Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Going Public: Interview and Story by Tish Hicks; all part of the JIAM Blog Hop.

June is Audiobook month (JIAM 2013). The audiobook community is giving back by teaming with the Going Public Project by offering a serialized audio story collection. All proceeds will go to Reach Out and Read literacy advocacy organization. Throughout June, 1-2 stories will be released each day on the Going Public blog and on author/book blogs. The story will be free (online only-no downloads) for one week. In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, all the stories will be available for download via Downpour. The full compilation will be ready June 30th.
The full schedule of the story release dates and narrators are at Going Public.  Engineering and Mastering are provided by Jeffrey Kafer and SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design and published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production by the fabulous Xe Sands

Today it is my pleasure to have Tish Hicks as my guest voice artist. I thought it would be nice to find out more about her. She is extremely gracious and a joy to speak to and I know you’ll find her the same way. 

 Tell us a bit about yourself — where did you grow up? Were you always drawn to performing?
Tish Hicks
 I grew up on the Northside of Chicago... total city kid but with a horse loving heart. My dad is an architect so I was always making up quite serious plans for having a horse in our yard...converting the garage of our apartments into stalls and getting zoning codes changed. I went to an amazing alternative school called the Parents School that was founded in the basement of The Second City, so in some sense I suppose I was brought up in the ethic of performing, but I think more importantly that was a place that provided a very experientially based approach to learning and exploring how the world works, how people work, the true nature of things.... always figuring out what the story is, how to be a part of it, and how to share it. That is what performing and acting has always been about for me. Ah, my daughter had similar plans for our back yard. The school you mentioned sounded fascinating.

How did you get into audio?
Segueing from question 1 to question 2...
I moved to tract home suburbia in Colorado when I was about 12, closer to the horses, but quite shockingly away from the city and the way of life and the type of people I had grown up with. Pretty early on I found my place in the theatre dept... I clearly remember an 8th grade assignment to read Jabberwocky aloud in front of the class and feeling that click of a calling snap into place. Bringing the words to life, focusing the energy of all of the people in the room together...continued with interpreting literature on the forensics team and performing in plays throughout high school. I went back to Chicago to go to Northwestern University and study theatre...it is a program that is steeped in the tradition of interpreting literature for performance... when I came round to audiobooks, it was kind of like realizing, "Oh! This is what we had for dinner every night at Northwestern!"... what I was brought up on.
Ah! I see how it called and was in your life from the beginning, very cool.

After NU I worked in Chicago and regional theatre doing Shakespeare and other classical work (including getting to play my dream role of Elizabeth Bennet in a world premiere adaptation of Pride and Prejudice at the Lifeline Theatre), continued to study opera and got my first breaks in voiceover work...which is what I actively pursued when I arrived in LA. I came to audiobooks via my mentor, Pat Fraley who helped connect all of the dots of everything that I have done with my voice and my acting work.
First Audio Project
AH! Elizabeth Bennet, I am having a fan-girl moment, I love Pride and Prejudice. The opera intrigues me (you mention it more below), I didn’t realize you studied that. It is amazing how everything fell into place-serendipity.  

What was your first audio project?
My first audiobook project was a thriller called "Crush" by Alan Jacobsen for Phoenix Books... sort of Sideways meets 24 with a kick ass female protagonist, Karen Vail.
This is a fabulous description. I admit I found audio books only in the last two year and I regret all the time lost. 

What other things besides audio do you like to do? 
Where to begin? I do and teach voiceover. About the voiceover—in your bio you are hailed as the voice of Citibank, I went and found a commercial. I will always smile when I hear these commercials from now on
I am a kickboxer, never pro, but have trained with legendary world champion, Benny 'the Jet' Urquidez for many years. I’m totally in awe you trained with Benny ‘The Jet’.—kickboxing is a tough sport which calls for great endurance.
 I sing opera. I think it is cool you sing opera and know it takes years of training, it is the one thing I’ve grown to enjoy listening to.
 I am an apprentice to Apache medicine woman and urban shaman, Sarah Eaglewoman.  You are person of many fascinating levels.
I play baseball with my two boys, scrabble with my husband, (scrabble and baseball, fun!) and do dressage with my horse, Crystal Star. Who lives at a barn about 15 minutes away from my house, not in the garage :).  I confess I cheered when I saw you did get a horse! Awesome!  

