Interview with narrator Natalie Duke

With Yael Waknin

Questions for narrator Natalie Duke


1 – How did you come to narrate romantic novels?

Well, I have been a voice actor for a long time, but agents don’t cast audiobooks usually, so I sort of stumbled upon it on my own. I have always loved to read books, so narrating audiobooks seemed like the perfect job to me. I started seeking out auditions on my own, and eventually built up a client roster of authors who enjoyed my work, and now I have regular clients. It did take quite a while to become an established audiobook narrator though. It definitely did not happen overnight.

2 – Have you narrated books from different genres?

Yes! I have narrated sci-fi, fantasy, YA, mysteries, non-fiction, kids’ books, and even a Marvel book about the Fantastic Four.

3 – What was the most fun \ easy book you narrated?

There have been so many. It’s very difficult to pick just one. I will say that Lucy Score’s books are always super fun to narrate. Yes, she is one of my best clients, but I am not just saying that. Lucy’s books are best selling contemporary romance mostly, and the main characters are always interesting, smart women who know what they want and refuse to sacrifice themselves and their own goals and passions for the men they love. Her characters are always interesting, and she is really funny!! I love bringing humor to stories.

Currently, I am narrating the second book in Lucy Score’s Riley Thorn series. I especially love the Riley Thorn books. They are so funny, and have so many fun characters. That’s not to say that I don’t love all my other authors’ books! Like I said, there are so many good ones!

4 – What was the most difficult book \ character you narrated and why?

I am currently finishing up the Asgard Awakening Series by Kendall Grey, and although I would also put these books in some of the “most fun” books I’ve done (also extremely funny and great characters), these have probably been the most challenging as well. In the series, I play a female Loki character. Unlike the Marvel edition, (Love Tom Hiddleston as Loki, not judging him at all!) Kendall Grey preferred for her Loki to have a Nordic type accent, so that can be challenging, but mostly, all of the Old Norse words and pronunciations are the most difficult. I have pages and pages of Old Norse words with their pronunciations written out phonetically.

5 – What are the preparations you make before each project? Do you read the whole book in advance? Do you rehearse out loud before the recording itself? or maybe something else?

I do read the whole book in advance. I don’t read it out loud, simply because I read in my head way faster than I can read out loud, and I am only reading ahead of time to learn the story and characters and to find whichever elements of the book need further research. I highlight the book (I narrate the books from my ipad, so I use an app called iAnnotate to highlight the text and make notes) and mark any words that need to be looked up, either for definition or correct pronunciation, or anything else that may need more research. So, for instance, those books about Loki require more prep work because I have to have all of the correct pronunciations right there in the book, and in the beginning, before I started the first book, I did a lot of extra research about Old Norse mythology so I would have a solid grasp on the personalities and back stories of all of the characters.

6 – Is there a genre \ book \ character that you won’t agree to narrate? If so – why?

I would not say that I refuse to narrate any particular genre as a whole. However, I will turn down a specific book if it makes me uncomfortable in a particular way. If it is fiction, I will not narrate anything that doesn’t have an actual storyline. For fiction and non-fiction, I will not narrate anything that qualifies as hate speech or that glorifies violence against women, especially sexual violence. I will not narrate anything that I feel is sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise marginalizes any specific portion of the population.

7 – How long does it take you to record an entire book?

It depends on the book! Some books are much longer than others, while other books require more research and prep work. I can safely say that I can narrate 2 full books a month. I can usually get a book recorded in one week, but that doesn’t take prep work or revisions into consideration.

8 – Are you working on more than one book at a time?

Yes and no. I usually record just one book at a time from start to finish, but while I am recording my current project, I am probably prepping the next one and doing revisions for the last one.

9 – What is the genre you like to read in your free time?

Usually literary fiction. I also like thrillers and funny, relatable memoirs. Sometimes I read graphic novels (long comic books) too!

10 – Is there a writer you particularly like? To read or to work with

To work with: Again, I have to shout out Lucy Score. Her writing always makes me laugh out loud, and her characters are right in my wheelhouse as far as acting goes.

To read: I really love Gillian Flynn and I wish she would release 100 more books. My favorite author of all time is Joyce Carol Oates, with whom I have the opposite problem: she has so many books, I will never be able to read them all! If I ever get to narrate a book by either of those fabulous authors, that will be the highlight of my career.

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About the narrator

 I live in Chicago, IL, USA with my husband, 2 kids, 3 cats and 1 dog. I have been narrating audiobooks for about 6 years now, but I have been a voice actor since I was a kid.

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