A warm welcome back to my site today to one of my favourite authors- it’s Kristal Baird! Today Kristal is talking audiobooks. Over to you hun…
Thank you for allowing me to come and share some thoughts with you and all your wonderful readers. I downloaded a few books recently in audiobook format and it got me thinking…
Have you Heard the One About the Audiobook?
When you think of a novel, as a writer or reader, do you immediately visualise print or ebook? Think again. Increasingly consumers of novels are switching to audiobook.
Busy lives & ever lengthier commuting times can make reading problematic. Who has all the time in the world to sit around and do it anymore? Cue the audiobook. Not everyone you see moving around with their headphones is listening to music. Nowadays, many more are ‘reading’ a book as they go about their lives.
The market for audiobooks is growing exponentially and it is the age of the download which has changed everything.
In the recent past, the audiobook on cassette tape & CD had a limited market appeal, but this doesn’t mean the situation isn’t altering rapidly. The highest concentration of downloaders is aged 18 – 34, a whole new generation of novel-reading consumers. Newer markets too, like India, with a massive English speaking population and a growing urban lifestyle are creating a huge demand for audiobooks. None of this is to say that traditional print forms are becoming obsolete. 90% of audiobook listeners have also bought a print book in the last 12 months. Audiobooks are an added extra and demand is growing fast.
It makes sense for publishers too. Companies can’t afford to have a warehouse of audio CDs waiting for purchasers but audio downloads, like ebooks, remain potentially ‘live’ for ever.
In the past, audiobooks came out long after the original print form of novels but nowadays consumers want to avail themselves of all possible formats so the industry is reacting rapidly. Audiobooks are now likely to launch at time of publication.
Transitory? No – audiobooks have a long tradition.
The first sizeable recording of talking books was for war blinded soldiers returning from the first World War who couldn’t read braille. But the technology goes back much further than this. Edison’s invention of the Phonograph (an early record player) in 1877 heralded the 1st recorded words – the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Earliest recordings were on aluminium cylinders, then wax cylinders – formats that could only record a few minutes at a time.
Eventually vinyl gramophone records, played at 78rpm, saw the first full-length novels recorded in the 1930s. The initial two were Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Joseph Conrad’s Typhoon.
Controversy immediately arose over which books should be selected for recording. Arguments ran between educational vs entertaining; high-brow vs popular; novels with profane language vs novels without. Many consumers felt they should be able to make the decision themselves.
The Talking Books Program in the United States was in receipt of government funding and often didn’t record anything controversial for fear of losing it. In the United Kingdom, however, no such funding was in place and the policy of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) was to record anything and let people decide.
Any concept of the audio word being an inferior form certainly never arose in the 19th century when authors like Charles Dickens were touring Britain and the United States, giving readings of their works, to huge popular acclaim. It probably arose around the 1920s – 1930s with modernist literature whose huge demanding texts required close attention to the form on the printed page. This was exacerbated by English Departments at Universities requiring close reading of printed text. In a multi-media world, that sense of division is no longer so apparent.
Although some might see the idea of an audio speaker getting between the author and the reader, others believe it is the printed page itself which gets in the way. This is one reason that author readings remain so popular, giving direct access to the author’s own voice.
Many authors find that reading their prose aloud helps them to discover any awkward, lumpen phrases. With the explosion of the audiobook market, perhaps all authors ought to pay closer attention to the sounds they create. Some already go as far as producing text in spoken form before printing.
Next time you consider a novel, as a reader or writer, will you ‘hear’ the story in your head?
It’s certainly got me thinking. Now I hope you’ll let me share a little of my latest release with you all too.
P I HONEYTRAP
By Kristal Baird
Hayley doesn’t trust men. She thinks most of them are only good for one thing. And she gets plenty of that honey-trapping cheating husbands or satisfying her own needs with local gym owner, Reuben.
And woe-betide him if he even tries to get emotionally close to her. Because tough girl Hayley is running. From her past. From herself.
Will Reuben ever understand this girl? Will Hayley ever accept exactly who she is and what she needs from a man? Will she learn to trust again?
