Anyone who knows me in the M/M Romance fans community knows that the Adrien English Series by Josh Lanyon hold a most special place in my heart. I have waxed long…and even longer about all the ways I think Josh is a genius, and on how I think of Jake and Adrien as real people. Jake and Adrien’s romance is one of the iconic love stories in this genre, that’s a fact, but I never give them enough credit for the incredibly good mystery novels they are as well. Recently revisiting the stories on audio really brought that back for me. I must admit I had forgotten in the four years since I first read the series just how much fun those mysteries were to read.
I had been considering getting the books on audio after hearing GREAT things about it for awhile. But actually who finally convinced me to get them was the lovely Z.A. Maxfield who was listening to the The Hell You Say in her car, during a day she and I spent together in Newport Beach last December. A couple weeks after I saw ZAM, I was getting ready for a road trip through the Southwest with my husband and child, and I purchased the first three books in the series from Audible.com. Man, was that the right call! My husband and I drove across a good chunk of Arizona and New Mexico completely immersed in Adrien’s sleuthing adventures. My husband who has watched me fall deeply in love with this genre in the past four years with mostly amused bemusement, was as surprised as I was to find himself waiting anxiously to hear the next chapter, and what those boys were up to. As for me, who had read the series, and cherished that experience as one of the most emotional and wonderful I’ve ever had as a reader, it was like learning the story again.
I had forgotten the involved and complex mysteries Jake and Adrien solved together. I had forgotten just how much heartbreak and anguish I lived through with those two men. They broke my heart just like the first time, and I wanted their happily ever after so bad I could taste it. Just as amazing, but different, and in some ways better, because the voices the narrator, Chris Patton, gave to the books were nothing short of masterful. He told the story in a way that made me feel completely connected to Jake and Adrien, the emotion, the humor, the anger, everything sounded so genuine. I got caught up in his voice, and the story like I was new to it all.
One of the best parts of listening to the books was remembering little details that I loved the first time around, but had forgotten about. Like for example, Adrien’s appreciation for a good California House Wine. Who said that just because a wine bottle is mass produced it can’t be enjoyable?! Adrien was never too good to order himself a glass of whatever, if the moment called for it, a kindred spirit indeed. In light of that, for this post I chose two California wines that are cheap, tasty and likely to show up on a restaurant chain menu…If they do, order with confidence, because the Sterling Vintners Collection 2012 Pinot Grigio and the Ravenswood 2012 Petit Sirah are delicious and affordable. The Petit Sirah is a spicy, but surprisingly light red which goes amazingly well with curries or roasted veggies, and the Pinot Grigio well chilled is delicious and crisp, lovely on its own or with a light pasta or seafood dish.
While listening to the stories I wondered many times about the process of putting a series like this one into audio. There is so much that could be tricky. From finding someone that could put the right emotions in the voices, to giving the erotic scenes the right tone, to putting a product out there that would appeal to loyal fans of the series, as well as people new to it. Chris Patton got all of this right mind you, but how did Josh find him? How did he even start out on this process? How was it to hear his stories, his characters come to life?…On a another but not less important note…What are some of HIS favorite California budget wines? SO MUCH I NEEDED TO KNOW!! Josh graciously indulged me by answering all my questions and letting me in on how he did it. Here is what he had to say!
“Fatal Shadows was the first title I wanted to put into audio. I was very uncertain about the process. I had tried a couple of different companies and no one seemed to have a very professional approach to it. In a couple of cases I couldn’t even get an answer. Then I stumbled across the Audio Creative Exchange and the platform seemed simple and user-friendly. I did a lot of research on them, and they seemed pretty new, but initial reports sounded promising. So I nervously uploaded the book info and audition script and then I started listening to samples from potential narrators. I came across Chris Patton fairly soon — there were not nearly the number of narrators and production companies on ACX at that point — and I liked his voice a lot. But I could see from his profile that he was extremely busy, and I just assumed he would be out of my price range and not interested. I decided to wait and see what auditions I got. It took a few weeks, and I got several competent submissions, but this was Adrien! I needed that voice to be exactly right. And then to my delight, Chris contacted me and asked to audition! I heard his audition, and it was exactly what I had hoped. I knew this would be a good match of narrator and story.
Chris had the right voice — both voices were right (which is important in any romance audio book; you’ve got to have two attractive voices) and it was clear he “got” the story. He wasn’t just reading words, he understood the subtext as well. That makes all the difference in an audio book.
The process did take a while. Chris had some health issues, and some other things cropped up, but we got the book done and out there and it did very well right away, which encouraged me to try another audio. This time I went with The Darkling Thrush which had been doing really, really well since I had re-released it under my own imprint. At that point I was really starting to have fun with the whole process. It’s definitely a rush to find those voices that closely match the character voice you hear in your mind.
At the same time, it’s difficult hearing my work outloud. As gratifying as it is to hear the story come to life — and it really does come to life in a completely different, intense way through narration — it’s also hard hearing all the little copyedit errors and repetition brought to life as well. And I cannot BEAR to hear my erotic scenes read aloud. I do listen to them because I have to catch any misspeaks or glitches, but OH MY GOD. It’s torture.
I’m not saying it drives me to drink, but when I’m listening to those final files, I usually pour myself a glass of wine, lie down on the sofa, close my eyes and just listen…
Oh! And you were asking about my favorite house wines? If you’re looking for an inexpensive but decent wine there’s Rabbit Ridge’s Cabernet (although that’s not inexpensive anymore!), Salmon Creek’s Merlot, Woodbridge (Robert Mondavi) makes a nice Cabernet Merlot, Ridge Crest Syrah is another nice one, and LB Gregg sent me a bottle of Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvée 2010 – I liked that a lot. And I am not too proud to admit that I will buy Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) on occasion.
So that is all for me today guys! Thanks to Josh Lanyon for taking the time to talk with me about all the work it took to give us this wonderful medium to enjoy his stories. I hope that this post will give you a push to pick up these audiobooks, they are very much worth experiencing. I also encourage you to get out there, and take a chance on the house wines being offered where you live, you may be surprised by what you discover, as Josh said to me “there are perfectly good house wines out there!”, I could not agree more!!
Cheers and Happy Reading!