Xe Sands ist tatsächlich Hörbuchsprecherin aus Leidenschaft. Ihre Liebe zum Vorlesen hat sie zum Beruf gemacht und vertont eine große Bandbreite an Literatur. In diesem Jahr ist Xe für ihre Lesung von Lily King’s Roman EUPHORIA für den Audie Award nominiert – gemeinsam mit Kollege Simon Vance.
Außerdem ist sie auch noch ein außergewöhlich netter Mensch und tauscht sich in den sozialen Netzwerken gerne mit ihren Zuhörern aus. Auf meine Frage nach einem kurzen Interview zu EUPHORIA hat sie mit sehr sympathischer Begeisterung reagiert. Hier sind meine Fragen und Xe’s Antworten:
1. What were your initial thoughts when you were asked to narrate EUPHORIA? Were you approached or did you have to apply for the project?
I was fortunate to be approached by Blackstone Audio to co-narrate EUPHORIA with Simon Vance. And my reaction went a bit like this…
First thought: They want me to…narrate a book with SIMON VANCE? (followed by euphoric feeling…and nearly fainting)
Second thought: What a gorgeous story…are those – are those diary entries? Ohhhh…this is going to be amazing.
I was so honored to be asked, both because it would be my first book with an artist and mentor that I hold in the highest esteem, and because it was such a compelling and beautifully told story, although I’ll confess to a paralyzing terror at the thought of having to replicate Simon’s mellifluous British accent (thankfully, not required in any of my sections).
2. EUPHORIA is a fictionalized account of the field work of famous anthropologist Margaret Mead. Did you know her/research her before slipping into her skin for the narration? If a novel is based on a real person, how important is it for you to know that person?
I was aware of Margaret Mead’s groundbreaking work on gender and culture from my college days, but was not aware of her personal history until prepping for recording. I found myself researching her life, her marriages, searching for photos of her in the field, etc. When a novel is based on a real person, I do inevitably find myself wondering about them, trying to ferret out their perspective, match it to what I’m experiencing in the read. But I will say that in the case of EUPHORIA, Nell also felt very much like her own character, and it felt more important to allow King’s prose and intent to inform the performance, than be swayed by my impressions of Mead herself.
3. Nell is American, Fen Australian, Bankson British – how did you deal with juggling the different accents? Did you consult a vocal coach? Do you ever?
Ha! See above :) It was challenging. Fortunately, I did not have to voice much ir any of Bankson, so was spared the challenge of matching Simon’s beautiful accent and speaking voice. For the Australian dialog, I prepped with a dialect coach before recording, same process I use whenever confronted with an accent I haven’t previously voiced. And sometimes, I then spend the day speaking only with that accent, much to the annoyance of my family (my daughter reported that I was particularly terrifying when trying to master a German accent!).
4. Talking about accents – how did you approach the native language of the Tam?
Simon and I conferred and decided to go with a phonetic pronunciation, flavored by the musicality of the dialects of the Sepik tribes (thank goodness for YouTube!).
5. EUPHORIA is narrated by you and Simon Vance. How did your cooperation work for this project?
Because co-narrations are usually recorded separately, due to location of narrators, schedules, etc., Simon and swapped clips of characters to make sure we were maintaining as much continuity as possible. Via email, we also discussed how to handle pronunciations, swapped video references, etc.
6. The love triangle between Nell, Fen and Bankson develops as a slow but hypnotic burn. Can you tell us how/if you used your voice to reflect that development?
Most of that development fell to Simon, voicing Bankson. I had the far easier job as most of my work on EUPHORIA comes in the form of Nell’s notes/diary entries, which are my version of audio candy. And by inhabiting Nell through her inner thoughts, I just endeavored to allow the exploration and development of her feelings for Bankson to come through as it would have for her in the moment, and as I believe King intended.
7. EUPHORIA received an Earphones Award from Audiofile Magazine, has been nominated for an Audie Award, and has received rave reviews both in the media and from the audiobook community. How important are awards and feedback for you as a narrator?
I’d love to say that I’m completely immune to them, that I pay no mind whatsoever …but that would be a lie :)
On the professional side of things, the positive feedback, awards and nomination offers critical validation for the publisher and narrators of the synergy between the material and the narrators. So I can’t help but find it exceptionally important.
On a personal level…well, it quite honestly feels amazing when you pour everything you have into something, when you stress about it, and worry that they were crazy to cast you (but of course pretend it’s entirely expected), when you bring everything you have to bear, and when that doesn’t feel like enough, you keep digging, you keep opening yourself up to the text, to the subtext, to the author’s intent until you’re no longer in the room and it’s just the character sharing their story with the listener…when you do all that, and it comes through to the listeners, the reviewers, the judges, it’s just incredibly gratifying and validating. It’s essentially a narrator’s version of a standing ovation, of knowing that we got out of the way and let the story come through as we intended.
A quick side note on reviews. There are two minds on whether or not to track reviews of your work. Personally, I find it incredibly valuable to read through them, specifically looking for patterns across reviews. If there is something that crops up in reviews of my work over time, and across genres, it can sometimes help me pinpoint an area of growth.
8. EUPHORIA is labeled as ‚fiction‘. You narrate a lot of different genres. What’s your favorite?
Oh first person fiction most definitely, particularly the darker, more complicated and “messy” stories. My absolute favorite.
9. Out of sheer curiosity – how did you become a narrator?
Oh gracious – how much time do you have? LOL!
It really all started with my daughter. I read to her morning and night for about the first 12 years of her life. Over time, I realized that there was nothing that gave me as great a sense of satisfaction and turned me on creatively quite as much as reading to her. Eventually, I decided to investigate how to become a professional narrator. I began volunteering for a wonderful organization, Librivox.org, and after several years of volunteering, stumbled upon a workshop offered by Pat Fraley on audiobook narration. At the workshop, I met my first coach, Carrington MacDuffie, and worked with her for several months, before attending my first industry conference (APAC), and making connections there. I came home from that conference fired up and ready to start building a professional career, beginning with a home studio, more coaching, networking, etc. Eventually, I was hired for my first professional narration, and then the next…and so on :) But the learning never stops. I work with mentors to this day, attend master classes to hone my craft, and continue to analyze my work for strengths and challenges, always striving to deliver the most authentic performance I possibly can.
10. Can you tell us about your next project?
Oh let’s see…thrilled that SISTERS OF SHILOH will be releasing this week. Oh what a gorgeous book. And what a challenge! I don’t think I’ve ever tortured myself over a book like I did with that one. As for upcoming projects, this week, I’ll be recording THE DIVER’S CLOTHES LIE EMPTY, a quirky, completely compelling bit of second-person fiction, and then I think it will be on to a bit of action and suspense.
Für die Aufnahme von EUPHORIA hat Xe ein pinterest board angelegt, auf dem sich weitere interessante Informationen, Videos und Bilder zum Projekt finden. Schaut mal rein: https://www.pinterest.com/xesands/recent-projects-euphoria/