Dec 6 2012 5:30pm

Talk Dirty to Me: Narrator Clarissa Knightly on Audiobooks with Racy Content

Give it a listen.Audiobooks make it easy for readers to devour their books even if their eyes are otherwise occupied; they can take their books with them while they’re driving, or at the gym, or going for a walk. Audiobooks help people with disabilities as well, making it possible for everyone to read books. But have you ever thought about what goes into making an audiobook? After the book itself, the most crucial element is the narrator. And narrating audiobooks, particularly ones with more explicit content, is an art form. We asked Anything He Wants audiobook narrator Clarissa Knightly to talk about some of the more…prickly parts of her job. Thanks, Clarissa!

I’ve been narrating racy romance novels for some years now, but in the beginning there were some very particular challenges for me. It was a revelation when I figured out how to tackle the challenge of reading those words, from books that I was now reading not only out loud, but to another person, the engineer, who was recording those words. Yes, those words. Imagine the following scenario:

Engineer – “Sorry, could you do that sentence again. The ‘p’ in penis popped.”


Engineer – “Take it from ‘His tongue caressed my weeping opening.’

At first this was quite embarrassing. Sometimes just getting the giggles to stop so that I could start telling the story again was difficult.

Me – “His tongue…” [laughter]

Me – “ His tongue caressed…” [laughter] “Sorry, just a slip of the tongue…” [guffaws of laughter ending in both engineer and me unable to continue for quite some time]

Finally I figured out the secret. The key was to stop worrying about my blushing and concentrate instead on making the engineer blush.  So that became my goal—to engage the engineer, make him or her (these days there are many more female engineers) blush, and by extension you: my listener. 

Anything He Wants AudiobookI recently finished recording the audiobook for Sara Fawkes’s Anything He Wants. The following are some examples of the different ways I was able to make the engineer (and hopefully you) blush. Just think of how you’d feel if you had to read this out loud!

Situation:  Sara Fawkes gets off to a racy start in the first chapter. Her heroine, Lucy, gets onto the elevator at work every morning at the same time so she can catch a glimpse of her handsome stranger.  This particular morning she is alone on the elevator with him and he presses the emergency stop button.

“Arms appeared on either side of my (Lucy’s) head and a low voice next to my ear murmured ‘I see you on this elevator every morning. Your doing I take it?...What…I started, immediately forgetting whatever I was going to say as I felt his hard length press against me.’”

Character (Humor): Lucy is presented with a job prospect working for her handsome stranger—a job she desperately needs—finds herself in a very unusual job interview. 

“Stand up, head down and put your elbows on the desk….nervously I (Lucy) watched Jeremiah (her handsome stranger) as he stood and came around the desk.  “Stay like this until I tell you to move again. How many words can you type a minute?”

Character (Innocent): Lucy hasn’t had much experience with men preferring books to a social life. In a very sexy scene in a lavish Paris hotel room, Jeremiah tells Lucy:

“ ‘Many women enjoy backdoor play,’ Jeremiah murmured behind me, his fingers continuing their surface explorations…. ‘Some men also prefer this entrance, the tight fit and taboo as much of a turn-on as sex itself… Guess which kind of man I am.” 

Character (Experienced): Jeremiah is now Lucy’s boss and he enjoys being in charge. This scene takes place in the back of a limo after a very fancy party.

“ ‘Only I am allowed to do this.’ Jeremiah accentuated his words by teasing a spot inside me with pinpoint accuracy: my hips shot off the seat and I groaned. ‘No other man gets to touch you unless it is with my permission. Is that clear?.’”

The sensations Lucy experiences for the first time in Anything He Wants certainly make her blush. I had almost as much fun narrating it!

Do you listen to racy audiobooks?

Headphones image courtesy of Kashirin Nickolai via flickr.

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Lana Baker
1. lanalucy
As much as I love reading these books, and as much as I have entertained the idea of reading out loud (I mean the market is HUGE), I'm not sure I'd have the chops to keep a straight face while reading sexually explicit material. lol
Wendy the Super Librarian
2. SuperWendy
I love audiobooks but I really can't listen to any romance - even the really tame stuff. Something about having someone read me a sex scene, out loud, even a tame PG-rated sex scene, squirks me out. I can read the raunchiest, filthiest, dirtiest sex you can imagine on the printed page - but yeah....I just can't go audible with it.

Which is really OK, ya know? Audio has filled a niche for me on keeping up with "other" genres so I can devote the bulk of my print reading to romance. Mostly mystery/suspense - but I do pick up the occasional general fiction and non-fiction title on audio.

Who knew I was such a hypocritical puritan? I can listen to stories about violence but apparently not sex scenes......
Rakisha Kearns-White
3. BrooklynShoeBabe
I haven't gotten any racy or non-racy romance novels on audiobook. My library doesn't offer it and I'm not too keen to buy one unless I know I'm getting quality reading, so to speak. However, there is this website I go to where people post their amatuer racy audiobooks and the good ones are really, really good.
4. CyndiTefft
Fun article! I'm curious how you obtained a job narrating audio books. That sounds like a blast. How would you suggest someone go about looking into delving into that profession?
5. EJ
I don't listen to audio books, no reason just don't. But I think it would be hard to listen to a racy Romance in audio book form. Though I have no problem reading them even the REALLY RACY ones. Backdoor, several people, same sex, etc.....
I think by just reading it, it is like you are in on a secret. You don't really want to share it, by listening to someone reading it, it is like the secret is out and then you have to share it. At least that is how I look at it.
6. Miller
I listened to the Fifty Shades trilogy on audiobooks borrowed from the public library. I actually enjoyed listening to them, but only when alone. lol My problem is so many books, so little time!
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