The Sound Stage in the Closet

What It Really Takes to Be an Audiobook Narrator

Xe Sands

As we close out our December celebration of the Best Audiobooks of 2017, I wanted to share some of our winning narrators’ lesser-known skills and challenges.

Xe Sands
Xe Sands, photo by Charles Tarnowski

These are tidbits of information that enhance my admiration for their ability and occasional bravery. Such as not panicking when a spider lands on your hand while you’re trapped in a recording booth voicing a romantic scene. Xe Sands, who read Helen Rappaport’s CAUGHT IN THE REVOLUTION, is officially terrified of eight-legged creatures. Yet professional that she is, she didn’t react until she’d finished her sentence, exited the booth, and closed the door. That’s when she screamed her head off. 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.

The Download: The extraordinary audiobook productions of Philip Pullman’s fantastic worlds

A conversation with the creative team behind The Golden Compass and The Book of Dust

The Golden Compass

It’s no secret that our AudioFile team loves Philip Pullman and the worlds he built in the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy about Lyra Belacqua, the clever young protagonist we first met in THE GOLDEN COMPASS. We were thrilled by his most recent audiobook, THE BOOK OF DUST: La Belle Sauvage, the first in a new trilogy set in the same world. We brought together some of the creative team behind these audiobooks: Orli Moscowitz, Penguin Random House executive producer; Garrick Hagon, the director of the first trilogy and the voice of Lee Scoresby; and Tim Ditlow, the publisher of Listening Library who produced the unabridged multicast recording of the original.

“When I walked in the studio with Orli to watch the magic happen, the chemistry was a certain ingredient that I think we’ve all witnessed first-hand when we’ve seen a Broadway show, or a symphony orchestra.”—Tim Ditlow

Read more…

Josephine Reed
Jo Reed is a compulsive listener of audiobooks. She was the program director of the book and theater channel on XM Satellite Radio where she created, produced, and hosted This is Audible and Writers on Writing. She also created, produced, and hosted the literary show, On the Margin for WPFW, a public radio station in Washington DC where it ran for 18 years.

Robin’s Roundup: December 8 Best Audiobooks of the Year #2

Cozy up for a variety of brilliant listening from our Fantasy & Nonfiction lists

Norse Mythology

AudioFile Best Audiobooks of 2017We continue to celebrate the Best Audiobooks of the year, and we appreciate all the shares & retweets from our narrator and publisher friends & audiophile partners—thank you, and keep spreading the word!

My Roundup today looks at our Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror list and also the Nonfiction & Culture list. My immediate take is all the contrast! Will the same reader who settles in for a comforting listen with THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE also choose to contemplate the intangible menace of GWENDY’S BUTTON BOX? Who knows, but I do love the variety of our choices.

Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Robin’s Roundup: 5 Iconic Audiobook Series

25 Years of Iconic Audiobooks—Part 1

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneIn celebration of AudioFile’s first 25 years, we collected a list of 25 Iconic Audiobooks. We asked our reviewers and editors and heard your nominations on our social platforms for titles that stand out as truly memorable listening experiences. Our notion of  “iconic” is that they’re “widely known and acknowledged especially for distinctive excellence” and have withstood the test of time. Within our final cut of 25, there are 5 amazing series.

It’s impossible to talk about iconic audiobooks without several world-building fantasy series being on the list. HARRY POTTER and THE GOLDEN COMPASS are examples of the power of listening to audiobooks, though for different reasons. The entire HARRY POTTER series was masterfully narrated by the “bewitching, astonishing, brilliant, peerless” Jim Dale. He’s able to bring a whole cast of characters to life—134 characters in HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX alone. His narration may mark a turning point in how listening to audiobooks was viewed. Read more…

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

Robin’s Roundup: August 18 New Audiobook Reviews

Take a break with some Fantasy and Sci-Fi

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's DaughterIf you’re in the mood for a little escapism, this week’s audiobook reviews have some great options. The first to catch my eye, and ear, is THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER. The premise is that daughters of Victorian literary villains—Dr. Jekyll, Mr Hyde, and Rappaccini—collaborate to solve Jack-the-Ripper-like murders with some help from Sherlock Holmes. Narrator Kate Reading has a grand time with this romp.

A different sort of collaboration was the brainchild of the authors of INDIGO. Nine high-profile fantasy authors including Charlaine Harris, Kelley Armstrong, and Jonathan Maberry create a crime-fighter urban myth with super powers drawn from shadows. Just one narrator, Christina Delaine, takes this on. She gets high praise for handling the many male characters as well as the female ones, and for keeping us emotionally engaged. For X-Files fans, this one’s for you—THE X-FILES: COLD CASES. This elaborate original production with a creative soundscape and a huge cast of voices also brings back the original Mulder and Scully actors, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Just the chance to travel through X-Files land again should delight listeners.

My last choice this week is slightly different but a true AudioFile staff pick, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI. This sweet, immersive teen romance is dynamically read by two narrators, Vikas Adam and Sneha Mathan. The banter between the teens is perfected by the two actors who get the characters, and their world, just right. Dimple and Rishi both struggle with pressures and expectations from their families and society at large, and these nuances add depth to the story of ambition, romance, and tradition, while still keeping things fun.

What audiobook is taking you “out of your world” this week?

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.