Today I am excited to feature an interview with Jorjeana Marie, who is an audiobook narrator. One of her most recent projects was the audiobook for I Was Here by Gayle Forman (check out an excerpt below) and I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions:
How did you get into recording audiobooks?
I wanted it. SO bad. Since I was a kid. And when I was in NYC doing theater, I tried to break in. It just wasn’t time yet. But my time did finally arrive!! And since the clock arms turned, I have been grateful, appreciative and enamored in regards to the amazing producers and directors that have hired me and the profound authors who have selected me to be the voice in their head. #beyondgrateful
What is your process when recording an audiobook?
Sometimes I am offered a book outright and sometimes I audition for the story, taking care to bring a selection to life. If I am fortunate enough to be selected, I prep the book, which, as far as length or time commitment simply depends on the complexity of the story, time period, location, etc. Then I set to work recording. I like to do longer sessions, so that I can stay in and really inhabit the world (when I narrate, sometimes it is like reading for pleasure—I see the world unfolding before me, hear the waterfall and feel the arrow knick my bicep, and I am REALLY in it. It is therapeutic, cathartic, scary, enlightening, heartening, frightening, etc. Everything that the story is. Gosh I love my job!! I really, really love it! How did this happen? Somewhere on a stage in a rural junior high I fell in love with acting, somewhere on a sound-stage in a city of millions, I got cut out of something I thought was supposed to be mine and got a chip on my shoulder, then somewhere in a sound booth, anywhere in a sound booth with great literature, I fell in love with storytelling, acting and art all over again. Ahhh! I gush, I love audiobooks. It’s true.
Do you read a book before recording it? Are there any special things you do to prepare, like marking certain passages, quotes, etc.?
Yes, often. But there are some exceptions and different levels of involvement. I don’t do a lot of ‘scoring’ with my script, but occasionally when I’m reading beforehand, I get an idea for something I want to do and jot down a note or underline something to remind myself to stress some concept or thought vocally. But to be very honest with you, I have set out to let go of everything recently. Ideas of how life is supposed to be, how I want this dinner, this date, this day, this dream to turn out and just let go and live and breathe and really be in this moment, and wouldn’t you know? Life is better and I enjoy being an actor more than I ever have in my whole life. Almost as much as when I was a child, singing to the fairies in the woods. Yes, I said that. I did that. Active. Imagination.
Did you work with Gayle Forman at all in the process of recording I Was Here?
She selected/approved my voice for this project I think after Sarah Jaffe, producer at Penguin Random House presented me and Gayle gave notes to the delightful director, Jessica Kaye, which we integrated. I did have the incredible opportunity to do a live reading with her recently and we hit it off. She’s so lovely, generous, and yes, ridiculously talented. I hope to work with her again. A true delight.
The I Was Here audiobook is 8 hours long. How long did it take you to actually record it?
No, math’s not my thing. Hee hee! Really, I’m not sure. But I’ve been told I’m focused. I don’t stop too too much, because my face is busy melting into the mainframe and disappearing into another dimension.
Books always were, and I admit still are, my escape.
I Was Here is a very emotional story. Did you have any trouble recording it with the emotional content involved?
Oh yes. I sometimes had to stop and take a moment and utilize the tissues on hand at Penguin Random House. They’re very good about that.
How do you decide how to represent a character like Cody, who is going through a very tough time?
I love my job, and even when it’s a sad role, it is a beautiful sadness to me. And it’s always an honor to do my best to find my way in.
About Jorjeana Marie
Jorjeana Marie has narrated more than 100 audiobooks, including Gayle Forman’s I WAS HERE (Listening Library), which earned an Earphones Award from AudioFile Magazine. She was named one of AudioFile’s Best Voices of 2014 for her narration of Meg Wolitzer’s BELZHAR, which Publishers Weekly called “adept…[an] excellent performance.” Her voice can also be heard in such video games as Final Fantasy, Crackdown 2, and Star Guardians. Jorjeana has toured nationally as a stand-up comic, opening for Richard Lewis, Louis Anderson, and Kathleen Madigan.
Thank you so much to Penguin Random House for this opportunity and for Jorjeana Marie for taking the time to answer my questions!