Wednesday , May 22 2024
Petrea Burchard (Credit: Jerry Camarillo)

Interview: Petrea Burchard, ‘Camelot & Vine: A Novel’ Author and Narrator

Voice actor and audiobook narrator Petrea Burchard (Tenchi Muyo!) first published Camelot & Vine: A Novel in 2013. A time-traveling twist on the legend of King Arthur, the book focuses on the adventures of failing Hollywood actress Casey Clemens. After losing her job and taking an impulsive trip to England, Clemens falls into a time gap and finds herself at King Arthur’s court. Burchard spoke with me recently to talk about her experiences revisiting the novel and releasing an audiobook version this year.

Staging Sword Fights

I’m always struck by Burchard’s attention to detail and wanting to understand how things work. That was true of her research for Camelot & Vine when she decided to stop by Swordplay LA, a fencing school that specializes in theatrical combat.

Burchard said, “They asked me a bunch of questions about the story and then they constructed a fight for me, because there’s a couple of sword fights my the book. I’d never seen a swordfight and I didn’t want to get it wrong.”

She’s glad she stopped by Swordplay LA, because seeing a real swordfight was nothing like she’d imagined. It was helpful “just seeing how they moved and how you advance on somebody with a sword and how you hold it to defend yourself.”

Image of the artwork for Petrea Burchard's 'Camelot & Vine,' showing a woman in armor and riding a horse
An updated cover (Courtesy of Petrea Burchard)

Camelot: ‘It’s just a muddy old hill’

Burchard researched extensively ahead of writing her book. Several years after it was published, she finally had a chance to visit Cadbury Hill, U.K., where the book is set and where 20th-century excavations investigated King Arthur’s time. Burchard and her husband, John Sandel, journeyed to South Cadbury after they stopped first at Kitacon, where she’d been invited to speak.

“We took a bus to Glastonbury, but the buses don’t go to South Cadbury. Then we had to take a cab to this teeny, tiny village. There’s one bed-and-breakfast. There’s about maybe 15 houses, a church, a pub, and a farm. And then Cadbury hill.”

After the rain let up one morning, Burchard and Sandel got ready to go to Cadbury Hill. The B&B host lent her his boots. Burchard recalled that the kindly host took her by the shoulders and said, “I don’t want you to think that it’s going to be what you imagined. It’s just a muddy old hill.” 

Luckily, when she made the climb and reached the top with Sandel, it was exactly how she imagined. The trip was well worth it.

Petrea Burchard standing by a tree at Cadbury Hill UK
Petrea Burchard at Cadbury Hill, North Somerset, England

Making the Audiobook

In a prior Blogcritics interview, Burchard stated, “Every audiobook narrator’s job is to try to take on the passion of the author, whatever the subject.” So, how does she think she did narrating her own book?

She smiled at my question. It wasn’t an easy process at first, because she wanted the audiobook to be perfect. “I was starting and stopping quite a bit to go back and fix this or that. Finally, I realized to just tell the story and let my own love of the story come through.”

There were a few lines that Burchard really looked forward to recording, especially some of the humorous ones. “I wanted to give them the right timing and inflection, and enjoy Casey’s voice. She has some sarcastic moments that I think are fun.”

She also enjoyed a rare quiet moment in the book, when Clemens goes outside and rides a horse during a few much-needed minutes to herself after a bad day. “She can think and start to understand her own feelings and fears, that maybe it’s better that all this happened.”

Petrea Burchard Takes a Stab at Marketing

I asked Burchard how she would have fared time-traveling back to King Arthur’s day.

She laughed at the hypothetical. “I would be absolutely terrified and wouldn’t last too long. I would certainly do what I was told to do. If somebody thought I was a wizard, I would immediately say, ‘Oh, no, I’m not a wizard. I don’t have any magic.’ I wouldn’t lie.” 

Image of Petrea Burchard wearing a crown and carrying a sword for promoting her book 'Camelot & Vine'
Courtesy of Petrea Burchard

Burchard is busy with marketing the audiobook this summer. Her neighbor, a Renaissance Faire enthusiast, lent her a crown and two swords. “I don’t think he’s in a hurry to get them back. I thought it would be funny to be [promoting the book] with a crown and a sword.”

At the same time, she recognized that she should err on the side of caution in being playful. “I don’t want to give people the wrong idea. The crown and the sword are kind of funny. The book has funny moments but it’s not a comedy. I don’t want to overdo that.”

Burchard’s Other Projects

After you’ve made your way through Camelot & Vine, be sure to listen to Burchard’s narration on a few other books. Here’s a brief overview of these new audiobooks.

First up, there’s J.R. Dawson’s The First Bright Thing, a historical fantasy that Burchard co-narrated with Tim Campbell. Each narrator recorded their own chapters separately, but Burchard and Campbell embraced the opportunity to collaborate and make the project as cohesive as possible. She sent him a chapter she recorded.

“He and the producer shared his audition with me so that I could hear what he did. I have more than two-thirds of the book. There are times that I’m saying his characters’ lines, so I wanted to at least try to do a little bit of what he did.” 

Photo of Petrea Burchard, author of 'Camelot & Vine,' wearing headphones in the recording home studio
Courtesy of Petrea Burchard

As for July, there are two releases due out. One is If Your Adolescent Has Depression, by Dwight L. Evans, Moira A. Rynn and Katherine Ellison. It’s a handy resource for parents. Burchard gave me advice on the right way for audiobook narrators to approach nonfiction.

“When you come across terms you don’t recognize, look that up and make sure you’re pronouncing it right and using it correctly in context. You need to understand what you’re saying.”

The other July release is Spencer Quinn’s delightful tale, Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge. The protagonist is a widow in her 70s who gets scammed. “The police tell her there isn’t much they can do about it, so she goes and does it herself. She finds the bad guys! It’s really funny.”

Burchard admires Mrs. Plansky’s drive and pluck in this book. “There are a lot of funny and interesting people over 65 who are not dumb, creepy or decrepit. They’re not falling apart or elderly; they’re just over 65.”

Visit the Books2Read website to purchase an ebook, paperback or audiobook version of Camelot & Vine.

About Pat Cuadros

Pat Cuadros is Pop Culture Editor for Blogcritics Magazine. She frequently covers TV, film and theater. Her portfolio includes interviews with Ndaba Mandela and actors Juliette Binoche, Fran Drescher, Derek Jacobi and Brent Spiner. She's also spoken with notable voice actors Petrea Burchard, Garry Chalk, Peter Cullen and Brian Drummond.

Check Also

Exclusive Interview: Petrea Burchard on Voicing Ryoko on Anime ‘Tenchi Muyo!’ and Narrating Audiobooks

"Every audiobook narrator's job is to try to take on the passion of the author, whatever the subject."