Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories AudioFile Best of 2013 Fiction
Joy Osmanski’s vibrant, cheerful voice immediately affirms why she’s a popular narrator and the recipient of two AudioFile Earphones Awards. Even though she has multiple academic credentials--degrees in creative writing, studio art, and theater--as well as professional credits in theater, TV, and film, she never expected to find herself narrating audiobooks. “It was a very desirable fluke,” she says. A friend who was working as an editor for Simon & Schuster said they had a very specific narrator need and wondered if she was interested in auditioning for it. The book was Jung Chang’s WILD SWANS: Three Daughters of China.
“That was my very first audiobook, and talk about a trial by fire! It took long hours of recording and was loaded with challenges.” Covering three generations of Chinese women, the audiobook is almost 23 hours of listening. While there were no accents to perform, Osmanski called upon a helpful expert for assistance in mastering the hundreds of Mandarin pronunciations. “There were so many pronunciation challenges! I didn’t want to offend anyone by mispronouncing things.”
Since then, there have been numerous audio opportunities as well as challenges for Osmanski. Since recording requires vocal calisthenics rather than physical dexterity, she admits, “Putting all the energy and focus into the words is not easy. The energy has to have somewhere to go! Left to my own devices, it’s hard for me to sit still.” Just ask her husband, Corey Brill, who is also an audiobook narrator. Sometimes they work in the same studio. “Because the studio has a big glass door between the booths, sometimes I’ll pass him when he’s narrating, and he’ll pass me when I am, and I guess, because we’re both actors, we’re used to acting with our entire bodies, so we’re both very animated--arms flailing and gesturing wildly around the mic.”
Her recent experience with Kaui Hart Hemmings’s HOW TO PARTY WITH AN INFANT proved less physical than some but more personally relevant than any of her recordings so far. “In addition to being the mother of a teenage step-daughter, not only did my husband and I recently adopt, I’m also pregnant.” With a teenager, a new ninemonth-old, and a baby due around the holidays, Osmanski thinks she understands each of Hemmings’s characters in a very personal way. At some points during the recording she found she had to stop and laugh out loud, while she found other moments poignant.
What about the future? Osmanski is in a new Netflix series, “The Santa Clarita Diet,” coming out in 2017. “I’m really excited about it because it’s some of the best TV writing I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of.” And, new babies notwithstanding, we’re sure there are more audiobooks in her future--perhaps some in “Children and Family Listening”?--S.J. Henschel[DECEMBER 2016/JANUARY 2017]
© AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
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