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- Heather Alicia Simms and Rosalyn Coleman Williams
When it came time to record the audiobook for Silver Sparrow, immediately knew which actors I wanted for the job—Heather Alicia Simms and Rosalyn Coleman Williams. Both are exquisitely trained actors; you may have seen them on Broadway in August Wilson roles. In addition to their technical expertise, both are women who put their souls into their work. I was honored and delighted when they agreed to record the voices of Dana and Chaurisse—the bigamist’s daughters at the heart of Silver Sparrow. And I was delighted that BBC AudioGo allowed me to have so much input.
Here are the highlights of an email conversation I conducted with Heather and Rosalyn about their experiences voicing Silver Sparrow.
Tayari: I just want to thank you for doing this project. I listened to it straight through which is rare for me. Usually I feel like the audio book really changes my intent, but you two did an A+ job. Thanks for taking such good care of my baby.
Heather: I love, love, love this book. You are an incredibly beautiful writer with a gift for ensnaring the reader into what may seem like an unpalatable situation and providing us with an outlet to be empathetic toward it in spite of our personal mores. Wonderful, wonderful!
Tayari: Silver Sparrow is divided into two sections, one from the point of view of Dana the “secret” daughter and Chaurisse the “legitimate” daughter. Heather, what did you enjoy most about recording Dana’s world.
Heather: I had a great time trying to capture Dana’s youthful spirit. I loved seeing the world through her eyes. I especially loved when she figured out how to maneuver through her complicated and quite painful world of being an outside child. The fun for me was in the complexity of the character.
Tayari: Was there anything about the part that was challenging?
Heather: Uncle Raleigh’s voice was the most challenging because I didn’t want to give away too much of the story through his intonations. I was very aware about his tone when he spoke to Dana and especially Gwen. I remember thinking that although James had the stammer which is technically challenging to record, I didn’t want to reveal Uncle Raleigh’s emotional intentions prematurely.
Tayari: What about you, Roz? What was the highlight of recording the experience from Chaurisse’s point of view?
Rosalyn: Getting lost in the story and experiencing it again for the like the first time. Feeling the love of the family.
Tayari: You read Chaurisse’s part which involves a lot of minor characters. Was that challenging for you?
Rosalyn: The women in the salon were a challenge because I had not really thought about them and I didn’t want to capture them without making a comment on them. And not take away from the reader’s imagination of them.
Tayari: As the writer, people always ask me which of the characters I identify with most. What about you two? Which character did you relate to most closely?
Rosalyn: The first time I read the book I related to Dana’s isolation and loneliness, as a teen I felt lost in the same way. When I recorded the book I was on the other side and felt a curious attraction to Dana. But my heart was with my mama. When I recorded the book I was Chaurisse. I am really more of a Chaurisse anyway, flawed, loved, sheltered. Regular hair. Brown skin. Hard working. That’s me.
Heather: I would say that I related to Dana the most. I wanted to give her the wisdom of someone well past a first love but recognized that some of the indiscretions were those that I and many of my friends made in the past. Her intelligence, drive and ability to be self-sufficient were characteristics that were comfortably familiar.
Tayari: Thank you both so much being so beautiful and so brilliant.
If you would like to win a copy of the audio recording of Silver Sparrow, just leave a comment and I will enter you into a drawing. I’ll announce on Tuesday, July 26th.