An Interview with Danielle Cohen (Voice Artist of ‘The Smog’)
Danielle Cohen is a British actor and voice artist living in Vermont, USA. She has narrated over 35 audiobooks -- a list that now includes The Smog.
How did you get into audiobook recording? What excites you about audiobooks?
I have always been a narrator. From a very young age I would read articles from the newspaper aloud to my family and I dreamt of being a newsreader. I took speech and drama classes throughout my childhood; one of the skills you had to master was sight reading – a good skill to have as an audiobook narrator!
I pursued a career in acting, but put things on hold once I had a family. Reading aloud to my children was probably the catalyst that made me realize that audiobook narration was for me; I loved it, they loved it. Moving to a quiet house in the woods where it’s easy to record with no background noise of planes, trains and automobiles seemed like destiny!
The main thing that excites me about audiobook narration is bringing a story and its characters to life. It feels like a wonderful opportunity and an honour and I always strive to do the best job I can!
What was your favourite aspect of reading The Smog?
Definitely reading the wonderful array of characters! I love the challenge of trying to ensure that the characters have different tones to their voices, even if they have the same accent. I hope I achieved success with that goal with The Smog.
Was there a character in the book you particularly connected with?
I connected most with Jean Clarke, the female protagonist of The Smog. I initially felt sorry for her as she had a difficult marriage, but her strength and determination to be successful in London was admirable. I definitely felt at the end that she would move forward in a positive way and go on to bigger and better things.
What did you find most difficult about the reading experience?
Although I love being an audiobook producer, the prolonged sitting (especially during the editing process) is my least favourite part of the whole experience. I am a pretty active person and sitting for prolonged periods is not easy for me! In the initial phase of my audiobook work I did try standing while I was recording, but standing in the same position for multiple hours is not great either...I frequently came over a tad dizzy!
Much of The Smog is set in, or features characters from, London’s East End. How did you handle the accents and differentiating the voices?
From a young age I was always doing impressions of people from television programs, so I think my love of accents is innate. I am from Manchester in the North West of England, but growing up I had family who lived in London and I think I just soaked up their accents whenever we visited them. Also as a child I did watch a lot of TV, including plenty of Carry On films (you have to be a certain age to remember those!) and was definitely inspired by Barbara Windsor and Sid James to talk in a cockney accent! I have a multitude of accents in my repertoire and am always happy to try out more. Now with the wonders of the internet, working on accents is much easier.
What’s it like being a British person living in Vermont?
Great question! Well, Vermont is part of New England, so I guess I'm not far from home. I actually love being a Brit in the US as most people seem to like us Brits...especially the accent! I get asked about my accent all the time, which doesn't bother me as I love talking to people and I am proud of being from Manchester. Coming from Manchester, where its geographical position makes it prone to rain, I love the extremes of the New England weather. It snows every winter, and it is lovely and sunny every summer which always seems like a novelty. Bringing my children up in a place where you spend the summers swimming in lakes and local swimming holes is perfection. I also love living in a place where the "mud room" is one of the most important rooms in the house!