Marguerite Gavin is a seasoned theatre veteran, a five time nominee for the prestigious Audie Award and the winner of numerous Audio File Earphones and Publisher’s weekly awards. Her narration spans nearly every genre, from non-fiction to thrillers, science fiction, mystery, romance and young adult fiction. Marguerite has been an actor, director and narrator for her entire professional career and has over four hundred titles to her credit.
She is a proud member of SAG/AFTRA/AEA
How did you get started performing audiobooks, and what were your earliest days like?
I started narrating 17 years ago back when most professional audiobook narrators were working in the DC area, having come out of the Books for the Blind program at the Library of Congress. I was fortunate to have worked with Grover Gardner as my director in the theater, and he encouraged me to make a demo and even helped me get my first clients. My early books, I must admit, were just plain training, but I had the support and wealth of knowledge from more seasoned narrators in the DC community, so I kept after it, and slowly but surely improved with every book.
You have experience acting and directing theater as well as performing audiobooks. How does each medium compare with the other?
I’ve been fortunate to work professionally as an actress and director in the theater for the entire span of my career. Audiobook narration is an acting job, but it’s a solo endeavor. It’s a nice balance to be able to go to the theater and connect with other humans in a collaborative art form.
You have been trained in classical theater, with an MFA in acting, which is the equivalent to a Ph.D. in the fine arts. How has such training helped your career as audiobook narrator?
I attended Catholic University of America’s Drama School to get my MFA, and the training in voice, character discovery, and script analysis was incredibly useful. That program also taught me a tremendous amount about discipline… something that is essential when you have the sometimes ruthless deadlines in the audiobook industry!
What kind of preparation do you make to record each book?
I always read the book, of course, and in that process, I make notes about character and any pronunciation questions. I also really like speaking with the author if at all possible.
Do you have any particular routines that you follow to record a book?
Well, the initial preparation is important, and then in terms of working in the studio, I try to do a short vocal and physical warm-up before recording. Also, tea. Tea is a very important piece of my process!
You have quite a wide range of genres that you narrate. This includes fantasy, romance, young adult, crime fiction, mysteries and non-fiction. How does each genre compare with another in your approach to performing it?
I feel truly fortunate that I’ve been given the opportunity to perform such a wide range of genres! It keeps things lively. There isn’t much that varies in my process, however. The goal is to find the author’s voice, to be true to character and convey that clearly to the listener, and to find the pacing and rhythm of the book. There are big differences in genre in terms of all of those elements (fantasy tends to have a wide range of characters, thrillers have more car chases), but my approach tends to be the same in finding the truth of the book.
What books have particularly stood out to you as memorable throughout your career as audiobook narrator?
I truly adore Kim Harrison’s Hollows series and Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak mysteries. They each have really fleshed out characters and plot and are really well written. Dana’s first book in the Kate Shugak series was also one of my first audiobooks, so we have really grown up together! In non-fiction, one of my faves was Meg Meeker’s Strong Mother’s, Strong Sons, which had a great deal of personal resonance for me, and was, again, beautifully written.
Do you think an audiobook narrator needs to enjoy the book she or he is performing? Could you make a book you truly hated seem likeable to an audience?
I think our job, as audiobook narrators, is to do our best to convey the story for the listener, whether we “like” the book or not. I try pretty hard not to judge the material until I’m finished recording. Sometimes that can be really challenging, but that’s the job. I think it is possible for a narrator to improve a book and I do find myself attempting to do that.
What is your favorite part of audiobook narration?
I’m a book junkie, so this is a very good fit. I love the opportunity to tell a story. I like thinking about the audience and who they might be, where they are listening, what sort of life they lead. Audiobooks have given me the flexibility to make a living as an actor, whether it’s working in the studio or in the theater, and also, over the years, to be there when the school bus arrives!
To check out more about Marguerite, visit