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Find more The Booklist Interview
Katherine Kellgren is one of the freshest voices in audiobooks. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy, by L. A. Meyer, was recognized as a 2008 Odyssey Honor title, and the sequel, Curse of the Blue Tattoo, also read by Kellgren, is a 2009 Odyssey Honor title. Kellgren has not rested on Jacky’s berth, although her success with the series has kept the popular reader busier than ever. Booklist contributor Ellen Myrick recently interviewed Kellgren at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville.
KELLGREN: I mark my script with different colored highlighter pens and pencils. I had to buy marker pens for children because I needed so many colors for all the characters. Also, I did a lot of regional dialect work when I trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). That training helped me tremendously to do so many different accents.
BKL: Tell us a bit about your background and your accent.
KELLGREN: I am a New Yorker, but I spent 12 years in London. I had traces of my American accent from my childhood when I enrolled at LAMDA, and that was beaten out of me to the point that when I returned to the States, I had to go to a dialect coach to get back my American accent. I feel more comfortable doing multiple regional British dialects than American ones. I spend lots of time with dialect tapes. Barbara Rosenblat told me about a wonderful international dialect Web site that I find incredibly helpful.
KELLGREN: When I was a teenager, I was very obsessed with spoken-word recordings. I listened to plays, and I was a huge John Gielgud groupie—I was an odd child—I had a cassette set of Shakespeare speeches. I listened to Dame Edith Evans doing The Importance of Being Earnest. I find that voices from those recordings—which I still listen to obsessively—creep into audios I am doing. When my father became very ill, I spent a great deal of time reading to him. My goal was to get him to feel so comfortable that he could fall asleep. One time I noticed that both he and his home health care aide were sleeping. I thought it was time to take this public. When I moved back to New York, I started inquiring about audio work. The first book I recorded came about because they needed a last-minute replacement. They asked me to audition over the phone. I read from Out of Africa and got the job.
BKL: Do you consider yourself first and foremost an audiobook narrator?
KELLGREN: I’m mad about Jim Dale, Alfred Molina, Davina Porter—there are too many to name. I’m lucky enough to sometimes see them around when I’m recording, and it’s an education to listen to them. I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, and audio samples because it teaches me to be better at what I do.
BKL: What have you done recently that you’re looking forward to?
KELLGREN: P. J. Bracegirdle’s The Joy of Spooking: Book One, Fiendish Deeds is the first of in an imaginatively written trilogy for children. At the moment, I’m recording a series about Enola Holmes, Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister. I get very obsessed with Angie Sage’s Araminta Spookie series and can’t wait for the next book to come out!
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