With over 90 books to his name, Colorado-based sci-fi scribe Kevin Anderson is a self-described write-a-holic. “I’m a storyteller. They keep coming and coming, and I keep writing. I once did 14 books in a single calendar year. I love telling stories.”
It would be hard to imagine a more engaging audio teacher than author and CNN financial commentator David Bach. His books and audios, including THE AUTOMATIC MILLIONAIRE, are among the best financial guides available in any medium. In contrast to losing weight, which he says requires daily discipline, money management can be automatic. “Becoming wealthy is incredibly simple. It’s just not easy. But if I can get you in one hour to do a handful of things that set up automatically, you’re done unless you shut it off. It doesn’t take ongoing motivation.”
Bestselling novelist Steve Berry is trying something new with the audiobook release of his new history-based thriller, THE PATRIOT THREAT. “I don’t think anyone’s ever done anything like this before. It’s called the Writer’s Cut.” He’s moving the author’s notes that he usually has at the end of the book to the end of each chapter, and the listener can chose to hear him explain a particular historical fact or story point on the disc or download. Berry says he recently took a car trip with some friends, and they wanted listen to one of his books. “That’s one of the last things I would want to do because I’ve pretty much learned every line by heart. But to keep my attention, I would stop the disc and tell them something about that chapter that no one knew but me.”
A career as an author is not something John C. Bogle ever envisioned.
When she had the idea for her first novel, the rags-to-riches story of the indomitable Emma Harte, Barbara Taylor Bradford sat down and wrote a 12-page outline, which she showed to a friend. By chance, he happened to be seeing an American editor who "was looking for a big, old-fashioned family saga." Bradford met with the editors, who said they wanted 200 pages. When she appeared with two shopping bags and 1,592 pages of manuscript, they were overwhelmed. However, she had to wait only two days before they bought the book. After some editing, A Woman of Substance exploded onto the publishing scene in 1979.
With snappy patter, self-deprecating humor, and sharp-tongued wit, Augusten Burroughs has explored his life, from tortured adolescence through rehab to recovery. His personal remembrances, RUNNING WITH SCISSORS (2002), DRY (2003), and MAGICAL THINKING (2004), have become international bestsellers. Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Massachusetts, Burroughs credits lying on the floor and listening to his mother’s recordings of old radio shows for some of his happiest early memories. “Audiobooks bring back that experience.”
Bestselling novelist and humorist W. Bruce Cameron’s favorite of his audiobooks is 8 SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING MY DAUGHTER: And Other Reasonable Advice From the Father of the Bride (Not That Anyone Is Paying Attention). But it’s not because the book was adapted into a popular television situation comedy. It’s because it was read by the late John Ritter.
We gave an enthusiastic YES! when Fantastic Audio offered to set up an interview with award-winning author of science fiction and fantasy Orson Scott Card. The author of the popular Ender and Alvin Maker series, Card is well represented on audio. Fantastic is not only publishing some new recordings, but rereleasing some Card titles from the NewStar catalog. We assigned Contributing Editor Yuri Rasovsky the interview. He opened with a question relating to his own specialty, audio drama.
One of the world’s best-known teachers of mind-body medicine and the author of more than one hundred audio, video, and CD-ROM titles, Deepak Chopra, M.D., has an approach to life that spans many realms. His audio programs encourage that we be guided by the accumulated intelligence in our bodies and a loving connection with the entire fabric of human consciousness. Starting out as an endocrinologist, he saw how consciousness-based living influences illness and so began a transition from being a physician to being primarily a spiritual teacher and humanitarian. “In many ways it was an integration of what I was already doing.”
Billy Crystal stood before 300 people in an auditorium at New York University, his alma mater, reading chapters from his new book, STILL FOOLIN’ ‘EM: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?
After Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham has finished plotting, writing, editing, and rewriting a novel, he’s done with it—absolutely and completely. So he groans at the thought of having to hear the audio version, saying, “I can’t possibly sit and listen to my whole damn book all over again.”
As her readers may suspect from the quilting scenes in her books, Sandra Dallas is a quilting fan. But she hasn’t practiced the skill in years and says she never was an accomplished quilter. Her appreciation is for quilting as an art form.
