Howdy, Hot Listeners!
And we’re back with the second group of authors from Riptide Publishing to participate in a virtual panel interview (and they were great sports about it, I think). It gives me great pleasure to introduce:
Cari Z., author of Where There’s Smoke and Where There’s Fire
Chris Scully, author of Until September
JL Merrow, author of Lover’s Leap
LB Gregg, author of How I Met Your Father and Something About Ari
Marie Sexton, author of Winter Oranges, Trailer Trash, Second Hand, and Never A Hero
What has been the most challenging thing in your writing career?
Cari – Learning how to hit a deadline. Wishing doesn’t cut it!
Marie – Learning to balance myself and the urge to speak my mind against the constant public scrutiny and the never-ending genre drama. Anybody who’s been around this genre for more than five minutes knows there are people out there who seem hell-bent on turning the entire genre into a war zone. It’s exhausting, and it completely destroys my will to write. I took most of 2016 off because there was simply no joy in it anymore. I do my best to ignore all the drama and gossip and bullshit, but I’m still struggling to get back to a place where I can love the story, and have that be enough.
JL – My natural sloth-like disposition. And homophobia. But mostly, if I’m honest, the sloth.
Chris – Learning to adjust to the emotional ups and downs and the self-doubt. I thought I was a fairly self-confident and self-aware person (in fact some would say “cocky”) until I began putting my writing out there.
LB – Learning not to compare myself to others, and remembering it’s okay to walk my own path.
What helps you get your writing mojo going?
Cari – I make a soundtrack for every book I write. When I need a kick to get started on something, I turn on the music and it just gets easier.
Marie – I journal every morning, then usually spend a bit of time reading through my WIP, touching up parts I’ve already written. Depending on the book, I may also have a song I use to get in the right frame of mind.
JL – Getting away from my keyboard and visiting new places. And drinking wine. Not necessarily both at the same time.
Chris – I really have to be in the mood to write, which makes it a challenge to stay motivated sometimes. But once I find the perfect story idea, and the inspiration can come from a number of sources, I’m obsessive. I kick it into high gear and can start banging out the words.
LB – Hah. I take huge amounts of time off to live my life and do new things and currently, the life living and new things are complicated but inspiring. New experiences feed my creativity. It’s a good combo. I just have to get my fingers back on the keyboard.
Is there a genre that you love to read/listen to, but wouldn’t consider trying to write?
Cari – If I like it, I’m probably going to try and write it. I’m possessive that way.
Marie – I love reading historical mysteries, but I’d never try to write one.
JL – Not really – I’ve at least dabbled in most genres that interest me. Even science fiction, which I think is one of the harder ones. Basically the mere suggestion that I couldn’t do something is enough to spur me on to try!
Chris – I read across many genres, and as much as I love them, the only ones I likely wouldn’t consider trying to write are horror, science fiction and fantasy—primarily because I feel I lack the level of imagination required to create these worlds and do them justice.
LB – Fantasy—definitely. How cool to write a book that involves maps, world building, magic spells, dark forces, and heroism! It’s just way too complicated for me. Also Vampire books. I love those. I have a (not so) secret addiction to paranormal romance—and yes, I love JR Ward.
Which author would you stand in line or go to a session for at a book con (stalker fan; living or dead author)?
Cari – I actually just did this at RT! I stood in line for almost four hours at the Avon event so I could get a signed copy of the new Ilona Andrews book. So. Worth. It.
Marie – Lynsday Faye and Tom Piccirilli (And I did have a total fangirl moment over James Rollins at RT a couple of years ago.)
JL – Ben Aaronovitch; I love his Rivers of London urban fantasies. Val McDermid; I fangirled her shamelessly as she signed my copy of Forensics. Jane Austen, although I think I would be struck entirely dumb if I were ever to actually meet her. She’d probably think I was exceedingly dull.
Chris – Stephen King
LB – Sir Terry Pratchett. He’s my bucket list author, although I’ll have to stand in line at the great book con in the sky.
Do you write in more than one point of view (1st person/3rd person limited, etc) for your characters’ voices? If yes, is it determined by the character/book itself?
Cari – Sometimes the characters themselves determine the POV, sometimes the genre does. I recently started an urban fantasy that demands to be 1st person, and it just feels right.
Marie – I generally prefer first, but I’ve been doing more in third lately. Always deep POV, though. I prefer to only have one POV per story, although about a third of my books have ended up with two. It all depends on the story.
JL – Writing in first person comes more naturally to me, but I’ve also written quite a lot in third person, which I know many readers prefer. Whichever I choose, I’m likely to be deep in my POV character’s head. I particularly like the challenge of showing one main character through the other’s eyes—because that’s what life’s like, isn’t it? We never really know what the other person is thinking.
Chris – I’ve written in multiple points of view, although first person is my favorite, and POV will be determined by the book. If I see a book is leaning more toward one character, then I’ll likely use first person. If I’m writing equally from the POV of both characters, or if the style is more formal, I’ll use third person. It’s not something I plan in advance—it usually becomes clear as I start plotting.
LB – I stick to 1st person. When I try to branch out, the words sound stilted and unnatural.
Were you in on the decision to choose a narrator for your book? If yes, did one narrator stand out as ‘The One’ or was it a longer search?
