All three of the Gals understand well the addictive adrenaline high that often accompanies the discovery of Kristen Ashley. She literally has dozens of eBooks out there just waiting for you to devour. Last summer, we saw the release of her first audiobook and with seventeen now available in audio format, you better believe we have been listening! In March, the first in the Rock Chick series, Rock Chick was released in audio format and we discovered narrator Susannah Jones. Both Brenda and I were completely taken with her spot on narration and performance of the hero, Lee (Brenda’s review). On June 10th, the remaining seven Rock Chick books were released in audio format with Ms. Jones continuing as narrator of the series. We decided it was the perfect time to add our third Narrator Friend for JIAM and we were thrilled when Susannah accepted our invitation. You can now learn more about Susannah on her AudioGals Narrator Page.
Talking with Susannah
Brenda has the honor of interviewing Susannah for today’s event. I think you could call her AudioGals Rock Chick Gal.
Brenda: Welcome to AudioGals Susannah! Thanks for joining us today as our newest Narrator Friend.
Susannah: Hi, Brenda! I’m so glad to be here.
Brenda: I see that you have 14 audiobooks at Audible with your first in May 2013. Can you share with us how you got your start in narrating audiobooks?
Susannah: Well, I’m also an actress and I had heard that this great guy I went to school with was involved with narrating for Audible Studios and I thought that was something I would LOVE to do, so I sleuthed out some audition info on the web and was lucky enough to meet with the producers there, and started narrating with them shortly thereafter.
Brenda: I have listened to the first two books in Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chick series and I am impressed with the ease you’ve shown in delivering her madcap world and characters as if you’re a long time fan of her writing and know these characters. What process did you go through to be chosen to narrate this extremely popular series?
Susannah: Thank you! God, I love the world she creates so much. She’s a great storyteller. I auditioned by recording the first few pages of the first book in the series, and just fell in love with Indy’s sassy, quirky, fun and hilarious voice as a character. After I recorded the clip, the producers at Audible sent it off to Kristen and I was delighted that she approved me the next day.
Brenda: With Kristen Ashley audiobooks, it’s all about the attitude and the manner in which the narrator portrays the leading characters, especially the hero. How did you determine to portray Lee Nightingale, the hero in Rock Chick?
Susannah: Ooh good question! Lee is, as is constantly noted in the book, a badass. That could of course mean many things! But I think what makes him, in particular, a badass, is that he is so controlled, with his sleek, shiny high-rise apartment, his incredibly successful business, and his background in scary special ops, plus the fact that he’s absolutely gorgeous of course. I think of him as someone who knows what he wants and takes what he wants, but keeps his cards close to his chest with everyone except Indy, and even she can’t always tell what he’s thinking. He’s kind of like an American James Bond, with only one leading lady (though, we know he had a few escapades in the past!). I think he’s economical with how much emotion he shows at any given time. Kristen describes him as having an eye crinkle that passes as a smile, even though when he wants to smile full on, he’s got the best one in town. And he’s intimidating! Intimidating people don’t show you much of what they’re feeling, so in developing his voice, I thought of him as deep, authoritative, a little scary, and pretty much at a level, measured tone, except when it really counts. Like when he’s in one of his various fights with Indy, when I think he does lose his control a bit, because he loves her and she’s the only person who can ruffle his feathers! And of course when she’s in danger.
Brenda: You definitely know Lee well and it came through! I’m doubly impressed with your performance of Eddie Chavez, the hero of Rock Chick Rescue. You captured his openly flirtatious attitude as described best with the author’s words, “…there’s a difference between a ladies man and a womanizer” making him extremely hawt as Jet would say. Add in the slight Hispanic accent with perfectly pronounced Spanish endearments and I have a book I know I’ll be listening to again. What is your language background/experience that allowed you to portray the large Chavez family?
Susannah: Oh I was so nervous about that so I’m glad you liked it! I actually do not speak Spanish, but consulted a lot of my friends who are native speakers and they helped me out enormously. Plus my editor was really wonderful in that respect as well.
I love Eddie’s whole family! And of course Hector Chavez comes up as a leading man later in the series. And Blanca, their mom, was an absolute joy to portray. She is such a warm, funny, lovingly intrusive mama bear!
Brenda: Yes, Blanca’s mother-knows-best personality comes through clearly – she’s a riot. Can you tell us something about your background prior to narrating? Do you have any training that prepared you for narrating audiobooks?
Susannah: I studied classical acting at NYU so I got a lot of training in voice and speech, which has helped me so much with narrating. Most people describe narration as a marathon, as opposed to the sprint of commercial voice-overs for example, and I’ve always thought that was absolutely correct. You’re speaking for six hours a day, five days a week, and that is really taxing on your vocal cords. I am so thankful I have experience in keeping myself vocally energized and healthy throughout the day, because I think it’s really easy to hurt yourself. Especially when trying to portray sexy, deep voiced men!
And then there’s just the acting training itself, which has been invaluable to me in playing all the different characters and making the world of the books vivid to the listener.
Brenda: I always appreciate narrators who bring acting experience into their work – when it comes to audiobooks, I listen for the performance. Can you give our listeners a look into your life outside of narrating?
Susannah: Sure! As I said, I’m an actress as well as a singer, and I live in New York. When I’m not working, I love to play guitar. Although not for an audience and not very well! I love to read (luckily, otherwise this job would be difficult!), and I’m currently reading Middlemarch by George Eliot, which is 1026 pages long so I’ll probably be at that for a while, but I’ve heard it’s considered to be the greatest novel ever written, so I think it’s about time I read it. So far it’s great. I’ve also been traveling a bit this year, and recently got back from Thailand, which was amazing. Other than that, probably my favorite thing to do is have a glass of wine and a cheese plate while hanging out with a good friend!
Brenda: We have the last in common – good wine and good friends, nothing better. What are some of your current or upcoming projects?
Susannah: I am in rehearsals to play Miranda in The Tempest with the Portland Shakespeare Project in Portland, OR. If you’re in town, we open 7/11 and I think it will be a fantastic show! And the web series I’m in is currently playing on Sunday nights at 8:30. You can catch it on www.plantwebseries.com. It’s about two “country” people who come to New York City to start a church. I play the church treasurer, Gwendolyn. It’s a mockumentary in the style of “Parks and Recreation”. It’s very funny and I actually just won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series at the LA Webfest this past April, while the series itself won Outstanding Comedy, Writing, Actress, and Featured Actress, so I think it’s worth a watch!
Anyway, thank you so much Brenda, this has been a pleasure and I’m so excited to be the newest AudioGals narrator friend!
Brenda: You’re welcome Susannah, I’m just as excited to hear more of your work as I make my way through the rest of the Rock Chick series and hopefully more audiobooks narrated by you in future.
If you are a romance audiobook fan, it’s the perfect time to try Kristen Ashley. If you are a Kristen Ashley fan but have yet to try listening, it’s the perfect time to try an audiobook!