Available now from Audible.com.51ve0nILaPL._SL300_

From the Publisher:

“A woman unexpectedly finds her best self through a sleepy bundle handed over at the airport in this heartfelt and surprising memoir.

In Make Me a Mother, acclaimed memoirist Susanne Antonetta adopts an infant from Seoul, South Korea. After meeting their six-month-old son, Jin, at the airport – an incident made memorable when Susanne, so eager to meet her son, is chased down by security – Susanne and her husband learn lessons common to all parents, such as the lack of sleep and the worry and joy of loving a child. They also learn lessons particular to their own family: not just how another being can take over your life but how to let an entire culture in, how to discuss birth parents who gave up a child, and the tricky steps required to navigate race in America.

In the end, her relationship with her son teaches Susanne to understand her own troubled childhood and to forgive and care for her own aging parents. Susanne comes to realize how, time and time again, all families have to learn to adopt one another.”

My recording experience:

I love narrating memoir.  Oftentimes, publishers choose to have the author narrate their own work, somewhat naturally I guess, as one gets the story from the horse’s mouth, as it were.  But the other side of the coin is that my training as an actor allows me to express an author’s words and thought/feelings more fully and engage the listener, taking them on a well-crafted journey.  Luckily, author Susanne Antonetta had the same idea, so I got to read her story for her.  We had a great conversation and it turned into the following interview.

The interview:

KW: So, I have to ask first: Suzanne Paola/ Susanne Antonetta – why the alter ego?

SA: You know, when I lived in Atlanta and worked as a freelance writer, I had something like five pseudonyms! I get asked this question a lot and I’m not sure I can fully explain it. Maybe it works for me as a person who is bipolar, who is aware of what you could call almost the edges of my different selves. Antonetta is a family name, the name of a kind of a “lost” woman in my father’s family. I tell her story in Body Toxic. And my legal name was shortened by my father—it was originally Pietropaolo—so somehow it has never felt quite as mine as other people seem to feel their family names to be. All I know is that each of my identities has her own way of approaching writing—sometimes I call Susanne Antonetta my “evil twin.” She’s the honest one!

KW: Just reading this book, it is obvious that you also write poetry because your prose is so beautifully imagistic. But in looking at your bio, I see that you have a huge range of interests: “My work encompasses the environment, mental health and diversity, spirituality, the sciences, parenting and other subjects.” How do these fit together or feed each other in your writing and/or your parenting?

SA: Emily Dickinson wrote, “my business is circumference”—meaning, my business as a writer is including as much as possible, spreading the net wide. I tend to be interested in a lot of things, and to have little desire to repeat myself in my books. Right now, for example, my interest in the environment is no less than when I wrote Body Toxic, but it is far more engaged in community activism and less in writing.

KW: You are very forthright in your discussions of being bi-polar and how it affected your decision not to have children. Was it difficult to make the decision to include this in your book?

SA: Honestly, no, not at this point. I have been writing about being bipolar or manic-depressive since my earliest books of poetry, and I cover this a great deal in my first book of nonfiction, Body Toxic.

Revealing this about myself left me vulnerable in many ways, and I can’t say it’s not complicated. As a poet, I would sometimes hide behind the idea of “poetic persona.” And after I started writing nonfiction I learned my then-department chair—long gone now, thank goodness—used what he knew about me from my books in a negative way, telling my colleagues I was “unbalanced” if I disagreed with him. But the upside is that people who had felt this was a deep dark secret for them started contacting me, not just students but faculty and employees at my university, and folks who’d read the book all over the country, saying thank you, I could never talk about this. That was so so valuable for me, to realize I’d given other people permission to accept themselves as they are. I’ve never wanted to hide again.

KW: I loved this quote: “Psychiatrist E. James Lieberman writes: “In talking with prospective parents, I suggest—provocatively—that couples are ready for parenthood only when they can imagine adopting. Indeed, we all have to adopt our children psychologically.” Though I myself made a conscious choice to try to have a child, with ambivalence, I’d never quite thought of it on Lieberman’s terms and it is provocative – it feels as though I might not have thought things through to the extent that I might have. What was your response when you first read it?

