Can You Guess this Actor and Narrator?

Anthony Heald

Anthony Heald acted in plays throughout high school and college, and spent 15 years working in regional theater before settling in New York. He quickly established himself there by playing Tom in a 1980 Off-Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie, and two years later made his Broadway debut alongside Holly Hunter in Beth Henley’s The Wake of Jamey Foster. His performances in Anything Goes and Love! Valour! Compassion! earned him Tony Award nominations, and he was recognized with an Obie Award for his work in the productions of The Foreigner, Digby, Henry V and Quartemaine’s Terms. In film, he has appeared in Silkwood, Outrageous Fortune, and in Silence of the Lambs, with minor roles in The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, Kiss of Death, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Postcards from the Edge, 8MM, Proof of Life, Red Dragon, and Accepted. His over sixty audiobooks to date include Where the Red Fern Grows, The Pelican Brief, Jurassic Park, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, (which was a Clint Eastwood movie and is now a Metabook at iTunes), The Great Gatsby, and many others. He currently resides in Ashland, Oregon with his family, where he is a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company. 

JONATHAN LOWE: Has acting always come naturally to you, and if so, to what do you attribute that–a sensitive nature, curiosity, imagination. . ?

ANTHONY HEALD: I’ve always loved to act, and I guess it’s come instinctively to me. I attribute that to a number of factors: I have a vivid imagination, I’m insatiably curious, I’m an empathetic person. But mostly, I think, the support and encouragement I always got from my family was a major factor in my attraction to the theater and acting, and the decision to try to make a living as an actor.

Q: You’ve done a wide range of acting in your career. What’s most and least gratifying, artistically speaking?

A: For me, the most gratifying kind of work I can do as an actor is in live theater. I love to rehearse – to explore, over a period of weeks, the imaginative life of a character; to find organic behavior for that character that helps to illustrate who he is and what he wants. I love to connect with my scene partners, and to have the opportunity to go through a project over and over again from beginning to end.

Q: If you could have any role to perform, and any book to narrate, what would they be, and why?

A: At this stage in my life Lear is beginning to look more realistic! And I’d love a chance to do Falstaff. As far as audio recording goes, I’ve recorded about half of Chekhov’s short stories – I’d love to finish that.

Q: You have SF and particularly Star Wars productions in common with narrator Jon Davis, although I’ve only heard you in SF titles like Eifelheim by Michael Flynn and Ubik by Philip K. Dick. Were yours full cast and sound, or solo narration, and how did they come about?

A: The Star Wars audiobooks I did (about 35 or 40 of them) were all solo narration, with music and sound effects added later on. Alas, I’m not a big science fiction fan.

Q: We love Black Mask Audio Magazine. Have you done any other full cast productions or radio dramas, and was it particularly fun for you, working with Blackstone Audio?

A: Black Mask was the only full cast radio drama I’ve done. We’ve recorded full cast audio recordings of the Shakespeare productions done at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in October. Our first was “King Henry VIII”, since no one can predict how many decades will go by before we do that play again!

Q: Ashland, Oregon has turned into like this mecca, or Los Angeles North, for audiobook narrators, now that Grover is head of production at Blackstone there. Are you and Tom Weiner and the gang still doing productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, too? And does the place merit a tourist visit?

A: I’m in my 6th season at OSF, and will be returning next season as Shylock. Ashland and the Festival are definitely worth a week-long visit!

Q: What’s next up for you? More classics too, I hope. You did a wonderful job with The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, and Crime and Punishment.

A: I hope I get to do more classics – “Crime and Punishment” was great fun to do!

