I'm an enthusiastic proponent of audiobooks, because I know there are readers out there who want to listen to good stories in their car, in the shower, while doing housework, jogging, walking, crocheting...pretty much anytime! Some people will read the book on the kindle, switch to the audiobook while commuting and return to the kindle version in the evening. It’s a rapidly growing audience and I want my novels to be available for anyone who wants to hear them. I’ve even presented workshops on the subject to other authors who were interested in the process.
Vicky Hensley of the Audiogals website says audiobook listeners are "double taskers" who want a "seamless listen." In her learned opinion, the narrator or voice actor is the key to enjoyment of an audiobook.
Four of my books are also available as audiobooks. The first two, Priestess of the Nile and Warrior of the Nile, were picked up from Carina Press by Audible and I had utterly no involvement in the process and no connection with the person who recorded them. No fun!
When I began independently self-publishing my science fiction romance novels in 2012, I knew I wanted audiobook versions as well. Working through ACX (an Amazon company) I was extremely blessed to find a wonderful actor to bring my books to life. Michael Riffle has now narrated two of my scifi novels and is in the middle of recording a third. There’s nothing like hearing my characters the way Michael embodies them. I knew he was the right person to play the hero from the first words he spoke during the audition for Wreck of the Nebula Dream.
I did a series of blog posts about the process of creating an audiobook and here’s a snippet of what Michael had to say regarding his preparation for bringing the various characters to life:
Michael: I think the biggest influence on what I try to do with my voice comes from your description of the characters. Not just how their voice is described, but how they hold themselves, what sort of personality do they have, how they are feeling during the whole process. I try to equate each character to someone I know, or a character I’ve seen in a movie or television, something to ground it in reality. I might be a little selfish by giving my own voice to Nick. It’s hard to NOT want to be the modest, able-bodied hero who gets the girl.
To read more details about how the process went from beginning to end, here is the link:
For the second book we did together, Escape From Zulaire, I had the heroine narrated by Mary
Here’s what they had to say about the steamy scenes:
Since this is a science-fiction romance, there were some intense and even steamy moments between the characters of Andi and Tom. Did those scenes present any particular challenge?
Michael: I don't know if it's because Mary and I have a very comfortable relationship or if it's because we recorded our parts separately, but I didn't find any of the romantic or intense parts challenging. From a directing standpoint, there was a little bit of challenge in the romantic scene because Mary wasn't entirely comfortable with the intimacy.
Veronica: I know they always say the steamy scenes in the movies or TV are among the hardest to do, because there'll be all the crew members watching and the elaborate choreography of the action. I imagine this must have been a bit similar, as far as comfort levels.
Mary: Mike's being nice about it. Full disclosure: I did a lot of kicking and screaming during Chapter 6, and I may have had a bottle of soju in the recording booth with me. The outtakes from that scene are pretty funny. That's been my experience as an actress with all romantic scenes. The moments that are the steamiest in the final product tend to be the silliest behind the scenes.
The rest of the USAT/HEA interview with Mary and Michael is here.
In closing, if I could afford it, I’d have Michael narrate all my books just for me while they were still Works In Progress, because it’s such a pleasure to collaborate with him. Hearing how he interprets the dialog and embodies the characters always gives me fresh insights and ideas. I’m definitely going to continue having him record the final versions of the novels so there are audiobooks for the listeners out there!