Category: Audiobooks

The Graphic Audio adaptation of Vamparazzi (Esther Diamond #4) goes on sale April 5! Available for pre-order now.

Meanwhile, here’s a 5-minute sample of the production.

While you’re waiting for the April 5 audio release of Vamparazzi (or for better news about the book publication of Goldzilla than, “I’m way behind schedule and still working on it”), check out the podcast interview that Colleen Delany and I recently did for Graphic Audio.

That’s the Graphic Audio site link. Here’s the iTunes link (and then look for my name; date of the interview is Feb 17, 2017).

Colleen is the actress who plays Esther in the audio versions, as well as directing the productions. We talked about audio, Esther Diamond, writing, my working relationship with my editor, Hugo Award winner Betsy Wollheim, my (fun!) part-time job as a historic walking tour guide, and other stuff.

If you haven’t explored the Graphic Audio adaptations of the Esther Diamond series yet, check out this series trailer to get an idea of how cool these full-cast audio productions are:


That’s (obviously) an audio sample from Graphic Audio’s adaptation of Unsympathetic Magic, which is now available in audio download and CD formats.

As explained in my previous post about this project, Graphic Audio’s format, which they describe as “a movie in your mind,” narrates the whole novel, as a standard solo-reader audiobook would, but they include sound effects and background music, and they have all the different dialogue roles read by a full cast of actors—as you can hear in the audio sample posted above, where Esther and Lopez, played respectively by Colleen Delany and Thomas Keegan, are talking.

I think Unsympathetic Magic is one of the more difficult of the Esther Diamond novels to adapt this way. For one thing, there’s a lengthy Vodou ceremony with singing, drums, dancing, prayers, and spirit possession. There’s also some Creole dialogue, a snake, a dog, zombies, baka, fire, storms, spirits entering this dimension, incineration, a romantic interlude (arrived at in Esther and Lopez’s habitually haphazard way), and various other story elements that aren’t necessarily a cakewalk to translate credibly from the written page to audio performance.

They did a great job with all of that, and I really enjoyed listening to it—so I think people who didn’t write the book, and therefore perhaps won’t listen to every moment of the audio adaptation quite as judgmentally as I do, are very likely to enjoy it.

Above all, I’m really pleased with the acting. Although these adaptations are well-directed (Colleen Delany, who plays Esther, is also the director), and the sound production and engineering are very good, I have always found that no amount of production quality or technical virtuosity (or Hollywood special effects) can make up for a bad script (and if you don’t like the writing here, that’s on me, obviously) or mediocre actors–or even a good actor who’s been badly mismatched with a role. (I’m having flashbacks to seeing a weary, stiff-limbed, hard-drinking, grey-haired Richard Burton in the twilight of his life reprise his early-career stage role as the young, energetic, idealistic King Arthur in Camelot.)

Colleen Delany & Avery Brooks, Othello.

So I’m very excited about the quality of the acting in this project. I think Delany is delightful as Esther—which is crucial, since she’s the first-person narrator and the protagonist. If she weren’t engaging, convincing, and pleasant to listen to, this whole thing would flop, no matter who else was involved. Colleen has done some screen acting and a lot of voice acting and stage performance. She’s done a lot of work with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, and she has been nominated multiple times for the Helen Hayes Award. (And here’s something for Star Trek fans: a few years ago, she played Othello’s Desdemona opposite Avery Brooks, who led the TV cast of Deep Space 9 in the 1990s. As recounted in Unsympathetic Magic, Esther and her now-ex, Jeff Clark, also once did this play together.)

I’m also delighted by the performance of Bob Payne as Dr. Maximillian Zadok, local representative of the Magnum Collegium. He brings together Max’s erudition, befuddled dignity, and bravery, he’s got a lovely light comedic touch, and he does an excellent job with Max’s expository dialogue—those long speeches where Max explains the nature or history of various strange and mystical phenomena to the other characters.

Two other performers who hurdled that obstacle very well in Unsympathetic Magic are Dawn Ursula as Puma and Julie-Ann Elliott as Dr. Livingston, both of whom have to do a lot of Vodou-splaining to Esther. Ursula is a two-time Helen Hayes Award recipient who does a lot of stage work, and Elliott has an impressive résumé of stage, screen, and audio work.

