Exclusive! A free (and sexy) Jon Papernick short story

Jon Papernick’s first novel, Who by Fire, Who by Blood, has been referred to as a “fast-paced thriller,” and “smart, relentless, impossible to put down.”  The audiobook, narrated by John Greenman, is such a sharp, hairpin-turning work of literary delight that we asked Jon if he’d not only indulge our few questions, but offer us up another audio story for you.

He was, John graciously recorded it, and we’re pleased to offer up My Darling Sweetheart Baby, a short story by Jon Papernick, narrated by John Greenman. Enjoy it, then read below to discover what else Jon’s up to.

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Miette Elm:Did you have any reservations about allowing Who By Fire, Who By Blood to be made into an audiobook? What were they? How did narrator John Greenman’s voicing of the text match up to what you had in your head?

Jon Papernick: I had no reservations at all about turning Who by Fire, Why by Blood into an audio book. I think John did a wonderful job and he was really willing to work at getting all of the Hebrew/Yiddish pronunciation correct.

Bruce Pirie

Author Jon Papernick

ME: The novel works quite well when read aloud– there’s something cinematic to the narrative voice, and a natural cadence to the sentence structure. Do you read aloud when writing?

JP: Yes, I do read aloud when I’m writing, and I always tell my students that it is important to constantly read your work out loud. I think Robert Frost once said “The ear is the only true reader,” and I think that is absolutely true. Not reading your work aloud is somewhat like writing sheet music without actually playing it out loud. Prose should be as musical as poetry, and of course human speech at its truest is poetry.

ME: Do you listen to many audiobooks? If so, what else do you do while listening? Driving? Knitting? Ay titles you’d like to recommend as exceptional?

JP: I used to listen to a lot of audio books when my kids were first born. I would listen in the car as it was driving them back and forth, and while I was preparing dinner, and while I was folding laundry. Sometimes I would download them onto my iPod and go for long walks listening to novels. I really think that John Greenman did a wonderful job reading The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, which is probably the funniest book ever written. Listening to that book made me really excited to work with John. I also think that the audiobooks for Middlesex By Jeffery Eugenides, Tree of Smoke by Dennis Johnson and Lush Life Richard Price were superlative.

ME: We seem to be in somewhat of a golden age of strong Jewish heroes and anti-heroes in North American fiction. Who else is writing gripping, bitingly real fiction like this that would work well as an audiobook?

JP: I just met with a young writer named Ilan Mochari whose novel Zinsky the Obscure is coming out this fall. I think that would make a wonderful audio book.

ME: You’ve also taught fiction writing at a number of colleges and universities. How does teaching the craft shape your own craft, and vice versa?

JP: First of all, I really enjoy teaching, and I wonder whether I could be a writer at all if I was simply locked up in a garret somewhere with a pen and paper. I think there is a certain symbiotic relationship between me and my students, and I often articulate my inner thoughts clearly to them before I actually integrate them into my own writing. Teaching really helps center me as a writer, and I am constantly reminded that writing is a craft that needs to be practiced regularly.

ME: What are you working on next?

JP: I’m currently working on a novel and am about to undertake a major rewriting of it. The novel is called the Sunday Synagogue Softball League. I recently sent my agent the first 68,000 words, and he had some very helpful comments about major structural changes that I need to consider in order for the story to really come alive. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, and I’m just trying to find the right headspace to get started. I’m also working on a third collection of short stories entitled Gallery of the Disappeared Men.


Who By Fire, Who By Blood

Who by Fire, Who by Blood  is available from Iambik as an audiobook for only $6.99. Bestselling author Jennifer Haigh calls it a thinking man’s thriller — smart, relentless, impossible to put down.

We couldn’t agree more. Why not listen to the first chapter and see if it hooks you?

“Finch, however, can step in the same river twice.” Author Steve Himmer & narrator Mark F. Smith discuss The Bee-Loud Glade

On my many days of chronic over-employment (or at least professional over-stretchment) I often find myself daydreaming of a simpler life of commune living, of swapping pupik lint and wild-harvested leeks for ink pens and coffee beans, and this sort of thing.  I’m far from alone in this fantasy.

In Steve Himmer’s breathtaking debut The Bee-Loud Glade, our hero realises this fantasy by becoming a decorative hermit.  Below, author Himmer chats with The Bee-Loud Glade audiobook narrator Mark F. Smith about employment, wealth, and self-sufficiency.  Maybe if you read the entire thing, you’ll find a way to win a copy of the audiobook for yourself.

Mark F. Smith, narrator of The Bee-Loud Glade: OK, right away, we need to know if the inspiration for The Bee-Loud Glade was a family camping trip in your past that went horribly wrong?

Steve Himmer: Thank goodness, no. I’ve had some exciting camping adventures but never one that went horribly wrong. The closest I’ve come to was a camping trip in Australia during which some drunk hunters out spotlighting mistook (somehow) my friends and in our brightly colored sleeping bags for possums. The seed of the novel probably was planted during that trip, though, because during my time in Australia I was volunteering as a conservation laborer and became fascinated (and confused, and appalled, sometimes) at the degree of artificiality and construction even in so-called “natural” landscapes. I spent a couple of weeks, for instance, removing all the “unapproved” plants from a riverbank so the “approved” plants could thrive.

Steve Himmer

Author Steve Himmer

MFS: How on earth did you latch onto the idea that a great self-gift for the man who has everything is having one’s own hermit?

SH: It came from TV, from the BBC series The Worst Jobs In History. I watched a marathon of that show one afternoon while home sick, and in the episode about the Georgian period one of the worst jobs was “ornamental hermit.” It just clicked in my imagination, and I knew immediately I wanted to write a novel about someone with a contemporary version of that job.

MFS: I wanted the employer, Mr. Crane, to turn out to be some mystical being with a hidden purpose. Were you really tending in that direction as you wrote?

SH: No, there’s nothing mystical about him, I’m afraid, although he has attained a level of wealth that approaches being supernatural and as implausible as mystical powers. But I was committed to making the novel plausible, though unlikely — I don’t think there’s anything in it that’s strictly impossible, though I wasn’t terribly concerned with making it realistic.

Mark F. Smith

Narrator Mark F. Smith

MFS:Why did you decide to impart special flow properties to the artificial river?

SH: There’s that old adage attributed to Heraclitus, that you can’t step in the same river twice (though the number of other people that also gets attributed to suggests you can coin the same phrase twice). Finch, however, can step in the same river twice. It’s a natural feature, yet wholly artificial at the same time, and that seemed potent to me — we’re used to thinking of rivers as flowing, as both timeless and deeply entrenched in the passage of time, and I enjoyed playing with and inverting that notion.

