Speaking of Audiobooks: A Merry Audio Holiday

Pride and PrejudiceOur holiday season in Oklahoma is in full swing and I’m finding myself busy with gift buying, decorating, and planning several trips to see family from Christmas through New Year’s.  Ours will be an old fashioned Christmas celebration, complete with country cooking and Southern style cornbread dressing.  Traveling to and from our family get-togethers, I’ll be armed with my iPod and yet another entertaining audiobook.  Sitting next to me in the car will be my husband with his iPod listening to an audiobook of his choice as well.  Yes, I have made a true convert of my husband and he is now a certified audiobook listener.  However, we don’t share the same tastes in books and, therefore, don’t have any joint listening sessions.  What a sight we are.  Thoroughly modern grandparents on the way to see their new grandbabies, both with iPods playing and wearing earphones!

AAR’s Top 100 Poll – Audio Style

Last week AAR published the results of their 2010 Top 100 Romances poll.  The poll is conducted every three years and hundreds of readers submitted their Top 100 reads which were then painstakingly tallied by LinnieGayl, CindyS, and Lee B.  As I looked over the list I started wondering, “Just how many of our readers’ top 100 romances are available in audio as well?”  I was shocked to find 61!

Of course, as audiobook enthusiasts, we know well that just because a book is a favorite in print does not mean it translates well to audio.  And the reverse is true as well.  A book that may not make your Top 100 ballot may very well be one of your favorites in audio.

Format makes a difference as well and 57 titles of these 61 audiobooks are available in unabridged format.  It should be noted that the three classics on the list, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are all available in numerous audiobooks, allowing a choice of narrators.

Of AAR’s top 25 books, 13 (listed by rank) are also offered in audio:

2. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

3. Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

13. Paradise by Judith McNaught

15. It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

16. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

19. The Bride by Julie Garwood

20. The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne

22. Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

23. Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

24. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

25. Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

The complete list of audiobooks we discovered hidden within the depths of AAR’s Top 100 poll (listed by author) are:

Lisa Kleypas:

Dreaming of You (1/01/11)

Devil in Winter

Blue-Eyed Devil

It Happened One Autumn

Suddenly You

Smooth Talking Stranger

Sugar Daddy

Then Came You (1/01/11)

Love in the Afternoon

Seduce Me at Sunrise

Married by Morning

Scandal in Spring

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

It Had to Be You

Heaven, Texas

Nobody’s Baby But Mine

This Heart of Mine

Match Me if You Can

Kiss an Angel

Dream a Little Dream

Natural Born Charmer

Ain’t She Sweet

Linda Howard

Mr. Perfect

Mackenzie’s Mountain

Dream Man

After the Night

Cry No More

Open Season

To Die For

Julie Garwood

The Bride

Honor’s Splendour

The Secret

Ransom (abridged)

Saving Grace

J.R. Ward

Lover Awakened

Lover Eternal

Dark Lover

Judith McNaught (all abridged)



Something Wonderful

Jennifer Crusie

Bet Me

Welcome to Temptation

Julia Quinn

When He Was Wicked

What Happens in London

Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice


Diana Gabaldon



Mary Balogh

More Than a Mistress

Joanna Bourne

The Spymaster’s Lady

Suzanne Brockmann

Over the Edge

Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

Georgette Heyer

Devil’s Cub

Elizabeth Hoyt

To Beguile a Beast

Judith Ivory

The Proposition

Stephanie Laurens

Devil’s Bride

Amanda Quick


J. D. Robb

Naked in Death

Sea SweptNora Roberts

Sea Swept

Nalini Singh

Angel’s Blood

LaVyrle Spencer

Morning Glory (Abridged version.  Unabridged is ISBN 1-4025-2253-3)

Sherry Thomas

Private Arrangements

Unfortunately a number of these treasures are in that hard-to-find category but after our Those Older Hard-to-Find discussion earlier this year, many of us have discovered that the finding is not as impossible as it once seemed.  Libraries are excellent sources as well as online used book sites, eBay, and simply borrowing from an audio friend.  Much of it is just knowing that they are out there to find.

