Interview with Uneasy Spirits Narrator, Alexandra Haag

US_audibleYou know how your own voice always sounds so strange when you hear it recorded? Well, my voice in my head always sounds warmer and deeper to me than it does in real life. Not surprisingly, that is also how the voice of my main protagonist, Annie Fuller, sounds to me. This difference between my real voice and what I think Annie should sound like is one of the reasons I would never narrate my own books.

Unfortunately, the narrator of my first book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series didn’t produce a voice that satisfied me—or many of my fans, so I put off getting Uneasy Spirits, the second book in the series, narrated for some time.

Then, at a local book club in town, I met Alexandra Haag, a professional narrator, and I fell in love with her voice. Here was the warm, rich tones I envisioned for Annie Fuller. I also liked the idea of working with someone local. This has worked very well for me with my cover designer, Michelle Huffaker, and I looked forward to duplicating this experience.

Alexandra Haag and I first collaborated on the short stories connected to the series, getting feed-back from fans who have their own ideas about what my characters should sound like. Links to the audiobooks of Dandy Detects, The Misses Moffet Mend a Marriage, and Mr. Wong Rights a Wrong, individually, or as part of the Victorian San Francisco Stories (a collection of these stories) can be found here. As a bonus, currently, if you already have a Kindle copy of any of these—you can get the audio versions for $1.99!

However, what I am most excited about is Ms. Haag’s production of the second full-length book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, Uneasy Spirits, which has just come available as an audiobook on Audible, Amazon.com,and  iTunes.

I thought that this might be a good time to interview Alexandra Haag about what it is like to be a professional narrator and to narrate a long work of historical fiction such as Uneasy Spirits. Here is what Ms. Haag had to say!

How did you become involved with making audio books? 

Alexandra Haag

Alexandra Haag

By the time I first considered audiobook narration, I had read the newspaper on our local PBS Radio Reading Service for about three years and was a lector at my church for many years. I’d received some very kind encouragement about my presentation which “primed the pump,” so to speak, for exploring voice work.

There was a book that the afore-mentioned book club had read that I thought should be in audio format but wasn’t. So I began to explore how to get that done. One thing led to another and here I am! But that book never did get published as an audiobook – maybe the publisher didn’t think there was a huge market for the work of a 14th century mystic; go figure.

What special qualities to you personally bring to your work?

Continue reading

Introducing Katja Blum, translator for my German Edition of Maids of Misfortune

Katja BlumI am very pleased to introduce Katja Blum, the person who did such a lovely, professional job translating Maids of Misfortune into the German edition: Dienstmädchen im Unglück.

She graciously answered some of my questions in my quest to get to know her, and I think you will be as charmed as I was with her answers.

1. Please tell the readers about yourself and how you got into translating.

I began working as a translator (English into German) while I was studying at Hamburg University in Germany – sheesh, that was almost twenty years ago. My major wasn’t translation, by the way, but American Literature and Women’s Studies. For my first job, I translated Harlequin romances into German. I’m fluent in English, I’m a writer – how hard can it be? The answer: Very. I learned many important things from working with those romances and my extremely strict editor – listening to the author’s voice and reigning in my own, being disciplined about deadlines (tough one) and writing to meet specific market requirements, while still creating a natural, flowing text in German.

After a few years working solely as a literary translator, I felt that I needed a different challenge and went into marketing and corporate communications for luxury brands. I was able to use many of the skills I had learned, because I was still dealing with fairy tales for adults, just that the perfect guy was being replaced by the perfect pair of very expensive shoes.

One of the very best parts of my job is that I can work in my pajamas. I don’t usually, but I could. Freelance work also allows me to make my schedule around spending time with my three-year-old son. Sam has a condition that makes it hard for him to learn speech, so in working, playing and learning with him, I now get to approach language, communication and storytelling in a whole new way.

Apart from family and books, the fiber arts are my greatest passion. I study textiles through the ages and how to make them today using the old techniques from spindle-spinning flax to tatting lace. The knowledge comes in handy when I translate historic fiction. Not only do I have a pretty good idea what people are wearing or making, but the study of textiles also comes with a lot of social history, which to me is as fascinating as it is useful.

Today, I mix it up in my job with marketing translations, usually time-sensitive, and bigger book projects (fiction and nonfiction) with longer deadlines. All parts of my job inform the others and continue to shape my understanding of the languages I work with and – hopefully – my skills as a translator.

Continue reading