"I had several intriguing projects in 2019. But the one that stands out above all others is Marlon James's fantastic Black Leopard, Red Wolf. The first in a trilogy, BLRW is a mythical Africa-inspired grown-up fantasy and a straight up fever dream; narrating it was an incredible experience. I have never narrated anything quite like it. Scary monsters and super freaks, complicated humans and fantastic, complicated beasts all on a dangerous rueful ride straight through the heart. So many characters, such range of emotion, such beauty and humor and terror. It's a masterpiece. I hope my storytelling is as dynamic as the story is compelling—and that listeners enjoy it. I did!"
"It’s not easy to choose my favorite audiobook assignment for 2019. I’ve loved so many, notably On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl for its breathtaking prose, A Castle in Wartime by Catherine Bailey for its portrait of courage in the figure of Fey von Hassell during WWII and, on the lighter side, the latest in Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune Mysteries, which always crack me up and are just a delight to record. But there is one book that captured my heart, broke it, inspired it and took my breath away: Tucker Malarkey’s Stronghold. It’s a book about salmon, about saving them, about the author’s cousin, Guido Rahr, and his incredible quest to preserve their habitats. His efforts span the Pacific Northwest and the Bering Sea all the way to Kamchatka. It had me weeping and fretting and hoping past hope that lots of people would read and listen to it and join in his efforts to save this keystone species. Tucker is a wonderful writer and the book is full of intrigue and fish stories about great catches, and geo politics and science and adventure. It’s one of those books, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or Nichola Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn’s Half the Sky, that reshaped my thinking and opened the world to me in a new way. I love this work every day and count myself incredibly fortunate to get to do it. So thank you for listening!"
"There was a time when you had to watch television at the allotted time when a certain TV special or movie aired around the holidays. Watching It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown on TV when it played on Halloween felt more special than watching it on my VCR. The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek evoked that special feeling for me—a dark nostalgia for a time when chilling things could happen and we didn’t have the power of the internet or cell phones to bring us immediate answers. To be thrown headfirst into the pages of this town and cocooned in till it was finished."
"The anticipation of working on Little Women had me equal parts bursting and, honestly, terrified! It was daunting to take on a story and a character that means so much to so many. But from day one, the team bringing this project to life created an environment that allowed for joyful, vulnerable work. In audiobooks, we are rarely in shared space with one another and the multicast dynamic of Little Women put us all together in the room, sometimes at the mic, sometimes lolling on the floor listening to the other scenes. We doted on our Amy (Carly Robins), who was very pregnant throughout the record, and quickly came to depend on the real-life grounding nature of our Marmee (the masterful Suzanne Toren). Watching Kevin Pariseau’s impossibly endearing performance as Mr. Bhaer made me understand Jo’s love for him in a way I hadn’t before and Jennifer Van Dyke’s Aunt March had us in stitches. I look back on the experience unsure if I can identify the line between the family of fictional characters we portrayed and the family we built over those 80 or so hours and nearly 700 script pages! It enriched me tremendously as an actor and hope listeners love it."
"I had the pleasure of self-producing the stellar young adult sci-fi epic 2nd Gen with the husband and wife author team of Andrea and William Vaughan. Not only did their story surprise me, it created memorable characters that felt very real. This helped to ground a fantastic space adventure in reality. I also picked this book because I want to highlight a pair of newer authors. One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with established authors who are masters of their craft. But equal to that is the excitement of discovering and introducing a new voice to audio fans. I hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as I enjoyed performing it. Thanks for a great year, listeners!"
"Who’d have thought an original character would bubble up during an after-hours party game at a romance convention, and that two years later author Tara Sivec and I would find ourselves in a Minneapolis recording studio creating this Audible original rom-com? Heidi’s success has been a highlight of our year!"