I’ve listened to 40 of the 61 and have another eight in my to-be-listened-to folder.  It’s obvious that I still have some exploring to do.  After mulling over this list, I’ll be trying all three of those classics (I know it’s a shame – I have yet to listen to a single classic audiobook) and Nora Roberts’ Sea Swept.  I’m still thinking about a few others.

Speaking of Audiobooks will conduct an official Top Romance Audiobooks poll later in 2011.  We audiobook lovers can then get a true picture of those favorites that rate high both in story content and narration.

The Fever Series

After listening to the first four books in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series, I’m in the mood for a party to celebrate the ending of this fascinating series when Shadowfever is released on January 18th.  Unfortunately I won’t be in New Orleans on January 17th when Moning holds her Shadowfever Launch Party but we can still have fun discussing all the mysterious details and hints of things to come that Moning uses to both entrance and tease us.  Ours will be a much more laid back affair as we can still sleep if we choose to.  The plans for Moning’s Launch Party includes (in KMM’s own words) “…a book signing gala the night before Shadowfever goes on sale, a stay-up-all-night-long-reading Pajama Party capped off by intimate discussion and Q & A with me the next day about the entire series” (starting at 10:30 a.m.).

A number of us plan to start listening (or relistening) to the Fever Series the last week of December.  You may want to ask along the way (again in KMM’s words), “What’s what and what did you think of what’s what, who was right, who was wrong, and how much did you see coming?”  We’ll have a specific place set up for discussion during the month of January.  On the day of the Shadowfever’s release, Speaking of Audiobooks will interview narrator Phil Gigante and have a Fever giveaway as well.

And we’re not just watching to see how this captivating series ends or merely along for what is sure to be a breath taking ride.  As romance readers of an urban fantasy series, we’re watching to see if KMM will provide us with a happy ending for Mac.  Many of us already have bets on who we think the hero will be in that longed-for HEA.  We’re hoping you’ll decide to join us!

Call Me IrresistibleSusan Elizabeth Phillips News

For those of us who will forever miss the voice of Anna Fields (Kate Fleming) narrating a Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ book, Harper Collins is giving us a sample of their newly chosen narrator for Call Me Irresistible and let me tell you that after hearing this sample, I am excited!

Receiving disconsolate letters from SEP listeners after the audiobook releases of Glitter Baby and What I Did For Love, Phillips took seriously the job of finding new talent for Call Me Irresistible acknowledging that it was somewhat of a Herculean endeavor, saying, “I don’t envy anybody walking in Kate’s shadow.  The readers loved her so much.”

Phillips chose Shannon Cochran explaining that, “she ‘acts’ the characters instead of reading them, something I think will go over really well with my readers. This book is a huge challenge in terms of accents.  There are two women with upper-crust British accents in conversations with deep Texas women, and Shannon really carries it off. I feel like Kate Fleming was perched on my shoulder when I finally took that deep breath and chose Shannon.”

Harper Collins wants to know what you think about Ms. Cochran’s reading of Call Me Irresistible – so much so that they are making the entire first chapter available in advance of the 1/18/11 release date.  Report back here to Speaking of Audiobooks your impressions and we’ll let Harper Collins know your thoughts.  We’ll be collecting your responses for the next month.

We often talk in our discussions about the likelihood of those powers-that-be in the audiobook industry actual taking note of listeners’ complaints and here’s proof positive that at times, they certainly do!

Audible’s Best of 2010

Audible recently released its Best of 2010, including the five best romance audiobooks (chosen through Editor’s Picks and Customer Favorites):

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie

Lover Mine by J.R. Ward

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost

Color me surprised as I have not listened to a single one of these Bests (although Lover Mine is in my to-be-listened-to folder).  Maybe This Time does confuse me as the best romance since it is mostly a ghost mystery with a secondary romance.  That doesn’t fit my best romance definition but I also understand the fact that Crusie has a large fan base with remarkable marketing.  As for the other books – it’s not that the authors are unknown to me; it’s just that I hadn’t thought to give these books a try.

