Author: Emilia Ares
Narrators: Karissa Vacker, Will Collyer
Length: 10 hours and 7 minutes
Publisher: SERA Press
Released: Nov. 11, 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance; Young Adult
Mina’s life is going according to plan; she’s acing AP Calc and is perfectly content with her nonexistent social life. Though only a high school junior, Mina knows time is an investment, and she’s putting all her capital into academics. Oliver, a child abuse survivor who grew up in the foster care system, is ready to burn down his old life and start from scratch – complete with a new name and emancipation papers – in LA. When the two are thrown together through circumstance and develop an unexpected connection, they discover how hard it is to keep the past in the past. Content warning: sexual assault, recollections of child abuse, discussions of suicidal thoughts, and mention of miscarriage.
Emilia Ares is an American film and television actress known for American Horror Story (2011), NCIS (2003), Bosch (2014), and Follow Me (2020). Love and Other Sins is her debut novel. She graduated UCLA with a BA in Economics, and a minor in Russian. Literature and storytelling have always been her true passion.
Karissa is an Audie Award Finalist and AudioFile Earphones award winning narrator based in Los Angeles by way of Texas. She is a classically trained actor with credits from major regional theaters and also enjoys a career in film and TV. Karissa has narrated over 100 books in-studio for Penguin Random House, Hachette, Brilliance, Tantor, Dreamscape, Harper Collins and Scholastic, among others. She excels at narrating YA fiction, women’s fiction, and suspense/thrillers.
Will Collyer, an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator, is a film, television, and stage actor. He has starred in television shows such as Melrose Place, Charmed, CSI: Miami, and Boston Public, as well as numerous films and plays. He holds a BA in theater arts from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.
Q&A with Author Emilia Ares
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- The company Mosaic Audio produced the Love and Other Sins audiobook from start to finish. I participated the most at the beginning of the process: guiding the narrators in accents, giving notes regarding character personalities, and sending in audio of myself speaking the Russian phrases aloud to bring the narrator closer to authentic pronunciation. Mosaic Audio held auditions, produced, recorded, edited, and mastered the audiobook. The company is award-winning and genuinely did a top-notch job.
- Throughout the actual production process, I did not get an opportunity to comment or participate in any choices or direct the audiobook. The most challenging aspect for me was the lack of control over the audiobook when it was in production. Handing the reins over wholly and trusting them was a leap of faith. Ultimately, I’m thrilled with the result. There are, of course, aspects that I wish I could have tweaked/adjusted, but overall both narrators did an exceptional job, and the quality of production is on par with NYT best-sellers.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
- I listen to a good number of audiobooks in various genres, from nonfiction to fantasy. I’ve found that it is most challenging to listen along when many characters are introduced quickly, usually in a fantasy novel. If the characters are not fleshed out or diversified right away, it’s hard to keep track of them. The right audiobook narrator can help a reader distinguish who’s who by giving each character a unique voice. Jennifer Ikeda is incredible at this. My narrator, Karissa Vacker, does an excellent job at this. Her male voice for Oliver during Mina’s chapters of my book and her Russian accent for Mina’s mom, Lily, was subtle and nuanced, honestly, the best I’ve heard from any narrator. Many audiobook narrators run into trouble with accents or voicing another gender. When this is done well, it can elevate the listening experience to feel almost cinematic.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- As I wrote, I would see the scenes cinematically and often read the dialogue aloud. So, in a way, I was thinking about audio subconsciously.
- How did you select your narrator?
