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"I love my job," says narrator and commercial voice-over veteran Hillary Huber. "I can't believe I get to do this from my very own studio. I love to ingest someone else's words and put them back in the world."
With Audies and Earphones Awards, one might expect that Huber would rest on her laurels. But honing her skills is a top priority, and listening to audio is one way she does that. "I love listening for entertainment and for learning from my talented colleagues," she explains. "I'm in awe of fellow narrators and their commitment to the art form of narration. The many highly dedicated narrators make me want to continually improve." Currently, Huber has Jonathan Franzen's THE CORRECTIONS, read by Dylan Baker, cued up in her car.
A prolific reader, Huber has recorded more than 50 books just five years into her career. She added narration to her portfolio of skills in a search for meaningful, lasting, interpretative, and creative work. "It seemed that audiobooks would fit that bill, and they have."
As an only child, Huber spent many girlhood hours in the company of adults and books. From observing grown-ups, she learned to create realistic characters, while reading brought a love of the magic that only a good story can invoke. She also credits voice-over instructor Pat Fraley with launching her narration career.
Nowadays, the narrator of THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE! and several J.A. Jance mysteries works about five hours a day, taking breaks for lunch, exercise, and advertising work.
"It's interesting that the more I work, the more I can do. My vocal muscles build up, and I can work longer. My head goes before my throat goes, and I make absurd mistakes."
Her favorite character to date has been Madeline Dare from FIELD OF DARKNESS, which earned the narrator her first Earphones Award, and THE CRAZY SCHOOL, both by Cornelia Read, a woman whose background is remarkably similar to Huber's. Both women are unusual blends of the places they've lived, including East Coast locales and Hawaii. "I totally got Madeline: a snooty, slightly irreverent character."
THE MEMORY PALACE, by Mira Bartok, released this January, challenged Huber to reach new heights of emotion. The memoir of the author's life with her schizophrenic mother brought Huber to tears. "It's one of the only ones I didn't want to let go; I wanted to keep it." She adds that her collaboration with Bartok was key to portraying the highly personal story.
"The best reviewed books are the ones in which I had great collaboration with the author," she says, confirming that understanding a writer's purpose enables a narrator to bring audio magic to the written word.--Jenan Jones Benson
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