By September 2, 2009 0 Comments Read More →

Inside the Audiobook Studio: Julie Halpern

Get Well Soon

What do authors think of their audiobooks? Julie Halpern is certainly an audiobook expert – she’s a past member of YALSA’s Selected Audiobooks committee, with hundreds of hours under the headphones selecting the best in teen audiobooks. She’s also a middle school librarian, adept in suggesting the perfect listen to match her students’ interests. Check out her reaction to the audiobook of her YA novel Get Well Soon in her interview below – you might be surprised! Thanks so much to Julie for taking time out for my interview in the whirlwind of back-to-school, the release of her second book Into the Wild Nerd Yonder, finishing her third novel, and the release of her husband Matthew Cordell’s newest book, Trouble Gum. Oh – and she has a perfectly adorable baby daughter. Very busy lady, indeed!

Now on to our five questions for Julie…

1.  What’s on your MP3 player?
This is horrible, but I have not listened to a complete audiobook since I finished my two years on the YALSA Selected Audiobooks Committee.  It was just so intense that I needed some time off.  Plus, I can’t listen to an audiobook without a critical ear anymore.  I’m hoping that will go away so I can enjoy audiobooks again.  Some of my favorites from when I was on the committee include Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (read by Cassandra Morris), I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (read by Marc Aden Gray), Before I Die by Jenny Downham (read by Charlotte Parry), Cupid by Julius Lester (read by Stephen McKinley Henderson), So Much to Tell You by John Marsden (read by Kate Hosking), and Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (read by Emily Bauer).  My two favorite audiobooks of all time, which I have listened to multiple times, are Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going (read by Matthew Lillard)- I feel so pumped after I listen to it- and Fair Weather by Richard Peck (read by Estelle Parsons)- I have an obsession with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, and the audiobook makes me feel like I’m there.

2.      Tell us about your role in the audiobook community.
I sort of wish I had taken the opportunity to audition for the audiobook of Get Well Soon.  The problem was that they wanted me to fly out to LA, which I would have done in a second, but it was the very early part of my pregnancy with my daughter, and I was soooooo sick.  I just couldn’t go.  Listening Library sent me a few CDs with readers on them, but I didn’t think they sounded like Anna (the main character in Get Well Soon).  So then I went through my list of audiobooks from the Selected Audiobooks Committee and looked for contemporary titles.  Mandy Siegfried is one of the best readers of teens with a sarcastic edge, so I suggested her to LL.  I’m so happy she agreed to read it!

3.      What was your most interesting/embarrassing/hilarious moment in the audiobook studio?
I’ll admit it: the audiobook of Get Well Soon? I still haven’t listened to the whole thing.  It’s like listening to myself talk, which is painful, as most people would agree (um, not listening to me talk, but listening to themselves).  I have just started recording podcasts during my commute home (which I call “The Neverending Commute”), and I don’t think I’ll ever listen to any of them.  My Chicago accent is horrendous sometimes.  I’m sure there are no flaws in the Get Well Soon audiobook, however 😉

4.       What future trends or changing perceptions or technologies do you think will have the greatest/worst/revolutionary impact on the audiobook production field?
It seems like audiobooks are becoming nicely integrated into the mainstream because people love their portable music players.  ITunes has a great audiobook selection, which is listed along with their other genres, and without having to purchase the actual CDs, downloading is making audiobooks even more accessible.  I think there will probably be more homemade audiobooks out there.  Like, for authors who would love to have an audiobook made of one of their books, but it’s just not happening, they can record their own and simply upload it onto iTunes.  At least I think they can.  I’m not sure of the legality of that, but in theory…

5.      What’s new and exciting in your part of the audiobook community?
No news of an Into the Wild Nerd Yonder audiobook yet, but maybe I’ll just record a DIY version.  Although, I will say that it’s pretty, um, colorful in parts, so I don’t know if I’d be comfortable reading it.  I remember scrunching down in my car seat quite a few times when listening to tawdry scenes in audiobooks while on the committee.  Who knows, though?  Get Well Soon took a while to be made into audiobook, so hopefully I’ll get a chance to let the reading be done by professionals.  Or at least someone who won’t cringe at the sound of her own voice.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Julie, and for your great suggestions of fantastic YA audiobooks – and for keeping up the “Back-to-School” theme here on Audiobooker. Be sure to check out more school-related audiobook info in the posts on audiobooks for special needs students, teacher/author Amy Huntley’s visit Inside the Audiobook Studio, and Amy’s marvelous essay Why One English Teacher Values the Audiobook.

And for all you teachers (and students) out there – enjoy your three day weekend!

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About the Author:

Mary Burkey is an independent library consultant in Columbus (OH). An enthusiastic audiophile, she has served on all four of ALA's audiobook award committees as well as the Audies. In addition to writing the "Voices in My Head" column for Booklist, she is the author of Audiobooks for Youth: A Practical Guide to Sound Literature (ALA, 2013). Follow her on Twitter at @mburkey.

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