ACX Author Toni Dwiggings and producer Christine Padovan joined forces to produce the audio version of Badwater, which went on to win the Best Audiobook award at the 2013 eFestival of Words “Best of the Independent eBook Awards.” We recently spoke with Toni and Christine about their experience producing Badwater through ACX. Read Toni’s interview below, and check back tomorrow for our chat with Christine.
Hi Toni. Want to tell our readers a bit about yourself?
I’m a third-generation Californian who migrated from southern Cal to northern Cal. What I like most about my state is that one can go from the ocean to the mountains in one day, with a lunch stop in the desert. I like it so much I’ve set my forensic geology books in those settings.
I’m author of a US History textbook, and have contributed to texts in the sciences. I’ve done tech-writing for the Silicon Valley computer industry, and that experience hatched an idea that became my first novel, about an attempt to sabotage the nation’s telephone system.
What drove you to have an audio version of Badwater produced?
I’ve long been an audiobook fan. The idea of listening to my book, as I’d listened to other books, was a thrilling prospect. Also, my daughter was a five-hour drive away at college and I thought, what better way for HER to pass the time than to listen to Mom’s book as the miles pass?
From a marketing standpoint, I was eager to get my book out there in multiple formats. Amazon has a terrific program called Whispersync for Voice, in which a reader/listener can switch back and forth between reading the book and listening to the audio version.
How did you hear about ACX as an avenue for your audiobook production?
On a writing forum, wherein authors endlessly discuss ways and means to reach readers—and listeners! On the audiobook threads, ACX was mentioned again and again as an accessible way to get a professional job done. Because I hold the rights to my books, I was able to be proactive in getting my book produced.
What have you learned about the audiobook production process though ACX?
How diligently a narrator works to get the pronunciation right! My book is a science thriller, aimed at a general audience. However, the geologists and radiation workers, aka radworkers, know their stuff and speak accordingly. Christine and I decided to meet so I could pronounce some of the technical terms, so she could hear that tech-talk rhythm. We both live in the San Francisco Bay Area and so we met at an SF café.
Christine: “Is the ‘i’ in travertine long ‘i’ or ‘ee’?”
Christine: “Is the second ‘t’ in strontium a hard ‘t’ or a ‘sh’?
Me: (realizing this woman had done her homework!): let’s go with the hard ‘t’ because that’s the way my radiation experts pronounce it.
And so on, with americium, caesium, plutonium, all those oh-my-God-iums. And it was partway through the pronunciation of nuclear fission products that I noticed that people at nearby tables were listening. Looking at us. A couple of hands resting on cellphones. Were they going to call Homeland Security?
Has having your audio version produced changed the way you see your book? Has it affected your writing? How?
Oh yes. Listening to the narration was a cracker jack way to analyze pacing and dialogue—lessons that I’m applying to works-in-progress. I’m also more acutely aware of how to translate the character voices I “hear” to the voices on the page—so that the voices come across as I intended.
Congratulations on winning the award for best audiobook! How did that go down?
Badwater’s nomination came as a surprise. Christine learned of it (if I recall correctly) when she saw a post on Goodreads. She emailed me, and my response was along the lines of WOO HOO! When listeners voted it best audiobook, I was thrilled that the story was reaching this new audience.
What’s your next project, and when will we see it on ACX?
The next book in my Forensic Geology Series: Volcano Watch. As soon as Christine and I can find time to get to work!