SA: Oh, it was kind of a shudder of realization of the deep truth of it! I am so wildly different from my parents in every way. Biology creates in some ways more the illusion of likeness than the real thing—genes are not this simple roadmap many folks want them to be. Any child, birthed, step, or adopted, is his or her own unique being. Accepting the autonomy and difference of our children is the ultimate love—until you do that, you’re caught somewhere in your own ego. And I think with the many people in our country parenting children who are the product of remarriages, assisted reproductive technologies, adoption or simply their own maddeningly different selves—this love of difference is perhaps the book’s most resonant message.

Suzanne Paola Headshots-1

KW: You say, “When I was my son’s age, I would never have imagined I’d help my parents through the last years of their lives, and my parents would have imagined it even less.” (p. 15) Is this something that you still struggle with?

SA: You know, it’s so interesting that you asked me this question. Until I read it, actually, I’m not sure what I would have said in response (so thank you for perceptive questions!). I realized that truly, I don’t struggle with it anymore. Even a few years ago the irony of my present life would have struck more deeply than it does now. I’ve accepted this situation: I’m in it with my parents until they don’t need me any longer. And that fact would have really shocked me when I was younger. I think my story is evidence that we all grow and stretch in life in ways that don’t seem possible.

KW: “I don’t know how to separate my mother’s instincts from my writer’s instincts—the two were inextricably connected, and still are—but I do recall how much this new person in my life, who held my eyes with such naked curiosity, filled me with the drive to record my stories. I wanted to leave him a record, a guide to my life that was now his, and get down on paper some of what it meant, as far as I could give it meaning, to have this strange gift of life.” (p. 45) Here you share the impulse to write the stories that eventually became this book. Can you share a bit of what got these pieces from stories that you simply wanted to get down to a whole journey that you wanted to share with the rest of the world?

SA: That is hard to say! I will just put in here that an editor and many of my friends, informal readers of my work, would tell me that when Jin came into my books—which he always has, to some degree, since he appeared in my life—the prose really seemed to come alive. Which makes sense: nothing has ever made me feel more alive than being a mother. The story of my relationship with my son has been part of everything I’ve written, whether he appeared in the story on the surface of it or not, since he came into my life. He changed me; he reworked my universe. It made sense to finally tell stories through the lens of the person who has meant the most to me in the world.

Listen to a sample here:


Posted by: kewhite | March 28, 2014

DUSK and other stories by James Salter

Available now from Audible.com61oKP0S3XaL._SL300_

From the Publisher:

First published nearly a quarter-century ago and one of the very few short-story collections to win the PEN/Faulkner Award, this is American fiction at its most vital – each narrative a masterpiece of sustained power and seemingly effortless literary grace. Two New York attorneys newly flush with wealth embark on a dissolute tour of Italy; an ambitious young screenwriter unexpectedly discovers the true meaning of art and glory; a rider, far off in the fields, is involved in an horrific accident – night is falling, and she must face her destiny alone.
These stories confirm James Salter as one of the finest writers of our time.

My recording experience:

I only recorded one story in this collection which also includes work by five other veteran narrators: Edoardo Ballerini, LJ Ganser, David Ledoux, Joe Barrett, and Gabra Zackman.  I’m honored to be included in such a list of talented artists.  What I love about recording older titles such as this is that you get to work with a writing style that may not be current, but that has a great deal of merit.  My story was imagistic, which is challenging because it’s easy to get lost in the imagery and lose the throughline and action.  Hopefully I found the right balance!

Listening to a sample here:


 

Posted by: kewhite | March 20, 2014

HEALTHY AT HOME by Tieraona Low Dog (plus giveaway!)

Get Well and Stay Well without Prescriptions.7866-square-400

Available now from Blackstone Audio.

