IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!
Building a Career in Fantasy with Author Michelle Madow
What did you take away from this discussion? Tell me in the comments!!
After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
What’s it like living in Iceland?
It’s great living in Iceland! Except for the weather of course. It´s a rather big volcanic and geographically new Island with very few people on it. The whole Icelandic nation is only 330 thousand people. But we host over a million tourists each year so it is lively and fun. Every town in Iceland is close to nature so outdoorsy people love it there. I don’t consider myself outdoorsy but I still enjoy the occasional walk out in nature. We have a rather strong welfare system in line with the other Nordic countries and a mixed economy so people have a good living standard and are generally healthy with a long life expectancy. That’s why it seems odd that Nordic writers write so much crime fiction as the Nordic countries have a very low crime rate and Iceland especially so.
Can you share some pictures with us?
Is your creative process as an author and playwright different?
Yes and no. For me it always starts out with the characters. A character starts living in my head and then I have to imagine a setting for her or him and their drive and there I have the plot. This is the initial process whether I am writing a play or novel. But then when the writing process really starts the novel is easier to write because it gives more freedom, but the play has to reveal everything through the dialogue. With a novel you’re on your own right to the end, but when writing a play the final goal is production where you’ll work with a theatre group to help with polishing.
What was your response when your play Big Babies won play of the year?
I was very happy of course! It was great and I was grateful for the recognition. In hindsight a big red-carpet moment like this seems unreal but I have such warm memories of the theatre company that produced the play that they will live inside my heart forever. A written stageplay is one thing but it’s the theatre artists that make it alive.
Why did you choose Noir to tell your story?
The Noir genre has a strong element of storytelling so that is why it is so good for me, because I see myself as a storyteller. I believe that with crime-fiction or Noir the reader has very specific expectations and the success of a story depends largely on how the writer fulfills those expectations. The reader expects to be entertained, to experience tension or a thrill and to be told a story.
How did you get into crime writing?
In part it was a coincidence. I have always loved writing and liked crime-fiction, but then one day I saw an ad from an Icelandic publisher for a competition called: “the New Dan Brown”. So that was it. My fate was sealed. Since I have written five published novels and my writing career has really taken off.
Who is Sonia?
Sonia is a young attractive mother that experiences a collapse of her whole world when her husband walks in on her in bed with another woman. The divorce that follows and the custody battle, all taking place in the same dramatic months as the Icelandic financial crash result in her being in a desperate situation. In her desperation she resorts to smuggling drugs and thereby she has entered a world of drugs and crime that she wouldn’t have expected herself to be in just a few months before.
Does your story bear a theme for struggling single mothers?
Well, I don’t know. The theme I started out with was an exploration of what people do when they feel cornered. When ordinary people find them selves in extraordinary situations they can do things they would never have imagined themselves doing. Sonia, the single mother in the story is one of those people and she does everything she can to regain custody of her son.
What is Sonia a victim of?
First and foremost she is a victim of herself. Snare is the first of the Reykjavík Noir Trilogy and in the coming two books she will come to terms with her own part in creating her fate. But the drug business is international, and even in a small country like Iceland it has quite an impact. The people who have ensnared Sonia are not the nicest types. With all the violence, threats and coercion Sonia feels like a victim. At first.
What role does the financial crisis play in the series?
It’s the backdrop to the whole story. I’m interested in those moments in history when there’s huge changes to society. For Iceland the financial crash had devastating consequences. Many people lost their homes and all their savings and had to start anew. There was a lot of anger and desperation; and in Snare we see characters that are struggling with the consequences of this, although it’s in a very different way for each one of them.
What’s next for you after the Reykjavik trilogy?
I am currently starting on writing a new series that leans more into the political thriller. I hope it will do as good as the Reykjavík Noir Trilogy.
