If you’ve ever listened to an audiobook narrated by Christina Delaine, you know her acting range goes from innocent to incarcerated or from intimate to insane. Her lush, flexible voice and ability to disappear into a character make her a terrific fit for audiobooks. She got hooked on the medium after her mother gave her the Amelia Peabody series. “They blew my mind! I had no idea what an audiobook could be. I love audiobooks!”
As an actor, Delaine loves the opportunity fiction gives her to play a variety of characters. “There’s a mysterious and wonderful alchemy that happens when you’re recording fiction.” When recording nonfiction, she says, her job is to advocate for the authors and their passion for their subject. If she’s not familiar with the topic, she counts that as an opportunity to learn. “For example, with INCARCERATION NATIONS, I knew nothing about the prison-industrial complex. No matter what the subject is, it’s about grabbing that author’s passion and wholeheartedly going for it and advocating that point of view.”
She believes that listening to an audio performance affects people differently than if they visually read the book. “Absolutely different. When you’re reading a book, it’s you and your imagination. You’re doing work yourself to create the author’s world. But when someone is reading it to you, you are being taken on the journey. As a narrator, I’m doing that work for the listener. It becomes a shared communal experience. We experience it together.”
The biggest challenge Delaine faced when recording THE PRAGUE SONATA by Bradford Morrow was language. “I don’t speak Czechoslovakian.” She had to find a native speaker to help her out. The book’s scope is enormous. It takes place of over a period of 150 years, spanning many different locations, styles, and language and speech tonalities. “It pushed me a little bit. It was a huge acting challenge as well as a physical challenge. Recording an audiobook is sort of like the acting equivalent of running a marathon. Very physically demanding.” To keep in shape, she keeps active.
“First thing when I get up in the morning, I do cardio, and then I go out with my dog.” (Her dog, Boo Radley, has his own Facebook page and lots of friends.)
Delaine has fun in the booth and has been known to burst into song. She had a sort of singing mini-meltdown in an outtake from THE PRAGUE SONATA. To anyone who watches it, Delaine says, “You’ll have to excuse my cussing. I am notorious for having the heart of a poet but the mouth of a stevedore.”
She just got to record GOLD DUST WOMAN: THE BIOGRAPHY OF STEVIE NICKS, by Stephen Davis. “I am the biggest Stevie Nicks fan. I couldn’t get through the book without breaking into song.” Those must be some fun outtakes.--S.J. Henschel
© AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
Photo courtesy of narrator
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