Going Public… In Shorts and an Interview with narrator Cassandra Campbell

June is Audiobook Month (JIAM) is in full swing! Audiobook Week is next week, I hope you’re all getting your posts ready for the daily discussion topics, and hopefully a few reviews as well.

Today, though, I’m going to share another part of JIAM with you. This year, the audiobook community is giving back by teaming with the Going Public Project to offer a serialized audio story collection. All proceeds will go to Reach Out and Read literacy advocacy organization. Throughout June, 1-2 stories will be released each day on the Going Public blog and on author/book blogs. The story will be free (online only – no downloads) for one week. In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, all the stories will be available for download via Downpour. The full compilation will be ready June 30th.

The full schedule of the story release dates and narrators are at Going Public. Engineering and Mastering are provided by Jeffrey Kafer and SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design and published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production by Xe Sands.

I’m working with narrator Cassandra Campbell to bring you the audio of Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Stone of Invisibility (buy it here | read Cassandra’s post). You can listen below, and an interview with Cassandra follows.

DOB: I’ve absolutely adored some of the audiobooks you’ve narrated, such as The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and You Know When the Men are Gone, but can you tell my readers a little more about your career. How many audiobooks have you narrated now? What awards have you won? What are some of your favorite titles you’ve narrated?

CC: First of all, thank you for taking the time to interview me! I follow your blog and am excited and honored to be a part of it!

I’ve been narrating audiobooks for almost 10 years. I got started working at Books on Tape which at that point was serving the library market. Books on CD were the primary format, downloads were still well in the future. Okay, I’m dating myself here! Yikes! Anyway, the very first book I narrated was R. L. Stein’s The Sitter, Janet Stark directed me and taught me a ton, then and later. I fell in love with the process IMMEDIATELY and felt so at home reading aloud for hours at a time and immersing myself in the story and the characters. Since then I’ve narrated over three hundred books and directed probably well over 200. I have been fortunate to get to narrate some amazing stories, both fiction and non-fiction and I love the work more and more all the time. I have been nominated for 10 Audie Awards and won twice: as one of the readers of The Help and for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I lost to Katy Kellegren this year for Best Solo Narration, but I say, if you’re gonna lose, it might as well be to someone as spectacularly talented as she is! I’ve also gotten nearly two dozen Earphones Awards and a slew of starred reviews in both Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal.

Some of my favorite titles? What comes immediately to mind is A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka. It’s a book I wish had gotten more attention in general but that came out in the same season and with a similar subject matter as The Invisible Bridge (written by Julie Orrigner and narrated beautifully by Arthur Morey) and just didn’t get the media profile it should have. The narrative alternates between a small village in Poland during the second world war and the same family years later as communism is coming to an end. It’s just an amazing story told in third and first person in alternating chapters. It was hugely challenging to do, loaded with Polish words and accents, and I was fortunate to be in studio with Gabrielle DeCuir directing (she’s phenomenal).

More recently, I loved the powerful first person narrative voice of Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, and Sand Queen by Helen Benedict, which I am recording now for Tantor Audio. It’s two voices as well: a female soldier stationed in Iraq at the start of the war in 2003 and a young Iraqi woman.

I couple of others I’ve recently adored include A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel (recently released from Dreamscape) Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley (coming soon from Blackstone), and The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman (August, from Simon & Schuster). I am very, very grateful to get to narrate the work of these and so many other phenomenal authors (Elizabeth Strout, Ellen Kushner, Chris Bohjalian, Elliot Holt). I could go on…

DOB: How did you get involved in Going Public…In Shorts?

CC: I have gotten to know Xe primarily through Twitter, where her presence for anyone interested in Audiobooks is not only stellar but essential. She’s fun to follow and I’ve been inspired by her weekly Going Public postings. So inspired that last fall I decided to join her and sent her one of my favorite poems, The Infinite by Giacomo Leopardi to share. I studied Italian Literature in college and grad school speak the language, so I recorded it in Italian and did my own English translation. It was wonderful to spend some time on a pet project and Xe’s inventiveness is a wonderful to all of us. So when the opportunity came up to be part of this project, of course I wanted to participate.

DOB: Tell us a little about the story you chose. Why did it appeal to you?

CC: When I was a sophomore in college I read Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron in Italian. It was a break through for me at the time to realize that this piece of classical literature, remote in time and with such an intimidating title, could in actuality be so funny, lively and easy and so accessible. I was converted, I loved these stories. And as the neophyte, I wanted to share them with people, to give them the same experience I’d had, with the idea that these stories aren’t just for the super educated and the elite, but that people like me, small town and not very sophisticated, could really enjoy them. After college I wrote a screenplay (it was bad!) based on some of the stories (I’d seen the Pasolini movie and didn’t like it!). Then life took me in other directions, a theatre career, marriage, kids, audiobook work…but the stories have always been in the back of my mind.

Boccaccio wrote them at the end of an outbreak of the Black Plague in Florence in 1348. (He offers one of the most vivid descriptions of the plague extant anywhere.) The stories were dedicated to women (this I loved right from the start!) They poke fun at religion, sexism, social mores, and foolish husbands. They’re playful, they’re quintessentially Italian, they’re bawdy. Calandrino, who is the protagonist in the story I recorded, is a recurring character in several of the novelle. He is a buffone, he’s like a stock character from Italian Commedia. His name means ‘colander’. You know, head like a sieve. Interestingly, coming back to the stories, I did shrink a bit at the cudgeling. But it was of it’s time certainly, and like Shakespeare’s Falstaff, Calandrino the shirker, the swindler, the scoundrel, gets his due in the end.

DOB: If you had to recommend two audiobooks -one you narrated and one you did not – for people to listen to this audiobook month, what would they be?