Author: Michelle Madow
Narrator: Andrea Emmes
Length: 12 hours 57 minutes (Box set)
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing⎮2017
Genre: Clean Romance
Series: The Transcend Time Saga, Books 1-2
Release date: Aug. 25, 2017
Synopsis: Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England… but she doesn’t realize it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return.
The series began with Remembrance, was followed by the short story Vengeance, and concluded with Timeless. The series has sold a significant number of copies, and has received much praise from reviewers. Read all three parts together in this special box
How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
A lot depends on the character. Who they are? What they are about? I have about 20 “go to” character voices that I’ve use. Kind of a character rolodex if you will that I cast from. For instance, if I have an antagonist that’s a young male, then I’ll cast him as “Blake”; lower, slightly scratchy voice. The Main Character is usually always my voice but again, that might change depending on the book. Perfect example is this series. For Lizzie, the main character in the Transcend Time Saga Series, I didn’t use my natural voice, but a softer, slightly higher pitched voice because of her nature and qualities and then used my natural voice for Chelsea because if just felt right. Especially in Vengeance, the novella that is after Remembrance and before Timeless. Also, if the author gives me notes in the character sheet like, “Sara should sound like Reese Witherspoon” then I’ll work on that. I won’t do a mimic/impersonation of Reese, but I’ll try to capture her qualities, accents, speaking pace and incorporate that into the character voice.
What types of things are harmful to your voice?
Yelling and whispering are really bad for your voice as is speaking too low and gravelly. It’s important when your doing anything with your voice that you understand how to maintain it and hydrate it. Learning how to breath correctly and choose voices that you can sustain over a long period of time.
Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
Absolutely. There have been many characters that I just clicked with for different reasons. Lizzie in “Transcend Time Saga”, Ivy in “Love Nouveau”, Farris in the “Geek Girl Mystery Series”, Jo from “Little Women”, and more. Though I might not identify with everything they are going through, there are many things from each character that I can pull from my own experience and dive deep into who they are.
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
I’d be so nervous of messing anything up and creating a Time Paradox or whatever Doc. Brown said in Back to the future, that I’d worry I’d change the future. If I had to choose though, I’d probably like to go to Regency Era England during the Jane Austen times. Not because I like how women were treated back then, which was horrendous, but I’d love to dress up in those beautiful dresses and dance in one of their fancy balls!
Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?
I actually don’t have a particular author in mind. But my dream author would be someone who is a strong storyteller who has emotionally rich characters and an engaging story. I’d love to latch on to a series that is as powerful as Harry Potter, Twilight, Mortal Instruments, Dresden Files, etc. It’s so fun to keep growing with your favorite characters.
Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
Um…I tend to burp a lot in the booth! I’m taking in so much air as I narrate that sometimes a really amazing burb just comes out…at the wrong time. Like during an emotional scene and just as I’m getting to the good bits, BUUUURRRRRPPPPP! LOL, then I have to start that section over!
When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
Well, I kind of fell into audiobooks in 2014 and haven’t looked back since. I’ve been a professional performer (actor/singer/dancer/VO) for over 20 years but in 2006 I got hurt in a stunt show and had to retire due to a disabling pain disorder called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy aka CRPS. I’ve always been an avid reader and during my recovery I read about 8-12 books a week. I went back to college and got a degree in Game Art and Design and was a game designer for Disney Interactive for a couple of years After the layoffs, I had to figure out what I should do next as I can no longer dance, etc. anymore and my husband suggested I look into audiobooks. He’s brilliant and I researched it, set up my equipment, studied with coaches and have enjoyed every minute of it!!
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
That is a great question, but narration can be tedious. Especially because you have to learn a ton of tech and engineering besides just speaking into the mic. It’s important to take lots of small breaks. Especially because it’s not good to be sitting or standing for too long. Because of my disability, I have to narrate sitting down, so it’s important for me to stretch or lay down every once in a while. Also, it can be hard to maintain your enthusiasm because, yes, I have a wicked cool job that I LOVE, but sometimes it’s hard to get into the emotions of the book. But I remind myself that I’m so blessed to do what I do; to have authors and publishers who believe and trust in me to bring their book to life and I don’t take that honor lightly. If I’m struggling or just not feeling it, I’ll step away, play some video games or watch TV or go for a walk and then come back fresh and get back to work!! As long as I hit my deadline, my daily schedule is flexible.
