Fiona Hardingham Q&A
Q&A with Fiona Hardingham, narrator of I Owe You One and other Sophie Kinsella favorites

What is it about the second half of summer that makes us feel nostalgic? Perhaps it’s the barrage of back-to-school reminders, or the sounds of ice cream trucks and children at the playground…but all we want to do is savor the sunshine and listen to audiobooks that make us feel happy. Sophie Kinsella’s books are the perfect treat. Or as narrator Fiona Hardingham shares, “it’s like being with an old friend.” Hear more from Fiona about Kinsella’s latest audio adventure, why her dream dinner party would also be a disaster, and what sound of summer makes her feel nostalgic. And be sure to add a Sophie Kinsella audiobook to your end-of-summer playlist (or really any season you’re in need of a smile)!

You have now narrated four audiobooks by Sophie Kinsella. What do you love about narrating her books?
Narrating Sophie’s work is always a delight. I often have to stop and crack up in the booth. Her work feels familiar to me, which is perhaps an odd thing to say about a new book. What I mean by this is when I sit down to read a Kinsella it’s like being with an old friend, a good time is guaranteed to be had. Plus there is always a surprise, a healthy dose of heart and a loving message. Perfect ingredients.

I Owe You OneTell us a little bit about her latest audiobook, I Owe You One.
At the center of I Owe You One is Fixie Farr, a loyal, loving woman who just doesn’t know how great she is because she’s so busy fixing things for everyone else, she has no time for herself. One day she does a random act of kindness for the rather dashing Seb Marlowe and Fixie’s “fixing” seems to turn on its head. I don’t want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t listened to it, but it’s a comical exploration of family dynamics, finding love, and the challenges of owning one’s power as a young professional woman. It’s crammed full of a cast of eclectic characters, some you want to hug, others you want to slap with a wet fish. Sorry fish.

Which character from Sophie Kinsella’s books would like to spend more time with, and why?My Not So Perfect Life
Golly! Well isn’t that a question because frankly, there are a few I’d love to throw a dinner party with. It’d be an utter nightmare, lots of champagne, and all of the food would no doubt get burned, but it’d be a hoot nonetheless. Sophie has crafted such well-rounded, relatable characters, it’s easy to see them in your life. If I could spend more time with any of them, it would be Katie Brenner from My Not So Perfect Life because she’s hilarious and adorable and I already feel like I know her. Oh, and I’d love a lush lunch with Demeter, Katie’s very stylish, rather intimidating badass boss.

Did you always know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
I’ve always been drawn to story. Be it telling, creating, or analyzing it. Much to my parents chagrin, I was never a strong reader as a child, preferring to create plays with my three sisters whose plots I must say were terribly thin. I was introduced to audiobooks at a young age because well, “We have to get her reading somehow” and thankfully it worked. It allowed my imagination to run wild which is what I enjoyed the most. When I started narrating in 2010, I remember telling my parents, and my Mum responded in stitches saying “That’s what we needed to do, pay her!” Jokes aside, it’s a joy of a job. In fact it doesn’t even feel like a job. Job is too boring a word to encapsulate the love I have for telling stories and living through the characters’ journeys. It’s not a job, it’s an utter pleasure. I feel very lucky and kick my younger self for not realizing how powerful, encouraging, and eye-opening books truly are.

What sound of summer makes you feel the most nostalgic?
That wonky ice cream van music that we all know means it’s treat time. Being half Scottish, most summers we went to Scotland to visit my grandparents. There’d always be an ice cream van where you could buy 99 ice creams. For those of you that haven’t sampled this delight, it’s a cheap vanilla cone with a chocolate flake. Simplicity at its best! So come rain or shine that noise always makes me crave something sweet.

What was your favorite book or audiobook as a child?
Favorite audiobook was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Second place would be the The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis. Both inspired hours of play in garden hideouts and wardrobes!

What’s up next for you?
Rosie Price’s debut novel What Red Was. It’s an extremely smart book with a wise emotional intelligence running through it. It’s the type of story that quietly stays with you long after you’ve finished. Without giving too much away, there are several themes at play: sexual abuse, family dysfunction, grief, inherited trauma and class. It will definitely spark important discussions and no doubt debates. Rosie’s an exciting new voice to look out for; I highly recommend the read or listen—whatever your preference.

Listen to a clip:

“[A] delightful tale, superbly narrated by Hardingham…Kinsella’s breezy books make for entertaining audios, especially when Hardingham is behind the microphone.”—Booklist

Want more recommendations? Meet Your Next Summer Romance on Audio.