We’ve a very special treat today as audio narrator Christine Lakin stops by to tell us all about working on The Witch Who Came In From The Cold! Along side John Glouchevitch she is is breathing life into our cold tale of spies and sorcerers, and we wanted to learn more about the magic behind the scenes.
Through a haze of cigarettes and vodka there lies a version of Prague where spies practice sorcery in their games of intrigue. While the world watches the bitter rivalry between East and West fester along the Iron Curtain, the Consortium of Ice and the Acolytes of Flame continue waging their ancient war of magic. Kept to the shadows, this secret contest crosses the lines of politics and the borders of nations with impunity – the intrigues of spies may know clear sides but the battles of witches spill out over all. Tanya Morozova is a KGB officer and the latest in a long line of Ice witches and sorcerers; Gabe Pritchard is a CIA officer and reluctant Ice recruit. Enemies at one turn, suspicious allies at the next, their relationship is as explosive as the Cold War itself.
Released in weekly text+audio episodes, The Witch Who Came In From The Cold began January 27th and is written by Lindsay Smith, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ian Tregillis, and Michael Swanwick. The audio versions are narrated by Christine Lakin and John Glouchevitch.
Listen and learn more at SerialBox.com!
I auditioned, like many actors do, whereby we send in a 1-2 page sample of the book for the author’s review. I’ve always been an avid reader an have performed in improv and storytelling shows, which in some ways, lend similar techniques to my work in audiobooks. For one, the aspect of creating distinguishable characters vocally is something I’ve done on stage and in animation for years. Storytelling has an innate sense of flow, within I help build suspense, create drama within action sequences or sadness in narration during emotional scenes. Every book has it’s own voice and tone and it’s my job to distinguish the author’s vibe and intent for their piece and hopefully, bring that to life. I’ve been lucky to work with a great booth director, Dennis Kao, many times and he continually thinks of me for projects as well.
I’ve voiced several dozen books including The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black and Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, winning raves as “…one of the most remarkable books of the year”. Additionally I’ve voiced The Forgotten Girls and The Killing Forrest, both in the Louise Rick detective series for Danish author Sara Blaedel, as well as the Parasite series for author Mira Grant and Mercy Snow by Tiffany Baker.
For anyone not at all familiar with how audio books are made, please give a sketch of how the process is for you, as a narrator.
Usually I get the manuscript a week ahead of time and read it beforehand. I like to make decisions about what characters should sound like but I don’t commit fully to some of the more minor characters until I run them by my director for feedback. I want to make sure nothing I do is too cartoony for the genre and that accents make sense for where the story is set. I love accents and nuances of accents. I always have and I enjoy mimicking folks and trying to add them to my arsenal. I always make my main heroine my natural voice because it usually comprises the majority of the narration and for stamina purposes, you don’t want to use too much of a character for anything you need to recreate for 400 pages. I can usually read about 100 pages a day on average. When I mess up or if something sounds slurred, my booth director will stop me, or I stop myself, and we take it back a few lines and punch in from there and continue. It’s a creative process as much as it is technical. It requires breath control, stamina and a good deal of focus. Not to mention being in a dark booth for 7 hours of the day. 🙂 I really enjoy it though and feel lucky when I get to read books for a living.
Please briefly describe what part you are playing in The Witch Who Came In From The Cold audio production (which characters and how you interact with the other voice talent, if at all).
In Witch… I voiced the characters Tanya, Jordan, Nadia, Sasha, Bykovsky and Zerena with a few parts from Alestair, Dom, and Joshua. The Russian accent is a challenge to distinguish between characters and genders and to also speak clearly enough to be understood. I only recorded my parts alone so while I heard references from characters some of the other vocal talent did, I didn’t work with them. That usually only happens in animation. In audiobooks, you’re constantly having conversations with yourself.
Have there been any particular challenges with The Witch Who Came In From The Cold (accent, Russian pronunciation, etc.)? Any parts you particularly enjoyed?
Haha, yes the pronunciation was definitely challenge on several of the words. Russian does not sound like it looks very often. I loved voicing Zerena – she’s a really fun and conniving character and I liked getting in her head and visualizing her house and her clothes and the way she moved… all those things affect the way she would talk. I also got a kick out of Bykovsky and tried to make him sound brutish and maybe a bit nasal, like he had a had time breathing because of his girth. I have all these characters in my head- it would be very interesting to see how a sketch artist interpreted them!
What are you currently working on?
I’m starting a new series for Harper/Collins that was big for them in Sweden, the first book is Marked For Life. I love a good mystery or detective story. Although I’ve surprised myself and really got into some of the sci-fi/vampire stuff I’ve done too. I keep waiting for Holly Black to come out with a sequel. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan was an absolute delight to read. A delicious, funny rom-com and I got to do all kinds of British voices, which while challenging to distinguish, I absolutely loved.
Final fun question we ask everyone: If your soul was manifested outside of your body in the form of an animal (like in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series), what would it be?
I’d like to think I was a Dolphin… friendly and intelligent? Is that too much to ask? Although my husband would probably say I’d be a squirrel… because I’m tiny and feisty and constantly hoarding food in my purse, lol.
Christine Lakin is an American actress, well known for her role as Alicia “Al” Lambert on ABC/CBS’s Step by Step. She also appeared on Showtime’s Reefer Madness and Fox’s The Kilborn File. Her audio book work includes The coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, and Parasite and Symbiont by Mira Grant.