Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer Shorts '14 with Rachel Fulginiti

June is Audio Book Month (JIAM) and I am participating in Summer Shorts ’14 blog series; featuring Rachel Fulginiti reading lovely piece of poetry: Jasmine Comes Up, by Rumi.  
This is all part of the audio community effort to give back. Spoken Freely is a group of more than 40 professional narrators who have teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to present an audio collection of poetry, short stories and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.
Throughout June 2014, 1-2 stories, poems and essays will be released online each day, via Going Public and on other author and book blogs (like mine). As a “Thank you!” to all listeners, the pieces will be available to listen on line the day of their release. A bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media; over 20 additional tracks are added. You can find the full release schedule on Going Public Blog.
The previous post 06/07/14  to this series can be found at:  Bob Souer’s blog  featuring Jeffrey Kafer, Hearing Aid, by Jeremy Robinson
The next post 06/09/14 in this series can be found at:  Overreader, featuring: David Drummond, Wild Nights! Wild Nights! By Emily Dickinson
But I can’t just leave a sample of the audio—and not talk to Rachel, so after you hear the sample of her work; read on and find out more about her—her love of music and yoga; and the books that touch her a number of fun things:

Rachel reads two Poems by Rumi, by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, translated by Coleman Barks Free Listen: Jasmine Comes Up
Poem Summary:
Jasmine Comes Up; One of Rumi’s love poems, describing the deep admiration and eternal love felt for a best friend or lover. Say I am you; Rumi descrips the eternal oneness of the universe and how we are not seperate from nature or each other—that everything, including you and I, is one and the same, cosmically connected. Translation copyright is held by Coleman Barks (translator). Recorded with permission.