Growing up in suburban Philadelphia, Barbara De Angelis knew she would be a teacher. In the early 1970s, exposure to Eastern religions at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, nurtured this drive, and before long she was giving seminars on love, sex, and romantic relationships. Earning a doctorate in psychology along the way, she authored books like MAKING LOVE WORK and WHAT WOMEN WANT MEN TO KNOW, and the ball was rolling.
In LIVING WITH A WILD GOD, her memoir about a troubled childhood studded with strange, mystical experiences, Barbara Ehrenreich writes that she often propped books on sinks so she could continue reading while she brushed her teeth or did the dishes. She seems the kind of consumer of literature who might naturally have progressed to audiobooks. But that’s not the case.
“I don’t listen, but I have to start doing it because the radio is too frustrating,” she says. She hasn’t even listened to--or reread--her other works. Five of her 20 provocative and socially conscious books have been recorded, including her 2001 bestseller, NICKEL AND DIMED: On (Not) Getting By in America. “I guess when I’ve written a book, I’m not that interested in reading or listening to it again.”
Still, she agreed to record her current volume, subtitled A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything. “The pressure was on me because this new book is in the first person and is a kind of memoir. I thought: How bad can it be? Little did I know!”
The Voices of Janet Evanovich: Conversations with Lorelei King and C.J. Critt Janet
Evanovich’s hugely popular Stephanie Plum series and romances have an avid following on audio. AudioFile recently caught up with narrators Lorelei King and C.J. Critt to ask them what it’s like to bring these audiobooks to life. - 2009 Update
Bestselling mystery novelist Charles Finch says there are times when listening to an audiobook helps him better connect with the characters and follow the plot. "I do a lot of book reviews now, and when I want to do a more careful reading, I listen to them. I can get the texture of the book better from audiobooks." Finch is the author of seven successful mystery novels featuring detective Charles Lenox, including the most recent, AN OLD BETRAYAL. He says the narrator is the most important part of the audiobook experience. "I can be deterred by a bad reader, and I can be sucked in by a good reader. I've been very lucky with my mystery novels because I have James Langton, this wonderful Scottish actor who does the voices. As a writer, you're listening, and there are times you'll find yourself learning about your own characters by the way another artist interprets them. It's sometimes different from the way you wrote them."
After listening to author Joseph Finder a while, you realize he has the thriller instinct. When he describes his love for writing mainstream mysteries, his voice becomes animated. “I wanted to write ever since I was about 9,” he says.
Anne Garrels was naked in Baghdad in every way possible. As all National Public Radio listeners know, Garrels, an NPR senior correspondent, stayed in Baghdad throughout the recent war with Iraq. During the day, she combed the city with Amer, her amazing translator/driver, looking for stories about the real situation in the country. Late at night, she retreated to her hotel room to call in her reports via “sat phone” (satellite phone).
Jody Gehrman has been an audiobook listener for as far back as she can remember. “I’m a dedicated audiophile. I have a long-standing love of the form. I used to listen to old radio dramas before audiobooks became accessible.” She enjoys listening for a number of reasons. “I can listen while I’m walking, working out, or doing chores. Also, you can listen to an audiobook and experience it with someone else. My husband and I always listen to something on road trips. We stop it, we talk about it, and so it becomes this point of discussion, which is really fun.”
2009 Best Voice in AUTHOR-READERS: Ecological Intelligence
Getting into journalism was a “complete accident,” says the author of SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE, an exhaustive and important study on the neuroscience of human interactions, released last year. After finishing his Ph.D. at Harvard in the 1970s, Daniel Goleman didn’t find a psychology teaching job he really wanted, so he abandoned academia when offered an editor position at Psychology Today. Writing advice from his managing editor led to 12 years as a science writer for The New York Times and seven books, most of which are available on audio.
As Daisy Goodwin was writing THE FORTUNE HUNTER--her new historical novel about a dashing horseman named Captain Bay Middleton and the two women who love him, the beautiful Empress Elizabeth of Austria and a plain but very smart heiress named Charlotte Baird--she would sometimes pause to listen to audiobooks. In particular, she says, she listened to the British actress Juliet Stevenson reading works by Jane Austen.
