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BLACKOUT Audio Book Recording Session:

Week One
I had one of the most thrilling experiences of my writing life a few weeks ago. I went to New York to sit in on a session for my first audio book, BLACKOUT. Having a book on tape has been a dream of mine from the beginning of my career. I've listened to books on tape while I made dinner and did the laundry, on road trips, and while knitting. I LOVE audio books. Especially the ones from Recorded Books, because they consistently have the best readers. I was over the moon when I learned RB had optioned BLACKOUT for recording. Being the little groupie that I am, I hightailed it to NY to see what recording a book is like. In a word (well, two)—way cool.

Production Head Claudia Howard and I in front of the Recorded Books session board. All recording sessions are listed by hour. Most narrators can read for an hour; some can do a two-hour session. More than two hours at a stretch is unusual--reading is hard on the voice!        All books currently in production are listed according to what stage they are in--narration, editing, proofing etc.
RECORDED BOOKS was started by a traveling salesman who didn't like listening to the radio but loved to read. He had this idea to record books so he could listen to them while on the road. Most people would have gone to a community theatre or local college for readers, but he put an ad for narrators backstage at Washington, DC's Arena Stage—one of the country's premier regional theaters. These classically-trained actors were the first to record books for the company, and it has stuck with theater actors ever since. My opinion? That's what makes these books so special—wonderfully trained voices.

Week Two
THE OFFICES are in a neat part of Manhattan—just off Union Square. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café is a stone’s throw away. The office sits above Strand Books, one of the all-time great used bookstores on the planet. Couldn’t get more propitious than that. The RB interior is a mix of blond woods, and steel and brick, with a great view of the city. The lobby is very open and airy then narrows into the studio corridors, where steel door after steel door leads into individual recording studios.
David Gassaway        Recorded Books had ten sound-proof studios, each one closed by a heavy steel door. This one was ours.
Week Three
THE STUDIO was small, with barely enough room for myself, Michele Bidelspach, my editor, and Peggy Boelke, the GCP sub-rights person who sold BLACKOUT to Recorded Books. And, of course, our engineer, Abigail McCue—a sprite of a woman who sat behind a computer with an underlined copy of my book in front of her. Across from Abby was a thick pane of glass and behind that window, in a soundproof booth, sat the narrator, Carol Mondo. Carol is a New York actress and vocal coach whose smoky voice was perfect for my story of a woman whose whole life is one big black hole. We listened to Carol bring my book to life, watched the sounds imprint on the computer like a strong heartbeat on a wide EKG machine, and after a while, I got completely engrossed—as if I'd never written the words or heard the story before.
Our award-winning narrator, Carol Mondo, inside the recording booth.        Our Engineer, Abby McCue at her console. Check out the copy of Blackout!
Peggy Boelke and Michele Bidelspach getting ready to listen. This was a first for them, too.        The Production sheet for Blackout. Hey—there’s my name!
Here’s what a recorded book looks like to the computer. Do you think it knew it was recording a romance? Or does it always turn pink...        Carol and I inside the sound booth. A mike and a bottle of water is all she needs...
It was an amazing experience, and if you'd like to hear how it all turned out, you can buy or rent the audiobook on CD or tape:  Recorded Books

And for more on Recorded Books or Carol Monda, go to  recordedbooks.com.

Happy listening!

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