But now, lets find out more about the Rachel--  because I find her fascinating and fun!  
How did you become a Voice Artist?
RF: It’s been quite a journey! I went to college for theatre, graduated with a BA in acting from the University of New Hampshire and moved to NYC. I went to a 2 Yr. Meisner conservatory in Manhattan and spent ten years doing theatre, performance art and indie / student films.
I moved to LA in 2003 and did the on-camera thing here but it wasn’t for me. After a lot of soul searching I discovered voiceover and audiobooks. People had always responded to my voice, so it was a natural fit. I got some training and immersed myself in my new-found love.
MVF: Do you remember the first book you narrated? How about the first Voice over? After seeing your interview on ActorE Chat, you mentioned they were two different skills.
RF: The first book I narrated was “Blame it on Barbara” by CB Lilley. The author was someone I had worked with at this survival job I had in Hollywood - the only desk job I ever had! (It lasted about a year and a half!!) She had written a YA novel and wanted to have an audiobook made. I had just met my friend (narrator) Amy Rubinate in Pat Fraley’s “Billion Dollar Read” weekend (a course he teaches for audiobook narration). I asked her if she wanted to direct it and I went up to SF to record it in her studio. We had no idea what we were doing!! ;)
My first VO job was an animated pilot called “Cop Roach” that never saw the light of day!
MVF: That is so awesome you did this for your friend; who knew where it would lead! And I chuckled at the VO job; very interesting. (Love your reference to a survival job—I so understand this!)
What is the most difficult thing for you about narration?
RF: For me, the most difficult thing about narrating a book is how time consuming and labor intensive it is. It's so different from the other voice work I do. When I get a new book, I need to have it pre-read, do research and make character choices, usually within a few days- which is tough because I prefer to take my time when I read; I try to give myself more time when I can, but often the deadlines are tight.
Then the recording process can be exhausting, especially when recording yourself, because you’re constantly switching from right brain to left brain. The first day or two are a breeze but after a bunch of consecutive six or seven hour days in the studio you get tired; at that point it can be challenging to keep your energy up and stay present from moment to moment (which is crucial to good narration!), instead of just going on auto-pilot.
MVF: I find this fascinating—and it makes sense (reminds me of self-editing).  I must ask—do you save any of your out-takes? (I shouldn’t even ask… ) I know you take a self-photo when you are in the midst of this process—which I hope you share your latest one.
Rachel's self photo while recording
RF: You know, I really need to start doing that. I could make a fabulous blooper reel! I can curse like a sailor when I’m frustrated – lol! As far as the pictures, most of them come out pretty awful because I’m usually tired and over it and the lighting is bad!
The one I sent you is one I actually like, because it captures my frame of mind during that book. It was a book called Left by Tamar Ossowski. The narration was split up between 3 narrators. My part was the mother – who leaves her autistic child behind for reasons that you find out at the end of the book. It was rather intense.
MVF: I love the photo—because, like you said, it really evokes emotion and I am always drawn to those images that have some form of intensity, which as you said, it really reflects what you were working on. (I’m putting this on my list).
What do you find is the easiest for narration?
RF: I love getting into the emotional life of the characters and also doing dialogue between characters. I find that’s a place where I naturally excel because of my acting background.
MVF:  I have a great amount respect for actors and the skills you learn--I have found those who have this training tend to write stories with the best dialogue and characterizations. (No, I do not have any training, but I try to pay close attention to those who have.)
RF: Yes, that makes sense.
Why did you choose this piece (Jasmine Comes Up, by Rumi) to narrate?
RF: Rumi has always been one of my favorites. I find it amazing that his words are still just resonant and relevant today as they were then— he lived in the 13th Century! His poems are universal and speak to universal truths.  
This particular poem (Jasmine Comes Up) is one of my all time favorites. I felt compelled to share it. The first time I came into contact with it, a good friend had written it out for me and put it inside my birthday card. I had never heard something so beautiful in my whole life. I was incredibly touched that she had chosen this poem for me - it made me cry! I ended up losing the piece of paper she had written it on and searched for it for years! It was difficult to find because it’s rather obscure and I had no idea what the title was. I finally found it again. It still makes me cry.  
MVF: That is a gift—to have a friend choose a piece of poetry for you. I am glad you found the poetry and I am looking forward to hearing it.  
RF: Yeah! Up until then I would have never thought to do that. It’s such a lovely way to honor someone. I’ve done it for others since then!
MVF:  Excellent!
What is your preferred genre to narrate?
RF: I love a good mystery-suspense. I also love comedy; I did a lot of comedy as an actor so there's a natural timing there. I’m often cast in romances, which can also be fun…if they’re not too cheesy (haha)!
MVF: I love a good comedy!  Have you thought about urban fantasy? (and yes, totally self-serving here--*grin*) 
RF: Haha! I haven’t thought much about it, yet… but I like the sound of it! Urban is something I do well and fantasy…well that’s just fun anyway you look at it!
MVF:  Which makes me happy!
What do you like to do for fun when you have time?
RF: I love movies and going to see live music and theatre. Playing basketball. Swimming. Hiking. Yoga.
MVF: I share a love of Hiking and Yoga (I need to do more).  I’m sort of a little bit here and there—is there a particular kind of yoga you prefer?  Do you teach Yoga?
RF: My whole adult life I wanted to be a person who did yoga daily. For some reason, I could never get there. I would do it for a while but then I’d drop it, or I’d do it steadily but not frequently enough. In March my husband and I bought a house. We moved to a completely different part of the city and I found a yoga center that I love. I’ve been doing yoga almost every single day for the last 3 months. It is transformative! Truly amazed by the changes I’m seeing – physically, mentally, in every way! It’s so deep. I’m super grateful that I’m finally ready for this commitment in my life.  
