When Renée Raudman is not bring Kate and Curran to life in the awesome Kate Daniels, Urban Fantasy series by Ilona Andrews to life she is bring sexy men like Lisa Kleypas’ Hardy Cates in Blue-Eyed Devil to our ear buds. I am please to welcome one of the best in business to The Book Nympho today.
Can you walk us through your prep work for a narration project? Do you prepare any notes to help decide the tone and voice to give a character when there’s not a clear description of their voice in the novel (when they do not have a distinct accent)?
Thanks so much for thinking of me for this interview! I so enjoy your ‘blog’ and am very flattered you thought of me.
In answer to your first question, the amount of prep depends on the project. While I do prep every book I narrate, a non-fiction book typically takes a lot less than a fiction novel. I can’t speak for other narrators, but for me, typically, the prep on a non-fiction title is usually limited to pronunciations, and then some research, based on either the author or the subject matter (historical, medical, foreign affairs, etc.)
However, fiction is another ball of wax! (What does that mean, by the way? Ball of wax? I think I’ll have to research that!). Because of the number of books that I record, I’ve found that I can be more productive if I have assistance in the preparation of almost every novel I narrate. I, personally, pre-read the manuscript on my ipad.
Simultaneously, there will be someone else who will go through and prep the physical manuscript. This will include: character sheets, pronunciation lists, a story summary by chapter (in case of a series), as well as ‘coding’ the script.
‘Coding’ includes; putting initials next to each line as to who is speaking, highlighting direction or emotion if it appears after the line of dialogue, (to keep from having to go back and re-record the line “softly or sobbing’ if the script so deigns,) change of character’s POV (whenever possible, I like to read the narrative with the ‘essence’ of that particular character’s POV, even if it’s 3rd person).
I love your last question in this paragraph. I have the script ‘prepper’ write down on the character sheets as MUCH information as the author gives us: How they laugh, what they do for a living (a person’s occupation, is always a great key to creating their character), what kind of clothes they wear, how they walk, what kind of cocktail they drink, etc. From this information, I get a picture in my head, of what this character (male or female or even animal!) looks like, walks like, even smells like!
I love when an author indicates an accent. Especially when there are several characters of the same sex all with a lot of dialogue. It certainly helps to define them (for me, and hopefully the listener!). However, if the author doesn’t indicate an accent, but the action is taking place in which a regional accent would be appropriate, I might take liberties with some of the smaller characters.
Truth be told, creating the characters is probably one of the most exciting and fun parts of my job!
You narrate a wide variety of novels. How do you decide which books to perform?
When I began narrating, I was one of the few women-slash-narrators who had their own recording studio. This was right about the time audiobook production and sales were about to explode due to the availability, ease and lower cost of digital downloads. This in turn, created a high demand for product. Hence, I felt so truly fortunate to be asked to narrate a wide variety of genres – in fact, probably every genre imaginable! What an amazing opportunity! Everything from Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Memoir, Biographies, to even College textbooks.
It was trial by fire, and I needed to get up to speed pretty quickly. Audiobooks allowed me to take all I had learned in my many years in the business world, as well as all I had trained and performed for in the entertainment world and meld them together in this fantastic union.
In those days, I would say yes to every opportunity that came my way. I can honestly say, I’ve enjoyed and learned something from every book I’ve ever narrated. However, in an effort to add some balance to my life, I’ve tried to become a bit more selective. I find myself gravitating lately to variations of romance and mystery. They are my favorites. These are the types of books I would most likely choose if I were going on vacation – sometimes it even feels like I am!
How much do you love narrating Ilona Andrews novels? You have perfect pacing and always sound like you’re in the moment and never sound rehearsed. How do you prepare for the fast paced action scenes where you have to changed voices so fast?
Oh. My. Gawsh. Luv. Luv. LUV. Are Ilona and Gordon fantastic writers, or what!???? How lucky I was to be paired up with them all those years ago. They create such perfect worlds through just the right amount of detail. Their wit makes me laugh out loud. Their characters are unique and purposeful. I don’t know how they do it, time after time.
And thank you, Jennifer for your kind words. I don’t know if that it was a serendipitous union, because they write like I think? Or if those words would flow out of any narrator’s mouth. I always enjoy my ride with one of their books. I especially loved this last collaborative effort of Clean Sweep. Great fun!
The action scenes are well written, so it’s just a matter of putting my head in that space and letting go. Subconsciously, I’m practically reenacting the scene in the confines of my chair and studio. I usually have my hands held high in the air (so I can move them without making any noise) and am literally sitting on the edge of my seat. The back and forth dialogue comes pretty naturally, as I am literally visualizing each person and the details of the scene.
Which scenes do you find more draining to perform, the action scenes in the urban fantasy novels or the emotional scenes in the romance novels?
Hmmm…. Interesting question! By ‘emotional scenes’ in romance, do you mean the hot and heavy? If so, they both leave me pretty hot and sweaty, LOL! Let’s just say I do my best to commit to both.
I find that relational break ups, or a death of a loved one (regardless of genre) are probably the most draining for me. Always so sad.
Since you spend so much of your time reading novels for work, do you enjoy pleasure reading in your spare time? If so, what types of books do you enjoy? And, do you find yourself thinking how you would narrate those books while you’re reading them?
HA! Well, I’m very rarely without reading material! But if the rare moment occurs, I would choose mystery/suspense and romance. However, when I need a break from the novels, I’ll try and catch up on my piles of beauty magazines or clothing/shoe catalogues! True confession: Love the glam. Even if is September’s issue from last year. I don’t even need to buy! Just look. Back to your question tho: YES! It’s hard to read for pleasure and not decipher the material.
Name one book/series/character that you’ve read that you wish you could narrate?
Another interesting question! Hmmm…I would love to narrate a mystery/suspense novel one of the great male suspense/mystery authors like Stephen King, Harlan Coben, David Baldacci, Lee Child, and the like (typically, those authors would have my male narrators).
What narration job are you currently working on?
I just finished a terrific (and challenging, with all the accents!) title by Nora Roberts: Public Secrets. So gooood! Next week we (with the charming and talented, MacLeod Andrews) begin work on Catherine Coulter’s latest FBI Thriller Series: Power Play. It’s so much fun to work with another narrator in the studio. The author gives us permission to remove all the “he saids/she saids” out of the text. The dialogue really flows. Kinda feels…like we’re on stage or filming!
About Renée Raudman
Renée Raudman is a multi-award-winning audiobook narrator. A multiple Audie Award nominee, she has earned a number of AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for The Last Secret by Mary McGarry Morris and Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien, as well as aPublishers Weekly Listen-Up Award for Joe Schreiber’s Chasing the Dead. She has also performed on film, TV, radio, and stage, including the recurring roles of Jordon on ABC’s One Life To Live, Phyllis on NBC’s Passions, and guest-starring roles on prime-time TV. She has been heard in cartoons (The Simpsons, Billy & Mandy), videogames, and on the E! channel. Her narration of Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper was selected by Library Journal as one of the best audiobooks of 2009, and her reading of Marthe Jocelyn’sWould You was selected by the ALA as one of the best young adult audiobooks of 2009.