Blair Howard: Harry Starke Author

Blair HowardA tactical nuclear weapon has gone missing somewhere in the Middle East and is thought to have been smuggled into the United States by a small group of Iranian terrorists intent on chaos and destruction. The target? Unknown, but the FBI’s local director is convinced that it’s the Sequoya nuclear plant and that the clock is ticking. Convinced that the threat is real and that his only link to the terrorists is Harry Starke’s nemesis, Shady Tree, he turns to Harry for help. But Harry has demons of his own to deal with, and the hunt for Tree quickly turns into a race against time. Apocalypse is the 13th standalone novel in a series of hard-boiled thrillers. If you like tough-as-nails heroes and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Blair Howard’s latest gritty, edge-of-your-seat thriller. Blair Howard is author of more than 40 books and more than 4,500 magazine, newspaper, and web articles. For seven long and dreadful years, he ran the Golf Travel channel for the New York Times company, and I continued to do so, even after the NYT sold the company in 2013, for 3 more years – 10 in all. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Delta’s Sky Magazine, PHOTOgraphic magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Walking Magazine, Petersen’s Hunting Magazine, The Boston Herald, The Detroit Free-Press, The Anchorage Times and many more.

Jonathan Lowe) How did you began writing? 

Blair Howard) I was a journalist for a great many years, eight of them for the new York Times company, but I’ve always wanted to write fiction but never could find enough time. I made several starts – short stories, one of which became my sixth Harry Starke Novel, Family Matters – but it wasn’t until 2015 that I began writing fiction in earnest. Harry Starke Book 1 was completed in September that year.

JL) What is the takeaway to Apocalypse, and the inspiration for it? 

BH) Apocalypse is a thriller rather than a crime/mystery novel, and it’s the latest book in the Harry Starke series having been published only six weeks six weeks ago. It’s the result of a half dozen or so comments in reviews that stated that, “Harry Starke is no Jack Reacher.” Of course he’s not; he never was meant to be. He’s a detective, and a damn good one, or so his fans tell me across more than 6,000 four and five-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I never take negative reviews personally – you either like the stories or you don’t – but those comments started my juices flowing. “If you want Jack Reacher,” I thought, “I can do that,” and I did, and quite successfully too judging by the reviews: 115 so far at 4.8-star average on Amazon alone; even more on Goodreads.

JL) Why Indie and not a major publisher? Creative control?

BH) Over a period of twenty years, I had three different traditional publishers for 24 of my books. After each initial book launch, they promptly forgot about them and they ceased to sell. Now, as an Indie, I sell more books in month than I did in two years with a traditional publisher. I write the books, employ a professional editor, book cover designer, audio narrator (Tom Lennon) and I do my own marketing. Since I went Indie, I’ve sold almost 200,000 copies of my books (ebooks and paperbacks), including more than 6,500 audio books. I think I’m doing fine on my own.

JL) Any thoughts on the writing and marketing process?

BH) I do all of my own marketing and promoting. In fact, I spend almost as much time marketing as I do writing. I’m like the “My Pillow Guy” for my books.

JL) Anecdotes about fans of Harry?

BH) Anecdotes? I don’t know. What amazes me most is that so many of Harry’s fans think he’s a real person. Now that’s a complement any writer would be proud to receive. I know I am.

JL) What’s next for you?

BH) I’ll continue to write Harry Starke novels, and of course I’ll continue to add to the spinoff series, The Lt. Kate Gazzara Novels. One day, I may even try my hand at SciFi, or even a spy thriller. Who knows? I do know that I’ll continue to write until I am no longer physically able, and I hope Tom Lennon will continue to narrate the Harry Starke audio books. He is the audio Harry Starke; he does a great job.

JL) Agreed. Thanks.

Apocalypse book

Our Towns by James Fallows

Our Towns
James Fallows is a writer and journalist for The Atlantic. He was Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter, and won the National Book Award in 1983 for National Defense. He has since written about China, business, technology, and the military in both books and articles. A Rhodes scholar at Oxford in economics, he also went to Harvard, where he was editor of the Harvard Crimson. He later worked as an editor at The Washington Monthly, Texas Monthly, and U.S. News & World Report. In addition to holding a number of honorary degrees, he is also a licensed pilot, and once, long ago, worked as a mail carrier for the USPS. Given this experience, it is perhaps befitting that his latest book is written with his wife Deborah, who narrates, and is titled OUR TOWNS: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America. 

Jonathan Lowe) Describe your book tour. Whom did you meet?

