Please introduce yourself. Tell us what you do and what you are currently working on.
My name is Therese Plummer and I am a professional Actor and Audiobook Narrator. I just finished recording a six book series called The Vampire World Saga by P.T. Hylton and Jonathan Benecke for Podium Audio. I am also working on a title for Irene Hannon called Starfish Pier for Recorded Books and a couple fun day records at Audible with different projects.
How did you get started?
I was auditioning and taking classes in NYC about 18 years ago and my mom kept encouraging me to get into audiobooks. As a daughter is wont to do, I ignored her and kept on my path, but when an audiobook class popped up I was intrigued and took it and the rest is history. Robin Miles was teaching that class and told me I should be doing this professionally. She taught me the skills needed to go into the booth and bring a story to life and amazingly it is ALL about acting. It is acting. I began auditioning and the journey has been evolving for the last 15 years. So, I had to go back to my mom, who is my number one fan today, and tell her, again, she was right!
What inspired the work you are doing?
I am the fifth of eight kids: four brothers and three sisters. If you wanted to get heard in that tribe you better have your story and characters and performance top notch because it was a rough crowd! My dad is a brilliant storyteller and used to perform A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens as a one-man show for us growing up. He started the gig as a way to make extra money for Christmas presents for his tribe but it became a hit and soon a Christmas tradition for so many families. Today my brother and I tell the story at Grey Towers in Milford PA., since my father retired, and it is a complete honor and joy. Also, I have been fascinated by life and other human beings since I have been born. I am a natural student and observer of the human experience. I studied psychology and theatre at King’s College, in PA. Working with kids and adults in crises and dealing with substance abuse and mental illness was the greatest acting school I could have gone too. I began naturally utilizing my creative sides in therapy, with the kids especially, and watched them flourish and come alive in a way talking therapies couldn’t bring out. Having my own struggles and recovery growing up I also brought an understanding to the table that most clinical workers don’t have. Again, the human experience. So, no matter who I am voicing in a story I have so much research in my mental and physical database to draw from that it is amazing. I never knew being alive and fully immersed in life in all its colors could provide me with so much to give back to others.
What is your biggest passion? Do you feel like you are living your passion and purpose?
My biggest passion in this lifetime is to utilize my creativity and gifts and be of service to others. I don’t always know what that is going to look like but some of the emails I receive from listeners going through health issues or depression or PTSD and telling me that listening to my voice perform the stories has made their days brighter is the greatest feeling in the world. Moms emailing me that they listened to a story I performed on a family vacation and the kids were laughing and enjoying it is pure gold for my heart. My passion is to continue reaching as many people as I can (TED Talks, The Moth…) with my story and where I ended up to help maybe one person in the room not give up and keep going.
What is your biggest dream?
I would LOVE to be on a bigger platform to utilize my gifts of acting and storytelling and helping others. I come from a really crazy beautiful talented and dysfunctional upbringing that has shaped me into the actor and storyteller I am today. I almost gave up when I was younger and if it wasn’t for my innate creativity and the help of teachers, mentors and guides along the way I wouldn’t be here. I would LOVE to share that story on a TED Talk or other platforms so others will have hope.
More about Therese and Her Work
What is a day in the studio like for you?
I get to the studio to start my session at 10:00 am. I will yuck it up with the engineers and whoever else is around and then get into my studio for a full day of performing. I love the pomodoro technique lately as it is fantastic for productivity and keeps my energy levels at a sustainable level. My typical recording day is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tell me a bit about transforming books into audiobooks. How do you prepare, and what do you most enjoy about the preparation? From one project to the next, how much do you change your approach to each audiobook?
