As many of you know, my medieval romance The Rogue is now available in an audio edition. This was the first time one of my books had an audio edition. I found the process so interesting that I thought you might like to see behind the scenes a bit. Today, we’re lucky to have Ashley Klanac as a guest – Ashley narrated the audio edition of The Rogue. I’m sure you’ll love her performance as Ysabella as much as I do.
Hi Ashley and welcome!
DC: I was very much impressed by the complexity of an audio production. Not only did you give different voices and inflections to all of the characters, but you portrayed the change in Ysabella’s attitude over the course of the book. It’s less of a reading than a performance. How do you prepare for recording an audio book?
Thank you so much! That means a lot to me coming straight from the author. The trajectory of Ysabella’s journey had a natural build and there was a lot in the text. A lot of my preparation is getting out of my head and relying on exactly what is on the page, there is a lot already built in. For me, it was about working each sentence and punctuation for what it is. I read the text beforehand and do a lot of marking on the page. Underling certain words, highlighting dialogues so that I can keep straight who is actually speaking and cuing myself for any shifts in the dynamic of the story. I also do a lot of researching and making sure I’m pronouncing things correctly and understanding the history behind a lot of the references in the book.
DC: By the time I finished reviewing the final audio files, I was dreaming of Ysabella, speaking to me in your voice! Did you become immersed in the project as you’re working on it?
That’s such a cool question. I really did. I had a very similar experience while working on it. My inner monologue was in Ysabella’s dialect for weeks (which I loved). I was in constant evaluation of my dialect work even outside the studio because I felt the more secondhand it was for me, the more authentic it would be in the recording. She’s also such a fiercely dynamic woman and her personal experience is so potent and exciting, how could I not take her with me on occasion? I remember feeling like it was the last day of school when I completed the audio.
DC: As a writer, I find it impossible to work on multiple projects simultaneously. I need to be lost in the world of the book to write the next part of it. Can you record multiple projects, or do you need a similar focus?
I actually just started production on two new books by the same author. While I feel like I can be a master of multitasking in my life, I do feel like I have to take my work on my books one book at a time. Like in your previous question about being immersed, I want to be 100% present and really honor that character’s story that is being told and allow myself, to borrow a phrase, “to get lost”.
DC: How exactly is an audio book recorded?
I get to go to a fancy recording studio in Brooklyn, I self record and edit. Then the genius ladies and gentlemen of the production company mix and master everything at the end. I sit in one of the little booths by myself and record, it’s heaven.
DC: I saw an interview with Helena Bonham-Carter once about her role in voicing a character in an animated film. She was pregnant at the time (I think it might have been The Corpse Bride) and she commented on how much she enjoyed being able to perform without any concern for her appearance. Do you dress down to record audio? Or do you dress in a way that helps your performance?
I LOVE The Corpse Bride, HBC’s work is amazing in it. I do enjoy wearing whatever I want, especially since I audition for theatre and on-camera often and it’s wonderful to be able to do my thing without having to put much energy into my appearance! That being said, looking my best makes me feel really good so depending on my day/schedule, I’ll still put myself together. I think it informs my performance and energy which I always want to be en pointe, so I do whatever helps that. I do like to be comfy though, I like to strike a balance.
DC: Are there particular kinds of books that you prefer to record in audio?
Honestly, I just love narrating stories, but if I could choose, I really love the books that allow me to go way outside of myself and do lots of different accents and voices. The Rogue definitely satisfied that craving for me! My dream is to do cartoons and animation, so I love the stuff that is a departure from my normal voice.
DC: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I come from an awesome, loving, ambitious family who is so incredibly supportive. I’ve been an extreme extrovert since the day I was born, goofy personality and sense of humor—I devoured episodes of Saturday Night Live, stand up comedy, show tunes, and cartoons as a child. They were always applauding and encouraging me to do more. I would hold pretend interviews on a tape recorder with various celebrities of the 90’s and random voices I would create in which I, of course, voiced all roles. I played piano as a kid but quit at 13 to play all the sports and extracurriculars that were available to me. I didn’t really fully get into performing until high school. I was into choir and things like that but it wasn’t until my sophomore year, I auditioned for Once Upon a Mattress and was cast as the Queen. I quit the softball team have had an insatiable need for performing ever since.
I studied Acting in the School of Drama at The University of Oklahoma. I had a fabulous experience there where I had the opportunity of playing some amazing female powerhouses, a few with dialects. It was there that I really feel like I dove into the nuts and bolts of voice work. My Voice and Diction professor, Rena Cook, really gave me the platform I’d always wanted to really, “geek out” over the academic side of voice work, onstage and in a recording studio.
DC: What drew you to audio books?
Hopefully I don’t sound too much like a broken record, but I just love using my voice. I have always had an affinity for it, even before I was introduced to performing. It’s probably the first thing I ever realized I was good at. The vocal work is one of the largest parts of my process when performing on stage. People’s voices, the sound, the cadence & vocal pattern—it’s the first thing I notice about a person. I feel like so much of our personalities and history is infused into our speech patterns. I love capturing it and telling stories.
DC: Do you have any new audio projects in the works?
I am currently working on The Fine Art of Being Quiet and The Maze, both written by Charity Tahmaseb.
DC: Where can people find out more about you and your recordings?
You can hear more on my website, ashleyklanac.com as well as on Brickshop Audio’s narrator page!
DC: And finally, the inevitable question for all guests on my blog. I’m an avid knitter, so I need to know – do you have any hobbies or pastimes? Could you tell us about them?
One of my favorite hobbies is boxing, I got into it about 5 years ago, dropped a lot of weight doing it, but it’s just so much fun. I’m kind of a jock at heart, I definitely prefer team sports and group fitness over working out or running alone. Again, the extrovert in me. My other focus is on my wellness business, Access Your Health, in which I specialize in women’s health. I really believe in preventing rather than treating disease with diet, exercise, and proper supplementation. I love inspiring people (in my generation especially) to be proactive rather than reactive in regards to their health, but making it fun and enjoyable! I’ve overcome some of my own health troubles over the years with natural nutrition so it is a major passion of mine. I’m always trying to learn as much as I can! I love connecting and hearing people’s stories and finding ways to help. If that interests you as well, please feel free to contact me for a free health assessment. My contact information is on my website.
DC: Thanks Ashley for taking the time to answer my questions.
Thank you so much!
If you’d like to hear Ashley’s depiction of Ysabella, please listen to the free audio sample from The Rogue, available now at Amazon, Audible and Apple.