James Fallows) Over the past four months, my wife, Deb, and I have spent most of our time on the road across the United States, talking with readers — and a wide range of other citizens. We’ve met business people, teachers and librarians, mayors and other political leaders, immigrants and refugees, artists, nurses and doctors, police officers and judges, architects and construction staffers, farmers and shop owners, reporters and local news staffers, entrepreneurs, brewers and distillers, truckers and delivery drivers, and the others who make up a modern community. 

JL) Impressions of America between the coasts?

JF) The more we’ve continued to travel, the more humbled and impressed we’ve become by the breadth and intensity of the renewal efforts already underway in communities large and small. Every American is aware of the problems and failures of the current United States, from bitter division at the level of national politics to economic dislocation and stagnation, and drug-addiction scourges. But not enough people are vividly enough aware of how much innovative energy is being applied toward solutions. 

JL) How do you think this will all turn out?

JF) We can’t be sure — no one can — of how the balance between national-level bitterness and local-level practicality will turn out. But the more we’ve seen, the more convinced Deb and I have become about the importance of sharing these stories and letting today’s Americans know about the solutions their fellow citizens are discovering.  

JL) You and your wife recorded the audio version of this book, reading the alternating passages each of you wrote. What did you learn from the experience? 

JF) We benefitted from the guidance of a skillful producer / director of the recording, Gordon Rachman. Deb says about the experience, “Gordon was a great coach. He turned a famously arduous process —(think of going to the dentist!) — into one that was as pleasant and rewarding as could be. Think of the happy gas!” I agree with Deb, and found the recording process both more demanding than I expected and also more satisfying…in contrast to the tolerance for half-slurred words we get in normal life. Deb and I were trying to tell the story of what we had seen city-by-city as we went across the country. Telling those stories aloud, finally, seemed like the right and natural way to deliver the message. Although I couldn’t help copy-editing myself as we went along, or thinking, “Gee, there could have been a clearer way to make that point!” I am a huge fan and customer of audiobooks, and so I was all the more gratified to be able to participate in this part of the writing and publishing process. 

From the Publisher: “For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. Visiting dozens of towns, they have met hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, public servants, librarians, business people, city planners, students, and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign.  The America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems—from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge—but it is also crafting solutions, with a practical-minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics. At times of dysfunction on a national level, reform possibilities have often arisen from the local level. They describe America in the middle of one of these creative waves. Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself, but it also reflects the energy, the generosity and compassion, the dreams, and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better. Our Towns is the story of their journey—and an account of a country busy remaking itself.”

FallowsLinks:  Ebook.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

Commentary.

Occupational Hazards

Occupational HazardsGeoff Sturtevant has been driving a truck and voraciously consuming audiobooks for 16 years. He won the 2018 ABR LISTENERS CHOICE AWARD for best humor entry for his audiobook production of Occupational Hazards: The Blue-Collar Omnibus. He writes about the absurd, the macabre, and the general strangeness of the human experience. The book is quite amusing, and different. There’s something for everyone: mystery, suspense, satire, scifi, you name it. He’s the James Patterson of humor: inventive, offbeat, and able to dole out even gallows humor effects in ever rising insight. The opening story is sheer redneck fun, told with a believable accent on audio. He also narrates some of the stories. A brief interview below. 

Geoff Sturtevant

Q) How did you start writing?

A) I started writing mostly to make my mom laugh. I’d spend two or three weeks writing a novelette just to invite her over, hand her a manuscript, and just sit in the other room listening to her laugh. There’s something about making a 70 year-old lady laugh at what she’s probably not supposed to laugh at that’s very gratifying. Craft is more important to me than being funny, but I love getting laughs most of all. 

Q) Why this book, and why multiple narrators on the audio version?

A) I put together Occupational Hazards with the audiobook specifically in mind. I’m a huge audiobook fan, and I reached out to a bunch of my personal favorite narrators to help me produce it. The response has been positive, and the narrators had a lot to do with that.

Q) Views on morality, which arise in your writing. God given or human choice?