MFS: Just as the reader is left wondering about the employer and his life, the camping couple invites the same question. What’s their backstory?

SH: Oh, I can’t tell you that! I’d rather each reader or listener work that out on their own, or make up their own version. Some of it’s revealed, of course, in the end of the book, but the specifics… well, I suppose I like keeping the reader in the dark about that to the same extent Finch himself is kept in the dark. One of the novels I drew inspiration from while writing The Bee-Loud Glade was William Gaddis’ Carpenter’s Gothic, and what I enjoyed most in that book was how much of the action took place “off stage,” so to speak, and beyond the knowledge of the main characters and readers alike. I hope I’ve done something similar in my story.

MFS: At some point I wondered at the unfairness of Finch’s contract: five million a year to do nothing. That had to rankle Smithee and the other employees. Why so much for a decorative hermit?

SH: Oh, absolutely it rankled, as Smithee eventually makes pretty clear — and yet that’s all beyond Finch’s ken, isn’t it? There’s some tension, I hope, around that issue of labor and so-called self-sufficiency. But as for why he’s paid so much, you’d have to ask Mr. Crane, but there’s a vicariousness, a symbiosis maybe, between employer and employee: Mr. Crane is willing to pay so much first because he can, but also because that’s all he can do — he can’t actually live as Finch does, whether he wants to or not, and throwing money at the problem is his only real option. As it seems to be with most of his life.

MFS: Which is closer to the truth: The Bee-Loud Glade is a commentary on how people live vicariously by watching other people’s lives, or, it’s about how one can live while under that scrutiny?

SH: Can I just say, “Yes?” I suppose the question for me is is a combination of those two, or one that falls between them: how dependent is one life upon other lives, and how possible is it to actually live independently or in isolation? So it’s about not only watching other lives, but impacting them whether through wealth or labor, and also about telling ourselves we’re independent while depending so directly on institutions, and structures, and myths, to give ourselves that complicate, possibly false, sense of independence. With regards to watching and being watched, I guess I take it more or less for granted — or did in this novel, anyway — that we’re all in the panopticon already.

MFS: Come on: — you can tell us — didn’t you want to write a love story between the hermit and his employer’s wife?

SH: I can honestly say it never occurred to me to have an actual romance blossom between them. Desire, yes, and a sense of possibility, certainly, but no, I never thought about having something actually happen. In part, because the story required isolation rather than connection, as well as the monastic nature of Finch’s commitment. And I doubt Finch is capable of an actual “love story” — certainly not one with a woman he’s built up in his head before he even meets her, to the point he’s more or less incapable of seeing her as the person she actually is.

Miette Elm: In an interview with Atticus Books, you express a tendency toward isolation and solitude in your characters. I think that as a rule, the experience of listening to an audiobook removes the element of solitude from the reading experiences by introducing a narrator reading the book to you. How do you think The Bee-Loud Glad, specifically Finch in all his solitude, works when interpreted as audio?

SH: On the one hand, the nature of the novel is so interior — told in Finch’s voice, with so little dialogue, that I think a narrator becomes the embodiment of the character as much as of the story (if that makes any sense). There’s a freneticism, and exuberance, I imagined in Finch’s voice that I think Mark captures nicely. At the same time, one of the elements of the story is Finch’s own need for an audience, one he fulfills by imagining a “scribe” who follows him around and writes down what he thinks and does. So by listening to the story the reader is almost forced into the role of that scribe, following Finch around, taking in his story as it unfolds. I find that pretty appealing, because it adds a whole new layer to the experience.

ME: Finch’s voice is so rhythmic throughout the text, and his story so vibrant, that to me The Bee-Loud Glade seems perfectly suited for the oral tradition. Did you read aloud while writing? (Or, do you as a rule?)

SH: I do read aloud, and I’m very concerned with rhythm; I’ll add or remove a word or syllable just to match the rhythm I hear in a line. And writing, for me, is as much about connecting to oral traditions as literary ones — I’m really interested in folklore and storytelling performances (which isn’t to say I’m much good as a storyteller myself), and I think that’s reflected in how I write. The use of alliteration, for instance, which I know some reviewers and readers didn’t care for, but to me is an element of oral tradition that makes a story take on a performative life of its own.

ME: We love identifying great contemporary books that would be missed by mainstream audiobook publishers. What titles come to mind that you think would benefit from an audio treatment?

SH: Oh, well… just off the top of my head, I think Sara Levine’s new novel Treasure Island!!! from Europa Editions’ imprint Tonga Books would be a phenomenal audiobook. Her narrator has an exiting, madcap, and distinctive voice that could really come to life in the reading. Also, Robert Kloss — who, full disclosure, is a friend of mine — has a novel coming out with Mud Luscious Press called The Alligators of Abraham. His writing is dense, and driven less by narrative than richness of description, repetition, and incredibly vivid imagery. Fiction like that would be really exciting to listen to, and could envelop a reader with more than “just” hearing the story. The way Seamus Heaney’s recording of Beowulf does, for instance.


The Bee-Loud Glade

Tom McCarthy (C, Remainder) calls The Bee-Loud Glade An allegorical novel that seems eerily contemporary. Thoreau meets Ballard, meets Huysmans and many more.

Steve Himmer’s The Bee-Loud Glade can be had for $6.99.  Or, for cheapskates bargaineers:  We’re still all swoony from recent corporate chocolates, so from now until Friday, February 17, 2012, get this and any other title for 50% off by entering the code love-your-ears when prompted for a discount code at checkout on Iambik.com.

Or, for hermits-in-the-making looking to take a step toward self-sufficiency, here’s a chance to win one of three copies of the audiobook:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“I am my audience, my admirer and my critic.” Author Robert Wexler and narrator Robert Keiper on narration, theatre, and literature

Usually here in the Iambikopolis, it’s our narrators asking questions of the authors whose books they’ve performed. In a table-turning twist best described by your humble bloghostess as “thrilling” (honestly), Robert Freeman Wexler, author of The Painting and the City, sends questions to narrator and actor Robert Keiper. The full interview can be found at Robert Wexler’s internet home, The Laconic Writer.

Don’t forget to enter to win one of 3 copies of The Painting and the City at the end of this post! Or if you just can’t wait, this and all our titles can be had at a 25% discount below by entering the code listen-more between now and the end of January 2012.