Cari – I wasn’t in on the decision for my Panopolis books, but the team at Riptide chose very wisely 😊
Marie – For Winter Oranges: I don’t think I even listened to the auditions. I think I told Riptide to pick one for me, because I was pretty sure I’d hate them all. (Which is not to say that they were all bad. Only that they would never match the voice in my head.) For Trailer Trash: I didn’t like any of the auditions I heard. At least half of them gave the southern accent to the Wyoming boy instead of to the character who’s actually from Texas. (Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, people from Colorado and Wyoming do NOT talk like Texans.) I then begged Riptide to let me invite John Solo to audition. John narrated the audio versions of two of my self-published audio books, so I knew he could work with my characters. I’m happy to say John absolutely nailed Cody’s voice in his audition. I was so relieved, and thankful that Riptide then agreed to give him the job!
JL – Riptide were kind enough to send me the audition tape of Mark Steadman reading Lovers Leap for approval—and I loved it! I knew he was right for the book almost within the first sentence—he really got the humour, which is so important.
Chris – I am usually involved in the final selection of the narrator. I’ll get a short list and audio samples from my publisher and then have to pick my favorite. I find it challenging, as often I’ll like different aspects that different narrators bring across. Sometimes I wish I could combine them into one person.
LB – Riptide chose Nick Russo for How I Met Your Father and the response from fans was terrific. When the time came to produce There’s Something About Ari, we listened to a few auditions and Nick’s reading was lively and entertaining and really captured where I was going with Buck. Fans agreed.
Did your book’s narrator consult you about your book before/during production? If so, what was it about?
Cari – I got a few questions about pronunciation, but apart from that the process went along very smoothly without me.
Marie – For Winter Oranges: Not that I remember. For Trailer Trash: John sent me the audition before submitting it to Riptide to see if I wanted anything changed. But after that, I don’t remember anything specific.
LB – Nope. Not on these books. Not that I remember.
Did a narrator pull out a nuance in your story that you didn’t notice yourself until you heard your book in audiobook format?
Cari – Hearing it in audio format was a revelation. It’s like reading about your characters in an entirely new way. I loved it!
Marie – I don’t know, because I’ve never listened to it. I actually don’t do well with audio books. I’ve tried listening to them, but my attention always drifts away and I realize an hour or two later that I haven’t heard a single word. (I have the same problem with podcasts. Two minutes in, and I’ve already stopped listening.) As for my own books, the first time I heard one of my books in audio format, I literally burst into tears, it was so awful and painful. I haven’t tried listening to one of my own books again since then. (Although I do feel a lot better about them now that I get to help choose the narrators.)
JL – Not exactly, but (being someone who tends to read her own work with one eye closed and the other one squinting painfully) I was surprised how much I enjoyed listening to the performance of a really good narrator.
LB – Okay, well this is embarrassing to admit, but unless I’m producing the book myself, I don’t listen to the entire story on audio. Gah. Just bits! This is probably similar to the way some actors won’t watch themselves on screen. It’s…disconcerting. I wince a lot. Hearing my words spoken aloud makes me uncomfortable.
What was something you learned while going through the process of your book being put in audiobook format?
Cari – I learned that I’m incredibly lucky to have content available in audio format now, because some people vastly prefer to listen to audiobooks and now I can say, “Hey, I’ve got that!”
Marie – Apparently readers don’t like sound effects? As somebody who’s never made it more than halfway through an audiobook, I assumed sound effects would be good for helping set the mood, but when I did a quick Twitter poll, the results were unanimously against sound effects.
Chris – How different your own words sound when read back to you and interpreted by someone else. Sometimes it highlights things you never noticed. Conversely it can also really magnify problems or weak spots.
LB – I’ve learned that I like my publishers to handle the details. I was a costume designer, not a director! Although, honestly, in the process of self-publishing, I built some nice relationships with the actors. That was wonderful. But Riptide is very good at what they do and I’m content with the status quo.
What book do you expect to have come out in audiobook format next?
Cari – Next up is my m/m suspense novel Friendly Fire, once again narrated by Nick J. Russo. So exciting!
Marie – Damned If You Do (fun little RomCom inspired by the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia) will be out in audio any day now, and The Well (paranormal suspense) will be out in audio in the next month or two.
JL – I’m hoping to have audiobooks of my Shamwell Tales series of romantic comedies (Caught!, Played!, Out! and Spun!), which are shortly to come out from Riptide in paperback and ebook, by the end of 2017. And fingers crossed, it should be Mark Steadman narrating them again, which I’m very pleased about.
Chris – I am hoping Back to You is released in audiobook later this year.
LB – Romano and Albright! We’re working out the details, but my hope is for Caesar Romano, Dan Albright, Poppy, Shep, the whole gang—to come alive on audio.
Thank you, ladies! I had a good time reading your replies. Can’t tell you how much we appreciate you dropping by.
If you didn’t get the chance earlier, do go back and check out the earlier post of the first half of our panel interview with another group of talented Riptide authors. If you want to check out the books Riptide Publishing offers in audio, here’s the link to their page: http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/audio
But… that’s not all… GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY
Riptide Publishing has generously offered up five (5) Audible gift codes for any of their published audio books to five (5) separate winners. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment on this interview or the second half of the interview that will be posted later in the event. Double your chances by leaving a comment on both interviews. Entries for the giveaway will close one week after the second Riptide interview post. Winning comments will be chosen randomly and emails with instructions sent out to the winners.