Podcast Transcript 102: An Interview with Audiobook Narrator Renee Raudman, Part II

Here is a text transcript of Podcast 102: An Interview with Audiobook Narrator Renee Raudman, Part II. You can listen to the mp3 here, or you can read on! 

This podcast transcript was crafted with precision by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

Tangled audiobook Clean Sweep serial audiobook

Laura Ruby - The wall and the wing the chaos king movie Her

Where All the Dead Lie JT Ellison Audiobook Tatterhood and other Tales, edited by Ethel Johnson Phelps At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper

Catherine, Called Birdy The Midwife's Apprentice The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree

Last Hour of Gann - R Lee Smith Princess Diaries My Friend Flicka

the Phantom Stallion


Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to another DBSA podcast. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and with me is Renee Raudman for part two of our interview which we recorded at RWA in San Antonio. We talk about male narrators versus female narrators for romance novels, and we talk about the reviews that she receives as the narrator, a separate review from the rating for the book on many retailers, including Audible.

The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater, and I will have information at the end of the podcast as to what track this is, but I’m sure you’ve recognized that this is Peatbog Faeries, because Peatbog Faeries!

This podcast is brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Flight from Hell, the brand-new Otherworld novella from New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn.

And now, on with the podcast!


Sarah: What about reviews? Because you had mentioned this in our last interview. On the retailer sites for audiobooks, most invite people to rate the book and the narrator separately and then the two combined get a separate ranking. I know it’s like that on Audible, I know Tantor sometimes has rankings or review stars. How have you learned to deal with reviews of your voice and your performance from so many different retailers and readers? And that’s directly about you, I mean, that’s, that’s your –

Renee Raudman: Right, no, that’s personal, right? [Laughs]

Sarah: Yeah.

Renee: You know, for a long time, I didn’t, I don’t, I don’t know if I didn’t know that they were there?


Renee: It just never occurred to me to look at them.

Sarah: Of course!

Renee: And then someone said, someone kept emailing me going, oh, we got good reviews on this, and we got good reviews on that, and I thought –

Sarah: Okay.

Renee: – where do they see these? You know, I didn’t know if it was Publishers Weekly, and then I went, oh, my gosh, I bet Audible has them. So I went on and I looked. I’m not sure that consumers are able to actually separate them –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Renee: – all the way. You know, it could be that they don’t like something about the book –

Sarah: Right.

Renee: – then they give it a bad rating. If they don’t like something about the narrator, they give the whole thing a bad rating, and –

Sarah: Right.

Renee: I, I really do try to take most of them with a grain of salt. If I’m getting professional reviews and there’s, there is a, a similar note –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Renee: – or thread through many of them, I pay attention to that.

Sarah: Oh, of course.

Renee: In the beginning of my career, when I was doing a lot of memoirs and that sort of thing, I would hear the note, you know, there seems to be too much sentimentality. And it would, it was sort of consistent through several different things, and I went, you know what? I need to pay attention to that.

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: And I adjusted quite a bit. At least, I, I did my best to. And then my reviews of those sorts of things changed.

Sarah: Yeah.

Renee: So, in that way I, I pay attention, if it’s people who are more professional reviewers, you know, like you and, you know, some of the other blogs. And I really, I really do look at those and pay attention to them. And I do look at the, I will look at the reviews once in a while from Audible. I don’t go on a lot. I know some people, it’s a, I mean, they go and look all the time. I more go on to see how a book is doing –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Renee: – to see about, you know, is there more promotional opportunities, and I’ll look at the reviews then and, for the most part, I’m pretty – there’s a lot, you know, there’s a fair amount of negative reviews, but there’s a fair amount of positive ones, and so, I think, oh –

Sarah: Okay.

Renee: – it’s okay. You know.

Sarah: It doesn’t, it, it’s – I think in a lot of ways it’s more personal, because they’re, they’re grading your specific performance, and I’m giving a workshop tomorrow afternoon for authors about finding and receiving and reacting to reviews –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and one of the major points that I make over and over is that you and your book are a separate thing –

Renee: Oh –

Sarah: – and once it’s published, you can’t change it. Everyone is going to review it, because everyone reviews everything now. Everything gets reviewed.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: My vacuum, the shoes that I am wearing, the hotel that I am in. Everything gets a review, and you and the book are separate. But when it’s your voice and your performance, that’s not separate.

Renee: Well –

Sarah: It’s a, it’s a slightly different –

Renee: Right. Well, Sarah, you bring up a really good point, because when I – I have a business background.

