Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Shorts '14: Narrator Katherine Kellgren

Overreader News Flash: June is Audiobook Month! As I told y’all on Monday, I’m taking part in the Summer Shorts series of blog releases. Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to celebrate June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.
Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day via Going Public, as well as on various author and book blogs. As a “Thank you!” to listeners, pieces will be available for free online listening on their day of release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support of ProLiteracy, there are over 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download.

Additionally, this week is Poetry Week, and I’ve been fortunate to have three narrators visiting Overreader with their poetry selections. Today Katherine Kellgren reads Lewis Carroll’s You Are Old, Father William. Everyone here knows how much I adore her work, so you can image how happy I am to share this exclusive & extremely fun reading. Plus, she was nice enough to answer a few of my questions.

First, a bit about the Katherine Kellgren:
KATHERINE KELLGREN has recorded over two hundred audiobooks. She is a multiple winner of the Audie Award (including three for Best Solo Narration – Female), and among her titles are five recipients of the American Library Association’s Odyssey Honor, as well as numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards, Publishers Weekly Listen Up Awards, and ForeWord Magazine’s Audiobook of the Year. She has been named a Voice of Choice by Booklist Magazine, and is on AudioFile Magazine’s list of Golden Voices. She is a graduate of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and lives in New York.

And now, my questions:

Mel: I’ve just glanced through my spreadsheets, and found at least 20 titles narrated by you, which leads to my first question: how are you so good? Or to be more specific, what training and experiences brought you to audiobook narration?

KK: Thanks for the kind words, Melanie! I feel that every book I work on is a learning experience, as audiobook narration always presents constant challenges. I'm trying to improve as a narrator with every project that I'm fortunate enough to be able to record, and that process, although challenging, is actually quite a lot of fun! In terms of training, I did a three year diploma course in acting at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and there was a great focus on voice and dialect work there which has helped me when working in audiobooks.

Mel: Does working on a series differ from narrating stand-alone titles? Do you know from the outset that you will be revisiting Jacky Faber or the Incorrigibles or Lady Georgiana, and does that change your prep work?

KK: I approach series books pretty much the same way as stand-alone titles prep-wise, though when I'm recording a series I always make sure if possible to save a short sample of each one of the character voices in case they recur in subsequent books. I keep playlists of character voices from the different series I'm working on in my iTunes library and refer to them when characters pop up again. I have quite an odd assortment of hundreds of different voices in my iTunes library, so I make sure never to play my music on random shuffle, as you never know who might turn up...!

Mel: You could make quite the party game playlist for your fans: “who is Katy voicing now?” :) I know I’m not alone in being a listener who will follow you from project to project, leading me to new authors and different genres. Did you anticipate becoming a ‘brand’ within the audiobook industry? What about working with audiobooks has been a surprise to you?

KK: I would love to think of myself as a brand in the audiobook industry, because I think all narrators are or have the potential to be. I know I'll follow favorite narrators from author to author and genre to genre, and I'm truly touched if my work has helped to introduce listeners to new authors. As a child and teen, listening to audiobooks helped to introduce me to the work of some of my favorite authors, so if I can be a part of that process, it makes me happier than I can say!

Mel: Do you have favorites among your projects? Is there anything new or forthcoming you can tell us about? 

KK: I've never been able to pick a favorite among the books I've recorded, as each of them has been important to me in different ways. As for things forthcoming, I have a short story about Lady Georgie of HER ROYAL SPYNESS fame called MASKED BALL AT BROXLEY MANOR which I'm delighted to be reading, and two books coming up to record this summer that are also in series that I truly adore, one older and one new. Things are looking decidedly piratical for me in the next few months, as I'm set to record the second book in a new series for children called THE VERY NEARLY HONORABLE LEAGUE OF PIRATES. Swashbuckling, grog-swilling, timber-shivering (and a talking gargoyle to boot), what more could an excitable narrator like me desire? Also coming up is the final linear installment in L.A. Meyer's BLOODY JACK series, titled WILD ROVER NO MORE. To say that I'm excited and can't wait to see what happens to Jacky would be an understatement...!  

Mel: Oh you are DEFINITELY not alone with that excitement! I’m afraid I gasped when you said ‘final’ there – good thing there’s a new sea-going series for me to explore, if I’m no longer going to get my regular infusions of Kellgren-voiced Jacky stories.
Tell me about your poetry pick today, Lewis Carroll’s You Are Old, Father William from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I’ve loved it ever since my big brother first recited it to me when we were in grade school. I think he just wanted to kick me down stairs and pretend he was acting out the poem, but I still found it terribly funny. (Sadly for him, there were no stairs in our house.) Why did you choose it, and having read it so recently, do you often find yourself praising the muscular strength of your jaw?

KK: I've loved the poem since I was a child as well, and can remember various family members reciting it. You're right, lack of stairs in one's childhood home is a distinct advantage. I also have a delicious recording of Edith Evans reading it from the 1930's of which I'm rather fond. I shall spare you the further muscular exercise of my jaw, and simply conclude by saying to you and your kind readers:

I have answered five questions, and that is enough 
(I would bet), I won't give myself airs!
I don't think you can listen all day to such stuff,
I'll be off, 'fore you kick me downstairs!


Wasn’t that fun? Aren’t you delighted by her and jealous of me for getting to interview her? Now, go listen to the poem several times in a row, since it expires after just a day.

And if you were too late, no gnashing of teeth necessary – you get this recording and dozens more when you purchase the Summer Shorts ’14 collection, plus you’re helping out the great people at ProLiteracy.

Bonus Poetical Fun!
Head over to Beth Fish Reads today (6/13) to hear Carrington MacDuffie reading her Al's Boy.
Yesterday (6/12) I hope you didn't miss:
At AudioGals, Coleen Marlo reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning's How Do I Love Thee?, and
At Lakeside Musing, Amy Rubinate, Cassandra Campbell & Kathe Mazur reading Edna St. Vincent Millay's Sonnets 2, 4, 6 from Renascence & Other Poems.
Tomorrow (6/14) are two other blogs with two other narrators reading two other poems:
At Michael Stephen Daigle's blog, Diane Havens reads Walt Whitman's So Long, and
At Going Public, John Pruden reads James Whitcomb Riley's The Funny Little Fellow.

Summer Shorts '14 is made possible by the efforts of the Spoken Freely narrators and many others who donated their time and energy to bring it to fruition. Post-production, marketing support and publication provided by Tantor Media. Graphic design provided by f power design. Project coordination and executive production provided by Xe Sands. Nonprofit partnership coordination provided by Karen White

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