It’s surprising to realize that John Gray’s Mars and Venus books have only been with us for 10 years. It seems like he’s been on the personal development scene forever. He was in Chicago doing media interviews for his new book—Mars and Venus in the Workplace—when AudioFile caught up with him and asked him about his background. “I started out being a teacher, teaching Transcendental Meditation during the heyday of meditation, studying with a maharishi for nine years.” Then he decided to go to graduate school in psychology. It was as a therapist that he developed the relationship concepts he taught in seminars and first wrote about in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.
Karen Hesse, who has won a Newbery Award for children’s literature and a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius” award for her writing, conducts months of research for each of her books. When it comes to kids, she says, “How could we give any less than our best effort?
It takes a lot of moxie to model your main character’s mother after your own, especially when your real-life mother has earned critical acclaim in your chosen field. Carol Higgins Clark, however, sees more fun than competition, more affection than comparison in her relationship with bestselling mystery author Mary Higgins Clark. So when Carol’s editor suggested she make private detective Regan Reilly’s mother a famous mystery writer, the daughter laughed and said, “Why not?”
Decorated Vietnam War veteran Robert Jordan began putting quill to parchment in 1977, and hasn't stopped since. Storytelling is in Jordan's blood. The South Carolina native, who taught himself to read at age 4 and began reading Jules Verne and Mark Twain at age 5, has written novels set during the American Revolution, a dozen adventures featuring Robert E. Howard's Conan, and, most notably, 12 epic novels (11 primary novels and one prequel) in his Wheel of Time fantasy series. "The spoken word is the basis for all storytelling," he told us from his 1797 home in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina. "My father and my uncles were storytellers. When we went fishing or hunting, there was always storytelling at night. I grew up with that oral tradition. I've always thought that my writing lends itself to being read aloud for that very reason."
Etgar Keret, who was born in Tel Aviv in 1967, is considered one of the most popular writers among Israel’s young generation. He has also received international acclaim. His writing has been published worldwide, and more than 40 short movies have been based on his stories, one of which won the American MTV Prize. At present, Keret lectures at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. The winner of numerous literary accolades and prizes, the multitalented Keret, and Shira Gefen, won the Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d`Or Award for their movie JELLYFISH, and Best Director Award of the French Artists and Writers’ Guild in 2007. His books have been published in 31 languages in 35 countries.
Ross King’s THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS is not only a well-structured narrative that encompasses a dozen dramatic years of French art history and controversy. It is also a richly detailed tour of France’s colorful Second Empire, a period of high taste and high tragedy, dramatic on the page and even more dramatic to the ear.
Peter Mayle, bestselling author of A YEAR IN PROVENCE, TOUJOURS PROVENCE, and ENCORE PROVENCE, offers some advice, when asked, to dreamy readers who want to follow in his footsteps by moving to France. “For people who want to live in the country,” he says, “I suggest going over in November and renting something for the winter. If you like it then, you'll love it the rest of the year. So many people go in the summer, when they have a couple of weeks of perfect weather. It's a different place in the winter—I happen to like it very much, but it's not the same at all. So I would say—go there at the least busy, most chilly time of year and see how you like it.”
Ed McBain is a man who knows no rest. With more than 80 novels to his name—50 that have been adapted to audio-book—he continues to put in a full day’s work despite having recently completed his latest book, Candyland, co-written with another award-winning author, Evan Hunter. What makes this collaboration unique is that Ed McBain and Evan Hunter are the same person.
George McGovern brings a unique perspective as the author of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, part of the American Presidents series from Times books. As a former senator from a prairie state, South Dakota, and a former presidential candidate, McGovern can relate to many aspects of Lincoln’s life.
When a publisher invited Sheila Nevins, renowned documentary producer, to write her book, YOU DON’T LOOK YOUR AGE . . . AND OTHER FAIRY TALES, it struck her as a fun adventure. “Like getting a ticket to Morocco!” she quips. But actually writing the book was a longer journey--“more like 100 trips to Morocco”--and full of unanticipated challenges. One of the most difficult? Stepping out from behind the lens. Having worked on documentaries at HBO for decades, Nevins has devoted much of her life to helping others tell their stories. Telling her own was harder.
