Narrator Spotlight – Wendy Rich Stetson

Eargasms Narrator Spotlight Wendy Rich Stetson

 

I think some people move to New York City and within a week call themselves “New Yorkers.” I’ve been here for nearly 20 years, and yet when someone asks me where I’m from I still answer “I live in New York City, but I’m from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  I grew up in Amish Country, and spent my childhood viewing the USA from the back of a 1979 Volkswagen Camper Van. I’m pretty sure I left my heart somewhere on the interstate. I graduated from Amherst College with a double major in English and Theater and I did my M.F.A. in acting at Columbia University.
I have played saucy maids, longsuffering spinsters, and quirky leading ladies on and off-Broadway and at regional theaters around the country.  I’ve perfected the role of “Nerdy Office Girl” in national network commercials for Verizon and Stride Gum; I said “One cheesecake, two forks” on an episode of “The Big C”; and Rick Sordelet (Broadway’s premier fight director) once told me I drove a cop car as well as any stunt woman.

After reading to my daughter every night for seven years, I began narrating romance audiobooks in my home studio. Between acting jobs I have taught Shakespeare to kids as a teaching artist, conducted social media for a 5K charity run called Rafi’s Run, and answered fan mail for a children’s book writer.  I live in Upper Manhattan with my very patient husband Peter, my 8-year-old daughter Cate, and our geriatric tabby cat, Hannah.

“Finding Harmony” by JoMarie DeGioia
“Taming Jake” by JoMarie DeGioia
“Loving Cassie” by JoMarie DeGioia
“Dream Kisses” by Verna Clay
Twitter: @WendyStetson
1 – How did you get involved in recording audiobooks?
I am lucky enough to count some of the best narrators in the audiobook world, Gabra Zackman, Rebecca Lowman, Kirsten Potter, and Joy Osmanski (just to name a few) as my dear friends.  I have watched them and listened to them as they have done the most beautiful storytelling over the last years, and I was inspired to follow in their footsteps.  They have each helped me so much along the way.  At the advice of another narrator friend, Neil Hellegers, I took an audiobook narration class and loved it.  Though I’ve been a professional actress for twenty years, and a nightly narrator to my daughter for seven, I had a lot to learn.  
2 – What is your favorite thing about recording books?  
Getting to play all of the characters!  I love acting in plays, but on stage you usually only play one person.  In bringing a book to life, you get to be everyone from the villain to the heroine to the eccentric old lady in the park!   It’s so much fun!
3 – Do you have a favorite genre or author to record?
I love recording romance.  The books are so emotionally rich, and I have to say, I am a sucker for a happy ending.  
4 – What do you think is the most important part of the recording?
I think making the story crystal clear is the primary role of the narrator.  I really feel that it’s my job to get out of the way of the story—to bring the author’s vision to life in the clearest, fullest, most satisfying way possible.  I love character and voices and suspense.  And tapping into the emotional life of the characters is what I’m trained to do as an actress.  But ultimately, the story needs to sing.  Not me!
5 – Do you have a narration superpower? Awesome accents, infusing emotion, super-fast read? What is your best trick?
I’m still early in my audiobook career so I am definitely developing my superpowers.  I think my dialogue is pretty great—I love those early scenes between the hero and the heroine when they are just starting to figure each other out.  When the sparks are flying, maybe not in a good way, but they can’t deny what’s happening between them.  I also love the emotional climaxes of the stories—the big betrayals and weepy showdowns.  They are super fun to read.  
6 – What was your favorite book to read so far? And why?
I am so enjoying JoMarie DeGioia’s Cypress Corners Series.  The heroines are spunky and smart, the heroes are dreamy and infuriating, and all the ancillary characters are delicious.  And, there’s always a splash of humor to keep the reader engaged.  I am so excited to read the third book in the series this spring!
7 – What was your most challenging read? What made it so difficult?
8 – Is there a book out there that you desperately want to do the narration for?
At this point I am really up for anything!  I love good young adult and children’s books.  I would absolutely love to read a fantastic book starring an awesome twelve-year-old girl! There are lots of great versions out there, but I’d love to try my hand at “Anne of Green Gables.”   I’m really not picky.  Give me a great story with fantastic characters, and I’m your gal!
9 – Do you have a ritual or routine when you are recording a book?
I don’t know that I have any kind of a ritual per se, but I do get completely obsessed with the book!  I pretty much put everything else in my life on hold while I lock myself in my studio and read and read and edit and edit.  Lots of water.  Lots of Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops (thank you Joy Osmanski!).  Only stopping to eat when my stomach is making too much noise for me to keep going.
10 – What is a fun fact people might not know about you?

I have been to a nightclub party with Mos Def! Not something that the other moms at pick-up probably know about me.  We did a play together and he rented out a club for a closing night party.  Needless to say…it was epic.

 One lucky commenter will win all three books in the Cypress Corners series on Audible. All you have to do to enter is leave a relevant comment or question for Wendy. Don’t be surprised if she drops by to respond!!(Winner – Alexisa N)

15 Responses

  1. Mary C. says:

    What was the first audio book you listened to?

    • @Mary C. – You know, I don’t remember! The first one I listened to and really just loved was my dear friend Rebecca Lowman’s reading of “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell. Just heartbreaking and beautiful.

  2. Alexisa N says:

    When did you first become interested in audio books? I can remember as a child listening to them in school, but it was not until I was an adult that I began to enjoy reading and listening to books when reading was not an option.

    Also do you have a preference for audiobooks versus physical books for your own enjoyment?

    • I really became excited about audiobooks after my daughter was born. They are so wonderful for long car rides–and my husband and I enjoy them just as much as she does! I love audiobooks on the plane and in the gym too. At home, though, usually I read a paper copy.

      • Alexisa N says:

        I first got hooked on audiobooks when I was introduced to JD Robb’s books by a family friend. They are great for car rides.

  3. darleneowen says:

    What kind of equipment do you listen to your audio books on?

    • Wendy Stetson says:

      I download them on my iPhone via the audible app and then eithe play them through the car stereo or on headphones.

  4. Jen B says:

    Kind of an odd question, but here goes. Since you’ve started narrating for a living has the way you read to your daughter changed (maybe you’re more adventurous with the voices), and has she noticed?

    • Such a great question! You are absolutely right. I am more adventurous with the voices and I am gentler with the action–letting the words of the story do the work and getting out of the way, so to speak.

  5. Pamela says:

    Do you encourage your daughter to listen to audio books? We listened to our first this summer on a long car ride – “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler” – my younger daughter loved the experience, and I truly believe it made a difference to her as a reader … where my older daughter, who loves the story, didn’t like it at all.

    • Yes, I do encourage my daughter to listen to audiobooks. I think just like adults, different kids respond to different narrators and stories. I suppose it doesn’t surprise me too much to hear your girls had such different experiences. And if your older daughter already had an impression of the story, she may have found that the audiobook didn’t actually match it as she hears it in her head. I’d be interested to hear how she responds to a book she isn’t as familiar with. I don’t now how old she is, but we have all loved “The Penderwicks” series and the narrator, Susan Denaker, is just wonderful.

  6. lorene desjardins says:

    I am an itinerant teacher so, I drive all day long . Audio books are a life saver for me! I listen to at least one audiobook a week. This would be amazing to win foe me !

  7. I love audio books!!! The relax me. They help my commute go faster too. I would love to win!!

  8. Alexisa N says:

    Happy Halloween everyone!

  9. Alexisa says:

    I stoked that I won, but I never received notification about it.
    How do I collect my audiobooks?