“The very best lines are far too naughty to quote here.” The glory of Cori Samuel #jiam2011

When I heard Cori Samuel was to read Lydia Millet’s Oh Pure and Radiant Heart, I had no idea how she was going to pull it off. For starters, the text translates to over 17 hours of audio.   The book is set in America and features a highly imagined rendering of the (male) scientists responsible for the creation of the atom bomb.   Cori’s an English lady.  You see?  No way.

But Cori is something special, the pairing of text with voice was oddly perfect, and the resulting audiobook is truly one of Iambik’s treasures.  And as you’ll read below, putting her voice behind less-than-obvious titles is one of Cori’s natural talents.  Here’s Cori Samuel:

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?
Cori Samuel:  I’m currently recording Frankenstein for librivox.org. It’s been on my To Do list for a while, because I’ve long been a fan of Mary Shelley and of this story in particular — the book is so different to any of the film versions. Also, because the story is narrated by three male characters, as far as I could see it’d always been recorded by men in the past; so I wanted to try and bring something of the author’s own voice to it. An unknowable, impossible goal, of course, but I’m enjoying the process enormously anyway. I put it on hold earlier this year to record Around the World in Stilettos for Iambik, which was a very hard transition to make: classic horror to modern comedy-romance. I ended up buying several pairs of shoes to get me into the right mood, including an unwalkable-but-gorgeous pair of shiny black stilettos, that I perched next to the mic while I recorded. That’s the last book I finished. Poor Frankie needs to be paused again now, so I can record another Iambik romance in the next couple of months – though I’m not yet sure how I’m going to set the mood for that one (see also below.) Hopefully I’ll finish Frankenstein by the end of August.

Cori Samuel

Cori Samuel

ME: Anything stand out as the most notable sentence or paragraph you’ve narrated?
CS: My first Iambik book quotes some rather saucy lyrics from “Bad Touch” by the Bloodhound Gang. I’m used to recording older, public domain books, so to read something so vibrant and modern was great, and those particular lines make me laugh every time I hear that song. And my next Iambik recording project, begins: “My grandfather’s left me his nose. It’s in a matchbox.” I love that opening, but the very best lines are far too naughty to quote here — I’m really looking forward to working on it!

ME: Care to share a memorable comment you’ve received about your voice or narration talents?
CS: It’s always nice when someone’s willing to hear you read the phonebook — to me, that’s one marker of having ‘arrived’ as a narrator and someone said that to me for the first time fairly recently. I also really appreciated this blog comment from a Californian mom: “I had to smile with delight when my eight year old daughter was swirling around in her room imitating your lovely accent after listening to your audio that day.” How great is that! Anglophilia starting early over there.

ME: What are the world’s top 5 sounds? What are the worst?

  • Laughter, particularly the gurgly-baby kind.
  • Cats’ purring.
  • Boiling water being poured onto tea-leaves.
  • Alan Rickman’s voice.


  • Anything that one hears with one’s gut, rather than the ears (like screams, for instance)
  • Car alarms.
  • Running water when I KNOW nothing should be leaking / dripping …
  • The doorbell sounding when I’m in the shower

ME: Of any book ever published, what’s your dream title to narrate (even if your voice wouldn’t be a good match)?
CS:  I’d love to record A High Wind in Jamaica, by Richard Hughes. It’s something like Lord of the Flies, only it adds girls, pirates and sailing ships — and is more psychological than visceral. It’s just wonderful. I don’t think my voice would be a terrible match, so if I cross my fingers really, really tightly …

As Cori mentioned, she’s got new Iambik titles coming soon.  If you’re on our mailing list, you’ll know when that time comes.  You can also keep track of her recordings at her website, or by following @CoriS on Twitter.  Cori’s first title for Iambik, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet, is available for only $5.99 as part of our very first Literary Fiction Collection (the whole collection is only $49.99.  Have a look.).  As you know by now, all our titles can be yours at a 50% discount throughout June 2011 by entering the code #jiam2011 when prompted at checkout.