Author Nnedi Okorafor is known for her award-winning Africanfuturist works, stories rooted in African culture and perspective that explore beyond the realm of what is currently possible. Okorafor’s writing examines the intersection of technology, the natural world, and magic, building a world in which a Himba mathematical genius rides an enormous living spaceship to an intergalactic university, for example. “I always feel like if I’m ever going to leave the planet, I would want to go in something that’s alive,” Okorafor says. “There’s a very thin line between the magical and the technological, and there are places where they intersect.” Her writing dances along that intersection.
When Louise Penny left a successful career in journalism with the CBC to pursue her dream of writing, she had writer’s block “for about five years.” She ended up on her couch eating gummi bears and watching a lot of “Oprah.” “And then,” she recalls, “a few things happened.”
If novelist Robin Pilcher ever gets in a literary pinch, he doesn’t have far to go to get advice. His mother, longtime successful novelist Rosamunde Pilcher, lives about a mile away.
"Reading out loud is the purest and most ancient form of storytelling," says Douglas Preston, half of the Preston-Child team that has so far created nine novels. Their books cross the boundaries from thriller to horror to science fiction to mystery, creating a challenge for booksellers to pigeonhole them into a single genre. Co-author Lincoln Child explains, "In difficult times people seem to frequently turn away from real horrors to invented ones--horrors they can switch off when they feel like it. Our books aren't horror; they're techno-thrillers with a frisson of the supernatural."
Few Americans know anything of the history of the slaves who joined the Tories during the Revolutionary War. Excluded from the liberty their masters so prized, they fought for England. The English, unlike the Colonists, promised manumission to slaves who would take arms in their cause. A monarchy that offered freedom seems to have been infinitely more attractive than a democracy that did not.
When bestselling author Lisa Scottoline writes, she surrounds herself with sound. “I have on satellite radio and the Olympics, and dogs are barking in the background. It’s all good for me! At one point, I even had a baby monitor in the chicken coop so I could hear them, too!” Scottoline believes these sounds contribute energy and rhythm to her work. “I like the cacophony. I like voices. They help me think better.” Listening, she believes, helps her tap into what she calls the aural component of writing, helping it “ring true. When the writing rings false,” she explains, “you feel it in your ear.”
Scott Simon talks for a living, so one might think that narrating the audio version of his most recent book would be a cinch. But the longtime National Public Radio reporter and host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” discovered that reading a memoir aloud brought special challenges as well as pleasures.
The book blends the life story of Simon’s mother, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman, a lively, lovely, and wise former showgirl; Simon’s remembrances of growing up as her son and acolyte; and a description of their final week together as she lay dying in a hospital intensive-care unit.
Historical novelist Wilbur Smith is “riding high on the wave” of popular and critical response following the release of THE QUEST, the latest in his bestselling Egyptian series. Smith admits he doesn’t listen to his books in the audio format, but he appreciates the fact that audiobooks are a boon to people who want to keep up with the adventures of his colorful and fantastic characters.
Neal Stephenson may not be your average New York Times #1 bestselling author. He’s staked a claim to having written some of the most intricately detailed, philosophically dense, and tightly plotted novels of the past 25 years.
Garry Wills may be the only man ever to choose THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE as a workout tape. But he did and has fond memories of running to the prose of Edward Gibbon while on vacation in Mexico.
In early October of 2006, mystery author Jacqueline Winspear was featured on the “CBS Morning Show,” highlighting how her success as a novelist was a dream come true. The native of Kent, England, who had variously worked as a flight attendant, a marketing rep, and in the academic publishing world, moved to the U.S. in 1990. One day, while stuck in traffic in San Rafael, California, a daydream began to solidify into the character and the story that became her first novel, MAISIE DOBBS (2003).
It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall—or on the leaf of a tree—a few years ago when novelist-essayist-social analyst Tom Wolfe strolled through the dorms and along the verdant terrain of a handful of university campuses to research I AM CHARLOTTE SIMMONS, his latest dissection of American society.
Gabrielle Zevin’s newest adult title is about an opinionated independent bookseller. THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY has won acclaim from reviewers, indie bookstore owners, and anyone who loves stories about stories.
Zevin’s many fans include Scott Brick, the narrator of the audio production. “I was stunned by the experience of narrating the book,” he says. “It drew me in from the first page. It’s the kind of book that I might ordinarily find myself finishing after only three days in the studio, yet I found myself stretching it to four, then five, simply because I hated the idea of it being over. I wept while recording it--more than once.”
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