The Download: In Conversation with Robin Miles

Behind her dynamic and moving narrations there’s a lot of work, and a lot of heart

Robin Miles by Jordan Matter

Golden Voice narrator Robin Miles is known for her powerful voice and has narrated hundreds of audiobooks, including thoughtful readings of important historical works and dynamic narrations of breathtaking fantasy. Listen in to our interview to hear about the work behind her narrations, and what she’s imagining as she sits behind the mic.

” I always have a person sitting there with me. I never forget, and  I imagine that person listening a foot and a half away, and then I care about whether or not they get what I’m saying and the point of what I’m saying.”— Narrator Robin Miles

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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.

Take 5 with Candace: 5 Questions with Alyssa Bresnahan

Alyssa draws listeners into the emotional heart of her audiobooks

Alyssa Bresnahan on a chairlift
Alyssa Bresnahan on a chairlift with her daughter
Alyssa and her daughter on their way to ski

Do you have a favorite audiobook? I do, and it was narrated by none other than today’s guest, Alyssa Bresnahan. You’ll have to forgive a little fangirl giddiness as I introduce you to Alyssa and recommend five of her stellar audiobook performances.

I’m not alone in praise of her work; Alyssa has won many AudioFile Earphones Awards and has appeared on several of our best of the year lists, most recently for her performance of Charlie Jane Anders’s ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY,  which was an AudioFile best of 2016 Science Fiction & Fantasy pick.

5 Audiobooks

An Owl on Every PostEach of today’s featured audiobooks highlights Alyssa’s talent for creating an evocative atmosphere and drawing the listener into the emotional heart of the story. For example, her performance of AN OWL ON EVERY POST—Sanora Babb’s memoir of homesteading in the early 20th century on the eastern plains of Colorado—helps us feel the expanse of the prairie, the power of nature, and the strength of the pioneering spirit. Read more…

Candace Levy
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.

The Download: In conversation with YA author Nic Stone and Dion Graham

Go behind the scenes to learn about DEAR MARTIN

Nic Stone by Nigel Livingstone
Nic Stone by Nigel Livingstone
Photo by Nigel Livingstone

Listen in to the engaging conversation between author Nic Stone and narrator Dion Graham for insights on the writing and recording of the captivating DEAR MARTIN. 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.

“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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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.

Solve: Partners in Crime

Discover what it’s like writing with a co-author from the pair behind Michael Stanley’s audiobooks

I’ve often heard authors talk about the solitude of writing, so people who write as a team fascinate me. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several writing teams through my attendance at conferences and book signings and such.

Jefferson Bass - Without Mercy

There are pairs who have always written together like the authors of the Body Farm series, Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Blass—collectively Jefferson Bass. The creators of Detective Kubu are the duo from South Africa, Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, also known as Michael Stanley. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child simply use their own names to publish the Pendergast series.

Family members can make good writing partners. The sister writing team of Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols make up P.J. Parrish. They publish the Louis Kincaid series and the Joe Frye series. And Charles and Caroline Todd, mother and son pair, write two popular historical fiction series, the Bess Crawford series and the Ian Rutledge series. Read more…

A freelance book and audiobook reviewer, I have also written numerous interviews of authors and narrators. Story entrances me and if I'm not reading for myself I love having a story told to me. In addition, I'm an avid photographer, where stories are in the images!

The Download: In Conversation with James Patterson and Edoardo Ballerini

AudioFile Magazine brings author and narrator together for the first time

The Black BookOur team here at AudioFile Magazine is excited to introduce you to our latest venture, The Download! We’re going to be highlighting new audiobooks for you to discover, talking to narrators and authors about making audiobooks, and giving our listeners insights into the medium that we all love.

To start it all off, we have an interview to share with you between author James Patterson and narrator Edoardo Ballerini. This team has produced a number of excellent audiobooks together, and their latest, THE BLACK BOOK, is a great example of how they can create dynamic and fast-paced thrillers that listeners love. Listen in to Patterson and Ballerini as they discuss the making of THE BLACK BOOK and other compelling works, creating hyperreal worlds for readers to dive into, and the art of storytelling.

“I often feel like I’m watching a movie when I’m reading these books. Everything comes so alive, and I can really see the clothes and the buildings and the cars . . . I’ve always believed that the narrator is in service to the author, that it’s my job to present the book as the author intended it.”—Narrator Edoardo Ballerini

You can find a print excerpt of their conversation in the latest issue of our magazine, and if you’re looking for more insights into this pair, you can read interviews with both Patterson and Ballerini on our website!

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AudiOpinion: Simon Vance & Alan Moore

Why Simon Vance traveled 6000 miles to spend a few hours with author Alan Moore

If you’re inclined to enjoy longer posts try our AudiOpinion from narrator Simon Vance.

IMG_3640.jpeg
Simon Vance with Alan Moore

It was a crazy idea right from the start. I mean, phone calls and emails are usually enough to get the information I need to do the job of interpreting an author’s words. But this book was special—not only for its author and its length, but also for its setting in the author’s history-drenched home town.