What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
Well first, I LOVE Michelle Madow’s work. That was a definite first draw for me as I’ve been a fan of hers for a while and have read some of her books already. What I love about the Transcend Time Saga Series is not just some fun characters and the love story, but I was intrigued by the time travel aspect of it and I’m a huge Jane Austen and Regency Era fan so to be able to be a part of that world and bring those scenarios and characters to life was really fun and fulfilling. I also love anything that has a mystical, supernatural or paranormal slant to it and I loved how Michelle merged the normalcy of teenage issues – boys, relationships, school – and beautifully worked in this fun mythos of time travel and reincarnation.
How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
Before I being recording the book, I like to work very close with the authors if they are available. After I read the book, I’ll send any questions I might have to the author if I need clarification and then I’ll also ask them to provide me with a character sheet that describes all of the characters that are most important to them so I can get an idea of what they were thinking about for them. Their quirks, age, vocal preferences, etc. However, since my job as the narrator is to be the producer and director, after the first fifteen minutes has been approved, I will not take acting or directing notes. So it’s important for me to make sure that I have as much as I can beforehand and hopefully leave a lasting impression with the author that their book, their “baby” is in good hands and that I will give it the best that I have to make sure the audiobook, which is now “our baby” is excite the listeners.
Who are your “accent inspirations”?
When I’m going to be doing accents, I don’t really have a person I’m inspired by. I just try to do as much research as I can to get the accent correct. If it’s RP British in the Regency Era, then I’ll watch a lot of Jane Austen or Downton Abbey. It’s it needs to be really Cockney like someone from Essex, then I’ll find shows like “The Only Way is Essex”. I’ve looked a lot on YouTube, but I also work with some amazing coaches to help me get the accent just right. (PJ Ochlan and Joel Froomkin are amazing!)
Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album, “I’m On My Way”.
Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California.
Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.
Synopsis: Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England… but she doesn’t realize it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return. The series began with Remembrance, was followed by the short story Vengeance, and concluded with Timeless. The series has sold a significant number of copies, and has received much praise from reviewers. Read all three parts together in this special box set!
Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album,”I’m On My Way”. Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California. Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.
A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
I, too, have a background in theatre and though I think that it was 100% helpful for me in bringing those acting techniques to my narration, it’s not a MUST. But it does help. Audiobook Narration is an acting job. You are cast to not only bring the book to life audibly, but you must vocally and emotionally embody each character, the tone of the book and entertain at the same time. It’s no easy feat. So for those who don’t have any acting background and want to be a narrator, it can be learned with really great coaching. I know many successful narrators who didn’t come from the acting world but put in so much work to be the best at what they do.
What type of training have you undergone?
I’ve been studied the art of acting and performing for more than half my life. I’ve taken singing lessons to not only bring a higher quality to my singing voice, but to help with breath control, mic techinques and vocal upkeep. I’ve studied with the best of the best for voice over work for commercials, animation, video games and of course audiobooks. What’s interesting is that the technique for voice over (commercial/animation/videogames) is different for audiobooks. There is a different approach you need to take with NonFiction (which is still acting) and with Fiction. How you approach different character voices but not be over the top cartoony, keeping the narration genuine and engaging to keep the listener immersed. Sometimes, I enjoy the training just as much as the actual narration.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I AM! I love them. I’ve always loved story time as a child and in a way, it brings me back to when my parents would read to me. Audiobooks allow you to dive into the world of a good book and amazing characters, hear them come to life with the different voices, etc. and just let your imagination soar. When I’m listening, I can see the world that the narrator is describing. Also, it’s great to keep me entertained while I’m driving, cleaning or going for a walk. I’m a book addict and a total audiophile!
