Please welcome Khristine Hvam to the Take 5 stage. When I tune in to one of Khristine’s audiobook performances, I’m always impressed with her skill at helping me forge a strong emotional bond with the characters. From fantasies to literary fiction, Khristine’s narrations immerse me in the story as I root for the heroes and boo the villains.
I’m most familiar with Khristine’s work in fantasy, but she’s won awards in historical fiction, literary fiction, romance, and more. The audiobooks I feature today reflect this range.
Khristine won an Audie award for her narration of Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE (the first in an urban fantasy trilogy), which opens in a Prague art school but soon takes us into other worlds and other cities. Our tough young female protagonist balances her earthly life with the politics of ancient wars and demands of fantastical creatures. The story involves a large cast of characters, so Khristine created distinct accents and voices, making it easy for listeners to tell them apart.
Khristine’s performance of Emma Donoghue’s FROG MUSIC—historical fiction based on a true unsolved crime from 1876 San Francisco—is nothing short of amazing. Khristine turned a good novel into something special though her believable characterizations and easy transitions into song, adding a wonderful layer to this complex, emotionally laden story.
IF NOT FOR YOU, a light romance by Debbie Macomber, is set in Portland, Oregon, and follows two relationships: one new and one almost lost. Fans of sweet, wholesome love stories that contain humor and a few twists should add this audiobook to their wish list. Khristine’s delivery highlights the characters’ personalities and feelings and adds punch to the drama. Check out Khristine’s video on recording this romantic story.
The dual-timeline CONVERSION by Katherine Howe revisits the Salem witch trials as a backdrop to an outbreak of a mysterious illness afflicting girls at a modern-day private school. Khristine met the primary challenge of this audiobook with aplomb, using different vocal styles to distinguish been the time periods, keeping listeners on track and wondering about the connections between the contemporary symptoms and colonial accusations of witchcraft.
High school cheerleading has a dark side, at least as portrayed in Megan Abbott’s DARE ME. Teenagers vie for being the coolest girl on the squad and in the school, while a new cheerleading coach asserts her authority. Khristine infuses her performance with teen attitude and guides listeners through murder, betrayals, secrets, and complicated relationships.
Now that I’ve given you a taste of Khristine Hvam’s work, it’s time to turn on that Take 5 spotlight and get to know her better.
AudioFile Magazine: What’s your most embarrassing moment in the recording booth?
Khristine Hvam: Oh, this one is easy! It was one of my very first audiobook recordings. A steamy romance title with lots of . . . steam. I was brand new in the industry and meeting lots of new people. The engineer assigned to me was a young man I had a bit of a crush on (I’m sure he knew), and he and the leading man in this steamy romance novel shared the same name. Sooooo, I spent the better part of three days passionately calling out his name during all the steamy parts. I was mortified.
AFM: What’s the first task you tackle when given a new audiobook project?
KH: Whenever I have the opportunity, I always like to talk with the author first, before I begin my prep. I find that getting a bit of insight into who the author is and their feelings and thoughts about the story and the characters is a huge help. Also, it makes my prep time so much more useful when I have a head start like that.
AFM: What’s your go-to beverage when recording? How about after recording?
KH: Coffee. The answer is always coffee. It should be water, but it’s not. Its coffee. I’m drinking one now.
AFM: What genre will you always say yes to and why?
KH: I will always say yes to fantasy titles. They are almost always filled with the most unusual characters and incredible adventures. I love getting lost in those worlds. Fantasy titles give me an opportunity to really open up and play with different voices. It’s why I became a voice actor.
AFM: Is it difficult to avoid foreshadowing, especially when recording a book with a twist?
KH: I don’t think so. As long as I stay in the moment—stay focused on the scene I’m performing—I’ll stay true to the story and not give anything away. That being said, I like knowing something the listeners don’t. It’s like carrying a little secret in my pocket while I’m recording . . . and then BAM! It’s all part of the fun.
Many thanks to Khristine for taking the time to talk with us. I can only imagine the hundred little deaths of having to call out the engineer’s name during the hotter scenes! I listen to a lot of fantasy, but I never thought about how those stories offer narrators a blank slate for creating different types of voices and accents.
To discover more audiobooks performed by Khristine Hvam, be sure to explore her other audiobook reviews. And for her insights on other audiobooks, be sure to check out her Behind the Mic video on EXTRAORDINARY MEANS.