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Spotlight on popular narrators

Coleen Marlo


Coleen Marlo

Talking with Coleen Marlo

"I've always felt a desire to be able to express the beauty of the world in all of its complexities, and audiobooks give me a chance to do that," says Coleen Marlo, winner of the 2011 Audie Award for Fiction for her reading of Robert Helenga's novel SNAKEWOMAN OF LITTLE EGYPT . "Winning that award was a true fulfillment as well as a wonderful acknowledgment of this craft."

Marlo's life as an audiobook narrator began with her acting training. First and foremost, she credits the consummate actor and teacher Salome Jens with being her mentor and her friend. As a member of the Actors Studio, Marlo has been privileged to work with such master moderators and close colleagues as Mark Rydell and legends such as Martin Landau, Shelley Winters, Harvey Keitel, and Al Pacino.

"After many years of training and theater work, I auditioned for Dan Musselman at Books on Tape." Eventually, she was asked to record her first audiobook. Each narrator has her own method of preparing for recording. Marlo reads the manuscript before she records. "I approach each book as I would any other acting job, the difference being that I'm now playing all the characters." She keeps her mind open to all the possibilities. "I allow myself to feel the material rather than intellectualize it. I jot down comments on all the characters, noting anything that gives me insight into their souls. Then, by the time I get to the studio, I can just let it sail, allowing it to unfold, moment by moment, yet still remaining open to the discoveries and surprises that come along."

Marlo's AudioFile Earphones-winning recording of NO BIKING IN THE HOUSE WITHOUT A HELMET by Melissa Fay Greene led to some fascinating dinners at Ethiopian restaurants and chats with owners and waiters as she did research on the Ethiopian accent. Recording SOURLAND by Joyce Carol Oates proved a different kind of challenge for the talented narrator. With 16 short stories and some 200 characters to create voices for, she had to find just the right specific tone and pace to flesh them all out. She just finished recording GROUNDSWELL by Katy Lee and will soon record BLOOD FEUD by journalist Kathleen Sharp.

"Audiobooks are an art form that can move us in the same way a play, a painting, or a piece of music can. We narrators take the author's thoughts and ideas and distill them through our own imaginations and present them to a listening audience. By doing so, we create a whole new, beautiful form of art for people to treasure. It's a symbiotic relationship between author, narrator, and listener. People can really lose themselves in great art, and audiobooks are another art form to be treasured."--S.J. Henschel

Photo © Ben Asen

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