Playing with Fire

Audio Drama

Click on image above for link to the Radio Drama, which is downloadable for your local radio station or website. Produced for Sun Sounds Radio for the Blind (art museum related horror,) with a link to the charity. Free download; several others are there too. Full cast and sound. In news, my novel Awakening Storm has been released at Audible, narrated by ESPN horse racing producer and voiceover talent Barry Abrams. 

Barry Abrams

Hurricane Season

Audiobook News

Audiobooks

Even the ones which get the boot are worth a look, or listen…

Through the Audie Awards® competition, publishers enter titles in various categories for recognition of excellence. Finalists are selected by a diverse group of experienced judges and one winner is awarded the Audie in each category. Finalists for Industry Awards for Excellence in Design, Marketing, and Production and for Audiobook of the Year announced. For more information and to see a list of all of the nominees, visit www.theaudies.com.

Some of the nominees we recommend are:  Glass Houses by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio / How to Work for an Idiot (Revised and Expanded with More Idiots, More Insanity, and More Incompetency): Survive and Thrive Without Killing Your Boss by John Hoover, narrated by Brian Sutherland, published by Audible Studios / Peak Performance by Brad Stullberg and Steve Magness, narrated by Christopher Lane, published by Brilliance Publishing / The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss, narrated by Kate Reading, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Beartown by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Code Girls by Liza Mundy, narrated by Erin Bennett, published by Hachette Audio / Carpet Diem: Or…How to Save the World by Accident by Justin Lee Anderson, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books / The Handmaid’s Tale: Special Edition by Margaret Atwood and Valerie Martin, narrated by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, and a full cast, published by Audible Studios / Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope, narrated by David Shaw-Parker, published by Naxos AudioBooks / The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, narrated by Ruthie Ann Miles, Kimiko Glenn, and others, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Macmillan Audio / Nevertheless We Persisted, edited by Tanya Eby: Blunder Woman Productions / Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A. Romero, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Rex Linn, Gabrielle de Cuir, Adenrele Ojo, Richard Gilliland, Ray Porter, Kristoffer Tabori, and Kasey Lansdale, published by Blackstone Publishing / Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy, published by Listening Library / Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork, narrated by Roxana Ortega and Christian Barillas, published by Scholastic Audio / Now, isn’t this all “The Voice” for Voice Actors? Somebody call Adam Levine. Today is his birthday. On today, March 18, if you say, “Alexa, Hello,” into your Amazon Echo, she will tell you this. Scary? She’s an AI. What happens when AI happens for real, with real emotions? Real narrations, robot actors? For now, Alexa can play your Audible audiobooks, and keep track of chapters and how much time is left in the book! AGT.

Whiskey Business

If your audiobook doesn’t win, you could turn to whiskey. Whiskey Business, that is! An audiobook narrated by Barry Abrams. A Powerball winner was announced today, too. Consolation prize? Or you could win next time.

 

Bill Clinton and James Patterson?

Bill Clinton

The name of James Patterson is ubiquitous. Go to any hotel or cruise ship pool in summer, and you’ll see someone reading a Patterson thriller.  A former ad man, he is now the reigning king of pop fiction superstars, and lives part of the year in Palm Beach, Florida.  I once met him at Book Expo America.  His numerous books includes INVISIBLE, co-written with David Ellis, and read by Kevin T. Collins. PRIVATE GAMES was set at the London Olympic games in 2012, it’s about a terrorist named Cronus who wants to restore the games to their ancient “glory” by destroying the modern games of greed and corruption. A private security firm investigates, with newspaper reporter Karen Pope on the case. ZOO was a TV series. And THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING is due 6/4/18. Preorder HERE

JONATHAN LOWE: What led you to writing? Were you a voracious reader?

JAMES PATTERSON: I was a good student in high school, but I didn’t like to read at all. I’m still not a big fan of Silas Marner. Just after I graduated from high school, I got a job working at a famous mental hospital. I had a lot of free time, and I started reading everything I could get my hands on. At this point, I was reading serious fiction, poetry, essays, plays. I still didn’t read any commercial fiction. When I was in my twenties I read two commercial novels that turned it all around for me–Day of the Jackal and The Exorcist. At that point, I decided that I wanted to write a novel that readers would find almost impossible to put down.

Q: What was your reaction to the success of “Along Came a Spider?”

A: Long before I had a success with “Along Came A Spider,” I had learned to stop and smell the roses. Consequently, I savored every moment when Along Came A Spider hit the bestseller lists. That included every bookstore I visited on tour, every interview, every kind review.

Q: Was the Alex Cross character your first choice as protagonist? How and why did you develop him to be who he is?

A: Actually, when I began “Along Came A Spider,” Alex Cross was a woman. I wrote about fifty pages, and decided to go in another direction. I’ve told the story about where the Cross family came from, but I’m happy to tell it again. When I was a kid growing up in Newburgh, New York, my grandparents owned a small restaurant. The cook was a black woman named Laura. When I was three or four, she was having trouble with her husband and my parents urged her to move in with us. Over the next four years, I spent incredible amounts of time with Laura and her family. I got an incredible feeling for the warmth and good humor that they shared. That certainly influenced my creating the Cross family.

