Thursday, September 12, 2013

Southern Magic Reader's Luncheon: Meet Tavia Gilbert, Voice Artist.

Tavia Gilbert, Voice Artist

In a few short weeks will be our Readers Luncheon with Jeaniene Frost as our fabulous key-note speaker. But we’re also bringing in Tavia Gilbert, her narrator for all of her Cat and Bone books (as well as the spin-offs). She’s charming, talented and oh so much fun. I am looking forward to meeting her and wanted to introduce everyone to her.

Thank you for stopping buy and letting me pester you with questions…so let’s jump right in:

I find voice-artists fascinating. How did you get into this?
I studied voice for four years in my theater conservatory in college, and I was really passionate about the craft of voice acting, and the way actors used their voices to inhabit character in stage. I've sung my whole life, so perhaps that was what the initial attraction came from. I moved from Seattle to Maine after college to study documentary radio, and thought further about how powerful voice is in story-telling — it's not just the words, but the pacing, inflection, tone, every single aspect of the voice performance that serves to bring a story to life, to tell the truth about it. When I decided to stay indefinitely in Maine, it quickly became clear that there was not enough on camera or stage work to sustain me as a working artist, so I pursued audiobooks and voice acting so that I could be a full-time actor. 
This fascinates me—and I find I wish I had the ability of voice to inhabit a character. I find some of my favorite authors and writing friends have a background in theatre. So I admire this path you are walking.

 What was your first project?
I first narrated Jenny McCarthy's memoir about her son Evan's autism, Louder Than Words. It was a good project to begin with, because I admit to having totally judged and disparaged Jenny in the past. I thought she was just a dumb, airhead Playboy bunny, and it was humbling from the very first moment to read of her enormous courage, her dedication to her child, her rigorous exploration of his illness, and her focus in sharing her story with others. I have been humbled constantly by this career. It demands so much of me physically, emotionally, and intellectually, but it also asks that I set aside my ego and my preconceived ideas, and that's a great exercise for any human being.
This makes me aware of how in this field of creating, either by writing, acting, painting (and all the different ways we can) how it does grow us. I find this exceptionally touching—and I now I want to read this book!
First Book in the Cat & Bones series.
You narrate all of Jeaniene Frost’s books—do you have a particular favorite book and characters of her hers?
No one favorite book — how could any of us choose? But I do love Bones. I think he's a riot, and a survivor, devoted, self-assured, unapologetic, a great combination of hard-edged and soft-hearted, and he's not afraid of commitment. What's not to love!?
I agree, he has totally grown on me! And it was unfair to ask which ones you love the most. I admit though, I think you’ve done all of the other books: Spade, Menchares, and of course Vlad—exceptionally well. They all have their own way of speaking—I admit I no longer hear your “voice” when I listen to those audio books.

 How long does it take you to narrate her books? How much preparation time? i.e. do you read the book—and figure out accents? Do you have a voice coach?
It generally takes me two hours to record one finished hour, so if the listener hears ten hours, it's taken me about twenty hours to record. I read like the wind, so these books don't take too, too long to prep. I read and note the script as I go, and the books are so readable and fun that I'm really tearing through them, as I think every reader of Jeaniene's work tends to do. (oh yes I do!) I do figure out accents, and occasionally I work with a vocal coach. Not often enough, probably. The audiobook world moves fast, so there's not a lot of time to do prep. You always have to be efficient and often just down and dirty with the preparation. 
I think you are very successful at making those accents work. I love Bone’s voice---and yes, I am going to bring up Vlad again (I have a thing for Slavic accents) which I thought you did brilliantly with. 

How many books a year do you narrate?
A lot. I don't know. Maybe about 35?  
Wow! I admit that is a lot! Amazing to me.

  How many different genres do you narrate in? Which is easier? Which is harder?
I have been really lucky to be offered work in almost every genre. My website lists 22 different genres, including mystery/suspense, biography/memoir, sci-fi/fantasy (my favorite), and sociology/history, religion/spirituality, and health/science. I don't think that any genre is easy, but a book with 20 accents, 100 characters, set in a foreign country would definitely make me work very hard. I love narrating memoir and personal essay, because that's the genre I write, and it feels most at home. I also adore smart young adult titles, and great thrillers, and philosophy and theology. 
I didn’t know you wrote—but I have read some of your blog posts and I love your style of writing. I admire personal essays and memoir. This is a really neat glimpse into what you do and I appreciate it. (Next time I am asking you more about your writing!)

  I have to ask—do you record your bloopers?
You mean do I keep them? No. I don't. That feels really self-referential and self-conscious to me. I don't know. I'm just trying to keep the work itself as heartfelt and entertaining and moving as I can, and my many, many flubs are just a distraction.
Well rats—yes, I was going to ask for a sample. BUT at the same time, I understand this. I would totally erase mine.

