“In Their Own Words”: Karen Myers May 13 2014, 0 Comments

With audiobooks spanning genres from true crime to literary fiction to poker strategies and everything in between, Spoken Word aims to provide a diverse array of audiobooks for every type of listener.  “In Their Own Words” is an ongoing series highlighting Spoken Word authors and narrators from our wide-ranging catalog. For the first post in this series, we talked to Karen Myers, author of the forthcoming Spoken Word release To Carry the Horn about her writing and the burgeoning audiobook industry. Unlike a lot of writers, Myers didn’t grow up wanting to be a novelist. “I began writing in April of 2012,” Myers said. “No childhood of scribbled short stories, no filing cabinet of draft works.” Despite her late start, Myers cited her background in comparative mythology, dead languages and traditional literature and her appetite for the science fiction and fantasy genres as inspirations for her decision to become a fantasy writer. “I see the fantasy genre, in particular, as an extension of the Western – I am most intrigued by its fondness for morality stories,” Myers said. “Since the sky's the limit (literally), any setting at all can be envisioned to set up the parameters of the story.” Myers’ personal interests show in To Carry the Horn, the first in a series titled The Hounds of Annwn.  From foxhunting a la Blue Ridge Hunt to Norse mythology, Myers included it all in her first novel, released in October 2012. A contemporary fantasy, To Carry the Horn mixes modern analog technologies (cigarette lighters, indoor plumbing) with mythological beings and stories, lending a fantasy hybrid feeling to the novel. Paired with her knowledge of ancient languages, from Egyptian Hieroglyphs to Sanskrit to Middle High German, Myers’ dialogue and Welsh character names, like Cernunnos and Gwyn ap Nudd, are unique. Myers said she developed a new-found sympathy for her non-Welsh speaking readers when narrating To Carry the Horn. “While I know the story better than anyone else can, I had to face up to each unpronounceable Welsh name,” Myers said. “I am not an actor and made an early decision not to attempt to impersonate each character, thus it’s more of a read than a play.” To Carry the Horn is Myers’ first foray into print and audiobook self-publishing. She chose Spoken Word after an extensive search to avoid the restrictiveness of Audiobook Creation Exchange’s (better known as ACX, Amazon’s network connecting authors and narrators) digital download-centric practices. “Many author-publishers have taken the path of least resistance and limited format so it can be a challenge to hear about other providers in the marketplace,” Myers said. “I concluded that Spoken Word is almost alone in the market today in supporting all formats and a broad distribution that includes the more limited distribution of the one above,” Myers said. “When I discovered that one of my successful audition narrators was also part of Spoken Word’s stable, that just clinched the deal.” Myers, who narrated her novel with a professional sound engineer, said the experience was scary. “I have a distinctive and recognizable voice (I sing tenor) and I’ve done radio before, so I had some idea of what to expect,” Myers said. “The whole process was an education in the art of narration.” Though audiobook self-publishing is in its fledgling stages, Myers sees strong potential for authors and readers. “The ‘rules of thumb’ for making business decisions about producing audiobooks aren’t yet in place to guide first-timers. In other words, until they’ve tried it, they’re not at all sure about what to expect in terms of success in that medium,” Myers said. If all goes well, Myers said, she’s interested in publishing the rest of the Hounds of Annwn series in audiobook format.