Q: Did you begin by thinking of Alex as a series character? Coming up with nursery rhymes as titles is obviously good for name recognition, but how much did they influence the actual plotting?

A: When I wrote “Along Came A Spider” I wasn’t thinking about creating a series. The publisher wanted to make a two-book deal, and the more I thought about writing about Alex again, the more I liked it. I don’t think the nursery rhymes have much to do with the plotting at all.

Q: Nor do I. One thing which strikes me about your books is your creative use of short chapters for dramatic effect. Knowing when and where to end a chapter which leaves the reader guessing or biting their nails or just staring at the page in shock. Two of your chapters in ROSES ARE RED are mere one liners, which explains a total of 125 chapters in a relatively short book. When your wife asks how much you’ve written today and you say “two chapters” doesn’t she just stare at you?

A: The short chapters were kind of an accident. I had written about thirty chapters of The Midnight Club and I expected to flesh them out later. When I read them, however, I liked the pacing a lot. I eventually fleshed the chapters out, but not as much as I planned to. My wife and I never talk about the quantity of work I’ve done on any given day, just the quality.

Q: Please describe, say, ROSES ARE RED.

A: You get on a roller coaster, it goes on and on for six or seven hours, you can’t believe how many twists and turns you’ve experienced, and when the ride finally stops you get off exhausted, shaken, but strangely satisfied.

Q: Do actual true crimes and criminals inspire you to create psychos like “The Mastermind?”

A: Not really.

Q: In that case, do you think you’re ever going to write a sweet historical romance or western?

A: Actually, I’ve written a very sweet romance, a five-handkerchief story, called Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas. When I told the story to my publishers, everyone in the room cried.  I spent incredible amounts of time with Laura and her family. I got an incredible feeling for the warmth and good humor that they shared. That certainly influenced my creating the Cross family.

Q: Do you listen to audiobooks on the road?

A: Ever since I moved out of New York City, I’ve been addicted to audiobooks. I listen to one or two a week while I’m driving around town. Generally, I listen to the books that I used to buy, but never get around to reading.

PLOT of THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING: 

The White House is the home of the President of the United States, the most guarded, monitored, closely watched person in the world. So how could a U.S. President vanish without a trace? And why would he choose to do so? An unprecedented collaboration between President Bill Clinton and the world’s bestselling novelist, James Patterson, The President Is Missing is a breathtaking story from the pinnacle of power. Full of what it truly feels like to be the person in the Oval Office—the mind-boggling pressure, the heartbreaking decisions, the exhilarating opportunities, the soul-wrenching power—this is the thriller of the decade, confronting the darkest threats that face the world today, with the highest stakes conceivable. 

Elon Musk’s Favorite Book

Tesla

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. How do we know this? A copy exists onboard the Tesla now traveling to Mars. It’s in the glovebox! A sign on dash reads “Don’t Panic!” That’s also from the book. 

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

SpaceX

Brad Thor for President?

Fox News

Brad Thor appeared on Glenn Beck last year disparaging Trump, declaring that he was running himself as a third party candidate. He then withdrew his candidacy, but has since said he is “not a fan” of Trump, and called his first 100 days “a failure.” Should he try pushing a third party again? His new book is USE OF FORCE.

