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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Do You Want to Hear a Story?

Meet the voices behind Aven Ellis audiobooks, Andrea Emmes and Elise Arsenault!

Today I’m so excited to bring you an interview with the fantastic voices behind my audiobooks, Andrea Emmes (Modern Royals and Washington DC Soaring Eagles Series, featured on the left) and Elise Arsenault (Rinkside in the Rockies and the upcoming British Isles Billionaire Series, featured on the right.) When I was given narrators to listen to for my first audiobooks, I was asked by my audiobook publisher which voice I wanted to narrate all of my series.

But as I listened to the voices of Andrea and Elise, I realized I didn’t want to pick one. They each had unique narration skills that were perfect for different series. I went back to the person who was casting and said one wouldn’t do-I asked if I could have both! (Yes, I was greedy.) Luckily for me, I did get two of the best narrators in the business.

I asked both of these talented ladies to discuss their craft with me, so you could get to know them, too. 🙂

Aven: Andrea, you are the voice of my Modern Royals and Washington DC Soaring Eagles Series, and Elise, you are the voice of the Rinkside in the Rockies Series. What did each of you think the first time you read your script for my book?

Andrea: I’ve been a fan of contemporary romance for years and have noticed that it can be difficult for an author to not get caught up in the trope and really bring some depth to their story and characters, but what I love about your writing, is that I care so much about the characters, their love story and I totally feel the swoon. 

Elise: Aven, I loved your writing right away! It felt like a movie I’d watch. I love a good chick flick, and it felt like that genre for me. Your protagonists are so easy to identify with and I think that you write very similarly to how I talk, if that makes sense. I knew I was going to enjoy narrating these stories, and I truly do.

Aven: What is the best part about doing audio for a series? 

Andrea: A good series keeps you begging to know more about what is happening with the characters and where the author will take them next and when I’m lucky to lock into a series like this, it’s really exciting for me. I’m a voracious reader as it is and LOVE a good series because I don’t have to say goodbye to these cool people and crazy stuff that is going on in their lives. Being able to tap into the emotional content and journey that my favorite characters are going through in a  series is like binge watching a cool show on Netflix. I can just get lost in a good story!

Elise: What I love about a series is that, like a TV show, I get to re-visit with old friends. 

Aven: What is your biggest challenge in being a narrator?

Andrea: Honestly, a lot of the challenges are being distracted. When I’m not totally focused on the story and the characters and how they are feeling, then my mind can wander and that can end up with me going on mini time-suck tangents on Facebook, looking at the news, checking up on emails or just zoning, lol. Another challenge is in a book or series with a ton of characters, is keeping all of the character voices straight. But I have a spreadsheet that I have that I use to keep reminders of they quirks or qualities (especially for smaller characters) and voice sample snippets to refer to. So that helps.

Elise: My biggest challenge is that the work is solitary. I typically self-direct and engineer which means I am in my studio by myself for long periods of time. As an extravert, long sessions can be draining. I am energized by other people, so I do my best to schedule social time before and after sessions when I can. 

Aven: Out of my characters, which one has been your favorite to bring to life? Why?

Andrea: Hmmm, good question. I think it’s a toss up between Katie from Swing and a Miss and Clementine from A Royal Shade of Blue. Katie is hilarious and totally just says whatever is on her mind, which is a lot like me in real life (minus the ability to eat anything I want) and Clementine is such a strong woman, finding herself in the royal world and how she stands strong amongst all the struggles that she goes through. Strong women protagonists are important to me.

Elise: Jojo from Sugar and Ice! I love narrating characters who love to bake. There something so fun in the description of love being poured into a recipe. Also, with good food writing, like yours, I can taste the ingredients. I was also drawn to Jojo’s relationships with her family. I come from a big, loud family, so that’s always easy for me to connect with.  I said goodbye to both of my grandmothers this past year — one of them was Italian and LOVED to cook and bake, so of course I felt so connected to Jojo’s special apron passed down from her grandmother. 

Aven: What is your process for recording?

Andrea: After warming my voice up, I turn on my computer in my booth, get the script ready, remind myself where in the story I am before I start and dive right in!

Elise: It can sometimes vary from book-to-book, but typically I like to read a book all the way through, making notes of character description (what author says, what character says about self and what other characters say about a character). This informs my character voice choices. I will also use this first read to identify words or names I don’t know and get clear on pronunciation. Depending on how much time I have before I need to begin recording, I may research the place or subject matter. I believe when I recorded Reality Blurred, I was planning a trip to Europe, so I already felt like I was in Skye’s shoes during those moments abroad. I chart out my schedule for recording, two-three days for Rinkside in the Rockies books, and I dive in.

Aven: What is the funniest thing that has happened to you while recording?

Andrea: I was working in my booth when all of a sudden my door knob on the inside fell off!! I was totally trapped inside and I had to Macgyver myself out of there. It was actually pretty scary at first because I was home alone and the interior temperature of the room was super hot and that can get dangerous after awhile. Thankfully, I just happened to have an Allan wrench in the booth and was able to free myself! Terrifying at first, funny now! 

Elise: I record in a studio I co-own with my husband, Justin — The TreeCave. And let’s just say that sometimes we both need a break from our work and will interrupt each other. We have a shared window between our spaces, and cannot see each other unless one of us is standing. One day he popped up and had a laser-tag gun in his hand and was standing in a super-hero pose inviting me to take a break and play. We are super silly together, and I have a distinct memory of laughing really hard. I then had him re-enact and turned it into a Boomerang which you can now find on my Instagram!

Aven: You two know each other. How did you meet?

Andrea: Elise and I first met via our Facebook “water cooler” forum which is a really great place for us to connect as people and colleagues, ask questions or give advice or just get lost in a GIF war 🙂 Then, I believe we met in person for the first time at APAC 2018 – Audio Publisher’s Audiobook Conference in New York.

Elise: Andrea and I first met at APAC – the Audio Publishers Association Conference which happens once a year, and is a sort of meeting of the minds for the entire audiobook industry. We ended up sitting at the same table at lunch and I recognized her name immediately as a fellow Aven Ellis  narrator and we hit it off right away! We later found out that we have Rhode Island in common as well!

Aven: I want to thank both Andrea and Elise for sharing their insights with me! And you all need to follow these talented narrators on social media! You find them both on Twitter and Instagram:

Andrea is on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Elise is on Twitter here and Instagram here.

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