In the Studio: American Gods

Neil Gaiman and an ensemble of talented narrators created the full-cast audiobook production of AMERICAN GODS.

American Gods
AMERICAN GODS, 10th Anniversary Edition with Full Cast
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Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS is headed to the small screen with an all-star cast, but lucky listeners already have two wonderful versions of the audiobook that they can listen to. In 2011, AudioFile Magazine spoke with Harper Audio executive producer Karen Dziekonski and producer/director Paula Parker about the 10th-anniversary full-cast production of Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS.

AF: How did the idea of a new, full-cast recording come about?

KD: Neil Gaiman proposed the idea of a full-cast recording after he and two others performed a section of the book in front of a live audience. He thought it really worked, and we loved the idea right away. Over the years, Harper Audio has produced many Neil Gaiman audiobooks. Each production was special—in terms of use of music, or Neil’s involvement as narrator—really fun and rewarding because of Neil’s support of the audio format. This production of AMERICAN GODS would take our long collaboration with Neil to a new level. We saw it as great creative challenge and a wonderful way to commemorate the 10th anniversary.

Neil GaimanNeil Gaiman in the recording studio

AF: How much was author Neil Gaiman involved in the process, aside from the parts he narrated himself? What was the casting process like?

PP: Neil had some wonderful narrators in mind: Ron McLarty, Anne Bobby, and Sarah Jones. We submitted voice samples for other roles such as Shadow and the narrator, from which Neil selected Dan Oreskes and Dennis Boutsikaris—both experienced and talented narrators. The rest of the cast—most having to play at least six different roles—were chosen for their versatility and vocal quality. The cast included 20 actors. We all had enormous respect for Neil and wanted this recording to honor his special voice.

AF: Did any of the narrators record in the studio together, or was it all put together post-recording? How did that work?

PP: Each narrator’s part was recorded separately. However, we meticulously matched the actors’ performances by focusing on the intention of the scene and always listening back to what the previous actor had recorded. I worked closely with the engineer—editing and using very precise script markings as a road map for our post-production team—to ensure that performances sounded as though they were recorded with everyone present.

AF: Were there any particular challenges in putting together this full-cast recording?

PP: This 20-hour, 20-actor audiobook’s biggest challenge was to ensure that small errors didn’t undermine the larger effort. For example, during pre-production, I made certain that each character and each line was accounted for. Otherwise, we could have been bringing actors back three or four times for missed lines. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Only a small number of pickups and rerecords were necessary.

AF: Anything else you’d like to share with us about the process of recording and producing AMERICAN GODS?

PP: The team effort behind this production made this massive recording enjoyable and creatively rewarding. I’d like to thank Neil for trusting us to bring his incredible characters and narrative to life, HarperCollins for giving us the opportunity to produce it, the “best there is” production team at John Marshall Media, and last but not least, the actors who delivered their performance heart and soul to this audio program.

Tease: Bay of Sighs

Listeners will be drawn into Nora Roberts‘s Guardians Trilogy with book two in the series, BAY OF SIGHS, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld, who also performed STARS OF FORTUNE.

Bay of Sighs

by Nora Roberts, read by Saskia Maarleveld
Brilliance Audio

Six diverse characters are on a quest to find the stars of fortune before an evil goddess finds them. BAY OF SIGHS takes place on the island of Capri and focuses on the romance between Annika, the mermaid, and Sawyer, a traveler.

The Greek island of Corfu is the setting for STARS OF FORTUNE. Maarleveld keeps listeners on the edge of their seats.

Stars of Fortune
by Nora Roberts, Read by Saskia Maarleveld
Brilliance Audio

And if you’re hooked, the final title in the trilogy, ISLAND OF GLASS —also narrated by Saskia — comes out in December 2016.

Ever wonder what it would be like to narrate a Nora Roberts audiobook? See what Shannon McManus, the narrator of THE OBSESSION, has to say here!

Want to be sure you’re hooked on your next audiobook?
Browse our newest romance reviews

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Solve: All the Missing Girls

Small towns always seem to have secrets, and Cooley Ridge is no exception. Rebekkah Ross uses a coolly detached voice to narrate this spellbinding mystery–told backwards, starting on the fifteenth day after the disappearance of Annaleise.