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
Hmm. I think my favorite parts of narrating is when I first read the book, make all of my notes and really work on the characters. I also really love emotional stories, where the characters are going through a hard time, some kind of trauma, or whatever and I can dive into what they are feeling. It can be hard emotionally on me as sometimes I’ve had to stop recording because I have to ugly cry for a moment, but it’s so fulfilling to actualize these moments in a hopefully genuine manner that will touch the listener. The best feeling is when the book is complete and gets approved ☺.
My least favorite part of narration would be if I have to edit/master my own book. That is a very tedious process and whenever I can afford to hire a professional engineer I jump at the chance. (plus, they do a way better job than I do so they are worth every penny!)
What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
Wow. That’s a hard question. I think for me, really getting into the mindset of a character, especially an angst-y young adult character and bringing them to life in a believable way is something I feel confident with.
A special thank you to Jess from Audiobookworm Promotions for organizing this blog tour and providing a complimentary copy for review purposes. It was a blast.
Michelle Madow is a USA Today bestselling author of fast paced fantasy novels that will leave you turning the pages wanting more! She grew up in Maryland and now lives in Florida. Some of her favorite things are: reading, traveling, pizza, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.
Mary Angela is the author of the Professor Prather academic mystery series, which has been called “enjoyable” and “clever” by Publishers Weekly. She is also an educator and has taught English and humanities at South Dakota’s public and private universities for over ten years. When Mary isn’t writing or teaching, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. For more information about Mary or the series, go to MaryAngelaBooks.com.
Start with an unlucky number. Throw in a romantic location. Include a dashing Frenchman and an uncompromising professor. And you have all the ingredients for a passport to murder.
This semester, it seems that Professor Prather’s dreams are about to come true. Ever since she was a young girl, she’s imagined going to France, and her French colleague, André Duman, has finally made that trip possible. Over spring break, she and André are to lead a group of students and faculty to Paris to explore the City of Light. But before she can utter her first bonjour, a professor dies, and they are stuck in Minneapolis. She returns to Copper Bluff with an unstamped passport and a mystery to solve.
When André becomes the prime suspect, Emmeline puts her research skills to good use, determined to find out who really killed the professor and spoiled their spring break plans. With thirteen travelers assembled, the possibilities are varied and villainous. Luckily, her dear friend and sidekick, Lenny Jenkins, is close by. Together, they will sort through the conflicting clues even if it costs them time, trouble, or tenure.
I knew I wanted to set my series in a small college town in South Dakota, so I imagined a young professor relocating to the area. The landscape had to be a draw for my protagonist because the pay is definitely not. I like that she’s an outsider looking in. It heightens her awareness of the region.
I like that an amateur sleuth is not paid to solve crimes. It’s not her job, so she doesn’t have any police experience to help her. The amateur sleuth allows me, as a reader and a writer, to become intimately involved. I like to imagine what I would do in the same circumstances.
She is an excellent researcher, which helps her dig up information. She also has a degree in French literature, so she’s great at analyzing stories. Combined, these characteristics make her a tough sleuth to beat!
Em is so much fun, and I do think of her as Em as I’m writing. I enjoy writing her because she can be incredibly passionate when it comes to education, students, and crimes. Sometimes I get a chuckle out of her antics.
There is a strong dynamic between Em and Lenny; they balance each other nicely. Em can take herself too seriously, and Lenny—doesn’t. They both challenge each other to see the world from another viewpoint, which is incredibly advantageous for crime fighting.
Moving a group of thirteen characters was hard. I had to talk to the airport police in Minnesota and South Dakota. I also had to read about police procedures and what can and can’t be done when police investigate a suspicious death.
I learned that the FBI has jurisdiction involving any crime committed in the air. I thought that was pretty interesting! I also learned that a plane can’t land on a full tank of gas.
