“People have been very kind to me.” Lee Ann Howlett on conquering Thomas Hardy and The Ginseng O.

At one time, I was planning to run these Five Questions interviews only throughout June, as part of June is Audiobook Month (#jiam2011). But we have too many talented narrators and proof-listeners to pack them all into one month, and today’s featured narrator alone is charming enough to deserve a full month all to herself. Here’s Lee Ann Howlett, narrator most recently of With or Without You (Akashic) by Lauren Sanders.

Miette Elm: First off, what are you up to? What titles have you recently wrapped, what are you in the middle of, and how’s it going?
Lee Ann Howlett:  I finished a collection of short stories called Someday This Will Be Funny by Lynne Tillman for Iambik around the same time that I wrapped a semi-autobiographical book for LibriVox called Three Girls in a Flat by Enid Yandell and two of her friends. (Yandell was a noted American sculptor.) Right now, I’m currently recording a romance for Iambik – Nanny Behaving Badly by Judy Jarvie (Salt Publishing). I believe it’s scheduled to be released as part of Iambik’s first romance collection. I’m also working on a mystery for LibriVox called The Mystery of Mary by Grace Livingston Hill. It’s always nice to have two very different projects going on at the same time.

Lee Ann Howlett

Lee Ann Howlett

ME: Anything stand out as the most notable sentence or paragraph you’ve narrated?
LAH:Well, a recent one was “Have you ever had a ginseng orgasm?” from Joe Coomer’s book One Vacant Chair. My proof-listener, Betsie Bush, and I had a laugh over that one.

ME: Care to share a memorable comment you’ve received about your voice or narration talents?
LAH: People have been very kind to me over the years with LibriVox and, now, Iambik. One that I hold dear was the first comment I ever received for my readings on the LibriVox group project for Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. The listener told me that he particularly enjoyed my sections and felt I brought genuine emotion to my reading. I’ve also had similar messages from others about the same book. Since I recorded with my American accent, I was very pleased that the fact that I wasn’t English didn’t seem to bother these listeners. I know that it does disturb many listeners when it’s a UK author and that it’s a personal preference. I’m just glad I didn’t ruin it for everyone.

ME: What are the world’s top sounds? What are the worst?
LAH: Top sounds would have to include the cute little sound my dog, Sammy, makes when he yawns, the sounds of my toddler nieces laughing, and anything by The Cure.

Worst sounds are trucks driving by, airplanes overheard, cicadas and crickets doing their thing, and barking dogs (Sammy included) — all while I’m trying to record.

ME: Of any book ever published, what’s your dream title to narrate (even if your voice wouldn’t be a good match)?
LAH:  That’s a tough one but I’m going to go with some non-fiction. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Vincent Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter. I’m a fan of true crime when it’s well-written. Also a biography or memoir by someone that I admire or whose work I enjoy who also has a knack for telling their story well.

Lee Ann Howlett’s audiobooks for Iambik so far include One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer and With or Without You by Lauren Sanders.  If you’re like me and can’t get enough of her, you’ll sign up for our mailing list and be the first to know when her future titles are released.  And if you’re like me but with a little free time, maybe you’ll start the Lee Ann Howlett fan club.  You should.