CC: I’d listen to Kathe Mazur reading Quiet-The Power of Introverts. Kathe’s incredibly talented and this book is not to be missed.

As for my narrations, well, in addition to the many I’ve already plugged, there’s a lovely collection of short stories called Birds of a Lesser Paradise by Megan Mayhew Bergman that I just adore.

Check out yesterday’s Going Public…In Shorts posts:

Jenn’s Bookshelves
SFF Audio

And don’t forget to visit Kevin Herne’s blog tomorrow for another post.

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Studio Saint-Ex by Ania Szado – Giveaway

If you’ve seen today’s guest post by Ania Szado, you know how excited I am for her new book, Studio Saint-Ex. Are you excited too? Here’s part of the publisher’s description:

With Paris under occupation by Hitler’s troops, New York’s Mayor La Guardia has vowed to turn his city into the new fashion capital of the world. A handful of American designers are set to become the industry’s first names, and Mignonne Lachapelle is determined to be among them. Her ambition and ethics are clear and uncomplicated, until she falls for the celebrated and tormented adventurer Captain Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who, six months after the surrender of France, has fled Europe’s ashen skies after flying near-suicidal reconnaissance missions for the French Air Force. In New York, he writes a new book on the fall of France, Flight to Arras (it becomes a number-one best seller) and collects (a year late) his 1939 National Book Award for his Wind, Sand and Stars, a poetic account of his flying escapades over North Africa and South America (by the time of his arrival in New York, in early 1941, the book has sold 250,000 copies). To distract himself from his malaise about France and at being in exile, and at his publisher’s offhand suggestion, he begins work on a children’s story about a “petit bonhomme” in the Sahara Desert . . .

I have one copy of Studio Saint-Ex to give away to a reader with a US or Canadian mailing address. To enter, fill out the form below by 11:59PM Central on Thursday, June 13th.

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Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham – Book Giveaway

So, you guys know that Lauren Graham (@theLaurenGraham) wrote a novel, right? You know, Lauren Graham, Lorelei from Gilmore Girls?  (And also Parenthood which evidently is quite good but which I’ve never seen).

Yes, the Lauren Graham

I was really skeptical about actors writing fiction until I read Molly Ringwald’s book last fall, but now I’m ready to give them a fair shake because that book was amazing. I do love Lauren Graham and Someday, Someday, Maybe is getting really good buzz. Here, check out the synopsis from the publisher, see what you think:

It’s January 1995, and Franny Banks has just six months left of the three-year deadline she set for herself when she came to New York, dreaming of Broadway and doing “important” work. But all she has to show for her efforts so far is a part in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters, and a gig waiting tables at a comedy club. Her roommates―her best friend Jane, and Dan, an aspiring sci-fi writer―are supportive, yet Franny knows a two-person fan club doesn’t exactly count as success. Everyone tells her she needs a backup plan, and though she can almost picture moving back home and settling down with her perfectly nice ex-boyfriend, she’s not ready to give up on her goal of having a career like her idols Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. Not just yet. But while she dreams of filling their shoes, in the meantime, she’d happily settle for a speaking part in almost anything—and finding a hair product combination that works.

Everything is riding on the upcoming showcase for her acting class, where she’ll finally have a chance to perform for people who could actually hire her. And she can’t let herself be distracted by James Franklin, a notorious flirt and the most successful actor in her class, even though he’s suddenly started paying attention. Meanwhile, her bank account is rapidly dwindling, her father wants her to come home, and her agent doesn’t return her calls. But for some reason, she keeps believing that she just might get what she came for.

Someday, Someday, Maybe is a story about hopes and dreams, being young in a city, and wanting something deeply, madly, desperately. It’s about finding love, finding yourself, and perhaps most difficult of all in New York City, finding an acting job.

If you’re as intrigued as I am, I have two copies to give away to readers with US mailing addresses, courtesy of Random House. Just fill out the form below by 11:59 pm Central on Tuesday, May 21st.

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Way Down to Kokomo

So, I ran away from my family this weekend for about 30 hours. My cousin and his wife are having a little baby girl, so I came down to Kokomo for the baby shower (and now I have the Beach Boys song stuck in my head).  My husband was brave enough to stay home alone with the kids and rent me a hotel room down here so I didn’t have to drive 7+ hours in one day, and so I could get my Sunday morning work time – plus some bonus Saturday night work time!

Other than that, the highlight of our week was our neighbors’ estate sale. They’re really great neighbors, so we’re sad they are moving, but we bought ALL THE THINGS from them, and suddenly we don’t have empty rooms any more and it actually looks like people really live at our house now.

I’m actually not sure where the rest of the week went, but I’m very slowly digging out of my query inbox. Other than manuscripts, here’s what I finished this week:

This week I posted about the March 2013 books I’d like to Drop Everything And Read and I also wrote a few reviews for you:


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The Sunday Salon – 2/17/13

My typical excuse for not reading much lately is that I’m trying to catch up on writing, which often means mostly staring at my computer and clicking between what I’m attempting to write and Twitter. This week, though, I actually did it. I finished every task I meant to get to, and scheduled all my previously unwritten reviews. Getting all those reviews out of my draft box (and having so much already scheduled) makes me feel as though I’ve lost 10 pounds, it is so refreshing. Added to that, I currently only have one freelance article that needs to be written (although more will be coming soon), so I have a sense of freedom to read – even if half of what I need to read is manuscripts, rather than books for the blog. Of course, it is entirely possible that next week I’ll have another excuse, but I sincerely hope not, because right now I’m in the middle of Above All Things by Tanis Rideout and I’m dying for some quality time to spend with it.

Here’s what I finished this week:

And what I reviewed:

Ta-ta, off to read!

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