Please help me welcome Stephen Zimmer to Lisa’s World of Books today. As most of you know the month of June is Audio book month. So I requested a guest blog about just that audio books. Please be sure to leave Mr. Zimmer some questions or comments below!
As I Consider My First Step Into Audio Books
By Stephen Zimmer
I remember the exact moment that I experienced the potential of audio books. It was in the 1990’s, when I first heard Stephen King’s The Mist rendered on audio. Closing my eyes, I was immersed into the short story that I already loved, with its beleaguered cast of characters shrouded in mist filled with all manner of nasty threats.
Since then, I have been exposed to a number of various audio books, some that were compelling, and others that ran the risk of causing me to lose interest in the book itself. Now, I find myself in an interesting position as an author with six novels and several stories in publication, none of which has been given an audio treatment as of yet.
I have many readers that have asked me for audio versions of my work. Some, like a good friend of mine named Daniel (who will soon be a force to behold in the world of movie review blogging!), are rather insistent about me having audio versions, because this is one of the main ways that they experience novels. I know he won’t let me rest until I develop some audio books, so I suppose I will have to do so at some point just to lower his stress level!
All humor aside, I do understand the great functionality of audio books for people with certain types of lifestyles. Daniel works a job where he is driving often for longer periods of time, and when he gets back at the end of the day, he is simply too tired to enjoying reading. An audio book is perfect for him, in that he can enjoy them each and every day. There are many people for whom the audio book format is ideal, including those that exercise for extended periods like runners, and those with visual impairments. Then, there are many who just prefer the audio book format.
While I would like to dive headfirst into the world of audio books, the issue is not as easy as it seems for an author in my position. In addition to being an author, I am also a filmmaker, and as such I have a huge appreciation for different kinds of media, and the world of audio in particular. There is a part of me that would love to see my novels and short stories given an audio treatment, just as much as I would love the worlds that my novels are set in become fertile ground for new films, video games, collectible card games, and other spheres of the entertainment world. However, there is another part of me that holds back, because I want to be sure that when my work is given an audio treatment, it is done well.
I have been engaged equally by both complex and minimalist audio book productions. A simple approach with a competent narrator can be just as satisfying as a full-blown theatrical approach, with multiple cast members, music, sound effects, and more.
To be honest, I am perhaps a lot more cautious about the more complex presentations than I am about the simplistic ones. One of the things that I love about the author and reader relationship is the absence of filters. The words themselves are all that there is for the connection between an author and reader, which results in the reader’s imagination fully realizing the story on all levels.
I firmly believe this is one of the main hurdles when it comes to the regular dissatisfaction experienced by readers when viewing an adaptation to film of a particular novel they enjoyed. The reader has already generated their own conceptions of everything about a story, and when that does not meet up with the visual generated by the production team and actors, the effect can be jarring, especially when the film misses the reader’s vision by a wide margin.
This is perhaps the prime aspect I am cautious about when it comes to doing an audio version of one of my projects. A less than ideal narrator alone can burden the reader/listener’s perception of the story, and this only compounds when you start to introduce full casts, sound effects, and everything else in a more complex production. Just as mediocre acting can tarnish a film that has a good screenplay, so can bad performances hurt the listener’s experience of the words of a great author, and I’ve heard some pretty rough ones done for New York Times best-sellers. Being a small press author, I definitely don’t need any more obstacles to deal with in trying to connect with new readers, as the path is hard enough as it is.
There are simply many more variables and filters to be concerned about with a full production, and I would not want to even attempt to do one of my books in this fashion unless I had great confidence in the team involved in producing it. However, when it is done well, I think the effect can be magical, just like it was for me when listening to The Mist so many years ago. The possibilities are quite tempting!
For me, though, it is much more likely that I will come across a good narrator, even with limited resources at hand, and go the simpler route. I am actively looking for the chance to at least have some of my short stories turned into audio versions, as I do understand my 700+ page novels would be quite an undertaking for a narrator. I think the short stories would be a better conduit to ease me into the process and also a better medium to insure a quality end product, as they would not require as much resource as a full-length novel to secure the involvement of a good narrator.
Audio books are most certainly an important, engaging part of the publishing landscape, and they are a sector of it that I intend to become a part of in the very near future. I know for a fact that my friend Daniel will be very happy to hear this, but then again, upon finding this out, he will likely harass me relentlessly, to hurry up and get aboard the world of audio books! I have a feeling I will be very pleased when I finally am!
pirit of Fire is the third title in the Fires in Eden Series, following Crown of Vengeance and Dream of Legends. Also associated with the epic fantasy series is a growing collection of short stories, the Chronicles of Ave, that have been released on eBook and are part of the Seventh Star Singles catalog.
In Spirit of Fire, a maelstrom of war engulfs lands resisting the designs of the Unifier to bring about a new order, of a kind that has never existed within Ave. Battered by a massive invasion force from Gallea, the tribal people of the Five Realms and their Midragardan allies are being driven eastward, towards the sea, while the Saxan lines are wearing down ever thinner on the Plains of Athelney.
Time is running out quickly, as an ancient creature of legend soars through the skies with a brave young Saxan. They carry the desperate hopes of two realms sorely beset by a voracious enemy.
Diabolic entities conduct a great hunt, as a malignant darkness deepens across all of Ave. Exiles from another world must gain refuge, or find themselves ensnared by the long reach of the Unifier. The very nature of creation itself stands in the balance.
It is a time when the honor and fortitude of many are put to the test, and terrible prices are paid for resisting great evils. It is also a time of awakening for many, old and young alike, some of whom may yet discover the spirit of fire that lies within.
The third installment in the Fires in Eden series, Spirit of Fire is richly imagined epic fantasy with a diverse ensemble of characters that offers a new world to explore for readers who enjoy large-scale tales along the likes of George R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, Steven Erikson, and J.R.R. Tolkien.