Yes, it is challenging, but that’s exactly what I like about the mystery genre. It works both sides of my brain. I spend lots of time making my characters and settings interesting, but I also spend an ample amount of time creating a clever and believable plot. All loose ends have to be tied up by the end of the novel. It takes great attention to detail.
No, I don’t, but I do create a timeline and plot some events before writing them.
That’s a tough one! I think I would. I might try to reveal the murderer in a less obvious way, but if I thought I could solve the crime, I would have to try, especially if it benefited my campus or friend.
Yes, I have been to France and loved my time there. I would like to go back and spend the summer in a little French village. That’s my hobby: looking at vacation rentals in wine country. Maybe some day!
I’m writing book three in the series, A Very Merry Murder. It’s a holiday mystery, so I’ve been spending most of my days dreaming about baking sugar cookies and eating fudge. Not a good omen for the impending holidays!
Hello all, today we have with us Sharon Scottish crime fiction blogger discussing the Huntress/FBI series by Alexandra Sokoloff. I saw Sharon’s recent review of Cold Moon book #3 of the series and couldn’t resist asking questions! Check out her excellent review here: #BookReview #ColdMoon @AlexSokoloff
ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF is the Thriller Award-winning and Bram Stoker, Anthony, and Black Quill Award-nominated author of the Amazon bestselling Huntress/FBI series (HUNTRESS MOON, BLOOD MOON, COLD MOON, BITTER MOON, HUNGER MOON – now in active development as a TV series), and the supernatural HAUNTED thrillers (THE HARROWING, THE PRICE, THE UNSEEN, BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE SHIFTERS, THE SPACE BETWEEN). The New York Times Book Review called her a “daughter of Mary Shelley,” and her books “Some of the most original and freshly unnerving work in the genre.”
What was your first impression when you began to read this series?
I always think that starting a new series is like walking into a party where you don’t know anybody. You kind of hover around the edges, observe your surroundings and watch the interactions between the other guests, working out who you might get on with and who is best to avoid. So when I started this series I spent some time trying to get to know who was who but very quickly the characters and the plot engaged me and #Boom I was hooked.
What do you appreciate about the protagonist?
I guess there are two protagonists in this series, Special Agent Roarke and Cara Lindstrom and both bring something very different to the novels. They are both on the side of justice and the dilemma is for Roarke in fulfilling his professional quest for justice versus his understanding of Cara’s quest. Both characters were utterly compelling for me.
Name a few unique things you’ve noticed. What sticks out that you haven’t seen in other books?
This was the first time I’ve ever read a novel where both the law enforcer and the hunted evoke such very strong and similar emotions in me. It is also the first novel I’ve read featuring a female serial killer and most of all for me is the voice that the author brings to the victims of trafficking, prostitution and modern-day slavery that stands out. There is a message behind the novel, a drive and a passion to challenge what is a current issue, it’s a representation and dialogue that stands up and sticks up its middle finger to the idea that we should just sweep this under the carpet. It is a very current issue and this series gives a fictional justice, if you like, to those who have been wronged.
Do you have any favourite scenes?
Too many to mention and don’t want to give away any spoilers! However, I LOVE all the scenes where Cara is getting her revenge on those lowlife bad guys!
Which book is your favourite of the series?
To date, I’ve only read the first three (will be devouring the last two later this month!) and I’d say Blood Moon was my favourite (actually all three are my favourite and you are bad making me pick just one!)
Which characters did you like most?
Easy, no contest, Matthew Roarke and Cara Lindstrom
If you could ask special agent Matthew Roarke a question what would you ask?
If you are forced to choose, will you retain your role in law enforcement or would you give it all up for Cara?
If you could ask Cara Lindstrom a question what would you say?
Are your actions destiny or fate and what would bring peace to your soul?
If you could ask the author a question what would you say?
Did you set out to give such a powerful message against trafficking and prostitution or did this just evolve as you wrote?
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Sharon Loves Books: books are my bag
Freelance writer, blogger, novelist
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