All The Missing Girls
by Megan Miranda, read by Rebekkah Ross
Simon & Schuster Audio
AudioFile Earphones Award

As the layers of this atmospheric mystery are peeled back, Ross subsumes herself into the story and engages listeners in discovering the truth of what happened to ALL THE MISSING GIRLS. Read our full review and listen to a sound clip here.

Browse our newest mystery reviews any time to find your next great listen!

Behind the Mic: Save Me a Seat

Narrators Josh Hurley and Vikas Adam go Behind the Mic for AudioFile and give us a dual perspective on SAVE ME A SEAT as two boys start school at Einstein Elementary.

“These kids are like a lot of kids in grade school who deal with bullies, insecurities, and trying to fit in.”— Josh Hurley

Save Me a Seat

by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan, read by Vikas Adam & Josh Hurley
Scholasitc Audio
Earphones Award Winner

Two fifth-grade boys, Ravi and Joe, come from very different places. Ravi is newly immigrated from India, and Joe is dealing with learning challenges. Using two narrators is the perfect way to deliver this story, and Vikas Adam and Josh Hurley bring every moment to listeners with clear connection and involvement. Listen to a sound clip and read our full review here.

Vikas Adam and Josh Hurley

Read our interview with Josh and Vikas!

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Behind the Mic: The Greatest


The Greatest

In an exclusive extra,
AudioFile reviewer Mike Sangiacomo tells us about meeting Muhammad Ali—in Baghdad—in 1990.

I spent some time with Muhammad Ali in the most unlikely place: Baghdad in late 1990, just weeks before the U.S. and its allies bombed it in Desert Storm. I was there on assignment from my newspaper, THE PLAIN DEALER, and he was there to get hostages released. Both of us were there against the wishes of the U.S. Government, to say the least.

Ali’s mission to Baghdad was largely unreported at the time, but the story leaked out a few times over the years.

As a world-renowned Muslim, Ali was welcomed in the city of Bagdad, and through his power of persuasion, he was able to leave with 15 American hostages. You probably never heard about it—the story was kept quiet, though I reported it in my newspaper. My group was invited to spend some time with Ali in his room at the Al Rashid Hotel. When we got there, Ali was lying down on the bed. He looked drawn and tired—his Parkinson’s disease was taking its toll. His schedule in Baghdad was exhausting. When he was not in talks with leaders, he was entertaining Iraqi children, who followed him everywhere.

He sat up in his bed, half-clothed, and asked us to wait in the seating area of his room. I remember watching him struggle to stand up, a shadow of his former self. But when he emerged minutes later, he looked like a new man. He had put on a blue suit, white shirt, and a tie, in deference to his visitors. He could only speak in a whisper, his voice exhausted from days of negotiations. Amid the small talk and stories I have long forgotten, Ali asked to keep his private talks with Saddam Hussein a secret, at least until the hostages were released.

“We admire the man who has never stopped using his celebrity for good- the man who helped secure the release of 14 American hostages from Iraq in 1900,” Obama was quoted in USA Today. With all due respect to Mr. Obama, it was 15. I counted.

Ali surprised our group by asking if we wanted to see some magic tricks, something he also performed for the other “guests” (Iraqi code for hostages) in the hotel lobby. He even did his levitation trick. Ali’s mission to Baghdad was largely unreported at the time, but the story leaked out a few times over the years. George Bush and subsequent presidents ignored it until President Barack Obama talked about it this year after Ali’s death on June 3. “We admire the man who has never stopped using his celebrity for good—the man who helped secure the release of 14 American hostages from Iraq in 1990,” Obama was quoted in USA Today. And, with all due respect to Mr. Obama, it was 15. I counted.

In addition to sharing this story, Mike listened to Ali’s autobiography, THE GREATEST: MY OWN STORY for us and wrote, “It’s uncanny how much narrator Dion Graham sounds like Ali”. You can read Mike’s full review and listen to a sound clip here or check out what Dion had to say about recording Ali’s story below!

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