Tune in Tomorrow is my debut novel, but I’m not the only person associated with it making a debut: The delightful woman narrating the audiobook is also narrating her first novel by taking it on!
Rebecca LaChance was presented to me by my publisher as one of three potential narrators for the audiobook. I immediately liked her clear voice and the way she dove into accents for the characters. It may sound strange, but I hadn’t heard my characters before. I have a visual accounting for the entire book – I could storyboard a movie of it if asked – but what the characters sounded like had not really occurred to me, beyond an accent or a regionalism! Rebecca added that third dimension with her audition and I loved what I was hearing; once she was officially hired we even had a Zoom chat to go over specific voices she wanted to use, and to help with some pronunciations.
So now with Tune in Tomorrow practically on the shelves (it’s due out August 23), I thought it was time to introduce my narrator to my friends and fans! Born in Baltimore (in my home state of Maryland by coincidence), Rebecca is now based in London and has an amazing acting background: She originated the role of Betty in the original Broadway cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (and understudied the title role); she also performed in London’s West End as Patty DiMarco in School of Rock. In addition, she’s lent her voice to video games (Sena in Xenoblade Chronicles 3), audio dramas and dubbing.
So without further ado, please meet my new favorite audiobook narrator, Rebecca LaChance!
Randee Dawn: You’re living my dream by being an American in the UK. How did that happen, and how did you get into audio narration?
Rebecca LaChance: I moved to London in 2017 after nearly 10 years in New York City. I relocated to be with my partner of 7 years, JJ, who I met while doing the musical Mack and Mabel in the UK in 2015. In London, my voice-over career has flourished and I’ve worked extensively in video games, audio drama, and dubbing. But I’m also a lifelong lover of books, and after getting into listening to audiobooks during the pandemic I realized what an obviously great fit it would be for me! So this year I finally bit the bullet and recorded some demos to get my narration career started.
Why do you enjoy narrating stories and, now, books?
Reading has always been a huge part of my life. I can’t fall asleep without a book, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the stories and characters I’ve found in books along the way. One thing I love about audio books is that they make reading so much more accessible, but they also offer an opportunity to connect with stories in a more emotional way, and in my experience, the characters can come alive much more vividly when read aloud. I hope I can bring that same experience to readers!
How do you decide what voices to assign to characters?
A lot of this requires research! I have to read the book all the way through, probably a few times, to make sure that the voices I choose make sense with the character’s journey throughout the story. Of course there will be clues from the author about tone, accent, etc., but to a degree it’s also a gut feeling. Then I just do my best to ensure the character’s voice sounds grounded in truth and most importantly, that I’ll be able to remember it again when the character shows up in a scene 200 pages from now!
What do most people not understand about narration, and its unique challenges?
Audiobook narrating is exhausting. You’re sitting in a (hot!) booth for six+ hours a day just reading aloud, on your own. Your voice gets tired, your back starts to hurt, and your brain is muddled trying to keep track of the characters’ voices and journeys while reading every sentence word-perfect. It’s a real marathon!
Tune in Tomorrow was your first novel to narrate. What was that experience like?
It was so fun, but also a real baptism by fire. I loved the book from the first few chapters I read, so I knew I’d enjoy bringing the characters and their antics to life, but I wasn’t quite prepared to voice over 50 of them! [I had no idea I’d written so many speaking roles! — Randee] Narrating involved a lot of preparation in terms of setting voices, annotating the script with dozens of colors of highlighting, and perfecting pronunciations on the myriad fantasy terms and foreign phrases – many of which I’d never heard before! But once I got into the booth, it all started to fall into place and my confidence boosted significantly. We finished the book in three and a half days, which I’m told was very speedy as it’s over thirteen and a half hours long!
You and I had a chat about how to pronounce some words, and also how to shape some of the voices. Is that typical between a narrator and an author? Why is it important?
Obviously I’m still new to the game, but it seems like this was actually a bit unusual. I think it really depends on the type of book – the second book I narrated (The Bachelorette Party by Carissa Ann Lynch) was a thriller and much more straightforward in terms of preparation. Carissa and I exchanged emails to make sure I was on the right track, but I felt from the jump that I had things in hand – and also there were significantly fewer voices to prepare! But I do think some form of communication at the beginning of the process is essential; at the end of the day the book is the author’s creation, and I want to make sure that my audio version brings it to life as they envisioned!
Do you have to like a story or a book before you take on a project? Why? How do you know that this is a job you’ll want to do?
I think an audiobook narrator would have a very short career if they only took on books they personally liked. But narrating a book you enjoy as a reader is certainly a more pleasurable experience! I think you can tell in pretty short order whether the recording process is going to feel like a job, or a joy, but both are valuable.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into the world of audio narration?
Practice, practice, practice! Reading aloud is something that gets easier the more you do it, as is the process of creating character voices. Before recording my audio book demos, I read through sections of beloved books and just gave myself the chance to experiment. Every narrator’s style is unique, so you have to find what works for you! Then pick your best work to record demos, you can’t get anywhere without those.
Do you think you’ve learned something about writing from your narrations?
Absolutely! I learn more about storytelling with every book I’ve read, and narrating just forces me to read more closely, and soak it all up. I’ve also often seen writers give the advice that reading your work aloud will make it easy to see where something’s missing, or where you’ve overwritten, or where things could be clarified. I think that’s so true!
Do you also write? Do you think you might at some point in the future, or do you have other creative plans?
I do write, but mostly just for myself. I always loved creative writing in school, but composing original music is where most of my writing energy goes these days. I’ve always said I’d like to write a novel, but I’ve never had the spark of inspiration for a plot…yet!
What else should we know about you?
I hope that Tune in Tomorrow marks exciting debuts for both of us. I can’t wait to hear what readers think about these wacky, wonderful characters and I hope those that listen to the audio book enjoy the journey with me!
Find out more about Rebecca LaChance at her website, RebeccaLaChance.com.
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