Page to Audio: An Author's Perspective
It’s no accident that “Pope Joan” is
a Recorded Books title. My whole family and many of our
friends are loyal Recorded Books subscribers. They
cannot imagine commuting to work or taking a road trip
without the fun of a well-told tale from Recorded Books
(we have been renting from RB for 25 years!).
So when the time came to sell audio rights for Pope
Joan, I knew where I wanted those rights to go.
Unfortunately, the first offer came from a rival
audio-recording company. My agent wanted to accept this
very generous offer, but I was adamant: I wanted
My determination (my agent would call it reckless
disregard of bird-in-hand) paid off: RB made an even
better offer, which I joyfully accepted.
Next on my wish list:
secure the brilliantly talented Barbara Rosenblat. As
the winner of many Audie awards, Barbara is very sought
after. But having enjoyed her performances for so long,
I wanted her, above anyone else, to narrate the story of
my adventurous, inspirational heroine.
Shameless as a Washington lobbyist, I begged Barbara to
meet me, offering the bribe of a blow-out dinner. As
luck would have it, she was going to be at the RB
studios that day and graciously agreed. We talked for a
while, then Barbara went into the recording booth to
read a short piece from the novel (a scene where Joan’s
father beats her for the “crime” of learning to read).
It was a “cold read”--meaning Barbara hadn’t previously
read the book or the passage. Nevertheless, her reading
moved me to tears. When she exited the booth, I was down
on one knee, holding out my wedding ring in mock
proposal (when my husband reads this--and he will, for
he always reads RB catalogs--won’t he be surprised!) I
continued to woo Barbara through a merry,
talk-and-laugh-and wine-filled dinner until finally she
The result is extraordinary. Barbara’s thrilling voice,
her genius for ferreting out every nuance of dialogue
and text, led me to discover new meaning in my own
One anecdote that
might amuse RB subscribers:
at the end of my novel, there’s an Author’s Note with
information about the 9th century as well as startling
evidence in favor of Pope Joan’s historical existence.
And RB asked me to read it! Boy, was that ever fun! But
when you listen, you should know what was going on while
I did it.
I arrived early to hear Barbara record the final pages
of Pope Joan before starting my own taping. Slipping
soundlessly into the studio, I listened, enraptured,
until I got an overwhelming urge to cough (I was
recovering from a bad cold). I jumped up and made for
the door. Alas, I had forgotten to take off my
earphones. The cord tightened, knocking my chair over
with a loud crash, wrenching the earphones off my head
so they bounced against the recording console in
After my red-faced apology, the recording resumed. This
time I took cough medicine my doc had prescribed--a
teaspoonful dose, but with no teaspoon available, I
sipped from the bottle, “guesstimating” the amount.
Big mistake. Within moments, I felt woozy. Still, I made
it through the end of the recording, and I’m so glad I
did, for Barbara was at her very best voicing the
emotional ending of my novel.
Next up: I am led to a studio to narrate the Author’s
Note. I have practiced, so all goes smoothly for ten
minutes. Then the “obviously-more-than-a-teaspoon” dose
of cough medicine made it imperative to rush to the
bathroom to…how to put this politely?…donate the
contents of my stomach to the NYC sewer system. I
returned to recording for another ten minutes, then off
to the bathroom again! Happened three times in all. So
when you listen to the Author’s Note, wear an
“insider’s” smile as you contemplate the conditions
under which I recorded it!
End result: The Author’s Note came out okay (thanks to
editing and re-takes). Barbara’s narration is nothing
short of brilliant. I’m very proud of this recording,
and I can’t wait until my family and friends see Pope
Joan in the RB catalog. Then they will believe that I
and this novel, long labor of my heart, have finally
Link here for
information about purchasing the Recorded Books audio
version of Pope Joan.
Link here to return to the Pope Joan