Between The Sheets With Laurel Schroeder
Romance Narrators: We like to ask the hard hitting questions here at Romance Narrators, so here we go: Squid Man. You are in an independent feature film called Squid Man. How can we see this movie? And... do you fall in love with said Squid Man? Please say yes.
Laurel: Oh, you bet I do fall in love with him! I mean, he's the Squid Man! It was a really fun movie to work on, a spoof of the superhero genre about a guy whose only superpower is that he can shoot ink from his fingers. NOT the most impressive power, so he has a bit of trouble earning his cape, but he does get the girl and defeat the bad guy in the end. It actually got picked up for distribution by Amazon, so it's available there for your viewing pleasure.
Romance Narrators: Running to Amazon now! You have narrated a great deal for author A. Zavarelli. What draws you to her work?
Laurel: Working with Ashleigh has been one of the absolute highlights of my career. The first book I did for her was called Crow, book one in her Boston Underworld series. I remember doing my pre-read to prep for recording, and just not being able to put the book down. She writes characters that literally jump off the page and right under your skin--they're flawed and passionate and dangerous, and so very human. I always joke with her when she sends me a manuscript that I should know better than to start reading it in the evening. I have stayed up waaaaaay past my bedtime more than once reading her books.
Romance Narrators: A delightful award showed up on your Facebook fan page a few weeks ago. You were bestowed the title of "Official Reverse Harem Narrator." Haha. Congratulations! Do tell us how you achieved this great honor.
Laurel: It was quite by accident! I narrate a lot of urban fantasy and fantasy under the name Laurel Schroeder, and a lot of romance as Tracy Marks. And many of the RH books I've narrated combine elements of both of those genres, so it's a great fit!
Romance Narrators: Your partner is also an actor. Some folks throw around the advice to "never date an actor." What would you say to those folks?
Laurel: It's funny that you say that, because we actually met in grad school getting our MFAs in classical acting--and the head of our program, Jack Young, used to always joke that all of us actors should go hang out in the law building to try to find a date. But off the top of my head, I can think of three married couples who met in that exact MFA acting program. It's like a matchmaking service as well as an acting training program! There are definitely challenges involved in dating another actor, but there are benefits too. There are some ups and downs of the job that are really hard to explain to someone who's not an actor, and it's great that we can share that.
Romance Narrators: You'll be attending the LoveNVegas book signing in October. How cool! What do you hope to do while you're there? Who do you hope to meet?
Laurel: Well, I think I may have talked my boyfriend into coming with me, so we'll make it a little working vacation and maybe spend a couple extra days in Vegas! I'm really, really excited. It'll be my first book-signing event and I can't wait! One of the people I'm most excited to meet is L.A. Fiore. I've narrated several of her books with Aaron Shedlock, and I'm thrilled I'll get a chance to hang out with her in person. Aaron may actually be coming to, which would be really fun. It's always nice to put real live faces to the people we work with remotely. I'm preparing myself to be a little awestruck and probably fangirl a bit over the authors I get to meet. I'm forever amazed by what they do!
Romance Narrators: You and narrator Aaron Shedlock have paired up many times for dual narration. What do you two like about working together?
Laurel: Aaron is the best! I'm so incredibly lucky I've gotten to work with him as much as I have. It's really a joy to be able to work with someone on a number of projects, because you really start to develop a shorthand with each other. An understanding of each other's processes, a great workflow together, a sense of the other person's natural rhythms and style. And it helps that Aaron is just about one of the nicest people to ever walk the face of the planet--super positive and upbeat, and absolutely in love with the work. We're currently working on a book for Lisa Lang Blakeney, and then we've got another L.A. Fiore book on the schedule for later this year. I hope we'll keep getting chances to work together for a long time to come!
Romance Narrators: You're known to bust out a plethora of delightful dialect work in some of the books that you narrate. What do you enjoy about working with accents? Have any favorites?
Laurel: I love doing accents! Some narrators might be familiar with a site called AccentHelp, which has breakdowns of the sound changes and audio clips of native speakers for a ton of different accents. Well, Jim Johnson, who runs that site, was my dialect professor in grad school, and the man. Knows. His. Stuff. I think working with him was what really got me jazzed about accents, and what helped me realized I have a facility for picking up new accents. Speaking of A. Zavarelli's books, her Boston Underworld series is an accent extravaganza! For the first book, I had to do a convincing Boston accent, as well as an Irish accent. And by the second and third books, she'd added Russian into the mix. I have three stages of learning an accent:
Stage 1: I know all the sound changes, and can repeat after a native speaker, mimicking their accent.
Stage 2: I can speak extemporaneously in the accent.
Stage 3: I can read off the page in the accent.
I think doing accents in audiobooks is even harder than doing them in stage or film, because instead of memorizing lines in the accent and practicing those lines over and over, we have to be deft enough to read right off the page in the accent.
Romance Narrators: Remember that romantic comedy "Must Love Dogs"? Seems like you and fellow Romance Narrator Sarah Mollo-Christensen could compete for the female lead in that film with your love of all things canine. Tell us about your pup - who, for the record, has listened to the entire audiobook series of Harry Potter?
Laurel: I think the first time I met Sarah in person, we nerded out about dogs for a while--because they're the BEST! It's so funny, whenever people ask me what my hobbies are, one of the things I always say is 'taking care of my dog.' Which might sound silly, but I've wanted a dog ever since I moved out of my parents' house to go to college, although my actor lifestyle made it pretty difficult to commit to being a dog owner. It was actually when I started doing audiobooks that I felt like I had the stable income and schedule to make it possible.
Turns out our dog, Corbin, is made of glass -- due to a genetic defect, he suffered a serious spinal injury less than a year after we got him, and needed knee surgery a year later. All told, he's cost us over $20k and hours and hours of rehab. But he is the cutest and the sweetest, so it's all been worth it!
And yep, it's true, he's also an audiobook fan! After his surgeries, he had some separation anxiety for a while, so our trainer recommended we develop a routine for when we were going to leave him alone, and suggested that we play him music or leave the TV on. I immediately thought, "Or put on an audiobook!" So now whenever we leave Corbin alone for a few hour stretch, we put on a Harry Potter audiobook. He's listened to the whole series, but I think Prisoner of Azkaban is his favorite.
Romance Narrators: Always nice when families share in the love of audiobooks! Tell us about an audiobook of which you are particularly proud.
Laurel: Earlier this year, Aaron and I did a dual narration for A.M. Johnson called Breakaway. It's a hockey romance, and it is SUCH a great story. A.M. Johnson writes characters that you wish were real so you could be best friends with them. I had such a fun time working on it and I'm really proud of the audio for that one.
Romance Narrators: What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
Laurel: Lots of fun stuff! As Tracy Marks, I've got Claimed by a King, by Lisa Lang Blakeney, coming out next month. I have another dual narration coming up with Michael Pauley for Natasha Knight. And under Laurel Schroeder, I've got a bunch of really fun urban fantasy on the schedule for the next couple months - working with Linsey Hall and Stephanie Foxe, and a few others I can't talk about yet.
Keep up with Laurel online:
Laurel’s Audible catalog: https://adbl.co/2tBDinm
Tracy’s Audible catalog: https://adbl.co/2tBDrHq
Links to people mentioned in this interview: