by Emma Donoghue
Read by Michael Friedman, Ellen Archer, Robert Petkoff, and Suzanne Toren
To five-year-old Jack, ROOM is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and
play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be
asleep when Old Nick visits.
ROOM is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and
fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not
enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies
on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just
how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond
between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to
journey from one world to another.
It takes more than just the book and the author to record an audiobook, and this month, we have Michele McGonigle,
Associate Director of Production for Hachette Audio and Director of ROOM, the audiobook, to answer some behind-the-scenes
Hachette Book Group: What made you decide to do a multiple-cast recording for ROOM?
Michelle McGonigle: When I read the book to cast and prep for production, it just screamed out for more than one
narrator. Jack needed his own voice and so did Ma; to have one person read all
parts would detract from the listener experience and not do the book justice.
The impact of hearing Jack's voice, (read by Michal Friedman, an adult woman),
as he tells his story, really places the listener in his world. Ellen Archer
reads Ma and you can hear the restraint, joy, pain, frustration and fear in her
voice, giving the listener a bit of insider information of what's going on. Jack
is experiencing the same actions, words and emotions, however being a five year
old, he doesn't understand what to make of or what is driving them. In a way,
giving Ma her own voice allows her to tell part of her story as well.
HBG: What kinds of voices were you looking for in casting and what do you think each voice-recording artist brings to ROOM, the audiobook?
MM: Jack had to have a strong presence, be sweet, innocent, and believable; Michal Friedman
delivers his words with the incorruptibility and honesty of a true five year
In the case of Ma, I was looking for a soft, patient, loving voice, struggling with staying calm and trying to prevent Jack from hearing/ feeling
her fear and frustration; Ellen Archer was my immediate choice, being a real
mother who reflects these same qualities.
For all other female roles I needed a voice that could make Jack's grandma stand out just a bit more than the
others, but not to overshadow Jack and Ma. Suzanne Toren was perfect for this,
she allowed her characters to be a part of the story without overtaking it.
As for the male voices, Robert Petkoff was the first person I thought of. He is capable of such different character voices and delivers a supporting
performance which allows Ma and Jack to be the focus of this amazing journey.
I have three copies of this audiobook to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email address to enter. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents but no PO Box addresses please. Winners will be chosen on October 12.