Did you know that June is Audiobook Month? Well, it is, and what better way to celebrate than with the awesome Going Public project! All proceeds from the project will go to Reach Out and Read literacy advocacy organization.
Every day in June, a short story will be released on different sites, with different narrators and is free to listen to for one week (we’re talking work from the likes of Twain, Poe, Lovecraft, and more.) On June 30th, you’ll be able to download the whole collection via Downpour, courtesy of Blackstone Audio.
I was lucky enough to snag Vanessa Hart, who is a very in-demand voice-over artist, to narrate The Ice Palace by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So, give it a listen, check out Reach Out and Read, and head over HERE to check out all of the posts in this series (tomorrow I’ll post the next stop, so stay tuned!)
As a bonus, I chatted with Vanessa about what she does and why she joined in on this project, so please give her a warm welcome!
Vanessa, you have done extensive voice work on not only audio books, but also commercials, TV promos, and much more! Will you tell us a bit about your background and how you came into voice acting as a career?
Good question Kristin. I started like many of us did. Classical theatre training. As part of the “Departing Seniors” program in my BFA program we had a series of guest lecturers on the other avenues of making money in the business besides theatre. Voice acting was one of those avenues explored. AEA was my first card but I tucked that voice acting info away and began pursuing it when I wasn’t doing a theatre show. I was fortunate – that side of my business just sort of took off. My first job was a national TV spot for McDonalds.
Then audiobooks came to my attention and my true passion was discovered. There is nothing that satisfies all my artistic and intellectual needs like performing in this genre.
Will you tell us about the Going Public project and why you chose to be a part of it?
It’s a labor of love. Over 30 of my favorite narrators have donated a recording of a short story in the public domain. Blackstone Audio has joined us in this effort. All proceeds go to Reach Out and Read – a literacy advocacy organization.
We all know how blessed we are to be a part of this amazing community and I was honored to be included.
And besides all that, you try saying no to Xe Sands (our amazing producer) – not going to happen as she is a force of nature.
What made you choose to narrate The Ice Palace by F. Scott Fitzgerald for this project?
This was a very personal piece for Fitzgerald and for myself as well. He was from St. Paul, MN and engaged to Zelda (a Southerner) when he wrote this. He wrote Southern belles many times – most notably in The Great Gatsby.
I was born and raised in the South then moved to Minneapolis, MN to complete my education and stayed there for 12 years. I even lived in St. Paul for a few years. And the Ice Palace is real. I’ve seen many incarnations of it in Mpls. /St. Paul.
So I totally identified with Sally’s experiences of the area and her urge to get out of the South and experience new things and that sense of not belonging in the new location.
Sally was also a modern woman of the 20’s from her bobbed hair to her cigarette smoking to her longing for forward movement and self-advancement. That combined with her genuine love of the South was a fascinating duality that I believe most women still feel to some degree today. Career vs. home and the like.
In my heart I believe Sally became a successful photo/journalist in NYC and found a man who “gets her” and lived happily ever after. See . . . the feminist wed to the romantic . . . I think the theme is timeless.
What have been some of your favorite projects in the past?
My favorite piece to date was narrating Kurt Andersen’s “True Believers” for Random House Audio. I’m a huge fan of his work. When they checked my availability for it I guessed that it’s was Kurt’s new novel, so I asked if it was. They said yes and he had final approval.
So I waited while Dan Zitt and Kurt Andersen decided if I was the one. It was exciting and nerve racking. I was jumping out of my skin, I wanted it so badly. And then to get the word that “yes, it was mine” – well, it was like my birthday – just one of those great actor moments where you pump your fists and do the happy dance.
I also love re-visiting the series I do for Blackstone Audio, “The Cat DeLuca Mysteries”. I’ve narrated three now, written by three talented and charming sisters collectively known as K. J. Larsen. Every time I revisit Cat (Louboutin wearing, fast talking Chicago PI) and her wonderful, huge Italian cop family is like a home coming.
I could go on and on. A great sci-fi piece that I found particularly moving and poignant. A YA fantasy book that charmed my pants off. A romance that made me cry . . .
But honestly, my favorite project is whatever I’m working on at the moment. I tend to fall in love with the work and stay that way until the last page. And then I’m sad it’s over and find myself missing hanging out with those characters every day and then a new project arrives and the love affair begins anew.
Are there any books or authors that you’re particularly fond of?
Well, my library is stocked with books by authors that I fear no one will ever let me narrate . . . King, McEwan, Updike, Follet, Higgins, Flynn, Atwood, Grisham, Cussler, Clancy . . .
However, I love and am in awe of all of the authors whose work I am honored to narrate. How they do what they do is a mystery to me. One of the highest compliments I ever received was a note from the sisters “K. J. Larsen” that they hear me in their heads when they write. I mean WOW – to be even a tiny part of that magical process is more than I ever dreamed of.
Will you give us a day-in-the-life glimpse of a voice actor?
Ah, Kirstin – now we shatter any illusion of glamour. Work, work, work.
Prepping is a different process, as is going to an outside studio to record, so I’ll just speak to working in my home studio with a book in progress.
Coffee, check emails, put out fires (especially if I’m also producing books at the same time), then my first hour in the booth with the audiobook. Then I take a :15 break for a snack and to check and respond to emails. Then my second hour in the booth. Break for a snack to shut up my stomach and again to check and respond to emails. Then my final hour in the booth. Some days I also have corrections from a previous book to record and auditions from my commercial agents. Now I start the audio upload to my (or the publishers) FTP and send delivery notifications to those who are involved. While that is uploading I generally pour myself an adult beverage and review what’s to be recorded the following day.
Rinse and repeat.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your free time?
Well there isn’t a huge amount of truly free time but when I have it I like to cook, garden in my tiny patch of SoCal green space, amuse the cats (or vice versa) and I love going to the movies with my sister Dana and my precious niece Santana. I am always blissfully worn out after a day with Santana. I have no idea how my sister does it all and with such grace.
I also love listening to my gifted peers and do a little of that almost every day. They blow me away with their gifts and I learn from them constantly.
What’s next for you?
I have no idea.
I just had a new custom made booth installed and am excited to inaugurate it. I call her “the sexy beast” and she is. The sound is so sweet and now I don’t have to be irritated if the dogs next door decide to serenade me. A true blessing.
As all artists know, security is not part of the deal. I happen to love that.
I don’t know what is coming next or when but I do know it will come, out of the blue, and that it will be wonderful and exciting . . . the best project yet.