Who is that Narrator? An Interview with Denice Stradling

My latest audiobook is now live (‘A Bolt from the Blue’)

… so I thought it was time to do a little sit-down with my favorite narrator! Denice Stradling has narrated all the Bennett Sisters mysteries. She began years ago with ‘Blackbird Fly,’ and it’s been just the best collaboration. I ❤️ Denice!

Denice Stradling
Denice in her studio

Lise: First of all, thank you so much for narrating all the Bennett Sisters Mysteries. That continuity means a lot to me, and, I hope, to listeners of the audiobooks.

Denice: Trust me, Lise, the pleasure is all mine!!!  I love following Merle and Pascal, Francie and all the sisters.  (I’m smiling, just thinking about them!!)

  • How did you get started in audiobook narration, i.e., what is your background?

I come from a theatre background, with a little TV and film work thrown in. I’ve always been an avid reader since I was seven.  When my mother-in-law gave me an audio book to listen to – a bell went off in my head.  “Wouldn’t this be THE BEST to be able to do this!!”  I did some research, took some classes, did some volunteering with Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, and that was my start.  

  • You narrated ‘Blackbird Fly’ almost ten years ago, before Amazon/Audible got into the business. What was it like in the early days of ‘indie audiobooks’?

My first book was a Young Adult book for Iambik.  I auditioned for it, and got it.  I don’t think I gave much thought to whether it was ‘indie’ or not.  I was so happy to have an audiobook to narrate – that’s all I thought about!!  Then, ACX/Audible came on the scene and I think that’s when I realized how thriving the whole indie book world was.  It was so exciting to see!

  • What ever became of Iambik, the first audiobook production company we dealt with?

They’re still in business, as far as I know.  I think they’re mostly focusing on textbooks now.  I did a couple of titles for them, but then got quite busy with other work with other companies.  

  • What attracted you to ‘Blackbird Fly’ and the Bennett Sisters mysteries?

Do you know, Lise, I wish I could remember what my audition was like for BLACKBIRD FLY, but I don’t!!  But I do remember, after you chose me to narrate the book, and I pre-read it and prepped it for narration, oh my God, I just fell in love with it.  It was so visual!!  I could see the house, I could see Pascal on the roof, I could see Merle and her frustration with all that went with what she had to go through with her house, in the middle of her grief of losing her husband, and then finding out – well, I won’t give it away!!   And Tristan!!  I loved Tristan!!  When’s he coming back?!! 

  • Ooh… good idea! Tristan will return! Is there one quality to the books that you especially like? Or two, or three?

You have a way of communicating the inner feelings/conflicts of your characters, that I especially love.  A line of dialogue may appear, but then the next sentence/paragraph is internal.  I really love that.  And also, your characters are SO well defined!!  All the sisters are so distinct, so fleshed out.  That makes it so much easier to give voice to them!!  


  • Do you have a favorite book from the series?

I would have to say BLACKBIRD FLY, because it was the first one, and set the through-line up; and then, BLAME IT ON PARIS, because I loved the relationship between Francie and Dylan being explored; and then A BOLT FROM THE BLUE – I absolutely LOVE Axelle, and all she’s been through.  And I loved learning about Yves Klein and IKB. 

  • Do you have a favorite sister?

Gotta be Merle – the ‘tent pole sister’.  I really identify with her conflicts.  But actually, the whole concept of having many sisters with many personalities, like PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, or LITTLE WOMEN – there is a tendency to see parts of ourselves in all the character, and I love that!! 

  • What about a favorite secondary character?

How could it NOT be Pascal??!!  Absolutely!!  

Hint: Pascal gets to star in the one I’m working on now!

Ready for preorder, the first of a trilogy.

  • How long does it take to produce an audiobook? What is your studio set-up like?

It differs for everyone.  I left my ‘day job’ three years ago, with the idea that I would become a full-time audiobook narrator, but it didn’t work out that way.  I found other passions that I wanted to explore – writing, volunteer work, to name a couple – so now I devote about half my work time to audiobooks.  I will usually invest my time to the deadline of the book.  If a publisher/rights holder gives me three months to finish a project, I’ll take it all.  If I’ve got 4 to six weeks – I’ll make that happen, too!  When I go into a studio to do a book – and there are a few here in Los Angeles – their schedule becomes my schedule.  My recording set-up is a converted half-bathroom, in which I have built a sound studio – a room within a room with sound blankets and other acoustical material.  And, of course, my microphone and workstation/computer.  

  • What are other audiobooks you’ve narrated?  Are they similar to the Bennett Sisters?

Actually, my list is quite varied, I’m happy to say.  About one-third of it is non-fiction, which I like to do, just for the learning process of it.  As for the fiction part, I lean toward women’s fiction, suspense, cozy mysteries and cozy romance.  You can check me out on my Audible page.

  • How did the latest, ‘A Bolt from the Blue’ differ from the previous audiobooks?

Audiobook Bolt from the Blue I loved learning about Yves Klein and International Klein Blue.  And, I loved Axelle.  I loved that she was older, questioning, nostalgic, but also, knowing who she was.  I hope we see her in another book!  

  • Have you heard feedback from listeners about the series? Anything worth sharing? 🙂 

I haven’t heard personally, but just found this on Audible:

“I absolutely loved this new Bennett Sisters Mystery! These novels just get better and better with each installment. And Ms. Stradling’s narration and French dialects get better all the time, as well. This mystery is very clever, the settings are richly portrayed, and the characters sing with authenticity. Thank you, Ms. McClendon, for another wonderfully enjoyable listen!”

(Can you see the smile on my face?!)

I can! Mine too!! Thank you, Denice. This was fun.

Check out all the audiobooks on Amazon, Audible, or iTunes! 

Or take a look at the Audiobooks tab for all of them

Check out Denice’s Facebook page for her voice work

Interested in reviewing audiobooks? I have Audible codes to (almost) all of them, if you can commit to listening and reviewing! Drop me a line through the Contact Tab

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