An excerpt from the interview:

LC: How does working as a voice artist on audio books differ from performing a play on stage?
RK: The immediacy of feedback on stage is galvanizing, a creative condition when all my resources are simply there without effort. In film work there’s always crew, director and other actors to bring about that same “heightened state.”

Narration is a solitary effort as, I’m sure, is yours. The opening of resource paths requires more and more consistent effort. I am my audience, my admirer and my critic.

But the rewards are delightful and amazingly identical, so long as approbation doesn’t creep in. It’s never about me, it’s always and only about the story.

Laconic Central: I’m pretty thrilled that someone did an audiobook of my writing, and I love how it came out. But I have to say I was pretty apprehensive at first. It was very strange hearing someone else read my words. How did voicing The Painting and the City compare with other narrations that you’ve done?

Robert Keiper: Even though I’d done several books prior to yours, I was still fairly new to this performing art as I started The Painting and The City. So I was making lots of mistakes, backing and filling, getting disgusted with myself and swearing I’d never finish the darned thing. Then I’d come to one of the interesting plot twists and get hooked all over again. I particularly remember the first time the puppet appears in the story, and the galvanizing effect that had on me. I was delighted with the character and my choice for a voice for him—but I knew he would appear again later, so I made a short recording of his voice and kept it handy as a reminder when needed again. Consistent character voices are as fundamental to the story as any other character traits, but when their appearances are far apart you have to take special care.

Here’s the rest.  Now enter to win:

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Graham Storrs interview and TimeSplash giveaway: “In film and literature, there is hardly a single instance where time travel actually turns out well.”

If you haven’t been around on Facebook or Twitter, you might not be privy to the stuffers we’ve been offering for the stockings on your ears.  Our friend at Martha’s Bookshelf, who recently reviewed Graham Storrs’ TimeSplash, just hosted a giveaway of the same, whose results you can see here.  And in the same giving spirit, reviewer Nerfreader, who covered TimeSplash in November, is currently giving away three copies of the book, narrated by the lovely Emma Newman.  And there’s a bonus: the winners also receive access to the mp3 of the prequel short story, “Party Time,” read by the author himself.

Go and enter already!

Mr Storrs also took the time to answer some questions for Nerfreader.  An excerpt:

“Party Time” reminds us that side effects can be more important than the original action. While listening, I thought of the movie Primer, which also follows brilliantly destructive PhD students. Can any good come from time travel or is it something students should be dissuaded from pursuing? Its discovery doesn’t seem to have improved the TimeSplash world.

In film and literature, there is hardly a single instance where time travel actually turns out well. You’d think that would be a warning to us all, yet people keep on trying to make it happen! There are physicists who believe that the Universe must somehow forbid paradoxes from happening, even if time travel was allowed (no matter how hard you try, when you pull that gun on your grandmother, something will stop you). I’m sure there is a great comedy novel in there somewhere. But, even if Stephen Hawking now believes that time travel might just be possible, the mind-bending technologies and staggering energies involved mean it won’t be happening any time soon – unless somebody comes back and shows us how. The thing is, humankind has explored just about everything within reach and we crave that next big adventure. The only places left to go now are Time and Space. And I don’t think any amount of dissuading will stop people trying to go there.


The full interview can be read here.  Thanks to Martha and Nerfreader!

The prolific and the chroniclers: author Lise McClendon speaks with narrators Denice Stradling and Mark Douglas Nelson

If Iambik were to offer a Residency in Literary Badassedness, well, it’d be a coveted position, and we’d have a lot of authors in the running.  And Lise McClendon would be among them.   She’s written seven novels, another under her pseudonym, is a member of the Thalia Press Author’s Coop, blogs, and as a rule, she writes like she means it.  It doesn’t hurt that her books are good, with a sharp edge and a cunning, lingering use of language.  Here, she chats with audiobook narrators Denice Stradling and Mark Douglas Nelson.

Denice Stradling, narrator of Blackbird Fly: First, Lise, I truly felt honored to narrate this book. When I was prepping it for narrating, I would find myself forgetting that I needed to be reading for characters, pacing, etc. … I found myself getting lost in the story, and having to remind myself to get back to the business at hand!

Denice Stradling

Narrator Denice Stradling

Something that really resonated with me about Blackbird Fly was the subtext of forgiveness. This is so NOT part of the basic premise of the book or one of its major plot points – murder, mystery, romance — but factors a little into the self-knowledge/’adult’ coming-of-age that Merle experiences. I’m specifically thinking about the ending, vis-à-vis, the Thanksgiving dinner – and that’s all I’ll say, because I don’t want it give it away! But I loved that. It’s so not what seems to be the norm in our society these days, and I found it so refreshing and lovely. How did you choose for Merle to go this route? Why was it important for you to have this in the book? I mean, it didn’t have to be there, but it meant so much.

Lise McClendon: First of all, I love it, Denice, how deeply you’ve thought about Blackbird Fly. That is one of the joys of this whole audiobook process. So thank you. Interesting that you bring up forgiveness. In families, whether your nuclear family or one you make for yourself as an adult, there are often issues that you get stuck on, things you can’t get past. For Merle Bennett, she not only has to forgive her dead husband — difficult because he’s gone — but also she has to forgive herself. That’s the ending of the book, really, that she is a bigger person because of her journey. She can say to herself, yes, you screwed up, he screwed up, but life goes on and let’s make the best of it. Also her story is mostly about the past, the things she should have done but didn’t. So the ending of the story is about the future, a brighter, more hopeful and loving one.

Lise McClendon

Author Lise McClendon

DS: Something else I really liked was Merle’s relationship with her sisters, how she shared caring and loving, but very different relationships, with each one of them. And how distinct their personalities were. I see a very modern-day Little Women here, albeit, not so little! Is this something that grew out of your own sibling relationships? And because they were so distinct, especially Annie, I could so see them having stories of their own. Any chance that this might happen?

LM: I based Merle somewhat on me because I am also the middle sister in a family of daughters. But mostly the five Bennett sisters are based on Pride and Prejudice’s five Bennett girls, the dynamics, the respect and support they have for each other despite their (vast) differences. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels. I tried to make each sister an individual the way Jane Austen did. I hope to write a book about each sister, a series of linked stand-alones — sometime, some day. That was the original plan. Hasn’t happened yet but I never say never.

DS: This novel is so visual: the beauty of France, especially the Dordogne, the house, the village, the wonderful and colorful characters of Malcouziac. Your excellent writing makes it all so easy to visualize. And because of that, I can so see this as a film as well. Would you have any aspirations for that? Have you ever thought of writing for that medium?

