Congratulations to Steve West, the winner of RT Book Reviews Romance Novel Narrator award given by AudioFile! Steve won the award for his narration of A BUCCANEER AT HEART. With his “rich rolling style”, he tells the tale of nineteenth-century sea captain Robert Frobisher and his growing intimacy with—and subsequent fear for—the captured Aileen Hopkins.
A BUCCANEER AT HEART: Adventurers Quartet, Book 2
by Stephanie Laurens, read by Steve West
AudioFile Earphones Award Winner
It was boiling hot weather. Even with air-conditioning on, my recording booth becomes a mini-greenhouse. The only thing for it in these circumstances is to record in your underwear. I’m not kidding, and I can bet you a lot of narrators do this in their home studios! If they say ‘no,’ they’re telling fibs.—Narrator Steve West
Keep your eye—or ear—out for Steve and his many new audiobooks. Explore his whole audiography of audiobook titles.
Last week I blogged about listening to a debut so this week I’m turning to the tried and true. We all have those series we love, and we start anticipating the next installment roughly 30 seconds after finishing the current one. If you’re a mystery lover, it’s darned hard not to have a plethora of such series. For me, one of those is Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole series.
I have enjoyed most all of Nesbø’s books, but I’m especially fond of his Harry Hole series, maybe partly because that’s how I discovered Nesbø and maybe partly because the narrators have consistently performed these audios so well. This is a rare series situation where I enjoy the narrations of both Robin Sachs and John Lee equally. While their interpretations of Hole are distinct, each is true to Nesbø’s hero.
The series was published a little irregularly in the United States. We were introduced to Hole with the third of Nesbø’s series, THE REDBREAST. Ultimately, though the first (THE BAT) and the second (COCKROACHES) were recorded for U.S. listeners. So if you’re new to the series, you can listen in order. The first two books are great, but even better if you don’t have the knowledge of the end of the series ahead of time.
This month Harry Hole returns in THE THIRST. It’s been a few years, and several standalones from Nesbø, since we last visited the flawed Norwegian cop-turned-private-investigator in POLICE, and I’ve been anticipating him every second since. Have you?
by Kristen Ashley, Read by Lance Greenfield, Erin Mallon
AudioFile: You’ve made a commitment over the last few years to produce your titles in audio format. Why did you decide to make that project such a priority?
Kristen Ashley: I think it’s important for authors to offer their work to readers in as many formats as possible. Not only do readers have their favorite ways of consuming a book, a goodly number of them cross over from print to digital to audio, and they need to fit reading into busy daily lives. In return, as writers, we need to give them as many options available to do that. Until Audible approached me to start producing my work in audio, it was a project I couldn’t fathom taking on, on my own. It seemed mammoth and thus unattainable. So when they approached, I jumped at the chance, and it’s been awesome!
AF: Tell us about your latest audio-only project. How did the idea come about? What excited you about it? Did anything about the project surprise you or change the way you think about your writing?
KA: Audible is in the final throes of producing all my back library titles in print, so these releases are still ongoing.
However, they also approached me about doing an Audible Original. I have to say I was hesitant at first. I like to be inclusive of all my readers and so out-of-the-ordinary exclusives are tough to manage. That said, it’s heartening that some readers who’ve never tried audio are on board to give my Audible Original COMPLICATED a shot! And I love working with the team at Audible. They’ve come up with some fun ways to help promote the book, including giving me pictures of the narrators while they were performing that I could share, which, not being close to their studios, is something I haven’t been able to be a part of, so it was really cool for me to see those, and I think my readers feel more a part of the process as well.
As for doing this original work with Audible changing the way I think about writing, it hasn’t. I have a pretty highly-tuned process that (I hope!) works across platforms. The good news is that it seems to have worked so far. And this is definitely a case of, if it works, don’t fix it!
AF: What qualities do you think are most important in your narrators? Was there one of your books that was particularly difficult to cast, and why?
KA: I have to feel the narrator personifies (as best they can) the character as she or he sounds in my head. Most of my books are first person and therefore those voices are very strong. I also listen to a number of clips when selecting narrators and find those with ranges between books are important, mostly because my novels normally have a large cast of characters so range is crucial.
I’ve never had a book difficult to cast. Audible has a fantastic troop of narrators. However, I did have a beautiful moment when I first heard the narration of my book FOR YOU, the first in The ’Burg series. The narrator, Liz Thompson, sounded so much like my heroine, February Owens, that I was instantly brought to tears. I don’t tend to listen to my audiobooks all the way through because, no matter how carefully we cast, I have a difficulty reconciling this. But Liz was utter perfection!
AF: What comments do you get from your readers about your audiobooks? Any fan favorites?
KA: I was delighted how thoroughly my audio readers embraced my books in that format. I didn’t know what to expect but I didn’t expect them to be so excited about them that they couldn’t wait for the next (and the next and the next). With my independent titles as they’re being released, we have to carefully arrange schedules in hopes that we can release in all formats on the same date so as not to disappoint my avid audio fans!
The books all have their supporters but I’d say Susannah Jones’s work in my Rock Chick series and Tillie Hooper’s work in my Fantasyland series are the most popular. Susannah had a great number of beloved characters to give to readers, and she did beautifully. I get compliments for Susannah all the time. Tillie had to take on a fantasy world with completely made-up place names, and one book had an entirely made-up language! My readers marvel at how well she did with those. I know it was a lot of work for her but she nailed it!
