I would have loved a trip anywhere with my grandma Maddalena, so here’s to the Heroine of this book, who does just that (with her Aunt, not grandma, but the idea stands).
The Audiobook is Passports and Plum Blossoms by Barbara Oliverio, narrated by Faye Wagner. It’s a Romantic comedy of 7 hours and 28 minutes.
Annalise Fontana is feeling blue with no job, no boyfriend, and packed among her childhood memories in her parents’ home. What could be more enticing than the opportunity to serve as a companion to her elderly Auntie Lil on a senior citizens’ tour of China (with a side trip to Singapore)? She digs out her passport and packs her bags and assumes that she’s in for a tranquil Jane Austenesque journey.
Nothing could be further from the truth as the trip takes a turn before they even leave the country. What follows is a lively journey with a cast of quirky travel companions who are anything but dull. The Fontana girls immediately fit in to the festive group.
While visiting heart-stopping sights, Annalise also has her heart begin pounding faster as she meets a number of charming young men. But who is the mysterious, brooding stranger who seems to pop up on the streets of Singapore, in Beijing’s Forbidden City, and stays on her mind at the Great Wall of China?
About the Author: Barbara Oliverio
Readers’ Favorite Award™ Winner Barbara Oliverio is the daughter of Italian immigrants and a real coal miner’s daughter. She grew up in West Virginia with a love of reading and a passion for learning. Following a career path that included being a teacher, journalist, and marketer, she has lived as far away from home as Italy where she practiced her family’s native tongue and took advantage of living near other European countries to travel extensively.Her life-long joy in writing has culminated in novels that focus on young Catholic women in a positive light. Readers of all backgrounds have fallen in love with her charming characters who come from close-knit Catholic families who live out their faith.She is also a freelance editor, professional book critic, and mentors blossoming writers on their own paths.A rabid Pittsburgh Steeler fan, she lives with her husband, an equally committed New York Giants fan, outside Orlando where off-football-season dinner conversation is calmer and is usually accompanied by a meal she cooks from one of her mother’s treasured recipes. Other interests include New York Times crossword puzzles, good movies, and travel.
I loved to have Barbara here, and chat with her about audiobooks.
Barbara, thank you for being here today! I’m new to the Audiobook world, so can you tell me, and the other rookies out there, about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
After deciding to jump into the audiobook world, I decided which of my novels would be the best to be the first one in this method. Next, I chose the company with which to work. I worked with my liaison in collecting all the pertinent information for the metadata, most of which is the same as publishing a paper/ebook – cover art, manuscript, my bio, etc. The main difference in publishing an audiobook is auditioning and selecting a narrator. When she began recording, we communicated on style, pronunciation, etc. Once the book was done, the company provided all the background for publishing.
Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
This is just personal preference, but I think fiction is perfect for autiobook. The reader/listener can get lost in the story while lying back on a beach chair with eyes closed, or the story can keep her company on a long drive or while doing household chores.
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
I never thought of any of my books being in the audiobook format when I first jumped into the world of writing novels. My only goal was to tell good stories that would resonate with people.
How did you select your narrator?
I was presented with a number of possible candidates through the company making the audiobook based on criteria I sent to them. As I listened to them I asked myself “Does she sound like my main character? Can she evoke the tone of the book? Can she do the attribute accents for the other characters?”
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
Before we recorded, I sent her a chart with the character names, a one-liner about each one, and what type of accent they would have. Along with these “snapshots” prior to recording, as we went through the process, I would give feedback on pronunciation of place names, etc., if necessary.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
This book (Passports and Plum Blossoms) was inspired by a trip that my husband and I took through Singapore and China. The characters follow the same route, although the story is totally made up! They visit some of the places we visited (Singaporean neighborhoods, Xian, Great Wall), eat some of the same foods, and even take some of the same photos.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I do listen to some books in audiobook format, but I prefer reading a book on paper. The audiobooks I like are fiction where I can conjure up the setting and the characters as the story goes along.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
I think that any of the parts where Annalise is in her own head, speaking to the audience, are strong. The narrator does a good job of breaking the fourth wall seamlessly.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
When writing the character of Eli, I had the actor Henry Golding in my head, so he would definitely be Eli. (Note: I wrote this book several years before he broke out in the movie Crazy, Rich Asians!). The character of Annalise in my head was based on an Alyssa Milano type, but she is not the right age now, so Lacey Chabert would work. Auntie Lil reminds me of the late Debbie Reynolds or Rita Moreno, so Rita Moreno it is.
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
I’d say “get with the program!” Although you might not want to listen to every book genre – and no one is saying you have to do so – having the ability to listen to a great story while driving or exercising or cleaning the house is great!
About the Narrator: Faye Wagner
After touring the country with Broadway’s “Annie”, Faye studied at the famed Moscow Art Theatre, in winter, for the full Chekov experience. Returning to the sunshine of Los Angeles, she earned her BA in Theatre Arts magna cum laude from Loyola Marymount University. Faye’s stage work includes a Broadwayworld award winning turn in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and “The Grapes of Wrath” directed by MacArthur “Genius” winner David Cromer. TV work includes “Law and Order: True Crime”, “I Love Dick”, “Ray Donovan”, “Lucky Louie”, “’til Death”, and “The War at Home”.
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