Discovering that Hachette Audio had plans to release Elizabeth Hoyt’s Princes Trilogy in audio format, I joined with other romance audio enthusiasts in a little victory dance. We had been wishing out loud for this trilogy for some time. But, oh…wait…a new-to-me narrator? And one who looked to be new to narrating as well? Memories of other new narrators who had failed to meet the challenge of reading a beloved series came to mind. My victory dance slowed a bit. Could narrator Moira Quirk pull it off?
Deciding to have a bit of faith in Hachette Audio, I downloaded the first in the series, The Raven Prince, upon its release and cautiously started listening, hoping for an adequate performance. It took me only a few minutes to realize that Moira Quirk was far more than merely adequate. She was sensational! I was delighted to discover such a treasure in the new-to-me/new-to-solo-narration category, especially after so many disappointing listens from fairly new narrators.
I had to tell the romance listening community about my new discovery – I had to find out more about Moira Quirk. Fortunately, Moira agreed to this interview with AudioGals and we can now share with you more about this remarkable narrator. I think you will agree with me that Moira has one of the most unusual backgrounds around for a narrator who gets romance audio so completely right.
Once Moira and I completed her interview, I knew we had to do something truly special to mark the occasion. What better way to celebrate our discovery than with a giveaway of the series that inspired the interview to begin with?
The Princes Trilogy GIVEAWAY
We’re giving away one set of the Princes Trilogy – The Raven Prince, The Leopard Prince, and The Serpent Prince through Audible. It’s simple – just enter by midnight (CST) Monday, March 18th. You will find the easy entry form at the bottom of this page – no comments are necessary. We’ll contact you the following morning so watch your emails as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 24 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner. Due to possible audio geographical restrictions, the giveaway is limited to the availability of these titles in your area. Finally, you may only enter once.
Now – Talking with Moira!
Lea: Welcome to AudioGals Moira! Thanks for joining us today.
Moira: Hi, thanks so much for having me! I have looked at some of your previous interviews and I’m happy to be included with such a great group. Anne Flosnik was a midwife! How cool is that? As you pointed out, I’m a new girl on the scene, so these are my wide-eyed answers. Perhaps we can talk again in five years and see if my perspective has changed!
Lea: Wide-eyed is perfect! Especially when we look at your recordings and see that your first solo audiobook performance was in 2012 with ten to date. Can you share with us the events that led to you narrating audiobooks?
Moira: Well, it was one simple event that was preceded by many, many events. Martin Jarvis, a master audiobook narrator, who has directed me in many radio plays and “afternoon readings” for BBC Radio and for L.A. Theatre Works, was at a studio where we often record. An audiobook producer was there and needed a British female narrator and Martin recommended me. That was the start. A few years ago, Stefan Rudnicki- he of the mellifluous baritone- had asked me to come in and read for a few multi-reader projects he was recording, and I did and enjoyed it. But Martin’s recommendation was really the start and a case of serendipity-meets-preparedness!
Lea: Can you share your acting background with us?
Moira: Sure. I have a combined honours degree in English and Drama from the University of London (which obviously is the perfect education for a future audiobook narrator!) and attended Central School of Speech and Drama. I did some theatre in England and Europe, but moved to America pretty soon after graduating. Then I worked doing improv at a theatre in Orlando and also for Disney. That was also when I started working for Nickelodeon. For most of the ‘90s I hosted a Nickelodeon show called GUTS and toured the U.S. doing live shows for them, so there is a large group of 20-30 year olds out there who refer to me by my show name of Mo! As my time with Nickelodeon was drawing to a close, my husband- who is a juggler and comedian- and I toured Canada with a show we had written and produced and then made the move to Los Angeles. Ironically, when I moved here, I started volunteering at the Braille Institute and spent five years with them recording books on tape- literally books on tape! I had to set up my reel-to-reel machine and do my own pick-ups and editing. I read everything: Christian self-help; histories; a rather harrowing memoir of the Holocaust which took ages because I was always crying; children’s books; YA; romance, you name it. And the funny thing was I didn’t do it with an eye to making it a career, simply as a service because I was busy doing TV pilots (that didn’t get picked up) and film and animation and stand-up. Life, eh? My first voice-over job ever was at the old Hanna Barbera building, and I am happy that I got there in time to have that experience. Those same animation directors now often direct me for interactive games of which I do a fair few. The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Star Wars: the Old Republic are two recent releases. We have two daughters, so voice-over allows me a schedule where I can spend a lot of time with them and pick them up from school, but I still try and do plays… and stand-up comedy, but, oh! that is a late night for momma! Also, as I mentioned earlier, I get to do plays for BBC Radio, and with L.A. Theatre Works whose productions air on NPR… and which led me here!
Lea: Nickelodeon?! I’m certain I watched you with my daughter!
As you know, I was so impressed with your performance of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Princes Trilogy. You just seemed to understand the nature of the romance genre. How do you prepare for your narrations?