Sarah: Of course.

Renee: I have a bit – you know, I was an executive in advertising for years, and still, when I moved into the acting world, I tried to take it from a very business perspective.

Sarah: Which is a good way to take it –

Renee: And –

Sarah: – ‘cause you are basically an entrepreneurial business –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – yourself.

Renee: But I knew that going in and looking at other actors who live their whole life based on what, what an audition was like – it either made or broke their day – I knew that I had to look at myself as a commodity. That’s all that I am. I’m a commodity, and either it’s the right product for this particular TV show, film, commercial, or it’s not. Or, you know, you’re learning and you’re not there yet, and that’s the way, and you just have to keep tweaking until you find what works.

Sarah: And it’s not always you.

Renee: You have to –

Sarah: It’s more often the fit.

Renee: Yeah. We, I think as actors, we have to separate that. It’s not easy, because when I was in advertising, you know, I would take what the copywriters and, and I understood, you know, I was taking their babies to the, to the client and presenting them, and it’d be hard, but I was putting the product on the table, and they were either accepting or rejecting it. This, I’m putting my whole [laughs], my body, soul –

Sarah: Yeah.

Renee: – and face, and, and heart on the table.

Sarah: And your emotions. You’re actually –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – feeling the things that you’re recording.

Renee: And they can like it or not, and I think the, I think what make a difference is, is you just have to really have a strong base of who you are.

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: You have to have a full and good life at home, and you, you know, you – I think where people, particularly actors, can make their mistake is that if they live their lives that they feel good whether or not something fails or succeeds, and somehow that is the measure of who they are as a person, and, and –

Sarah: They’ve based, they’ve, they’ve located their happiness somewhere other than their auditions.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: Their happiness and their feeling of wellbeing are not based on their performance all the time.

Renee: Exactly. It’s based in, you know, your friends and the, the family and, you know, your, the three-year-old niece that’s cuter than a button, and –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Renee: Those things are real. And, you know, exercising and enjoying the, the weather and –

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: So I think all of those things, if you can find a grounded place in all of that, then you’re right for going out there and being slaughtered by the – [laughs]

Sarah: Yeah, you’re all right. You’re going to –

Renee: [Laughs] You’re, yeah.

Sarah: You’re equipped to deal with it –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – ‘cause it’s not the only place you’re basing your self worth.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: Wow. So, I have one more question. This is a little bit more technical. How do you get jobs? Do you have an agent? Do you, do you have to audition for different things? Do people come to you? ‘Cause I know you said that Catherine Coulter had requested you, and I know that in our previous interview, you talked about how the Ilona Andrews series moved to a different production company, and they wanted you to come and follow along and –

Renee: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and continue to narrate the series. Is that pretty common? Or do you have to audition, or do people send you, like, how do you find more jobs as a, a narrator? Although I know you’re very booked.

Renee: Well – right. I will separate the audiobook world from the rest of my entertainment world. So for example, I have an agent for voiceovers for cartoons and video games –

Sarah: Right.

Renee: – and on camera and all that. I have an agent for all of that, and because I have my own, now it’s a – I no longer have a home studio; I have a professional, commercial recording studio, so I can record all my auditions for the most part for voiceovers, send them in to my agents, and they –

Sarah: They send them out.

Renee: – they deal with them from there.

Sarah: Are you still doing cartoons and video games too?

Renee: Not right, not so much. I mean, I, I’ll audition for some when I have time. It’s been really – the last six to eight months have been impossible, it seems. But would I do them? Absolutely, in a heartbeat.

Sarah: Yeah.

Renee: And, and I hope to get a little more balance in my life, in which I have a little more time to submit for those auditions. In audiobooks, you know, I’ll go back to what I, I think I said in the first, our first interview, is that it was a right place, right time, and I was on the cutting edge of when audiobooks, just before they were exploding, so I had the good fortune of getting to know so many different publishers. And that was pretty exciting, and they called. Now, that’s not to say I never auditioned, but a lot of times, like, publishers will say, oh, Catherine Coulter – if Catherine Coulter is listening to voices, sometimes they will just send different samples of different women, or sometimes they will ask to read a piece of their material.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Renee: And, depending whether or not if I’ve got the time in my schedule and it’s a project I want to work on, I’m happy to submit an audition, but I think for the most part I’m just fortunate in that people are aware of my work, and if they think that there’s a project that I might be right for, they reach out. For example, Blackstone Audio last month reached out and said, would you be interested in auditioning for Tangled? And I almost –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Renee: – I have chills even talking about it now – I’m like, Tangled? Tangled? Disney’s Tangled?