LM: I have written a few screenplays, and have a background in film and television, so thanks for the encouragement! I made a short film called The Hoodoo Artist, based on one of my short stories. So much fun. I can definitely see Merle’s story as a movie. Now to whisper in a Hollywood ear or two…

DS: And then there’s Pascal … so easy to fall in love with!! The ending of the book couldn’t be more perfect, but still… any chance that his and Merle’s story/ies might continue at some later date?

LM: Oh, definitely! Pascal is one of my favorite characters. He served his purpose in this story, which is to help Merle get past her problems, to feel lovable again, to get back to her life. But he deserves a little story of his own, don’t you think? I can still see him running around France, drinking wine in his black t-shirt. Lots of ideas, thanks, Denice.

Mark Douglas Nelson, narrator of One O’Clock Jump and Sweet & Lowdown: The books go beyond simple detective stories, including issues around race relations, abortion, and class privilege. Is this something you set out to do? And does setting the books in early World War II make it easier to do this?

Mark Douglas Nelson

Narrator Mark Douglas Nelson

LM: To write a story set in the Depression, with characters who are as real as you can make them, you have no choice but to write about the horrific problems of that era. Some problems we still have, like those you mention, Mark. To make the story relatable to a modern audience I felt I needed to make Dorie a full character. She’s been to reform school, she doesn’t have the money to continue her education, she’s lost her family: these are problems that happened all over this country, to regular people. It’s easier to look back at an era and see what the social problems were at the time, but those issues really haven’t been erased. One thing I love about mystery fiction is that you can learn about something, a time in history, a culture, whatever, while following the fun narrative of whodunit.

MDN: Your characters go far beyond just having a couple of quirks. Amos Haddam, Dorie’s boss, has an elaborate backstory of his own. On one hand he’s a fairly progressive guy for 1940, but he’s hampered by his physical problems, family worries, the War, often leaving Dorie to fend for herself. A disabled British WWI veteran in Missouri isn’t exactly a stereotype. How did this character evolve?

LM: I love the way you portrayed Amos in the audio version, Mark, with that semi-posh accent. It gives him so much life. He is a displaced person, much like Dorie. They have both lost their families though in Amos’s case it’s because he moved to America. He is sort of a father figure to Dorie — who definitely needs one — but they have to take care of each other. The Depression was an era of great upheaval. The two main characters, Dorie and Amos, reflect different aspects of that. With Amos, because he’s British, we get a connection with World War II as it breaks out in Europe, before America is involved. I wanted to try to get a picture of how America dealt with the war on the home front, before we plunged into the thick of it.

MDN: Dorie Lennox is a person no one cares about from a town no one cares about trying to solve crimes no one seems to care about, but her. She clearly has a soft spot for fellow under-dogs. Personally, I found her a more interesting person than, say, Kinsey Milhone. Is someone your model for the Dorie Lennox character?

LM: Dorie has a lot of baggage, doesn’t she? I love rich characters; they give the writer so much to deal with. She has hopes and aspirations despite her past where nothing seemed to go right. She has her own strong view of her future, she stands up for herself with or without her switchblade, she never forgets the people she’s loved and lost. She’s everything I would hope to be, in her shoes. I love Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone myself. Dorie has more on her plate than Kinsey, for sure. The Thirties were a time of the individual, when the family unit, the family farm, was often upended and people were cut loose without any support. Dorie is a free spirit, an individual, who like every good heroine sees a bigger picture than the rest of the characters and tries to help people in her life to the best of her ability.

Miette Elm: Did you have any reservations or concerns about having your books made into audio? What was the experience like for you? (You can be honest; you won’t hurt our feelings, even though the experience for us has been nothing short of delightful).

LM: The major worry in having your novel made into an audiobook is will you like the narrator’s voice. I once did a straight-to-audio short story in a western collection and have never forgotten the somewhat shocking first listen of that. With Iambik Audio the writer gets to choose from the narrator from the auditions and that makes all the difference. I hadn’t really thought of having a male narrator for One O’clock Jump and Sweet and Lowdown, but once I heard Mark’s audition I knew it was right. I love this model of all of us working together to get the best quality audiobook possible. It does mean more work for the writer; listening and proofing the audiobook takes time. But it’s all to the good.

ME: You also write under the pseudonym Rory Tate. Do you have other pseudonyms or top-secret pen names?

LM: So far Rory Tate is my only super-secret pen name! Rory’s new novel Jump Cut is out now. It’s a sexy, modern thriller set in Seattle. It would be a fun audiobook!

ME: What are you working on next? Anything that might translate well into audio?

LM: I’m working on a mainstream novel and another thriller. I’m also the co-editor of a new crime short story anthology, Dead of Winter, that would make a fun audiobook because there is such a mix of stories.

ME: Who else writing biting-edge crime fiction today is creating works that you think would work in audio? Any favourite contemporaries come to mind?

LM: I love the Casey Jones stories by Katy Munger. We need to get her into audio! A few more are Gary Phillips, Kate Flora, and Sarah Shaber. All published by small presses and in need of audio. I love audio!


Blackbird Fly

Lise McClendon’s Iambik titles can be had for $6.99 each.  BUT!  It’s the season for giving, so from now until December 31, 2011, get all three books for $15.73 (that’s 25% off, for the maths-challenged).  Just add all three books to your cart, and enter the code mclendon-audio when prompted for a discount code at checkout.

Publishers Weekly says of Sweet & Lowdown: This is a book to be savored read it too fast and you might miss something.

Check them all out:  Blackbird Fly.  One O’Clock Jump.  Sweet & Lowdown.

What you call “random accidents” I call “squishy moments.” Arjun Basu with narrator Bruce Pirie

Arjun Basu’s the kind of writer who seems to be hiding a few extra typing fingers, with the accompanying extra brains, to be able to output as much as he does, and have all that work teeming over with smarts.  The audiobook of his debut short story collection, Squishy, can be yours on its own, or as a member of our fourth Literary Fiction collection (a power collection, by my vote).  In addition, he tells stories on Twitter just about always,  and the whole Internet, give or take, has been marked as his territory.   Here he is talking with narrator Bruce Pitre and me about voices in heads and gender stereotypes, among other things…

Bruce Pirie: One of the underlying themes in the collection is the idea that our lives get shaped not so much by our conscious decisions, but rather by random accidents, things that happen at little moments of distraction or carelessness — moments that may have disproportionate consequences, just as a stray pebble sets off an unexpected avalanche. In the final story — “Chicken Scratch” — it seems to be a happy accident that the protagonist can embrace: he accepts that he has found whatever it was he was looking for in India by simply agreeing to go along with his new acquaintances, just trusting the road. But in a way that feels like a surprise ending to the collection, because in a lot of the other stories — like “The Lawn”, “Johnson’s Johnson” or “The White Pants” — chance leads to sad or even disastrous results. Is the deck of your worldview similarly stacked? Does chance more often lead to disaster?

