Between the Sheets with Julie McKay
Romance Narrators: You've narrated over 300 books as both yourself and your pseudonym Maxine Mitchell. Wowza! Do you recall your first audiobook project? When did you find that romance was becoming a sweet spot for you?
Julie: I have and it is still hard for me to believe. I had no idea when I started narrating that it would turn into my career, but I love doing this and am grateful that people listen to me tell them stories. My very first audiobook project was actually a romance title! I recorded it at Audible Studios in Newark, NJ and I felt like such a success going in there and recording in such a professional setting. They were and are very good to me. In regards to when I found romance becoming a sweet spot, I have to admit that before I started narrating I had never read a romance title. However, I was very lucky early on to narrate some romance titles that were very well written, concentrated on the complexities of interpersonal and romantic relationships, overcoming obstacles from the past—just human stories—and very much like Xe Sands said in her “Between the Sheets” interview, it definitely made me confront some of my own hang-ups.
Romance Narrators: You got a thing for whiskey? Two of your upcoming releases have whiskey in the title: HEY WHISKEY by Kaylee Ryan, co-narrated by Teddy Hamilton and WHISKEY UNDONE by Carrie Ann Ryan. What can we look forward to in these audios?
Ya know, I DO have a thing for whiskey! I love sipping a good glass of bourbon, neat. I think my current favorite is Jefferson’s Reserve: Groth Reserve Cask Finish. It is aged in American charred oak barrels and finished in French oak barrels that were used for Cabernet. Here is a link with a description you can drool over:
BUT that is not what you were really asking about… I am very excited to have collaborated for the first time with THE Teddy Hamilton on Hey, Whiskey. Saylor (the female lead) has a whole lot of crap dumped on her at the outset and we get to see her pick herself up and realize that her self-reliance and strength doesn’t have to be at odds with accepting help from others. I am also so happy to be revisiting the fictional town of Whiskey, Pennsylvania in Whiskey Undone. I loved Melody and Fox’s unlikely and at times unwelcome love story in Whiskey Reveals and I am looking forward to seeing what Carrie Ann has cooked up for Loch and Ainsley.
Romance Narrators: You are now the third Romance Narrator we've interviewed who's expressed a real love and devotion to dogs (Sarah Mollo-Christensen and Laurel Schroeder are all about the dawgs too). Tell us about your pup. And... word on the street is that you've saved dogs from burning buildings? Whaaaaaat?
Julie: If anyone ever wanted to get away with committing a crime, a really easy way to ensure I am distracted is to put a dog in front of me. My girl is an 8 1/2 year old blue nose pit bull named Latona. Her name comes from Roman mythology (the mother of Artemis and Apollo). Animal Control found her in a dumpster in Brooklyn with very little fur and terrified of everything when she was about a year old. We love her very much and she is gorgeous and a real smarty-pants—-I think her vocabulary might be better than mine. And since you can’t ask me about my dog without me showing her off, see cute pictures for reference.
I HAVE saved dogs from burning buildings in both NYC and L.A. In NYC an upstairs neighbor’s apartment was on fire. They were asleep in the back of the apartment and heard the dog barking in the front. I went upstairs to investigate, saw smoke, kicked in the door and got the neighbor and dog out. Luckily that fire wasn’t very big and was easily extinguished by smothering it. In L.A. my neighbor’s house had caught on fire starting in and mostly contained to the kitchen (I can see their kitchen from my bedroom and I had the windows open and could smell smoke). I called the fire dept. Again, they were asleep. Again, I kicked in their front door and alerted them and got their dogs out. Guys, I just really like dogs.
Romance Narrators: A hero in our midst! Thank you for your service. You are a big time lover of theater. Can you tell us about some of your favorite roles or projects? Anything coming up in LA next season?
Julie: Live theatre is my church. I don’t think there is anything better at creating a feeling of shared experience, community, and empathy. One of the best things I have seen recently was Signature Theatre’s production of Paradise Blue by playwright Dominique Morrisseau. That cast was fire and Morrisseau has such a way with language. I don’t currently have anything coming up as I have been focusing more on audiobooks, voiceover in general, and working on some film projects, but here are a list of roles I would love to play (or play again) if someone wants to cast me: Betsy/Lindsey in Clybourne Park, Margaret in Henry VI, part III, Mary in Merrily We Roll Along, Lady Anne in Richard III, Camillo in Winter’s Tale, Cordelia in Falsettoland. That’s enough, I think. Haha.
Romance Narrators: Um. You've lived in a haunted house? Go on, scare the hell out of us and tell us a spooky story or two.
Julie: I have. The house I lived in for two years as a child in Philadelphia was built in the early 1800s. It had one particular room that was always colder than the rest of the house. I would come home from school and EVERY cabinet in the kitchen would be wide open. I alternated between insomnia and sleepwalking for the entirety of my stay in that house and even woke up on our front porch a couple of times. There was a general feeling of unease in that house and though I was never afraid per say, I was glad to leave it.
Romance Narrators: Ahhhh! Scary! Goosebumps! Glad you got the hell out of there. Ok, back to the present. Despite your busy schedule as a narrator and theater actor, you find time for some pretty fun hobbies: Baking! Refinishing furniture! Food and wine! Walk us through a typical free day for Julie. What are you baking, what are your drinking and upon what kind of refinished furniture are you lounging?
Julie: A great day off would start with a morning hike with my dog through Griffith Park, coming home and making a big breakfast (maybe oatmeal pancakes with a berry compote or a New York bodega style egg breakfast sandwich?) and a big cup of strong french press coffee. I love to find old furniture at yard sales, strip and refinish it, so I would probably have a project to work on. I think the latest piece I did was a dresser, but I also love to find solid old chairs and reupholster them, which I learned how to do when I worked props for Westchester Broadway Theatre (one of my first jobs when I moved to New York). I might bake an angel food cake or a tart with an almond crust and pastry cream filling with fresh farmer’s market fruit, and finish the day with a plate of homemade pasta and a glass (or two) of Greco di Tufo, my favorite Italian full-bodied white wine. That sounds nice.
Romance Narrators: That sounds more than nice. We’re coming over immediately. Hey, um, Stephen Colbert called and told us that you two have sung duets together. How in the world did this occur?
Julie: We met randomly at a Christmas party that was full of Broadway performers and important people, and then me. I was asked to perform a solo (my degree is in Musical Theatre) for the packed room of aforementioned important people and he came up to me afterward, complimented my singing, introduced himself, and asked me to sing with him for most of the rest of the evening. He was nothing but lovely and I just tried to not be a dork.
Romance Narrators: You are married to one of our fellow romance narrators. What is it like to be in the same line of work as your spouse? Helpful? Competitive? Do you share a booth? Have to fight for time in there? Make love in there??? Kidding. But, sort of not:)
Julie: I have no idea to whom you are referring. (Tilts one eyebrow, locks lips, and throws away the key.)
Romance Narrators: Understood, lady. Forgive us for getting saucy and personal. If you had to, could you pinpoint your most challenging audiobook project so far? What made it so?
Julie: Well, I narrated a book on epidemiology and I don’t really have a science background. I will just leave it at that.
Romance Narrators: What exciting audiobook projects do you have on the horizon?
Julie: Joe Arden and I are currently working on CD Reiss’ Edge Series in duet format, which is a first for both of us. CD is really brilliant. She writes with such subtlety and I have so enjoyed working on these and living the tension and the subtext in her scenes. I am really looking forward to people hearing them.
Romance Narrators: Where can people keep up with you online?