY TRULY has just gone live, thanks to my new friend Amy Rubinate at Ideal Audiobooks.




Next up, releasing in July, is THE MOTHER-DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB, and there will be a book a month released after that. Stay tuned here for an announcement when each book is available.

I’ve just started listening to ABSOLUTELY TRULY, and boy are you in for a treat. Amy’s a fantastic narrator. She’s also the founder of Ideal Audiobooks, and she’s here today to talk to us about her new venture, and about her career as an audio book narrator. In fact, we’re doing a twin Q&A this morning to kick off our new partnership. Click here to hop on over to Amy’s blog and read what I have to say. Meanwhile, continue reading below for more about Amy and Ideal Audiobooks…


Amy Rubinate

This is Amy. Isn’t she gorgeous?


Q: So first of all, how on earth did you come to be an audio narrator? Tell us about the path that brought you to this profession.

A:  I started as a voiceover actor and singer in San Francisco about ten years ago. I was the voice of Tad for LeapFrog toys, and I drove about an hour to LeapFrog twice a week. Then I started doing video games, and went all over the Bay Area for work. It was worth it because once I got there I transformed into a 3-year-old frog, an evil alien queen, an elf, a robot, an angry teenage warrior, and even dogs, cats, chickens, and cows. Once, a director even recorded his dog barking and asked me to mimic the sound! Listening to audio books saved me from being miserable as I drove many hours in a car with no air conditioning. In fact, I couldn’t wait to get in the car to find out what happened next in whatever story I was listening to. Since I had studied reading books aloud and acting onstage in college, I realized that narrating audio books was a perfect fit!

Q: Is there any training for what you do? What kinds of preparation would be helpful for someone who aspires to be a narrator?

A: Acting training and experience is a must. The acting comes first. It’s also important to know how to use your voice safely (the sessions are long and demanding), and to be skilled enough to get the characters exactly right and hit the right tone in the narration. A group of my friends and I studied with acting teacher Pat Fraley. He helped give us our start, and we are all making a living in audio books now. But we also worked together and separately to hone our skills after the class was over. I wouldn’t recommend doing this work without an acting background and many hours spent listening to great narrators and practicing this very specific skill set.

Q: How do you go about preparing to read a book aloud? Any tips you can share with us?

A: I used to sit on my couch juggling a 10-pound paper script and a dozen colored pens. Now, I prepare my books on an iPad. It’s so much easier. You have to read the book before recording. Imagine what would happen if you recorded 200 pages, and then suddenly saw that the author wrote, “he said in his twangy Texan accent?” I also like to mark my script with little notes to myself. When I’m focused on the story, these marks give me a hint of big changes ahead so I don’t roll right over them. I mostly mark sudden shifts that happen without warning, or conversations where it’s not clear who is talking.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

A: Sometimes I go to a studio in another city or state to record with a publisher’s director and engineer. At my studio, which I rent so I can have absolute quiet and air-conditioning, I usually start recording at 9:30, and I record in 45 minute sessions until about 3:30 – though sometimes I record late into the evening if I’m on a tight deadline. Some of my friends can record for up to two hours without a break, but I do better with shorter chunks of time. I work with an engineer who is helpful and very funny, and we make each other laugh all day long.

Q: What are the best parts of the job for you? The worst, if any?

A: For me, the best part of the job is when I get a story with a heroine who feels familiar to me in some deep way. I don’t have to think, I just plunge into that character’s story, and I can feel myself turning into her. It’s not always that immediate or that easy, but when it happens, it’s like magic. The worst part of the job is that it’s really hard to sit motionless in a dark room talking to yourself all day long. Having an engineer makes a big difference, because you have someone to act for, but you still have to record alone in your booth. On the other hand, I get to play all the parts!

Q: Do you have any funny stories to share from your experience in recording?

A: I have a weird tendency to mix up body parts when I’m narrating. I don’t know why it happens, but I think it comes from misreading the words “head” and “hand,” which sort of look alike when you’re tired and staring at the page after hours of recording. But it’s really random and funny sometimes. Instead of saying, “The princess lifted the frog up with her hand so he could kiss her on the lips,” I might say, “The princess lifted the frog up with her foot so he could kiss her on the elbow. I always think how lucky it is that I’m not a doctor. Can you imagine? I might operate on the wrong thing!

Q: Did you listen to a lot of audio books growing up? How about now? How does the experience differ for you from reading?

A: It may be hard to imagine, but audio books didn’t exist when I was a kid. We had what were called “story records” of Disney movies. Basically, they were an audio-only version of the movie with character voices and a narrator. I listened to THE RESCUERS hundreds of times, and the character voices and storytelling on it were superb. My sister and I used to spend hours mimicking The Muppets while doing chores. I realize now that when I thought I was having fun, I was actually training for this career. As an adult, I grew to love audio books even more than print books, because it’s soothing to have someone tell you a story, and the actors add something extra to the words on the page. If a story is already great, a good actor can make it even better.





Q: Now let’s talk about Ideal. Tell us about how you came to start this new audio publishing company.

A: I loved audio books so much that I always wanted to be a part of making them from beginning to end. I enjoy narrating audio books and will continue doing that work, but I also wanted to build a collection of books that I found compelling, and hire the perfect narrators to bring them to life. When I discovered your middle-grade books, I knew these were the kind of stories I wanted to publish. I called my business Ideal Audiobooks: Stories with heart, because I wanted to make something wonderful, and I realized that by collaborating with the right authors and narrators, I had the power to do that.

Q: Are there certain kinds of books you’re looking for? Why?

A: I like books that don’t shy away from a sad or difficult story, but that have a sense of hope. I try to choose stories that might acknowledge the darkness around us, but also let in the light. I love authors who lead with humor and wit, and I also enjoy stories that make you feel the main character’s story as if it were your own.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of this venture so far?

A: I found a quote in a magazine ad just before I started my business. I think it was for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. The quote was, “Your story can change someone else’s.” I thought it was the perfect idea to focus on as I built a business based on storytelling. I have loved learning how Ideal Audiobooks has inspired other people to follow their own dreams, or changed their experience in some way. One actor told me, “I am finally narrating a book I can share with my daughters,” and that made me happy.

Q: What do you have up your sleeve for us in the coming months and years?

A: This year, we have some wonderful women’s fiction and young adult books scheduled, as well as a lot of fun, magical children’s books. Check our website for new releases!

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Amy. I couldn’t be more THRILLED to be working with you! 

Visit for more information about Amy and her impressive career. The audio versions of my books are available through the Ideal Audiobooks website, and also on I hope you’ll listen to them, review them, and most of all ENJOY THEM!

And now, for the giveaway: one of you will receive a free download of the new audio version of ABSOLUTELY TRULY! All you have to do is comment below, telling us about one of your favorite experiences being read to, or reading aloud to someone else. 

Winners will be chosen at random at midnight on June 17th. 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.) 

:: one last toss of confetti! ::

:: one final whirl of dancing! ::