June is Audiobook month (JIAM 2013). The audiobook community is giving back by teaming with the Going Public Project by offering a serialized audio story collection. All proceeds will go to Reach Out and Read literacy advocacy organization. Throughout June, 1-2 stories will be released each day on the Going Public blog and on author/book blogs. The story will be free (online only – no downloads) for one week. In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, all the stories will be available for download via Downpour. The full compilation will be ready June 30th.
The full schedule of the story release dates and narrators are at Going Public. Engineering and Mastering are provided by Jeffrey Kafer and SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design and published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production by Xe Sands.
In today’s installment of Going Public…in shorts, I have the pleasure of teaming up once again with the lovely Coleen Marlo. I enjoyed getting to know her a little better in December during Baby, It’s Cold Outside and was so pleased to work with her again. For this project, Coleen recorded The Secret of the Magi by O. Henry. Take a listen and then join Coleen and me as we share a game of I’ll Interview You if You Interview Me.
We’ll begin with my interview of Coleen:
Literate Housewife: Can you tell us a little about your career as an audiobook narrator? How did you get started? How long have you been narrating?
Coleen Marlo: My family is a cast of fabulous storytellers and writers going back many generations, so it was not surprising to any of them when I went into an acting career. Narrating audiobooks happened spontaneously, and to my absolute delight it has become a full time career. There are many people who along the way, helped to nurture and support my career. I began narrating audiobooks almost ten years ago with Books On Tape, and it has been an incredible journey of the mind, heart and soul. I still can’t believe that I actually get paid to do what I love! I feel very fortunate and humbled that listeners have embraced my work and made this possible.
LH: Over the course of your career, what have been the highlights? Have there been any unexpected struggles?
CM: The highlights have been on a very personal level. Being able to plume the depths of some incredibly moving and extraordinary characters has been a gift. I am a lifelong student of human nature and the opportunity to explore and give voice to these characters is immeasurably gratifying. I have the utmost respect for writers and their craft. The struggles come from being a perfectionist and the desire to create a thing of beauty. Authors have poured their life’s blood into their books. I want to serve their work as best as I can, to impart their truths and perspectives in a way that will hopefully mirror their intentions, albeit funneled through my imagination. The Audie Award and the Audie nominations, the Earphones award, the Listen-Up awards, the Publishers Weekly Reader of the Year Award, the Best of Awards from AudioFile Magazine and the starred audio reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, have been acknowledgements that I am on the right path in life.
LH: For Going Public…In Shorts you recorded The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. How did you come about selecting this specific title?
CM: The Gift of The Magi is a beloved story written by O. Henry (a pen name for William Sydney Porter), in 1905, presumably written at Pet’s Tavern, in New York City. This story is about a young married couple who are living in extreme financial stress, one small push from penury. Yet, they are rich in love. It is a sentimental and romantic story of their struggle to buy each other a Christmas gift. (I’m a push over for romance)! I fell in love with its twist ending, which is generally considered an example of cosmic irony. When Xe Sands asked me to be a part of this wonderful project, Going Public…In Shorts, it’s one of the first stories that came to mind. I’m thrilled to be participating with so many of my esteemed colleagues and friends.
LH: When you’re not in the studio, how do you like to spend your time?
CM: Believe it or not I like to read! But raising my daughters is my true passion in life. We read together, (of course!) play tennis, horseback ride, and we are about to begin sailing lessons! Against their will, but they’ll thank me later… maybe. Being with family and friends, talking, listening and living life together is what I cherish most.
LH: Today is a special day. Happy birthday to your father. As it’s so near Father’s Day, would you care to share how he impacted your life?
CM: This is the hardest question of all to answer, because unlike many of the gifted writers I am honored and privileged to work with, I could not possibly convey in words the depth of love and reverence I have for my father. There is not an aspect of my life that he has not impacted. Under his wise and gentle guidance, the world was opened up for me. My father stands as a bridge for me to traverse between the past, the present and the future. Through his sage understanding of life and people, his brilliant humor, and his laser sharp mind, he remains my greatest teacher. Though deep, he is accessible; though strong; he is kind and though unafraid to speak his thoughts, he is passionately interested in the opinions of others. My father is more excited and curious about life than anyone else I have ever known. He has a deep and abiding love of his family and of humanity. Each day is lived as a grand adventure filled with joy and always with a wink and a smile. He simply astounds me. Happy Birthday Daddy!!
Jennifer. I am so grateful to have been able to spend this time with you. Thanks so much for partnering up with me for Going Public…In Shorts, and a huge THANK YOU to all of our listeners out there, we couldn’t do this without you!!
