Interview with Tonya Foster Yancey

Tonya, it’s been so exciting partnering with you. But as you first scanned the manuscript for Love in a Distant Land, what caught your eye? Did one particular element make you want to perform this adventure?

I read the manuscript in only 3 days!  I thought it was a such a sweet love story that had the Gospel weaved into it so beautifully.  I loved the fact that I was reading the good news about our loving Heavenly Father and His redemption plan and never even realized it except that I closed the book feeling a sense of awe and wonder about Him.

I hesitate to ask, but what was the most intimidating part of recording this?

Most definitely the Thai words!!! Oh my goodness, that was a HUGE challenge!  I listened to YouTube videos, sound bytes from pronunciation websites, your recordings and explanations, etc and still had a hard time emulating the rises and falls in the words. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the simplicity of the English language! 

You’re a mom yourself with two beautiful daughters, so you can credibly envision a teacher in a sixth-grade classroom? How did it feel to play “Missie Stone” as a Christian role model before 28 Thai kids?

I loved it.  I home-schooled my girls until the 6th grade so I have some personal experience with the dynamics of teacher/student relationships with girls that age.  I also attended school in Japan from 7th – 11th grade so I can totally relate to being a foreigner trying to relate to people in a completely different culture.  I easily imagined myself as Missie Stone and loved the personal relationships and attachments she developed with her students.  That part was easy!

As you perform “conversations,” you’re so clever at adjusting voices for the back-and-forth! You sound just like a Rachel Marie, but add a nice huskiness to the male parts. How do you accomplish that?

I’ve always been mistaken for a male when on the phone or ordering in a drive-through. haha!  Seriously, it was harder to consistently sound soft and feminine as Rachel Marie than to be husky and deep as the male characters in the book.  I actually went back and re-recorded several parts of Rachel Marie because I learned by the end how to do it better.  It was a challenging and fun learning experience and I thank YOU for being so kind and patient throughout the process!

 We’ll put a spoiler alert in here, but what was your favorite scene in the book?

Most definitely the scene when Khemkang accepts Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in front of the whole school assembly and Rachel gets to witness it.  I had to stop and weep a bit and then gather myself before I could continue recording.  I also enjoyed the heartfelt questions that he had for Rachel Marie throughout the book as he pondered his own spirituality and then the wonderful, non-judgmental and transparent answers she gave.

With all the hubbub of being a wife and mom of teen girls, how do you recreate the necessary studio solitude for a clean recording?

I recorded while they were in school in my bonus room closet.  Although, several times had to reschedule recording because of loud weather or people mowing their grass.  I have definitely considered investing in a sound-proof recording booth!  I have never told you this but I had to edit out a dog barking in about a 30-minute segment of the book.  Very frustrating!  lol, and I love dogs!

What other audiobook projects are you prayerfully considering?

Right now I am involved in a few other non-audio projects but I am eager to get back to recording.  My next project will probably be something in the non-fiction arena, maybe something in spiritual, physical or emotional health.  That would be easy and interesting!