January LaVoy: Audiobook Narrator
January LaVoy: Audiobook Narrator
January LaVoy is a New York City based theatre, television, and voice actress. She made her Broadway debut in Lucy Prebble’s ENRON in 2010, and has appeared Off-Broadway in the world premiere of Will Eno’s play, Wakey, Wakey (Signature), Wings (Second Stage), Coraline (MCC), Two Trains Running, Home, and Funnyhouse of a Negro (Signature Theatre). She has played leading roles in regional theaters across the country, and created the character of Noelle Ortiz on the long-running ABC soap opera, “One Life to Live”.
Her voiceover work includes many national commercial campaigns and over 150 audiobooks. She has received over a dozen Audiofile Earphones awards for narration, as well as the 2017 SOVAS Award for Best Non-fiction voiceover. January was honored as Audiobook Narrator of the Year by Publishers’ Weekly in 2013, and has been nominated for seven Audie Awards, winning in 2014 for her narration of Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride, and in 2016 for her critically-acclaimed performance of Libba Bray’s #1 New York Times bestseller Lair of Dreams.
She received her MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado. She is married to her favorite actor, Mat Hostetler, and is an active member of the 52nd St. Project, which is dedicated to the creation and production of new plays for, and often by, kids between the ages of nine and eighteen that reside in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in New York City.
How did you prepare to narrate Love and Ruin?
I prepared for the performance of LOVE AND RUIN as I do for any book, although I have to admit, I was transported by it pretty quickly. Prepping a really good book can be tricky, in that I sometimes forget that I’m supposed to be making notes and technical analysis, and I become just a civilian reading for pleasure! (Sometimes I’ll realize I’ve gone twenty or thirty pages without making a note.) In truth, I try to keep my notations to the bare minimum — I will write in phonetic pronunciations for tricky or unfamiliar words, mark where to take a breath in a particularly long sentence, perhaps underline a word here or there for emphasis if the sentence structure isn’t immediately obvious. But that’s really all I try to do. When I’m in the recording studio, I want to “put the car in drive”, so to speak, and let the text propel me forward. If I make too many notes, I run the risk of getting in my own way, and overthinking my performance.
One additional thing I did to prepare for L&R, was to try to listen to a couple of old recordings of Martha Gellhorn and Ernest Hemingway. Not so that I could imitate them, per se, but just to try and get a sense of who they were, what their cadences were like. His voice, especially, was quite different than my imaginings of him, actually. I expected some thing very gravelly and sort of aggressive, and that’s not what he sounded like to my ear at all.
Other books narrated by January LaVoy:
It’s so difficult at this point to pick only three other books I’ve narrated, as I love so many of them, but I’ll try and spotlight a couple of recent favorites (in addition to LOVE AND RUIN, of course).
THIS BODY’S NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR BOTH OF US, by Edgar Cantero, was one of the most technically challenging books I’ve ever narrated. In addition to the fact that the main character is actually a male and a female who share the same body, Edgar uses language so beautifully and employs stylistic and structural changes like no author I’ve ever read before. And my producer, director, and I really collaborated in a new way to try and support all the styles in audio format. It’s hilarious, poignant, totally zany — you kind of have to listen to it/read it to believe it. I love that book.
INTERCEPTED, by Alexa Martin, isn’t out yet — I believe it will be released in September or October — but it’s my favorite romance I’ve read in a long time. It’s Alexa’s debut novel, and her voice is so strong and her writing so captivating that you’d never know it. I felt lonely for the main character after I finished reading the book, which in my mind is one of the best indicators of a great novel.
Lastly, I can’t ever really talk about my career without talking about THE DIVINERS series by Libba Bray. There are three books in the series now, and I believe the fourth and final installment will be published within the year. I can’t say enough good things about the books, and it has been one of the great honors of my life as a narrator to voice Libba’s gorgeous prose and her incredible characters. Also, for any history buffs out there, the books are filled with Easter eggs of facts and figures from New York City in the Roaring Twenties. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel more connected to another series, and I’m so grateful that it came my way.
More places to find January LaVoy:
In addition to narration, my other work is primarily on the stage. I have been involved for a few years now with a project that I’m very passionate about, called NATIVE GUARD, by US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. NATIVE GUARD is a book of poems published in the mid-2000’s that won the Pulitzer in (I believe) 2007. The poems pertain both to Natasha’s life, as a mixed-race child growing up in Mississippi in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as to the story of the Louisiana Native Guard, one of the first black regiments to serve in the Union Army in the Civil War. We’ve performed NATIVE GUARD three times so far, and also done an archival audio recording with LA Theatreworks, which I’m very excited to hear.
Currently, I’m performing in a production of CLUE: ON STAGE (yes, a play based on the film, based on the board game) at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts, and having an absolute blast. And, in addition to my upcoming audiobook work in the next few months, I’ll be workshopping and performing in a new piece in NYC in collaboration with the acclaimed theatre company The Mad Ones at Ars Nova.