Arjun Basu: Well, I called it Squishy for a reason. What you call “random accidents” I call “squishy moments” – those kind of throw away moments that we don’t think about. My writing seems to be about “how did I get here” and in that sense, it’s not all that uncommon as source material. My world view isn’t necessarily tragic, but I definitely find more drama in tragedy. Again, I haven’t reinvented the wheel. Perhaps my world view can best be revealed by this fact: Chicken Scratch is almost autobiography. The story more or less happened to me. It’s the only story I can say that about. The rest is fiction in its purest form. And we chose to put it last to kind of create uplift for the reader (assuming they read the book in order – in audio, they kind of have to). So, what does that say about me?

Bruce Pirie

Narrator Bruce Pirie

BP: “Finding Something You’re Good At” is about a travel writer who is fed up with the predictable shallowness of travel writing. That’s a pretty interesting subject, considering that you were editor of a travel magazine (enRoute) for several years. Does this story cut particularly close to home for you? (The other travel story, of course, is “Chicken Scratch,” about a journey to India, and perhaps that too has a particularly personal connection?)

AB: Many people have cued into this and my past as an editor of a magazine about travel. I can honestly say there is some cynicism in it that is, yes, learned from years in travel and lifestyle journalism but that it is not, overall, a comment about my job as it is about work and the media in general. But that sauna exists. And it is in Mexico. And I was in it once and I counted the tiles on the ceiling. Other than that, no, this is not a comment on my life or my job or the magazine I edited.

BP: Some of these stories are told by really entertaining voices — first-person narrators lacking in certain kinds of self-knowledge. I’m thinking of “The Defeated” and “Meat Man.” They sound so real, I can’t help wondering where these voices come from. Are they based on real individuals? Or composites of a certain type?

AB: Writers live with voices in their head. Don’t they? Don’t all writers talk to themselves in different voices? They don’t? What do you mean they don’t?

BP: “The Idols” seems to be a pretty bleak portrait of a certain class of young people, drifting their lives away in a contemporary Wasteland of vacuity — the “whatever” generation. Do you consider yourself pessimistic, in general, and especially concerning today’s youth?

Arjun Basu

Author Arjun Basu

AB: I’m not sure I want to ascribe “The Idols” to a generalized view of youth though it does make a comment about a certain kind of youth. But more than that, I think “The Idols” is about ennui and in that sense it’s not so much about young people. I just heard the story in a kind of young voice and it went from there. This is a case of a story coming to me in a scene and then trying to make sense of it. And the scene was the final one, the end of the story and then I tried to figure out how these people got there. But along the way, the story became an essay on boredom.

Miette Elm: When you were listening to the audiobook, you left the following comment on your social media sites: “Just finished listening to the whole thing. I’ll say this: “The Idols” is priceless in the audiobook version. That’s a nasty filthy story.” There was something particularly sordid in Bruce’s delivery of the piece that I missed when reading the story in print. “Johnson’s Johnson” had the same effect. So, what do you think it is, exactly, that makes some of these stories carry different weight when delivered this way?

AB: Well, Bruce had good source material! No really, I think the dichotomy between Bruce’s obvious maturity (note, I didn’t say “old” and I would never even THINK of saying “old”) and the language and tone of “The Idols” made it work more. My reaction to hearing it was kind of giddy. The words, which are “bad” to begin with, and the activity of the characters, just seemed more, well, sordid is a good word for it. Yes. The whole thing felt more sordid. Dirty. I can’t think of a better way to describe the feeling. I suppose if someone like, say, Sir John Gielgud had read “The Idols,” the dichotomy would have been greater (and this is why his performance as the butler in “Arthur” works so well) but because “The Idols” (and Johnson’s Johnson) are, essentially tragedies, the dichotomy works and works well (which is why it is tragic but for different reasons, to see Sir John Gielgud in something like “Caligula”). And let’s admit this: audio is a different medium. Each and every story is bound to be felt differently than on the page. It has to be.

ME: There are a couple of odd little moments where gender clichés are perpetuated, but with the genders switched. I’m thinking of “Johnson’s Johnson’s” male equivalent of an unfortunate ‘upskirt’ moment, and Vik in “The King of Wimps,” whose handwringing at a playground with his son is written to perfection. So, was this intentional?

AB: Meaning do I think guys are the new babes? Or something like that? Did I just get in trouble? Because I felt a frisson of something. OK, gender cliches. Fuck em. I’m all for equality and so why can’t guys suffer “upskirt” moments or shit their pants or be sensitive dads? Are men and women exactly the same? Of course not. That’s stupid. But are they equal? Yes. Can women be morons? Yes. Can men? Yes. So what’s the argument?

ME: In the collection’s first story, “Thursday,” a character muses: “Would the world be more civil if we could jump-start conversations without dancing our way to the inevitable questions? Civility is just another way of getting in trouble. It’s when we most say what we don’t mean.” Do you think it’s civility – or even the failure of civility – that sets moments of trouble into motion for Squishy’s various characters?

AB: I think that’s an impossible question to answer. The character in “Thursday” believes that and so says it. My feeling, generally, is that hypocrisy is what gets us all in trouble. Not civility per se. But civility is often a mask for hypocrisy.

ME: Did you have any reservations about letting us turn Squishy into an audiobook, or how Bruce would delivery certain stories? What were they?

AB: None. Zero. And Bruce delivered the stories the way he delivered them and he did a great job. I was curious as to how he would tackle stories like “The Idols,” yes. But I wasn’t worried. Though his pronunciation of “depanneur” leaves much to be desired.

ME: Finally, we take pride in making audio of work that deserves a bigger audience than it would otherwise get. So, who are we missing? Who else is writing cutting and hysterical short fiction that you think would make great audio?

AB: My friend Mike Spry has released a great collection of short fiction called Distillery Songs that I think would work in audio. The stories are punchy and have great, great rhythm and are thoroughly entertaining. My two cents.