Time for Your Thoughts

How many of your favorite audiobooks were included in AAR’s Top 100 list?

Share with us a few of your favorite audiobooks that were in the Top 100.

Have you been inspired to try an audiobook by seeing this list?  What are the titles?

What are your thoughts on Audible’s Best Five Romances for 2010?  Can you recommend any?

Have you listened to the sample of Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips?  What were your thoughts?  Remember, we’ll be collecting those thoughts in the columns’ discussions for the next month.

And as always, do you have any recent audiobook successes or failures to share with us?

Ending Notes

Fellow audiobooks enthusiast Anne Stuart announced this past week on Facebook that an audio deal has been made for her Rohan series as well as Fire and Ice.

Speaking of Audiobooks 2011 Listening Challenge begins in January.  Our first column of the year will be dedicated to our upcoming challenge.  We hope you’ll decide to join us!

Our Speaking of Audiobooks Goodreads group keeps growing with 29 members.  Come join us as and share your audiobook shelf with us.

I’m announcing romance audiobook news and new releases on Twitter.  To follow me on Twitter, look for LeaAAR.

I’ll be back again later this month when we discuss January audiobook new releases.

- Lea Hensley

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30 Responses to Speaking of Audiobooks: A Merry Audio Holiday

  1. kathy says:

    Thank you sooo much Lea for all that information. I’m excited to see the top audio books. I was sorry to see “Death Angel” not make the top 100 but I’m definitely going to vote for it in the audio poll. I’m listening to “Devil in Winter” now.

  2. Nina says:

    I’ve listened to 48 of the 61 with 2 that I’m waiting for to be released in January (Dreaming of You and Then Came You – I already have Suddenly You).

    Lea – I highly recommend Sea Swept. It is one of my all-time NR favorites! It is a definite comfort listen for me. The narrator is great and the story is well told. Nora Roberts has given it all to us…humor, romance, passion, familial love, and tears. I particularly like the fact that the story is told from the male point of view through the brothers.

    A few of my favorite romances on the list are (in no particular order) Sea Swept, Over the Edge, It Had To Be You, Heaven, Texas, Naked In Death, When He Was Wicked, Lover Eternal & Lover Awakened, Dreaming of You/Then Came You & Suddenly You, Dream Man, Mr. Perfect, Outlander, Voyager, Welcome To Temptation, Devil’s Bride, To Die For, Angels’ Blood, & Devil In Winter. I wonder why with so many Loretta Chase books on the list that none of her books are available in audio?

    The only book on the Audible list that I’ve listened to this year is Lover Mine but I’m on the library list for Maybe This Time.

    Count Me In for the Shadowfever discussion. I’m going to re-listen to the series over Christmas vacation to get back up to speed. I know I’ve forgotten some important story/plot lines. It’s been over a year since I listened to Dreamfever.

    Books & authors I would like to have available in audio… early Julia Quinn , Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changelings series , more Rachel Gibson (especially Sex, Lies & Online Dating and See Jane Score), and Angela Knight’s Mageverse series.

    Again, thanks for writing this column every month. I always enjoy hearing about what people are listening to and what is soon to be released.

    • TSTBren says:

      Lea – I highly recommend Sea Swept.It is one of my all-time NR favorites!It is a definite comfort listen for me.The narrator is great and the story is well told. Nora Roberts has given it all to us…humor, romance, passion, familial love, and tears.I particularly like the fact that the story is told from the male point of view through the brothers.

      Ditto on Seaswept Nina, for all the same reasons!

      I agree MarissaB, Shannon Cochran really sounds good. From what I could find SEP’s would be her first narration in the romance genre. I hope they tap her for more books now that she’s been “discovered”.

      Having recently done some re listening to parts of The Secret narrated by Jill Tanner followed closely by some parts from Ransom narrated by Paula Parker I can agree that the change in voices of a hero and heroine from one book to the next can be annoying. In this case I’m referring to Ian’s, which Tanner did very, very well in his own book, thank goodness.