I love this question! Each book is a new friend I have just met and in order to get to know her I need to really listen. The book tells me everything I need to know because the author has taken the time to create this world and the characters whose journeys I am lucky to go on and bring to life. Every story has its own personality and vibe. If I have questions regarding pronunciations I will submit a word list to my producers and also will collaborate with the authors if I am able to ask specific questions about how they ‘hear’ certain characters. My prepping means I read the entire book and will highlight ‘directions,’ I see (e.g. he whispered, she muttered, he said in a flat voice, she roared). I will have made a new friend so when I go into the studio to give the book a voice it is now a dialogue with my new friend.
What do you believe are your greatest strengths as a narrator of books? What is the most rewarding or coolest thing you get to bring to this experience through your reading?
I believe my greatest strength as a storyteller is the ability to immerse my whole self into all of the characters and trust myself to then translate that vocally. I lose myself in the story and the characters and I think you have to do that to bring the authors world alive vocally. It is so fun to play crazy characters (lycans, vampires, gargoyles, etc) or little kids talking to their parents and to hear my voice just become what is in my head. I am one of eight kids in my family and I have 15 nephews and nieces to date so I have lots of inspiration:-)
How do you take care of your voice?
Sleep is my number one voice-care. The others are vocal/diaphragm warm ups before my session. Stretching my tongue, jaw, throat and face. Also lots of water, espresso (not sure that’s a good one but is my vice) and tea. I love soups. And Airborne in the beginning and end of a session.
I’d love to know more about reading Robyn Carr’s work! How do you approach romance in particular as a narrator? (Especially kissing/love scenes!)
I was asked to audition to narrate Virgin River in 2009 at Recorded Books in NYC. They chose my voice and none of us knew the journey we would all go on! The romance books are the same as any other story as it is a friend I have yet to meet. The thing I love about these stories though is that each book has so many mini stories going on that it felt like a soap opera or television show while I narrated. The love scenes are intimate, personal, passionate and sometimes funny so as the voice of the man and the woman and the narrator I have my work cut out for me. There is a way to soften my voice but get closer to the microphone so I am not too soft and bring the scene to life. I have cracked myself up when the groan I emit as the man comes out more like a croak and my engineer and I will have a good chuckle before going back and getting it right. Again I am bringing a story alive to your ears so the more natural and realistic I can get it the better for you. That is my goal.
I am blessed to call Robyn a friend and she is one of the funniest, most real, bad-ass queens I know. I was able to narrate all of her Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan’s Crossing series as well as her stand-alone novels. I adore these stories and characters. I was able to audition and landed a role on season one of Virgin River for Netflix. To walk on set and be in Jack’s bar after bringing it to life for so many years through audio was surreal and amazing. I think they did an amazing job with the series! The best part of Robyn’s books is that she writes about people all of us know. Everyone can relate and escape into a really good story for a while. Healthy escapism.
See Therese Plummer in action:
Therese's Top Audiobook Picks for Summer 2020
During these uncertain times, mindfulness is key to sustaining social distancing and what better way to escape the news than to get lost in a classic or try out a new release? What is more, there are many services out there right now that are offering free audiobooks and subscription services!
One size fits all, they are easily portable (in your phone!), and you can listen while doing something else: driving, in the tub, working out, cooking the big meal, etc. Here are a few of my top picks for this summer reading/listening season:
1. Virgin River by Robyn Carr (Also on Netflix)
2. The Jetsetters by Amandaa Eyre Ward
3. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. Webb
4. The Country Guesthouse by Robyn Carr
5. Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
6. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
7. The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan
9. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
10. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
11. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
12. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
13. All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenburg
15. There’s a Word for That by Sloane Tanen
I hope you are now enticed to check out audiobooks. You can find Therese Plummer's audiobooks here on Amazon*. My favorite audiobook series is Nemesis by Brendan Reichs which consists of Nemesis, Genesis, and Chrysalis. Thank you for joining me today. I will be back tomorrow with Rainy Days for the Harpers Girls by Rosie Clarke. It is the 3rd book in Welcome to Harpers Emporium series. I hope that you have a productive day. Take care, stay safe, and Happy Reading!