Squishy  is available from Iambik as an audiobook for only $6.99. The Montreal Review of Books says: Throughout Squishy Basu reflects on timeless human dilemmas, interweaving details that reveal the strangeness inherent in our modern lives. This is where Squishy shines not only as entertainment, but also as an illuminating literary work. In revealing human pretensions and the mechanisms of chance that govern our fates, Basu reminds us to treat each other with more compassion, and to take ourselves a little less seriously.

We say you should listen to it.

“Sometimes it’s quite a balancing act.” Listening with Elizabeth Medeiros

Do you have any idea how much raw patience one needs to be a proof-listener?   Sometimes I really wonder if our diligent and owl-eared proof-listeners aren’t secretly training for careers as stakeout spies.  Do spies have specialties?  Here’s Elizabeth Medeiros, with the patience of a thousands would-be stakeout spies:

Miette Elm: Let’s start with the obvious. What first compelled you to proof-listen audiobooks? How long have you been at it, and do you have a favourite genre to work in?
Elizabeth Medeiros: I wanted to prooflisten because that was the quickest way I could contribute. I didn’t have a microphone, nor sound editing software, and since I loved reading I realized I could still help out that way. I’ve been doing it about three years. As far as my preference, if I absolutely, positively had to choose, I’d say science fiction is my favorite, with literature a close second.

ME: What are you up to? What have you been working on lately, what’s coming up next, and how’s it going?
EM: I’ve been happily busy at Iambik with four audiobooks currently in active production: Couch, Wild Turkey, Return of the Native, and Writing Fiction which is about to restart after a little mix-up. Sometimes it’s quite a balancing act, though, if I have several long files waiting to be prooflistened as quickly as possible. But I like all the stories, and the narrators so that makes things easier.

ME: What’s the most difficult or daunting part of proof-listening work?
EM: Definitely, telling any of my readers that they have mispronounced a word. It might be a question of a slip of the tongue or British pronunciation instead of American, for example. but a few times it’s just an uncommon word the reader doesn’t know. I try to be diplomatic, luckily the narrators take my feedback in a professional manner and it all gets sorted out without difficulty.

ME: As a narrator, I’m sometimes self-conscious turning over my files to a proof-listener, thinking that it’s only a matter of time before I neglect to edit out some of my less-than-charming interjections or interruptions. We burp, we swear at passing buses or honking horns, we clear our throats, and sometimes we don’t successfully edit it all out. So (without naming names), tell me about one of the more interesting errors you’ve had to correct.
EM: I’d have to refer to my PL’ing experience at Librivox to answer this one. I was proof-listening a Jane Austen book, a dramatic reading, and one of the readers tried about three times to say a line and stumbled. Finally I heard a swear from this very proper Austen character! (Followed by the correct line. Of course.) I had to chuckle, even as I realized narrating is a lot harder than people think it is.

ME: As a proof-listener, you must be the sort of person who listens very closely to the world around you. So, in your esteemed opinion: world’s best sounds? And its worst?
EM:  The best sounds? There are so many sounds that I find remarkable or soothing. To name a couple: Music, especially the sounds from an acoustic guitar or piano, waterfalls, and when after I lost electricity after Hurricane Irene, I really liked the hum of my refrigerator when the power came back on.

The worst sounds I think are fire truck sirens, explosions and lightning strikes because you know danger or tragedy is imminent.

Elizabeth Medeiros’ most recent title as a proof-listener is Janet Woods’ award-winning dark romance Daughter of Darkness. You should enter to win Daughter of Darkness or any of our titles through Iambik’s Birthday Giveaway.  Thanks Elizabeth!

Letting characters find their crime. Author Lynn Kostoff chats with narrator Ken Campbell

When AudioFile magazine awarded the Late Rain audiobook with its Earphones award, they remarked that “listeners feel like eavesdroppers.”  This is high praise for authors.  For audiobook people, it’s the kind of compliment that might train them to walk on air.  And in the case of Late Rain, it’s very well-earned.  Here’s narrator Kenneth Campbell with author Lynn Kostoff.

Kenneth Campbell: First I want to let you know how much I enjoyed narrating Late Rain. It was great fun and pleasantly challenging to attach voices to the personalities you developed in the multitude of very interesting characters. Never a dull moment! What inspired you to you come up with the story line and such unique characters?

Lynn Kostoff: I like to start working from something that is both concrete and mysterious, so Late Rain, like the other novels, started from a cluster of disconnected images. I keep a notebook where I jot down random images that strike me, and while most don’t make it into the novel, the images are the perfect jump-start for the dynamics of exploration and discovery that fuel the plotting process for me. For example, in the notebook for Late Rain, I had jotted down images like these: a man sitting in a darkened church; a young girl connecting with a piñata and it exploding in a rainbow of candy pieces; a twilight beach littered with dead jellyfish; a dark-haired woman in a yellow sundress; three people at a dining room table eating a Sunday afternoon meal. At the time, I had no clear idea how they might fit together.

I also keep a notebook in which I simply write a collection of sentences that may or may not relate to each other. I see them as trial runs for the style that feels “right” for each novel. Sooner or later, I write a sentence that feels like and becomes the first line of the novel, and then I’m ready to start writing. I felt I’d discovered the core of Corrine’s character and the impetus for what she sets in motion when I wrote, “Patience is always a sucker’s game.”

When it comes to the plot and conflict, I like to start with the characters and then let them find their crime and hopefully a crime that resonates with the culture and that has something to say about our lives.

Lynn Kostoff

Author Lynn Kostoff

KC: Were there particular characters that were your favorite to develop? Were there specific characters you connected with above others?

LK: I did not set out to write an ensemble novel, but over the course of five drafts, I discovered the characters’ lives started to connect and complicate each other in unexpected ways, so while Ben Decovic and Corrine Tedros tended to dominate, I wanted to structure the final draft so that there was room for the others as well. In the end, I wanted the central mystery of the book to be the characters themselves and to make them as human and complex as I could.

I honestly don’t think I can play “favorites” here; I enjoyed the chance to inhabit each character and personality , everything from a contemporary Lady MacBeth in Corrine or a child-like psychopath like Croy Wendall, to a man like Ben Decovic turned inside out by his grief.

KC: Sometimes while narrating I had to stop and just burst out in laughter when the subtle humor hit me. One such time was when Officer Decovic was dispatched to a bar where a patron was trying to burn himself. I don’t want to reveal too much of the scene for the benefit of those who have not read the book, but basically you “off the cuff” weaved clues into why the person was trying to harm himself. As a reader, when the “light came on,” it was so funny and unexpected! Would you please comment on your thoughts to your adding humor?

