Author Narrator Override is the place where authors take the reins and take you on a journey into their world. Some may allow you into their private writing dens. Others may take you along with them on research trips or interviews. Whatever the case may be, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride because here you’ll get an in-depth look into an author’s musings.
~ KAREN WHITE ~
As sad as we are to see our Jill Shalvis month come to an end, we are very excited to have one last treat! Karen White is the narrator of Jill’s Animal Magnetism series and she’s got a special post and an awesome giveaway for all of you audiobook junkies! And now…..lets give her a warm welcome to UTC!
Thanks to Francesca and the other Under the Covers gals for having me do a guest post today!
So – I’ve been narrating books since 1999. I’d recorded all kinds of genres, including the ill-named “Women’s Fiction” (is that better or worse than “Chick Lit”? I dunno) but my first honest to god real romance book was in 2010. I was hired by Penguin to narrate Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James.
Back then, before the IPad (which I now read from almost exclusively), we’d get a manuscript copied onto a huge stack of white paper – only one page per side (the only way to avoid page turn noises). So I read the book, thought it was fun and funny, but it wasn’t until I showed up at the recording studio for the first day of work that I saw the cover of the paperback. Then, my snobby-literature-reading-self realized that it was – ugh, a romance title. I just had it in my mind that those small books you can buy at the grocery books were all sub-par-writing-beach-reads.
Well, three years and 20+ romance narrations later, I stand corrected. Yes, some romance books, like in any genre, are not terribly well written. Yes, some are light fare that you’d enjoy reading by the pool. But the majority of the ones I’ve been able to read have been books that took me on a journey, taught me something about myself, made me laugh and/or cry, and all with a happy ending (and who doesn’t need that these days?).
And, of course, Jill Shalvis’ books are included in the above description 😉
I’ll admit, I am a sucker for a book about animals. When I was a kid and those Scholastic Book Club order sheets came around, I circled every single book about animals offered every single time and hoped my mom would buy them all. And the casting folks in the audiobook world seemed to have noticed my passion for such books. I’ve done a fantasy series about people who commune with wolves, a science book about what human doctors can learn from veterinarians and animal researchers and another about what’s going on in a dog’s head, memoirs about people and their pets up the wazoo … but Jill’s Animal Magnetism series gave me a new and super fun challenge. Voicing animals realistically.
(I will admit that I have had to talk as an animal in a children’s book, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s Farm, but this was different.)
Now, I could have just skipped through these bits in Jill’s book and indicated that the dog was barking or the cat mewing. But in this series, where people who rescue, care for and work with animals are featured, I figured they were probably like me. Call me crazy, but I am pretty sure when my dog whines/barks/howls she is saying something to me. Like, “I am afraid to stick my nose behind that rocking chair to get my squeaky toy, please please please get it for me”. And that mournful whine has a different intent than her whine (though it’s the same sound) that says, “I see Colbert out front [neighbor’s dog]! Come on! Let’s go play with him!”
And this is the kind of animal “dialogue” that Jill includes in these books. And you can tell from Jill’s blog and her support of causes like Read Humane that she’s a huge animal lover. So of course, I had to get it right and I had a blast doing it. The following are a few samples; hopefully, you’ll agree!
From Animal Magnetism, p. 105
She was sitting, arms wrapped around her bent legs, forehead to her knees.
Twinkles bounded forward and ran a circle around her, then sat obediently at her feet, head cocked, eyes worried. “Arf.”
Brady nudged the dog aside and squatted down in front of her.
From Animal Attraction, p. 64
“Jade tapped a finger on the schedule in Dell’s hands, pointing to one of his eight o’clocks. “Dixie’s in heat. We’re going to have to be careful that she doesn’t excite every male in the place.”
“If we don’t rush her through, we’ll have a clinic full of boners. What’s wrong with your hearing this morning?”
“Nothing,” he said. “I just really like it when you say things like excite and boner.” “Boner,” Peanut said. “Oh, no,” Jade said to the parrot. “No, no, no . . . you can’t say—” “Boner.”