From the Publisher:

“At a time when taking charge of your own health care is all the more essential, respected doctor and Andrew Weil protegée Tieraona Low Dog advises on the art and science of healing at home. In this follow-up to Life Is Your Best Medicine, get the how, when, and why of getting better and staying well with homemade remedies that the doctor orders.

With the help of an expert in natural healing, herbal medicine, and home remedies, you can take charge of health care. Never have we needed this sort of advice more than now, as worries about hospital-borne infections, antibiotic resistance, and pandemic threats make us yearn for the days of doctor home visits and mother’s chicken soup. We need to rediscover the special care and comfort that comes from caring for health at home. In this book she guides us in identifying, responding to, and caring for all the most common ailment…”

My recording experience:

I love how practical this book is!  I think no matter how deeply you decide to get into Dr. Low Dog’s natural remedies, there’s something for everybody here.  At least for everyone that is worried about things like antibiotic resistance and the overuse of prescription medications.  I’ve been applying knowledge gained to good effect and I haven’t even grown any herbs yet!  Simply taking magnesium every night before bed has not only made my leg cramps go away, it’s given me a much better night’s sleep (and I know, because I can tell the difference when I forget to take it.)

Listen to a sample here:


 

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Denice is the randomly selected winner and the CDs will be mailed out to her as soon as I get her address.  Thanks to all for entering!  I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Posted by: kewhite | March 9, 2014

THE BEST BOOK I EVER NARRATED GIVEAWAY!

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Audible members may have noticed that there’s a feature running on the Audible website at the moment:  THE BEST BOOK I EVER NARRATED.  Tons of Audible’s hard working narrators took time to record a short audio or video clip talking about books they’ve loved.  If you haven’t seen it, go check it out!  But before you go, be sure to enter my giveaway.

To be entered into this random drawing, just make a comment below and share what you think makes for a great audiobook.  The winner will receive his or her choice of any one of my audiobooks now available on Audible.  (For suggestions, be sure to check out my videos on pages 2, 3 &4 !)  If you don’t already follow my blog, you can enter twice by becoming a new follower – just fill in the info in the box to the right of this post.

Entrants must be 18+ years of age, and residents of the continental US only please.  Entries will be taken up until 5pm EST on Sunday, March 16.  The winner will be contacted by the email you use to leave your comment (but I don’t keep any contact info or share it in any way).  Good luck and thanks for listening!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  I loved all of your thoughtful comments!  Gaele is the randomly selected winner and she will be emailed her choice of my audiobooks as soon as I hear back from her.  Thanks to all for entering!  I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Posted by: kewhite | January 28, 2014

GIVEAWAY: What I Had Before I Had You

9780062337535

I’m giving away one digital copy via Audible of this beautiful book by Sarah Cornwell.  Just make a comment below before Saturday, February 1 at 5pm EST to be entered in a random drawing.  Entrants only inside the U.S. and 18+.  The winner will be contacted by email, but I don’t keep or share any contact info.  Good luck and thanks for listening!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Molly is the randomly selected winner and I will be getting her the book via email.  Thanks to all for entering!  I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Posted by: kewhite | January 21, 2014

WHAT I HAD BEFORE I HAD YOU by Sarah Cornwell

Available now from Harper Audio 9780062337535

From the Publisher:

Written in radiant prose and with stunning psychological acuity, award-winning author Sarah Cornwell’s What I Had Before I Had You is a deeply poignant story that captures the joys and sorrows of growing up and learning to let go.

Olivia Reed was fifteen when she left her hometown of Ocean Vista on the Jersey Shore. Two decades later, divorced and unstrung, she returns with her teenage daughter, Carrie, and nine-year-old son, Daniel, recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Distracted by thoughts of the past, Olivia fails to notice when Daniel disappears from her side. Her frantic search for him sparks memories of the summer of 1987, when she exploded out of the cocoon of her mother’s fierce, smothering love and into a sudden, full-throttle adolescence, complete with dangerous new friends, first love, and a rebellion so intense that it utterly recharted the course of her life.