LK: I think there’s a fundamental reason why drama is symbolized by two masks: one crying and one laughing. Comedy and tragedy are intimately connected, and I believe one enhances the other and that they are never too far apart.

Kenneth Campbell

Narrator Kenneth Campbell

KC: Considering Late Rain as a whole, what was your biggest challenge?

LK: I think the biggest challenge was trying to capture how each character ultimately saw the world, self, and others. For example, I didn’t want the character of Jack Carson to be a billboard for Alzheimer’s; I wanted readers to directly experience his sense of the world and self slipping away. With Ben Decovic, I hoped to give the feel of a good man barely able to keep himself together. With Corrine, I didn’t expect readers to condone her actions, but I did want them to come to complicitly understand and recognize them. And in each case, I wanted the style to reflect the character and his or her situation.

KC: This book seems to set up a possible sequel. I know I – for one – am chomping at the bit to learn where the main character Ben Decovic’s path will lead. Are you either planning on or developing a sequel and if so, when do you believe it may be available?

LK: I would like to return to the fictional world of Magnolia Beach again and plan to after I finish the novel I’m currently working on, The Work of Hands, which is set in 1986 in the Midwest. Its protagonist is a Public Relations man who cleans up scandals and fixes things. He believes he can always find a way to escape the consequences of his actions, but that belief is sorely tested when he has to clean up the aftermath of a large food poisoning outbreak. When this one is completed, I’d like to see what Ben Decovic and the others are up to.

KC: You’re a professor at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina. What special joy do you find in teaching and in what way do you believe that being a published and successful author has helped you teach and guide your students?

LK: I feel very fortunate to be able to earn a living as a teacher. It’s a profession that’s all too often sentimentalized or unfairly criticized. There’s a very real satisfaction in helping someone to become a better reader and writer. Along the way, I feel I learn as much as my students.

Miette Elm: We’re so pleased to see your works getting some recognition lately. Mulholland Books listed The Long Fall on a recent top-10 list, and of course, the audiobook of Late Rain has received an Audiofile Earphones Award. On top of that, reviewer Elizabeth White says “The man does not appear capable of producing anything less than greatness.”

So, how are you affected by the recognition? Does it drive you? Do you try to ignore it? Does it… well… get to your head?

LK: I am very grateful for the recognition. Believe me, after twenty-plus years of silence from critics and reviewers, the reviews of Ms White and others mean a lot. More than a lot. I had pretty much given up hope of getting noticed by reviewers and was just determined to keep on writing despite that.

ME: Have you listened to the Late Rain audiobook? What did you think? What were your biggest concerns about handing over the text for audio interpretation?

LK: Yes, I’ve had the chance to listen to the audiobook, and I couldn’t be more pleased than to have someone of Ken Campbell’s talent reading it. Ben Leroy, my publisher, sent me a link when Ken auditioned for the job of reading it and asked what I thought, and I knew immediately that Ken’s was the “voice” of the novel. He did a superlative job.

ME: What titles would you most love to see turned into audio? Who else is writing smart, lyrical crime or mystery these days?

LK: I would love the chance for Ken to do the audiobook of my novel, THE LONG FALL. I think he would “get” the protagonist Jimmy Coates and his highly unorthodox view of the world and approach to crimes.

Charlie Stella, a friend and author from the Carroll and Graf days, is doing some of the best mob fiction around; he has an amazing ear for dialogue, and I think listeners would enjoy his work and the energy he brings to it.

Late Rain

Late Rain  is available from Iambik as an audiobook for only $6.99.  Audiofile says “Not only does the story keep listeners guessing until the end but there are moments of deep emotion and the characters are so good one hopes to meet them again.”  We think that’s just about right.  Check it out.


How to Listen Closely: Questions on Proof-Listening with Darla Middlebrook

At Iambik, our diligent team of proof-listeners work tirelessly to make certain that the words you’re hearing are the words the author wrote, and not the inner monologues that sometimes escape a narrator’s lips.  Proof-listening also makes sure you don’t hear sneezes and sniffs, alien spaceship landing gear interference, and anything else that might make its way onto a recording.  As a secret but shamefully habitual lip-smacker, I am personally forever indebted to their work, and wanted to chat with a few of our proof-listeners about their contributions to our text.  Here’s narrator AND proof-listener (and apparently resident multi-tasking expert) Darla Middlebook.

Miette Elm: Let’s start with the obvious. What first compelled you to proof-listen audiobooks? How long have you been at it, and do you have a favourite genre to work in?
Darla Middlebrook: I’m new to voiceover work. I decided to proof-listen because I felt that doing so would help me to better understand the process of self-directing/monitoring/correcting and how to find pickup points for narrators.

Darla Middlebrook

Darla Middlebrook

ME: What are you up to? What have you been working on lately, what’s coming up next, and how’s it going?
DM: What am I doing now? I am in the process of narrating another book. Because of a non-disclosure contract, I can only say that 10 of 12 chapters are finished. Twice a month, I read to residents of a local nursing home. Once a month, I perform narratives and storytelling at a local coffee shop. At the end of the month, I will be attending a Story Tellers’ Retreat. Hoping to learn many things to help hone my skills.

I also do volunteer reading for AIRS-LA which produces podcasts of magazines for the visually challenged. My podcasts include Cat Fancy Magazine (weekly) and one article/month for the Canadian version of Reader’s Digest

ME: What’s the most difficult or daunting part of proof-listening work?
DM: The most difficult part of proof-listening is having to tell a narrator that he/she must redo part of his/her work.

ME: As a narrator, I’m sometimes self-conscious turning over my files to a proof-listener, thinking that it’s only a matter of time before I neglect to edit out some of my less-than-charming interjections or interruptions. We burp, we swear at passing buses or honking horns, we clear our throats, and sometimes we don’t successfully edit it all out. So (without naming names), tell me about one of the more interesting errors you’ve had to correct.
DM: The most interesting error has been the repetition or total omission of an entire page. I’ve done that myself as a narrator. When that kind of thing happens, I know it’s time to go to bed!!

ME: As a proof-listener, you must be the sort of person who listens very closely to the world around you. So, in your esteemed opinion: world’s best sounds? And its worst?
DM:  World’s best sound = children’s laughter.  World’s worst sound = children’s tears.

