Shadows Blog Tour: Guest Post by Ilsa J. Bick

26 10 2012

As the followers of my blog probably realize, I don’t participate in many blog tours. In Fact, this is my first. Last year, Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick was one of my top Zombish audiobooks of the year and I have looked to the release of Shadows with great anticipation. When I got invited to join the tour and found out that Ilsa would be willing to talk audiobooks, I jumped at the chance. So, here we go:

SHADOWS by Ilsa J. Bick

Publisher Summary

The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.

But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive. Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting, apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: Where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

For a refresher before listening Shadows, check out this refresher for Ashes.

With that, let’s welcome Ilsa J. Bick to The Guilded Earlobe:


I am a huge audiobook fan and so have listened to many stories over the years.  There’s something about a very good narrator that can make even an only so-so read a spectacular listen just as the reverse is true: a crummy narrator can kill a book.

What I’ve really enjoyed with my audiobooks has been the degree to which producing them becomes a real collaboration.  The Audible folks have been fabulous, and because I’ve been a member for so long, listened to tons of books, I know which narrators I think serve my story well.  To that end, the Audible folks routinely ask for my preferences, or they come up with their own list on the basis of what I ask for.  In fact, for my very first book with them, DRAW THE DARK, I asked for and got Joshua Swanson right off the bat (and he’s a very sweet guy, too).

My job to listen to try and figure out which voice best captures what I want to convey.  For the ASHES series, Katy was an easy choice.  She’s not only gifted and experienced, she’s such a pro.  Before ASHES and, just recently SHADOWS, she and I talked about what my visions were for how people should sound; how to pronounce certain words; all that. She’s a very gracious, tremendously giving performer, and she really wants to get it right. Katy’s stories of what goes into a performance are real eye openers, and kind of funny, too.  (Like how do you deal with shouting?  You know, when people are screaming in books . . . how do you do that without blowing eardrums or destroying the sound?  It turns out there are tricks.)  

Now, having said all this and enthused over my narrators (and they are all super), I have never listened to my own work other than a little snippet, just as I try to stay away from audiobooks while I’m actively writing something.  There are two reasons.  In terms of my own work, I already know the story; I’ve read it more times than you can imagine; and I only have so much time in the day to discover and listen to new work.  Plus, to be really honest, I don’t actually enjoy listening to my own stuff.  (Maybe that’s why actors don’t like watching their own films, I dunno.)  Just makes me feel . . . funny.  Maybe I need to be a tad vainer, or something.

But far more serious is this tendency I have to assimilate and mimic voices like a parrot-magpie.  I’m completely serious.  My husband HATES going to foreign countries with me because I pick up intonations and accents and cadences very quickly, and then you run the risk of offending someone who thinks you’re making fun.  (No, I’ve just got you in my head; I can’t help it.  Language is like music that way.)  Voices and the tone of a story can easily take up residence in my head, and that can be a problem.  Yes, it helps a lot in terms of characterization; if I can “hear” my character’s voice, then I keep cadence, tone, and all of that straight, and the character’s voice remains distinctive.  In fact, one of the exercises I actually practiced when I was doing STAR TREK was taking a key speech done by, say, Captain Kirk and then recasting the same lines in the voice of the different captains.  I know that sounds funky, but all these actors had different ways of delivering their lines just as the captains had their distinctive personalities.  So the way Kirk might say something, the language and gestures he’d use, is fundamentally different than how Picard would deal with the language, or Janeway.  Getting a character that rooted in your head helps you maintain a consistent and authentic voice for your folks.

So—being a bit of a mimic, and I’ve also done a ton of stage work—I worry that I would hear Katy, for example, and not the Alex I imagine.  I know how I think Alex would say something, but Katy is her own person, with her unique interpretation.  What I wouldn’t want to do is write Katy.  I’m Alex’s mouthpiece, the only one she’s truly got, and Tom’s and Ellie’s, etc.  The work is to keep them straight as authentic individuals, with their unique voices.

I want to thank Ilsa for taking the time to talk about audiobooks. Make sure you check out my reviews of Ashes and Shadows and head over to Brilliance Audio or Audible to grab your copy read by the wonderful Katherine Kellgren.


This post is part of my weekly Welcome to the Apocalypse series. You can find more post by clicking on the banner below.



3 responses

1 11 2012
Audiobook Blog – Audiobooker, by Mary Burkey – Booklist Online » Blog Archive » News You Can Use

[…] Guilded Earlobe blog has a guest post by Ilsa J. Bick about her new book Shadows, the sequel to Ashes, and her thoughts on the audiobook productions of […]

1 11 2012
News You Can Use

[…] Guilded Earlobe blog has a guest post by Ilsa J. Bick about her new book Shadows, the sequel to Ashes, and her thoughts on the audiobook productions of […]

5 11 2014
News You Can Use : The Booklist Reader

[…] Guilded Earlobe blog has a guest post by Ilsa J. Bick about her new book Shadows, the sequel to Ashes, and her thoughts on the audiobook productions of […]

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