This year we decided that we would introduce you to some of our lovely narrators who work mainly behind the scenes, but without them our books would not be recorded, and we would not be able to provide the service that we do. So, throughout the year we will be bringing you podcasts and interviews from the people you have often met only by voice. First up, the wonderful Kim Ismay.
If you are not well, an old friend of a book is like a healing cuddle. Kim Ismay.
Kim Ismay is an actress in the theatre, often appearing in London’s West End. She has been a narrator for Calibre for around ten years, apart from a 2-year period when she was on tour of the Middle East. She began working for Calibre whilst appearing in a major national production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Playing the Baroness opposite her Baron, who was played by Edward Peel, she learnt that Edward was already working as a narrator for us. He introduced Kim to us and she has been with Calibre ever since.
An avid reader herself, Kim always has a book or two on the go and says she prefers to listen to audiobooks in the car rather than music. Her favourite genres are thrillers and mysteries, both classic and modern, although if she had to choose a book to be stranded on a desert island with, it would be the whole collection of ‘What Katy Did’.
We asked our narrators to tell us a little bit about how they work, to give us a glimpse into how they go about recording our books. Kim records the books in her back bedroom/office. As an actress, she is usually back home from the theatre around 11.30pm, which she finds is the perfect time for her to do some narration. Due to just having finished several hours on the stage, her voice is perfectly warm and limbered up by then. With her drink of choice by her side (a real leaf mint tea or a glass of room temperature water - nothing too cold or too hot), she spends a couple of hours recording the audiobooks before retiring to bed.
An essential check before she hits the record button is to ensure her mobile phone is on silent – a text alert can really ruin a big dramatic moment within a story! Kim uses a music stand to rest the book on and turns each page with as much care as she can to minimise the rustling noise. Before starting to narrate a book, she will have read the whole book in advance, which is essential as some information may be given later in the book, which could affect the whole story. If the fact that the character speaks with a lisp is not revealed until page 130, that’s a whole lot of recording to back track on later!
Kim also never works without her notebook, in which she compiles a family tree of the characters within the story. She describes her notebook as often looking like a crime scene or a police murder board, with lines drawn from character to character, detailing their relationship to each other. Jotting down their characteristics as she goes along, she can create a real picture of the personalities within the book to bring the story to life. In one book she narrated, she had to make notes of nearly 80 different people from 20 different countries – no mean feat!
As a narrator, Kim isn’t choosy about what she narrates with one exception - horror stories, particularly the paranormal. She narrated a book once that was set in an old house with creaking floorboards. Living in an old house herself, her imagination ran wild and she politely requested we send her no more stories to scare her half to death!
The passion that Kim brings to being a narrator is obvious in all the books she has recorded in our collection. Her best moment, she tells us, was being issued a very specific brief from an author who wanted to hear the narration before she allowed the book into our collection. The author was so pleased with Kim’s work, that she emailed her personally to thank her and also to ask if she would please record the follow up.
Kim’s podcast for us where she talks in more detail about herself and her work as a narrator is here as well as under the podcast menu of our website.
If you've loved Kim's podcast and now want to listen to the books that Kim has recorded in our collection, please follow this link.