A) I think morality is both God-given and based on choices. New cultural values are embraced, and God-given morals are ignored. People are complicated creatures, and no one reason is responsible for anyone’s particular values. Both of my daughters, for example, decided as soon as they understood meat came from animals, that they didn’t want to eat meat. It still surprises me that this seemed to be their default moral choice. Maybe they’ll un-learn this one, maybe not. I do hope to teach them other ones I consider valuable, but society is steadily forgetting. 

Q) Funny you should mention meat. I’ve interviewed authors on both sides of that issue, too. Meatonomics versus The Big Fat Surprise. Been trying to reach Dr. Preston Estep at Harvard, who takes another view in The Mindspan Diet, showing that iron in meat and supplemental iron added to flours in America cause Alzheimers in over age 50 adults. I forget who the other one I interviewed…oh, right! Kelly Preston. Tell us about your story The Relativist. 

A) In that story, which on the surface is a really ridiculous, the underlying moral message/question is: if you’ve committed to ethical relativism, is it possible to hold anything sacred? The story is totally surreal, but it constantly puts cultural values at odds with each other; from quirky culinary differences to all-out good vs. evil. Moral values is a tough subject itself, but it’s good for writing fiction. You don’t necessarily need the answers, only the conflict. 

Great Party! Sorry About the Murder

Great Party
Great Party! Sorry About the Murder. Synopsis:
Former cop (now private detective) Milo Rathkey has been scraping by since his divorce ten years ago. Most of his work involves following cheating spouses and finding missing people. He considers it unexciting. When Milo was eight his cop father was shot and killed, and his mother went to work as a cook for John McKnight on an estate called Lakesong. Milo lived at Lakesong for the next ten years.  When John died he left Milo fifteen million dollars and half of the Lakesong estate to be shared with John’s son Sutherland. Milo is dragged into the world of the wealthy, specifically to a New Year’s Eve party hosted by the beautiful Mary Alice Bonner, whose husband James is a bully and all around nasty character. After the party, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, James in shot in his home office. His friend police Lieutenant Ernie Gramm asks Milo to assist in the investigation. The suspects include the wife, the son, two low life thugs, the brother, and two business associates, one of whom is having an affair with Mary Alice. As Milo attempts to find the murderer, he is introduced to Sutherland’s world, and Sutherland to Milo’s. The victim, James Bonner is in both worlds, as Milo comes to find out. The solution has a twist but if the reader catches the clues, it is right in front of them. On audio, the novel is narrated by Tom Lennon. Interview with D.B. Elrogg below.

Alyce and Harvey Elrogg
Q) What is your background, and what influenced you to write a novel?

A) My career centered around television, first for local stations (including WCCO in the Twin Cities) and then CBS News and ABC News. I’ve written one or two guest pieces for magazines, but never as a staff member. All my writing was the quick, get to the point, let the visual tell the story of television. Alyce on the other hand, has been a talented and gifted English teacher for almost thirty years. Her writing is much more formal, so every time I write the word “very” I get an electric shock! English teachers have an aversion to the word “very.” I do get to use it in dialog because people say it all the time.

Q) Trump especially. Why not non-fiction, like many journalists?

A) We never did have much interest in writing nonfiction books. I think the process would be mind numbing and I have great respect for those that do it. Writing fiction, especially fiction with a little humor, is far more fun, and we’re retired. Fiction does sell better but we’re not writing to become fabulously wealthy. We wanted to do something together and to have fun. We did, however, blow our first royalty check at Baskin Robbins. We each got double scoops!

Q) Al Roker writes fiction too; and now Bill Clinton. Generally, fiction sells better unless the person is famous or in the news spotlight. Did any of the events in your novel actually happen?

A)  I have a relative who said there is no way the ending of Great Party could occur in real life.  I assured her—not only could it occur, but it did. Of course the story lines are changed and embellished to fit our plots! I tend to write, and Alyce tends to fix, until we come to writing scenes involving women. Then she writes and I keep my mouth shut. There is an occasional “Oh come on, how long can she be mad about this?” To which the response is “More than four pages.” Alyce is also the stickler on not using poetic license. “How did he get out on the lawn? There’s no door there!’ I have to admit ninety nine percent of the time she’s right.