Renee: And they said yes, the audiobook, the junior novelization, and I went, [gasp] yes, I would!


Renee: And it’s, like, only a three-hour book, I think, but –

Together: Oh!

Renee: I poured everything I had into that audition. I would have read the whole book for them –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Renee: – and I sent it off, and I said, if they don’t like it, I said, I, I’ve never said, I’ll, I’ll give you four more auditions for this, you know, if they want it, and they came back and said, they loved your voice. You’re in. You’re good.

Sarah: Yes!

Renee: So, in fact, I guess a press release just went out about it, and, so, it just got released a week or so ago, and I –

Sarah: That’s so cool!

Renee: Oh, it means everything. I’ve got, like, I mentioned I’ve got a three-year-old niece, Noelle, and I’ve sat with her and watched that movie, and she’ll come in the house, and she’ll say, you know, where is this doll, or where is this – and they’re all based on the, you know, the Tangled movie, and so that I’m going to audition for. I will audition on my head –

Sarah: Oh, yeah! [Laugh]

Renee: – if you want me to. Otherwise, for the most part, I would say most publishers know my work. Now what’s been interesting is as authors become more and more aware of their opportunities –

Sarah: And their audiobook rights.

Renee: – and how audiobooks sales are – they’re finding out that they sell more published books – that they’re getting, they’re wanting more control, they’re wanting more choice, and having met several authors here, I didn’t come here expecting to meet authors who’d be interested in working with me, but I’ve had more people come up and say, oh, I, you know, I’d like your card, and so I think that’s going to be another avenue as well, and that’s really cool.

Sarah: It is very cool.

Renee: I had no idea.

Sarah: I think also a lot of older contracts don’t specify that the audiobooks stay with the publisher. A lot of time, the audiobook rights, if they’re not sold, revert back to the author.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: Depending on the terms of the contract, that could happen very quickly after publication, so as authors are being educated that their backlist, that the previous published books –

Renee: Right?

Sarah: – that they have the rights to, that they can self publish them –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – they’re also learning they have the rights to audiobooks, which they can also produce on their own.

Renee: Right. And in fact, and I, I don’t remember if we talked about this, but, you know, the Ilona Andrews team did a, a free serial called Clean Sweep

Sarah: Yeah.

Renee: – and so they released, I think, a chapter every month to their listeners, which was really cool, and then I contacted them and said, listen, if you want to do the, the audiobook, and so we collaborated, and I think it’s one of the few times, maybe, a number one New York Times bestseller and narrator got together and self published. You know, and it won’t be all the time, but yeah, we did an audiobook, and, and I did from soup to nuts. I mean, I have those capabilities anyway and do it for other people –

Sarah: Of course.

Renee: – but it was just neat to meet people here too who said, look, I’m wi-, I’m looking into doing some self publishing, and I’ve got the access to ACX, and would you be interested in working together? So that’s another neat opportunity, and a great opportunity for authors to have control.

Sarah: Oh, yes. Oh, yeah, because the, the other thing that is happening is more authors are educated in the options for self publishing. They realize the different things that they will or will not have control over –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – depending on what options they choose, and some are like, I have no interest in being in charge of my covers, I know nothing about book covers, and some of them are like, I want to do them, I know exactly how I’m going to make them look!

Renee: Right.

Sarah: So with the audiobook, they have the option to find the voices that they like –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and start to talk to them. How far out do you book for book production? Are you booked out to, like, 20-, 2016?

Renee: Well, it, it doesn’t work like that so much, but it’s usually at least, I, I usually have books on the docket three, four months in advance.

Renee: I do know, for example, I know books that I’m recording in 2015 and I think in 2016 already, because I do a fair amount of series –

Sarah: Right.

Renee: – and so those, we, we put those on first to make sure that I don’t book something else around them, and I don’t know how I got the good fortune of doing so many amazing series. You know, from Randy Wayne White to Catherine Coulter to Catherine and J. T. to Ilona Andrews to Cheryl Crane and just so many series, and I love every one of them, and so we just make sure that those get put on the docket first.

Sarah: Of course! What, is there something that you haven’t recorded that you would like to try? Is there a thing that you’ve, you’ve noticed that you’d like to do that you haven’t done before? Like, work for DreamWorks or Disney or any of the major animation movies?

Renee: Oh, I, you know, I, I did a little work a, a long time ago. That would be a dream come true. I, I do love animation –

Sarah: Oh, me too.

