Between The Sheets...With Megan Tusing
Romance Narrators: You just returned from RT Convention in Reno with several of our fellow Romance Narrators. This was actually the convention that led us to form our site. How was the experience? Word on the street is that it’s the last one?
Megan: What a wild and crazy time we had! A small, but mighty group of Romance Narrators took the RT Convention by storm. We hosted panels about Men in Romance, YA, how to create new revenue by putting your books into audio and a boot camp focused on teaching others how to get started in narration. We also had a blast running around the Giant Book Fair and talking one-on-one with authors about the services Romance Narrators offers.
Plus we were in Reno, so I had to do a little gambling. The wonderful Paul Woodson taught me how to play Black Jack. I felt like Doc Holliday in the movie Tombstone! We also took a break from all the elbow rubbing and visited Lake Tahoe. The charming Ms. Cynthia St. Aubin came along with us too. (Pssst...Amy Landon just won an AudioFile Earphone Award for her performance of Cynthia’s book “Private Lies”)
And yes, this is indeed was the last RT Convention. According to RT’s Facebook Page “After 37 years of serving the book community with news and reviews, Romantic Times, aka RT Book Reviews, the RT VIP Salon and the RT Convention will be retiring effective immediately.” However, Book Lovers Con will be happening in 2019. They are bringing together readers and authors for four days of fun in New Orleans. Christine Feehan, Sylvia Day, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jill Shalvis, Shayla Black, Lexi Blake, Karen Rose and RaeAnne Thayne are just a few of the fabulous authors you can expect to meet. Should be a good time!
Romance Narrators: You seem to have covered a lot of ground in the audiobook industry in a relatively short amount of time. Besides your obvious talent (duh!), to what do you attribute finding your footing so speedily?
Megan: Honestly, a lot of the credit here goes to the sensational Andi Arndt. Andi and I became friends when I was attending James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA (Yes - I knew her before she was famous and she was just as fabulous back then). After college I moved to New York City and a few years later when Andi was in town, she gently hinted over dinner that I should give narrating audiobooks a try. She then so generously took me under her wing by letting me shadow her, giving me endless insightful advice and getting my foot in the door with publishers and authors to help my career really takeoff. Her support and mentorship has been a big part of my success, for which I will be forever grateful.
I also worked in the corporate world for 10+ years as the Executive Assistant to some pretty amazing CEOs, so I learned a lot of great tips about how to run a business and create authentic connections.
Romance Narrators: It’s APAC week! So many socials! Events! Awards! Will you be partaking in all the festivities? What is this week all about for you?
Megan: Yes! I will be there - for it ALL! I’ll be attending both APAC and the Audies this year, which is very exciting. I’ve never been to the Audies, but I’m really looking forward to see all the fancy dresses (and suits!) and being in the same room with some of the most talented voices in our industry. I mean, you get a bunch of people who get paid to talk for a living and put them all in the same room, add a couple cocktails and karaoke, and it’s a big ol’ party!
Romance Narrators: Your alter ego Virginia Rose has been up to all sorts of fun lately. Photo shoots, hot mic videos, great books… How did you develop this quirky gal and how do you decide when she comes out to play?
Megan: As my career continues to grow, I’m starting to branch out into different genres like Literary Fiction, Sci-Fi and Mystery. Much like how publishers create an imprint, I wanted to create a separate brand for the romance titles I record. This way listeners are able to find me with more ease and know what they are getting.
And thus, Virginia Rose was born! The names “Virginia” and “Rose” both come from my family tree, so they hold a dear place in my heart. I wanted to give her an elegant, sensual, yet saucy vibe - like a sexy Jane Austen. And also give a little nod to my West Virginia roots. So I got together with my fabulous seamstress friend, Miranda Nash of Dressy Dames to make a custom dress for a photo shoot with Emily Lambert to create some marketing images. It was super fun and really liberating!
The way I determine if a book is for Megan vs Virginia? Well, let’s use the "Heat Meter" on audiOMG!’s website. So, titles with one flame (lighter, sweeter romances) I'll usually record under Megan Tusing, but anything with two or three flames (steamier titles or darker themes) I like to reserve for Virginia.
Virginia is actually starting to get more work than me now!
Romance Narrators: You are an accomplished stage actor as well as a narrator. In fact, you are heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer to act in a play. Castles! Kilts! Haggis! Scotland is gorgeous and so much fun. You excited? Tell us about the project.
Megan: OMG! Scotland - look out, I’m coming for you! I am SO excited! Not only because I get to spend the month of August abroad, but also because I get to be there working on a fantastic play with an amazing cast and crew. The show is called LEVITICUS written by Mandi Raggi. I’m lucky enough to share the stage with Raye Levine, Sawyer Spielberg, Eric Svendsen and Bryan Hamilton and be directed by Abigail Zealey Bess.
Before we hop across the pond, we’ll have three performances at 59E59 in New York City in July 16-18 at 6:30pm. Tickets will be available Wednesday, May 30th and can be purchased through the link below.
Here’s a blurb about the show: “Austin and Jess host a dinner party to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of friends Robert and Stacia. Drinks are served, sausages are flung, and the night quickly devolves into madness when secrets from the past surface...”
Romance Narrators: Sausages are flung?! Run to the theater people! Folks can also see your work on TV. People often joke that an NYC actor’s rite of passage is appearing on one of the Law and Orders. You’ve done it, girl! What was it like working on Criminal Intent? What kind of role did you play?
