Interview with MacLeod Andrews, narrator of the HELLHOLE audiobook – plus a giveaway!!

I’ll be honest with you – I am weirded out by listening to my own books read aloud. When the voices that up until now have existed solely in my head are suddenly thrust out into the real world and adopt actual tones and cadences, it generally makes me want to squish myself up into a ball and camp out for several days in a Tent Of Awkwardness™.

I have, however, been blessed with very good narrators who make all of the icky dissipate real quick. The narrator of HELLHOLE, MacLeod Andrews, did such an amazing job that I just had to pester him with all of my questions about how he made the magic happen.


mc4How did you get into audiobook narration?

I was living in NYC doing theater and while catching up with a classmate from college learned she was recording audiobooks at Brilliance Audio. I asked if she would put me in touch and I was sent an audition for a children’s/young-adult title by Joseph Helgerson called Crows and Cards. Really fun book. From there I continued to narrate more and more titles and began working for more and more publishers.

Do you do anything else besides voice work?

Yes, I also work in theater and film. Currently I’m in a new play by Charlotte Miller called Thieves. It runs March 18-April 4 in Los Angeles at the El Portal Theater.

I also recently starred in and co-produced a feature film They Look Like People which is touring the festival circuit at the moment.

Your reading of Burg is so deliciously evil. How did you develop his voice?

I didn’t have to go much farther than your writing. He seemed so clear to me from your hilarious scenes. I heard him as part Beetlejuice, part Satan from South Park, but at times more genuinely sinister than either.

Your Max sounds different from the Max I had in my head when I was writing him – but in a great way. I always thought of him of being a little nerdier-sounding, but in your reading he’s more cool-but-awkward, and you make him sound so heartbreaking when things start to go terribly wrong. What I’m getting at is that I love your Max. What was your thought process in approaching his character?

Thank you. I think I wanted to keep him in a slightly lower register for a couple reasons. I think I have a tendency to forget that teens (at least older teens) often have dropped into their voice for the most part. I also didn’t see him as a typical nerd or poindexter; he’s a funny, awkward, sensitive kid who’s growing up in a really difficult circumstance. I felt like a more archetypal “nerd voice” might have limited his presence. As our protagonist, I think it was important to keep him as earnest as possible and leave room for a wide range of expressiveness. It also leaves room for smaller characters to pop a bit more, and fill more specific roles, like Paul.

Speaking of Paul, you totally nailed his geekiness, plus Lore’s deadpan-ness, Audie’s perkiness, and Wall’s bro-ness. I threw a lot of teenage characters at you here, and you made each one sound very distinctive – and all them still set apart from your narrator voice. How do you juggle all those multiple personalities?

Yeah, distinction is always tough. My nightmare in the booth is a scene with any more than one 14-year-old girl. There are a couple of tools to go to. Dialect, pitch, volume, rhythm, mic placement, voice placement, attitude. I think Lloyd/Burg/John Cusack gave me the most trouble. He’s an every-man but so is my narrator and Max to a certain degree.

It’s kind of obnoxious for an author to laugh at their own writing, but listening to the audiobook I busted a gut over and over again because of the way you read a line – either your inflection or emphasis was new to my ears, or the timing was perfect – and there were also many times I had a mini-celebration when you nailed a punchline perfectly. Do you approach comic writing differently than other genres? How do you adjust your narration and tone to incorporate humor?

Don’t worry, I was laughing my way through the entire Hamlet/Hot Pocket scene. When it’s funny, it’s funny. I just try to make sure I’m having as much fun as I can when I get a comic title. And sometimes you do just have to go back and nail the rhythm of a joke. Humor can be very technical at times.

Who was your favorite character to voice, and why?

Burg…He exists for nothing but his own pleasure. Utterly unsympathetic and capable of just about anything. I almost couldn’t go too far with him. He was just perfectly written.

Aw. Thanks.

MacLeod Andrews is an award winning audiobook narrator. He is a company member of Rising Phoenix Rep Theater Company with whom he has performed in many shows premiering Off-Broadway and in LA, including Slipping by Daniel Talbott and Thieves by Charlotte Miller (March 2015 LA). He has starred in and been featured in a number of independent films including They Look Like People (which he also co-produced), Split, andFound In Time. He is a “lunatic” at Lunacy Unlimited Productions (kind of like a company member, but for film and web) where he makes fun sketches with writer/director Stu Pollard. He was born and raised in Louisville, KY and has a BA from Middlebury College.

Find MacLeod around the web on Twitter, Instagram, and on his website. Buy the HELLHOLE audiobook on Audible. Want to hear how fabulous he is first? Listen to a sample of the HELLHOLE audiobook right here:


Oh wait THERE IS MORE. I’m giving away free audiobooks to five lucky listeners out there! To enter, simply fill out the form below. Good luck!

