If Rebecca Harper screamed, her neighbours wouldn’t hear her, but when she talks, people across the country and around the world listen to her every word.
That’s because Rebecca is an audiobook narrator, her studio, a walk-in-wardrobe on a farm at Nabiac.
“It’s definitely cosy in here,” Rebecca explained, moving a pair of well-worn jeans and a sleek corporate suit out of the way, “but being surrounded by all this fabric improves the acoustic properties of the recording.”
It also means she can shut herself off from the rapid-fire yaps of her jack russell terrier, her son Kit’s calls for a snack, and the bleats, crows and whinnies that are the soundtrack of farm life.
With audiobook sales on the rise worldwide, Rebecca credits the increasing success to the unique flexibility of podcasts and audiobooks.
I’m a whale of a reader, love telling tales and love a challenge, so being an audiobook narrator brings it all together.Rebecca Harper
“It’s so easy to multi-task and to listen to an audiobook when you’re doing chores, commuting, exercising and waiting around to pick kids up from activities,” she said.
“They’re also great for people with sight impairment and for people for whom reading has always been a bit of a struggle.”
Rebecca’s eyes sparkle and her voice has a deep smoothness and expressiveness when she reads, but she didn’t always feel comfortable with her voice.
“When I was at uni I rang a Sydney field hockey club to see if I could join a team. The man on the other end of the phone obviously had no idea I was a woman because he started telling me about all the men’s teams I could join, it really knocked my confidence,” she said.
But her confidence had a comeback, as Rebecca spent 20 years in the corporate world, specialising in leadership development and presentation training, before settling in Nabiac in 2008.
“Unfortunately, there’s not much call for those skills in the country,” she said.
“Everyone knows a good career choice is one that combines your passions, your skills and a good dose of challenge.
“I’m a whale of a reader, love telling tales and love a challenge, so being an audiobook narrator brings it all together.”
Rebecca’s first project was a collaboration with Port Macquarie-based author, Anna Featherstone.
Featherstone’s book, ‘Honey Farm Dreaming’ is a memoir about more than a decade living life large on a small mid north coast farm.
“The characters in the book made it such a fun project because I’ve always loved doing accents, and as Anna lived with more than 100 backpackers I got to try out a few,” Rebecca said.
“I enjoyed the paperback so much and to be asked to narrate it was a great opportunity. That people are reading it, listening to it and enjoying it here and overseas is a hoot!”
Audiobook and paperback versions of ‘Honey Farm Dreaming: A Memoir About Sustainability, Small Farming and the Not-So Simple Life’ are available at local libraries, bookstores and from online retailers.