Oh, my, it has been a while, hasn’t it? I’m still here; I’ve just been enjoying a long-ish break from blogging. 🙂 And now I’m back with something a bit new to me: an audiobook review! Last November, I participated in a blog tour for the print and ebook release of Amber Stokes’ How A Star Falls; the audiobook version was recently released, and I couldn’t resist partaking. Had to see (hear?) if it sounded anything like – well, I was going to say the voices in my head, but that might be a little off-putting! 🙂
(Any “Chicken Run” fans out there?)
But I digress. Let me tell you a little bit about the book – and my take on the audio version. (Let it also be hereby known, to satisfy the powers that be, that I received a free copy of the How A Star Falls audiobook in exchange for my honest review.)
How A Star Falls by Amber Stokes
About the Book
Sweet NA Contemporary Romance Novella
How does a star fall? Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.
Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he’ll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it’s far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won’t stop trying to run his life.
Then Brielle falls into his world. She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she’s crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can’t just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home. And his whole world falls apart.
A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.
Purchase your own copy on Amazon!
My take: Audiobooks are interesting. Clinically. I could count on one hand the number of audiobooks I’ve listened to – I think a whopping three so far, including this one; The Scarlet Pimpernel was my first, interestingly, and is perfect for a road trip from Seattle to Cannon Beach and back, if you wanted to know.
Why so few? Well … I get bored with their length. I am a fast reader and would just prefer to read the book myself. As that doesn’t work so well when I’m driving, the audiobook concept comes in handy; but, it still takes hours longer to listen to than it does for me to read – so I just don’t. Give me driving music.
How A Star Falls, on the other hand, was right up my alley. The audiobook clocks in at about two hours; its shorter length made my reintroduction to audiobook-land much more palatable. (Scarlet Pimpernel, for example, is about nine hours in audio.)
I got an Audible.com account and the iPhone app to listen to it, which I’d never done before, and I must say I’m already liking Audible more than the big honking CD sets you have to get from the library. This is pretty cool, I thought to myself repeatedly while listening. It’s incredibly easy to pause, play, and switch back and forth between the book and any tunes I want to listen to. Audible keeps track of my stopping point in any audiobook I may be listening to, compared to CDs, where it becomes a guessing game to figure out where I was in the story – because of course I never remember the track number I was on.
But this is not a review to say how great Audible and its iPhone app are (though they are). 🙂
How A Star Falls is narrated by a male – Patrick Mahaney, if you wanted to know. (I don’t know who that is, but it’s a good thing to know for future audiobook listening.) I was a bit surprised at the male choice, but it works, though as Amber said, it was funny to hear him read her author’s note, being written in the first person!
I have no earthly idea as to Patrick’s personal demographics, but he seemed a good choice in my mental assumption of age range to read the story. (It would have been weird to have Sean Connery, for example – much too old for this story’s setting, as lovely as his voice is!) And you know when you’re talking to good friends on the phone, and you can tell that they’re smiling when telling you something? I liked being able to pick up on that at times. It truly seemed like Patrick enjoyed reading the story, which made a huge difference. (One can also tell when a speaker would rather be doing anything else … this was not the case, thankfully!)
Listening to the audiobook also prompted me to think about phraseology a lot – how I would have verbally read a sentence. There were a couple times I sat back and went, “Huh” – different emphases than I’d placed (again, voices in my head … should I be admitting to that?) made me interpret the lines a bit differently. While I still preferred my own mental emphases (not biased at all!) in some respects, I was struck by the challenge and reminded that each person reads a book in a different, unique way.
Overall a very positive experience, and I am excited to check out more audiobooks down the road – for which I am hugely grateful! No more library monstrosities for me, thank you. 🙂 And How A Star Falls is definitely one I could listen to again.
Interview with the Author
Amber and I caught up quickly over email and she graciously answered some questions for me, all about the audiobook process, what we can expect down the line, and even some live tweets while she listened to the book!
- Crumpets ‘n’ Cream: Is this your first audiobook? If so, what made you decide to go the audiobook route on this novella rather than on another work?
Amber Stokes: How a Star Falls is indeed the first of my books to be made into an audiobook. A little over a year ago, I had surveyed some of my readers and social media friends regarding their interest in audiobooks, and the response hadn’t been overly positive. So I had decided to put it off at that point. But with How a Star Falls, the risk seemed minimal—after all, it’s a short novella, and if I could find a narrator who would be willing to do a royalty share with me (instead of requiring a payment beforehand), why not try it out? I can be super impulsive at times…
So however the audiobook idea got back into my head, I jumped right on it this time around! ACX.com makes the process really quite easy on the author’s end. And if I could find a male narrator who could convey Derrick’s voice well, that would make this project so much easier than trying to find someone who could convey all the various points-of-view in my historical novels (including a POV with an interesting accent). Well, I found a narrator I liked; he took the project on; and the rest is history for this contemporary story! 🙂
- CNC: How does prep work for an audiobook differ from the hard copy?
AS: It’s quite a bit different for the author! Most of the work comes from the narrator instead of the author—although I’m sure the amount of work the author contributes depends on the author, the project, how much the narrator is willing to edit, etc. For How a Star Falls, I created a profile for the book on ACX, which works as a sort of “pitch” to the narrators. Then I searched the site for a narrator who fit the gender, genre, age, and tone of my book.
Now, generally, you’d want the narrator to do an audition for you before offering the project to them. Me being impulsive and whatnot, I just outright offered the project to the narrator whose voice I liked. I’m grateful it worked out so well! I then offered feedback to the narrator when I received the first 15 minutes of the audiobook, and then again when I received the rest of the audio files—noting places where lines had been left out or where I had a different vision/intention for the tone and inflection of certain scenes.
I also had my designer create an audiobook cover. Again, she did the work on all that. So most of my work for this project came in offering feedback to the narrator and trying to be patient during the times of waiting. 😉 I’d say the author acts more like the editor than the creator in the audiobook process.
- CNC: Do you get to choose who voices your book?
AS: I did! Authors on ACX have the option to wait for narrators (or “producers,” as they’re often referred to on the site) to audition for the book. But I’m often too impulsive and impatient for my own good (have I mentioned that already?), so I decided to seek out a producer whose voice fit well for this project. Once I heard Patrick Mahaney’s samples, I thought his voice could work great for Derrick (the main POV character in How a Star Falls). I’m glad he took on the project!
- CNC: What did you think the first time you listened to the finished product?
AS: I was really pleased with how it all turned out! As previously mentioned, I had some minor edits to share before the final files were submitted, but I think Patrick did a great job of interpreting Derrick’s story and conveying the right tone. Here are some of my tweets that convey my feelings as I was listening to certain parts of the audiobook back in early February:
- CNC: Do you foresee doing more audiobooks down the line, whether for existing works or new ones?
Yes, I think so! I had such fun with this experience, and I’d certainly enjoy hearing more of my characters come to life in this way. I’ve been encouraged by the response so far to the How a Star Falls audiobook and Patrick’s narration, and it would be neat to make a niche for myself—perhaps with the shorter, “clean” audiobooks? We’ll see how it goes, but I’m definitely open to the possibilities. 🙂
- CNC: Thanks Amber! Looking forward to seeing what the future holds!
The print, ebook, and audio versions are all available on Amazon. 🙂