Author: Nicole Kilpatrick
Narrator: Cassandra Alling
Length: 7 hours and 44 minutes
Series: Clover, Book 1
Publisher: Nicole Kilpatrick
Released: Nov. 19, 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
So much for the luck of the Irish. When a handsome leprechaun reveals himself to Clover O’Leary on her 18th birthday, she is faced with three hard facts:
- He is the reason for her remarkably charmed life.
- Her luck has now taken a turn for the worse.
- Her name is a curse - a malicious gift from the powerful leprechaun who named her while she was still in the womb.In order to get her life back and undo the evil spell, she must travel to Ireland to seek the only creature who may be able to help: the Seelie Queen. With her intriguing leprechaun in tow, Clover crosses into the Faerie Realm, where fairies and mythical creatures abound and where finding her luck may ultimately lead to finding her love.
Q&A with Author Nicole Kilpatrick
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- I knew I wanted Clover to be turned into an audiobook but at first I was clueless as to how to actually do it. My novel was published by a small press, but since I owned the audio rights, I was free to create an audiobook. I finally bit the bullet and got on the ACX/ Audible platform. After reviewing several auditions, I feel like I found the best possible narrator in Cassandra Alling. After that, the process was relatively seamless. She did such an amazing job that when I finished writing the sequel, Fae’s Ascent, I knew right away that she was the perfect choice to narrate the second book as well.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
- I feel like fantasy translates beautifully into audiobook format simply because world-building comes to life and rich descriptions are made even more lush by a powerful narrator.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- To be honest, when I wrote the first book in the series, Clover, a potential audiobook recording was the farthest thing from my mind. It was the first novel that I ever wrote and I think I was just focused on getting it written. I had no idea at the time that it would even get published, so an audiobook, at that time, seemed highly unlikely.
- How did you select your narrator?
- I closed my eyes and listened to all the auditions carefully. When I heard Cassandra narrate the first few lines, my little author's heart almost beat out of my chest. I knew right away that I wanted her to voice it. Thankfully, she agreed.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- Cassandra was extremely thorough. She requested character profiles, soundtracks that inspired me, and she was awesome with learning the perfect pronunciations for all the Irish names and words. In the end, I really let her take the reins on how she wanted to narrate it. As the author, I feel like I’m too close to the story. I wanted her to narrate it from her point of view as a reader.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- It’s hard sometimes to work a full-time job and still find the time to write. It’s a real challenge! I just try to remind myself that writing is my passion which brings me so much joy. Taking breaks and taking on the challenge one small step at a time has helped me immensely in avoiding burn-out.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- I’d go back to Shakespeare’s time and catch a play at the Globe. Wouldn’t that be so awesome?!
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- I’d say that’s bullsh*t. Books are books. It doesn’t matter how you choose to consume them. Is braille not “real reading” then? The more that we can make the written word easily accessible to all, in whatever format, the better for everyone. This is what I believe.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- I shed a tear of joy and drank (several) beers.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Don’t give up. Believing that you can accomplish something is half the battle. If your heart is telling you that it has a story to tell, then please go for it and follow your dreams. You won’t regret it.
Q&A with Narrator Cassandra Alling
- How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
- Reading aloud has long been part of who I am. Whether on family road trips, nights in with a roommate, on dates, or workshops with seniors or families, reading aloud is my fantastic excuse to be silly, poetic, dramatic, or just overall generous through the language and structure of a book. I share a story, and I share myself. Narrating audiobooks didn’t start out as my goal, but as I met people who did it, it felt more possible. Not long after I went to a Voice Actors of New York City event, the pandemic began. I started recording books as a volunteer and loved it. I took several workshops and classes. I spoke to people I knew who had recorded audiobooks. Then, knowing there would always be more to learn and the best way to learn is to do, I went for it and started auditioning.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Yes, I listen to audiobooks! One of my favorites–put out before it was called an audiobook–is Lauren Bacall reading James Thurber’s The Thirteen Clocks. His word play and love of language and her delivery of it feels like that’s how the story was meant to be experienced. While some books are meant to be read, often a book lives most when the words are spoken. Audiobooks narrators follow the tradition of storytellers and bards, bringing out the rhythms and melodies of language. Evidently part of Jane Austen’s creative process was reading aloud her work to her family. I feel like I can hear it when I listen to an audiobook; I am drawn in by the sounds and the flow of the words, story, and ideas. When Elevator Repair Service performed Gatz and read every word of The Great Gatsby aloud, the story wasn’t new to me. I had read it in high school. Perhaps then I had skimmed the narration, but here, spoken by great performers, for the first time I really admired and enjoyed the musicality and lyricism of Fitzgerald’s writing. I really love how audiobooks bring language to life. And I get completely caught up in characters and story, too.