The men in Esther’s life also do a great job in these productions. Thomas Keegan as Detective Lopez has an attractive, no-nonsense voice… that inevitably winds up shifting many gears as he deals with his wacky love interest, his volatile family, and the bizarre cases he keeps wading into. Lopez has many scenes throughout the series where he gets pushed, pulled, and shoved through more conflicting emotions in 20 minutes than most of us have to deal with in a week, and Keegan pulls it all off seamlessly. Meanwhile, KenYatta Rogers, another cast member with a long list of credits and awards recognition, brings Jeff Clark to life wonderfully, finding little moments in the dialogue that I didn’t even hear in my head when writing the book. This actor makes me glad I’m planning to include this character in more of the upcoming books, because I’d love to hear him play Jeff again.

The rest of the cast was also excellent, and the whole story came across so well that, despite (obviously) knowing exactly what happens, I couldn’t stop listening—which I hope is the reaction every listener has.

They’ve released this, as well as Disappearing Nightly and Doppelgangster. The next four Esther Diamond novels are also in production at Graphic Audio: Vamparazzi (release date, April 3), Polterheist, The Misfortune Cookie, and Abracadaver. (And, yes, I am writing more Esther novels. I’m just behind schedule.)

This series trailer, using sound clips from Disappearing Nightly, gives you a good idea of the overall feel (multiple actors, sound effects, music) of these productions.

Graphic Audio is releasing audiobook adaptations of the first seven Esther Diamond novels!

The first three audiobooks, Disappearing Nightly, Doppelgangster, and Unsympathetic Magic are available now.


Vamparazzi will be released in April, and the next three audiobooks in the series are planned for May, June, and July release. (And by then, I should have better news about my next regular ED book release, Goldzilla, than, “I’m still working on it.”)

Graphic Audio’s format involves multiple actors and sound effects. They describe their format as “a movie in your mind.” Click on the above links or images, and you can hear 5-minute samples of their productions of the first three books.

I was delighted when Graphic Audio approached us about producing the Esther Diamond series in audio. I was familiar with their format from having listened to some of their other productions, and I thought it would be an excellent way to present the Esther Diamond books in audio.

I’m a huge audiobook fan (I listen to audbiobooks while cooking, cleaning, gardening, doing chores, walking, driving, exercising, balancing my checkbook, medicating squirming cats, soaking in a hot tub, etc., etc.).  It doubles the number of books I get to read (or “read”) in a year. And I’m an even bigger fan of radio plays. I have a huge personal library of BBC radio dramas, comedies, and adaptations, and I probably listen to those even more often than to audiobooks.

Graphic Audio combines those two formats. Instead of completely adapting the novel to script format, the way a radio play does, they still narrate the whole novel just as a standard audiobook would, but instead of the narrative telling you “Lopez said irritably,” you hear the actor playing Lopez say that line of dialogue irritably, and instead of Esther’s narrative just telling you there’s a lot of noise as she, Max, and Barclay tumble down the stairs at Magic Magnus’ shop, you hear the clatter as they tumble down. And so on.

It’s always a gamble when a writer’s story is transformed into another format, one that involves interpretations by lots of people (such as actors, directors, and sound engineers) who are not the original author. So I knew there was a possibility I would be disappointed with the result, and I braced myself for that. But I thought it was worth taking that chance, since this is such a good format for Esther Diamond. I figured in the worst case scenario (the adaptations were a big disappointment), I could always, at a later date, reclaim the rights and personally produce some standard single-reader audiobooks.

Fortunately, though, the best case scenario came to pass. Actress Colleen Delany, who plays Esther and who’s also directing the whole audio series, is doing a terrific job with these productions. The sound engineering, the other actors, the whole overall experience is very high quality and I’m genuinely thrilled with the results and love what they’re doing. (Seriously. I’d still need to promote these audiobooks even if I didn’t like them, but I am tediously honest and would never use such enthusiastic phrases if I didn’t mean them. I would say neutral things like “they’ve worked really hard” and “if you’re an Esther fan, give these a try,” etc.)

I’ve had the opportunity to listen to Disappearing Nightly in full, and I loved it. I actually forgot at times that I had written the book; in many places, I was just enjoying it as its audience. And keep in mind, it’s a book I’ve rewritten twice and subsequently re-read three times (to make sure I don’t start making continuity errors in later books), so I am heartily sick of this book. So a production has got to be good to get me to listen to that entire novel—which I did, over the course of two days, enjoying it the whole way.

Now I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Doppelgangster discs, so I can listen to that one, too.

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