Q&A with Hillary Huber, Narrator of Furious Hours

Chances are Hillary Huber, a multiple Audie Award Finalist, an Earphones Award winner, and an AudioFile Best Voice, has narrated at least one of your favorite audiobooks.
She’s recorded hundreds of titles spanning many genres including thrillers, literary fiction, and true crime.

The most recently published audiobook Hillary read is Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, which has already been met with critical acclaim. We caught up with Hillary to talk about the personal and professional growth that comes with each new narration.

Tell us a little about Furious Hours.
Furious Hours has two parts. The first half is about an Alabama preacher turned serial killer who murders five of his family members for insurance money and gets away with it. He is then shot dead at the funeral of one of his victims who, despite hundreds of witnesses, is acquitted. The second half is about Harper Lee’s obsession with writing her own true crime novel about the trial à la In Cold Blood, which she had a very big hand in researching. It is gripping.

Our theme for the PRHA blog this month is growth. Growing up, what was your favorite audiobook? Did you have a favorite character whose voice you especially loved?
The first audiobook that really made an impression on me was Harry Potter. Which of Jim Dale’s hundreds of masterful voices most captivated me?? ALL OF THEM!!

Is there a character or situation that you’ve narrated that you feel contributed to your growth personally or professionally?
I think narrating the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante accomplished growth for me in both these areas. Her exploration of female relationships is so insightful. These books really made me consider my friendships and why ones have longevity while others don’t. Professionally, I had no idea when I started these books that they were so huge and beloved. Might have scared me had I known! Listeners are very passionate about these books and I have received countless emails both praising and vilifying my work. It is uplifting and humbling!

Related to that, what’s the most challenging character or situation you’ve narrated and why were they a challenge?
Most challenging situation was a book called A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America. I think the title alone explains why this one was so tough. Character-wise I would have to say the memoir, The Lost Years. It is a gut-wrenching book about addiction from both the mother and the daughter’s perspective. I read Kristina Wandzilak’s sections (the daughter struggling with addiction) and Donna Postal read Constance Curry’s sections (the mother forced to shut her daughter out in order to save her). I bawled.

Did the experience of narrating this audiobook reveal something about your work (or Furious Hours!) that you didn’t expect? If so, what?
I was so struck by Harper Lee’s inability to ever write anything again after To Kill a Mockingbird. The success of that book left her insanely wealthy, but ultimately miserable. She hated the notoriety of it, the expectations. There’s a perception that an actor’s success is measured by their fame. Fame is not my endgame. Never was, but Lee’s story has made me appreciate the value of being a working actor, plying my trade every day!

Listen to a clip of Hillary reading Furious Hours by Casey Cep:

“Cep has vividly and insightfully retrieved a grimly fascinating true-crime story and done Lee justice in a fresh and compelling portrait of this essential American writer.”
Booklist (starred review)