2011 Best Voice in FICTION & CLASSICS: The Tiger’s Wife
Talking with narrator Susan Duerden tempts one to crash one of her recording sessions. Her approach to narration is to carry both herself and listeners to the world inspired by the book.
"I get so engrossed living through the characters that I'll be sweating by the end of it," she says. "THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY [by Mary Ann Shaffer] was so moving it was hard to read through the tears."
The experience was special to Susan, who is English and who recalled her grandparents' WWII experiences and her childhood friend who lived on Guernsey. "I knew the area so well--there was a big connection for me."
Susan enjoys listening to classic authors such as Jane Austen on her iPod as she flies from California to Hawaii to film the television series "Lost," on which she has a recurring role. She's also a fan of authors Sophie Kinsella and Michael Connelly and loves a good mystery. "It's wonderful being transported to a different world with the push of a button. It's like a movie in your mind."
About three years ago, Susan narrated her first audio, Rebecca Stott's GHOST WALK. "I fell in love with the process and felt a big responsibility in bringing the characters to life. I felt as if I were in a different time and place. That's so rewarding for an actor."
While there are similarities between acting and narration, the differences have Susan hooked on audio. Although actors generally play just one part, narrators often voice multiple characters. She enjoys the challenge of fleshing out different personalities and jumping from one to another. "Being fully immersed enough to portray arguments between characters, for instance, is a great experience you don't get in acting."
Her latest audio, THE EYRE AFFAIR, by Jasper Fforde, is her favorite narration experience because of her collaboration with narrator Cassandra Campbell, who served as director. Susan says being alone in a recording booth can be lonely, so she enjoyed having a companion. "Cassandra was laughing as I read, " she adds. "I hope her laughter improved my performance."
Just weeks after the birth of her daughter in December, Books on Tape was eager for Susan to return to the booth. Although she asked for a bit more time off, listeners can be assured that she'll be spicing up their favorite reads soon.
"For now, I'm staying in practice reading to the baby constantly."--Jenan Jones Benson