Notes from a Drama Queen

Audio books

Monday, February 06, 2012

God, so I love audio books. I love them with a fierce passion, and it's probably easy enough to understand. I assume everyone who reads this is either a reader or a writer and a reader. We all started out loving books. Nancy Drew, horse books, ballet books, Cherry Ames, our grandmother's Harlequins. It doesn't matter what, we loved them.

I had a pretty awful childhood, with an alcoholic father and a raging mother, and books kept me alive. I would go in my room and read, anything and everything, usually with a box of oatmeal cookies under my bed to nibble on. The YA room at the Princeton Public Library (not the new one, the old one in a house from the 1700s) was my save haven. It's really hard to communicate just how much I loved it there, loved those books.
It continued, of course. I read MISTRESS OF MELLYN by Victoria Holt when it first came out, and my life was changed. I became a writer then, whether I knew it or not. In fact, a writer of gothics, which I am to this day, no matter what form the books take. Look hard enough and you'll see gothic elements.
I gave up my day job when I was 23, moved to Vermont to write gothics, mainly because there weren't enough to read. Nowadays business-savvy writers know that means the market is drying up, but that was in the old days, and I spent that first winter alone in my family's vacation house in Vermont and wrote my first book. And sold it. All the while reading everything I can, ordering books from the back pages of books that I loved (people actually used to do that). I got pretty desperate, living in such isolation.
But the more I wrote, the harder it became to read. I worked so hard at my craft that I became increasingly impatient with the occasional clumsy phrase or mixed point of view. It got to the point where there were only a few writers I could read, like Loretta Chase and Laura Kinsale, and I lost what had enriched me and sustained me for most of my life.

A couple of my old Harlequins came out as abridged audio books, and I listened to one and shuddered. I tried a later one, and while not quite as bad, it still was a far cry from enchanting. I'm not sure what turned me around. First, some of the ICE books, which were my absolute favorite, came out on MP3 and I could listen on my iPod. And then I saw my favorite Georgette Heyer mystery, BEHOLD HERE'S POISON, was available on iTunes. I downloaded that, and became obsessed.

Because listening to books makes me able to turn off the overly critical mind, the competitive mind, the jealous mind, and simply enjoy. I listened to favorite books, and then started branching out into books I hadn't read in print first. Right now I have 465 audio books in my Audible account, and probably another 25 I downloaded from CDs. I'm hooked. But more importantly, I got the joy of reading back. I glom audio books the way most people glom paperbacks, and a huge, gaping hole in my life is filled again.

Some people hate to listen to books -- Jenny Crusie can't stand to be read to. Some haven't tried it. For others, holding onto the book is important (they also don't like e-readers for the same reason). But for me, my iPod is now my best friend (and I keep buying more iPods to fill them with audio books).
This all is in honor of ON THIN ICE, which was an Amazon exclusive (meaning you couldn't buy a physical book of it, though we're working on that). It's been recorded by the divine Xe Sands, who did a brilliant job on the previous ICE book, FIRE AND ICE, and it comes out today at Audible and on Amazon, among other places. And I can't wait. The book was a labor of love, and having an audio version of it was the best reward.

Go listen to a sample, either of this, or of one of your favorite books available on audio ( has them). And see if you might not get hooked too.


Blogger Carla Swafford said...

I have mixed feelings about audio. I like it somewhat, but hearing the guy with a deep woman's voice or a woman in a guy's whiny tone...well, it bothers me. I wish they could do audio books like radio in the old days (the right sex for the right voice). I'm not old enough to have heard them first hand but through tapes.

11:51 PM  
Blogger mrsreddawg said...

I just love the feel and weight of a book in my hand! I hope that On Thin Ice will be released as a book instead of just on the Kindle. I love the Ice series.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Poppy Fields said...

I adore audio books as well. I listen on my commute to and from work. If it is a good book I look forward to going to work just for my quiet story time. I stumbled across "Ruthless" during a recent audibles sale and absolutely LOVED it. I am already almost finished with "Reckless" two days later. I get a lot of funny looks when I talk about my addiction to audio books so I am glad to hear you have the same affliction. People think it is strange to be read to but isn't that how most of us started our love of books in the first place, being read to as children!

2:04 AM  

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