Narrator Spotlight – Abby Elvidge

Eargasms Narrator Abby Elvidge

 

“Abby Someone.” “Abby Someone? Abby who?”
I grew up in Normal, Illinois, which will forever link me to one of my favorite films of all time, Young Frankenstein, for obvious reasons if you know the film! 
I studied theatre at Columbia College in Chicago. While in Chicago I played Carter in ‘Uncommon Women and Others’ by Wendy Wasserstein,Viola in Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, Cassandra in Euripides’s ‘The Trojan Women’, and had the extraordinary experience of playing Lydie in the original production of John Guare’s ‘Lydie Breeze’.
 After several years of working as a paleobotanist at The Desert Research Institute, I returned to the field of acting as a Voiceover Artist, specializing in character work for games and animation, and developing an intense passion for Audiobook Narration. I’ve been fortunate enough to study with voice over genius Patrick Fraley, with audiobook legend Scott Brick, and the unstoppably vibrant Melissa Moats.

 

Amy and the OLDGALS by Katherine E. Warner
DeadTimes by Yvonne Navarrow
In Concert: Tales of the Fantastic by Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem

 

1 – How did you get involved in recording audiobooks?
My mama read to my brother and me every day at lunch, from kindergarden all the way through the 6th grade. She read us everything from Evelyn Waugh, to Tolkien, to Orwell, to Melville, to Twain. It’s in my blood. I became an actress, then later a paleobotanist, and later still a voice actor specializing in character voices. I avoided audiobooks for a while given the intense, marathon commitment they require, but eventually I was bitten. Now I am obsessed!
 
2 – What is your favorite thing about recording books?
I love the act of realizing the movie that’s in my head when I read a book silently in my head. I want to make that world come alive, to pull it up off the page! And I LOVE voicing the different characters. Playtime!
 
3 – Do you have a favorite genre or author to record?
Gosh, I’m just getting started, but memoirs are wonderful, like the one I just finished by Marlayna Glynn Brown, ‘Overlay: A Tale of One Girl’s Life in 1970s Las Vegas’. Marlayna is sort of a serial memoirist. I think she’s written 5 or more. So compelling. I’m working on a second one for her right now, and will start a third right after that. But I love YA and I love short stories, like my 1st book, ‘In Concert’ by Melanie and Steve Tem. Their writing is brilliant, and I was very fortunate to get to read it early in my audiobook career.
 
4 – What do you think is the most important part of the recording? 
It is such a marathon. To compare recording an audiobook to completing an endurance athletic event, I’d say ‘stay comfortable’. How do you stay comfortable? Be consistent. Be organized. Relax, but know what you need to do. Remember, the middle of the race is always the hardest. Keep going, -you can do it!
 
5 – Do you have a narration superpower? Awesome accents, infusing emotion, super-fast read? What is your best trick?
 I’ve been told that I have an ability to ‘talk to the listener’, to make the listener feel like I’m right there with them, intimately sharing the story. I think this is because I can really tap into emotional moments and characters, and am always vividly imagining that I’m sharing the experience with you, my listener.
 
6 – What was your favorite book to read so far? And why?
That is so hard to answer. I love different books for different reasons. If forced to choose, I’d have to say, ‘In Concert’ by Steve and Melanie Tem. The short stories are brilliantly and elegantly written, very dynamic, moving, disturbing. It was exciting to record a book with such a variety of subject matter and characters. 
 
7 – What was your most challenging read? What made it so difficult?
I recorded my 1st book, In Concert, in the midst of summer in the Mojave Desert. The heat in my audio booth was intense, and the hum of a city full of air conditioning units in high gear was a challenge to block out. Hence I developed the habit of recording very early in the morning and ended up with a booth impervious to outside noise.
 
8 – Is there a book out there that you desperately want to do the narration for? 
I am aching to narrate ‘Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir’ by Lauren Slater. In her afterward, Slater explained she had no choice but to transcribe her life in “a slippery, playful, impish, exasperating text, shaped, if it could be, like a question mark.”
I would have loved to have narrated ‘The Whip’ by Karen Kondazian, about a woman who lived in the 1800’s disguised as a man and became one of the great California stage coach drivers or ‘whips’, but Robin Weigert already did it very well. She’s the actress who played Jane in the series Deadwood. Amazing.
 
9 – Do you have a ritual or routine when you are recording a book?
I always drink lots of H2O and lot’s of tea with lemon and honey, try to take regular breaks to stretch and walk around the yard, talk to all the plants and bushes and trees, and remember to take time out to play with the cats, meow! It’s so easy to just keep working and never take a break, but this is NOT a good thing!
 
