by | Jun 1, 2020 | Karna Small Bodman, On writing | 5 comments

by Karna Small Bodman

Many of us are still hunkered down working from home, while others are slowly getting back to their jobs. For those returning, instead of using crowded public transportation, some are driving to work when they can. It turns out that for both the at-home crowd, along with the commuting crowd, the appeal of audio books is on the rise. What better “companion” to have at home or on the road than a great novel narrated by a professional actor or actress. Who are they, and who are the best in the business?

Narrator Scott Brick
One of the most successful narrators is Scott Brick, a talented actor and screenwriter with credits in film, television, stage and radio who has narrated over 800 audiobooks for authors including Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Michael Crichton, David Baldacci and Nelson DeMille.

As for DeMille’s books, I got “hooked” on this author and narrator way back when one of his early and most successful novels, Charm School, was published. Scott Brick is particularly adept at using accents for different characters. You can listen to an example of how he does it by clicking “Audio Sample” under the cover art here
Scott Brick also narrated a number of books by John Grisham. But this author does employ other narrators from time to time. His new thriller Camino Winds is voiced by Michael Beck, an actor best known for his roles in “The Warriors, Xanadu, Megaforce among others. Camino Winds is currently #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and is available for download from Audible and in a CD format. Listen to the opening of the story – again by clicking under the cover art where it says “Audio Sample” here.
Narrator Julia Whelan

Several novels by the Rogues are available in audio formats. For example, Liv Constantine’s brand-new book, The Wife Stalker, is read by professional narrator Julia Whelan who became enchanted with books when she listened to her parents reading bedtime stories. She entered the audio field after graduating from college where there weren’t many voices to record new books. In an interview, Julia says she “loves the luxury of listening to audio books on long drives.” (I admit I always have an audio book in the car and turn it on even during short drives). 

Rogue Gayle Lynds has written many wonderful thrillers available in audio versions. One of the best, The Book of Spies, was voiced by Kate Reading. We used to hear men narrating thrillers, but now, as you can see, many terrific women are in the “game.” When Brilliance Audio recently released three of my thrillers in these Audible or CD formats, I couldn’t wait to listen to the actresses they chose (I had no input in those decisions). Karen Peakes did the narration of my most recent thriller, Trust but Verify, but they used another woman, Julie McKay to voice both Checkmate and Gambit, which I thought was terrific since Julie is also a musician and has sung professionally in French, German, Italian and Spanish. So, you can imagine she would be great when it comes to using accents. Check out the audio sample of Gambit here.
I’ve often been asked if I ever narrated one of my own books. It turns out that I was invited to read a few chapters of my first book, Checkmate, for an organization (where I served on the board for 11 years), Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (now renamed Learning Ally). Their volunteers record books in studios all over the country for the use of students with certain disabilities. It was started after WWII so soldiers blinded in the war could take advantage of the GI Bill for their education. Walter Cronkite was one of their first volunteer readers.

When I read my chapters, I have to say it was hard sitting in a studio for hours on end, trying not to make mistakes, cough, or mispronounce a name or place. That experience left me in awe of the terrific professional narrators mentioned above. If you’d like to hear how the professional narrated Checkmate, check it out here.

Now, how about you? Do you enjoy audio books? What are some of your favorites? Let us know so we can share recommendations with all our readers. And thanks for joining us here on Rogue Women Writers.
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  1. Chris Goff

    Karna, great blog. Just FYI, my book DARK WATERS is in audio books, narrated by the multi-talented Assef Cohen. The book was a finalist for an Anthony Award for Best Crime Audio Book in 2016. We lost to Louise Penny. I never thought I'd like hearing my book read aloud, but we listened to it on a road trip to MI on year and I really loved it. A new way to experience my own work. Congrats on your Audio Book.

  2. Lisa Black

    I love audio books!! (And I am a huge Michael Beck fan—never missed an episode of Houston Knights!!)
    My sister in law’s favorite narrator of my books is Kristen Potter.

  3. Karna Bodman

    Yes, DARK WATERS is great read. I'm sure the audio version is terrific too — and congrats on it being a finalist!!

  4. Karna Bodman

    It's interesting, Lisa, to see the growth in the audio format! Thanks for your comment.

  5. Gayle Lynds

    What a wonderful in-depth and interesting exploration of what goes into audio books! Thank you so much for mentioning Book of Spies. I like it a lot, too, and it was a finalist for an Audie. I'm not surprised you haven't been asked whether you record your own books, Karna, because you have such an expressive voice. I'd think you'd be wonderful (if you could sit still long enough!). 🙂