Monday, June 17, 2013

SPOTLIGHT on Lara Asmundson, #narrator of CASSIDY'S COWBOY--From Physical Therapist to Narrating a Cowgirl

CASSIDY'S COWBOY is a special book to me.  It's an emotional story about a heroine who has dyslexia and keeps it a secret from everyone but her foreman and her housekeeper. The hero's wife left him and their daughter, and his daughter has withdrawn.  They've come to Cassidy's Twin Pines Ranch to heal.

I knew I needed someone special to narrate this book--to BE Cassidy.  When I heard Lara Asmundson's voice, I realized she was Cassidy.  She had just the right timbre, just the right intonation, just the right inflection for my cowgirl.  And the emotion she injected into the story was perfect.  After our interview, I realized why.  Lara could convey compassion so well because she began as a physical therapist and research scientist.  She spent many years working with and studying stroke patients and their recovery.  When her colleagues remarked on her very warm, calm and friendly voice, the seeds of being a narrator were sown.

What came next?
Lara says, "As any voice actor will tell you, it's not about the voice, it's about the acting.  So,when I decided to pursue voice acting, I was lucky enough to find one of the the best voice acting schools around, Voicetrax, SF.  It's run by an amazing woman with years of experience in the biz, Samantha Paris.  I made my commercial demo in the Fall of 2011 and signed with an agent in San Francisco in January 2012.  I have a body of work in the commercial and industrial narration world that includes a promo for Nike professional NFL uniforms, tv and radio ads for a political proposition in California's last election, a tv PSA for Spare The Air and a tv spot for a new breast cancer gene detection test.

What type of formal training have you undertaken?
"Formal training.  I have taken classes at Voicetrax SF for almost 7 years now.  The classes have included everything from basic acting to improv to creating characters for animation and video games to narration for everything from educational tv to industrial tutorials to audiobooks."

How do you train to be a narrator?
"Training to be a narrator is training to be an actor.  You have to make the story come alive with your voice.  So it is a bit different than being trained to be a film or stage actor.  You have to convey the emotions and the scene of the story with your voice only.  Not always easy!  But acting is acting, so that is where you begin.  Narrating audiobooks is the marathon of narration.  And the challenges are many.  But for me, once I get involved in the story and get to know the characters, it becomes very engrossing.  I get caught up in the story and it develops its own flow."

What is your favorite genre to narrate?
"I am definitely a fiction narrator.  And as for genre, I find myself drawn to romance, fantasy and sci-fi.  But as a reader I am a sucker for a good love story and a strong female lead character.  So if a book has those, as a narrator I know I will be able to give it my best as I will be engaged in the story, too."

How do you create each character's voice?
"When I get the manuscript from the author, I sit down and skim through the whole book, writing down each character, their gender, age and relationship to the other characters.  Basically any detail about that character I can find.  With that information, I can start to figure what they would sound like.  If they are young, they will have a lighter voice as well as if they are female.  But their personality plays a role, too.  Are they kind, impulsive, stubborn, evil, insecure?  Those personality traits help me figure out what they should sound like too.  Once I have decided on a voice for a character, it's pretty easy to keep them straight throughout the story cause now I know who they are.  Though when a character only makes 1 or 2 appearances in a book, I do find that I need to go back and listen to what I did to make sure I'm consistent."

Where did you grow up?

"I'm a California girl born and raised, with a brief interlude on the East Coast (Maine and Massachusetts) for college and post college work."

When you're not working, what do you like to do?
"When I'm not working as a commercial voice actor and audiobook narrator, I spend time with my family.  I have a husband and 2 children ages 7 and 11 and we love spending time outdoors.  We are currently on a mission to visit as many National Parks as we can!  We love camping and hiking.  To relax on my own, I garden, knit and practice yoga."

CONTACT Lara Asmundson
Website: Lara's website

Cassidy's Cowboy Audiobook on Amazon

Cassidy's Cowboy Audiobook on Audible

Cassidy's Cowboy Audiobook on ITunes

©2013 Karen Rose Smith

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