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Spotlight on popular narrators

Golden Voice Award Audiobook Narrator
Emily Woo Zeller

Emily Woo Zeller

"I get involved in the books I narrate."

Emily Woo Zeller
Emily Woo Zeller

Emily's Accolades

The Water Outlaws   AudioFile Best of 2023   Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror
Six Crimson Cranes   AudioFile Best of 2021   Young Adult
The Bride Test   AudioFile Best of 2019 Romance
The Poppy War   AudioFile Best of 2018 Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing   AudioFile Best of 2015 Personal Growth 
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal​   AudioFile Best of 2013 Contemporary Culture 




Talking with Emily Woo Zeller

Golden Voices June July Cover

In June 2020, Emily was inducted as a Golden Voice, AudioFile's lifetime achievement honor for audiobook narrators.

Tell us about a time you’ve gotten feedback from a fan.

I have been so fortunate to have nothing but lovely interactions with fans. They usually contact me via Facebook, Twitter, or email, and it always makes my day. I recently got an email from someone saying that the humor and heartache she heard in a book she listened to that I narrated was helping her get through this difficult time in the world, and that struck me especially strongly. It was so nice of her to reach out and for me to feel like I’m helping people get through some difficult days by ably bringing forth an author’s vision.

Have you ever done anything outrageous to get into character for an audiobook?

As a full-time narrator, there isn’t usually time enough to prepare for an audiobook in the way that I might for a theater production, so I don’t get to indulge in doing anything too wild/fun. But part of the art of voice-over is being able to produce full, believable, or at least entertaining, characters relatively quickly. 

That said, I have done plenty of outrageous things in my life so far—and especially in theater—that have contributed to my toolbox that I refer to when creating characters! I believe in living wisely but fully. And I’ve been very fortunate to explore my many interests and travel and live in the most diverse places in the U.S. and abroad. That has informed not just me as a person, but also as a performer. Humanity is colorful, and I hope to always celebrate that.

You narrate a lot of fantasy and young adult—what do you enjoy about the genres?

I love these genres so dearly. YA fiction is a genre that was an early adopter of content featuring underrepresented characters and themes, and I applaud that. The vast majority of my work in YA has been with characters who are complex females, queer, and/or non-white, or have a mental health condition. 

Fantasy is so fun because of the fantastical characters! I get to let some of my love for and experience with animation loose with some of these characters, and that feels so good. The same is true for sci-fi. It’s also fun witnessing what authors have come up with as other ways of retelling histories or foreseeing possible futures.

June/July 2020

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Photo by Willam Callan

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