I know you have a family - how do you balance it all with both of you working?
I will quote Geoffrey Rush in Shakespeare in Love..."I don't know.... it's a mystery... but somehow it all works out in the end." Actually I do know. I have an incredibly supportive husband who goes above and beyond and very understanding children... last year I did four books between Thanksgiving and New Years (not something you will find under the heading of 'How to make for a relaxing holiday season') and the family went into exile at my mom's house over the breaks so I could finish all of them up! Wow! I believe if you work in the entertainment industry (Acting, Voice, Writing, Artist, etc.) I think it is imperative everyone works together  (my family is, thank goodness). It is a gift you have a wonderful family (and four books in the time frame is amazing).

Tell us about your project for the Going Public Project. Why did you choose "The Story of an Hour"? Well firstly, I must say what a complete honor it is to be included amongst the extraordinary narrators that have contributed to this project. And how appreciative I am of Xe Sands for her fantastic efforts to bring us all together and bring this project to life. (I agree, Xe is truly wonderful)
When she put out the word about the project, "The Story of an Hour" was really the first story I thought of... it has resonated with me since I was first introduced to it by my extraordinary high school English teacher, Mr. Russell Manning. Sophmore year, he had us do a Symposium on love... in all of its aspects..."The Story of an Hour" was amongst one of the assigned readings we were to reflect on... so foundational to ask a 15 year old to explore and have to define what love is right at the time when she is becoming herself.  Now this strikes a chord, that you had this story which stayed with you and I am excited to listen to it. 

The passage from the story that has always stuck with me throughout my love blender years and through my now 20+ year relationship with said extraordinary husband...

"There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature. A kind intention or a cruel intention made the act seem no less a crime as she looked upon it in that brief moment of illumination."

Having grown up in a house hold where, shall we say, wills were imposed on each other fairly regularly, this story brought fully how important it is always know that is all you, baby.  You have to honor and fiercely uphold that in yourself and honor and fiercely uphold that for those that you are in relationship. So how do you stay always in your awareness of not imposing your will...and making sure that yours is not being imposed upon becomes the crucial question. And understanding that does not mean staying separate, only not imposing wills.
Very intriguing—and great depth, I think that fact it touched you so deeply brings something to this sample. Speaking of see below:

This is the link to Tish’s post over at Going Public:
What is the most challenging project you have done?
Ironically, given the answer to the last question, the most challenging project I have ever done was a cult classic called "Slave Girl of Gor" (I know, I know). It was dreadfully written and pretty much only about imposing wills and was really super long.  I was so excited to be working with the producer that I said yes before really looking at the material (although I suppose the title might have been a giveaway), which was a blessing because when I did, it meant that I had to accept the challenge and figure out what was good about it and how to bring that to life. At first I thought, "Geesh, this must be written in the 50's like some pulp fiction sort of thing, but I realized it was written in the late seventies... which was a big aha! moment... of course at the height of shifts in society when women's lib was happening left and right it would make sense that a book that fantasized a world where the natural order was men above women would make sense. In addition, to figuring out a great new drinking game where you drink every time someone says, "Yes, Master!", also realized the issues that were being explored in this were exactly the same as those in "The Story of an Hour" when you get down to it. How do we impose private wills upon each other as men and women? Or as human beings for that matter. Needless to say, it was the only one of the series that I did:)
I think this is fantastic, there has been a resurgence of the old fantasy books and I’ve heard about this one. (I haven’t read it) What I respect is how you strove to find out what you could bring to life—a true professional and artist!

What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on a project for a dear old family friend who wrote a gorgeously written and illustrated book called "A Rare Born Mystic" about the life of his spiritual guru, Alfred Julius Emmanuel Sorensen aka Sunyata. It means a lot to me as our dear old friend has been diagnosed with an illness that may mean the end of his time here soon. To be able to help him bring this to life will allow both his guru and him to be living on with us that much more fully.
This is a true gift. 

