August/September 2020

Discover the World of Audiobooks

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Page 29 of 75

By Candace Levy While Susan Ericksen is beloved by many for her narration of mystery and suspense, her audiobook repertoire is, in fact, wide-ranging and includes romance, history, personal essays, biogra- phy, classics, literary fiction, and fantasy. The following audiobooks exemplify Susan's array of talents and why we listen- ing fans have stayed true to her through various series and across genres. 5 Audiobooks Did you know American women served in the U.S. Army during WWI? Elizabeth Cobbs's The Hello Girls tells the story of the more than 200 women who were instrumental in keeping the lines of com- munication open between battlefront and headquarters during the Great War. Susan's well-paced performance allows us to absorb the facts and gain a feel for the women's personalities, and her native-sounding French pronunciations help immerse us in the place and time. If you're looking for a genre-crossing long-running series to get lost in, then J.D. Robb's In Death books are for you. Golden in Death is the latest in this series, which features New York City homicide detective Eve Dallas. Although you can jump into the series anywhere, you might consider starting with Susan's Earphones Award-winning performance of Book 1, Naked in Death. In one of those perfect pairings, Susan was tapped to narrate The Abundance, a curated collection of essays by Annie Dillard. Susan's performance reflects the author's emotional journey, highlighting Dillard's sense of wonder, humor, inno- cence, and spirituality. Victoria Johnson's well-researched biography American Eden introduces contemporary listeners to David Hosack, a physician/horticulturalist well known to America's founding generation who has, until now, been lost to history. Susan enlivens this biography, keeping us invested in Hosack's story and his part in shaping a young nation. Although Susan hasn't narrated every audiobook in Sara Paretsky's series fea- turing Chicago private investigator V.I. Warshawski, she has performed most of them, injecting the first-person stories with additional personality and drama. Susan perfectly portrays Vic's many facets— from the confident, athletic investigator's enjoyment of food and love of opera to her refusal to admit weakness. If you want to start at the beginning, queue up Indemnity Only, also narrated by Susan. 5 Questions I haven't added up all the hours I've spent listening to Susan Ericksen bring a variety of stories alive for me, but I've always been grateful for her company. AudioFile: What genre will you always say yes to and why? Susan Ericksen: I always relish getting to read a good mystery or a suspense novel. Books in those categories are usu- ally character driven. I think discovering and revealing the intricacies of a character are what I love most when I read a book and what I'm drawn to when I record one. I'm very curious about what makes a person tick. I think the process that one goes through in prepping a book is similar to being a detective. You first need to look at all the clues about a character—what they say about themselves, what others say about them, what they do, how they move, how they respond to different people/ things, what's their background, who/what they like/dislike. The author has given you a thousand clues, so you dig down into all of that and then you get to bring the char - acter to life. It's such a creative process, and when you get it right, the book just seems to sing. It lifts right off the page into this new version of itself, and despite all the labor, it feels light and easy. AF: Tell us something surprising about yourself. SE: I love big creative projects. The more labor intensive, the better! I built a brick patio in my backyard two summers ago, and it was one of the most satisfying things I've ever done. I dug out the dirt, hauled it away, lugged bags of paver sand, cut the bricks with a huge saw, laid the bricks, put down the filler, compressed it, and then sealed it. It was soooo hard, and soooo great! I seriously think I must have been a ditchdigger or a pyra- mid-builder in a previous life. This summer I'm going to try to make an arbor out of discarded willow branches. I can't wait! 5 Questions with Narrator Susan Ericksen 28 n AudioFile/

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