Where do you narrate? At home? Or in a studio?
Some of both. I love working from home, being able to take a lunch break with my kitties or take a phone call from my mom in the middle of the day. But it's lovely and luxurious to work in a studio with great people. 
Ah, I like that you enjoy working with others and to do your own thing—shows me you are flexible. I like that you call it “luxurious” that is wonderful word. Now, I didn’t know you had kitties (another thing I am going to ask you about next time!)

Are you going to narrate Jeaniene’s last book?
As far as I know! I'm sad that the series is ending, but perhaps I'll have an opportunity to work with Jeaniene further on the Night Huntress World and Night Prince series. My fingers are crossed.  I hope so! I am looking forward so much to the last book in the series AND the Night Prince….I will write letters of support, email… you name it. (See how much I am hoping!)

As a narrator can you request an author? 
Occasionally, yes. And authors can request me. If I love an author's work I will go above and beyond to earn the privilege of working with their language. 
This is good to know—and I like you are requested or you can ask for an author. Because if you find a good fit I think this benefits both parties.
You are coming to the Southern Magic Reader’s luncheon where you will narrate a scene—which we will choose via a Twitter Contest (#MagicLunchAudio) the first two weeks in October. (October 1 to 15th) Which scene do *you* like? (I’m useless here, I love them all….)
I really do love the scene when Cat and Bones meet. That's just a classic!!
You are totally right!

Thank you for being here today Tavia, I look forward to meeting you at the Southern Magic Readers Lunch November 2, 2013, and listening to a scene or two.

BIO:  Tavia Gilbert (SAG-AFTRA) is an award-winning narrator with more than 150 audiobooks under her belt. Contemporary and literary fiction, biography and memoir, fantasy, romance, children’s literature, science, religion…Tavia’s range of genres is a direct result of her intuitive interpretation, clever diction and pacing, and sensitivity to each author’s or publisher’s needs..

Classically trained in voice and theater, Tavia attended the University of Washington and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Original Works in Acting from Cornish College of the Arts. She has been singing in choirs since she was 12 years old and has been working full time as a voice actor since 2006.

Tavia is also a producer with nine years experience. After moving to Portland, Maine in 2001, she studied audio documentary production at the Salt Institute. With 11 years of paralegal experience, Tavia has a clear understanding and appreciation for the business side of her world, including contractual language and legal strategy. Her creative eye, vivid personality, and experience and contacts help her cast the highest caliber of artists, including actors, musicians, videographers, and other talent. Her clients hire her again and again, recognizing her exceptional work and the advantage they have in someone with both a creative and business mind.

You can find out more about Tavia and listen to samples at her website click: HERE

 To celebrate having Tavia here and the Luncheon so very close; I am giving away one $20 Amazon card to one lucky commentator (who can receive it). *Please* put your email in the comments like this:  jane at yahoo dot com (this makes it easier to contact you). I will announce the winner in the comment section of this post tomorrow. (September 13th)

PLUS (and it gets better doesn’t it?) One commentator will WIN a Kindle HD Fire –to be announced September 30th. So please keep checking!  (the more you comment the more chances to win)

Now—if you want to meet Jeaniene Frost and Tavia Gilbert (like I do), here is the information to attend:
Location: The Harbert Center, 2019 4th Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203
Doors open at 11 AM. Handicap accessible and Parking is Free (across from the center)
TICKETS:  $31.50 for non-members, $25.50 for members of Southern Magic. Please fill out the form and pay via PAYPAL (click on the link here to find all of these:  Southern Magic Readers Luncheon) and remember to direct it to
Hope to see you there!


Allena Harrington said... I can't wait!!!!!!

M.V.Freeman said...

Isn't this awesome! I can't either!

Pyxi Rose said...

I just love Tavia! She was one of the first narrators that I just fell in love with and she will always be Bones to me. :)


Kellie Kamryn said...

Tavia - so nice to hear from another voice actor. As a narrator myself and a person getting more into the industry as I take classes and meet other actors, it's a pleasure to hear about someone else's experiences.
I have to agree - it's a privilege to have author's ask you to narrate their work. I wish you all the best with your acting and writing career!

Katherine Bone said...

Great interview, M.V.!

bn100 said...

Sounds like a fun job

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

M.V.Freeman said...

I'm with you!, Bones will forever stay in my head because of Tavia.

I will miss Bones--I know that Jeaniene's last book is coming up next year... *sadness*

M.V.Freeman said...

I thought you like to read this--she is fabulous.

I know you'll go far! I am excited for you--and I think this is an awesome step.

M.V.Freeman said...

Thank you Kathy,
I appreciate it--Tavia is wonderful to talk to.

M.V.Freeman said...


Glad you stopped by!

M.V.Freeman said...

After putting the names in a cup (I did this literally)

Mixed them up--and came up with:

KELLIE you won! :D Congrats

Shadow said...

Great interview! I love these! Thanks for sharing!