Darla Middlebrook’s most recent title as a proof-listener is Jennifer Pelland’s chilling Unwelcome Bodies. You should also check out Darla’s work as a narrator on The Autobiography of Jenny X.  And if you can’t get enough of her, you can also reach her via Facebook, Voiceover Universeher website, or check out all her available audiobooks via Audible.

“I listened to both books with extreme pleasure and excitement.” Author Mary Anderson with Xe Sands

I know I promised you Part 2 of our interview with Mary Anderson last week, but I was off learning the meaning of “unforeseen circumstances.”  Without further wait, here’s Mary with Xe Sands, narrator of Step on a Crack:

Xe Sands: First, I just want to say what an honor it was to work on Step on a Crack with you, Mary. I feel a personal connection with this story and the characters who inhabit it, and hope that it will now reach a new generation of readers via its release on audio.

During the proofing process, an interesting discussion arose regarding how severe the level of abuse was, and subsequently, how realistic it was that Sarah would/would not forgive Katrin. I was surprised to find that some perceived the abuse as relatively mild. How did the level of abuse strike you? Are you surprised that some readers find it relatively forgivable?

Mary Anderson: Yes, I hope this audio book will reach an entirely new generation.

Judging from the fan mail I received when the book was published, readers were genuinely moved by the secret in Sarah’s past and didn’t consider she had merely suffered mild abuse. Clearly, this incident had affected her entire future life. When I was writing this part of the book, I was totally emotionally involved when Sarah began to remember that traumatic incident in her childhood. I grew so upset, I cried. And I also cried when I heard your narration of that portion, Xe. Nothing like that had ever happened to me, but I feel it was a serious example of how a child can be irrevocably damaged.

Mary Anderson

Author Mary Anderson

XS: Something that struck me is how, despite her complete trust in her mother, Sarah would not confide in her. I thought back to my own childhood and realized that in a similar situation, I did the same, despite our close relationship. Is this a theme that you were exploring in Step on a Crack? How do you think mother/child relationships have changed since the years the book was written?

MA: Sarah does explain why she can’t confide in her mother. They have had a wonderful relationship all their lives so she can’t bring herself to believe her mother could possibly be the cause of her psychological pain and fear. In fact, it would make more sense for her to believe she was going crazy, rather than accept that as a reality.

Mother/daughter relationships? Goodness, I think they’re all over the map – some good/some bad/some wonderful/some horrible. I don’t think that will ever change. I consider myself blessed that all my daughters are my best friends but I’m sure they must’ve kept things secret from me as they were growing up. On some level, separating emotionally is part of growing up and deep down, Sarah knows she must solve this problem herself, no matter how scary the prospect.

XS: I think as readers, we want to hate Katrin for her actions and choices and yet I suspect most readers cannot. What was your intent with Katrin – what were you hoping to achieve with her character, and our reluctant compassion for her?

MA: Thanks for noting this. I’m glad you find it hard to hate Katrin. She’s also a victim of circumstance. It’s always helpful in life to remember that most people are trying hard to do the best job they can, even though some of them often fall short or fail entirely. Remembering this can help us all overcome the bad experiences of our own childhood. In essence, there are no villains here. Listening to your wonderful narration and subtle understanding of the characters in this story emphasizes that.

Xe Sands

Narrator Xe Sands

XS: One of the aspects I most enjoyed about Step on a Crack is that it remains true to its intent without attempting to shock the reader into understanding of the horror of the situation. How do you feel this work compares with current young adult fiction?

MA: I’d have to think about this a bit harder, but what I’d really love to see is a collection of fiction that seemed meant to be read out loud in the first place: A lot of fiction technically works in audiobook format, but not every writer is as alive to the acoustic possibilities of their prose as perhaps they should be. I think there are some really great fiction writers who just beg to be read out loud on every page, and Iambik would be smart to snatch up their books and match them with narrators who could really make their books sing.

Miette Elm: Mary, I know you’ve done a lot of reading aloud of your fiction and that of other authors. Were you nervous about turning over your text to outside narrators? What was your biggest concern in doing so, and how do you feel about the final products?

MA: I had two concerns. I was afraid I wouldn’t like listening to the voice of the narrator or that she wouldn’t totally empathize with the story. Happily, I didn’t need to worry about either of those things.  Xe and Elizabeth did great jobs bringing Sarah and Reggie to life and I listened to both books with extreme pleasure and excitement. I ‘d never heard them read aloud (nor had I gone back to read through them myself) so it was like coming to them anew. Honestly, at times I wondered what would happen next and how it would all turn out! I love the way both Xe and Elizabeth allowed the characters to grow and become more aware as the stories unfolded. They conveyed so much of that in their interpretations.

ME: Do you listen to many audiobooks? What are some of your favourites?

MA: Absolutely. I listen to tons of audio books and I’m a very critical listener. If I don’t like the reader’s voice, I don’t continue the book because I feel marrying the book and the reader are essential. My favorites? Well, I’m a sucker for mysteries and the classics. I love Lawrence Block, Agatha Christie, Somerset Maugham, Margaret Atwood. For children’s books, some of my favorites are George Selden, Russell Hoban, Robert C. O’Brien.

ME: It’s amazing how many times I’ve mentioned your books to someone, only to have him or her exclaim “Oh, I loved that book, and had forgotten what it was called!” Who are some other authors of sharp, intense fiction for young people whose work from the 1970s and 1980s is no longer in print? In other words, who else should we be publishing that we’re not?

MA: I really don’t know if these authors are still in print but they should be. I love Barbara Wersba and M.E. Kerr.

ME: It’s been a while since we’ve seen a Mary Anderson book on the shelves. Are you currently working on a writing project? If so, what can you tell us about it?

MA: Miette, thanks for asking. Wow, don’t get me started because I could talk forever about my current project which I’ve been writing for several years. It’s an historical/theatrical/mystery/ thriller spanning 400 years, involving many famous Elizabethans, famous contemporary actors, other historical figures, actual events, secret societies and unsolved murders. These serial killings which take place outside theatres also span 400 years. Although there’s lots of researched historical information, the major part of the book takes place in the 1980’s in New York City. Most importantly, it follows my most important criteria … it’s a book I can’t wait to read myself!

Step on a Crack

If you missed it, here’s part 1 of our chat with Mary Anderson, where Mary speaks with You Can’t Get There From Here narrator Elizabeth Klett.

In the meantime, both You Can’t Get There From Here and Step on a Crack are available from Iambik as an audiobook for only $6.99 each.  Enjoy them as much as we do!