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When we’re children, we have dreams of what we’d like to be when we grow up. Then reality hits, and we go to Plan B. Not so for Fiona Hardingham. On long car journeys to Scotland, her family would listen to THE SECRET GARDEN or THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA on tape. “I remember thinking about that job--reading books aloud-- wondering, ‘Wow! Who sits and reads these?’ I did think it was a really cool job as a kid.” Now, after having recorded almost 100 audiobooks, receiving four AudioFile Earphones Awards, and an ALA Odyssey Honor Award, she knows it for sure.
Although she’s done film, animation voice-overs, theater, and TV as well as audiobooks, Hardingham doesn’t have a favorite performance genre. “I love them all. I love telling the stories. I love getting into the characters.” She got completely immersed in the characters in Ashley Hayes’s THE RAILWAYMAN’S WIFE. “It’s a beautiful love story. Oh, my goodness! I cried. I had to ask the director to stop, but when I started again, I could still feel that lump in my throat.”
Originally, Hardingam comes from Kent, which is in the south of England. When she started acting professionally, she did theater and stand-up in the UK. She even created her own one-woman show for the Edinburgh Festival. When she felt the need to try film and TV, she decided to go to Hollywood and see what that was like. “I really didn’t expect it to work out, but I got an agent and a visa and--wow!” She connected with the right people, and her career took off.
Hardingham met actress Violet Mathieson in Los Angeles in 2009. They formed a comedy duo called The Fi and Vi Show, doing stand-up gigs around LA. “It was these two sort of batty British girls telling jokes. When Vi went home at the end of 2010, she introduced me to Deyan Audio.” Audio producers Bob and Debra Deyan took her under their wing, and, after that, she got busier and busier. “I’ve been incredibly lucky.”
What was it like recording Helen Simonson’s THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR? “It was brilliant. My director at Random House, Christina Rooney, was just delightful. She did all the research, and we had long conversations about the direction and tone the book should take.” Since people talk about WWI but don’t talk much about the buildup to it, it was an angle she hadn’t explored before. “It was both sad and enlightening.”
What does she do for fun? She laughs. “I really am so booked with books back-to-back, I don’t have a life.” But she’s not complaining. Up next is Book 1 of a fantasy trilogy called AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White, and after that, UNDER THE HARROW by Flynn Berry, which is a thriller. We’ll be waiting for them, and more, from the talented Ms. Hardingham.--S.J. Henschel[JUNE/ JULY 2016]
© AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
Photo courtesy of the narrator
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