      As long as the featured hero and heroine in a book (Gillian and Brodrick, in the case of Ransom) sound good to me I can live with the now side characters (Ian as done in Ransom) getting their voices changed up, even if I don’t particularly like it.

      I need to go count and see how many of these I’ve listened to, I know how many I’ve read.

      Nalini Singh mentioned in her blog how pleased she was to have both Slave of Sensation and Angel’s Blood appearing in AAR’s Top 100 list. They would both be in my top five.

  3. MarissaB says:

    Just listened to the sample of Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Shannon Cochran sounds like a winner!

    Thanks for the heads up on that.

  4. LinnieGayl says:

    I would buy an audio version of Lord of Scoundrels and Connie Brockway’s As You Desire in an instant if they were available.

    I’m a huge Nora Roberts fan, and this year Sea Swept took over the #1 slot on my Top 100 ballot from Born in Fire (still can’t believe that didn’t make the Top 100 this time). I own most of Roberts’ books in audio version, but I just didn’t care too much for the audio versions of the Quinn trilogy. I particularly disliked how the narrator in the second book did Anna Quinn’s voice. She sounded like an elderly woman, rather than the vibrant woman she is.

  5. Corinna says:

    What a great selection! My ipod Touch has turned me into an audio book addict. Lately I’ve been on a Suzanne Brockman glom, and it might be nice to get back to the historical romance I love so much. Some of these would be just the ticket.

    As for you and your husband driving while wearing earphones, I’d like to drop a gentle word of caution: this is illegal in most states. I don’t know if this issue has been raised here before, but you might want to check into your home state’s laws (and the laws of other states you may travel into) before proceeding.

  6. Lea AAR says:

    Kathy – I wanted to see Death Angel on that list too. Maybe it will make it onto our Top Audiobooks list next year.

    Nina – wow – 48 out of 61! I don’t know that I have talked with anyone else who has listened to Suddenly You. What did you think of Jill Tanner’s narration? And have you listened to Devil in Winter yet?

    One big area of romance audiobooks still out there for me to explore is Nora Roberts. I have read or listened to very few of her books. It’s always seemed a little overwhelming to find a place to start. I’m definitely buying Sea Swept this month!

    So glad you’re in for the Fever discussions!

    MarissaB – didn’t you think she sounded like Anna Fields??

    LinnieGayl – I’d instantly buy those two books as well! Looks like I may be looking to you if I continue seeking out Nora Roberts audios.

    Corinna – thanks for that word of caution! I don’t mean to promote something that could get our listeners in trouble. Me, I just keep the volume low so I can hear everything around me and hope it’s not illegal where I’m traveling!

    What has been your favorite of the Brockmann books so far?

  7. Lea AAR says:

    TSTBren – it looks like our posts went up at almost the same time.

    I’m glad to see that Garwood’s Ransom is indeed available in unabridged format. (FYI – for all our listeners – I indicated in the column’s list that it is only available in abridged format) It sounds like you really enjoyed it?

    I think from the press release we received from Harper and Collins, Shannon Cochran IS the new voice of SEP. They want to hear what we think but they seem to believe in her and I must agree!

  8. Corinna says:

    Lea: No problem! I just didn’t want anyone getting into trouble either. ;)

    Which is my favorite Brockman? I’d say Prince Joe was probably my favorite. Actually, I find that while I really enjoy her earlier books, the later ones become much too political for me. In the later ones, I get the sense that I’m listening to Suzanne’s thoughts and opinions much more than I am those of her characters.

    So yeah, I think my love affair with her is over; time to head back to Kleypas, Howard, Phillips and Garwood.

  9. Evie says:

    Thanks for the link to the new SEP. Surprisingly, I wasn’t constantly bemoaning the fact that it wasn’t Anna Fields narrating and so just enjoyed the first chapter – the new narrator gets a tentative thumbs up from me!

    I’ve not listened to any books on Audible’s Best of 2010 either, they don’t appeal to me so far. Perhaps someone here has listened to some and can recommend one?