10 – What is a fun fact people might not know about you?
Back in the day, I sang with punk, heavy metal, and country music bands.

 

 

5 Lucky winners get their choice of book from Abby’s Audible catalog

winner-banner-gif

1) Kimberly A

2) Cyndi

3) Melodie

4) bn100

5) Brianne Butler

17 Responses

  1. Melodie says:

    Hello! Glad to see an audiobook obsessed narrator 🙂 Do you have a any favorite narrators?

  2. Abby Elvidge says:

    Hi Melodie! Thanks for participating:) Lately I’ve really enjoyed Will Patton’s work, and loved Scott Brick’s narration of In Cold Blood. I’ve really enjoyed Becky Ann Baker. So earthy and insightful. Do you have any favorites or recommendations?

  3. Ardent Ereader says:

    Hi Abby, have you thought about doing an audiobook with more than 1 narrator? I recently listened to an audiobook which featured several narrators and it was quite fun.

    • Abby Elvidge says:

      I’d love to do that, Ardent Ereader! I think it would be a blast to really dig deep into a single character, or to narrate a short story within a collection. I LOVE narrating short stories. Okay, I’m getting excited just thinking about it!!! Maybe I’ll get the chance to be part of an ensemble effort this year. That would be fantastic. Good inspiring question, Thanks!

  4. Cyndi says:

    Hello! Great interview and sample, Thanks! Do you ever have people tell you that listening to audio books is “cheating” or they just can’t listen to someone read a book to them, when you say that you narrate? If so, how do you respond? Happy New Years!

    • Abby Elvidge says:

      Thank you, Cyndi! I’m so glad you’re enjoying this cool Eargasms event! You know, I don’t recall anyone ever saying that, but I really can understand folks feeling that way. Reading is such a personal experience. How could anybody narrate a book in the same way the way you process and feel it yourself? I think I probably felt a similar sort of skepticism until I listened to my first audiobook. I’ve always loved films, and when I had to paint several rooms in my home, I went to the library and checked an audiobook, -a weak substitute for a movie, I’d thought. Listening while I worked was such a pleasurable experience. I found myself easily able to appreciate the narrator’s artistic interpretation; it didn’t have to mirror my own, and I still had my ‘movie’, in my mind, and was able to multitask! Eureka!!!! Good question:) Happy New Years Back Attcha, Cyndi!!!

  5. bn100 says:

    Sounds like a nice superpower to have

  6. nrlymrtl says:

    Blocking out the air-conditioning hum of the Mojave desert can be tough! I use to live in Bullhead city, but we didn’t have an AC back then (early 1980s). Thank goodness my family moved to NM where it is cooler!

    I am a bit fascinated by paleo/archeobotany as it is such a niche study. Was it all lab work or did you go rockhounding? Were audiobooks your companions as you worked?

    • Abby Elvidge says:

      New Mexico, hmmm? Sounds nice. My husband went to school at Dine College in the four corners area back in the day when it was Navajo Community College, and has a soft spot in his heart NM.

      I worked both in the field, gathering specimens (pack rat nesting materials thousands of years old) from caves in the Great Basin area, and then back in the lab prepped the isolated stratified layers of nesting materials (kind of like rock candy -plant parts sealed in fossilized rat pee!) for carbon dating. After identifying the dated plant macrofossils, we were able to construct climate histories by looking at vegetation changes near the nests, in combination with other forms of data like pollen histories derived from lake cores, etc. Didn’t listen to anything in the wild but the coyotes and crickets. Back in the lab we listened to a lot of NPR and classical music -the audiobooks came later for me:) Thanks for the wonderful question, nrlymrtl, and the lovely trip down memory lane!

  7. Kimberly A says:

    How do you decide what books you will narrate and are there any you won’t

    • Abby Elvidge says:

      Thanks for the question, Kimberly. I try to only accept offers for material that I feel a good connection with, material that stirs me in some way, and try to make sure there is also a comfortable connection with the author or right’s holder. Life is too short and audiobook work is, for me, too all-consuming to be working on something, or for someone, that doesn’t feel right. Several times I’ve had to pass on great projects I just didn’t have time for. I keep being approached to do ‘intimate’ material, and complimented on that quality in my voice, but haven’t gone that direction yet. Never say never;-)

  8. Brianne Butler says:

    You have quite a few books I’d love to hear on your list. In Concert might just be a very near-future purchase!

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