Lucy Malone is a much sought after narrator of audiobook erotica and has narrated over fifty titles to date for a variety of publishers, including Cleis Press, and for best-selling authors such as a Kit Rocha and Jaci Burton.
RHYLL: Did you find it difficult in the beginning to read erotica, or were you a natural?
LUCY: I was very curious about narrating erotica when I first started doing audiobooks and wondered if I would ever get the chance to do one. Turns out there were plenty of opportunities at that time because a lot of traditional narrators wouldn’t do them (that has changed now that they give awards for erotica and review them in the ‘traditional’ journals). Anyhow, I found that a lot of sex scenes had a certain flow to them that I was able to tap into and just go with and I thought that was pretty cool.
RHYLL: What are the narrative challenges specific to reading erotica?
LUCY: Pacing and breath are critical when you are narrating erotica. In other genres you want to minimize breath as much as possible, but with erotica a well placed breath can communicate as much or more as the dialogue in a steamy scene. Orgasmic noises can be very challenging. Besides the noise factor and what that means in terms of mic technique, there is also that ‘letting go’ element. Narrating is usually such a highly controlled activity, and with an orgasmic release, you have to let it all out but be channeling the character you are voicing, not letting it out the way you would. That usually takes some time to nail.
RHYLL: What should authors look for when choosing a narrator for their erotica/erotic romance audiobook?
LUCY: Compatibility. Find the narrator whose voice enhances your writing. If your story is jagged and rough, don’t go for the sweet and bubby voiced narrator. If you have a ton of complex characters, make sure your narrator has a lot of range with the voices they can do. Don’t just pick someone with a nice voice — pick the voice that best fits what you have written.
RHYLL: What’s your funniest moment in narrating an erotic audiobook?
LUCY: Young woman hides under the table after her recent tryst with the doorknob, while the witch and troll have sex on top of the table and a voyeuristic parrot screams "GIVE IT TO HER! GIVE IT TO HER, BITCH!"
RHYLL: Which audiobooks have you really enjoyed working on?
LUCY: Anything for Cleis Press—their anthologies are always a treat, the Sexperts Series by Melinda DuChamp — totally hilarious, and Kit Rocha for erotic novels; she has that knack for working out intense emotional issues erotically that I have come to love.
RHYLL: How much acting skill is required to narrate books?
LUCY: Narrating well does require acting chops, but not the same as the ones you see on stage or on television. It’s a more subtle variety. It’s about being able to interpret the subtext of the writing, the emotion behind the words. You don’t pound the listener over the head telling them exactly what they should be feeling every second — you give them some room to let the writing speak to them and say what it will, so you don’t push too hard or force anything. If the narrator does a great job, the listener will forget all about you and get totally wrapped up in the story. You don’t sound like someone from a phone sex line (most of the time!)
RHYLL: What makes the job of an audiobook narrator more difficult?
LUCY: When it’s hot. I record in a 4x4 box (WhisperRoom Studio) and I can’t have a fan or AC going as it is too noisy and gets in the recording. So that can get pretty brutal on a really warm summer day. Also, sometimes your mouth or your stomach or whatever is just being really noisy — growling or clicking or making odd noises that a microphone picks up and magnifies and it screws everything up and makes your recording session take three times as long. And that sucks!
RHYLL: What’s the coolest line you’ve ever uttered as a narrator?
LUCY: “Daddy, I was born to make cupcakes, and there is nothing you can do to stop me, NOTHING!!!!”
RHYLL: Do you ever imagine what people do while listening to your audiobooks?
LUCY: I don’t actually sit around wondering what people do while listening to my audiobooks, but people ask me all the time if I think they are masturbating, and I guess I really don’t think the majority of them are, any more than they are doing any other activity. My best guess is that a lot of listeners use erotica to stimulate their imaginations and maybe store up ideas to use for later. Or whatever — that’s their business!
RHYLL: What makes a good voice for audiobooks? Or is it more a question of having several voices?
LUCY: What makes a good voice? You do need a good sense of pacing, clear diction, and a voice that is generally ‘easy on the ears,’ but the key thing is that you know how to tell a story. So being able to do character voices, accents, and other things is awesome, but even if you don’t have a perfect accent, if you can convey the essence of the character, can keep people on the edge of their seat and the momentum of the story going, then you’ve got what it takes. It’s not about having a perfect voice or being able to do perfect accents — it’s about being a damn good storyteller.
RHYLL: What’s one of the most challenging narration jobs you’ve taken on?
LUCY: I once did a short story for a longer anthology that was about a Japanese man with a really thick accent who was madly in love with an African American woman. There was a passionate sex scene between them and then he told her he loved her. It was almost impossible for this scene not to sound comical when I first began working on it — I spent a ton of time way out of my comfort zone trying to make that all work and I can only hope it came out half way decent.
RHYLL: Thank you so much for your time, Lucy.