As far as the type, it’s mostly just basic hatha yoga, with some flow classes and a couple of Iyengar classes sprinkled in because I love the teacher
MVF: This is what intrigues me. I did yoga almost daily for over a year ( a number of years ago)—and I was at my best physically. You have totally inspired me. I usually end up doing yoga via online; but I take what I can get. I am still learning the different methods like Hatha, and Iyengar…. Hmm. Maybe next time I’ll introduce you to kettle bells.. J
There is a musical project you work with your husband on called “Fantasizer”, can you tell us a bit about it?  
RF: Fantasizer is a musical hybrid, an amalgamation of genres including rock n roll, metal, electronic and trip hop. My husband is drummer, programmer and producer. I sing and write the lyrics and melodies. It’s quite dark and sexy. I have a performance art background so it’s definitely theatrical.
MVF: Sounds like something I would love to listen to. I’m always on the lookout for new music.
RF: We made a record a few years ago called “Romance with the Darkness”.
MVF: So glad you shared this!
RF: We played out a bit but it was right at the time that my career was taking off so it became difficult to do everything. We still have tons of songs that are in various stages of development!
MVF: I am looking forward to more!  
RF: I thought you might dig it based on your website and your book descriptions! I’ll send you a cd if you want – let me know your address!
Btw, I can’t wait to read something of yours! It looks so intriguing! Right up my alley!  It’s funny, Xe said she thought we’d be a great fit!  
MVF: Your music is very much what I like to listen to! I am going to put it on my play list as I write--I have to have music, it helps put me in the right place. And I am blushing—thank you for your interest in my stories. My first book being re-released and should be out late this year or early next, followed by the second book.  I’m such a rebel when it comes to writing…
What do you like to read for pleasure, not work? Can you name five books you’ve read that have stayed with you?
RF: I listen to audiobooks now instead of actually reading!  
I learn a lot from listening and it's also wonderful for my crazy schedule; I can multi-task-- listen while driving or cleaning the kitchen, for instance.  
MVF: I listen more to audio myself than read and do the same thing. Audio saves me because I find I need to “Feed” my muse.  
RF: I just love Gillian Flynn’s books, especially Dark Places and Sharp Objects. I would love to narrate one of her books someday!
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill narrated by Kate Mulgrew was just brilliant. She was up for an Audie for that this year.
Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper narrated by Tom Cavanaugh was wonderful – it has stayed with me for sure- very funny and touching.
The Help was wonderful too- so much better than the movie!
MVF: Excellent! (I ask this question, because I am shameless about finding new reads).  
RF: I love getting recommendations too! I always have a book going. I’m about to begin listening to Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn, narrated by my friend Hillary Huber. I’ll let you know what I think!
MVF: Oooh, I would love to know. I’m actually going between listening to classics (like Alexander Dumas) and I’m currently setting up to listen to the final installment in an Urban Fantasy series by Jeaniene Frost read by Tavia Gilbert (my favorite series—I listen to it like sipping a fine wine; I try to savor it).
What is your favorite drink other than water?
RF: In the summer I love iced ginger tea. I also love fresh juices - I’m a big green juice person.
MVF: I’ve never tired ginger tea, now I’m interested!
RF: I make it as sun tea- just throw a bunch of ginger tea bags in a tall container, fill it with filtered water and let it brew in the sun. It’s so refreshing and totally energizes without caffeine – just makes me feel really good! I drink it throughout the day when I need to keep my energy up and my attitude positive!
MVF: This is excellent—I’m trying to break from coffee. Yes. I am one of those who love it; but I adore tea as well. Thank you!
RF: Alcohol-wise I switch it up, but I’m mostly a whiskey girl. Give me a Makers on the rocks with a splash of ginger ale and I’m a happy camper.  
MVF: That sounds good as well, do you have a particular brand of whiskey you prefer? (The favorite around here is Gentleman Jack)
RF: Gentleman Jack is great! I actually love Irish whiskey too, like Jameson or Bushmills.
MVF: I need to try those, you have been giving me some of the best suggestions—from books to yoga, music, and now whiskey!
Where is one place you haven’t been, that you’d love to visit?
RF: I would love to go to Bali. I’ve heard about it for years!
MVF: That sounds interesting—I hope you get to go.
RF: Me too! I know I will… although I will have to drag my husband. He is not quite as adventurous as I am! But once I get him to do something, he loves it!
MVF: It will be wonderful! I know this—and just by reading this answer, it is my perception you both inspire each other.  Lovely! (and when you do, not if, you go to Bali, I would love to have you come and share pictures and adventure!)
MVF: Thank you so much for letting me chat with you and it is a pleasure to have you on my blog. I hope you come visit again!
RF: Thank YOU so much. I’ve really enjoyed this! Please stay in touch and I’ll do the same!!
MVF: I most certainly will! *grin*


Rachel Fulginiti is an audiobook narrator, voice actor and blogger. Her warm rich tone makes her a favorite in the romance genre. A strong background in theatre and acting informs her reads. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire (BA, Acting) and the Two-Year Meisner Conservatory at The School for Film and Television in New York City. A self-professed "theatre geek", Rachel cut her teeth on stage before landing behind the mic. Her voice can be heard throughout the world on radio, television and online. Also a rock singer and a yogi, Rachel lives in Los Angeles with her husband and her dog Maynard.Website:

I also want to thank Xe Sands, who organized and produced this Blog Series, what a fabulous project!

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