Together with her mother, author Lisa Scottoline, Francesca Serritella writes the weekly “Chick Wit” column in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The column has been published in four collections, the most recent of which, MEET ME AT EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CLAIM, released in November. With her signature humor, Francesca discusses why funny memoirs make the best audiobooks, and how fun --- and unexpectedly emotional --- it was to record her own work with her mother.
Question: What does a great narrator add to an audiobook?
Francesca Serritella: A great narrator adds color, specificity and spirit to a story. Like any great actor, a narrator brings his or her own interpretation to the performance, and it adds a new layer to the work being read.
Q: What types of books do you like to listen to on audio?
FS: I personally love to listen to memoirs read by the author on audiobook, because then the audio lets you feel even closer to that author and his or her story. I especially like listening to humorous memoirs, like Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS, because it’s so easy and fun to laugh along with the author.
FS: I listen when I’m traveling on the subway. I get to hear great stories, and I never have to worry about a super-bass beat bothering the person next to me.
Q: What is the first audiobook you ever listened to? What prompted you to choose that title and to listen vs. read it?
FS: My mother popped in the audiobook to the first HARRY POTTER book on a long car ride when I was a kid. I had already read --- and loved, the book --- but it was so absorbing to listen and re-imagine it. Fastest car ride of my life.
Q: Do you have a favorite narrator? Tell us what makes his/her work so enjoyable for you.
FS: Lisa Scottoline is my favorite narrator, but I’m biased --- she’s also my mother! We co-author and narrate the audiobooks of our series of humorous memoirs, like our most recent, MEET ME AT EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE CLAIM. But I’m not choosing her as my favorite just to keep peace in the Scottoline-Serritella family...I really do get a kick out of watching her act our her essays, especially when she has to imitate my voice. I don’t sound anything like that!! Wait, maybe she’s not my favorite...
Q: Have you ever narrated your own audiobooks? If so, tell us about your experience.
FS: My mother and I narrate our series of humorous memoirs, and we have a blast recording the audiobooks! I laugh all over again watching my mom act out the stories of our wacky family, and I try not to throw stuff at her when she imitates my voice. But it's also unexpectedly emotional at times. You can have a degree of distance with words on a page, even if they're words about your own life. But when I listen to my mom tell the story of remembering her late father --- my grandfather --- and I hear her voice break, it brings me back to that moment in a more intimate way than reading or even writing it. When it comes to reading my own essays, I admit I get a little nervous --- I even practice a few times like a dork! My mom makes fun of me. But you'd be surprised how much you can stumble over the easiest words --- even ones you've written!