Olivia’s mother, Myla, was a practicing psychic whose powers waxed and waned along with her mercurial moods. Myla raised Olivia to be a guarded child, and also to believe in the ever-present infant ghosts of her twin sisters, whom Myla took care of as if they were alive—diapers, baby food, an empty nursery kept like a shrine. At fifteen, Olivia saw her sisters for the first time, not as ghostly infants but as teenagers on the beach. But when Myla denied her vision, Olivia set out to learn the truth—a journey that led to shattering discoveries about herself and her family.

Sarah Cornwell seamlessly weaves together the past and the present in this riveting debut novel, as she examines the relationships between mothers and daughters, and the powerful forces of loss, family history, and magical thinking.

From Sound Recommendations at Beth Fish Reads:

“The audiobook (HarperAudio; 8 hr, 17 min) is read by Karen White, whose expressive reading adds an appropriately dreamy feel to this story, which is told primarily in flashbacks. Bipolar disorder is a central theme of this novel, and White’s sensitive characterizations increase our empathy and draw us into this tale of motherhood and family. Recommended in audio.”

From the review at Anita Loves Books:

“This is a beautifully read book, Karen White is one of my favorite narrators and she has proven again how she can create images in my mind with her inflection and range of narration style.”

My recording experience:

I’ve been very lucky to have worked on some books with beautiful language use recently –though I’ve also had three books in three months involving mothers who have bipolar disorder which makes me a wee bit paranoid :).  Cornwell’s book is in both categories.  The story has its disturbing and heart wrenching elements for sure, but in the end is a testament to the enormity of a mother’s love, for better or for worse.  Olivia’s journey was not easy to go on, but it was truthful in its own way and written with startling imagery that is still resonating with me.

Listen to a sample here:


Translated by Delia Casa.9781611458404_p0_v2_s260x420

Available now from Audible.com

From the Publisher:

“Its very real seductiveness lies in its ironic description of issues that are secondary to the investigation.” – Le Monde. On vacation with her husband in an idyllic Italian valley, Police Inspector Simona Tavianello stops at the local beekeeper’s shop to buy some honey, where she finds a body lying in the entrance. Simona tries to avoid involvement – she is, after all, off-duty. But when she realizes that the murder weapon is her own gun, what can she do but take charge?

The victim was an engineer at the controversial agricultural research center for Sacropiano, a biotechnology company accused of developing pesticides that are making the bees in the region disappear. At the same time Simona found the body, the local beekeepers were nearby organizing a militant sit-in to protest the company’s practices. And found on the floor near the corpse was a tract entitled, “The Bee Revolution.”

Simona Tavianello’s investigation gets her caught between the radical environmentalists and the powerful industrialists who are allied with the police. That would be complication enough, but she also needs to deal with the wounded ego of Cacabonda, the local police officer, who is officially in charge of the investigation. With her sharp humor and spot-on observations of current events in Italy, can Tavianello not only solve the murder, but also discover the intriguing reason behind the disappearance of the bees?

My recording experience:

This is a wacky, wacky book and I recommend it to any and all fans of quirky murder mysteries.  Quadruppani’s heroine Simona is a huge hit in Italy (though he’s a Frenchman writing about an Italian woman) and I’m so glad I was asked to narrate this book – the first to be translated into English.  After a bit of discussion with the publishers and polling my colleagues, we decided that it would make the most sense to skip giving the characters Italian accents.  I likened it to speaking in a Russian accent when you’re in a play by Chekhov that has been translated into English.  The characters aren’t speaking to each other in a foreign language, so they don’t hear an accent in each others’ speech.  Unless that is a regional accent.  And I did try to incorporate different rhythms and sounds to define regionalisms a bit here.  In any case, Simona is an iconic character – a hard-boiled detective who is also a sensual experienced woman who loves to make love to her husband and eat good food (though she does have a few issues with both – you’ll see!)  I hope you enjoy this unique detective tale as much as I did.