Moira: Thank you for that! I have been fortunate to read several different genres so far, and I have to say that, truthfully, I prepare for them the same way. When I’m reading the book I’m looking for its tone and how that might change. I’m noting the characters and their traits and whatever arc they might have. I cast the book in my head like I might a play. I’ve been a voice over artist for many years now, and I think all of us travel with a repertory company in our heads, and so I pull out my readily available characters and create my new characters to build my ensemble. I’m also learning to discern when a book’s characters need to be acted out, or simply conveyed with the speech attributions doing the major work.
I try to pay attention to the way the author writes. I loved critical analysis when I was in college, deconstructing always seemed such a great game to me, so I try to be aware of whatever pacing, rhythms and techniques the author uses: your oxymorons, pathos, bathos, stichomythia, your caesuras and scansion and whatnot. And I try to ascertain if the story is being told or if the story is happening- if that makes sense. Does it?
I suppose the biggest thing is I simply have to make choices. Mostly the choices will be instinctive, but sometimes they have to be based on what will differentiate characters for the listener and what is vocally feasible and sustainable for me.
Lea: Yes, it makes sense. The listener/reader definitely picks up on telling versus happening even if we don’t realize it at the time. It can greatly impact the listening/reading experience.
Where do you record? Do you work with a director?
Moira: So far I have recorded in various studios around Los Angeles. I do have a director and I like that. It’s what I’m used to. It’s funny, when I started in voice over, I was doing cartoons and there would be the whole cast there and we would have the opportunity to improv too. That still happens, but more and more it is you alone in a studio with your director talking to you via Skype. It’s the same for games and, obviously, commercials. With audiobooks, I suppose the final step will be me all alone being my own director and engineer too. So, I’ll hold on to some company for as long as I can! Just before Christmas, my director, Dennis Kao, and I were having some chips and salsa in the booth and I joked that it was our audiobook office party, which seemed sad and hilarious all at the same time.
Lea: We do hear narrators refer to the solitary nature of their performance. I must say that I am sure there are many listeners out there who love hearing that you work with a director. We understand the nature of evolving into your own director and producer but what a solid start!
Is there something in particular you enjoy about narrating romance? Do you find the sensual scenes to be a challenge?
Moira: When I was a young whippersnapper in England, Mills and Boon was the reigning publisher of romance, and Barbara Cartland was still the reigning authoress. There was a lot of swooning and sentences ending in ellipses. “Oh… my dearest… oh…” etc. etc. Ingénues were generally being married off to dubious types on Greek Isles and spent a lot of time assessing themselves in full-length mirrors. I would have a more challenging time reading that I think. I like what I see now. I like these new feisty, ladies of romance! And I think there’s something supremely fun in having these decidedly post-feminist protagonists sent back to these romanticized historical settings. Why not have your cake and eat it?!
That said, one of my favourite books this year was Mistress of My Fate. The author, Hallie Rubenhold, is a respected historian, and she’s written a terrifically fun 18th century romp, and yet there is a very real sense of the every day peril of simply being a woman in those times. Fans of historical romance should definitely take a look at it.
Lea: I’ll definitely check out Mistress of My Fate. It feels so good to hear that you recognize a difference between romances ala Mills and Boon 20 years ago and romances today! We know the genre has greatly evolved over the years but many think today’s romances still equal the scenarios you mentioned. Not so.
Moira: The radio version of G.B. Shaw’s You Never Can Tell will air and stream on BBC Radio 3 soon. The next book to be released is The Liar’s Gospel by Naomi Alderman. There will be some games, but I always have to sign non-disclosures on those, and even then I don’t know if there is any intersection in the Venn diagram of romance readers and first person gaming! Maybe!
For fans of steampunk, they should check out Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger which is a cheeky, charming read. In the romance realm, the third installment of Kristen Callihan’s Darkest London series has just been released, Winterblaze. Did I say yet how mind-blowing it was to discover all these subsets of romance? The Darkest London series is paranormal romance, and so far has followed three sisters with highly unusual “gifts.” Miss Kristen has devised some intricate lore, and some diverse characters!
Can I also say this has been an incredible year for me, having to so quickly adjust my experience, my “bag of tricks” if you will, to this world of audiobooks? The community of romance readers particularly amazes me. It is very heartwarming to see how invested the authors are in their readership and, in turn, how supportive the readership is of their authors. (I know this true of other authors and genres, but the scope of romance has been quite the revelation to me). As a narrator it has been an honour to try and serve both the authors and the listeners. Thanks so much for having me on your wonderful site. Please feel free to follow me on Facebook or Twitter @moiraquirkable.
Lea: And once again, we love hearing that you have discovered the diversity the romance genre provides with its numerous sub-genres. We hope to find you narrating many more romances.
Our many thanks to you Moira for entertaining us in yet another way today. A fantastic interview!
Coming Tomorrow – The Leopard Prince Review
Check in tomorrow for Carrie’s review of The Leopard Prince.
Time for the Princes Trilogy Giveaway