I have had the pleasure of getting to know Stevie Zimmerman through the production of the audiobook, The Future Mrs. Darcy, which is now available of Audible and Amazon. Join me in getting to know her a little better this morning.
When did you first start doing vocal performance? What were your earliest projects?
I took an evening class about 10 years ago about using your voice as a career but it turned out to be a sales ploy for a particular studio. However, during the class I found that I enjoyed doing the voices and I arranged to make a demo with another studio locally – in Connecticut. That led to a series of very short radio commercials advertising Hartford’s many glorious attractions. I guess my English accent helped the very short spots get attention quickly and inexpensively, amongst the noise of commercial radio. I got a lot of work narrating online learning courses and documentaries – one was for the Rainforest Alliance Gala where I got to announce all sorts of superstars without actually being there! I didn’t start doing audiobooks until last year when I came across the ACX website and could audition directly for authors instead of going through publishing companies.
• What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Did you still have them?
Everything I’ve voiced has been published on Audible so far. Sometimes I think it would have been better to have more chances to fail and learn from that but the books are selling well so I guess I didn’t goof too badly.
• If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your performance career, what would be the most important scenes?
I hesitate to call mine a performance career. I started acting in elementary school, and always thought that was what I would do but after a spell in Shakespeare productions at the Old Vic in London I realised I didn’t have “it”. I was lucky enough to stumble into theatre directing while at college and that was my true love until real life intervened. I earnt a living in advertising for several years and then moved to the US as a young mum. Suddenly my accent was of interest and doing voiceovers was an interesting mix of the theatre and commercial experiences I had had. Audiobooks is a further development into the more dramatic side of my life.
• Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
My major sidekick is my husband. He would be “SuperMaestro” – he is a conductor and music director. He’s really excited by this new development in my career and, although he does NOT listen to regency romances, he is my biggest fan in general!
• Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?
Hmmm. Not sure I’m ready to reveal that. My husband’s other superpower is tidiness, but I don’t share it!
• What kinds of vocal performance do you like best? What makes them your favorites.
Right now I am listening to Fall of Giants which is voiced by Dan Stephens – the recently deceased hero on Downton Abbey – and I really love his narration. He has a huge variety of genuine sounding accents and manages to be believable as both male and female characters. His narration voice is distinctive but not intrusive. I also enjoy listening to books with multiple actors in the roles – His Dark Materials was one that was completely engrossing. Otherwise, Kate Bush, Billie Holiday……
• What do you enjoy most in the process? What parts of it do you really dislike?
I really love creating different characters with my voice, and using accents when it is appropriate and possible. The worst part is if you disappoint an author in any way.
• How did you get started doing audio books?
ACX! The exchange is a great idea. What a wonderful way for authors and narrators to meet – we get to talk to each other and work towards audio versions of these wonderful books without the complications of audiobook publishers, and get them direct to listeners a fast as they demand them.
• What do you do to bring the characters to life?
That’s the greatest challenge. Not being an author I don’t know for sure, but I imagine writers have a very clear sense of how their characters sound, as well as look and behave and feel. I try to both try for what I think that might be, and what will paint them to the listener. Some of that is tone, some is pitch, some is accent, but most of it is just trying to sit in their shoes, however outlandish. It’s rare that a baddie is only bad, or vice versa.
• What’s up next for you?
I’m voicing the fourth in the Scandalous series by Ava Stone “A Scandalous Pursuit” having done the first three already, and a new Rose Gordon book, “Her Reluctant Groom”. I seem to be in Regency land most of the time and love it. But I hope to do some contemporary work too!
You can find Stevie on line at: https://www.acx.com/narrator?p=A28436FY1EBCUL
Other audiobooks you might enjoy: