Between The Sheets With Pam Dougherty
Romance Narrators: You are in a new Robert Redford movie! Congratulations! What’s it called? Who’s in it? What is your role? What was the audition process like? Basically, tell us everything! Oh, and let’s include a link to the trailer, because… you’re in it!
Pam: Here’s how movie auditions go: you walk in, do your stuff, say thanks, walk out and forget all about it. And that’s how the audition went – took all of three minutes. But that PARTICULAR week last fall, I was heading into my 50th high school reunion weekend and all I could focus on was my aging face, pudgy body and a genuine fear that a certain man from my past was going to try to, well, re-ignite that past.
So when my agent called to say I’d been cast as “Bank Manager #2” in this movie called The Old Man and the Gun, I thought well, THAT’s a silly title and went RIGHT back to being obsessed with my aging pudginess, and that guy. And for the first time ever I did NOT do my homework. I got the email with call times at 9:00 PM, while eating dinner in a hotel ballroom with 300 people I hadn’t seen in fifty years. I think I screamed a little when I saw that there were five people called on set the next morning: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck, ME, and a couple others. Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover and Tom Waits also star.
I’ve worked with my share of stars over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever been THAT star-struck! Both Robert (those blue eyes!) and Casey were very generous and likable. Casey and I even had a conversation about audiobooks. He’s done a few, but didn’t particularly enjoy the process. Indeed, people must think narrators are a little bit nuts to spend their days in tiny cells talking to themselves. Anyway, I did fine. I did my ONE line in three takes and it made the trailer. So that’s my Robert Redford movie story.
My Character! Hah! While we were waiting for lights and sound to settle, Casey said, “So what’s your character’s name?” and I said “Uhm, Bank Manager #2” and he said, “Naaaaaah, we gotta give you a name!” So we named me Lurlene and by the time the cameras rolled I had a whole back-story, which I had neglected to do cause: 50thHS reunion and that GUY, who DID make a pass but I managed to get away.
Link to the trailer:
Romance Narrators: You come from quite an artistic family. Mom was in a 1940s girl group! Dad was in a traveling big band! Tell us about the art scene in your home growing up.
Pam: Well, Dad actually left the scene when I was quite young, but even after re-marrying, my mother continued to sing in nightclubs and in church. I wanted to be a concert pianist and took lessons from the age of five until my sophomore year in high school, when I figured out that Van Cliburn was probably not going to marry me. Then I took a theater class and never looked back. We actually were NOT an artsy household, but my brothers and I spent our high school summers touring all over the country and Canada with a renowned youth choir, and three of the five blended siblings made careers in the arts. And the genetics seem to be carrying on; among the grandchildren and even great grandchildren are professional musicians, singers, videographers, arts educators, composers, and actors. Indeed, my 2-year-old grandbaby is happy to treat you to a loud chorus of Let it Go, Let it GOOOOOOOO!
Romance Narrators: Tell us about working with author Katie Graykowski. You’ve narrated quite a few of her books. Ten and counting!
Pam: Just uploaded the last chapter of number 11 this morning! Katie Graykowski was my first really successful author to work with. She’s an indie romance writer, very popular in her niche, which is Southern comic romance. She also wanted a native Texan narrator, someone who really understands the culture (the only negative review I’ve gotten was for my “fake” Texas accent…uh, REALLY?), so I’ve done three different series for her now. We’ve had a great working relationship, although we’ve never met in person. Her writing is hilarious, her characters often very broad – sometimes very poignant – I definitely cried through one chapter of this last book. And I’m a character actress with good comic timing, so we team up well.
Romance Narrators: You’ve entered the world of erotica via your alter ego Pamela Peters. How do you like working on the steamier side of things?
Pam: It’s interesting work. At first, narrating erotica feels just like any other story, and then you have to get past the giggles and then you just keep going. It’s a genre I’ve just barely begun to develop, and I’d definitely like to do more. And almost all of Katie’s books have at least one good sizzling chapter, so I keep my hand in, so to speak. Last year my kids teased me about it by giving me Fifty Shades of Chickenfor Christmas. Did I tell you how I came up with my pseudonym? Wait, I didn’t come up with it, my PARENTS did. It’s my birth name. It’s like, what were they thinking? Let’s give her an erotica name; it’ll come in handy when she’s ready for Medicare and Social Security.
Romance Narrators: Haha! Clearly your parents were ahead of their time. You are an accomplished singer as well. How do you take care of these beautiful pipes that have brought you so much delicious work?
Pam: I probably don’t take care of them as much as I should! But I do the required hydrating, neti-potting, occasional tea and honey drinking. I hate green apples, so THERE. My favorite vocal warm-up is the classic “I am the very model of a modern major general…” from Pirates of Penzance.
Romance Narrators: If there is an acting job that exists… you seem to have done it. Not only have you worked extensively in Film, TV, Theater and voiceover, but you seem to plumb the depths of every niche possible inside those industries. Super impressive. Do you enjoy bouncing between mediums? Is there one area where you feel most at home?
Pam: I DO enjoy working in different mediums; it keeps me on my toes! If there’s a downside it’s that all that bouncing around has kept my audiobook catalog smaller than most of the other romance narrators here. DFW is now the fourth largest media market in the country, and home to many arts organizations, but it’s still not NYC or LA.