Listen to a sample here:


Posted by: kewhite | January 7, 2014

Audiobook Giveaway: DECODING YOUR DOG

DECODING YOUR DOG

The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones

by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists

B1826_DecodingDog_D

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Vic is the randomly selected winner and the CDs will be mailed out to her as soon as I get her address.  Thanks to all for entering!  I give away lots of books – to find out about them in the future, please consider following this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter.

Available now from Tantor Audio.B1826_DecodingDog_D

From the Publisher:

More than ninety percent of dog owners consider their pets to be members of their family. But often, despite our best intentions, we are letting our dogs down by not giving them the guidance and direction they need. Unwanted behavior is the number-one reason dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue groups.

The key to training dogs effectively is first to understand why our dogs do what they do. And no one can address this more authoritatively than the diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Behavior, whose work, the culmination of years of rigorous training, takes them deep into the minds of dogs in an effort to decode how they think, how they communicate, and how they learn.

In Decoding Your Dog, these experts analyze problem behaviors, decipher the latest studies, and correct common misconceptions and outmoded theories. The book includes:

  • Effective, veterinary-approved positive training methods
  • Expert advice on socialization, house-training, diet, and exercise
  • Remedies for behavior problems such as OCD and aggression

With Decoding Your Dog, the experts’ experts deliver a must-have dog behavior guide that ultimately challenges the way we think about our dogs.

My recording experience:

Well, let me sum up my experience with these before and after photos.  Here is my lovable, but fiercely protective 75 lb. mutt Elsa attacking the front door when she hears someone approaching:

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In the past, I’d followed older conventional wisdom and kept Elsa away from visitors by spraying her in the face with water.  After reading this book, I decided to try the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists more positive approach and train her to sit “in her spot” when we answered the door.   At first, I gave her favored treats every time, but here you see her “gambling” that she’ll get a treat and offering the preferred behavior.

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(Listen to the sample below to get what I am talking about.)


Posted by: kewhite | January 3, 2014

EXPECTING BETTER by Emily Oster

Available now at Blackstone Audio.7785-square-240

From the Publisher:

An award-winning social scientist uses the tools of economics to debunk myths about pregnancy and to empower women to make better decisions while they’re expecting.

Pregnancy is full of rules. Pregnant women are often treated as if they were children, given long lists of items to avoid—alcohol, caffeine, sushi—without any real explanation from their doctors about why. They hear frightening and contradictory myths from friends and pregnancy books about everything from weight gain to sleeping on your back to bed rest. Economist Emily Oster believes there is a better way. In Expecting Better, she shows that the information given to pregnant women is sometimes wrong and almost always oversimplified, and she debunks a host of standard recommendations on everything from drinking to fetal testing.

Expecting Better overturns standard recommendations for alcohol, caffeine, sushi, bed rest, and induction while putting in context the blanket guidelines for fetal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of thirty-five, nausea, and more. Oster offers the real-world advice one would never get at the doctor’s office. The health of your baby is paramount, and with this practical guide readers can know more and worry less. Having the numbers is a tremendous relief—and so is the occasional glass of wine.

My recording experience:

As I read and re-read this book, I couldn’t help but think over and over again, “Dang! I wish this book were around when I was pregnant!”  I understand that Oster’s book has been somewhat controversial, as she challenges a great deal of conventional wisdom about pregnancy and, shudder to think, encourages women to think for themselves.  But having been one of those women whose husband’s literally threw away the ubiquitous What to Expect When You’re Expecting because it was freaking me out so much, the balance of Oster’s commonsense and logical approach would have been welcome in my household.  While I patted myself on the back for many of the decisions I made during my pregnancy, reading the book made me feel sad for my friend who may have endured seemingly endless bedrest for no good reason.  And I found that had I known that flying cross country in the 8th month of pregnancy was not as dangerous as I thought it was , I may have been able to attend my brother’s wedding, which I’ve often regretted missing.

Listen to a sample here:  


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