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By: Chloe Huang

Ask anybody on the street, and chances are that they’re very familiar with books and the publishing industry. But there’s a book-related industry that we don’t talk about often. Audiobooks. Love or hate them, there’s no denying that the audiobook industry has grown a lot in the last few years.

As with any industry, there are celebrities in this field. Julia Whelan is one of them. She is one of Audible’s most popular audiobook narrators, and has narrated more than 400 audiobooks, as well as articles for many magazines and newspapers. Some of her works include the audio version of 2017 books “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” and articles for The New Yorker.

Her voice acting and performance skills have earned her many fans in the literary field. “I have an absolute voice crush on her,” said Olivia Nuzzi, New York magazine’s Washington correspondent whose work has been narrated by Whelan. “There is some Joan Didion quality to her voice, detached but not uninterested, with a conspiratorial tone that makes her a very compelling storyteller.”

Many people attribute this to Whelan’s unique method of narration. When she takes on a book, she first reads it once or twice. Then, only when she decides the accents she'll be using and the themes and parts of the book she’ll be emphasizing, will she start recording. She thinks of audiobook narration as a performance.

“Narrating a book really is a performance,” she said, “and it can be harder to do than acting, because I can’t use my eyes or facial expressions to convey something to the audience.” Whelan is now using her voice acting experience in her original novel, “Thank You for Listening”. Expected to be released on August 2, this novel is set in the very industry Whelan works in: the audio industry.

This book is about a former actress turned audiobook narrator that loses sight of her dreams after a tragic accident, and what happens when she accepts the job to narrate one last romance novel. A little research, and it’s clear that parts of this book is based on Whelan’s life. It wasn’t intentional. “It wasn’t until I got into the recording process that I realized just how meta the whole thing is,” she said.

While audio book narrators often read new books before everyone else, they usually don’t have a chance to release books. Whelan is optimistic about hers. The audio industry is “perfect for rom-com material”, Whelan says, and that’s exactly what her book is. While “Thank You for Listening” may not be for everyone, the audio version is bound to have everyone enraptured by Whelan’s soothing voice.



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