Narrator: Elizabeth Klett
Length: 11 hours 16 minutes
Publisher: Spoken Realms⎮2020
Release date: Oct. 13, 2020
This collection of 40 fairy tales contains well-known favorites from authors like the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Oscar Wilde, Charles Perrault, Madame de Beaumont, and Joseph Jacobs. It also collects rare gems from folk-tale traditions around the world, from Germany to China, from Scandinavia to Arabia, from Russia to Japan, and from Italy to Canada. These beautiful, frightening, funny, romantic, and whimsical stories will introduce you to princesses in peril, beastly brides and grooms, adults and children behaving badly, daring and adventurous girls, and clever and devious tricksters. These wondrous tales will be enjoyed by listeners both young and old.
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Narrator Interview With Elizabeth Klett
How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
I started narrating as a volunteer for LibriVox.org, a site that provides free recordings of public domain works. I worked for them from 2007-2015, and served on their administrative team for part of that time as well. I think it’s a wonderful project, and it provided me with great experience to take into professional audiobook work. I recorded about 60 solo projects for LibriVox of my favorite classic authors, like Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Edith Wharton, and contributed to hundreds more projects as part of a group, especially dramatic works. I trained as an actor in college and shifted to audiobook narration once I finished graduate school, when I started working and didn’t have the time to try and do stage work anymore. Right now professional audiobook narration is my secondary career, alongside my “day job” as a literature professor, and it serves as a continual source of inspiration!
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
Absolutely, yes! I love audiobooks and listen to them all the time. I actually think there’s something primal and comforting about the listening experience; perhaps it reminds us of what it was like to be read to as a child. I think it’s a different way of experiencing stories, and one that also hearkens back to the origins of literature, which were oral, not written. People have been telling stories out loud far longer than they have been reading them.
What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
I think I’m particularly good at doing character voices and accent work. I love coming up with how a character should sound, and how their voice communciates their personality. This is connected, for me, to why audiobooks are compelling – because they make us experience story and character through sound. Also, I think I’ve become skilled at doing a certain range of accents, particularly British and Irish accents, even though I was born in New Jersey. Narrating an entire book in a British accent has come to feel second nature to me at this point.
Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for?
I haven’t narrated many non-fiction titles, not because I don’t think I’m suited to them necessarily, but because I think my strengths lie in fiction. I do enjoy certain kinds of non-fiction, however, and wouldn’t mind doing more of them. For example, recently I co-narrated a collection of academic essays about Star Trek, which was great fun!
What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
Wonder Tales is an unusual project because I didn’t audition; I came up with the project myself from start to finish. I teach a class on fairy tales and have been interested in them for years now, and I wanted to put together my own fairy tale collection. I decided to arrange it thematically, and came up with five sections for the book, and arranged the tales themselves within those sections. This reflects how I like to teach the class: by “tale type,” putting related stories next to each other, so that we can see how they are similar and different. How is it different, for example, when the story’s hero is a girl, rather than a boy? Hopefully listeners will enjoy hearing some tales that they know well, and others that they may not be as familiar with.
How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
I really enjoy working with authors, especially those with whom I have long-term relationships that go back for years. Returning to their books feels so comfortable, like coming home. For example, I just finished narrating the latest book by Abigail Reynolds, who writes the “Pemberley Variations” series of Pride and Prejudice-inspired novels, which are always wonderful to work on.
How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
There are so many great characters in fairy tales, so it was a lot of fun to record this project! Many of the stories involve animals, like the croaking frog in “The Frog Prince” or the wolf in “The Three Little Pigs,” so I tried to make them sound as animalistic as I could. But I also got to voice a lot of evil witches (like Mother Gothel in “Rapunzel” or the sea witch in “The Little Mermaid”), imperious stepmothers, and handsome princes, so I tried to make those as vivid for the listener as possible, but without making them sound like cartoons.
Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?
One of my favorite living authors is Margaret Atwood, so getting to record something she’s written would be an absolute dream. I love her intelligence and sense of humor, as well as the ways in which she revises and retells sources like fairy tales and classic authors such as Shakespeare.
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
As a literature professor, I’m a big fan of the written word and of actual physical books, so I would never recommend that anyone stop reading them. However, I also believe that listening to audiobooks is not “cheating,” nor does it mean that you “haven’t read” a book if you listen rather than read words on a page. I think both are forms of reading, and both are enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. Listening can give you a way of experiencing a book that reading can’t; right now, for example, I’m listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates read his book Between the World and Me, and it’s a very powerful experience, since he is speaking about his own life.
What’s next for you?
I am about to start narrating The Whispering House by Elizabeth Brooks for Tantor Audio, and I’m excited because it’s exactly the kind of book I love to narrate: a haunting story set in rural England. It’s so enjoyable to create the mystery, suspense, and sense of place for the listener.