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Interview with Robert Goolrick

Talking with Robert Goolrick

“Audiobooks are remarkable. For me, they’re a way to hear another interpretation of my inner voice.” So says novelist Robert Goolrick, author of the critically acclaimed New York Times #1 bestselling novel A RELIABLE WIFE.

Goolrick’s new book, HEADING OUT TO WONDERFUL, is set in the town of Brownsburg, Virginia, in 1948. His main character, Charlie Beale, is home from the war in Europe, carrying two suitcases--one with a set of butcher knives and the other filled with money.

Goolrick says his goal for the audiobook was to reproduce the atmosphere and accents of the people who live in the valley of Virginia. “I really wanted to capture the music of the way the people in the South talk, because we are an oral people. So much depends on the way we speak. We don’t speak like anyone else.” He says there are advantages to listening to his novel. “An audiobook, unlike a printed book, can go a long way in creating atmosphere for the reader--giving the reader a sense of rhythm, a sense of place.”

While the setting of the novel is the U.S., Goolrick says the original story happened in a small town in Greece. “It’s a true story. I lived in a little town just like Brownsburg, but a Greek town. There was only one crime there that had ever been committed, just as in my book.” A man Goolrick knew had been a boy when that crime occurred, and the author turned that man into Sam, the narrator of his novel--who looks back on that terrible crime that happened in his childhood. “When I heard the story, I thought it was the best story I’d ever heard. I wrote the novel to figure out why it was so fascinating to me.”

Norman Dietz narrates the new novel. Goolrick says Dietz has the seasoned voice of an older man. He adds that matching the right narrator to the material is key to a successful audio production. “Isn’t that what everybody hopes for?

In the case of my new novel, we needed an older reader. He’s telling a story that happened a long time ago, so we needed a seasoned voice with some character to it.”

Goolrick also feels that Mark Feuerstein was the right narrator for A RELIABLE WIFE. “The reason Mark was picked for that one was because when I was in advertising, I used Mark a lot in voice-overs for commercials. People always said that Mark sounds like me, that we sound alike when we read.”

Goolrick says getting the audio version of the novel just right is key to evoking the intended response from the reader. “This book is very close to my heart. People always ask you which characters are you, and in this book it’s very much Sam. I look at the story the way Sam does. It’s my recollection of my childhood as much as it’s Sam’s recollection of his.”--Randy O’Brien

OCT/NOV 12 © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine

Photo © Leigh Ledare

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