Christa Lewis, the actor giving voice to Tanya's new book IN THE GARDEN ROOM, was kind enough to step out of the studio and answer some questions. You can also visit her website: www.cglewis.com.
How long have you been narrating? How did you get your start?
I began narrating Audiobooks in 2012. I had just decided to stay in LA after a 17-year stint as a newsreader for an international television news broadcaster. I was phoning around town looking for a studio to record in and happened to call Deb Deyan by accident. She insisted I contact her then husband Bob and he auditioned me and put me on their roster of audiobook narrators. I did my demo shortly after.
What did you find enjoyable about voicing IN THE GARDEN ROOM?
The shifitng pov's. I love moving around in a story looking at it from different angles.
What did you find challenging?
Lilly's journey was excruciating to fulfill as an actress - each step further along was harder and harder to make with her. It was horrific and uncompromising. I had to gather up all my love and all my courage to keep going.
The book is set in 1909 and 1910. Are there any themes in the book that seem relevant today?
The throughline (for me) that dominates In The Garden Room is surviving impossible odds. It was shocking to realize that this story was really in many ways a true story - that this is our history as Americans, as women - that we all came up through these yards, through the stench, the desperation, and have evolved only incrementally - the greed, the sexual slavery and the grit - they are all still very much a part of life today. People are making hard and desperate choices in this country every day because there is no safety net of social services to catch them if they begin to slip for any reason, as Cora does. This system deals harshly with those who cannot or will not get up after a fall.
Which character did you particularly connect with? Why?
I think I connected most with Cora even though, of course I was horrified by her choices and I was rooting for Lilly. Still, I got under Cora's skin the most. My own mom was quite brutal to us growing up but later I came to understand she was crazed by her own childhood and faced lots of tough choices - it's easy to judge them now and say she chose poorly - but, at the time, she may have felt just as trapped and unhappy as Cora. She was unhinged in many ways and Cora's descent into darkness was painfully real to me.
What is one of your favorite things about narrating?
The end result is always a surprise. When I listen to the book after its finished I am always amazed at how the story emerged. It always takes me by surprise.
Any other new and interesting projects that are recently published or in the works?
I'm delighted that I've been asked by Hachette to narrate Blood For Bllood! It's the sequel to Wolf By Wolf by Ryan Graudin that I was fortunate enough to narrate last year. Huffington Post called it one of the top 10 YA's of 2015 and the narration won an Earphones.
Anything else you’d like to share?
My thanks - it is an enormous honor to be cast and narrate for a well-loved and brilliant narrator like Tanya Eby. It was a bit daunting!!! and a gift. It felt like Christmas all over again when I found out I had been cast. Thank you so much for your faith in me.
Christa's interpretation of the novel is beautiful: nuanced, pained, and even at times funny. You can listen to a sample or download the book HERE