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June 20, 2013

Pamela Clare on the Pleasure of Audiobooks

Posted by tom

Pamela Clare is known for delivering what readers want. She also seems to have a knack for knowing what listeners want, too. Here, she talks about the wonderful nuances a good narrator can draw out of a story, the surprising pleasure of listening to her own books, and the soothing magic of the Harry Potter audiobook. Pamela began her writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter, and eventually became the first female editor-in-chief of two different newspapers. A single mother with two college-aged sons, she writes historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense. Her latest book, SKIN DEEP, released in January.

Question: What does a great narrator add to an audiobook?

Pamela Clare: A great narrator brings the story to life in a fresh and exciting way. Rather than words on the page, you have tone of voice, which adds personality and emphasis to key elements of each character. Certain nuances of the story gain expression in a way they don’t have on the printed page. The story feels more immediate, more intimate, more intense. It’s possible for a great narrator to turn an okay story into a fantastic story and a fantastic story into an unforgettable experience for the reader.

Q: What types of books do you like to listen to on audio?

PC: I started listening to audiobooks when the first Harry Potter book came out on tape. It was a way of keeping my kids from fighting on long commutes. Then I started listening to romance and other kinds of fiction on audiobook. I have titles by Nora Roberts, JRR Tolkien, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and others in my audiobook library.

Q: What do you do while you listen?

PC: Most of my listening time is spent driving, but I also listen when I’m making dinner or cleaning house. It’s a way of making chores go faster and keeping my mind occupied. I have found myself wanting to keep on driving even after I reach my destination just to keep listening to a story.

Q: What is the first audiobook you ever listened to? What prompted you to choose that title and to listen vs. read it?

PC: I had to make a long road trip --- six hours --- with two boys under the age of 10 in the back seat. I knew my kids would spend half of that trip fighting if I didn’t do something. The first Harry Potter book was just starting to create a buzz in the U.S., so I went to a bookstore and asked if they had that book in audiobook format. I bought the audiobook, which consisted of 11 cassette tapes, and it was the quietest most amazing trip I’d ever taken with my kids. We were all mesmerized.

Q: If you are listening to any audiobooks now, tell us about it.

PC: Right now, I’m actually listening to one of my own books, SKIN DEEP. It just came out and involves two very scarred people --- a badly burned former Marine special operator and a woman whose past is extremely traumatic. The two of them meet, see beyond the other’s scars, and fall in love. I always listen to my own books when they’re released because the narrator, Kaleo Griffith, does such an amazing job of bringing out the nuance of the stories, as well as special character moments that perhaps even I didn’t realize were there. It’s a really special experience to listen to them.

Q: What is your all-time favorite audiobook and why?

PC: I'll leave my own out of this...I’d say it's a toss-up between Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS, the first Harry Potter novel, and Nora Roberts’ CAROLINA MOON. I listen to A CHRISTMAS CAROL every holiday season, and I just love the powerful message behind the story. Dickens was a master. I love Tolkien. He and Dickens will have to fight each other to determine which of them is my favorite author. LORD OF THE RINGS is a masterpiece. I never get tired of listening to it. The prose, the adventure, the deeper meanings. It’s one of the best audiobooks out there. The first Harry Potter audiobook just brings to life that first experience of listening to an audiobook. Plus, Jim Dale does magic with the voices. Nora Roberts’ CAROLINA MOON was the first romance I bought for audiobook, and I love the story. The narration is superb.

Q: Do you have a favorite narrator? Tell us what makes his/her work so enjoyable for you.

PC: Yes, I do. I have two favorites. The first is Kaleo Griffith, who has brought my books to life with a singular dedication and amazing skill. My readers have been converted to listeners and they love his work as much as I do. The second is Jim Dale. When I was still working as a journalist, I interviewed him about the Harry Potter audiobooks. I think the third book had just come out. And he was a sweetheart. When he heard I had two little boys who loved the series, he did voices for me so that I could record him. I have a tape with Jim Dale speaking as Hagrid to my older son and Dobby to my younger son.

Q: Have you ever narrated your own audiobooks? If so, tell us about your experience.

PC: No! God forbid! I don’t even like to do readings. I will leave that to the professionals and focus on the writing instead.