Summer Shorts 14

Spoken Freely Presents – Summer Shorts 14

June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) and we’re pleased to be participating this year in the Summer Shortsseries of blog audio releases. Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, have teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to record a collection of poetry, short stories, and essays. Throughout June, one or two recordings of these selections will be offered online each day via Going Public, as well as on various participants blogs, for free listening on the day of their release. The full collection, along with a bonus of over 20 pieces not offered through Summer Shorts, will be available for purchase from Tantor Media, with all proceeds going to Pro Literacy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.

Our contribution is from narrator Heather Henderson and is the first essay in the compilation that bears it’s name: The Curve of Time, by M. Wylie Blanchet (published in it’s entirety by Post Hypnotic Press). In it, Blanchet recounts one of her cruising adventures up Jervis Inlet, one of British Columbia, Canada’s most magnificent fjords, where they encounter bears and cougars, pull up mysterious fish from the 2400-foot depths, hike up waterfalls, and visit the “Man from California” in his remote cabin at the head of the inlet.


Muriel Wylie Blanchet moved to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, with her husband and children in 1922. Widowed in 1927, Blanchet defied expectations by remaining on Vancouver Island, homeschooling their five children.  Over the next 15 years, children in tow, she explored the British Columbia coast on their 25-foot boat, the Caprice, often following the logbooks and voyages of Captain Vancouver, one of the first European’s to explore the BC coast. She wrote an extraordinary series of magazine essays about their adventures, and in 1961 published a compilation titled The Curve of Time, an enduring bestseller and beloved Canadian classic. Blanchet died in 1961, at her typewriter.

Heather Henderson in the studio

Heather Anne Henderson is an award­winning audiobook narrator and voice actress with a 20­ year career in literary and performing arts.
After her professional debut as an extra in Animal House, Heather spent eight years repairing her reputation by studying acting, writing, and literature at the University of Oregon (BA), University of Washington (MA), and Yale University School of Drama (MFA and DFA). Heather has worked as a theater dramaturg, drama critic, publicist, and writing instructor. She was production dramaturg for the 1985 world premiere of August Wilson’s Fences, and her arts reviews have appeared in newspapers and magazines around the country.
In 1995, Heather decided to follow her passion for voice acting, and she has since brought her creativity and diverse range of characters to hundreds of commercial voiceovers for a diverse range of clients that include Philips Electronics, Cengage Learning, Planet Fitness, Pendleton, and La Quinta Inns.
Heather has also recorded audiobooks for Harper Audio, HighBridge, Blackstone, Oasis, eChristian, Audible, Inc., and others. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan, and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine. In the process, she has been honored to work with and learn from many wonderful producers, teachers, and coaches, including Grover Gardner, Bob and Debra Deyan, Pat Fraley, John McElroy, and Kate DeVore.
With narrator Judith West, Heather maintains, a popular pronunciation resource site for colleagues in the audiobook industry. She is a member of SAG­AFTRA.
Heather lives in Oregon, where she has way too many hobbies, including hiking and camping, birding, cooking, and canning. Her husband especially loves her cooking hobby.


Question #1. Can you tell us a little bit about what makes you love this book?
This is a hard question to answer, and I would guess that most people who love this book would agree with me. There’s just a magic about it: the landscape, the way Blanchet depicts that landscape, Blanchet’s own sensitive and insightful mind, her lyrical writing…and the extraordinary journeys she was able to take then that aren’t even possible anymore in this magnificent part of the world.

Question #2. What part of narrating The Curve of Time did you enjoy most? 
I have some favorite chapters and tales, especially Chapter One (“The Curve of Time”) about the bears and the dreams, the tales of  Old Mike, and of Phil Lavine and the cougar, and the beautiful and emotionally complex final two chapters about her life on the Saanich Peninsula, and why she loved Little House. It’s funny, though; there’s one little scene that captures for me everything special about this book: when, in the first chapter, she pulls up the red snapper.  “Foot, after foot…after foot…” I absolutely love this moment with her children and the mysteries around them and how she describes them.

Question #3. What was the most challenging aspect of narrating this book?
The pronunciation research. This was also one of the more enjoyable parts, but boy, did it take time. I have a background in this kind of research, so it was not daunting, but not only did I have to find some very obscure place names and First Nations vocabulary, but my producer Carlyn and I also had to make a lot of judgement calls about the variant pronunciations for a given word. For instance, did we want to say Mamalilikulla the way the Mamalilikulla-Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em Band members say it, or how white locals say it (and in any case, how would Blanchet have said it in the 1930s and 40s)? I did a lot of obscure internet sleuthing, but mostly I talked to people up and down the waterways of British Columbia and I’m so grateful for all the help I got.

Question #4. The Curve of Time has been incredibly popular, on the top ten Best Seller’s list in British Columbia for non-fiction since it’s release in 1961. What is it about this story that makes it so timeless for you?
It captures the beauty and remoteness of this landscape so vividly, and it takes a snapshot of a time that’s now gone, but it also describes the experiences that all of us still have who love this area. There was also a timelessness to her interactions with her children. I could relate to that. I loved creating the voices of her children, especially adorable little John!

Question #5. You loved this book. What’s your favourite west coast adventure? 
My husband and I travel all over the Northwest, and we often camp and hike in very remote areas. I don’t think I could name a favorite place or adventure! Our children went to boarding school on Vancouver Island, so for eight years we drove up from Oregon several times a year and explored all around the area. A few moments that come to mind have been birding up logging roads above Tofino, being followed by a cougar up above Cowichan Lake, and keying out plants along the Shorepine Bog Trail in the Pacific Rim National Park. Next year, my husband and I have a kayak trip planned in the Queen Charlottes, so check in with me again!

The previous post in this series can be found at

Another post for today can be found at

The next post in this series will be at, tomorrow.

And if you’d like to scan through all of the posts in this series, check out the Going Public blog.

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