Monday 8 April 2019

A Word in your Ear

The growth in the audio sector of fiction publishing has been gathering momentum for many years. Initially it was considered purely peripheral when contrasted against print be it paper or digital, but now it has become important to the industry as well as authors, literary agents as well as readers. This is in part due to the time constraints in our lives, but it can also be rationalised by the quality and innovative nature of products now available for the reader (and listener).

The importance of the narrator’s performance is critical, such as Scott Brick among others such as Stephen Fry.

The market leader in Audio Publishing, is the Amazon subsidiary Audible who not only provide a platform for audiobooks, but also generate their own productions, using actors, vocal artists as well as soundscapes so the reader can become part of an immersive experience.

As reported within the publishing industry –

Even though the availability of audiobooks in digital format is relatively new, their origins date back as far as the 1930s when they were sold as analog cassette tapes and vinyl records and used as an educational medium in schools and libraries. Since the shift to digital, the audiobook market has grown exponentially with new entrants jostling for market position.

The undoubted leader is Amazon-owned Audible, the world’s largest producer of downloadable audiobooks. Since its 1995 launch, Audible’s library includes more than 200,000 audio programs covering all genres – subscribers downloaded 725 million hours of audio last year, almost double that of 2011.

But the market has opened up. Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller argued back in 2014 that audiobooks are “following almost the exact pattern and trajectory as e-books in that we are seeing a massive explosion in response to a switch to digital. But it’s also more exciting because you can do so much more with audio – it’s not just a facsimile of the print book.”

Audible’s 2019 “Thriller of the Year” is an extraordinary production entitled ‘Winter Dark’, written by the mysterious Alex Callister. We learned that Callister is a pseudonym of an industry expert on media, telecoms and internet stocks.

She studied history at Oxford and the British School at Rome and was set for a career in academia until the beginning of the tech boom woke a lifelong interest in internet shares. Alex has spent her career visiting high security web hosting sites and speculating on what might go wrong. Winter Dark is her debut novel and the first in the Winter series.

The narrator who brings this glossy production to life is Ell Potter of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). She has appeared in the school’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, playing Helena, and New England, playing Alice Berry. She is also a writer and comedian, and in 2018 took her two-woman show HOTTER to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it enjoyed a sell-out run and was named an Evening Standard Best New Writing of 2018. It has since secured a transfer to the prestigious Soho Theatre. She has been entered for the 2019 Carleton Hobbs BBC radio drama competition. Ell has devoured audiobooks for as long as she can remember, growing up on Harry Potter and His Dark Materials during long car journeys. Winter Dark is her first audio Narration.

Winter Dark is the first in an exclusive series, and was named the 2019 Audible Thriller of the Year. An accolade that commenced in 2017 with Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil and narrated by Joanne Froggatt. Their Lost Daughters by Joy Ellis and narrated by Richard Armitage was named Thriller of the Year 2018.

Audible’s commitment to Crime and Thriller has to be commended, as this link indicates HERE

So what’s in store for listeners with Alex Callister's debut Winter Dark?

GCHQ agent Winter Dark who has just 12 days to bring down the website of a formidable criminal organisation before a child is tortured to death in front of an online audience of millions.

“Going deep under cover disguised as the paid assassin Snow White, Winter must infiltrate the inner-circle of the extraordinarily powerful man at the heart of the dark web,” said Audible. “This a gripping, fast-paced ride through a disturbingly plausible technological future in which Callister’s protagonist must battle to bring down the terrifying crimes tearing through society.”

Callister said: “Winter Dark is a modern thriller about organised crime and the dark web featuring Winter, an anarchic 21st century heroine. I am so excited to hear her brought to life by the talented Ell Potter.  I love the rhythm and flow of words. Good stories were made to be read aloud.”

Like Lisabeth Salander, Callister’s protagonist is a Master hacker, highly intelligent, combat trained: Winter is a very modern spy. Worlds apart from the straitlaced characters created in the minds of Ian Fleming and John le CarrĂ©, Alex Callister's lead protagonist wouldn't dream of playing the part of the impeccable agent. However, despite her intimidating skill-set, Winter is delightfully human and often prone to prioritizing her libido over her employer. Undeniably sexy and exceptionally accomplished, Winter is a true 21st-century heroine.

I downloaded Winter Dark as part of my £7.99 / Month Subscription, which entitles members to one audio-book or audio-production per month. As an Audible subscriber, there are daily deals, special offers as well as free content.

To become a member CLICK HERE, and download Winter Dark as the first in your collection.

Photos © 2019 A Karim and  

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