AF: Which of your audiobooks would you recommend listeners start with?
KA: It really depends on what genres they like to read/listen to. But I always say start with my Rock Chicks. I do a lot of crossing over between series, and that’s my flagship series, so it all starts there. If a reader/listener is into paranormal or fantasy, I’d definitely recommend the Fantasyland series. A challenge for Tillie that she rose to beautifully.
Thank you for having me at AudioFile Magazine! Happy listening and rock on!
Many thanks to Kristen Ashley for taking time from writing to share her audiobook love with us, and don’t miss COMPLICATED. You’re in for a roller-coaster romance ride with unforgettable narrators. Read the full review of COMPLICATED here.
There’s something special about discovering an author with their debut. You can be torn between taking a chance on someone new—let’s face it, committing hours of your time is a big deal—and finding the “next big thing.” In the world of mystery audiobooks, especially, there are so many long-running series (and longtime author-narrator partnerships) that we can count on new books coming out from our favorite authors on a regular basis. We’re creatures of habit, and we like what we know and are already comfortable with. However, in the case of audiobooks, sometimes a narrator can help nudge us in the direction of that discovery. If I know I enjoy listening to a particular performer, I’m more likely to take the plunge. How about you?
Have you discovered a new author, or even a new-to-you author, who you’ve checked out recently on audio? Did the narrator help you decide to listen? Or maybe you got a recommendation from a friend? What prompted you to take a risk on a new (to you) author?
Being a fan of Peter Berkrot’s work, I was immediately intrigued when I saw that he was narrating William L. Myers, Jr.’s debut audiobook, A CRIMINAL DEFENSE. Combine that with AudioFile‘s glowing review, and I’m ready to try A CRIMINAL DEFENSE for myself! How about you?
A CRIMINAL DEFENSE
by William L. Myers, Jr., Read by Peter Berkrot
Earphones Award Winner
Admit it—we’re fascinated with royalty. Just look at the commemorative plates/snowglobes/spoons your relatives scooped up to celebrate the marriage of William and Kate. In the British peerage, dukes are in the direct line of royal succession, and many ducal titles were originally created for the ruler’s siblings. In the Regency period (1811–1820), for example, a popular setting for historical romances, King George III’s progeny enjoyed the dukedoms of Cornwall, Rothesay, York, Albany, Clarence, Kent, Strathearn, Cumberland, Teviotdale, Sussex, and Cambridge, to name a few. For romance readers, dukes are the best of both worlds. They are figures of immense wealth and power (and, of course, they are handsome to boot), with the freedom to pursue outside interests—and maybe, in the world of romantic fantasy—to marry a commoner! Far from common, these six audiobooks about dukes will be a royal treat for listeners.
BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE: Season for Scandal, Book 3
by Kelly Bowen, read by Ashford McNab
Ashford McNab creates a believable cast of characters spanning from the highest to the lowest members of society, with dangerous dealings with the “devil” in a gambling parlor. A recommended title for those who prefer their romances unabashedly feminist and a little mysterious. You can start the series with DUKE OF MY HEART or dive right into BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DUKE!
IF THE DUKE DEMANDS: A Capturing the Carlisles Novel
Earphones Award Winner
by Anna Harrington, read by Justine Eyre
Narrator Justine Eyre’s voice is textured and full of emotion as she narrates the first in this Regenecy romance trilogy. Eyre gives each character a unique voice, from the determined-sounding Miranda Hodgkins to the deeper, more forceful tone of Sebastian Carlisle, the Duke of Trent.
THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE AND DUKES: Dear Lady Truelove
by Laura Lee Guhrke, read by Carolyn Morris
Narrator Carolyn Morris draws listeners into the historical romance of Henry, Duke of Torquil, and Irene Deverill, a publisher who has printed provocative columns. Morris helps listeners envision the world of the aristocracy that the characters inhabit and leaves them rooting for Henry and Irene to overcome their differences to find love together.
DUKE OF SIN: Maiden Lane, Book 9
by Elizabeth Hoyt, read by Ashford McNab
The Duke of Montgomery, Valentine Napier, is uncertain in his love of Bridget Crumb, his housekeeper. Narrator Ashford McNab convinces listeners that the despicable duke has hidden depths and motivations to redeem him as he and Bridget join forces to deal with secrets in both of their lives.
WHILE THE DUKE WAS SLEEPING: The Rogue Files, Book 1
Earphones Award Winner
by Sophie Jordan, read by Carmen Rose
Carmen Rose narrates heroine Poppy Fairchurch’s vulnerability and hero Struan Mackenzie’s no-nonsense temperament and virility in this historical romance. In Rose’s capable voice, the story, set in London and at the duke’s country home at Christmastime, is a satisfying romp.
NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED: The Third Rule of Scoundrels
by Sarah MacLean, read by Rosalyn Landor
Rosalyn Landor’s lovely British accent and engaging delivery provide the perfect pairing for this appealing historical romance. Handsome William Harrow is dubbed the “Killer Duke” after the apparent murder of his soon-to-be stepmother, young heiress Mara Lowe. If you love NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED, listen to the next in the series, NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER!
Do you have a favorite duke whose tales you love? What is it about dukes that keeps you coming back for more stories? Share your favorites with us in the comments!