Q) Of corpse. Fav authors or influence? 

A) We are fans of Agatha Christie, especially for how she crafts a mystery. Her readers get a chance to solve the crime, if they avoid the red hearings. We hope our books do the same although rising to Christie’s level would be next to impossible. I also appreciate writers who create interesting characters.  Lynn Florkiewicz, Faith Martin, and P.B. Kolleri are among my favorites, although I wish Kolleri would quit traveling and get back to England.

Q) What news stories influenced your writing? Any anecdotes to share?

A) In my time as a television reporter and producer I covered a multitude of crimes, many of which will appear in our books. The scam being run by James Bonner in Great Party actually happened in Duluth in the seventies. Likewise our second book mirrors a real life murder. Our third book will probably have a fictional account of a double murder which occurred in St. Paul in the eighties. In that case I was allowed to read the police file and realized how conflicting the various witnesses were in their accounts. Even people’s perceptions of the victims were wildly different. 

Q) What’s next for you? Sequel?

A) We have just finished the first draft of book two. We will rewrite it two more times before publishing it. Hopefully it will be out in October. We write for the fun of it, and are pleasantly surprised by the number of great reviews by people who seem to enjoy it as much as we do. 

The Genius of Harlan Ellison

The Genius of Harlan Ellison remembered…

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison died in June 27 at age 84. He wrote or edited more than 120 books, and more than 1,700 stories, essays, and articles, as well as dozens of screenplays and teleplays. He won numerous awards, including the Edgar Award, a Hugo Award, an Audie Award for Best Solo Narration (including other authors work), and five Nebula Awards, breaking scifi genre records. A Grand Master chosen by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, he is responsible for inspiring The Terminator, keeping Star Trek alive during the very first season (when it faced cancellation), and writing some of the most legendary and imaginative stories ever, like “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.” (An AI has trapped a final group of humans in an eternal hell for revenge until one sees a way to trick it by murder/suicide in a moment of inattention…only he fails to kill himself before he’s stopped, and now the AI vows never to drop its attention again, and turns him into a slug-like being in a torture chamber without end. William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, creator of Cyberpunk, credits Harlan for being there first.) “A Boy and His Dog” was made into a Don Johnson movie, about a super intelligent dog who can speak, and protects his master from the dangers of a ravaged post-apocalyptic tic Earth. There is an underground city with suburban-like streets, from which a girl has snuck out topside, dressed like a bum, and the dog alerts the boy to follow her down. Dying of hunger, the dog waits for him. She tries to convince him to stay, forget the dog, insults him, and asks him “what is love?” She follows him out, and the scene moves forward to him remembering her question. The dog is no longer hungry. Last sentences: “What is love? A boy loves his dog.” The movie version was a cynical twist, with the dog saying, “She didn’t have good taste, but she sure did taste good.” (Laughter.) Ellison was angry, and filed many lawsuits against those who misused his work, or didn’t credit him. For a complete rendering of his run-ins with Star Trek and William Shatner, and his feud with Roddenberry, listen to THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, which references his award-winning Star Trek teleplay. (Roddenberry lied? Yes, some lies are indisputable and documented.) Ellison enjoyed rubbing the lies in, too, and mostly won his lawsuits and awards. He even sued James Cameron, an honorable man, who settled out of court. “Writers always get the shaft,” he said. “Every thug and studio putz and semi-literate merchandizer has grown fat as a maggot off what I created.” OMG. Yes, he was derisive. But most local press is more interested in viral cat videos than local writers. Movie and sports stars? They are American Gods. Author of American Gods, Neil Gaiman, credits Ellison in becoming a writer. Ellison was friends with Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451. Stephen King tweeted, “There was no one quite like him in American letters, and never will be. Angry, funny, eloquent, hugely talented. If there’s an afterlife, Harlan is already kicking ass and taking down names.”    

scifi

Print review version. My ebook dedicated to him HERE.