“Oh God.” Jade panicked. “Peanut—”
“Pretty bird,” Del broke in, smiling at the parrot and speaking low and soft. “Such a pretty girl, Peanut.”
64Peanut preened under his admiring tone. “Pretty Peanut.” Jade shook her head in disbelief.
“It’s all about distractions.”
From Rescue My Heart, p 124:
““It’s no big deal,” she said. “Forget it. What are you doing here?”
“Top secret mission.” He nudged her around the corner of the aisle and out of sight of thecheckout clerk. Opening his jacket, he revealed… A kitten.
The little gray ball of fluff was tucked into his hoodie pocket, fast asleep. At the sudden exposure to the bright fluorescent lights, it blinked and yawned, and looked up at Adam with sleepy adoration. “Mew.”
Adam’s hand came up to cradle the weight, the thing barely filling his palm. His work-roughened fingers gently scratched under its chin, and its eyes closed in utter bliss at the touch.
Holly knew just how the kitten felt. She’d melted from one touch of those fingers, too..”
Here she is definitely going for a kiss..
Note: in the 3rd book in the series, there are fewer of these instances. Only two. But when Jill heard I was sad about that, she vowed to insert more in the 4th book, Rumor Has It (already written and coming out in November 2013 but still in the editing stage). It is truly one of the more thoughtful gifts she could give me. And I’m hoping this is not going to include any camel sounds – hero Griff is serving in Afghanistan, after all!
Back to the “blast doing it”, animal voices aside, Jill’s books are a blast to record all around. And in my experience, connecting personally with the material in some way and having a great time just telling the story is what makes for a good narration. This series works for me in so many ways. The women are sassy and smart with just the right amount of vulnerability to make them relatable. The men are hot (always fun, of course, though finding those deep rumbly voices can be a challenge. Luckily I sang tenor in high school chorus). The dialogue is snappy and funny a lot of the time, but with a satisfying amount of tough emotional scenes as well. I love that there’s such a great journey in Jill’s books – inner obstacles that the characters face due to wounds from the pasts, hope that this time it will be different, big screw-ups resulting from aforementioned emotional scars, great sex, and finally in the end, a redemption leading to the oh so necessary HEA.
Did I say “great sex”? This is one thing that we narrator gals tease each other about when we get together! Those sex scenes! And is it weirder to record them when you’ve got a 20-something engineer listening to every word as you’re saying it, or when you’re recording in your home studio and in the middle of something truly, uh, titillating, your child knocks on the window to ask if she can have a snack? I’ll just say that I’ve done both, and they are both pretty embarrassing.
But I’ll also say that when the sex scenes are well integrated into the story (as well as nicely specific and descriptive) they are much easier to deliver. And I think for us women, these are scenes that are more rewarding to read or listen to as well. Not gratuitous nipple/butt/penis grabbing and flashing, but two people discovering each other intimately and reveling in giving each other pleasure. I’m just sayin’.
About Karen White
Karen White has been narrating and directing audiobooks for more than a dozen years and has well over one hundred books to her credit. Honored to be included among AudioFile‘s Best Voices 2010 and 2011, she is also an Audie Award finalist and Best Audiobook of the Year winner and has earned multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards for narration and direction.
Publishers Weekly says of Karen’s narration of Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, “Karen White delivers a stunning reading, her character interpretations are confident and well-rounded, and she forges a strong bond with the audience.”
Speaking of Audiobooks says, “Karen is one of my auto-buy narrators—if I think a book may interest me, her narration will sway me to give it a try.”
So in celebration of author Jill Shalvis and all things Animal Magnetism related, audiobook publisher Tantor Audio has graciously offered to give away 2 sets of the Animal Magnetism series (books 1 – 3).
Either physical sets of MP3-CDs or if the winners have a Tantor Account, the books will be added to their bookshelf. (US/Canada only)
Thanks for listening…