The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street: Karen White and Aimée Bruneau

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street is the sixth audiobook in the Tradd Street series, and at this point both author Karen White and narrator Aimée Bruneau have plenty of experience bringing these characters to life for readers and listeners.

[audiobook title=”The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street” isbn=”9781984883537″ author=”Karen White” narrator=”Aimée Bruneau”][/audiobook]

Author Karen White spoke with us about her inspiration, the audiobook’s spooky vibe, her own favorite listens, and more.

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

My love of Charleston and my fascination with its history inspired me to write the first book in the series, The House on Tradd Street. That still propels me forward with each installation (Christmas Spirits is book #6), but now it’s the characters that people the stories that inspire me. I’ve been writing this series for over a decade, so I feel as if the characters are good friends and family members and we’ve all been on this journey together.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street is written in first person (like all of the books in the series). This isn’t new or unique, but when the protagonist can interact with ghosts, the first person narration gives it a little more spooky vibe.

Charleston is in the South, but they do not speak with traditional Southern accents. Native Charlestonians have their own dialect and narrator Aimée Bruneau reflects that beautifully.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

My characters live in my head and only speak to me–until I hear the audiobook. That’s when it becomes surreal and those people in my head suddenly have a separate and distinct voice and become quite real. It’s pretty magical!

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I love audiobooks and have been a huge fan ever since I had to listen to them on my CD walkman! I listen to them every chance I get–while getting dressed, walking the dogs, exercising, driving (even small distances). I don’t have a lot of time to read so this is a great way to experience all those books that are calling to me.

I adore Liane Moriarty and have listened to most of her books on audio. Her latest, Nine Perfect Strangers, is read by the amazing Caroline Lee. She really sounds like what you’d imagine the main character to speak like and her Aussie accent (she must be a native!) is spot-on.

Another recent listen was The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, narrator Imogen Church. Just perfect! I’ve listened to other titles by Ms. Church, and have actually searched for her name instead of a book when I want to listen to something good.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

Independent booksellers were the ones who championed my first books by hand-selling to their customers, talking about me and bringing me into their stores for appearances. Even now, they continue their ardent support. Owning a bookstore is a passion for the written word, a passion we share. So many booksellers have become my personal friends, making book tour seem a lot like a family vacation to visit relatives.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

If you use a Bluetooth headset to listen to your audiobooks, don’t get so absorbed in the book that you forget to take it off before stepping into the shower. Sharing for a friend.

Karen White

Narrator Aimée Bruneau, who has narrated the Tradd Street series, Bones and Roses, and So Much Pretty, spoke with us about her path to becoming a narrator, her process for getting into each character’s skin, and the key to her success as a narrator.

Please tell us a little bit about your path to becoming an audiobook narrator.

I’ve been a theater kid all my life. After getting my masters in Acting, I started directing more, and then began teaching Acting for Seattle area colleges and universities. Audiobooks are a great fit for me because I’m both an actor and director. I was fortunate that Lyssa Browne at Cedar House Audio came across my voiceover demo online. We started working on the Tradd Street series back in 2010. Our first and second collaborations were nominated for Audie Awards. Lyssa’s a fantastic producer and director, and I’ve been able to grow as a narrator in her Seattle studio.

What is your process for preparing to narrate an audiobook?

I read the script – slowly. Each time I come across a new character, I’ll use the author’s description to imagine what they might look like. I search Google Images for this sort of person. For example: “prim elderly woman”, “rugged athletic man”, “pale blond boy”. I collect images as I read to create a photo collage for the book. These images are really helpful for me when creating vocal characterizations. I look over the images each day before I get into the booth, or I’ll pin them up around me. It’s my way of getting into their skins.

What do you think is the key to your success in narrating audiobooks?

Hands down, it’s been working with a strong director. I’ve been lucky to work on so many books with Lyssa Browne at Cedar House Audio. She’s also an actor and narrator, so communication is easy.

What is your favorite line from an audiobook you’ve narrated?

The prologue of Cara Hoffman’s So Much Pretty is wonderful. Although that book is heart-wrenching, I really enjoyed working on that project.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I am, and I’ll listen to anything when the narrator is really good! Michelle Obama’s Becoming is exceptional. I really admire the late Katherine Kellgren’s work as a narrator. She was simply incredible.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

As humans, we’ve been telling stories for a really long time. I love that audiobooks are now a part of this history.

Aimée Bruneau • Photo by LaRae Lobdell

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