Debby Irving on Self-Narrating Waking Up White

Debby Irving snaps a selfie while finishing up recording in her closet-turned-studio.
Debby Irving on Self-Narrating Waking Up White
What do you do when you’ve got an author-narrator who's so in-demand, it's tough to find time to get them into the studio? We had to get creative to make sure Debby Irving's Waking Up White could be told in her own voice, and that meant bringing the studio to her. Here's what she had to say about the experience of narrating her memoir in a recording studio/walk-in closet:
Last June, when I learned through my publicist that Publishing had inquired about obtaining the international audiobooks rights for Waking Up White, I braced myself to share with them one non-negotiable: I wanted to self-narrate. After all, it’s such a personal story. I couldn’t imagine anyone else’s voice revealing my personal humiliations and awakenings. To my delight, in’s first correspondence, they had one hope in particular: That I would narrate my own story. Thus began a beautiful partnership.
When I learned that Audiobooks would be shipping me the technology necessary to create a home studio, I was a little skeptical. Did they understand how un-tech-savvy I was? With humor and patience, the Publishing team coached me through the process of choosing a quiet spot in my home to create a studio and together we tested and tested until that quiet spot became an acoustic dream. The spot? My closet. Rather, I should say, the closet I share with my husband. Our little 6’ x 4’ space crammed with shoes and clothes became further crammed with every extra pillow and blanket in the house.
In this padded and darkened space, I slipped on the headphones and began to read aloud. There were times I had to pause to wipe my eyes and take a deep breath. Revisiting poignant conversations with my parents, breakthrough moments in my awakening process, how naïve I’d once been, and the times my ignorance had negatively impacted people of color stirred me all over again. It’s a powerful thing to read aloud. The pace and intention demands lingering on each and every syllable in ways silent reading does not. My story is an emotional one and I couldn’t help but feel my way through it.
Waking Up White will be available everywhere good audiobooks are sold on April 19, 2016.

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