Meet Erin Bennett, Performer in Vintage Love Stories
Blunder Woman Productions, with the help of eight talented authors and nine equally talented narrators, release a remarkable volume of short tales set before the age of the internet and cell phones. Vintage Love Stories features Erin Bennett’s narration of The Painted World by writer (and narrator also) Cassandra Campbell.
We were able to chat with Erin, and we’d love for you to get to know a bit more about her, too!
What has been your favorite book to narrate?
That's a hard one to answer! I love narrating fiction but recently, a nonfiction book took my breath away. It was Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O'Brien. Incredible story about the women, including Amelia Earhart, who were pilots during the golden age of aviation. Their stories just leapt off the page for me.
Have you had any funny or interesting things happen while recording?
One time we were recording along and all of a sudden, the recording program my engineer was using went haywire. It kept repeating the same two words over and over on a loop....so I sounded like I was either completely off my rocker or else turned into a robot! We had a pretty good laugh while he restarted the system.
How do you get into a book/story?
I always start curled up in my favorite chair, my iPad in my lap, and I delve right in. I make notes on characters, setting, anything that strikes me....and before I know it, the world outside blurs and I'm absorbed in the story.
How do you prepare for all the different characters and their tones/vocal ranges?
Real life gives me a terrific supply of inspiration. I live in Los Angeles, and I have met some CHARACTERS here. But inspiration comes from movies and TV too. People from my past whose voices have left their imprint…memories...and sometimes, a character just zings from the text completely new.
How many books have you narrated and do they have a common thread or theme?
I've narrated about 350 and so far I have been extremely lucky not to be typecast. I have a pretty good range of fiction, nonfiction, mystery, memoir, science fiction, fantasy, biography, you name it.
What do you like most about narrating audiobooks?
Playing every character - it's like being inside and outside the story at the same time. I love "talking" directly to a listener. Sharing a story that's just for them.
What do you like least about narrating audiobooks?
Sometimes when I have a lot of words to look up it I wish I knew the pronunciation of every word in the dictionary!
During your downtime, do you prefer to read in print or listen to stories in audio?
Listening to podcasts, reading an old paperback in the bathtub...
How do you select a book to narrate?
It usually finds me via an offer from a publisher.
Do you prefer a specific genre or types of characters?
I like a mishmash of styles and genres. It keeps me on my toes! Last week it was romance, this week it's fiction; variety is the spice of my audiobook life!
Do you read a book several times before you record the audio?
I read it carefully once. Then I step into the studio and we're off.
How do you decide on the specific voice and tone to do for each character?
It's mostly instinctive. Authors give me so many great clues in the character descriptions. It's not something I necessarily have to work out beforehand as the author sketches that person for me!
Do you have a ritual or routine you do before sitting down to record the audio (such as vocal exercises or warm-ups to strengthen your vocal cords)?
Tea, tea, tea!
Is there an audiobook you just loved listening to? What about that narration makes it special?
I loved Sissy Spacek's narration of To Kill A Mockingbird. I felt like I was sitting around a campfire listening to her expressive voice and I was captivated.
What qualities make a great narrator? If you like, share some tips for aspiring voice actors.
Great actors make great narrators. Passion for communicating to an audience and good vocal technique too.
Is there a scene you just loved to narrate?
In Fly Girls, I got to narrate the story of Amelia Earhart's final flight when she disappeared in the South Pacific. The radio operator's communications, their earnest messages trying to find her...and her messages back to the crew. They were heartbreaking - and to get the tone right, where there's a sense of the world holding its breath - those are such exciting scenes to be in.
Is there a scene that was especially difficult to narrate?
The rewarding scenes can also be the difficult ones. Right after the scene I just described in Fly Girls, I had to narrate the aftermath of Amelia Earhart's disappearance. It was a national tragedy - and fighting back tears in the studio is just a part of the job, but it can wring you out sometimes.
Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents? If so, what are they?
I sing with a trio and a Big Band - I know a heck of a lot of Andrews Sisters music. And I can swing dance!
ABOUT ERIN BENNETT
“...a truly superb, sensitive performance by Erin Bennett… you will wish it went on forever.” - The Washington Post, Best New Audiobooks 2017. Bennett is a Los Angeles-based voice and stage actress whose passion for storytelling makes her a natural fit for audiobooks. Winner of multiple Earphones and Audie nominated, she narrated one of AudioFile’s “Best Audiobooks of 2016,” and has recorded over 250 titles for major publishers, including Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, Harper, Blackstone, Recorded Books/Tantor, Brilliance, Dreamscape,and Audible. Her genres vary widely, from literary fiction to mysteries to science fiction to memoir, as well as nonfiction, multicast recordings and romance. Her on-camera work includes Grandfatheredon FOX and Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim, and her voice-over work spans animation, radio plays for the BBC, video games, and commercials for radio & television.