June is Audiobook Month, and to celebrate, we’re kicking off a month-long blog series with pieces from authors who are avid fans of audiobooks. First up is Janis Ian, author of the top-selling autobiography SOCIETY’S CHILD; the audiobook version won the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. She’s also a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, singer and musician, so she has a good ear for what makes a great audiobook (hint: anything read by Katy Kellgren has a huge head start).
Question: What does a great narrator add to an audiobook?
Janis Ian: Enthusiasm and clarity. To my mind, the difference between a great narrator like Katy Kellgren and a poor narrator is the amount of preparation she puts into it. That stems from enthusiasm and leads to clarity.
Q: What types of books do you like to listen to on audio?
JI: My own...<grin>
Q: What do you do while you listen?
JI: Drive, usually. Or be driven.
JI: I’m not sure if this counts, but I had a record of Dylan Thomas reading his own poetry when I was pretty young --- early teens, maybe circa 1965 or 1966? I was in love with “In My Craft or Sullen Art” and wanted to hear him say it.
Q: If you are listening to any audiobooks now, tell us about it.
JI: Right now I’m too busy prepping the audiobooks I’m going to be reading in June to listen to anything!
Q: What is your all-time favorite audiobook and why?
JI: L.A. Meyer’s historical novel BLOODY JACK, read by Katy Kellgren. Just because it’s stunningly original, and I loved the book from the first, long before the audio. Her accents are amazing.
Q: Do you have a favorite narrator? Tell us what makes his/her work so enjoyable for you.
JI: I sound like I only know one narrator. Katy Kellgren is my favorite. BUT I have to say that I love listening to Dylan Thomas, T. S. Eliot and e. e. cummings.
Q: Have you ever narrated your own audiobooks? If so, tell us about your experience.
JI: Yes, and it was amazing. So very different from recording a record. Totally different preparation requirements. And a brand new experience, so very, very exciting. It is still very, very exciting, I will admit!