If you have been around romance listening for long, you know the pure magic that is found in Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SEP) audiobooks. Ms. Phillips’ books were offered in audio format back in the early days of romance audiobooks with It Had to Be You releasing in 1995. Those early SEP titles are considered romance audio classics today. Now with twenty-one titles available in audio format, we find ourselves eagerly watching for each year’s new release, wondering where SEP will lead us this time.
We’re talking with Erin Bennett, narrator of SEP’s Heroes Are My Weakness which is releasing today simultaneously in print and audio format. And to celebrate, we’re giving away five audio copies of Heroes Are My Weakness.
We’re giving away five CD copies of Heroes Are My Weakness courtesy of Harper Audio. Entry is simple. Just complete the easy entry form found at the bottom of the page by midnight (CST) Friday, August 29th. No comments are necessary to enter although we’d love to hear your thoughts in our discussion area. You may only enter once. We’ll contact winners on August 30th so watch your email as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 24 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner. The giveaway is limited to those living in the U.S. or Canada.
The Sound Clip
Talking with Erin Bennett
Lea: Welcome to AudioGals Erin!
Erin: Hi Lea! It’s so great to be here.
Lea: I see that you have now been narrating for two years with 58 titles to your name. What led you into narrating audiobooks?
Erin: It was one of the happiest accidents I’ve ever “fallen” into. In the summer of 2012, I was recording a BBC radioplay in Los Angeles for the TV show Torchwood. The studio owner called me out of the blue a few weeks later and asked if I was interested in narrating audiobooks. He remembered me from the radio play and liked my voice. I did that bluffing thing you do when you’re an actor and said, “sure thing, I narrate audiobooks!” Then I started to sweat….
Lea: And just look where your bluff led you!
It looks as though your first narrations were for Hachette Audio. Can you share with our listeners how you came to work with this publisher?
Erin: At the studio owner’s recommendation I had an audition with Hachette and was hired for the job, which gave me about two days to prep my first script. I brought gallons of tea and enough green apples to feed an elephant. (Green apples cut down on mouth noise in the booth and I was petrified of being noisy). I learned on the job, and my director was very understanding. Eventually I found the rhythm and pace, and before I knew it, I was reveling in the experience of being immersed in the story.
Lea: When I discovered that you had been chosen to narrate Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Heroes Are My Weakness, I immediately listened to one of your narrations, as I was unfamiliar with your work. I must say, your performance was very impressive. It wasn’t long before I was thinking, “I have found a new auto-buy narrator!” What background prepared you for narrating? Have you acted? If so, can you share more?
Erin: That’s so kind of you to say Lea! In a way I’ve been studying stories for as long as I can remember. I was that annoying kid who wanted to play EVERY part in the school play. In high school? I was a Drama/choir/musical theatre nerd with a capital N. Then I went to drama school at Boston University School of Theatre, and I studied in London, did Shakespeare and Shaw and really dived into text. I remember sitting with a copy of the OED and annotating every other word of the Chorus speech which opens Shakespeare’s great Henry V and having sixteen pages of research for that one piece of text – finding layers and layers of meaning! The power, sublety, and passion of words really blew my mind. At the same time I would do commercial VO, animation, all of it, silly voices, improv, anything behind a microphone. This is a good career for someone like me who is, as my good friend says, a “Dramaleptic.”
Lea: Dramaleptic – I’ll have to remember that one!
Is this your first time to work with Harper Audio? Did you audition?
Erin: I actually auditioned twice for this book – and got direction from the author both times. It was similar to auditioning for a play or TV show – a first audition, and then a callback with more text and specific direction from the author. Heroes Are My Weakness is inhabited by an amazing cast of diverse and specific characters. I needed to prove that I could play all the parts. Luckily for me, Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ characters jump off the page and her dialogue, descriptions, actions, story arc – everything is a gift to the narrator. The stories which speak to me the most are the ones where a picture starts going in my head, like a movie. By the time I finished narrating this novel, I could see the freckles on our heroine’s nose. She’s that gifted.
Lea: I imagine you are aware that Susan Elizabeth Phillips has an extremely large following in the romance audio community. Can you share with us how you prepared for narrating Heroes Are My Weakness?
Erin: Lots of colors marking up my script, lots of character clues scribbled in the margins, lots of musical cues notating character vocal ranges. The recording itself was one of the most physically demanding narrations I’ve done. The puppet characters demanded “action” from me – when our heroine slips one of them on, I’d do the same thing in the booth. My engineer sometimes had to remind me that he could hear my clothes rustling if I got too carried away! Oh, that microphone is so powerful it can hear your cells dividing.
Lea: Now that’s an intriguing vision – you with a puppet while performing those characters. I love it!
Please tell us more about Heroes Are My Weakness. What is the setup?
Erin: Well, have you read Wuthering Heights? Jane Eyre? You have, and you say they’re classic literature? Take the Gothic elements of those novels and collide them with a woman born in the 21st century who, to me, embodies the best of both worlds: she’s funny, sophisticated and urbane like our modern gals, but she has a Romantic streak. Anne of Green Gables meets Annie Hall, maybe? She’s searching for something, and she’s forced to confront the hero of her dreams (or is he the hero of her nightmares?). Also, there are puppets. Puppets are awesome.
Lea: Okay, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and gothic – now that’s unexpected. But then she excels in quirky characters.
Did you have a favorite character in the book?
Erin: Annie – and keep in mind, Annie has a troupe of supporting puppet characters around her that are all facets of her amazing personality – they speak, they sing, they play pranks on each other – she’s very much like a young Jim Henson with her family of Muppets all around her. Genius. Annie embodies all I love about those Jane Eyre-type characters – she’s drawn as a real person, someone with faults and quirks who has a hopefulness and joy to her that is irresistible to me. That’s a tough choice though – Annie has some stiff competition in the Great Character category. I haven’t even gotten to the HERO yet…(fanning self)
Lea: I know what you mean about the hero – she has a special knack for writing fan-worthy heroes!
What are some of your current or upcoming projects?
Erin: One of my audiobooks that was recently released just won an Earphone – The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand… very proud to be among the folk who have received that designation… I have a couple of voiceovers for TV commercials running, there’s a videogame I’ll be screaming in that will come out soon, I also sing in an Andrews Sisters trio (I’m a soprano) so we have some gigs coming up for that, and I’m looking forward to the next book I’m narrating, which will hopefully come across my desk soon! Oh desk, who am I kidding? I’ll be reading my iPad on the sofa with my two cats draped over me. THAT’s my office ;)
Lea: Congrats on the Earphone Award!
And now I have a visual of you screaming in that video game. What fun!
I want to thank you Erin for joining us today and taking the time to tell us about Heroes Are My Weakness. I’m sure you have increased many a listener’s level of enthusiasm and influenced others to add it to their wish list.
Erin: Thank you so much Lea. It was so lovely to speak with you!
As our newest Narrator Friend, Erin has an AudioGals page dedicated to her. To learn more about Erin and see a list of her other romance narrations, visit her page.
Time to Enter