This has been quite a month for Q&As! Two great author Q&As at Politics & Prose – Curtis Sittenfeld and Lionel Shriver – which I will be posting about here on the blog. And three great audiobook narrator Q&As in honor of June is Audiobook Month! Here is the third one, with narrator Anne Flosnik, whom I met at the BEA audiobook narrator breakfast I attended in May. Anne narrated The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which I enjoyed on audio despite the fact that the discs were skipping. And I have her Little Bee on my to-listen list. Thanks to Anne for taking the time to answer my questions!
A. I got into audiobook narration via joining a local women’s networking organization in order to try to make a success of a side business in cosmetic sales. Through it, I met a lady who was a guest on a local TV show, and she invited me to take part on the show. Through being on the show I met other other performers, and heard about the Actor’s Center, an excellent “one stop” resource for actors. I joined, and found a voice teacher through it, and also through its audition hotline I found my Library Of Congress job. I was a Studio Narrator at the Library of Congress from 1996 – 2008, when I left because my commercial audiobook career had taken off with my narration of Little Bee by Chris Cleave, for Tantor Audio.
Q. How do you prepare for a new narration role? Do you read the whole book through to get a sense of the characters and story?
A. I prepare by reading the book from cover to cover, and I make notes concerning the character descriptions, age, personality, accents if any. I also have a page to list any pronunciations I need to look up, and this also helps me to keep pronunciations consistent. I keep all my notes, which are on paper, and in stacks, and they have saved my life on many occasions, especially when doing a series that evolves over time.
Q. What is your favorite book that you’ve recorded? Any books on your dream list?
A. That’s a tough question. I am keenly aware that each and every book is the author carefully crafted creation, and in a sense their “baby.” It is my responsibility to ensure with every project that I give the highest quality narration I am capable of, and be as true to the author’s intent as possible. Some books have stayed with me however, and each of them has something unforgettable about them, that has remained with me, for different reasons: The Vanishing Act Of Esme Lennox, Little Bee, and Anna And The King Of Siam. All were award winners, and all were self directed and researched. Other extra special books include the classics I have narrated such as Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility and The Turn Of The Screw. I have a great fondness for Long Lankin, a chilling, multi-point of view YA title, and children’s books such as The Wheel On The School and The Secret Garden. I also loved the intricate Kushiel’s Dart set in an alternate medieval Europe part of the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. This was a challenging, and satisfying series. The books I read by Robin Hobb were outstanding, and the many romances it has been my honor to narrate.
Q. Where do you do your recording?
A. I record Tantor projects at home. All others I take to a local engineer, and I also travel on occasion, or indeed whenever asked, if I can fit it into my schedule. It’s lovely to get to see old friends and make new ones. This life can be solitary at times. Usually I am directing myself, and do all my own research, which is an integral part of the narration process, and I find deepens my understanding and appreciation of the text.
Q. Do you ever find that your voice changes from session to session? (Sometimes I think I can tell when one session ends and another starts because the narrator’s voice gets lower, for example.)
A. Yes, I do find my voice changes from day to day, and even over the course of a day. For me it has as much to do with the time of day, or when I last ate, as tiredness, or just not feeling well. I think audiobook narration can be somewhat of an “athletic exercise,” in that the fitter I am physically, the better I perform, as my breath control, stamina and endurance are all increased. Being well-rested is an extremely important component of how I sound. I make great efforts however, to keep the sound quality as consistent as possible, and am very aware of it, along with the many other things I am listening for, and course correct to keep things on an even keel.
Q. How much interaction, if any, do you have with the author while you’re recording?
A. Most times I don’t have any interaction with the author. If I do it is usually concerning pronunciation issues. Sometimes, as I have narrated for authors over the course of a series, or even years, we keep in touch, and I am always excited to be narrating their latest work, or even doing several of their backlist books one after the other. It is a very special bond to get to work this closely with another person’s creations.
Q. What do you like to read in your spare time?
A. I am finding I have less and less time to read for pleasure, but when I do I will often read something that is current. I usually have an audiobook on the go though, and for recommendations I look to AudioFile magazine for inspiration. I love literary fiction and mysteries best, along with some non fiction. I enjoy “how-to” books, and historical fiction and nonfiction are also favorites.