Talking with Narrator Anne Flosnik

I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Anne Flosnik in the fall of 2011 as we worked together on her interview for Speaking of Audiobooks. As we talked by phone and through email, I heard Anne’s passion for her work as well as reading it on the page. As I continued researching her past work in romance audio, I unofficially crowned her “the Queen of Historical Romance Audio.” After all, her narrations include some of the best-known romance authors such as Mary Balogh, Julie Garwood, Laura Lee Guhrke, Elizabeth Hoyt, Amanda Quick, Jo Beverley, Lorraine Heath, Suzanne Enoch, and Catherine Coulter. And the number of her historical romance titles easily exceeds that of any other narrator that I’ve found to date. For a complete listing of those titles, check out Anne’s AudioGals page.

Lea: Welcome Anne to AudioGals!

Anne: I am so thrilled and honored to be here today, among my esteemed colleagues and friends, talking all about Romance. Wonder where I heard that before … :) Congratulations on your fresh, innovate and informative new site!

Lea: You started recording audiobooks in 1996 with the Library of Congress and started narrating commercial projects in 2000. Can you share with us how the recording process has changed over the years?

Anne: When I began narrating in 1996, I was like a little engine that wanted to, rather than a little engine that knew how to. I was very lucky that the good folks at Potomac Talking books saw something in me and allowed me to learn my craft on the fly, so to speak. It helped that my very first day of work was during a heavy snow storm. Nothing would have stopped me from getting there that day! It was one of the most important days of my life.

In the beginning I recorded with a monitor who listened to the words I spoke, and corrected me for any inconsistency or mispronunciation. In those days the books I narrated were recorded on tape. It was an excellent training, as when narrator mistakes or misreads occur, they have to be corrected. Doing this on tape involved saying the correction in the same amount of time that it took to say the original. This is a lot harder than it sounds, but taught me so much about timing and precision.

Nowadays everything is recorded digitally, so the skills learned in the old days don’t really apply, but I am happy I learned how to do things the old fashioned way, all the same. It taught me to have more control of my voice. Digital recordings have made the explosion in content available today possible, and allowed many narrators to record the material they been assigned, on their own.

Lea: Your recording of Jo Beverley’s Hazard was originally released in 2003 before the age of digital downloads. Audible released the digital version in 2010. Are you notified beforehand of the digital release of these hard-to-find audios or are you surprised along with the rest of us? Do you know why many of these hard-to-finds remain unavailable even now?

Anne: It’s a coincidence that you mention Jo Beverley’s Hazard. I remember Manda Collins mentioning this same book (the print version) in her blogspot, as a particular favorite.

I am not notified of digital release of these “vintage” audios, so this is a nice surprise. I can still remember recording that lovely book!

I’m not sure why some older books are hard to find. There is an extraordinary amount of new material. Maybe it’s a case of supply and demand, with the emphasis on “demand.” If listeners would like to have access to the older books, let the publishers know.

Lea: We’re banking on your demand idea! The week of September 17th, AudioGals is starting a monthly column, The Hunt Is On, wherein we feature a hard-to-find romance audiobook (complete with an audio sample).

You have narrated a number of complete romance series, often pulling from an author’s backlist such as Catherine Coulter’s Bride series or as the author releases a new series such as Mary Balogh’s Huxtable series. Are you generally hired to narrate an entire series or is that more of a book by book issue?

Anne: Generally, it is a book-to-book issue speaking for myself. It can happen the other way too though, as was the case of the Catherine Coulter vintage books that were released by Brilliance Audio recently. I was hired to narrate three entire series. I’m thinking of the Night Trilogy, the Song Quartet, and the Magic Trilogy, for example. I have been delighted and honored to be the narrator for Catherine Coulter’s frontlist historicals since 2002.

I always hope I will be narrating the whole series, and that usually turns out to be the case. I love Romance series, as often the love story shifts focus onto different members of a family for example, and it’s very satisfying to be back with so many old friends in a series, and to be making new ones and developing deeper relationships. I feel I grow along with the characters. It’s a unique kind of relationship, and I think I have gained much deeper insights into the genre as time has gone by. It is a genre that is particularly precious to me.

Lea: We’ve talked about your background with the Library of Congress. Are there other details of your background that you can share with us including any awards or nominations?

Anne: I was a Registered Nurse in England and in this country, and a State Certified Midwife in England. I also was an air stewardess. The variety of careers has been a great help to my narration. Think of all the babies that are born in Romance novels! I have actually had the experience of delivering babies for other women, as well as giving birth to my own two.

