Author and Narrator Roundtable & Giveaway – Mary Kay Andrews and Kathleen McInerney discuss Ladies’ Night

For a final June is Audiobook Month hurrah, I am lucky enough to have the chance to host a roundtable discussion between author Mary Kay Andrews and Kathleen McInerney, the woman who has narrated her more recent audiobooks, including the new Ladies’ Night. Please see the end of the post for a giveaway.

Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews

Question for Mary Kay Andrews: Were you involved with the selection of Kathleen McInerney as your narrator? What were your initial reactions when you first heard her narration of your work?

MKA: The folks at Macmillan Audio found Kathleen and sent me an audio clip of her narration for approval, but that’s about all the involvement I had. Although I’m thrilled about the match-up. I was so happy when I first heard a clip—that we had a narrator who could do a carefully articulated Southern voice—sweet, but not syrupy. The number one complaint I hear from audio listeners is about the Southern accent—either it’s too pronounced, or deemed phony by real Southerners. Sometimes you just can’t win!


Kathleen McInerney

Question for Kathleen McInerney: How do you connect with MKA’s writing? Are you a fan?

Kathleen: I was not familiar with Mary Kay’s books before I narrated Spring Fever. Before I audition for a project, I like to do a little research on the author. Often with an understanding of the person comes an understanding of their writing. I immediately connected with Mary Kay as I, too, have a love for flea markets and DIY projects. The characters in Mary Kay’s books are so real- I know we all identify with at least one of them, usually the main character. The others are often just like people we know or wish we did. Discovering the characters is not unlike scavenging at a flea market- what may seem ordinary at first soon reveals itself to be something very special.

Question for Mary Kay Andrews: What do you admire about Kathleen’s interpretations of your writing?

MKA: All those different voices! She does Ben, she does Wyatt, the other women in the divorce group, even Rochelle, and she manages to give everybody a distinctly different sound.

Question for Kathleen McInerney: Are there any challenges or delights unique to recording MKA’s work?

Kathleen: There are many delights. I really love the characters and have a lot of fun diving in. Ladies’ Night was a great journey as Grace rediscovers her strengths and her self. I learned about redecorating and blogging. I ‘lived’ in that amazing house as Grace worked to renovate it. It was so fun to go to work and inhabit this world. I really didn’t want the book to end! The challenge is creating a performance that is worthy of the book.

Question for Mary Kay Andrews: What does Kathleen add to your work?

MKA: Kathleen’s voice is so pleasant, so nuanced, she manages to draw the listener into the story, but without any showy stuff that draws attention away from the plot.

Question for Kathleen McInerney: What do you do to prepare for an audiobook recording session? Is it important for you to connect emotionally with the material you are recording?

Kathleen: Well, the first thing I do is read the book. I write down all of the characters as they appear so I get an overview of the vocal demands (age, accents, etc). I try to identify certain qualities and what makes each character unique. With Mary Kay’s wonderfully descriptive writing, it’s easy to picture the complete person- I just need to find their voice. Then I go into the booth and try to bring the story to life. I think any actor would say that it’s very important to connect emotionally. If I can’t inhabit the life of each character, the listener won’t be able to really let go and get lost in the story.

Question for both: Have you communicated directly prior to this interview to prepare for a narration or to promote the titles you are both involved with?

MKA: We haven’t communicated directly, I don’t think. The audio folks might have asked me about a couple of pronunciation tips, but otherwise, Kathleen is a pro—I don’t think she needed any help from me.
Kathleen: Oh, well thank you Mary Kay! We’ve not met, but I do feel that I know Mary Kay through her books and her wonderful blog. It would certainly be great to meet in person.

Question for both: Describe the author/narrator relationship and when and how it works best.