Renee: – and I love Young Adult books. So, you know, I have this little fantasy of doing that, that, hopefully one day, that would be on my bucket list, if possible.

Sarah: I think Tangled is getting a sequel.

Renee: It is?

Sarah: I think so.

Renee: [Laughs]

Sarah: I, I think that there is talk of Tangled: The Sequel, or a, or a similar spinoff or, or another edition of the Tangled story.

Renee: Oh, that’s, well, that’s cool. Well, you know, they’ll listen, maybe they’ll listen to the audiobook.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Renee: Even a small part –

Sarah: Yeah.

Renee: – guys, even, you know, just a little –

Sarah: Two lines!

Renee: – a little walk –

Sarah: Two lines would be great!

Renee: – what we call a walk-on, yeah.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Renee: So, I would love to do more of that. I, I have to say that at this point in my career – and I have been so fortunate to do such a wide variety – I love Young Adult –

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: I love Young Adult. In fact, if your boys haven’t listened to Laura Ruby –

Sarah: Laura Ruby?

Renee: Yeah, Laura Ruby, The Wall and the Wing and The Chaos King, I think they would enjoy those.

Sarah: Ooh. I’m going to write those down.

Renee: It might be a little older for your six year old.

Sarah: My six year old?

Renee: Right.

Sarah: I’m going to write this down.

Renee: You should, you know, obviously you listen to it first, but, but, so I love that type of book. I love creating those fantastic, out-there characters, but I’m also, I love romance, and I love suspense and thrillers, and so I, you know, the more of those I can do, the happier I am –

Sarah: Of course.

Renee: – because I’m reading what I, I want, right.

Sarah: Of course.

Renee: It, it’s what I would read if I were on vacation, so getting to do more of that, and with different authors, is a dream come true. It would be interesting – most of the big male suspense authors for the most part write male protagonists and –

Sarah: Right.

Renee: – and so you have a male narrator, but I think it would be really neat to do one of those, if, if they ever write a female –

Sarah: Yeah!

Renee: – I’m going to be knocking on their door.

Sarah: I had a really interesting conversation with someone yesterday at breakfast. We were talking about how, because so many young people have commutes and are listening while they’re going to and from work –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – more and more are discovering romance audiobooks to listen to, and I was talking to someone who had been listening to and from work for years, and she works for a publishing house, and she said, and I got this one, and it was a romance, but it was narrated by a man, and I could not handle the sex scenes being read by a guy, and I said, the same thing happened to me. It was –

Renee: Really! Really!

Sarah: And I, and I, I thought it was just me being, you know, peculiar, but I had bought the digital copy of a Linda Lael Miller, which was a contemporary Western set on a ranch –

Renee: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – and I got the discount on the audiobook, and I thought, well, you know, I’m going to be cooking, I’ll just turn on the audiobook, but it was read by a guy. I was fine with the descriptions, I was fine with the dialogue, I was totally down to it, and then they started kissing, and I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa! No, can’t, no, stop. Can’t listen to this –

Renee: Really!

Sarah: I could not –

Renee: Can, can you describe why?

Sarah: It made me feel so uncomfortable to have a man narrating sexual scenes to me, and I thought, I was talking with this, with my friend, that I thought it was because I know that when I read, I hear a narrator in my head.

Renee: Oh.

Sarah: I am listening in my head to the book, and it’s usually my voice, and I’ll start making up voices in my head for the different characters, but I am telling myself the story when I read, and I’m a very quick reader, and so I read almost as fast as I talk, and it’s like bibibibibuh. I’m so used to hearing my voice or hearing a female and knowing that the author is female that all of that language for me sort of became coded as female, and so when I had a male voice reading it to me, I was like, that – Jeeze – aah. That, this is just such an intimate space the, the narration and the story, was such an intimate space, I was not comfortable having a dude –

Renee: That’s interesting.

Sarah: – and it’s not like I knew the dude. I don’t know this person –

Renee: Right, right.

Sarah: – but it was like, and then – I was like, no, he’s not! I cannot listen to you tell me the sex scene, and my friend was like, the same thing happened to me. Right up until the sex scene! And what she was listening to was very, very explicit –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and she was like, I could barely listen to it.

Renee: Okay, so –

Sarah: Isn’t that interesting?

Renee: Do you – it is – so do you think that if the narrator had done it any differently – for example, like, I hear that there, uh, Laura Kinsale –

Sarah: Mm-hmm. Has Nicholas Boulton doing hers.

