"I love recording audiobooks. I didn't know that I would."
When one's passion and profession is storytelling, imagine the wonderful stories one can tell. Stefan Rudnicki is one of the best audiobook narrators around. And it seems that each part of his career has in fact prepared him to be just that.
Rudnicki has narrated more than 300 audiobooks. His career path has taken him to many locations and provided him with varied opportunities--all of which he brings to his current position as an award-winning audiobook narrator, producer, and director. He was born in Krakow, Poland, and has lived in Stockholm, Montreal, New York City, and Los Angeles. He was educated principally at Columbia University and the Yale School of Drama, and has taught at New York University and Dartmouth College, among others. He notes that his work as an educator informs his preparations as an audiobook performer.
Being a skilled actor doesn't hurt either. He has been in 80 stage productions on both coasts and abroad--Yale Repertory Theatre, Circle in the Square, Knightsbridge Theatre, the Edinburgh International Festival, and more--as well as more than a dozen movies.
Are audio performers actors, narrators, or storytellers? Rudnicki considers himself a storyteller first. "All three of these things must be happening, but the storytelling comes first. It's simply a matter of creating a rapport with the story and with the author and, ideally, a rapport with your audience--with your listener. Then comes the acting part, and--whether it's fiction or nonfiction, whether there are multiple characters or a first-person protagonist--there's a performance-acting element that comes into play when you have to turn an author's words into something that has lasting performance value. I treasure that."
He particularly likes the immediacy of recording audiobooks. "I enjoy the fact that I can do a book, send it off, and it's out there fairly soon. Then you're moving on to the next book. You're into another kind of material, a different author, a different genre, a different performance level, and that to me is exciting-- to keep shifting and learning."
Does Rudnicki have a favorite audiobook among the hundreds he has recorded? "I have a few of them--almost by genre. Over the last two to three years, I've been getting assignments and authors whose books are more challenging. I'm getting trickier assignments that casting producers know I can figure out. Currently, the Acts of Caine series by Matthew Stover is one of my favorites, and I've recorded four of them for Audible. They're a genuine hybrid between fantasy and science fiction."
He notes that these books are written by a talented writer who, at times, uses a difficult made-up language. "I've been able to find my pace and flow through it. These books, with their philosophical excursions and diversions, entertain me so much while I'm recording them. I'm incredibly proud of the work I've done with them."
Rudnicki has worked on hundreds of audiobooks in his various roles as producer, director, and narrator. His deep, rich baritone is among the most recognizable voices in audio today, and his ability to speak Polish, Russian, or any number of Eastern European dialects and accents makes him especially valuable to audiobook producers. He has received numerous awards, including a Grammy (Best Children's Album, 1999--THE CHILDREN'S SHAKESPEARE), a Bram Stoker Award, a Ray Bradbury Award, many Audie Awards, and numerous Earphones Awards from AudioFile. Recently, he was nominated for another Grammy as producer of Through the Looking Glass, narrated by Harlan Ellison.
Stefan Rudnicki believes that predicting the future of audiobooks is a difficult task. "I couldn't begin to make a guess what the future of audiobooks will be. Everything from delivery formats to the dynamics of publishing is changing."
What is predictable is that he will remain a fascinating storyteller.
"I want the listener to be