Actress and Narrator Yetide Badaki on Storytelling and the Alchemy of Audiobooks

Yetide Badaki by Erin Simkin

Yetide Badaki by Erin Simkin

Nigerian-American writer, producer, and actress Yetide Badaki, well known for acting in the TV series This Is Us” and American Gods,” comes from a family of storytellers. She recalls sitting by the fire as a youth and listening to her elders. Storytelling is such a part of just being,” she says. Language and the use of it, even when people are hurling insults, can be Shakespearean.” Using language in a vibrant manner attracted Badaki to narration. It comes right to that moment between narrator and audience.” Read more…

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Why Isabel Wilkerson’s CASTE Is a Must-Listen

On Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

On Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Isabel Wilkerson’s powerful new work of nonfiction, CASTE: The Origins of Our Discontents, examines how caste, or a hereditary class system, underlies the oppression of Black people and other people of color in America. Racism certainly exists, she posits, but the country’s caste system, developed in Colonial Virginia to differentiate indentured immigrants from African slaves, is the root of the problem. A caste system permanently empowers those in the top group and permanently dehumanizes those at the bottom, setting them forever apart as “other.” It explains why President Andrew Jackson felt fine about his horse’s reins made from the flesh of American Indians. It explains why a white guest at a party full of liberals assumed that a Black man they didn’t know was a server who would get them a drink. The Black man was then Senator Barack Obama. Read more…

Author and audiobook fanatic, Aurelia often falls asleep at night with earbuds still attached. She can also be found at www.aureliacscott.com.

In Conversation with SANDMAN Producer Dirk Maggs

Neil Gaiman (l) and Dirk Maggs
Neil Gaiman (l) and Dirk Maggs
Neil Gaiman (l) and Dirk Maggs

On today’s bonus episode of Behind the Mic, we’re featuring a conversation between host Jo Reed and Dirk Maggs. If you love audio theater, then you know the work of Dirk Maggs. As a producer, director, and writer, his productions immerse listeners in the worlds that he creates. He uses rich sound effects to bring the language and feel of moviemaking to his audio productions, yet he never loses focus on the words at the heart of the story. In a career spanning 30 years, he’s won many national and international awards. Dirk first made a name for himself turning DC comics into audio productions, and when Douglas Adams heard those adaptations, he pulled Dirk in to bring his HITCHHIKERS’ GUIDE TO THE GALAXY series back to audio. Dirk has also had a longtime collaboration with Neil Gaiman, which most recently has resulted in an audio adaptation of THE SANDMAN, Gaiman’s beloved classic comic book series.

Listen in as they discuss his decades of work bringing audio dramas to life.


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In Conversation with Jason Reynolds, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

Jason Reynolds Interview

Jason Reynolds Interview

AudioFile’s Josephine Reed spoke with author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jason Reynolds about STAMPED, a remix of Ibram X. Kendi’s STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING for young people which Reynolds also narrates. Highly recommended as a work for young readers, the audiobook is accessible to anyone interested in learning about how racism and antiracism developed in America. In all of his work, Reynolds is known for writing and speaking directly to young listeners, meeting them where they are, and helping young Black readers see themselves reflected in books they are excited to read. 

In this bonus episode of the Behind the Mic podcast, Reynolds speaks about the importance of writing for younger readers and how he came to work on STAMPED. Hear the full conversation below.

“What we were trying to do is ensure that the conversation around antiracism permeates every single sector of our country, not just scholars and academics and people who are thinking about race, but our children.“—Author Jason Reynolds

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Author Nic Stone and Narrator Dion Graham on the impact of DEAR MARTIN

Nic Stone and Dion Graham

Nic Stone and Dion Graham

Author Nic Stone and narrator Dion Graham make a powerful team. Stone’s newest audiobook CLEAN GETAWAY came out this winter, and it’s another Earphones Award winner narrated by Dion Graham. We thought this was the perfect opportunity to revisit our conversation with the author and narrator duo. Host Jo Reed spoke with both Stone and Graham when their audiobook DEAR MARTIN first released. Stone’s moving young adult audiobook allows listeners to reflect on the trauma and impacts of racial profiling as her characters ask the questions we would in their situations. Listen to their conversation below.

“The best way to reach young people through literature is to reflect actual young people who mess up, who do good, who do bad, who have good things that they are a part of, who maybe have some things that they shouldn’t be a part of.”—Author Nic Stone

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Author Daniel José Older on the Power of Writing and the Spoken Word

Talking with Daniel José Older

Talking with Daniel José Older

We were thrilled to feature this interview with Daniel José Older in our February/March 2020 issue of AudioFile Magazine. AudioFile contributor Jessie Grearson spoke with Older about his writing and his audiobooks, including his latest book for adult listeners, THE BOOK OF LOST SAINTS, and the conclusion to his bestselling teen fantasy series. Read the full interview below.