- I listened to audition tapes and immediately knew who was suitable for Mina and Oliver. Karissa Vacker voiced Dance of Thieves by Mary Pearson, so I was already a fan. Will Collyer had such a lovely timbre and had an excellent depth yet youth to his audition, which I was looking for when searching for Oliver’s voice. Will Collyer had to tackle some heavy material for Oliver’s character, but he had a way of getting through it with levity and keeping the listener engaged.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- If I’m ever feeling uninspired, I stop. Like all things in life, I never try to force anything, especially art. I take a break and focus on something different. Usually, life itself is inspiring enough that if I want to work out my feelings on something, I’ll come back to writing and my enthusiasm returns naturally.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Yes! I love audiobooks. I listen to them whenever I can. When I’m driving, at the gym, right before I fall asleep, it helps make household chores and cooking way more fun, and it makes my day so much more pleasant overall. It also makes me feel very productive to multitask. Educating myself while entertaining myself and getting a chore out of the way is a triple score.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- During any physical or vocal aspects, like screams or being breathless, an emotional experience, it can feel more fleshed out hearing it aloud, especially when the narrator is skilled. I found that to be especially true when I listened to the scene in the alley when Mina gets attacked; it was so visceral in the audiobook. Also, the scene when Oliver is surprised by Kiren is impactful in the audiobook.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- I would prefer to cast someone unknown for both Oliver and Mina. The actor for Oliver’s role would need some serious acting chops to tap into that level of layering years of abuse under a strong, tough but sweet demeanor. Someone with the essence of a young Joaquin Phoenix or Denzel, it’s such a rare, almost intangible quality of gravitas. For Mina, I would cast someone with the vibe of Alicia Vikander.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- The notion that audiobooks are inferior is nonsensical. It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s also an inconsiderate statement and insulting toward people on the spectrum of disabilities. But I hope most people don’t carry this option. I think most people are decent and understand that all ways of reading are valid. Reading is reading; it’s the telling of a story.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- I never quite got a chance to celebrate finishing it because there were countless years of editing and hustling it out after I finished it. But I did mark the release of the book and combined my birthday with my book release party. I did a book signing/giveaway for family and friends with loads of tequila and dancing. It was a great time.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- I haven’t encountered truly stubborn writer’s block yet. So far, every time I get stuck, I walk away. I take some time away from writing. I read or work on a short story that has nothing to do with the book, and somehow, the solution or the next step tends to unfold before me when I least expect it: in the middle of a shower, on a walk, or in the store. At that moment, I drop everything I’m doing, pull my phone out and type into my notes. Sometimes, it’s almost like my characters tell me their stories; I just listen and write.
- Another helpful thing is writing prompts and exercises that help inform your characters, but that probably won’t make it into your book. For example: “Write a scene when one of your MCs tells the other MC about an embarrassing dream they had.” Things like that.
- What’s next for you?
- I’m currently working on Love and Other Sins Book 2- Love and Other Cages. Mina’s and Oliver’s story continues. We leave things somewhat resolved between the two of them but there’s a shark in the water and the fin pokes out just as we end book 1 of the series. So, book two will explore what that shark personifies and what this danger will mean for Mina and Oliver’s relationship. As we move into the adult world and away from high school, there will be more mature content. Mina must navigate some very turbulent territory as she struggles to keep her loved ones safe and herself alive.
Author Emilia Ares’s Top 10 Favorite Audiobooks
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
- The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
- A List of Cages by Robin Roe
- The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
- Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao
- Love and Other Sins by Emilia Ares (I’ve listened to my book over ten times now. I love it so much. If you don’t enjoy your own story, then what’s the point, right?)
Audiobook Accessibility and the Problem with Audible ExclusiveWhen releasing my Love and Other Sins audiobook, I faced the decision of how to go about distribution. I had to choose between exclusivity with Audible and a higher revenue percentage or wide distribution with a platform like Findaway Voices and a lower revenue percentage. Suppose I decided to go exclusive with Audible. In that case, I’d receive codes that reviewers could use to listen to my audiobook and then review it on Audible, which is still considered the dominant platform for audiobooks in terms of reach. Additionally, Audible has added this aggressive caveat that authors no longer receive any codes if they have not signed up for Audible exclusively, which sucks, of course. The other option was to release the audiobook wide through Findaway Voices so that Love and Other Sins would be available everywhere and for everyone. Ultimately, the decision was easier than I initially believed when I remembered my priorities. My goal for the book has always been for it to be read and heard by as many people as possible. I wanted my books to be accessible to everyone, especially readers with disabilities who relied on libraries to check out their audiobooks or Libby or those who support their local indie bookshops through Libro.fm. So, I decided not to be exclusive with Audible to ensure that libraries could carry my audiobook if they chose to do so. I encourage other authors to do the same and not put a paywall between their audience and their book. I understand and appreciate that it is far more challenging to get audiobook reviewers to listen in exchange for reviews without Audible exclusivity, but this is slowly changing. To me, the accessibility factor is well worth the struggle. Much can be said about the aggressive capitalistic strategies of these digital platforms as of late. Still, we can change things by making active choices to collectively fight monopolies by opting for wide distribution and sacrificing short-term visibility and revenue for long-term autonomy and freedom of choice. I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Emilia Ares. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
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