My awards and nominations include two AudioFile Earphone Awards, 3 Audie nominations, an ALA Award, two Best Audiobooks of the Year Awards, one from AudioFile Magazine, and one from Library Journal.

Lea: What have been a few of your more challenging projects in any genre? What made it so?

Anne: I have done many complicated projects, particularly when I was working at the Library of Congress. Books such as The Norton History Of Chemistry, in which all the diagrams had to be put into words. My brother in law helped me with that one.

A book that was particularly challenging was the critically acclaimed Little Bee by Chris Cleave for Tantor Audio. The challenge was to sound believable as a 15-year-old Nigerian girl, who has been challenged far beyond her years. Some of the scenes are almost unbearably painful, and I “lived” them during the narration. To pull off this character convincingly was the challenge of a lifetime. Humor plays a large part in the book too, so lots of emotions had to be juggled. Happily, it all worked out, and I am delighted that I didn’t pass up the opportunity.

As a result of a recent interview with Jo Anna Perrin from Abbreviated Audio, some Tweeters complimented me on my performance of Little Bee, and Nnedi Okorofor’s gut wrenching Who Fears Death. As a result of my describing Little Bee as “narration heaven,” Chris Cleave “Favorited” my tweet! Oh the honor, and the power of social networking.

I do many books that contain accents from all over the world. Learning new ones is always an exciting challenge, and I find some are a lot easier than others.

Lea: In your bio on your AudioGals page, more detail is provided on the awards for Little Bee. Can you summarize those here as well?

Absolutely, I’d be delighted to. Little Bee was a career changing book for me. It gave me the opportunity to show many of my strongest skills, such as a facility with accents, and an ability to convincingly portray humor and its reverse, absolute horror. The awards I garnered for that book include an AudioFile Earphones AwardLibrary Journal Best Audio Books of 2009, and AudioFile Best Audiobooks 2009, in Fiction and Classics category.

Lea: What are some of your current or upcoming projects?

Anne: Currently I am working on a “cozy” mystery A Small Hill To Die On by Elizabeth Duncan for Dreamscape Audio. This book is set in North Wales, with the character of a Canadian lady who likes to be an amateur sleuth, and it contains an interesting set of characters and accents. It is the fourth in a series, so I have my fingers crossed that I will be going forward with the characters, and possibly backwards too. It is very easy to identify with the characters Elizabeth Duncan has created. I am having a lot of fun with this one! I enjoyed this book so much that I had to read the other three, which also brought me properly up to speed. I would have read the other three books in the series in any case in order to do the correct prep for the current one, but loving the stories and wanting to discover more about the characters was a huge bonus. I found it impossible not to get drawn into the vividly drawn charming market town of Llanelen in North Wales and it’s all too human inhabitants, including a nosy ex postmistress, and the romantic interest for the heroine Penny Brannigan, Chief Inspector Gareth Davies. Theirs is an “autumn” romantic relationship, so a bit of a change of focus.

I just finished Rules To Catch A Devilish Duke, by Suzanne Enoch, for Tantor Audio. Lovely to catch up with the story of yet another lady from the “scandalous” Tantalus Club. This has been a very enjoyable series, and I hope there will be many more to follow, as I am very curious to learn about the fortunes of the other ladies of the club.

I am on the edge of my seat waiting to see Monteith’s story, in the upcoming How To Entice An Earl, by Manda Collins for Tantor Audio. This will be the third in the Ugly Ducklings Trilogy, and I am excited to see how things turn out for last of the “ducklings,” which has been a most engaging series.

I was deeply moved by a Young Adult title I did recently for Brilliance Audio. Long Lankin, by Lindsey Barraclough, a tale based on a blood curdling traditional English ballad. This story is set in post-World War 2 England, and the story is told from multiple view points, which makes it particularly well suited to the medium of audio. I think this device makes the story even more chilling. I am still haunted by the characters and events of this book.

Also have to mention In The Land Of The Long White Cloud by Sarah Lark, for Brilliance Audio. It is hard to categorize this book. It tells the tale of two women setting out to find husbands in colonial New Zealand. I found fascinating the details it gave concerning New Zealand, including how the Maori travelled there on long boats. It was a sweeping saga, and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Lea: I plan to listen to The Land of the Long White Cloud as it sounds too fascinating to miss!

Our many thanks to you, Anne, for joining us today and for your support of AudioGals. We’re looking forward to seeing you more around here!


Lea Hensley

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