Many people are curious about becoming a voice actor, but it’s a skill. It’s acting and producing, recording, and editing. So, you can’t just be a pretty voice. You have to be an actor and a sound engineer too. This is why it was a challenge to find just the right voice actress to produce the audiobook for Hidden in Paris, someone who could juggle all these things and be able to pronounce French words correctly. In the end, I’m thrilled with my collaboration with Phe Caplan. She was so easy to work with and she did a terrific job.
I thought I would ask her about the process of voice acting and audiobook recording. Here is what she had to say:
Corine: How has your background as an actress helped you with voice acting? How is that different from regular acting and how is it similar? Is voice acting more liberating or more restrictive?
Phe: What I love about acting is being able to feel something that I may not get to actually experience in my real life. That can be exhilarating or painful, but I love the emotion of it all. Everyday life is satisfying in its own way, but the drama and intensity of fiction is heightened. That’s why it’s written. It’s a story that needs to be told. And as an actress, I get to live that. Voice acting strips everything down to the bare bones of it all. The emotion, the desires and the way the character views the world. There are no costumes, no makeup, no sets. Just me, the words, and the story behind the words. In some ways, it’s not as much fun, and sometimes I have to work harder to give it breath, but it is liberating that I don’t have to be concerned with how it looks. I don’t have to break up a scene into minute details in order to get the right shot. I just have to relax, feel the moment, and let it go.
Corine: You live parts of the year in Germany and you recorded on two continents while raising two young children. Besides the logistical and technical challenges this presented, how do you feel that your experience as a mother and part time expatriate informed how you chose to inhabit the characters?
Phe: I had a deeper understanding of what it means to uproot and relocate. There is a strange thing that happens when you move somewhere where you don’t speak the language. At first, there is this clinging to the familiar. Trying to make things exactly like they were at home. Then, as you begin to trust your new place, you begin to embrace the things that are different. That’s where the growing starts. And allowing yourself to love both places is a big one, too. I knew that feeling that Annie had when she first moved to France. The question of, “What will I do now?” lingers for a while. But then she, like I did, found things she loved about France (Berlin) and grabbed onto it. She sunk her teeth into French more than I was able to with German, but the basic tenet is there. I think that goes for Lola and Althea too. They came to France to try to get away from their lives in America. But it wasn’t until they were able to accept their new reality that they were able to grow and accept themselves, wherever they were. And being a mom puts a whole other level of importance on almost everything. Priorities shift from ‘what’s best for me’ to ‘what’s best for them’ and ‘what’s best for our family’. But it’s also important to not let the selflessness get in the way of your mental health and sanity. Moms have to be able to take care of themselves, so they are able to take care of their kids. Both Annie and Lola really come to understand that deeply.
Corine: How were you able to get so well into the skin of male characters? Especially French men?
Phe: I think the human condition is the same for both men and women, it’s just that men express themselves differently. I don’t know that I necessarily treated them differently.
Corine: What parts of the book were the most fun to record, what were the most challenging?
Phe: The beginning is always hardest, until I find my groove. I probably recorded and rerecorded the first chapter 10 times before I felt that I was ‘in the pocket’. It’s also tough when a character is really crying hard. It’s difficult to talk through the emotion sometimes. And since this is an audiobook, the words and the clarity are paramount to anything else, so finding the balance can be tricky. But those parts are also the most fun. And describing the food was really fun, too. Especially speaking in French. Those words almost taste good in your mouth!
Corine: Did you identify with a particular character in the novel?
Phe: I definitely connected a lot with Annie. She and I are very similar in how we deal with things. Humor is important to her. And she wants to feel the truth of her pain but is afraid to move forward. When I was younger, I knew that feeling of the comfort of a deep sadness, because the other option, happiness, is sometimes too scary to imagine. That involves change, which is hard to do. But being on the other side of it now, I understand its importance.
Here is where you can download Hidden in Paris as an Audiobook:
Corine Gantz is the Author of Hidden in Paris and an upcoming trilogy which title is still a secret for a few more weeks. Find out more about Corine and her books on her website.