    I was almost giddy on finding out that Anne Stuart’s ‘Rohan’ series is to be out in audio format – I do wish there were more, she has a fantastic backlist just waiting to be narrated. I’m also glad to hear that the final book of the ‘Ice’ series is to be released, I hated not having a complete series :P I Do you know who the narrators for Kleypas’s ‘Dreaming of You’ and ‘Then Came You’ are yet? It’s going to be a good January for audiobooks, just need to make sure I have enough peace and quiet to enjoy them!

    I listened to Jill Tanner’s reading of ‘Suddenly You’ fairly recently and felt that the heroine’s voice sounded a little too old for her age. Other than that though, it was quite engaging. On the other hand, Rosalyn Landor’s Evie from ‘Devil in Winter’ made her sound almost childish at times…nonetheless, I was able to gloss over this fact and thought it quite a satisfactory listen as well. I wonder why I’m able to tolerate these ‘flaws’ in some narrators and not in others? Perhaps it’s to do with how the hero is portrayed – if that’s good, I can probably forgive anything else!

    I have about half of the books in the official AAR Top 100 poll in audio. As for my personal top 100 list, 67 of my picks are ones I’ve not only read but have also listened to, so it’s fair to say that my listening greatly influenced how I voted. I’m so excited about the prospect of an audiobook poll, it will be interesting to find out everyone else’s opinions too – at the very least, the results will be unpredictable!

  10. greg says:

    i really enjoy audio books and you really have some great choices. thanks for the heads up

  11. Lea AAR says:

    I apologize if you see two of these posts. My first just disappeared.

    Audible just sent notification of a three credit sale. Three for $34.41. Since I just added a half dozen titles to my wish list, I’m taking them up on their offer.

  12. MarissaB says:

    Per Corinna’s caution:

    I got stopped for speeding in my home town in Colorada 3 months ago. I had one earbud on listening to a book, the other ear was free to listen to traffic. The cop who stopped gave me a word of warning. If I get into an accident and I have earbuds/headphones on (even if just on one ear), the accident will be deemed my fault – AUTOMATICALLY. It is CO state law.

    So I bought one of those FM transmitters to play my iPod on the car radio. Just awful. I travel mostly in the city, so there’s too much interference everywhere.

    Be warned.

  13. AC says:

    I listened to Jennifer Crusie’s ‘Maybe This Time’ last week and couldn’t have been more disappointed. The narration was okay, but the plot was thin, the characters were annoying and unbelievable and it was certainly not a romance. I guess it could be labled Chick Lit, but it doesn’t even fit there. It was a weird mystery/ ghost story with a non-romance thrown into it to make it marketable to romance readers. The thin romance involved two people who went to bed together an hour after meeting then were married 12 hours after that. They spent the one year they were married to each other in bed. Where’s the romance in that??

    As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that Jennifer Crusie turned in a book and the publishers told her it was nice, but they needed another 100 pages so she went back in and repeated dialog over and over. I couldn’t keep track of how many times each character said “Ghosts aren’t real” and “Ghosts are real” back and forth to each other. It was incredibly annoying. She also repeated the same flashbacks multiple times.

    It seems to me that if Jennifer Crusie wants to change direction with her writing, she should take up another pen name. When I read a J.D. Robb, I know I’m not getting a Nora Roberts and when I read an Amanda Quick I also know I’m not going to read a Jayne Ann Krentz novel. Jessica Bird and J.R. Ward anyone? I felt very misled when I downloaded the newest Jennifer Crusie novel to my iPod and I’m grateful it only cost me a week of listening and not any money since I got it from the library.

    Sorry for the rant! I’ve wanted to discuss this with someone, but I don’t know anyone who’s read it.

  14. Lea AAR says:

    Uh oh…

    Maybe we can consider my Christmas tale a great opportunity for all of us to learn something!

    The good thing is that I am one of those fortunate ones who also has an iPod hookup in my car. It’s just pure laziness and the fact that I always seem to run on fast speed that keeps me from using it.