And now it’s my turn to answer a few questions:
Coleen Marlo: This is so fun! This is the ?rst time I?ve been asking the questions instead of answering them. Now the tables are turned! For instance, last year I was delighted to be featured in your wonderful project, “Baby, It?s Cold Outside!” How did you decide which narrators to invite?
Literate Housewife: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was the result of a wild hair I had last fall. I wanted to celebrate the wonderful world of narrators. After reaching out tentatively to a few narrators and discovering that my idea was well received, I first asked narrators I either knew from my trip to New York last summer or for whom I had contact information. Everyone was very receptive and a few people offered to contact other narrators for me. I was excited to have anyone willing to join me and I think it was a success. I worked like a mad woman throughout December but I wouldn’t change anything.
CM: Give us an intro to your background. I love the name “Literate Housewife”. Does that give us a clue as to how you got started as a book and audiobook blogger?
LH: I wish Literate Housewife was a clue! I started my blog as a stressed out young working mother. Having two very small children while working hard to make the most of my career, I needed to carve out a little place that was just for me. Reading has always been a big part of my life so I decided to make a New Year’s Resolution of reading 52 books in 2007. The blog was to keep track of the books I read and to be accountable to myself. What you see today was born from that hasty resolution. After I realized it was something that was going to last longer than those original 52 books, my husband helped me come up with the title. Since then I’ve been saying I am literate but not literally a housewife.
CM: How do you decide which books to read (& blog about) vs. which to listen to? Does a book?s narrator in?uence your decision whether to listen to or read it?
LH: I would love to say that I have a straight forward way of deciding which books I read in which format. I don’t. I usually have a rather hefty stack of review copies I’ve been sent or have requested in print. While I often love those books, there is a pressure to read them, even if that only comes from within myself. I typically use my audiobook listening time like I would use fun money. I read in audiobooks those books that I really want to read for myself with no strings attached. This isn’t to say that I don’t ever receive review copies of audiobooks. I do, but I don’t request as many so that listening doesn’t ever feel like a burden in the same way that reading in print can.
Narrators definitely help influence my decision. Whether it’s because I’ve loved their work in the past or because I want to be able to add them to my ever expanding list of narrators I love, I check out the narrator for titles I’m considering. I kind of wish you guys had something like baseball cards. I’d like to collect them all eventually.
CM: As the audiobook industry continues to boom, bloggers have become an important part of the landscape. How do you feel bloggers can enhance the listening experience for audiobook fans?
LH: Audiobooks for me were little more than a concept to me before I got to know Jen from Devourer of Books. They were something I thought were around solely for the visually impaired. My library had them on the shelves, but they were relegated to the dusty back shelves. They weren’t something highlighted or put in the spotlight. It was Jen who expanded my horizons and I think that is one of the most important ways bloggers can enhance the listening experience of audiobook fans. We can help make audiobooks present and visible. Just knowing that there are people out there that I know I can go to find new recommendations and share my “OMG!” listening experiences is so wonderful. I love sharing my love for the format with established fans and potential new listeners. It’s not something I feel I could ever get simply reading reviews on Audible.com or at my library. Without that connection I think that being an audiobook fan would feel lonely to me.
CM: Your blog has quite a following and was recently mentioned in Publisher?s Weekly, highlighting your creation, “The Armchair Audies.” Could you tell us a little bit about that and perhaps offer some tips to any aspiring bloggers out there?
LH: Armchair Audies is an audiobook challenge I co-created with Bob and Tanya as a way to connect to the Audie Awards. There are so many different titles nominated each year in nearly 30 categories. It was hard to get my arms around how to prepare for the event in 2011 in any meaningful way. Plus, I wanted to have an Oscar-style ballot for the big night. There were other bloggers interested as well, so we each chose a category or three and listened to each of the nominated titles in the selected category(ies). Then we picked the title we felt best represented the category. We have a lot of fun with the event and believe that even when the actual Audie judges don’t agree with us that we picked winners each time. My dream is to have at least one blogger judge each of the Audie Award categories eventually, so bloggers new to the challenge are always welcome. I also want to create our own Best Audiobook award next year.
CM: Some book lovers debate about the bene?ts of reading books vs. listening to them. As both an avid reader and listener of books, can you tell us your feelings on this?
LH: As someone who once thought of audiobook reading as a lesser form of reading, I know better now. I have had intense experiences in both print and audio and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything else. Book lovers do tend to love debating the merits of the way they prefer to read versus what other readers do instead. You see the same basic arguments between print and eBooks as well. For the most part I avoid the kerfluffles. My philosophy is read and let read. I want to live in a world where readers are free to find and follow their own literary bliss. For me, there would be much less bliss without audiobooks.
CM: Thanks for letting me have some fun being the interviewer vs. the interviewee Jennifer!
LH: It was fun! Thank you for working with me for Going Public…In Shorts.