Thérèse Plummer is an actor and award-winning audiobook narrator working in New York City. She has recorded over 400 audio books for various publishers. She won the 2020 Audie Award for her collaborative work on The Only Plane In The Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff garnering Audiobook of the Year! A 2019 Audie Award for her work on the multicast, Sadie by Courtney Summers for Macmillan Audio, and was nominated for the Multicast Any Man by Amber Tamblyn for Harper Audio and her solo narration for The Rogue: Planets Shaken by Lee W. Brainard for Podium Publishing.
The American Library Association (ALA) awarded her work on Sourdough by Robin Sloan as part of the 2018 Listen List:Outstanding Audiobook Narration for Adult Listeners. Thérèse has been nominated for 5 Audie Awards in 2018. She was named AudioFile’s Best Voices of the Year in 2015 for her work on Robyn Carr’s A New Hope.
Thérèse is the voice of Maya Hansen in the Marvel Graphic Motion Comic Ironman Extremis, Dr. Fennel in Pokemon and for various Yu-Gi-Oh characters. Television Guest Star Roles on The Good Wife,Law and Order SVU and Virgin River for Netflix. Regional Theatre: Sister James in Doubt. Learn more at www.thereseplummer.com
What has been your journey to becoming an audiobook narrator?
I came to NYC at 26 to become a professional actor and on the way fell into Audiobook narration.I took a class at Actors Connection with Robin Miles, a working narrator, and was instantly hooked. In the class, I learned the techniques and basics of voice acting, the multiple genres of storytelling and that I’d get to play so many interesting characters, I am grateful for this phenomenal acting job. I have been blessed to be doing it along with stage and film work for the last 15 years.
What would you say about this to an author considering audiobook production for the first time and uncertain about whether to hire a narrator?
The greatest gift a professional narrator can bring to your book is the depth of performance
and an elevation in storytelling.I had T.Greenwood, author of Rust & Stardust, reach out to me saying, “Thank you for bringing the world I wrote to life, I am listening in my car and can’t turn it off!”There are examples of authors reading their own books: Brene Brown, Toni Morrison, David Sedaris— and in those instances the words written can only be elevated in the author’s voice.
Do you typically consult the author of a title on how a certain character should sound?
I absolutely do—I want to honor their words and their story. I’m blessed that they trust me with their words and to bring their characters to life through my acting.I try to never take that for granted. I have heard authors call their books their “babies” so I treat it with as much care as I can. My acting instincts and storytelling gifts come through but I want to honor their vision and what they heard as they wrote the story in the first place. I am truly a channel. This is the one aspect of voice acting vs. Film acting I adore. The anonymity of creating through my voice to transport you somewhere else. It is a very intimate process.
Is it different narrating a series rather than a standalone book?
I love this question! When I recorded the Virgin River Series by Robyn Carr each book beautifully connected to the next. As the narrator, all the listeners grew with these characters as they evolved,faced challenges and worked through issues. After twenty books you really get close to them and have favorites and they become true friends. You should have heard me in the studio after recording a passage between Jack and Mel, I blurted out, “Come on Jack she is RIGHT there!” My engineer and I became very attached to these books. It was no surprise Netflix produced Virgin River for the television series since the characters are so completely lovable. In contrast, recording a standalone novel there is a beginning, a middle and an end. I will still become super attached to these characters as well but the end is the end. The series books will end with a cliffhanger that the next book will address.
What types of books do you read for fun? Has narrating affected the way you read or the genres you seek out?
I have become such a fan of murder mysteries. When I prepare for work I will play chill electronica in the background which is great for thriller books and the book becomes a movie in my head. When I go into the studio that is what I try to bring to your ears. In my fun reading I have a huge draw toward writers like: Pema Chodron, Brene Brown, Cheryl Strayed, Toni Morrison, and Jodi Picoult.
What is the biggest challenge to you personally as an audiobook narrator?
It is the hardest acting work I have ever done. I am playing every character in the book as well as narrating and it is not easy. It is difficult when people say, “Oh I can read a book out loud it’s easy!” The ART of performing an audiobook is that it is indeed an art and the actors that are lucky enough to work as Audiobook Narrators know how much goes into each and every project. My goal is to have every listener and reviewer understand just how much work and effort goes into performing these books.
What is something that people may not know about being a narrator?
It is a one woman show – you as the storyteller are responsible to embody the author’s story and bring their characters to life in all aspects through your voice. The author has created a story and
this job is to honor all of that through my voice. Not re-create it but honor it. There are times when producers will cast multiple narrators for a story and that is so much fun as the collaboration (when we were all in one studio pre Covid-19) with other actors and playing off of each other is amazing and so much fun.
Narrating is very solitary work and requires self-discipline and a belief in yourself, especially as you hear your own voice in your head all day.That can be ammunition for the inner critic. My advice is to make a choice, honor it and move on. YOU were hired to tell the story for a reason, stop auditioning and enjoy the ride. The story must go on!
You’re an actress, writer, director and a narrator, what goals do you have moving forward?
I have quite a few projects lined up to narrate into the Fall so I will be busy in my studio recording. I am also writing again and will try to get some pieces out soon. I am always juggling a few projects in my head at all times so stay tuned.
How do you think COVID-19 will impact the audiobook business? What kind of impact do you hope that audiobooks can have?
The greatest thing about my industry is that besides the engineer I am in an isolated booth for the duration of my day. It is the most low risk environment. I was lucky enough to have a husband who
built me a home studio when the city shut down and I have been recording from there during the entire pandemic. My engineer/director comes through my headphones through source connect and is able to do their job remotely as well. An incredible narrator and colleague of mine, Lauren Fortgang, spearheaded the Source Connect option for the rest of us narrators that has allowed so many of us to continue to work. We are in deep gratitude to her. My fellow actors and I are in an incredible position to be able to continue to work as we are in quarantine. I do not take that for granted. Audiobooks are such amazing entertainment, education and a healthy escape, especially now, during such a tumultuous and scary time in the world.