Contest closes at noon EST on April 24, 2015. Winner will be chosen at random and announced on this post. Open internationally. One entry per person, please. Your email address will be used solely for purposes of this giveaway; you will not be added to any mailing lists. Thanks for entering!
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WAX cover fan art

About a month ago I had the honor of speaking at the Louisiana Teenage Library Association Annual Conference (wearing the clothes that I flew in with, because the airline lost my luggage). In addition to meeting scores of fabulous teens and librarians, and apologizing to everyone for looking like such a scrub, I got to be a part of one of the awards given at the conference – the one for the drawing contest. The subject of that drawing contest? WAX covers! Entrants were asked to create a fantasy cover for my next book, and the results were nothing less than amazing. Enjoy!

IMG_3218 IMG_3219 IMG_3220 IMG_3222 IMG_3224 IMG_3225

Thanks to everyone at LTLA! I had a blast!

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Reader mail/FAQ: What’s the deal with Norwood and Heloise?

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Be warned: this post is FULL of spoilers, so if you haven’t read the entire trilogy yet, stay away.

Norwood and Heloise. Did they really love each other? I could never get a good read on how Heloise felt, and Norwood… you’d think a husband would have a little more grief knowing that their wife was suddenly suffering eternal torment. How old are they? Were they partners? After ROGUE, what happens to Norwood?        — Carly E.

Norwood and Heloise are in their late forties/early fifties, they were partners before becoming Etcetera directors, and yes, they really did love each other. As Norwood mentions in Rogue, they even wanted children at one point, but ultimately chose to stick with their careers instead (since Grims can’t have kids while they’re in the Grimsphere). So of course Norwood is devastated by what happens to Heloise, but I think he’s the kind of guy that funnels most of his emotions into rage — rage that he takes out on Lex, Uncle Mort, and the rest of the gang, and uses it to fuel whatever he can do to control the destruction of the Grimsphere. Because, remember: from Norwood’s perspective, Uncle Mort is an alarmist crackpot who’s been wrong about things before, and Norwood is the voice of reason who’s trying to help. The Grimsphere is his entire way of life, everything he’s ever worked for. Of course he doesn’t want to see it destroyed; none of the Grims do! But he doesn’t know the extent of the problem like Uncle Mort does, and while, yes, Norwood should have listened when Uncle Mort was trying to convince him, he was still acting in what he thought was the Grimsphere’s best interest.

Having said that, he goes about it in a variety of deplorable ways: secretly bombing Croak in order to get people to vote for him as mayor, throwing everyone in jail, sentencing Lex and the gang to the Hole, etc. It’s not like he’s this misunderstood hero who was just erred on the wrong side of history; he is, in many ways, a very cruel man. So what happens to him after Rogue? Well, it’s probably not what you want to hear, but I think he’d probably just lick his wounds and move on with his life. Sure, he deserves some sort of punishment, but to him, being stripped of his Grimhood is the worst possible thing that could have happened, and continuing to live on in this world that’s just a shadow of his former life would likely be a daily torture. Still, he’s a smart, ambitious, ruthless guy, and he should have no problem jumping back into the modern world. I bet he’d fit right in on Wall Street.

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Upcoming March appearances

By which I mean events that are taking place in the month of March, not events that are themselves marches. I don’t march. I’m too short and I look like a child having a tantrum.

YA Q&A Panel
Join me, Cara Bertrand, Kim Harrington, A.C. Gaughen, and Anne Cardi as we discuss books, writing, and probably the bookstore’s adorable bunny logo.

Saturday, March 14
4:00pm
Blue Bunny Books & Toys
577 High Street – Dedham Square
Dedham, MA 02026


NYC Teen Author Festival
This runs from March 15-22 (check out their website for the full schedule) but I will only be there from Friday to Sunday. Free and open to the public!

• YA Explains it All 
This is billed as the “Ultimate Q&A”, and promises to be a really funny panel!
Friday, March 20
2:50pm-3:45pm
42nd St. New York Public Library, Berger Forum

•No-Foolin’ Mega-Signing at Books of Wonder
Wherein I and a billion other authors will sign copies of books for you.
Sunday, March 22
1:30pm-2:00pm
Books of Wonder
18 West 18th St.

Hope to see you soooon!

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Interview with my editor Julie Tibbott, author of MEMBERS ONLY – plus giveaway!

I honestly have no idea how editors do it. They have SO MANY BOOKS to deal with, all the time, constantly, waterfalls of books and meetings and revisions and deadlines, and all while dealing with those nutcase authors and their nutcase emails.

Which is why it’s so amazing that my editor, Julie Tibbott, found the time to write a book amongst the madness. And her second book, at that! It’s called MEMBERS ONLY, and it is about cults and secret societies, which is so friggin’ cool, and – well, here, I’ll just let her tell you about it.