[Hayley interviews a potential client who thinks her husband is cheating on her, but she’s daydreaming about last night…]
‘Go on.’ Hayley settled back in her chair. She could listen and drift away at the same time.
She drifted straight back to the gym where she’d retreated late last night, to pound a little tension out of her body. Her private arrangement with the owner allowed her to use the place long after his other customers had gone home …
‘Still running, Hayley?’
Hayley knew that Reuben had been standing behind her in the doorway between his office and the main gym hall watching her for some time. She was observant about things like that. And about his choice of words. Perhaps it was time to cancel the arrangement?
‘Still running, Reuben. Are you wanting to lock up or something?’ She kept pounding the treadmill. The angle was at full elevation and it was hard work to keep going at that speed. She didn’t want to break her stride.
‘I did that an hour since. It’s just you and me.’
She knew that tone. He moved closer but the stare was the same. It meant only one thing, and Hayley didn’t mind how she pounded the tension out of her tonight. Particularly with Reuben.
‘I’m kind of busy right now.’ Hayley liked to tease him; to keep things light between them.
He walked over to her machine. ‘Then let me help you with your workload.’ Reuben punched the controls and the incline began to slowly reduce.
Hayley adjusted her body’s forward drive and stared at him as he started to ease the pace she was running too. She’d been on the machine for nearly an hour. That was the reason she suddenly noticed her pulse rate was so high, her heart pounding. The only reason. Sweat dripped off her skin, which glowed with heat. Even between her thighs.
‘I’m a bit of a mess,’ she claimed. She was jogging steadily now, coming down gradually from her peak.
‘I like my women hot, sweaty, and out of breath.’ The tight lift at one side of his mouth told Hayley he liked his own jokes and he was hot too. For her.
She checked out the bulge in his sweats and cocked an eyebrow. Ready to rumble. ‘You’re a lucky guy, then. You’ve got a machine that does most of the work for you, getting them in that condition.’
‘Look around you. I’ve got quite a few.’ Reuben’s eyes were fixed solidly on hers. ‘Machines. Not women.’
Hayley didn’t need to look around to know what was there. Since she’d opened her private investigation office two doors down from Reuben’s Gym, she’d worked out on most of the equipment – with and without Reuben. With was a different kind of workout. And, whatever he said, there were women too. She’d seen their eyes follow Reuben about. But she wasn’t intending to make that her business. This was strictly casual.
‘Machinery? Kind of makes your job a bit too easy. What’s left for you to do?’ Hayley was off the machine and twisting the top off the bottle of water that Reuben had handed her. She tipped her head back and downed the lot in one go, needing the rehydration if she was to keep working out. Making out. And she’d already made up her mind that, tonight, she would be.
Hayley wondered if she liked coming here more for the machine workout or for the other kind of exercise she got at Reuben’s place, and if Reuben wondered too.
He stepped in closer. His body was all muscle. He didn’t just own a gym, he used it on a regular basis. In her line of work, Hayley really appreciated a fit guy. She honeytrapped plenty for her clients, and most were creeps. But Reuben wasn’t work. He was all playtime.
‘I step in for the rub-down.’ He took the empty bottle from her and flipped it across to the bin.
Reuben’s grin told her he wanted to show her another kind of slam dunk. ‘My talents are many.’
They sure were. God, he looked sexy when he smiled. Hot body with all the defined tendons and sinews of an athlete. Great features. The complete package. It was Hayley’s turn for her mouth to twist up into a smile of appreciation. Looking sexy in a white vest and sweatpants was only the start of Reuben’s endowments.
He placed his hands on her forearms and ran them up to her shoulders. She was hot before, but now she began the slow rise to combustion as his firm fingers kneaded the tight muscles at her shoulders and ran up the length of her neck into her hairline.
Hayley reached back and pulled out the elastic that was holding her dark hair back into a tight ponytail. Reuben pushed his fingers through its length, curving around the shape of her skull beneath. She moaned softly.
‘You like that?’
