Spoken Freely, a group of more than 40 professional narrators, has teamed with Going Public and Tantor Media to celebrate June Is Audiobook Month (JIAM) by offering Summer Shorts ’14, an audio collection of poetry, short stories, and essays. All proceeds from sales of the collection will go to ProLiteracy, a national literacy outreach and advocacy organization.
Every day during the month of June, one or two stories, poems, or essays will be released via Going Public, as well as on various author and book blogs. Pieces will be available for free online listening on their day of release. As a bonus for those who purchase the full collection from Tantor Media in support of ProLiteracy, there are more than 20 additional tracks only available via the compilation download. Sean Runnette’s narration of The Lost One by James John Audubon was the first selection on offer, Mark Turetsky’s reading of How Angelina Buglebrain Got Her Start by Tom Angleberger is available today, and Hillary Huber’s version of The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe will be available tomorrow. A full list of releases can be found here.
LJ has the privilege of hosting Johnny Heller, who read Dave Barry’s Money Secrets for Summer Shorts ’14.
LJ: How did you get involved in the Summer Shorts program?
JH: I have been a part of the Summer Shorts since it started for one major reason: Xe Sands asked me to.
LJ: Did you get to choose which work you read for the project? What about it appealed to you? Were you already a fan of Dave Barry?
JH: Last year I did a very long search to find a humorous story in the public domain that was still funny. It wasn’t easy. This year I thought, why not just get permission from an author or rights holder and do something up to date and funny? I travel frequently as an Audiobook Ambassador for Recorded Books, and I do readings for library groups from books I’ve narrated; the Dave Barry readings are always a crowdpleaser. So it was really a no brainer. Dave and his people, principally Judi Smith, were great to me and I got to do this funny piece about “how to lose money in real estate.” I used to do stand-up comedy for a living and I really appreciate good comedic writing, and Dave Barry provides that consistently. I’ve done three Dave Barry titles and I was an avid fan long before I began narrating his work.
LJ: Is it a different experience for you to read an author who also does his own narration? Did you listen to any of his own readings before you did yours?
JH: I haven’t heard Dave Barry’s narration ever. I rarely listen to someone else doing what I am about to do—I find it more distracting than helpful. My process is to let the author’s text dictate my choices as an actor. I don’t want to be swayed by another actor’s choices, only by what the text tells me to do. And when it comes to comedy, I am in an element that is completely comfortable to me.
LJ: What about ProLiteracy’s mission or methods speaks to you?
JH: I know Xe searched for a charitable organization that worked with what we audio narrators work with—spreading the joy of literature to the world! I got involved in the project as part of June Is Audiobook Month (JIAM) and I participate because of the great people involved and to give back to an industry that has been wonderful to me.