Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Spoken Word in Fiction

As an author, I have had a number of my novels turned into what I call "audio movies." That is, they have all the characteristics of a movie, only you use your mind's eye to depict what the narrator reads.

My latest novels to audio include KILLER IN THE WOODS, DEAD IN THE ROSE CITY, and GHOST GIRL IN SHADOW BAY. It is the closest I have come, thus far, to having my books adapted to the silver or small screen. Hopefully, it is a step in the right direction in that regard.

But what I really want to talk about are other great audio novels out there. Before I became a novelist, I was a big fan of audio fiction. I remain one and am always looking for great audio novels to listen to while traveling or even during a meal at home with my wife, also a huge fan of great audio books.

There appears to be a resurgence in the popularity of audio books with digital downloads, CDs, iPads, etc. As a result, there are any number of means to listen to your favorite authors and more authors available in audio format in recent times.

As with books adapted to screenplay and then produced, the quality of the audio book depends largely on the actor/narrator/producer. Even if the novel is unabridged, which is often the case these days, or spoken word for word from a great novel in eBook or print, if the narrator seems to be sleepwalking through it or reading as if an article from the newspaper, most listeners will be able to tell and could mean the difference in listening to the entire book or not.

Fortunately, most audio novels I have listened to of late have been well written and well read, making all the more enjoyable. A few that come to mind are KILL ME IF YOU CAN by James Patterson, THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett (haven't seen the movie version yet, but plan to), THE ROSE GARDEN by Susanna Kearsley, and THE NIGHT STRANGERS by Chris Bohjalian.

Have you read any good audio books lately?

What are your favorites?


Charles Gramlich said...

Only after I got my kindle, which had print to voice software did I ever listen to an audio book. I did it for my long commutte and liked it, but I don't think it'll ever become a common practice with me. I know lots of readers who are embracing it though.

Lynn Emery said...

I've only listened to a couple of audio books, somehow I was too easily distracted. But once I adjusted I enjoyed it. It's been quite a while. Your post has made me think maybe I need to load up my little MP3 player with a good book! Or two, or three...

Dayton Ward said...

Count me as another fan of audiobooks, audio drama, radio drama, and so on. I love them for long drives, and even when I used to commute to and from work. So far as my mp3 player goes, audio books and other spoken word offerings outnumber my music selection by a substantial margin.

So far, I've only had one of my stories adapted for audio, and I've recently written an installment for an ongoing podcast audio drama series. I'm hoping to expand into this arena.

Liane Spicer said...

I've never listened to a full length book but I've listened to prize-winning short stories from the Commonwealth Foundation.

I'm thinking of buying a few audio books now because my daily commute has gone from ten to fifteen minutes each way to three to four hours overall while trapped in the kind of traffic that drives me insane. Focusing on a book playing in my ear might be just what the doctor ordered.