Good morning everyone! Thanks for joining me today. This is part three of three of an interview series with Michele Carpenter, the narrator of Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest. See the previous parts here and here. To learn more about Zaria Fierce, watch this amazing book trailer Michele put together!
Keira (Author): Previously, we talked about your day-to-day routine, but how do you prep for a new project?
Michele Carpenter (Narrator): Mostly, just by enjoying the book–reading it to myself–but there are times when I’ll have a book with so many characters that I have to write them all out on paper and list personality attributes and a little bit of history for each one. That’s where I would write a description of their accent or voice as well. Sometimes I’m inspired to draw pictures of them sometimes (like with Zaria and Olaf) or make up little songs about them, if I feel moved to.
On occasion, I’ll use the spell check function as a way to locate all of the odd words, like fantastical character names or cities and record myself reading them to double check with the author on their pronunciations. If the author wants to give any insights into his/her characters, I always value that as well.
Watching movies and TV series can also be really great research for characters, voices, and the current hip lingo, so I do that, while folding laundry, several nights a week as well.
Keira: You had a lot of strange names, cities, and places in my story, but you handled them admirably. Was there any particular challenge in narrating Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest?
Michele: Zaria’s four guy friends were a challenge, with their various accents and the need to keep them all unique enough to differentiate. I tried to give Aleks an earthier, Irish-Norwegian accent, because of his being a changeling. Filip, had the higher voice and I gave a more British-Norwegian sound to him. Geirr, I tried to make him sound deeper and a bit prone to being whiny. Oh, and Christoffer was Chinese and an outgoing, goofy personality.
Keira: Yes, we changed Christoffer’s voice right at the end of project. He was great before, but now I think he sounds wonderful. His new voice is even more perfect for him. I really love your delivery of his lines in the epilogue. You have great comic timing with your deliveries. I think your performance made the book funnier, sweeter, sadder, etc. Do you do other types of acting? What’s been your most rewarding part to date?
Michele: I’d love to be in a local theatre production, but I’m afraid it would be too much of a sacrifice for the rest of my family right now. The most I get to do is an occasional bit of drama for my church. I drive my children to their rehearsals for their production of Disney Jr. Peter Pan. I’m also helping a bit with a youth drama team at my eldest son’s school. I’m pretty sure that most people who know me aren’t aware that acting is what I do for a living, lol!
My most rewarding stage performance was probably when I played a French Doll in high school. It was fun pretending to be arrogant and speaking with a snooty French accent. I’m nothing like that in real life.
I look forward to where Zaria is going to go, as she comes into her powers and continues to gain confidence.
Keira: Thanks! Me too! I’m having a blast working on book two (which for those interested, I’m about to release it on 11/6/2015.) For acting, what is your dream role?
Michele: If I could be the lead performer in a story about a hero and dragons that would be awesome! Or just narrating a book about dragons—that sort of epic fantasy adventure would be amazing. It sounds like Zaria may end up meeting a dragon or two before her story is all over…
Keira: Oh, she most definitely will. What’s an epic fantasy adventure without one? What projects are you working on now?
Michele: Having just finished narrating Zaria’s exciting adventures to Gloomwood Forest, I’m going to be working on two other really fun stories. One is to be narrated as a young male (my third boy-voice book). It’s a reverse-werewolf adventure, called Keeper of the Wolves. The other is called Letsi’s Labyrinth—in which a young girl has an adventure that I believe involves meeting a fairy or two.
Keira: Ooo, you make me want to go out and grab those books! Until we meet again for the next adventure with Zaria, thank you for all the love and talent you’ve given to her first adventure. Readers, be sure to check out the audio book sample below before you go.
Don’t you agree that Michele is super talented? Thanks for joining us today!
Book Blurb: On her birthday, Zaria Fierce finds her usual path to school blocked by an ugly river-troll. At first she’s surprised and curious, but then Olaf threatens to eat her, which is an act Zaria could not in good conscience consent to, so Zaria counteroffers. A deal is struck and she goes to school, but Zaria is about to learn the hard way that one does not trick a river-troll and expect to win.
See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here.
Are you in the mood for an old fashioned magical jaunt? Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest by Keira Gillett is a classic “perilous adventure” book for middle grade readers. 4 Stars – Jennifer Bardsley, The YA Gal
I really enjoyed Zaria’s story. It reminded me a lot of Percy Jackson series… Middle school children will absolutely like this one! 4 Stars – Anjie Basi, Love Thy Shelf
This book will have young listeners hooked right from the start. In fact, if parents are planning a driving holiday this summer, I highly recommend purchasing this audiobook. It will definitely keep the kids entertained while traveling. Michele Carpenter’s narration is terrific. 5 Stars – Amie Gaudet, Amie’s Book Reviews
Geirr stooped to pick up some decent-sized sticks, and Zaria bent to grab a few too. They talked amicably and walked, stretching their legs, until they were too burdened by their loads to keep going.
“My arms are going to collapse,” Zaria huffed. Her breath fogged around her face, covering and then revealing a well-pinked nose and cheeks. “Let’s head back to camp.”
“Sounds good to me,” Geirr said and turned around to do just that. Zaria followed and collided into him, dropping her load of kindling all over the ground.
“Hey!” she exclaimed, as she went to gather them. “Why did you stop?”
“I don’t think we’re going to find camp,” Geirr said, worrying his lip. He juggled his armful of wood and pointed haphazardly forward. “It’s like pea soup.”
Zaria looked up from playing fifty-two pickup and saw what worried Geirr. In front of them was a wall of fog, thick, viscous, and impossible to see through. She gulped and carefully set down the pile she’d been working to gather again. Was it her imagination or did the fog seem to be breathing? It crept closer in stages. Not fast enough that she saw it while looking directly at it, but if she looked away and back, it most definitely moved.
“Uh, Geirr,” Zaria said, slowly gaining her feet. “I think we should move and fast.”
Geirr looked at her puzzled. “I don’t think fast is an option here. Now if you pick up your stack and stick near me maybe we can Marco Polo our way back to the others.”
“Geirr,” Zaria hissed, her voice ratcheting higher. “The fog is moving.” He didn’t look impressed. The breathing sounds from within the fog grew louder, distressing Zaria. “No seriously, it’s moving like it’s alive.”
Geirr looked back again and stared hard, trying to penetrate the fog with his gaze alone. Zaria started to ease away, firewood forgotten.
“Come on, Geirr, we have to move. Can’t you hear the breathing?”
“That isn’t you?” he asked, alarmed.
“No!” Zaria shouted. “Run!”
See if you’re eligible to get a free copy of the audio book here.
Author Bio: Keira Gillett is a technical publications librarian, book blogger, world traveler, artist, and now author. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Drawing and Painting. From an early age her mother instilled a love of the written word, as such she has always been a big reader. Her first book, Zaria Fierce and the Secret of Gloomwood Forest, is about a young girl who must complete a quest to save her friend from a nasty river-troll.
Narrator Bio: Michele Carpenter is an artist at heart, with a passion for acting. She and her husband (also a voice actor) often work on projects together and help one another through the journey. Together, they have three kids. Michele’s children love to hear her read stories and beg her to edit her narrations in the same room with them so they can listen too. It’s partially for this reason that Michele has come to feel a personal responsibility to only record books that aren’t inappropriate for children or young adults–at their respective age levels and according to the maturity levels of the books they’re able to read. “We never know how long we have on this earth and I’d rather leave behind a legacy of books that I’m not ashamed to have my friends, family and even future grandchildren, listen to forever.”