Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Voice of Gin Blanco, Lauren Fortgang Stops By

Help me welcome one of my favorite narrators, Lauren Fortgang to The Book Nympho today. For those that might not be familiar with the name, she narrates one of the best Urban Fantasy series out there, the Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep.

Thanks so much! Happy to shed some light on the narration process and elaborate on this exciting, fan favorite series!

To me a key to a great narrator is one that can pull of the opposite sex when narrating. And you do a great job at doing the male voices. I especially like Finn’s voice. Did you get any direction from Jennifer Estep on how he should sound or did you get him suck in your head when you read the books? Because he has the most southern drawl out of all the other characters and you make him sound like sex on a stick when he is flirting with the ladies. 

Jennifer and I have emailed many times over the course of this series. She has provided a wealth of information both in the books and through our chats (which is incredibly useful when trying to present the truest representation of a story). I don't usually get specific vocal notes on a character, other than technical considerations (do they have an accent, are they smooth, nervous, authoritative, etc.), but these books, in particular, were chocked full of helpful information already present in the text itself. And yes, Finn, just seemed so suave when I first met him, he sort of earned that voice for himself!

Jennifer Estep does an amazing job as describing the food that Gin cooks. I find myself drooling and wishing I had a Pork Pit in my backyard. Do you ever get food cravings while reading the books? 

Definitely! I love how she'll just start pulling out ingredients and the next thing you know she's got a feast prepared for the whole gang. The funniest thing about this is I was actually working at a BBQ joint when I got cast to do the series! I suppose it was fate!

The Elemental Assassin audiobooks are between 10-12 hours listening time; how long does it take you to complete a narration job on a book around that length? 

We generally narrate for 5-7 hours per session which results in 2.5 hours of recorded audio. The Elemental Assassin books have me in the studio for 5-6 sessions to complete each title. Of course, each book also needs to be read and prepped before hand, so it's an intense commitment to narrate an audiobook.

You also narrate romance books; do you find it embarrassing or harder to read the sexy time scenes? Especially with another person in the studio with you. 

Ha! This is a popular question! Yes, initially, there's a bit of a blush when narrating romance titles. But I've done so many, it becomes less, er, clumsy, over time. I work with great engineers, who've also waded through many a steamy tome. Everyone's good natured and, by now, it's pretty routine, so it's no sweat. Plus, at the end of the day, the objective of a professional narrator is to tell the story as best she/he can. Good, solid storytelling is the most important element, so one gets over any modesty hiccoughs fairly quickly.

I find myself enjoying audiobooks with dual narrators, have you ever worked with another narrator on a project? If so do you work together or do you record you parts separately? 

I love dual- or multi-casts. I think it starts to broaden the story's ability to shine and adds dimension. The majority of multi-casts I've done have been non-fiction (books of essays for example), but I have worked on a few fiction titles in this manner. Our job can feel very solitary, so it's really fun to have a partner on a project. Usually, we're recorded separately, which lends itself to comparing notes and making sure you're on the same page, but occasionally I've done a dual-mic set up in the studio with another narrator. Extremely fun to do it this way!

Quickie Questions:

What was your first audiobook jig?

Ah! It was a vampire Harlequin called Blood Ties Book Three: Ashes to Ashes. I had to play an ancient Scottish vampire as the male lead! I was extremely nervous, but got through it successfully with a great producer at the helm.

Favorite genre to read (personal reading)?

Modern fiction, particularly with curious, questioning children or young adults as central characters. They offer such wonderful perspective. Always processing the info we take for granted as we move into adulthood. To Kill a Mockingbird, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, The God of Small Things, Room, The Kite Runner, etc. I loved to read growing up, so I think it feels a familiar place to explore.

I recently narrated Ruta Sepetys's new YA title, Out of the Easy. It was a phenomenal story, and a joy to perform.

Oh, out of genre, but Tina Fey's Bossypants is a new favorite!

It's sort of a bummer, but I don't always get to luxuriate in pleasure reading like I used to, and even if I really like the book I'm narrating, it's hard to soak it in, as when reading solely for pleasure. Mostly I'm reading from a technical standpoint, looking for character clues, pronunciations, etc.

What narration job are you currently working on?

I'm busy! It's a really expansive time for the audiobook industry, so there are lots of stories waiting to be told, and I'm happily dancing around in a variety of genres. I just finished a YA romance called The Edge of Never, and am now recording Jill McCorkle's Tending to Virginia, a beautiful, sometimes solemn, sometimes comedic, stream of consciousness title about three generations of women. Recent releases include a cool, creepy dystopian epic called Blood Zero Sky, and Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit and The Collaborative Habit. Oh, and a piercing Joan Didion title, Play It as It Lays. On the horizon: Judy Blume!

Thank you so much for stopping by to answer a few questions and keep up the AWESOME narration job!

Thank you! I'm so happy to be part of the conversation and love the fan base for the Elemental Assassin books. What a fun ride it's been! I hope Jennifer keeps 'em coming!

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Lauren Fortgang currently works as an actor and voice over artist. She had early training at A.C.T.’s Young Conservatory and is a graduate of Fordham University's Theater Program. She has since pursued diverse avenues of the field, taking on roles as actress, spokesperson, narrator, and costume designer and works in theater, television, independent film, and audiobooks.

Credits inclue Law & Order(s) (NBC), Important Things With Dimitri Martin (Comedy Central), Susan Mosakowski's Escape (Creation Production Company, La Mama E.T.C.- 50th Anniversary Season), Laughing Pictures (Creation Production Company, The Flea) and the independent films Astoria, Queens and The Sunnyside Murders, both featured at a variety of festivals, including Queens World Film Festival, NYTVF, Brekenridge Festival of Film and NewFest

Commercially, she's done national on-camera and voiceover spots for the likes of Walmart, TJ Maxx, Applebee's and Woolite. She's given voice to material spanning from video games to educational textbooks and works professionally as an audiobook narrator, having recorded roughly 100 unabridged titles and some 200 segments for monthly programming, including works by Joan Didion, Twyla Tharp, Bret Easton Ellis, and Judy Blume.

She’s participated in a variety of endeavors with a delightful smattering of companies headed by Fordham alumni and professors, and hopes to continue to support the work of this network of artists and friends.

Check out Lauren's list of available audios at


  1. I've read this series, but haven't done audio yet. It is on my to listen to list. I already have Spider's Bite on my iPod. I will start it after I finish current. Book.

  2. It is one of my favorite UF series and it's even better on audio. Fortgang does and excellent job with the narration.

  3. Very cool! A great interview with Lauren. I've gotten so many nice comments about her narration of the Elemental Assassin series. Listeners are lucky to hear her.

  4. Thanks!

    Yes with your excellent writing and characters with Fortgang's narration it's a win/win. You ladies keep up the great work!

  5. I love Lauren! I agree she is one of my very favorites and she does nail Finn (though that sounds a bit naughty when I say it that way LOL)

  6. I LOVE Fortgang's narration of the Elemental Assassin books! This interview reminded me that I have yet to listen to an audiobook with more than one narrator. I think I'm going to look into some possibilities!

  7. Fascinating look at the audio book narration process. I want to hear how she does Finn's voice now! LOL

  8. Yes! Another of my favorite narrators. I love all of her work, but my favorite performances come from her contemporary novels, like The Edge of Never and Naked. I absolutely loved those two performances.


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