So in order to call myself a working actress (I don’t teach, don’t know how, worship those who do), it’s imperative that I do whatever form of acting comes my way. And I think that keeping up that variety really informs my audiobook work.
I’d say though, that what’s most influenced my ability to voice so many different characters, is Anime. Funimation (the company that produces Dragonball Z, which fellow narrator A.t. Chandler is well known for) is based here, and produces about 90% of the anime in the U.S., so we get a variety of movies, TV shows and web series. I’ve done, I dunno, probably 75 different roles, some just a sentence or two, some supporting, some leading roles. Anime is truly VOICE ACTING, which is very different than voicing ads for car dealerships or political campaigns, or even being on stage, and for me, it comes closer to my audiobook world than anything else.
Romance Narrators: One of your specialties is in political voiceover. So this Fall will likely be a busy time for you, yeah? What’s it like working in that arena?
Pam: Political voiceover is a very unique niche. In fact, my agent has a separate website just for the handful of us who specialize in it. Unless you really want to limit your income, it’s best to let go of your own politics and just “do the work” as they say. I do have my limits but frankly, the conservative ads I did in 2016 and since have been pretty mild.
I think nowadays even hard core right wing politicians are trying to be careful about what they say on the air. I have a good story about this niche too. During the 2016 Florida primaries, I did an ad for a Republican PAC that was ANTI-Trump. Yup. It was a highlight video of him cursing, so it was blah blah BLEEP, I know words, blah blah BLEEP, I have the best words, blah blah BLEEP, and I just did the disclaimer at the end. Well, it went viral for a few weeks. But not in the way the creators thought. There were thousands of pro-Trump reactions on YouTube. Ooops! Not what they expected. At the press conference after he won, a reporter asked about that ad and he replied that he loved it. So it was pulled immediately and is no longer findable anywhere. Still, I can honestly say I’ve voiced an ad for a presidential campaign!
Romance Narrators: You’re going into rehearsals soon for Angels in America – Perestroika. Have you worked on this play before? Where can folks see you in action?
Pam: I did the Hannah “track” for Angels In America – Part One: Millennium Approaches(the roles that Meryl Streep did in the HBO film) two years ago for Uptown Players here in Dallas. The theater is bringing back the same cast for Part Two. Almost all the actors play multiple roles and change genders. By the time Perestroika is done, I will have played an aging orthodox Rabbi, a male Park Avenue doctor, a homophobic Mormon mother, the blind Oldest Living Bolshevik and the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. We open in late September, so I still have some time to learn a LOT of lines, including the opening ten-minute monologue in a heavy Russian accent with VERY convoluted grammar, and recite the Kaddish. In Hebrew! No retakes – it’s all live theater!
Romance Narrators: What are your hopes for your future in audiobook narration?
Pam: As I age, the onstage and film/TV roles are coming fewer and farther between. I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s reality, and as you know, a WHOLE other topic of discussion. But the downsides of aging don’t affect narrators nearly as much. So I’m hoping audiobooks will consume more and more of my time in the coming years! The work is so fulfilling: I get to cast myself, I get to cast myself in ALL the roles, I get to direct myself, and mostly produce myself. I don’t have to wear sweaty makeup or itchy costumes, heck, I don’t even have to wear CLOTHES!
The truth is that, even after forty years as a professional actress, I’m still in the early days of my audiobook career. In fact, I’m waiting until I get a solid fifty titles before I even start marketing myself to “the big guys.” I remember my very first audiobook coach, the wonderful, late Vanessa Hart, saying, “Well, don’t you want to win an Audie?” I was so new and raw five years ago, I didn’t even know what an Audie was. And I’ve won enough awards for my stage work that I don’t even care much about the whole “award” status anymore. Honestly, I just want to do the work, love the work, and enjoy the rewards, both financial and otherwise.
Romance Narrators: Tell us about an audiobook of which you are particularly proud.
Pam: I wish more people knew about Lisa Ricard Claro’s award-winning Fireflies series. They are sweet romances with repeating characters across the series, but each book has a standalone plot. There are three books in the series, Love Built to Last, Love to Believe and Love to Win. All our reviews have been 5-star raves, not just about the narration, but about how wonderful her writing is, and how well her characters are drawn. There should be a LOT more attention paid to her work.
Romance Narrators: What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
Pam: I just finished Carolyn Jourdan’s The School for Mysteries, and am about to start in on The School for Psychics. Carolyn’s a USA Today, Audible and Wall Street Journal award-winner, but her previous books have been non-fiction – about the environment, the national park system and healthcare – among other topics, so these two ventures into fiction are taking her off in a whole new direction: they’re cozy mysteries with just a touch of romance and a heavy dose of the metaphysical. So we’ll see how they do.
I’ve also just teamed up with another award-winning author I can’t talk about quite yet, but if all works out well, I’m looking at a 12-book series of comic romances laced with lots of animal rescue. I’m particularly excited about it because when I reached out “cold” to her, she said she’d listened to hundreds of narrator samples and could just never find “the right voice”…but I recorded a few minutes for her from that Amazon “look inside” copy, she listened to my Audible samples, and said, Let’s Talk! Finally, literally since I began typing up this interview, yet another author has offeted me a series, so I’m feeling blessed…and maybe a little overwhelmed!
Keep up with Pam online:
Audible catalog for Pam Dougherty
Audible catalog for Pamela Peters