    It won’t help when both my husband and I want to listen to two separate books but it will cut out the risk during my driving time!

    Thanks Marissa. And BTW – we’ve missed you lately!

  15. Corinna says:

    I suppose it would still be possible for you and your husband to still listen to separate books, Lea. He could use the iPod hookup and you, as the passenger, would still be free to use the earbuds. I’ve actually done this before.

  16. Lynn says:

    When we are on car trips my husband listens to a book through the audio system and I listen to a different book with my ear buds.


  17. MaryK says:

    Hey, it’s the narrator for Anne Stuart’s Reckless – Susan Ericksen! What do we know about her?!


  18. MaryK says:

    Also, sombody named Xe Sands is reading Stuart’s FIRE AND ICE!


  19. Lea AAR says:

    MaryK – good find! Wow, a well proven narrator for Reckless! I have only listened to two of the In Death books so I remember her more for her take on Cruisie’s Anyone But You (multiple listen for me).

    Xe Sands is new to me and I can only find one book at Audilbe.

    Glad you looked through Tantor’s site.

  20. MaryK says:

    Thanks to Vic, really. I was browsing in response to her post on Goodreads. :)

  21. Diane says:

    Yah, thanks to Vic I went looking too. :)

  22. melinda says:

    AC, sorry you didn’t like Maybe This Time – I loved it! I thought it was lots of fun and great characters. That just goes to show, we’re all different.

    Re: earbuds and traffic laws – I tried to google that to see what was true and what was hearsay, and mostly what I learned is it’s different in every state! I’m in Texas and there are no earbud/headphone while driving laws here. in CO, if they won’t let you have just one earbud in, how do they allow hands-free phone options/headsets?

    Re: Death Angel – I’m starting to think that those of us who heard this book got a different take on it than those who read it – do you think that’s true? I thought it was wonderful, but on forums I read all those who just hated it. I think a narrator can definitely make a book sound different than it might in your head if you read it. For one thing, I skim when I read and miss important information. And I might put different emphasis on different words.

  23. Lea AAR says:

    Melinda – you don’t know how happy it makes me to hear Texas has no ear bud while driving law since we’ve done a good amount of our traveling with two sets of ear buds playing in Texas!

    I have to agree with you about the effect of listening to Death Angel versus reading it. The trend does seem to be that if you listen rather than read, the odds of loving it are greater. Although I read it in print and loved it, I immediately started listening to the audio version and loved it MORE. So much so that when I wrote the DIK review for AAR, I encouraged others to listen to the audio. Now I’m thinking a relisten is in order…

  24. Maryfranc says:

    Thrilled at the news about Anne Stuart’s Rohan series coming out in audio format. I also loved listening to the Ice series. Fire and Ice will be awesome.

    I listened to the first chapter of Call Me Irresistible and am hooked. Nobody can fill Anna Field’s shoes, but this narrator does a good job.

    I had a difficult time getting through Maybe This Time (not enough hot sex). Welcome to Temptation is in my Top 10 romances, and so far, her newer books don’t measure up.

    I am looking forward to In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz. Also awaiting the audio version of Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. Presently I am listening to the Wallflower series and loving it. It has been a long time since I read the print versions, so it is fresh.

    I did not read the print version of Death Angel, but did love the audio version.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

  25. melinda says:

    I just need to add my voice to the SEP/New Narrator discussion – I thought Shannon Cochran was wonderful on Chapter 1! I felt like she got SEP’s voice down pat – I don’t mean just the character voices, but SEP’s wit and writing style. It was such a pleasure to listen to, especially since I’m in the middle of a Huxtables/Flosnik glom and her voice, well, that’s a different topic.

    And hey – Xe Sands, narrator, posted here. Welcome! LeaAAR, can we do a Q&A with narrators? I’m so curious about so many things – who is responsible for pronunciations? Is there someone like a director who gives the narrator direction? do they re-record parts that don’t work? Does a narrator work on developing different character voices before recording, or do they just COME OUT when reading? and can men learn not to do falsetto female voices, or are they just not trainable or what?? (j/k – I think Will Patton and Simon Prebble do wonderful women character voices)

    • Xe Sands says:

      Thanks for the welcome!

