Saturday, August 30, 2008


The older I get, the smaller the world becomes. Several months after I heard the recording of Piper Reed Navy Brat, I received a card from a librarian acquaintance, Janice Card, who told me the delightful voice of the recording belonged to her niece, Emily Janice Card. We really are seven degrees or less from each other!

Emily also recorded Piper Reed the Great Gypsy and is scheduled for the forthcoming Piper book. Except as a listener, the world of audiobooks is foreign to me so I asked Emily if she would give us some insights. I also wanted to know a little about the talented person behind the voice of Piper and the other characters. Come along with me, as we learn together.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina.

My family moved there when I was two years old, and I lived there until I was twenty two. It's not flashy, but it was a nice place to just be a kid, riding bikes and playing in the woods.

Piper is the middle child. Where are you in the birth order?

I am the second child, but for years there were only three kids in the family (my younger sister was born when I was 13), so I still feel like I'm the middle child! I could be a little bratty, too, especially to my older brother, but like Piper, I secretly thought my family was pretty cool.

How did you start your career as a reader for recorded books?

When I moved to Los Angeles, my father introduced me to Stefan Rudnicki, president & executive producer of Skyboat Road Company, which produces the audiobooks of my dad's work. (My dad is Orson Scott Card.) I had moved to L.A. to act, and so I jumped at the chance to audition for Stefan as a reader. He gave me my first opportunities narrating short stories, and then full books, and I continue to learn a lot from him, when he directs me, and when I get to direct him, being the award-winning narrator he is!

I'm delighted with the different voices you use. How do you prepare for a reading?

Thank you! My preparation is pretty simple. I read through the book once (not aloud!), to get the overall sense of the plot, and the tone, as well as noting all the characters that appear. I also look up words I don't know how to pronounce, especially the names of real people and places. Then, I work out the voices, and more importantly, the attitudes of the characters in the book, to make sure I capture how the author described them, and differentiate them enough from each other that the listener will always be clear who is who. But I don't like to pore over the book too hard after that, because I like to let the story "happen" to me as I read it!

Could you walk us through what happens when you record?
How long does it usually take to record a Piper book?

Piper Reed is so much fun to read, and your writing flows so easily, that it is that rare book that takes almost the same amount of time to record as it does to listen to! By that I mean, I don't trip over my tongue very often when reading it, so we don't have too many instances of doing another take, or "pick-ups" on a sentence. The director and I will start in the studio at around 10 am, and in both cases we've been done no later than 2 pm. What a fun way to spend the day! Most people don't realize audiobooks have directors, and some don't, but for me recording is so much better as a collaborative process! Directors are the first listeners, and notice things that you just can't when you're performing. They can also encourage you to try something different, or redirect your energy so that your reading has dimensions and colors you might not have thought could come out of you. I was really lucky to work with directors Kelly Gildea and Jessica Kaye on the first two Piper Reed books.

What do you like most about your job?

It is a combination of two things I love: reading and acting. Most people have to find time after work to read good books, but I get to do it on the job!

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

You know, there is still so much I want to study, to improve, to see and experience in this lifetime, I really can't say! Hmm, my mother might read this answer and send me a Franklin Planner. But I do know I'll always be happiest telling stories in some form, whether that means recording audiobooks, acting, singing, or even writing a book of my own one day.

Thanks, Emily, for sharing a bit of your process and background with us. And thank you for your wonderful interpretation of Piper, her family, and friends.

*****August Giveaway Winners********

Thank you for participating in the August Giveaways. I had fun. (I think there's a little game show host inside me. I loved Let's Make a Deal as a kid.) Since this was a summer drawing, I didn't know what to expect, but I was thrilled with the response. There were entries from four countries and sixteen states.

The winners of the Piper Reed The Great Gypsy audiobook: Asma Faizal from Malaysia, Larry Hert from Midland, Michigan, and Kelley Hobson from Shreveport, Louisiana.

Drumroll, please.

Now for the winners of the classroom sets of Piper Reed Navy Brat:

Pamela Wilson from John H. Glenn Jr. Elementary in San Antonio, Texas


Judi Stoyanov from Oaklawn Magnet School in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Congratulations to all the winners!

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