Can You Hear Me Now? Audio Books and Narrators

Audio Books.jpgImagine my joy last year when I discovered that the five novels in my Shenandoah Album series from Mira Books would be made into audio books.  At every event I attended, readers had asked for that format, and I knew that personally, nothing made me happier than quilting or walking Nemo while an audio book played in the background.  What could possibly be the down side?

I am happy to report that for me, there is no down side.  Isabel Keating, the narrator of the three audiobooks published so far (with Lover’s Knot making an appearance soon) has a lovely voice and manages the Southern accents with aplomb.  It’s easy to slip into the rhythm of the story and fall under the influence of her voice.  BBC Audiobooks America made an excellent choice.

Then there’s the novel I’m listening to just for fun.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is quite simply a joy.  And the narrator, Jayne Entwistle is absolutely inspired.  My husband and I listened to the novel as we traveled this summer.  I’m SO glad we’re not finished and have more to look forward to.  

Happy anticipation is not always the case.  I have a favorite mystery author I’ve listened to many times.  Last year I downloaded one of his newer books from, my favorite delivery method.  I found myself wincing repeatedly over the author’s word choices. My husband disliked it so much, he stopped listening, done for all time with our former favorite.  Figuring this was a fluke, last month I downloaded a new mystery by the same author.  Again, I’m wincing, but this time I’ve made a powerful discovery.  The narrator–the same narrator–is the problem. This guy could make Shakespeare sound like a hack.   When “He got in his car and drove to the corner,” sounds like an indictment of all humanity, I think the novel is in trouble.

So what’s my point?  Just that now there’s something new for authors to worry about.  In addition to unattractive covers, marauding copy editors, poor placement, small print runs, discount stores who don’t want to carry our books, etc. etc., we now have to worry about narrators.

Still, I remember not having to worry about them.  I remember when my books weren’t in audio.  So like all publishing problems, I’ll deal with this one gladly. And luckily for me and my reader-listeners, I don’t have to deal with it yet.  I can just listen to Isabel Keating and count my blessings. 

***Don’t forget to enter the Happiness Key Beach Bag giveaway. See Contest Page for details.



  1. April on September 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

    It’s funny that you would blog about this! I love to listen to audio books while doing my simple chores when my little ones are napping (2 birds with 1 stone). There are so many wonderful narrators out there, but wow…some are just not wonderful. I usually pick audio books of books I have already read so I know that it will be a book I like. It has happened to me a couple of times where I pop a CD in ready to get to work and I just have to pop it right back out again. I actually have a mental list of narrators that I avoid now. Fortunately for me, I get them from the library, so all I have to do is take it back! I think with Audible, you do get to hear a little sample, hopefully enough to know if you can handle listening to an entire books worth! Good for you for keeping it in perspective, though! I am sure there are many authors out there that would love to have their books available in an audio format!

  2. Angela D Word on September 27, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I love that your books are available in audiobook. I like to listen to books. I have to read them myself first because reading is one of my joys. I always wanted to actually be a narrator for this type thing. I think that would be a wornderful job!

  3. Marilyn on October 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I love audiobooks. I listen to them on the long drive to/from work every day. Some narrators are so fantastic, you can’t imagine the book *without* their voice. They can also ruin a book. I picked up a favorite mystery author’s audiobook and found that the narrator had a lisp. A lisp! Very hard to listen to for hours. I kept wondering why they chose this narrator, not only for this book, but for another one as well. Her lisp kept taking me out of the story.

  4. Emilie Richards on October 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I absolutely know what you mean. And when they change a narrator after several books in a series, it’s almost impossible to get back into it. The narrator becomes the voice of the author and it’s almost as if another author wrote the book.

Leave a Comment