Interview with Actress Pam Dougherty AND Audiobook Giveaway!
Lots of excitement today! This week’s Naked Truth is being delivered courtesy of the multi-talented actress, Pam Dougherty, by way of an interview here at Writing in the Buff. Prepare to be enchanted by this lovely, gifted, and seemingly indefatigable lady. When you read her bio, below, you’ll see what I mean. Pam is one busy woman!
The minute I heard Pam’s amazing narration I knew she was the one to bring Maddie, Caleb, and the rest of the Fireflies characters to life, but I wasn’t sure she’d take a chance on this unknown author. By some miracle, she said “Yes!” and the first of the Fireflies novels, Love Built to Last, has just been released in audio with Love to Believe and Love to Win in the works for audio release by year’s end.
Listen to this clip from Love Built to Last. It’s the morning after scene, and if you enjoyed reading it, then I know you’ll love this: http://adbl.co/2eY3QIp
And now it’s time to meet Pam!
Pam has spent a lifetime on the professional stage, winning critical acclaim, and multiple awards and nominations for her many roles. One of her favorites was Violet Weston in the Pulitzer Prize winner August: Osage County at Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, a role she repeated at Water Tower Theatre (winning the 2013 Column Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role). Other award winning roles have included bawdy lounge singer Jeannette in The Full Monty and Big Edie in Grey Gardens, also at Water Tower Theatre. This past year she appeared as Hannah in Angels in America: Millennium Approaches at Uptown Players, and the Judge in Inherit the Wind at the Dallas Theater Center (winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Regional Theater). In “The Five Best Actors in Dallas,” the online Dallas Culture Map said, “Though we often lose her to the big and small screens, when Pam Dougherty appears on stage in Dallas, the whole city seems to sit up and take notice.”
Pam also works frequently in film, television, and radio. Movie roles include a crazy evangelist lady in the remake of The Town That Dreaded Sundown, with Ed Hermann and Veronica Cartwright. She was also featured in Finding Normal, with Candace Cameron Bure. On TV last season she appeared as Judge Martha Cotter in The Lying Game (ABC Family), and as Judge Barbara Hirsch in Dallas (TNT). In recent seasons she has been featured in “Something’s Amish” on In Plain Sight (USA Network), as a dirty-talking grandma who knits. She was also seen as Principal Weston in the pilot episode of NBC’s Chase, and Judge Fogle in NBC’s The Deep End (directed by Adam Arkin). Other film work includes roles in Dr. T and the Women (with Richard Gere, directed by Robert Altman), Walking Tall II (with Kevin Sorbo), A Woman of Independent Means (with Sally Field) and more. She has voiced numerous political radio spots for gubernatorial, senate and congressional races across the U.S., and frequently voices characters in the anime, animation and video game industry.
Pam holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Texas at Austin and an MFA in Directing from Southern Methodist University.
In the few short years that Pam has been narrating audiobooks, she has portrayed literally hundreds of characters in a variety of genres: contemporary romance, comic romance, historical romance, paranormal, historical memoir, non-fiction and even a few steamy titles as well! You can find her titles on Audible, Amazon and iTunes.
Hi Pam! Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for me. Let’s dive right in. 🙂
Lisa – Question 1: You’ve been a professional actress for over 40 years. Did you choose this profession, or did it choose you?
Pam: Well, I am the child of performers. During and after WWII, my mother and father toured with the USO. He led a “big band,” and she was in a girl group called “The Jivin’ Jills.” She later fronted his band. Even after they split up she continued singing in nightclubs well into the ‘60s, so my earliest influences were musical. I started taking piano lessons at five and didn’t stop until I was fifteen, seriously believing I would be a concert pianist. I guess it was in ninth grade when I realized Van Cliburn probably wasn’t going to marry me, AND I took a speech class. That was the year I made a sudden left onto the road not taken and started acting. I honestly don’t remember any specific “aha” point (it coulda been Van Cliburn).
Lisa – Question 2: Van Cliburn was amazing. I don’t blame you for your crush. 🙂 Since you set aside music for acting, Pam, has auditioning for roles become easier or is it still as nerve-wracking as when you started? Any auditioning tips to share with aspiring thespians?
Pam: Oh, it’s definitely easier nowadays, though I still occasionally get nervous at callbacks. It’s just that you get used to rejection. You have to, or you’ll never survive as a professional actor.
Lisa: The same is true for authors, so I definitely understand that.
Pam: There are occasionally roles that I really, REALLY want, and I don’t get them—not because the theater didn’t want me, but because I’m a member of Actors’ Equity Association. Regional theaters are mostly non-profit organizations, and can only afford a limited number of union contracts. My fellow professionals face the same problem, but we’ve chosen to be union members because we want and need the benefits that non-members don’t get—health insurance, pension contributions, etc.
Lisa – Question 3: With so much accomplished work, you probably have many favorite roles. If you could name only one, which would it be and why?
Pam: Big Edie in Grey Gardens. This musical was based on the lives of two real (and completely crazy) ladies who were related to Jackie Kennedy Onassis. It’s a true story that was made into an award-winning documentary film in the ‘70s, then into an HBO film just a few years ago with Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. It was both a vocal and acting challenge to play. I had to convincingly sing a character who was in her 80s. Both Big and Little Edie were nuts, but they were truly fascinating people.