Also in talks with genius writer friend, Alisa Tangredi to read her second thriller, "Under the Looking Glass." Check out her first, "The Puppet Maker's Bones" as well! I will have to!

What would you tell anyone in the narration/writing business?
Anyone in it already, or anyone wanting to get into it?  I suppose either way, I would say it is not for the faint of heart..(I smiled, this is what I tell writers). it requires of you on many many levels...I tell my students that it is like a marathon of zen buddhist sitting while conducting an orchestra where you are playing all of the instruments. That being said, it is utterly delicious and satisfying to be able to do all of that at once. Plus, I think that audiobooks are how a good portion of people are receiving their literature nowadays. (I know I am listening to them more—it works for me and brings to life stories I read.) That is an enormous and powerful responsibility to both author and listener. But there is something really amazing about thinking that the work you are doing today has the potential to move and affect someone years and years down the line. That is having a legacy. We are the storytellers and what is there if no one is telling the story? Yes, Yes! I agree with you totally!

What is your drink of choice?
I love Blossoming Tea Green Tea  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJWXOOUvsds
I have recently been introduced to these teas, I adore them!
Thank you so much for allowing me to interview you, Tish, and participating in the JIAM blog hop. See below to the links for two other Voice Artists, one posted on June 17th, the other will post on June 19th

Bio: Tish Hicks:
Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin
Tish Hicks is a classically trained actor, singer, voice over artist and teacher, and audiobook
narrator. She has been the voice of Citibank and many other commercials, video games, animated series and audiobooks from Thrillers and Sci Fi to YA and Non-fiction, and performs regularly on TV, film and stage. She is a graduate of Northwestern University where she was steeped in a rich tradition of literary interpretation and lives in Los Angeles with her writer husband and two fabulous red headed sons.

The Audio post prior to this one, posted on June 17th, 2013 is narrated by Adam Verner, and hosted by the blog Anita Loves Books

Bio: Adam Verner:
Brown Wolf, by Jack London
Adam is a full time narrator and voice talent with over 100 titles recorded for companies such as
Blackstone, Brilliance, AudioGO, Tantor, Oasis, Audible, HighBridge, eChristian, Dreamscape,
McGraw Hill, and Zondervan. He is the recipient of AudioFile Earphones awards for Pavilion of
Women, by Pearl S. Buck, and The Big It, by A.B. Guthrie, Jr. He holds his MFA in Acting from
the Chicago College of the Fine Arts at Roosevelt University

The Audio post after this one, to post on June 19th, 2013 is narrated by Arielle DeLisle and hosted by Bookfan:

Bio: Arielle DeLisle:
A Pair of Silk Stockings, by Kate Chopin
Arielle DeLisle is a Phoenix-based voice actor who works in all areas of voiceover. Her work
includes numerous TV and radio commercials, projects for large corporations and over 40
consumer audiobooks. Current projects include The Black Stiletto series about a female vigilante
crime-fighter, and several young adult and romance titles.

And Also on the same day--we have an Audio post by Rachel Fulginiti and hosted by The Voice Over Blog


Rachel Fulginiti
Death and the Woman, by Gertrude Atherton
Rachel Fulginiti is a narrator and voice actor in Los Angeles. With an extensive background in
acting, Rachel brings a connected, grounded sensibility to her roles and has a unique range that
works well voicing both edgy suspenseful drama and wry/dry comedic roles. She can be heard
narrating mostly in the mystery/suspense genre for audiobooks, as well as voicing commercially
for countless household name brands such as Chrysler, Target, CVS and many more.

This has been fun and my sincerest apologies for any glitches! 


M.V.Freeman said...

Story of an Hour, was beautiful! I loved it, an eloquent story.

Thank you so much for coming on this blog, it was and is a pleasure to have you.


tish@theVOdojo.com said...

Thank you, M.V.! It is always nice to be able to slow down and articulate what you are doing and why... sometimes that becomes a blur as you are in it and being propelled forward by it!

Chris Bailey said...

I love audio books! I would never be able to read as much as I do without my portable CD player. Thanks for showcasing this work, Mary!