She nodded, eyes half closed.
‘I can do better,’ he promised. He gathered the fabric at the hem of her T-shirt, having given her the expression that she recognised as asking her consent, and peeled it off her damp body. She let him.
The air-conditioning hit her hot, sticky skin and sent shivers dancing across it. Reuben grasped her wrist and towed her behind him towards the massage room. There was an urgency about his movements that told her he’d waited long enough; that he wanted to get her to a place where she would let him fuck her as soon as possible. The guy was hurting.
That’s why she came back to Reuben’s. He worked hard to turn things his way, but it was always her choice in the end. With the hard, muscular size of him, no matter how fit she was he could have her pinned beneath him in seconds flat. But she always knew a simple no would end matters there and then. The guy had self-control.
Unlike some of the jerks she worked with. She’d been involved in some pretty nasty encounters to get the evidence her clients needed. To prove their husbands and boyfriends were cheating, lying scum who would chase any pretty woman who looked their way, irrespective of the fact they were supposedly committed.
She could feel her tension mounting again. Reuben could probably feel it too. He threw a warm, fluffy towel on the massage bench and pressed Hayley face down towards it. She twisted her hair again into a loose knot and fixed it on top of her head.
‘I’m going to unhook your sports bra, Hayley. Is that OK?’
‘Mmm.’ It was only the beginning. The tingle in her nipples told her that tonight she was going all the way. But it wouldn’t hurt to let him wonder.
Reuben unclipped the garment with a practised hand that made Hayley smile. They had an understanding. No ties. Just a little R and R whenever they wanted it; needed it. She liked it that way.
She liked what Reuben was doing to her now too. Her nose told her he had poured warm coconut oil into the palms of his hands, which he slicked across the entire surface of her back. He started palm-circling in small movements, slowly up to her neck on one side of her spine and down to the top of her sweatpants. She could feel the tightness in her muscles soften as he worked.
Time disappeared. Perhaps she drifted off to sleep beneath Reuben’s expert hands as he went through his magic routine; lifting, knuckling, twisting. It was those sexy little thumb strokes that eventually brought her back to consciousness.
Or his gravelly voice.
‘I want to give you a full-body massage, Hayley.’ The gruff tone told her the massage was doing as much for him as it was for her. God, she liked this guy.
He was asking her permission again, to take it up a notch. No point pretending. ‘I want that too.’
They both knew he had been given approval for more than just a rubdown.
Reuben’s fingertips hooked in her waistband and he tugged her sweatpants down over her hips. She heard him moan softly as she raised her hips off the bench to accommodate him. She smiled at the silence as he discovered she wasn’t wearing panties. What was the point under sweatpants? At the gym. With Reuben.
A little more oil swirled between his hands and Reuben’s strong fingers flowed from the arch of her spine, over the rise of her lower back to the firm mounds of her buttocks and down her thighs, not stopping until they reached her lower calves. Without ceasing, they returned on their journey to her bottom again.
Her legs felt long, strong, and lean under his actions. Reuben always made her feel good about herself. So good. She parted her legs minutely.
His fingers hooked softly beneath her hip bone and he alternately pulled and pushed the heel of his hand across the muscle of her buttock, working the tight flesh loose and warm. He walked around to the other side, drawing his hand across her body, keeping contact as he went, and repeated the firm movements on the other side.
Despite the relaxing slide of his hand across her oily flesh, Hayley sensed a moment when the contact between them changed. She grew taut and tense. She felt Reuben harden too, somehow. This was it. His hand lay over the cleft of her bottom. His oily fingers dipping lower and lower between her legs. She relaxed them further apart to ease his way.
Thank you for reading. I really hope you enjoyed it. It’s a full-length novel, so there’s plenty more PI HONEYTRAP …
Thank you for letting me share some thoughts and my latest release with you all. It was lovely visiting with you, Kay. Thanks for having me!
You are very welcome- thank you for sharing such a great blog and gorgeous excerpt!
All photographs (apart from Kristal’s book cover shot) were provided by FreeDigitalPhotos.net.