Robin Williams and Leonard Nimoy on Harlan Ellison below:

Simon Vance Interview about The Audie Awards

Simon Vance

Simon Vance is an audiobook narrator and actor, one of the most listenable voices in the industry. He is an Audible Hall of Fame member, and a winner of 14 Audie Awards and 67 Audiofile Magazine Earphones Awards. As an Audiofile “Golden Voice” and Booklist Magazine “Voice of Choice,” he has recorded titles in all genres for many publishers, reading authors from Alan Moore to Sherlock Holmes. From Lily King’s “Euphoria” to “Bring Up the Bodies” by Hilary Mantel. Stieg Larsson to Frank Herbert. He has done horror, too. Clive Barker, Brian Lumley, and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.“ Add “Paul is Dead” by Alan Goldsher to the list (the Beatles as zombies.) The “Master and Commander” series by Patrick O’Brien. The Biography of Rod Stewart. An astonishing list of over 750 titles includes “Cloud Atlas” by David Mitchell, one of my personal favorites (as a writer,) made into the remarkable movie starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. The only thing we can’t say about Simon, in fact, is that he has never narrated (nor is he related to) Hugo winning Scifi author Jack Vance, whose novel “To Live Forever” (I am proud to say) was acquired by Blackstone Audio’s Grover Gardner due to my suggestion, narrated by Kevin Kenerly. Simon has also had parts in movies and TV series, has done commercials for major corporations, and lives in Brighton, UK. —Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe) It’s an honor to host the Audie Awards. What surprised you most about that?

Simon Vance) What surprised me most was being asked in the first place. I knew they were having difficulties finding a high profile host this year but Michele seemed to have everything in hand and was quite confident, as she told me at Katy Kellgren’s memorial just the week before she called me, that she’d be able to find someone from amongst the many ‘performers’ there already were amongst the narrators, should it come to that. Little did I know it would be me. Many years ago Bob Deyan had told me that he’d put me forward as a potential host, which shocked me at the time. But when Michele did call I just felt ready.

Lowe)  But you were ready, having attended so many events over the years?

Vance) Over the past decade or so I’ve only missed one. So I knew how things worked, and was ready!

Lowe) Anecdotes to share? Favorite moments?

Vance) Favorite moments? Well, certainly the moment when the whole thing was over and I’d made it through relatively unscathed! Otherwise there are moments of satisfaction, in that I could say to myself “I handled that.” Back in 2006, I think, when Grover Gardner was the host I went up to accept my first Audie and while giving my acceptance speech. Every winner did back then. The event lasted hours. But I messed up the position of his notes and it took him some moments while he sorted them out and found his place again! I’ve always felt so guilty about that. Fast forward to this year and something similar happened to me…someone told me afterwards that they thought they’d moved my script and it was their fault that I started in on the wrong introduction. But I think I had confused the order of the pages myself…I’d call that karma. But I “handled it,” as I think I did in the moment things got awkward, when the audio/visuals didn’t behave and I filled the embarrassing silence with a little soft-shoe shuffle across the stage…which linked back nicely to my referencing the desire to do a song and dance number for the opening.

Lowe) Do you have any friends who prefer print books, which may go the way of cassettes and even CDs, as in Fahrenheit 451?

Vance) It’s not something I go around asking my friends! But I don’t see print books as being in the same category as cassettes and CDs by any stretch. Despite some people’s doom-laden prognostications, I believe there will always be print. Clearly it’s more expensive to create a hard cover book than it is to distribute data, but just look at the market for vinyl, which is also a relatively modern invention and again not really comparable to print. I think there will always be a desire to read words on paper and to collect libraries…I mean, the money isn’t there, so it’s never going to be as big as it was but this is not an art form that will vanish any time soon.

Lowe) What’s next for you?

Vance) More of the same! I’m back in the studio already booked solidly for the next 6 weeks with an exciting roster of books from new and returning authors to look forward to in the fall.

Lowe) Thanks, look forward to hearing more!

(And now, a sample of Vance reading David Copperfield, which is included in the original movie Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury as a book that must be learned and spoken aloud to be saved from the fire.)