Megan: Ah yes, the rite of passage it is indeed. I also earn my SAG-AFTRA card thanks to this show. I played an innocent girl from the Midwest who dated the wrong guy: a drug dealer. I end up getting punched by a pimp when a drug deal goes wrong, am rushed off to the hospital where a kind nurse patches me up and mysteriously offers to let me crash at her place to avoid my druggy BF. The next thing you know I’m dead on the street corner dressed up like a hooker. DUN DUN! What happens next you wonder? Check out Season 9: Episode 7 “Love Sick” and you’ll see some great performances.
Romance Narrators: You are a longtime member of Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC, where so many amazing actors and playwrights work. What has being a part of this company meant to you?
Megan: Oh, wow, this is a hard one to put into words. I have been performing at Ensemble Studio Theatre since 2008 and it has had such a profound impact on my life. In a place as large and grueling as New York City, finding a supportive community to call home like this is often a person’s saving grace. I have grown so much as an actor thanks to the amazing plays I’ve had the privilege to be a part of and met some of my best friends here. EST is fiercely committed to giving new plays the proper attention needed to be developed, produced, and brought to their full potential. The quality of the work, talent and dedication found within this community is so unique. I’m so grateful to be a part of this magnificent place. Do yourself a favor and go see a show there.
Romance Narrators: Speaking of EST, last year you played a porn actress there in a play called MOPE. Did you draw on any of your romance/erotica narration experience for this role?
Megan: I started rehearsals for MOPE just as I was dipping my toe into the romance world and it made the experience so much richer. In MOPE, I played the porn star, Krystal Kross - brilliantly written by Paul Cameron Hardy. There was no sex on stage, but I did have to be in a rather revealing costume and my co-star only had on his “birthday suit.” In order to play Krystal with authenticity I had to face my own demons about the shame I have about my own body and my relationship to porn. There is so much shame around sex in our culture (especially for women), so it’s often taboo to discuss it openly. Both by acting in this play and by narrating Romance, I was able to have honest and healthy conversations about sexuality and how it is different for everyone. The Romance community is so loving and non-judgmental. Like my brilliant colleague Erin deWard said, “there is no kinky shaming - you can let your freak flag fly!”
So yes, this play had a big impact on my life and my narration. Also, my cast mates and I still try to get together for Pornstar Potlucks whenever we can.
Romance Narrators: Pornstar Potlucks sound very special. Shifting gears… Tell us about an audiobook of which you are particularly proud.
Megan: I’d have to say THE MISTS OF THE SERENGETI by Leylah Atter. This is still one of my favorite books I’ve ever narrated and found the story to be so beautiful, heartfelt and deep. Leylah is an incredible writer, but also it was so fun to perform. And Zachary Webber was my co-narrator and who doesn’t love THAT guy ;)
Romance Narrators: What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
Megan: Just released under Virginia Rose - SORDID by Ava Harrison, co-narrated with Christian Fox just went live in audio!
Under Megan Tusing - my first Sci-Fi title, PORT CASPER: CLADESPACE, VOLUME 1 by Corey Ostman Justin Pecot
And BLAZING SUMMER, DARLING INVESTIGATIONS, BOOK 2 by Denise Grover Swank comes out June 5th.
There are some other very exciting projects coming up, but sadly they are all hush-hush and can’t be discussed until released. So be sure to keep an eye (and ear) on my social media accounts for news!
Keep up with Megan online:
Megan’s Audible catalog: https://adbl.co/2kpwcNO
Virginia’s Audible catalog: https://adbl.co/2sfnoh5
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram - @megantusing
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram - @xovirginiarose
Links to people mentioned in the interview:
- Paul Woodson - http://www.paulwoodson.blogspot.com
- Amy Landon, Private Lies - Earphones - https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/140410/private-lies-by-cynthia-st-aubin/
- RT FB Post - https://www.facebook.com/RTBookloversConvention/posts/1682408301838174
- Book Lovers Con - http://www.bookloverscon.com
- Andi Arndt - http://www.andiarndt.com
- AudiOMG! - https://www.audiomg.caAudiOMG! - https://www.audiomg.ca
- Dressy Dames - http://www.dressydames.com
- Emily Lambert - http://www.emilylambertphoto.com
- “Sordid” - https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Sordid-Audiobook/B07D43Y5TF?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=MSVJPMAFMV7DNQMP17N2&
- “Port Casper” - https://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Port-Casper-Audiobook/B07D2LLWJR?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_2&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=YXEFK2T0TWHTV1S7KJZD&
- “Blazing Summer” - https://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Blazing-Summer-Audiobook/B07CYCPFYL?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_1&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=YXEFK2T0TWHTV1S7KJZD&
- “Leviticus” - https://www.ticketcentral.com/59e59/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=1D867265-FCAC-4117-8E80-DC71B2ADC61B
- Law & Order:CI” - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1618648/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_11
- Ensemble Studio Theatre - https://ensemblestudiotheatre.org/
- Erin deWard - https://www.erindeward.com/
- “Mope” - http://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/est-blog-1/2016/3/28/paul-cameron-hardy-hasnt-lived-in-california
- “Mist of the Serengeti” - https://www.audible.com/pd/Fiction/Mists-of-the-Serengeti-Audiobook/B0714L3V34?ref=a_search_c3_lProduct_1_18&pf_rd_p=e81b7c27-6880-467a-b5a7-13cef5d729fe&pf_rd_r=YWJ1J3XJAAD7T4SY58DP&