Renee: Right. Now, I haven’t heard Nicholas Boulton do any sex scenes, but do you think if he was doing it would you be – ?

Sarah: I don’t know, but one of the things I want to do is, since I’ve had that conversation, is when I get back home, I want to get one of her books and listen to them and see if it’s the same reaction.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: And if it was the performance of that particular narrator or if it was just generally that the voice was male.

Renee: Male, yeah.

Sarah: With, with Nicholas Boulton, I think one of the advantages is that he is British –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and it was not an American accent –

Renee: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: – when you’re listening. It’s not an American accent when you’re listening. He reads them as British characters or depending on what country they’re from. This was a guy who could have been, like, you know, the guy next door to my house –

Renee: Right. [Laughs]

Sarah: – or a bus driver. Like, he sounded like some dude I know. That was too close, and I’m wondering if the British accent is what makes the Kinsale-Boulton work, so –

Renee: Adds a little more fantasy to it or something.

Sarah: Yes, it adds some distance.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: Plus, that’s historical, and I was listening to contemporary.

Renee: That’s true.

Sarah: So I can also maybe think that separation was, was important. And I was really shocked by how my immediate reaction was, God, no!

Renee: I’m going to have to find, I’m going to have to find one of those, and you have to let me know – again, I haven’t, I haven’t listened to –

Renee: I just downloaded a Nicholas Boulton/Laura – the one that –

Sarah: Yeah.

Renee: Yeah. So I –

Sarah: He’s good.

Renee: – I thought, oh, that – oh, and he is, his voice is just delicious. I heard a –

Sarah: It’s like butter.

Renee: – clip of it –


Renee: – when we were in the, the panel yesterday, the audiobook becoming chic, and they played a little bit, and I’m like, oh, yes. So I would think that –

Sarah: That’s going to work!

Renee: – that the sex scene would –

Sarah: And it might have been the accent and the performance –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – being at odds between those two narrators that would make a difference –

Renee: Interesting.

Sarah: – but I’m definitely going to have to try it. And I told you when we did our last interview that I did a giveaway with her audiobooks, and he recorded personal greetings for the winners.

Renee: He did?!

Sarah: Yes.

Renee: That’s a great idea!

Sarah: So he, he, he was like, he sent me individual MP3 audio files. He, like, took an afternoon, and I, and the, the question that you had to answer to enter to win was, where would you be listening to these books if you won? And somebody said, well, I’m going to, I have to paint my house, and he said, I hope you make your house look like a palace, and then I hope the paint is just glorious –

Renee: Oh, that’s such a great idea!

Sarah: – so he, he answered what they had said, and so I heard from the winners, and they were like, oh, my God, my insides just melted.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: [Laughs] It was so fun! He was personally greeting the winners.

Renee: I love that. I’m writing that down. [Laughs]

Sarah: Oh. It’s kind of like, it’s kind of like signing the audiobook –

Renee: Yeah!

Sarah: Like, you can’t sign the title page –

Renee: But it’s weird because – Right.

Sarah: – but you can say, hi, this is Renee –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – This book is for you, and I hope you enjoy it. Like, you can personally sign your audiobooks that way.

Renee: That’s brilliant.

Sarah: I know, isn’t that cool?

Renee: I love it. It’s – that’s another thing at 2 o’clock we’re going to be discussing. [Laughs]

Sarah: Yeah. If you’re going to have a meeting and they’re going to be like, what were you, what were you doing with Sarah? My God!

Renee: And I’m just going to steal them all from you, so –

Sarah: Please, take, take, take, take, take! Oh, it’s, I think it’s so interesting how –

Renee: It’s a great idea.

Sarah: Especially because I think one of, one of the trends that I think is really fascinating is how increasingly intimate we are connecting to our entertainment.

Renee: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: I read this really interesting book by Clay Shirky who talks about how in every successive generation, we inherit more leisure time as the things that we used to do that took forever –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – become automated.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: Like, I don’t wash dishes; I toss them in a dishwasher.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: I don’t, you know, hang my clothes on the line; I shove them in the dryer.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: So I have more leisure time. His theory is that as you inherit more leisure time, you actually have a cognitive surplus of, basically, brain energy that your brain is no longer using to do those tasks. You have a surplus of creative energy –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – in your brain to use. And the thing that has happened is that we no longer passively consume anything.