Members Only book coverGive us the MEMBERS ONLY spiel.
Throughout human history, people have banded together to pass on traditions, climb the social ladder, and often just have a good time. And sometimes, keeping other people out is part of the fun. (Every hot club needs a velvet rope, after all.) But some of these groups have proved so exclusive and secretive that we on the outside can’t resist some speculation. Wouldn’t you like to know what they’re really up to? No need for secret handshakes or passwords— MEMBERS ONLY is your all-access guide to the secret societies, clandestine cults, and exclusive associations that you’ve always wondered about. Profiling over fifty groups, from the centuries-old Freemasons to the snooty Skull and Bones Society to a club just for magicians, this book reveals the secrets of these mysterious organizations — and even tells you how to join up. Get ready to go underground and explore secret worlds that are sometimes shocking, sometimes frightening, and always fascinating.

What is your favorite cult/sect/secret society mentioned in the book?
There are so many interesting ones, but for my money, the Hellfire Club has it all: rowdy aristocrats, costumes, orgies, even Ben Franklin! For a bunch of 18th century gentlemen, these guys sure knew how to party. The purpose of the Hellfire Club was to ridicule religion and conventional morality, which members achieved by performing mock religious ceremonies and having dinners where they dressed as characters from the Bible and consumed dishes such as “Devil’s Loin” and “Holy Ghost Pie.” For awhile they held their meetings in an actual abbey, and then they moved the festivities to an underground cave, formerly the site of Pagan rituals. You can visit the Hellfire Caves in West Wycombe, UK.

Was there any sort of crazy research you had to do? Break into a highly guarded vault in an evil mountain lair?
Unfortunately, my resources didn’t allow for much globe-hopping in the name of research, and besides, many of the groups profiled in the book are now defunct and therefore not available for infiltration. I did get to interview some interesting folks, though. The Society of Creative Anachronism, for example, sets up medieval-style kingdoms across the world, and I interviewed a few of their monarchs. I also spoke to some young Freemasons, mediums, a cult de-programmer, and a magician, all of whom you can read about in the book!

© Jessica Kourkounis

© Jessica Kourkounis

And now it’s time for me to blatantly steal from Inside the Actors Studio and go all James Lipton on your ass. What turns you on?
People who can hang.

What turns you off?
People who can’t hang.

What sound or noise do you love?
Rolling skateboards, tires over rain in city streets, cats purring.

What sound or noise do you hate?
Alarm clocks, animals in pain.

What is your favorite curse word?
The one that I encourage you to go easy on in your books!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Being an antiques appraiser seems like such a cool job. I’d love to pick up some obscure object and know its whole history. I also like the idea of being a detective, but since you’ve actually got to be a cop to do that—no thanks. Maybe one day I’ll do the next best thing and write a mystery novel.

What profession would you not like to do?
Grave digger, embalmer, honeydipper, Guantanamo Bay interrogator, politician, daytime television host, TSA agent, food delivery person in extreme weather . . . most things, probably.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Surprised?

Julie Tibbott is an editor of teen fiction at a major publishing house. She lives on New York City’s Lower East Side, once home to many organized crime syndicates, street gangs, and underground anarchists. She’s not a member of any secret societies . . . or is she?

Buy MEMBERS ONLY now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or Powell’s


Or…win a copy! Julie is giving away a signed copy – simply fill out the form below to enter. Good luck!

Giveaway closed. Thanks to all who entered!

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HELLHOLE fiestas across the land

Well, across the northeast. Well, two locations across the northeast. SO FAR.

The official launch party took place at the ever-fabulous Jones Library in Amherst, MA (thanks to Garrett Pindar!), and was sponsored by the ever-fabulous Odyssey Bookshop (thanks to Hannah Moushabeck!) and was, as you may have already picked up, ever-fabulous. The library provided a craveworthy spread of processed cheese snacks galore, plus some red hot candies and, obviously, devil lollipops.

ginafinalHannah and me and Garrett – doodles courtesy of Garrett, the lovable scamp
IMG_20150106_190306My seven-year-old self would be so psyched to know that I would one day write a book that is essentially a 349-page ode to Cheetos

Next stop was the Barnes & Noble in Syracuse, NY (thanks to Nick Bennett!), where a whole chunk of my family and friends came out, and I proceeded to remind them why they should be embarrassed of me.

20150110_141046Because of my relentless desire to sell books and also smart media desks

Ooh, and there was this awesome cookie cake (which is a thing in HELLHOLE) that my mom ordered. I would give anything to have listened in on the phone call that resulted in this delight, but sadly it is lost to the ages. Not lost to the ages: that black frosting, which is currently still staining my teeth.

IMG_20150110_124624“That’s right, I said Hellhole. Hell. Hole. No, not hello. That wouldn’t make any sense at all.”

Needless to say, I stuffed it in my face and a good time was had by all…who also stuffed it in their faces. Thanks so everyone who came out to see me, and I’ll hopefully have some news soon about more appearances in the spring!

 

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