MKA: I’d love to have more contact with my narrators, but it seems like whenever they’re doing their work, I’m on deadline trying to finish the next book. But I’d welcome any chance to interact—I think that would be lots of fun.
Kathleen: Discussing with the author their ideas about the characters or perhaps what drove them to write the story would be so interesting. Unfortunately, given deadlines, there is often not much time for anything but prepping and reading! I often meet an author long after the project has been completed. That is always a thrill!

I have one copy of the Ladies’ Night audiobook, as well as a packet of Ladies’ Night Margarita Mix (add water, and tequila if desired) to give away to one lucky listener. To enter, please fill out the form below by 11:59 pm Central on Tuesday, July 2nd.

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Interview with David Nicholls, author of One Day

On August 3, I was lucky enough, along with a group of bloggers, to be able to speak with David Nicholls his novel One Day, and the movie adaptation. For a giveaway, as well as my thoughts on the book and expectations for the movie, see my review post.


Jen: You have written both books and screenplays, how does the process compare?

David Nicholls: It’s a long time since I wrote a book, unfortunately, because I’ve been sort of tangled up in these various screenplays, which I love. But, the hardest thing is, when you write a novel, you create the characters. You kind of cast them in your head… You’re very much the director, the designer, the music coordinator, the editor. And when you move on to a movie, you have to kind of spread that load. You might get asked what you think of a particular location or a costume design, but it isn’t your responsibility.

And that’s not a bad thing. That can be quite liberating to know very precisely what the parameters are of your role. But, inevitably you can feel as if you are losing a little control. And so, on this movie, I felt that much less than I have in the past….
The other difference is you lose a lot of your equipment, if you like, your technique. It’s very hard to do an internal thought process.

A lot of what happens to Emma in the three years she leaves University happens in her head. And unless you use acres and acres of voiceover, minute after minute of long, protracted voiceover, you can’t really get a thought process. You can’t really get an interior monologue onto the screen.

So, there’s this terrific pressure all the time to move things forward and to concentrate on what people say and what they do rather than what they think and feel. And that can be quite tough…

And finally, I suppose there are the budgetary and scheduling restraints. I mean, the most obvious example of this, and I’ve used it before, is if you write in a novel, you know, “it’s raining,” then it’s sort of just words on the page. It’s nothing. And if you write “it’s raining” in a screenplay, then suddenly they’ve got to hire all this equipment, stand around in the rain all night, and it costs an extra 200,000 pounds. It’s not your 200,000 pounds. And someone is going to ask, “Does it really need to be raining?”

Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway as Dexter and Emma


Jen: I’m really interested in Emma and Dexter’s relationship, because it’s this grand relationship and there are all these obstacles in the way, but they never feel like you’re just throwing obstacles for the purpose of throwing obstacles. And they’ve got this love that’s this great cross between romantic love and friendly affectionate love.

David Nicholls: Yes. I mean, this is the great conundrum for the writers of modern love stories. You know, what are the obstacles? What are the modern obstacles to people getting together? The sort of golden age love story, there are kind of class divisions and family feuds and all of these very powerful barriers, the kind of Romeo and Juliet barriers. And now, what are those barriers? And I think they’re to do with temperament and personality.

And in One Day, there’s a mixture of plot driven obstacles, like letters that don’t get sent and phone calls that don’t get answered and a single stupid remark that pushes them away from each other for a period of time and being with someone else….
Those things are fun to plot, but the main obstacles are to do with their growing up. There’s a period of time where Emma is just much too self-involved and lacking in self-confidence and much too depressed, I think, for it to be the right time with Dexter. I know definitely a long period of time where Dexter is just too immature and just too self-involved and too foolish, really, to be the right match for Emma.

David Nicholls

And that seemed to me to tally with real life, with the observation of the relationships between my friends, that often the process of getting together was incredibly protracted, incredibly complex, incredibly complicated because it wasn’t quite the right time. And I think maybe that’s the great modern obstacle, that we all take a lot longer to settle into a relationship and to settle into thinking that it’s the right time.

This post was written as a result of an interview set up at the behest of Big Honcho Media

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