Renee: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: We create in response, and that can be, you know, fan art or fan fiction or talking about a show while it’s on, on Twitter with other people watching the shows, or –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – or reviewing them. Review is a, reviewing is a creative response, and your trying to explain how a piece of entertainment made you feel or what it made you think.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: So we take our cognitive surplus, and we create in response to it. Because of that, we as consumers are more and more intimately connected to the entertainment that we have that creates an emotional response –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and romances create a really big –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – emotional, empathetic response.

Renee: Absolutely.

Sarah: So whether or not you’re reading or you’re listening to someone reading it or you’re reading a book that’s a series that you’re staying with these characters, you become more and more intimately connected, and as the voice, I think you get added into that intimacy.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: People are very connected to knowing that you are the one who is going to read the Ilona Andrews book, and if it’s not your voice, then they’re not going to like it.

Renee: Right. It’s very much like that movie Her. Yeah.

Sarah: Yes! Absolutely! Totally!

Renee: I mean, the idea was, he had an intimate relationship with –

Sarah: With a voice!

Renee: – with this voice, and –

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: – I think people get favorite narrators, and they feel as though they’ve got a relationship, ‘cause that voice is in their head –

Sarah: Oh, yeah.

Renee: – you know, all the time, or, or maybe there’s a few of them. They, they’ve got a whole community; they, you know –

Sarah: Yeah!

Renee: Because I know, for me, I’m listening to Joyce Bean right now narrate Where All the Dead Lie by J. T. Ellison, and it’s a great, great book, and – but, you know, I just get in my car, and I expect Joyce to be there –

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: – and I know Joyce –

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: – but I’m like, like, oh, why doesn’t Joyce come? Push the button!

Sarah: I have the same experience with the podcast; when people are listening to it they’ll say, I, I tried to enter the conversation. I tried to interrupt –

Renee: Right!

Sarah: – and say something to you –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and it, and because I, we’ve upped the frequency of the podcast to weekly and I do the intro and the outro, people now recognize me by my voice –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and they hear me, and they’re like, oh, I listen to you all the time! And I’m like, that’s great! My kids don’t listen to me –

Renee: [Laughs]

Sarah: Thank you for doing that! [Laughs] I’m pleased that you’re listening –

Renee: That’s great, that’s great. [Laughs]

Sarah: – ‘cause the fact is, nobody else does in my house, but thank you!

Renee: Mm-hmm.

Sarah: So what else are you doing while you’re here at RWA? More meetings?

Renee: More meetings. Getting to see more – well, today I’m having lunch with a publisher and more authors, and then, like I said, later today I’m meeting with Ilona and Gordon, and I’m so excited because while we have communicated a lot over the past seven years, we’ve not met.

Sarah: Really? You’ve never – ?

Renee: We’ve never met.

Sarah: Oh, that’s fun.

Renee: So I’m very excited about that, and then after that, another publisher with another author, and, and then dinner with some friends that I made here.

Sarah: That’s fantastic!

Renee: So it, it’s – and then I’m going to fly home tomorrow, but I just couldn’t imagine – I thought I’d have a lot of down time when I got here, and –

Sarah: No.

Renee: – it would be leisurely and –

Sarah: No. No. [Laughs]

Renee: – and I thought that when we were at the keynote lunch yesterday, and I thought, wow, there are 2,000 really powerful women in this room –

Sarah: Oh, yes.

Renee: – and it was just this sea of –

Sarah: People.

Renee: – love and, I mean, you know, these women who all love romance, and I thought, wow, what a great place to be.

Sarah: It’s amazing. Like, you’ll chill in the lobby, and Nora Roberts will be drinking –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – and you’ll be, like, oh, my God!

Renee: Right.

Sarah: [mutters] That’s Nora Roberts drinking.

Renee: Right.

Sarah: [normal voice] People get in the elevator with their favorite author, and you hear, [gasp!] oh, my God!

Renee: Right. And it’s interesting because, you know, you, you – and everybody you, it seems like everyone you meet, maybe you didn’t know –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Renee: – like, you might not know their face, and then they start –

Sarah: But you’ve talked to them before.

Renee: Right, and you’re like, oh, I know – you know, there’s all these interesting connections. So it’s been an amazing experience. I’m so glad that I came, and I, you know, I’m quite sure I would come again in the future.

Sarah: Oh, I hope you come back.

Renee: Yeah.

Sarah: Next year, I think, is in New York? Next year’s RWA?

Renee: Oh, it’s, there’s always a great reason –

Sarah: I think it’s in New York.

Renee: – to come to New York.

Sarah: Well, I think that the bylaws of the organization stipulate that it has to be in New York once every four years?

Renee: Oh, okay.