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
- I love character voices. Bringing characters to life is just so enjoyable. I also love to surprise people: “wait, that’s you?” they say with wide eyes. YES, it was! And it’s fun infusing a little character into the dialogue, which I did more in Fae’s Ascent. As to my least favorite part, it’s recording small corrections or pickups–especially any “an” “a” “the” or other words I add or accidentally delete. But I really want to honor what the writer has written, and I know having it word-for-word accurate is important–especially with Learning Ally where kids are reading along to what they’re hearing.
- What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
- When I read the audition for Clover, the writing made it feel so easy to get inside these characters. It had great language and detail, a clear tone–and I love Irish accents. I had an immediate feeling of ‘oh, you have to record this and get it in! Fast!” When I learned that Nicole had already written the sequel and was working on edits, I started to hope I’d get to narrate it. I wanted to be the person to follow these characters along their journey!
- Who are your “accent inspirations”?
- I love listening to Irish speakers! The RTE app has been so much fun to explore, and I especially love watching The Tommy Tiernan show. Moon Boy is fun; the second episode of the first season is my favorite. I listened to music, like violinist Martin Haye. And a friend I met through a Facebook group, Sarah Tully, has been so fantastic to help me with phrases and steering me away from “Hollywood Oirish.” She suggested I listen to narrator Aoife McMahon. Aoife is brilliant, and I love having her in my ear, even if some of the stories break my heart. For New York accents, I listened to Robert A. Caro, Tara Clancy, and Josephine Giordano. Nicole Redman and Amanda Quaid are great coaches who helped me in developing my accents.
- How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
- There are so many fantastic characters Clover and Fae’s Ascent that I knew I had to just start improvising and try things out. It’s a combination of imagination and physicality: where can I place this voice? What images will help me? Scobert needed a larger voice than Finn’s, and I imagined having a wider throat when creating his voice. Clover’s going through a lot of discovery and she needed a higher voice than, say, Anna. Sometimes traits –including other people’s performances–are useful to me. Having watched Gillian Anderson in a tv show portray power without raising her voice, I knew I wanted to try that for Queen Helena. Merrows move so fluidly I played with that quality with Maera and Sinnan. Some of the vocal choices came through contrasts: Finn needed warmth, whereas Alistair is both older and has a hardness to him. And although it can become a rabbit hole, research helps. When it came to voicing Diana, I watched enough Maine Coon videos to meow and talk along with that Youtube still sends me videos with cats!
- What are aspects of the books that you enjoy that surprised you?
- Some of the action in both Clover and Fae’s Ascent occurs in New York City. I currently live in New York City. I’ve had a burger at the park where Finn reveals himself to Clover for the first time. It’s a very everyday world for something so extraordinary to happen. While from TV it may seem like all New Yorkers could live in a penthouse in the Upper West Side, I know, no, for ordinary people, that is luck. And when Andie jokes about online shopping, that is so much a part of everyday life. Being connected to a place has a kind of joy to it. In Clover I enjoyed seeing and posting photos of some of the real places mentioned in the book. That was something I hadn’t realized I’d enjoy so much.
- Who is a character you feel you could or might meet?
- I imagine I’ve unknowingly crossed paths with Andie. I may have even passed her apartment that Garrett disparages–but, well, that’s just the life of a mortal in an expensive city! She is a New Yorker you’d want to have as your friend. She’s loyal and generous. Her confidence and compassion make it easier to hear her tell-it-like-it-is and her face-what’s-in-front-of-you advice. And she both encourages and embodies an ability to live in this moment. I’d love to grab coffee or a bite to eat with her.
- What type of the review comments do you find most constructive?
- An acting teacher once asked me “what was working for you?” after he could tell I was frustrated performing a monologue. “You have to start from what was working,” he said. It’s so important, being attuned to what feels right in a performance. At the same time, what I feel is working in an audiobook will differ for listeners. So it’s insightful and constructive when listeners share specific moments that stick with them, or characters they found compelling or fun. Those comments are my favorite.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- Generally I don’t talk with people whose emphasis is on “real” because they’re not that open to other points of view. Now, if someone feels that an audiobook is “cheating’ because a narrator shapes how the reader is interpreting the story–ok, that could be an interesting conversation! Audiobooks, like books, incite and invite our imaginations; they push us to imagine what isn’t seen. Audiobooks expand who can connect to a text. I’m proud to volunteer for Learning Ally where audiobooks help reluctant or struggling readers identify themselves as readers and have fun in the process. Audiobooks can help people keep their imagination awake as they do tedious tasks. Audiobooks reach people when they can’t sit and read. I love that I accompany people on their drives! And audiobooks can be great company.
- What’s next for you?
- I’m currently recording a book with Learning Ally. And I’ve been cast in Frank J. Fleming’s Superego: Betrayal. It’s the third book in this science fiction series, which is narrated by Joel Richards. I’m excited to narrate the chapters written from the point of view of Sylvia, who is such a strong, fascinating character.
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.