Karen Grey (also known as Karen White and K.E. White) has had several essays published, in Salt Magazine and the Nevertheless We Persisted collections, and a short story in the collection Vintage Love Stories. Her first romance novel was a winner of the NJ Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book Contest. The first two books in her 1980’s era romance series – What I’m Looking For and Never Gonna Give You Up will be published, fingers crossed, in 2019.
When I started narrating audiobooks, there were a few famous Karen Whites, including a singer named Karyn White and the actress Karen Malina White. But no audiobook narrators! By the time I started writing, the women’s fiction writer Karen White had made quite a name for herself, so I was counseled to adopt a pen name. (Even though Karen White is her married name. Sigh.) I started out with K.E. White but I didn’t love that. My daughter suggested I use Karen Beige. While I laughed, it seemed a bit too jokey. I researched white paint colors and white synonyms, and ended up with Karen Grey. Grey is the color I wear the most, too!
When will your first novel be available?
I will keep y’all posted on that, but I’m aiming for sometime in 2019. Meanwhile, you can get a taste of my fiction in Vintage Love Stories. The audio is recorded by two of my favorite YA narrators, Tara Sands and Mark Turetsky and I couldn’t be happier with their performances. The story is a prequel to the second book in my to-be-published series.
How did you get into narrating audiobooks?
Back in 1997, a friend from my MFA acting program met a woman in Seattle who recorded audiobooks. My friend contacted me saying, “This sounds like something you would be good at.” That person happened to be none other than the incredibly talented and revered narrator Kate Fleming (known to most listeners as Anna Fields ). Kate generously spent a good hour on the phone with me talking about the industry. She suggested that I get a copy of AudioFile Magazine’s production guide and research audiobook publishers in the Los Angeles area, where I lived at the time. That led me to Dan Musselman at Dove Audio in Beverly Hills, which primarily published abridged audio read by celebrities. Despite my complete lack of experience, Dan hired me to do some editing, and later hired me to work for him at the new Books-on-Tape recording studio he’d been hired to build and open. There I continued to edit, helped with casting and started directing and narrating. After I started having kids, I eventually dropped the editing (which honestly, I was never terribly good at) but continued directing, narrating and also proofing as a freelancer. Since I built a home studio (and my kids have grown up a bit), I’ve been able to record pretty much full-time. I shared this story in this Hot Listens interview. There’s more in my AudioFile Magazine profile.
In the studio time, it’s about two to two and a half hours to create one finished hour of audiobook. There’s also prep time (see next FAQ). We cover other nuts and bolts of the narration process in Audiobook Lovin’ 2015.
Only when you have an audience, as I discuss in Take 5 with Candace: AF: What’s your most embarrassing moment in the recording booth? KW: Definitely when I recorded my first romance, which had pretty explicit sex scenes. I was working with a 20-something male engineer, who I thankfully could not see while I was actually recording the scenes, but when we’d take a break there was always that awkward moment where I had to make a joke to address the strange tension that resulted from the uniquely intimate experience we’d just shared.
For a discussion of this topic and others specific to recording romance titles, check out this interview at AudioGals.