Sarah: Because that’s the industry center –

Renee: Publishing, right.

Sarah: – of publishing, so I think next year it’s in New York, which is awesome, ‘cause I’m local. But it’s great because you get to do all these different events all over the city, and then there’s this huge hub of authors in Times Square –

Renee: That’s great.

Sarah: – and it’s, it’s really fun.

Renee: That’s good. Well, I, I also have to say that your – Is it a, do you call it a blog? Or –

Sarah: Yeah, it’s a blog. It’s definitely a blog.

Renee: Okay, okay, your blog is amazing, and –

Sarah: Oh! Thank you!

Renee: – you are so well read and so –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Renee: I, I don’t know how – I mean, I’m reading books all the time, but you, I don’t know how you do it. I mean, you just, you, you consume them, and you – there, it’s this voracious appetite, and I just –

Sarah: It is my favorite thing to do. Thank you!

Renee: – and I think that you and people like you are changing the world of, of not only publishing but audiobooks significantly, and we’ve, I’ve had more than one discussion about that while I’m here, is the power that you have, and I think you’re using that power for good, and –

Sarah: Oh, thank you! [Laughs] And I’m not sure everyone agrees with you, but I appreciate it.

Renee: – and, and – No, I, I really mean that, and I, I think it’s exciting to see where things are going, where, where things are going, because not only do we have this really neat medium in which to share all this book information, whether it’s audio or published books, but with this whole new audience, with this whole new audience that I think is not only reading but listening to audiobooks, they’ve got all these places now to connect, even though –

Sarah: Yes.

Renee: – you know, you’re half way across the country, etc.

Sarah: Yep.

Renee: And it used to be that libraries were the place that people went for these things, and now there’s all sorts of options besides libraries, and –

Sarah: Everyone is their own bookstore; everyone is their own audiobook store. No matter where I am, as long as I have a signal I can get a book or an audiobook or both –

Renee: Right.

Sarah: – or I can tell people about one, and they can buy it right then!


Sarah: I hope you enjoyed the second part of our interview with Renee, and I want to thank her again for sitting down with me for nearly an hour talking about audiobooks. It must be weird to be an audiobook narrator talking about audiobooks all the time, but I also have an interview with her in .pdf format that her publicist sent me that I will link to. She was profiled in a magazine in L.A., and the little bits of information about audiobooks and about her particular career are really interesting, but – I mean, it may just be interesting to me ‘cause I’m incurably nosy, but I’ll make sure to put it up on the site and link to it.

And I have more email, because email is awesome. This first email – and we’re continuing with recommendations for young readers because, well, basically, all of the books have been recommended, and they’re all so awesome I have to share them, so don’t worry if you are not sure if you’re going to remember all of these titles. I always write them down inside the podcast entry and link to different copies so you can find them for yourself.

This email is from Kilian, and Kilian writes:

I enjoyed At the Sign of the Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper. In 1665, Hannah leaves her home in the country to join her sister in London and help her run a confectionary shop. What Hannah doesn’t know is that the plague has reached London. The descriptions are scary but not horrific.

Sarah: I have to say, when I read the first sentence, I was like, oh! 1665, she’s running a confectionary shop, it’s like small-town romance historical, and then there was the plague, so no, that’s not what that is. [Laughs] Kilian also recommends:

…anything by Karen Cushman, but especially Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife’s Apprentice. Midwife was a Newberry Medal winner and a good read even for adults. Catherine is written in diary form by a young girl living in 1290.

Sarah: Wow. I want to read that.

These three are a good intro to historical fiction. I’ll be traveling to Denver next year for the historical novel society convention because Karen Cushman will be there.

Finally, a plug for a book that hooked me as a young reader into loving science fiction. The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree is good for boys or girls. I read it when I was in second grade. Now I’m 67, and I still remember this book.

I still insist, however, that you owe me a podcast interview with R. Lee Smith. Hearing the two of you discussing The Last Hour of Gann made me so curious I downloaded a sample. Oh, my God, marathon reading on two eReaders, switching back and forth as the batteries waned, up until 5:30 in the morning to finish. I was reluctant to buy another of Smith’s books for fear it would happen again, but I steeled myself and bought a copy of Heat, hoping I control myself.

Keep up the good work, and kudos to Sassy Outwater for the great music.