Lisa – Question 4: Do you have a dream role, one you’ve yet to play but would love to?
Pam: There are two, both classics: Countess Aurelia in The Madwoman of Chaillot and Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals.
Lisa – Question 5: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you as an actress?
Pam: Well, there are several crazy things, but the most thrilling was probably when Richard Gere sat down next to me on the set of Dr. T and the Women and just started chatting me up like there was nothing else going on. I was one of several “patients.” We were on the sound stage in Dr. T’s “office,” and director Robert Altman was setting the stage for an accident, which involved a stunt actor. Altman’s back was to me, and he just didn’t see me to pull me into the scene. So Richard Gere, who just happened to be People Magazine’s “sexiest man of the year” that year, sees me all alone there, comes over and sits down next to me, and starts making small talk. And despite all my years of professional training, I’m completely star struck. I can feel my skin flushing from my waist up through my neck and into my face. Finally, he gets up and says something like, “He’ll never notice you behind here,” goes over, taps Altman on the back, and then moves on elsewhere. And at that point, Altman turned and said, “YOU, over here, between…” I don’t remember what happened after that. I was a basket case.
Lisa – Question #6: I’m a basket case just thinking about it! If that ever happened to me I’d go all fan-girl and fall apart. Gere sounds like a considerate man, which is always a good thing for a fan to hear, so thanks for that. After experiences like that one, what prompted your dive into audio book narration?
Pam: My daughter, actually. I had only listened to a few audiobooks over the years, but she is a real audiobook aficionado, and the more she talked about what she was listening to, the more I wondered if it was another actor path I could pursue. I had begun recording my own auditions for radio, and as I grew more accustomed to the technology of audio recording, I somehow made the connection that I had a place to record, the equipment to record, and the acting ability. All I needed was to learn how to put all that together. IT WAS NOT EASY. The technology curve was HUGE. I think I made 10 cents an hour, MAYBE, on my first audiobook. I got cast and jumped in before I really knew what I was doing. Now it’s slowly and surely becoming my primary source of income.
Lisa – Question 7: Earlier this year you earned the honor of becoming an “Audible Approved Producer.” (For those who don’t know, anyone can narrate books for Audible, but only the cream of the crop receive the Audible stamp of approval.) Big congratulations on that! As an in-demand narrator, how do you choose which audio book projects to take on?
Pam: It’s a combination of luck, risk, and attraction to the work. One of the things a potential narrator does is look at the book sales on Amazon—if it has very few sales and no reviews, chances are it won’t make a great audiobook. Is it well written or full of typos and bad grammar? (And I’ve seen some of those, believe me!) How long is it? Longer books sell better than short books. Does the author have a strong following—a big email list or blog readership—and a good marketing plan? All of these and gut instinct play a part.
Lisa – Question 8: That whole answer made my author’s heart beat faster—thanks for taking a chance on me! What is the most difficult aspect of narrating/producing an audio book?
Pam: Initially, it was the sound recording aspects. That was a big learning curve for me. Nowadays, editing comes much easier to me, and the bigger challenge is keeping voices separate when there are lots of characters. I had one book a couple of years ago for which I had to come up with 20 different male, small-town Texas, 1890s voices, in one scene. And the same number of females in another scene!
Lisa – Question 9: Can you offer any advice for authors in search of the perfect narrator? Questions to ask or things to watch out for?
Pam: I think the most important thing an author should look for is an interesting voice that really tells the author’s story, complete with subtext. And that means you are looking for some professional acting training from the narrator. Like your question above says, “anybody can narrate books,” and that’s true, almost anybody can read out loud—but is the narrator simply reading in a monotone, or is she/he giving real life to the characters and moving the story along?
Lisa – Question 10: What upcoming projects would you like to share with us? Where should we look for you next?
Pam: Right now I’m working on the second book in Katie Graykowski’s PTO Murder Club series, Blown to Pieces. Next up is Hans Holzer’s Phantoms of Dixie, for Crossroads Productions. Sometime after that I’ll begin work on the next two Fireflies books, Love to Believe and Love to Win.
Well, you know how excited I am about those last two. 🙂 Thanks so much, Pam, for taking the time for this interview. I appreciate all the narrator info, but to tell you the truth, I’m still aflutter over the Richard Gere thing.
Hey, gang, please be sure to leave comments and questions for Pam. She’s agreed to check back over the next week to respond to your inquiries. And as always, I’ll be here and will chat with you in the comments. See you there!
Please tell your audiophile friends about the audio release of Love Built to Last. And any of you who are interested in obtaining the audio book FREE in exchange for an honest review, please leave a comment along with your email address or contact me via email at email@example.com using FREE CODE in the subject field. I have some free AUDIBLE codes as giveaways for this purpose, but the number is limited. First-come basis, so don’t wait!
See you next week, buttercup. Have a great Wednesday. And Pam – thanks again! See you in the comments!
Romance is good for your heart! To purchase your copy of Love Built to Last, Love to Believe, or Love to Win in eBook or print just click the book cover on this blog’s sidebar. Autographed copies are available for purchase on my HOME page. 🙂 The audio version of Love Built to Last is available HERE now!