Narrator Spotlight: Caitlin Greer
How did you get started into Narration?
CG: I was working as a voiceover artist when I was approached to audition for my first audiobook, which was The Steps by Rachel Cohn. I'd never done audiobook narration before, and I was excited to have the opportunity. I had to learn an Australian accent in one night for that audition. I had never taken an audiobook class, and I didn't know any other audiobook narrators, so when I booked it, I had to figure it all out on the job. It was definitely a steep learning curve!
What is the most difficult thing about narrating books?
CG: Honoring the author's vision is of utmost importance to me, which is a big responsibility. It's a gift when an author trusts a narrator with his or her art.
I also want to honor the reader/listener experience. As a book lover myself, I know how immersed we can become in the worlds that our favorite authors create, and I take that responsibility seriously.
On a purely logistical level, books with a lot of foreign accents, foreign languages, and invented languages are the most challenging.
What do you enjoy most about narrating?
CG: We get to give life to an entire world and a whole cast of characters!
How do you give each character their own voice? and how do you keep track of the voice your using for each?
CG: I start by reading the book all the way through. I take note of anything that the author has explicitly stated about a character's voice. The author may have written that a character has a certain accent or vocal quality or pace, or the author may have one character comment on another character's voice. I have to be on the lookout for all of those clues. I also make note of any specific instructions that the author has written for dialogue, such as when a character whispers or shouts or speaks quickly. Authors leave us instructions, and we have to be sure to find them!
Once I've collected all of the instructions explicitly given to me by the text, I make decisions based on the personalities and actions of the characters. If a character is assertive and commands the room, it wouldn't make sense to give her a meek voice. I also make choices based on the characters' relationships. If there is a mother and a daughter, for example, I'll give them similar vocal qualities while making one sound younger than the other. If I notice that two characters of the same gender and age are often in dialogue with each other, I'll make sure that their voices are distinct so that it will be easier for a listener to differentiate who is talking.
Once I've created voices for the characters, I use a program that allows me to highlight each character's dialogue in a different color. That way, as I'm reading, I see visual cues and can switch voices quickly and easily. If you saw my screen when I'm working on a story with a lot of characters, it looks like a rainbow!
Is there one book that you’ve always wanted to narrate?
CG: I would love to narrate Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler.
Which character, in the Relentless Series did you really grow to love? I’m totally ok with you saying all them because their all so great.
CG: In a book with first-person narration, I always fall in love with the narrator. It's her head that I'm living in, and I'm most connected to her feelings. For the same reason, I'll tend to share her feelings about the other characters – I'll fall for her love interest, dislike her enemies – I'm along for the emotional ride!
Are you working on anything currently?
CG: I'm working on an amazing, energizing project right now about myths and misconceptions about artistic success. It's about how artists can create freedom and flexibility in their lives so that they can focus on their art – without sacrificing their sanity or their savings. It's a subject close to my heart, and it's based on my own experiences combined with interviews I've done with a group of other talented, successful, inspiring artists.
What is something that you love doing, when you aren’t narrating?
CG: I love spending time with my husband and my son, and I love to read. Some of my most joyful moments are when the three of us are curled up reading together.
Halloween is almost here! this being the October Book Fest, do you celebrate Halloween? What is your fondest memory?
CG: I grew up in New York City, where Halloween feels like a city-wide party. Halloween is also my dad's birthday, which made it even more celebratory. Growing up, I lived right on the Halloween parade route, and it took over the whole neighborhood in one, big, fantastical celebration.
We were big on homemade costumes, and my fondest Halloween memories are of dreaming up and creating costumes with my mom. The year that I was six, she made me this amazing fairy princess dress with a skirt that had a zillion layers of pink and purple tulle, all trimmed with sequins. The year that I was thirteen, some friends and I dressed up as the elements, and I was fire. My mom helped me make this crazy skirt out of strips of chiffon in reds and oranges, and my dad built bracelets for me that stood up like flames off of my wrists. We had a lot of fun with Halloween.
Do you enjoy scary movies? which one is your all time favorite?
CG: I am a baby when it comes to scary movies. I don't even watch the TV evening news anymore because I'm so susceptible to nightmares. I have a really active imagination!
Thank you so much for doing this short interview!
You're welcome. It's my pleasure!
Caitlin Greer has appeared on television, been a motion capture performer for animation and videogames, and voiced many characters for film, television, videogames, and radio. Her parents used to pay her to be quiet. She was honored by the American Library Association / YALSA as part of Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults (2009, 2011), and is an IGN award-winner and two-time nominee for Best Voice Acting: Game Ensemble (2008).