Distinguished narrator Ralph Cosham, who recently won an Audie Award for his narration of Louise Penny’s A Beautiful Mystery, says he vividly recalls encountering the author’s work for the first time. “I read the first few pages of Still Life, and said to my wife, ‘This is something really special.’ I’d rarely come across writing that was so clean, and just so beautiful. Then the character of Gamache kind of emerged out of that first experience--as a mixture of Roderick Alleyn and Inspector Maigret. He combines British intellectual with Frenchman’s warmth.” Cosham pauses then adds, “It’s as if those two got married--and Gamache would be their son.”
Cosham, whose career trajectory moved from newspaper delivery boy to journalist to actor to narrator, says he’s not as prolific a narrator as many of his colleagues, but that suits him. “I’m older, and I get emotionally involved in the books I read. Reading was my escape growing up in the aftermath of WWII--the books became movies in my mind. Now, with each narration, I try create the feeling that you, the listener, and I, the narrator, are discovering this book at the same time.” That’s why, he says, he rarely reads the book in advance. One advantage? He doesn’t know what will happen next. “So I can’t give anything away!”
For many audiobook fans and mystery lovers, the elegant, velvet-voiced narrator Stephanie Daniel was Phryne Fisher, the beautiful and worldly sleuth who stars in Kerry Greenwood's popular mystery series. Stephanie passed away peacefully in her Phillip Island, Australia, home at the end of 2013 after a battle with cancer. She was 66. She narrated 20 of Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries for Bolinda Audio in Australia to high acclaim, including MURDER AND MENDELSSOHN, which received AudioFile's Earphones Award and was named one of our Best Audiobooks of 2013, and which turned out to be her final recording. Greenwood called Stephanie "the perfect voice for Phryne."
Narrator Rebecca Lowman brings layers of meaning to the complex characters she portrays. In Rainbow Rowell’s ELEANOR & PARK, for example, the deeply injured Eleanor endures an abusive situation, keeping it hidden from others. Lowman infuses Eleanor’s snarky reactions with the wounds that generate them. She believes this type of understanding begins during the first reading of a story she plans to narrate. “Every book is written from a certain place, and if you get that place wrong, you’re going to get the book wrong.” As Lowman reads, she seeks emotional connection with the book by exploring the author’s tone more fully than the characters’ dialogues. “It’s my job to capture the author’s intent, and the voice is the most, maybe the only, important thing. As I read the prose, I listen for what’s not being said in the richness of what is being said.”
Lowman attributes this approach, in part, to all she’s learned from acting training and more than a decade of experience in film, television, and stage. “No one is ever doing just one thing at a time. There’s always so much going on. That complexity is how you bring someone to life. As far back as college, I began to understand that the job of an actor is to take everything away. Your job is revealing, not putting on.”
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