"My most memorable performance of 2019 would have to be Rage by Jonathan Maberry. I’ve been narrating his Joe Ledger series for some time now and he always writes gripping, fun, sometimes terrifying stories. This book though, as an actor, put me through the wringer. Emotionally and physically. The last few chapters of that book left me utterly exhausted. In order to effectively tell his story, I was stretched in ways I don’t think I’ve been outside of a performance of King Lear or Macbeth. I had a few choice words to say to Jonathan after the book was finished! A great experience, narrating that one.
I’m grateful for the privilege of getting to narrate books by so many authors, each one has had its own challenges. Since I started narrating in 2004 (I think?) I’ve encountered so many diverse and great stories—339 and counting on Audible! 2019 was a busy year for me with so many great books. I look forward to sharing more with Audible listeners in 2020."
"This job is remarkable. Just us behind a mic…sitting with the author’s words…we take a breath, press "record," and step out of the way. And while there are memorable moments with every project, occasionally from the outset we feel this "hum," and know we’ve been handed something precious. When I first opened Sofia Segovia’s exquisite The Murmur of Bees (translated by Simon Bruni), I felt it. I remember my first conversation with gifted co-narrator Angelo Di Loreto—how we spoke reverently and sensed Segovia’s quietly powerful storytelling would be magic to voice, and how it would challenge us to go where the text demanded to enable her intent to come through with authenticity and grace. And it has been amazing to hear that so many listeners have also been moved - that they too lost themselves in Segovia’s cleverly wound tale of Francisco and Simonopio…and his bees."
"Kate Quinn’s writing flows so beautifully—it is always a joy to perform and when I finish a project of hers I feel very sorry to let it go! An exciting narration element while recording The Huntress was switching between the three different POV’s that rotate throughout the novel—a young American girl, a male British journalist, and a Russian female bomber pilot. Balancing the flow of the narrative voice along with all these characters was a welcome challenge."
"In the world of entertainment I think it's very important that traditionally underrepresented groups get the chance to tell their stories and for audiences to see faces and hear voices that they don't ordinarily. That's why it was such an honor and a genuine pleasure to work on Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead: Typhoon by Wesley Chu. Wesley takes the beloved zombie franchise across the Pacific to China, and while the venue and people may be different, the thrills, action, and compelling, relatable characters are what listeners have come to expect from The Walking Dead. I especially enjoyed voicing the protagonists, which include a tough as nails American grad student from Texas, her earnest but conflicted Chinese boyfriend, and the grizzled military officer trying to save his country from the zombie hordes. I can confirm that this book is a genuine page turner as I didn't want my recording sessions to end!"
"2019 was a great year for some of my favorite authors: Olivia Laing, Elizabeth McCracken, Sara Donati, Mia Vincy, Theodora Goss, and P. J. Brackston all had audiobook releases this year, many of them part of a series that I narrate. I love these authors, who write in various genres, with their own distinctive voices: it feels so good to read their work out loud! If I have to choose, I’ll pick The Art of Theft, by Sherry Thomas, because I met her for the first time when she came to DC, and we had a lovely evening together, getting to know each other. I adore her characters in the Lady Sherlock series. There is a wonderful merging of Victorian sensibility with modern thinking that Sherry achieves, and I feel so at home in her world. Smash the patriarchy, but wear your hat and gloves!"
"2019 was filled with lots of new authors, but also lots of familiar ones, among whom was one I never expected to see—Robert Jordan. Warrior of the Altaii, with Robert Jordan’s powerful storytelling and athletic prose, and the nascent themes which he would go on to explore in The Wheel of Time series, was like meeting an old friend in all his youthful vigor. So unexpected and delightful."
"The week of my birthday in 2018, I recorded the first book in this series (written by the remarkable Roshani Chokshi), called Aru Shah and the End of Time. It was a truly special experience, working on the book with a talented all-female team. Incredibly, in 2019, again on the week of my birthday, I recorded the sequel with the same amazing team! This series, which follows Aru on mythical adventures as she learns about her culture, her heritage and her power, have meant a lot to me as I raise my own daughters and teach them about where they come from. I hope to be recording the next book on my birthday as well!"