I am speaking of Alan Moore, hailed as probably the best graphic novel writer in history (V FOR VENDETTA, WATCHMEN, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, to mention but three), who had just finished ten years of his life working on his second novel JERUSALEM, his magnum opus. I had just been asked to narrate it.

It was Neil Gaiman who first made the suggestion that I make the trip, and Neil is a man—a writer—for whom I have the deepest respect. What an opportunity, he said. I should go to Northampton, meet with the great Alan Moore, and ask him to give me a tour of the very place that is the inspiration for JERUSALEM.

I recognized that I couldn’t pass up the chance to spend time with Alan Moore

The problem was that Northampton (a city in the center of England as well as being central to England’s history) is a very long way from my current home in California. Plus, I was a busy narrator. It was March and I was expected to have the book in the can by the end of June.

I dismissed the idea as crazy. Then the book arrived and landed with a resounding thump! (Okay, I exaggerate, it was a PDF, so it more or less landed with a ‘ping.’) But it felt heavy in my inbox, and it was indeed impressive at 1200 pages long and more than 600,000 words. I began to read it in what little spare time I had, usually in the middle of the night. Soon I was drawn in. I had fully entered the “Mindscape of Alan Moore” (yup, there’s a documentary on DVD by that name).

JERUSALEM is an amazing creation. It has three distinct parts (one hardback edition of the book splits it into three volumes). It was eventually going to amount to 60 hours of finished audiobook work and to take me every single day of June to record. And there is no easy way to describe it. Of course, I’m no critic, and I don’t write for a living. To put it simply, I just read the words and allow them to take me on a journey . . . and this one, I soon knew, was unlike any other. The more I read, the more I recognized that I couldn’t pass up the chance to spend time with the author. I would justify the expense to myself by saying that it would help me in my narration, but mainly I just wanted to hang with this extraordinary man (He really is unique. According to Wikipedia, “Moore is an occultist, ceremonial magician, and anarchist.”)

So by mid-May I was checking flight schedules, adding up air miles, and trying to find out if Alan Moore would be available in the two-day slot I could have in the UK. Now that was an issue. You don’t just email Alan. He doesn’t have email; he doesn’t even have an answering machine. You either catch him on his home phone or you don’t.

Eventually, through Neil, I got in touch with Alan’s daughter, who said there was a chance her father MIGHT be available. I couldn’t wait for a confirmation, I had to snatch the flights before they went away. I rationalized that even if I couldn’t meet him, I could wander around Northampton on my own, and that alone would add to my experience of the novel. I braced for the fact that I might never meet the elusive author, and would be very disappointed.

Alan had indeed agreed to meet me and had chosen a rendezvous point . . . Pizza Express on Derngate!  Really, Pizza Express?

As it happened, I left San Francisco on an overnight flight Monday, the 30th of May, arriving on Tuesday, and drove right from Heathrow to Norfolk to see my son, who was on a four-month visit to the UK. Then, on Wednesday, I drove from Norfolk to Northampton. By this time, Alan had indeed agreed to meet me and had chosen a rendezvous point . . . Pizza Express on Derngate!

Really, Pizza Express? Not some darkened basement where the anarchists hang? But truth is, despite his anti-establishment reputation, Alan is really quite normal. His book has multiple influences and ranges far and wide, but centers itself in the philosophy of eternalism (briefly described: past, present, and future coexist and we live our lives over and over again if we wish). And, when you meet Alan, you find a most charming, charismatic, endearingly eccentric typical working class Englishman in his 60s.

After the necessary conversation about the book (details over pronunciations, etc.) he took me on a walking tour of “his neighborhood,” the Boroughs. (JERUSALEM is almost a love letter to the people and the place.) It rained lightly the whole time but neither of us commented on that (this is England, after all), and eventually we sought shelter in the local coffee shop–Caffè Nero (“… Nero…? You might as well call it Caffè Caligula” he comments in the book). The best part of our conversation took place over the next couple of hours. He and I are not far different in age, and apart from the difference in class we both had similar experiences growing up in 1960s England. However, Alan recognized early on the hypocrisies around us that took me longer to see.

We said our farewells and I flew home on Thursday and began recording the introduction, “Work in Progress,” the very next day. With only one day off, I finished the narration 29 days later. I phoned Alan several times in those days for some clarification (he told me that the “frankly unreadable” chapter–his words, not mine–was best attacked with an Irish accent), and was available and helpful every time.

Did my crazy trip help make this a better recording? I really think it did. And in any case, I have a new friend—and that’s beyond value. On the book’s publication he sent me a signed copy, to “Simon, my eternal chum.” The idea of spending eternity in conversation with Alan actually excites me.—Simon Vance

Jerusalem

JERUSALEM
Alan Moore, read by Simon Vance
Recorded Books
AudioFile Earphones Award

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In the Studio: American Gods

Go behind the scenes of the creation of the 10th Anniversary Edition of Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS audiobook

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
Listen to a sound clip

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.

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