Sarah: Kilian, thank you for the recommendations. These are really cool, and I would not have heard about these books otherwise, especially the diary of a girl living in the year 1290. I totally want to read that. I don’t know R. Lee Smith, and I don’t think Jane does either, but we will do our best to see if we can arrange an interview, and if you happen to know R. Lee Smith, and you think that maybe R. Lee Smith would be like, yeah, sure, podcast interview, let’s do it! email me! It would be awesome, and I’ll see what I can do. Thank you for the recommendations, Kilian.

I have one more email to share, and this one is from Sarita.

Dear Sarah and Jane,

I know I’m coming late to the young reader recommendation train, but I have one that I have been gifting to all the little girls in my life. It’s called Tatterhood and Other Tales, and it’s edited by Ethel Johnston Phelps. It’s a book of folk tales from around the world that feature strong female protagonists. I consider it a good pick for little girls going through a Disney princess phase on account of the title character being a magical princess who rides a goat and wipes the ground with trolls.

Thanks for being reliably awesome!


Sarah: I, it, am I wrong that I totally want a T-shirt of a princess wiping the ground with trolls? Like, I would wear that constantly. That’s awesome! Thank you for writing in with that. You guys, guys know all the best recommendations, I swear. This is so great.

Should I do one more? Yeah, I should do one more, right? Of course. I’m sure someone in their car was like, yeah! [Laughs] This last one is from Laura.

Thanks so much for the podcast. I, too, would heartily recommend Tamora Pierce to anyone, not just young readers. I would like to note that she does deal with some more mature themes, albeit tastefully. Things that popped up in the book include sex and contraception, so responsible sex [S: Yes!], and abuse, at least in one book. It may be worth a pre-read before handing them to younger readers if you find those things concerning. If it helps, I read the Tortall series in middle school and felt like it suited my age just fine. In fact, it was the school librarian who recommended the books. These books are comfort reads for me, and I love them so much I usually re-read them about once a year.

If you're looking to recommend books to older kids, I would check out the Abhornsen series. It is long though, and can drag at points, but overall is one of my favorites. I also recommend Meg Cabot’s YA books flat out. I loved her Princess Diaries series, and I bought them as soon as they were released.

Another series I loved when I was younger is the Thoroughbred series. They go on forever – I have over a hundred of them – and have different authors with varied results. I would say the first 50 or so are pretty good quality, and the first 20 are definitely worth checking out if horses and horseracing are of interest. They have kind of an era where they follow one or two similarly aged girls and then move onto the next generation after the current ones age out, kind of like Menudo, I guess.

Carrying on the horse them, I would also recommend Misty of Chincoteague, My Friend Flicka, and the Phantom Stallion books.

Thank you for the podcast! My credit card is feeling well exercised.


Sarah: Yes, so is mine at this point! [Laughs] I think I have exercised my credit card to the point where it’s going to go and hide far, far away from me.


Sarah: And that is all for this week’s podcast. I hope you enjoyed our interview. I’m going to continue with young reader recommendations. I’m also going to be in Australia, so I’m going to start grabbing random Australians and interviewing them, because that’s always fun, right? At least it is for me. I mean, they might be a little alarmed by it, but otherwise it’s great fun!

The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater. This is the Peatbog Faeries, and this song is called “Abhainn A' Nathair.” Now I don’t think I pronounced that right, but I’ve been listening to sound samples, and if you have ever wanted to know how to pronounce things, I found this website called Forvo.com, and their tagline is “All the words in the world. Pronounced.” So they have all of these words that you can look up, and then people from various parts of the world have recorded themselves saying it. I don’t think I’m saying that right, but it’s really cool to listen to people try to tell me how to say what to me looks like Nuh-thair and to them is like Nu-khair or something. It’s amazing. So if you want to learn how to pronounce awesomely cool words, go to Forvo. They’re not paying me or anything. I’m just really excited, and I’m listening to people say random words from around the world, because that’s what the Internet’s for, right? Right! Of course it is.

But as usual, I will have links to the Peatbog Faeries website and the places where you can download their music, because Peatbog!

If you like the podcast, you have ideas, or you want to email me, or you want to make suggestions, or you have ideas of books that young readers might like, you can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com, or you can call our Google voice number at 1-201-371-DBSA. Don’t forget to give us your name and where you’re calling from when we include your message into an upcoming podcast.

And speaking of podcast, this podcast, the one right here, is brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Flight from Hell, the brand-new Otherworld novella from New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn. I will have more information about that book as well in the podcast entry.

So, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, and whatever mayhem you may be causing, keep going, and Renee and Jane and all of the wonderful people recommend books wish you the very best of reading. Thank you for listening.

[eclectic music]


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    kathy cole says:

    thanks as always garlic knitter!

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