      Melinda: Q&A with narrators would is a wonderful idea! I think that narrators learn a great deal from listeners, and are very amenable to discussing the process. I can give you my perspective on the fly, in answer to your questions.

      In my experience, this has gone both ways. Sometimes, the narrator is initially responsible for researching all pronunciations, with the publisher requesting corrections based on their own research. But, this is dependent on the publisher as some do the research ahead of the onset of narration and provide research support to the narrator . In prep for Fire and Ice, I sat down with a Japanese friend and had her record all Japanese words, as well as give me a rundown of the cultural and literal significance of the setting, concepts and language Stuart used.

      As far as direction and re-recording sections that don’t seem to flow, that again depends on the publisher producing the title. Some publishers provide full direction, while others provide access to the author for narrator inquiries. Sometimes, the narrator works without official direction, relying on their own sense of author’s intent and input from other narrators. As a side note, for Fire and Ice, I had quite a lively discussion with other narrators regarding the use of accents, both those called out specifically in the text, and not. I also worked with another narrator specifically on the handling of the more sensual scenes. Such resources were instrumental in developing the characterizations and flow that I ultimately chose.

      As for character voices…I assume this varies narrator to narrator. For me, character voices begin in my head as I read the book through, ahead of narration. Then comes the task of matching my voice to what I hear in my head – LOL! A challenge at times. Often, I record several versions of a character and review prior to recording to see what matches. I have been known to re-record whole swaths of dialog if I feel that the character’s voice should be delivered differently, especially as I get into the narration a bit and start to get a real feel for the flow of the narrative and how the voice “fits.” Don’t even ask how many times I recorded Reno, for example – gracious!

      As for men learning to do women’s voices more accurately…SO interesting to hear this comment as the last discussion I participated in regarding this went the other way. It is certainly challenging to provide an authentic sound for the opposite gender, especially in the romance genre where the performance needs to be so nuanced…sensual at times, powerful at others, etc.

      So yes, a Q&A with narrators would be fabulous! I would certainly welcome reading the experiences of other narrators (for this genre, specifically as it has some unique challenges) and think it would be great for narrators to have the opportunity to find out what interests listeners, what you look for in a “good listen.”

      Hope that wasn’t horribly dull and boring for y’all. I’ve found the blog and commentary entertaining and certainly educational. Thanks for letting me “listen in.”

      melinda: And hey – Xe Sands, narrator, posted here. Welcome! LeaAAR, can we do a Q&A with narrators? I’m so curious about so many things – who is responsible for pronunciations? Is there someone like a director who gives the narrator direction? do they re-record parts that don’t work? Does a narrator work on developing different character voices before recording, or do they just COME OUT when reading? and can men learn not to do falsetto female voices, or are they just not trainable or what?? (j/k – I think Will Patton and Simon Prebble do wonderful women character voices)

      • melinda says:

        Xe Sands: It is certainly challenging to provide an authentic sound for the opposite gender

        I’m sure it must be – I certainly don’t know enough about how it’s done. I do know that just the innuendo of opposite gender seems to be enough, without making it actually “authentic”. So many of the female narrators I listen to are able to evoke a male character well, and too many male narrators go for the high falsetto for women, without realizing how much that can ruin the listen! Of course, maybe men don’t like hearing women read male characters? I like how Will Patton does it – it’s as if he just makes his voice a little softer or something, without really changing pitch.

        this was actually very interesting – thanks for chiming in.

  26. Lea AAR says:

    Xe Sands – another welcome! We’ll be watching for Fire and Ice and I guarantee many of us will be listening to your performance.

    Melinda – Phil Gigante shed some light on some of your questions in his upcoming interview. I’m sure we can address your other questions as we plan on having a number of narrator interviews in 2011. Thanks for the suggestions!

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