TOWER REVIEW: Your Last Patriot novel was part covert ops political thriller and part DaVinci Code mystery. How did it click for you to combine the two?
BRAD THOR: My thrillers have always centered around covert/black ops and the domestic political landscape. They are subjects I love to write about. Through my writing, I have gotten to know lots of the players in these two arenas. The more time I spend shadowing them and seeing what their lives are like, the more I fall in love with this subject matter and the more I want to write about it.
Q: Do you have any fears of becoming the next exiled Salman Rushdie for postulating such a volatile story line?
A: What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I have spent the last 20 years of my life learning about Islam. It is a fascinating subject, especially in how it promotes violence. What’s also fascinating is that whenever early copies of the Quran are discovered in Muslim nations, they are quickly secreted away. Researchers who have attempted to study them have wound up dying in very mysterious accidents. Now I have come out with a thriller that suggests the Quran is missing a very key text and I am being threatened with death. My book is fiction, but it is based on a handful of fascinating facts and the death threats only seem to support my theory that Islam is hiding a very big secret. Am I afraid of becoming the next Salman Rushdie? Honestly, I don’t relish the idea. Rushdie at one point had a $5 million bounty on his head and supposedly hundreds of Muslim assassins had traveled to London to kill him. Will I change what I have written or somehow recant and beg forgiveness for what is contained within The Last Patriot? Absolutely not. In fact, I find the hypocrisy here fascinating: Islam is a religion of peace and if you say that it isn’t, we’ll kill you.
Q: What kind of research was involved in writing The Last Patriot?
A: The idea for this novel was born in part from an Atlantic Monthly cover article by Toby Lester entitled What is the Koran? I had discovered the piece, several years after its January 1999 publication, while doing research on another novel and had tucked it away for future use. Then I came across an article written by Gerard W. Gawalt, formerly of the Library of Congress, entitled America and the Barbary Pirates: An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe. I started wondering if there was a way I could combine the historical relevance of the Quran and Thomas Jefferson’s experience with the Barbary pirates to create a thriller that would be relevant today.
Q: Jefferson and Islam. There’s a connection?
A: Yes. Thomas Jefferson was the first American president to go to war against radical Islam. The problems Jefferson and America faced over two hundred years ago are incredibly similar to what we as a nation face today and there is much to be learned from them.
Q: I wrote a short story whose fictional premise was that someone in the Bush administration suggested bombing Mecca. An absurd and wild idea for a story, I thought.  Then I learned that someone actually had suggested it. Have you had any surprises in your research that affected plotting?
A: I have surprises like this happen to me all the time. There are certain suggestions and possibilities that just make sense. The key is in beating other writers to it. As I wrapped up the first draft of my manuscript, I received a call from my editor. She had just read a story in The Wall Street Journal about a mysterious archive of ancient Quranic texts in Germany that was believed to have been destroyed in 1944. It contained 450 rolls of films that supposedly chronicled the evolution of the Quran, the Muslim holy book which all Muslims believe was revealed complete, perfect, and inviolate to Islam’s founder Mohammed in the 7th century. The archive, and its subsequent study, had only been handled by three men. The first died in a strange climbing accident in 1933. The second died in a mysterious plane crash in 1941. The third man, wanting to be rid of the entire collection, pretended it had been destroyed and never spoke of it for over sixty years. He died recently at age 93. It seems there is much here worth investigating, and for which men are still willing, even in the case of The Last Patriot, to kill to keep secret.

Thor Ragnarok

Best Audio Books of the Year

Furman

The following are chosen by Tower Review as the Best Audio Books of the Year. They are also available at up to 75% off as audiobooks from Audiobooks Today and TR during Cyber Monday week, which began with Black Friday. Ebook versions also available.  

Hillbilly Elegy written and read by J.D. Vance

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, read by Anne Marie Lee, Will Patton, and Danny Campbell

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, narrated by Alfred Molina

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells, read by the author

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, read by Michael Sheen

Things That Can and Cannot Be Said by Arundhati Roy and John Cusack, read by Sneha Mathan and Jim Meskimen

The Best of Richard Matheson, edited by Victor LaValle, read by a full cast 

The Lost Get-Back Boogie by James Lee Burke, read by Will Patton

Dear World by Bana Alabed, read by the author

Popular by Mitch Prinstein, read by the author

reading

Was privileged to be one of the judges in the VoiceArts awards this year in the Science Fiction category, held in New York City at Lincoln Center. All areas of voiceover are judged, but a few of the winners related to books this year include: Scott Brick in Crime & Thriller and Fiction categories for Dead City and The Last Tribe, respectively. Sneha Mathan and Jeff Wilburn for Classics, The God of Small Things and Moonlight, respectively. Simon Vance for Fantasy, The Wolf of the North. Lisa Flanagan for Mystery, The Unseen World. John Malone for Science Fiction, Dredging Up Memories. Ed Asner and cast for Storytelling, Powder Burns. Adam Verner for Teens, York: The Shadow Cipher. Neil deGrasse Tyson for Author Performance, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Andi Arndt & Zachary Webber for Romance, The Hot One. Brian Blessed for Inspirational, The Cat of Bubastes. R.C. Bray for Short Story Anthology, Diary of an Asscan. January LaVoy for Non-Fiction, Bette & Joan: The Devine Feud. Nicholas Guy Smith for Biography, Notes on Blindness. Malcolm Hillgartner for History, Dunkirk: The Complete Story of the First Step in the Defeat of Hitler. Zak George for Self Help, Dog Training Revolution. Will Damron, Metaphysical, Satan’s Harvest. Joe Barrett, Humor, A Really Big Lunch.   

VoiceArts awards

The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret AtwoodMargaret Atwood’s popular dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale explores a broad range of issues relating to power, gender, and religious politics. Multiple Emmy and Golden Globe award-winner Claire Danes (Temple Grandin, Homeland) gives a stirring performance of this classic in speculative fiction, one of the most powerful and widely read novels of our time. After a staged terrorist attack kills the President and most of Congress, the government is deposed and taken over by the oppressive and all controlling Republic of Gilead. Offred, now a Handmaid serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Despite the danger, Offred learns to navigate the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules in hopes of ending this oppression. The Handmaid’s Tale is narrated on audio by actress Claire Danes.

Margaret Atwood’s books have been published in more than thirty-five countries. Her novels The Handmaid’s Tale and Cat’s Eye were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Blind Assassin was awarded the Booker Prize, Alias Grace won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy. In 2005 Atwood received the Edinburgh International Book Festival Enlightenment Award. She lives in Toronto.