Friday, September 25, 2020

Testing one, two, three. Is this thing on?

Heard any good books lately? What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

by Paul D. Marks

The answer to the first question is “no”. The reason is because I don’t listen to audio books, much as I sometimes wish I did. My mind wanders too much. But when I read a paper book I don’t have that problem. I also like the heft and tactile sensation of paper books and still prefer those to e-books as well. Though I do read e-books.

Since I basically commute from the bedroom or kitchen to my home office, a distance measured in seconds rather than hours, I don’t do much reading of any kind on my commute. But if I did—and if I had a self-driving car—I’d be reading a hardcopy book or one on the Kindle app. 

I don’t know why my mind wanders when simply listening, but it does. So, while I’ve tried to listen to audio books and have even completed some, mostly I don’t. I got The Girl on the Train in audio and kept losing my place so to speak. So I ended up buying the paper book and reading it with my eyes instead of my ears. And doing it that way, I got through the book and enjoyed it.

"The Girl on the Train" audiobook

I have stacks of TBR books all over the place and a virtual stack on the Kindle app. I have some audio books around that I try to listen to now and then, but as I said, I tend to lose focus. My wife Amy reads on audio a lot—or did, before working from home during Covid, when she commuted to work on the train. However her brain is wired vs. the way mine is allows her to concentrate on audio books and her mind doesn’t seem to wander. She really enjoys her audio books and I envy her ability to do so.

Also, like Susan said earlier in the week, she was taken aback by the readings of some of her books. I haven’t had that experience, but I have had actors read scripts I’ve worked on. And sometimes it’s great and other times it’s a horror show. In those cases, I think it also depends on the director. S/he can give input into how to play a scene or a whole script. And I remember one time when the director directed the actors to play something for laughs that wasn’t at all meant that way. It was a nightmare. So it does also depend on the presentation.

Janet Hutchings, of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and Paul D. Marks
recording "Howling at the Moon"

In response to the second question, I think audio books are great for people who enjoy them. I have nothing against them, they’re just (mostly) not for me. And, from what Amy says, I do think the reader has a lot to do with one’s enjoyment of them. As long as people are “reading” books, I pretty much don’t care about the medium they get them on.

All that said, there is an audio recording for Ellery Queen of my story Ghosts of Bunker Hill, which won the Ellery Queen Readers’ Award for 2016. I’m not sure if it’s the best performance possible. The actor did as good a job as he could, but then he wasn’t a professional. Uh, it was me. Ellery Queen asked me to read the story for their Fiction Podcast Series. So if you want to hear Ghosts of Bunker Hill, read by the author, you can find it here:

I also recorded my first story for EQMM, Howling at the Moon, for their series and you can find that one here: . But please remember, I’m not an actor, so don’t throw tomatoes.

So, bottom line, books and reading—in any form—are gifts that we should treasure.


And now for the usual BSP:

Thanks to Steve Steinbock and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine for the review of The Blues Don’t Care in the current September/October 2020 issue just out. Four stars out of four. My first time getting reviewed in EQMM. A great honor!

And our own Cathy Ace’s The Corpse with the Crystal Skull is also reviewed in this issue.

Please join me on Facebook: and check out my website


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Good post, Paul. And thanks for the audio short stories.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Dietrich. Doing the audio was fun, but I can't listen to them back...

Connie di Marco said...

I'm with you, Paul. Some people are wired for sound, and some visually. I'm in the latter category I know. You're a brave soul to be your own narrator!

Susan C Shea said...

I can imagine how disconcerting it would be to hear a director mis-aligning your script with your intent. Did you ever see "The Goodbye Girl" (film) with Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss? He's a struggling actor who gets cast in an off-off-off Broadway play, Richard III - his big break - only to have the director insist he play Richard as a flaming homosexual egotist who lisps and drags himself and his ridiculously oversized hump around the stage. It's hilarious but, of course, the actor is ready to die of embarrassment (not from playing a gay man, but from the outrageously stereotyped gay man he's expected to perform). Yeah, Shakespeare would probably have run the director through with a sword!

Sharon Marchisello said...

I don't listen to audio books much either, as I find my mind wandering. I'm more of a visual learner.
That said, I'm excited that my publisher, Sunbury Press, is moving forward with audio book production for my two mysteries, Going Home (2014) and Secrets of the Galapagos (2019).

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Connie. I guess that’s why there’s choices, some like audio, some like visual. As for narrating, well, they asked… :-) .

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Susan. I did see The Goodbye Girl but it was so long ago I really don’t remember it well. But after reading your description I think I’ll have to see it again. Also a directly changing the author’s intent, unfortunately it happens. Actors can read/play the same lines and depending on how they’re played the whole scene/script can come out very differently.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Sharon. And very cool that your publisher is doing audios of your books. That will increase your readership and then people who like audio and people who like visual will both have forms they can enjoy.