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Daniel José Older always knew he wanted to tell stories—it just took a while to settle on a medium. “For a good period, I was more involved with music, but with a focus on storytelling. Even when I was mostly doing music, I was still always writing. I was all over the map. I did screenplays, poems, articles. But I wasn’t getting any traction; I didn’t know how to publish.”

The idea of writing a novel was “partially inspired by just not wanting to deal with wrangling musicians to rehearsals all the time. I found myself deeply attracted to the idea of being able to sit and work on something by myself, to finish it myself, on my own time—and not dealing with anyone else. So that’s what I did. And it worked!” Read more…

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In the Studio with Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Odyssey Award Winner HEY, KIDDO

In the studio with Jarrett J Krosoczka
In the studio with Jarrett J Krosoczka
Author and narrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka (top) and Jeanne Birdsall

I was thrilled to talk with author Jarrett J. Krosoczka about the process of adapting his acclaimed graphic memoir, HEY, KIDDO: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction, into a full-cast audiobook. And I was even more excited when earlier this week HEY, KIDDO won the American Library Association’s 2020 Odyssey Award for the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults. There are so many things to love about this audiobook, but for me the most remarkable aspect was the casting. Krosoczka tapped members of his own family to narrate the true story, and the result is unforgettable. Below, read my Q&A with Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Read more…

As a former middle school librarian and author of Booktalking Around the World: Great Global Reads for Ages 9-14, Sonja’s mission is to get kids excited about books.

In Conversation with Narrator Jim Dale

On Behind the Mic with AudioFile Magazine

In Conversation with Narrator Jim Dale

In Conversation with Narrator Jim Dale

If you ask an audiobook listener about their favorite audiobooks, odds are good that they’ll say they adored Jim Dale’s narration of the HARRY POTTER series. What many listeners may not know is that HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE was his introduction to audiobook narration. Jim came to audiobooks accidentally, and later in his career, and listeners are so lucky he did. Listen as Jo Reed and Jim Dale discuss his audiobook work and his extraordinary career in the entertainment industry.

“You’re now more intimate than ever. You’re just speaking to one person, listening to you, reading. And that’s a joy.”—Narrator Jim Dale

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Author Tim O’Brien on the Challenges and Rewards of Fatherhood—and of Narrating

Tim O'Brien Interview

Tim O'Brien Interview

We featured our interview with author Tim O’Brien in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of AudioFile Magazine. O’Brien’s newest audiobook, dedicated to his sons, is a memoir, a tribute, and a collection of advice. It was a difficult but moving title for the author to record. Read the interview below. 

National Book Award-winning novelist Tim O’Brien published his remembrances of his Vietnam War experiences as a young man in THE THINGS THEY CARRIED and GOING AFTER CACCIATO. However, he came to fatherhood late in life, and at the age of 57, he and his wife had a son. A second son followed soon after. O’Brien knew his time with his boys might be shorter than most fathers’, so he decided to leave behind remembrances, advice, and reporting on some of the antics they might forget as they grow older. Read more…

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5 Questions with Narrator Michael Kramer

5 Questions with Michael Kramer

5 Questions with Michael Kramer

Most of you will associate today’s Take 5 guest narrator with audiobooks set in imaginary worlds. To me, Michael Kramer’s name is especially linked to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series; in fact, he’s narrated all of the books in that very popular series in collaboration with Kate Reading. Tens of thousands of fantasy fans have welcomed Michael into their lives via speakers, headphones, and earbuds as they listened to 14 audiobooks and well more than 400 hours of action, adventure, war, and politics set in an ancient world.

If you’re a fantasy fan, you may be surprised to learn that Michael is equally skilled at performing history, memoir, literary fiction, thrillers, children’s stories, science fiction, and more. The audiobooks I’m recommending today do indeed include fantasy—such as an exciting new production of a recently released Robert Jordan book—but I also feature a modern classic, a thriller, and history. I encourage you to get to know Michael’s work on stories set in the real world as well as fantastic ones. Read more…

Candace is a full-time freelance book editor as well as a book reviewer and journalist. When she’s not working, you'll inevitably find her listening to an audiobook while cooking, walking, making lace, or taking photographs. She was honored to be the 2016 Audio Publishers Association's Audiobook Blogger of the Year.