Welcome Tavia Glibert to The Book Nympho today. She has brought some saucy characters to life and the infamous Chapter 32 from One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost.
Can you walk us through your prep work for a narration project? Do you prepare any notes to help decide the tone and voice to give a character when there’s not a clear description of their voice in the novel (when they do not have a distinct accent)?
When I get a new audiobook script, I read the entire book. Whether the project is fiction or non-fiction, I’m reading closely to identify any words that I don’t know how to pronounce (I’ve learned never to just assume that I know how something is pronounced). And with fiction, I’m marking the script for clues the writer has offered that will guide my performance. Is this woman described as having an unusually low voice? Does that man have a gravelly growl? Was this boy born and raised in Brooklyn, or London, or Texas? I take note of all of those things. If there’s not a clear description, then I simply try to allow the right voice to naturally come forth, and to differentiate all my characters, so they are distinct. I note what the writer has said about their personalities, even their physical descriptions, because all that detail goes into making a character specific.
You narrate a wide variety of novels. How do you decide which books to perform?
I’m very fortunate to have not been typecast or pigeon-holed in any specific genre. It’s awesome to get to perform a wide variety of work. Casting directors really decide for me, based on the books I’m offered, but I also let people know what I love to work on — mysteries and thrillers, memoir, literary fiction, historical fiction, great science fiction, philosophy and theology. I think I’m often thought of for books that require flexibility and facility with many, many differentiated characters, including men and women and kids and people from anywhere and everywhere. I really enjoy the challenge of making 30 distinct voices, or 100. It’s not easy, but when I’m working with a well-written story in which the writer has crafted dozens of real people, with particular points of view, objectives, and personalities, it’s a pleasure to bring those to life vocally so that they all stand alone.
So how much fun was it to work on the infamous Chapter 32 (One Foot in the Grave)? How embarrassing is it to record the love scenes? And did you record the audio in front of a director and/or engineer?
All I have to say is that some scenes are best recorded alone in a home studio. Ahem.
You have a few British characters in the Night Huntress series. And Bones is the “commoner”, was that your inspiration for Bones’ voice vs. Ian and Spade’s British accent?
Jeaniene Frost is such an entertaining writer that it was very easy to come up with the voices. Bones is not a smooth, refined, cultured character. He’s more than rough around the edges — he’s a scrappy fighter and survivor. Ian is elegant, languid, and entitled. So Ian and Bones could and should sound nothing alike. They come from completely different worlds, even if their lives have intersected, so it was imperative to give them voices that were completely distinct. I know that Bones’ voice doesn’t work for everyone, but I stand by my choice, and I appreciate that there are many, many fans who appreciated the unusual voice characterization.
I love Ian, he is such a man whore. LOL Which is your favorite secondary character in the Night Huntress series? And are they your favorite to narrated as well?
I don’t know how I could possibly choose a favorite! One thing that is so fun about voicing Jeaniene’s books is that there are so many different characters that are great fun to perform, from vampires to demons to shape-shifters to ghosts to ghouls to just regular old humans, and they’re all quirky and idiosyncratic, and unique. I do love Fabian and even Cat’s mom, Justina, because they’re such strong and surprising characters.
Since you spend so much of your time reading novels for work, do you enjoy pleasure reading in your spare time? If so, what types of books do you enjoy? And, do you find yourself thinking how you would narrate those book while you’re reading them?
I read for pleasure, absolutely. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and when I have a rare vacation, I will read several books just for my own gratification. I enjoy reading for pleasure and enrichment even more now that reading is my day-job, because it’s such a luxurious experience to simply live in a story, rather than read it knowing that I have a professional responsibility in relation to the story. I read contemporary literary novels, memoir, or spiritual/philosophical work, generally. And I don’t think about how the books could be narrated. I love turning off my narration brain and just soaking in a book. I read very quickly in general, but about twice as fast for pleasure than when I’m preparing to record.
Name one book/series/character that you’ve read that you wish you could narrate?
I have narrated three short stories and two full books in the Carlotta Carlyle mystery series by Linda Barnes, and I LOVED them. I would read them for pleasure, actually, though I don’t generally read genre fiction outside of work. I am completely in love with Carlotta. The stories are well-crafted and compelling, the recurring secondary characters endearing and fully realized, the narrative voice engaging, wry, and captivating. I would love to record the rest in the series, or to have an ongoing mystery series that’s that outstanding to work on. That would be a great gift — to have a fantastic, realistic, many-volume mystery/crime series come my way with a wonderful female lead. I am putting that out to the universe. Hey, Universe! See what you can do, will you please?
What narration job are you currently working on?
Just finished The Appetites of Girls (literary fiction/Penguin) and Cancel the Wedding (contemporary fiction/Harper), and now getting into The Secrets of Sloane House (inspirational historical fiction/Blackstone), Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome by my pal John Scalzi (science fiction/Audible), Paris Letters (memoir/Tantor), The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone (contemporary literary fiction/Blackstone), Not Fade Away (memoir/Tantor), The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost (paranormal romance/Blackstone), and more. Lots of great stuff that I’m really excited to work on this summer!
Tavia Gilbert (SAG-AFTRA) is an award-winning narrator with more than 150 audiobooks under her belt. Contemporary and literary fiction, biography and memoir, fantasy, romance, children’s literature, science, religion…Tavia’s range of genres is a direct result of her intuitive interpretation, clever diction and pacing, and sensitivity to each author’s or publisher’s needs. Click here for examples and reviews.
Classically trained in voice and theater, Tavia attended the University of Washington and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Original Works in Acting from Cornish College of the Arts. She has been singing in choirs since she was 12 years old and has been working full time as a voice actor since 2006.
Tavia is also a producer with nine years experience. After moving to Portland, Maine in 2001, she studied audio documentary production at the Salt Institute. With 11 years of paralegal experience, Tavia has a clear understanding and appreciation for the business side of her world, including contractual language and legal strategy. Her creative eye, vivid personality, and experience and contacts help her cast the highest caliber of artists, including actors, musicians, videographers, and other talent. Her clients hire her again and again, recognizing her exceptional work and the advantage they have in someone with both a creative and business mind.
Tavia’s presence is realistic and compelling without being melodramatic; her voice is ideally suited to professional and corporate voiceover work. In addition, she is an accomplished actress and singer. Her warmth, breadth, and range offer countless possibilities for producers.