As thousands of you already know, since its publication in 2014 A Southern Girl has been available in hardcover and e-book formats. In 2015, Story River Books released a softcover. On July 27, 2016, yet another format will debut: audio book. Many of you have asked about this, so I was delighted when I learned of Audible.com's interest in purchasing the rights to produce it. Audible impressed me from the outset, first and foremost by following the recommendation of Jonathan Haupt and the fine folks at Story River to assign a separate reader for each of the four narrators. Within days of being designated as readers, three of the four emailed me to ask if I had any suggestions regarding character, tone, pronunciation or anything else that would assist them in the production. I appreciated being asked. On learning the identity of the readers, I went onto the Audible.com website to listen to selections of other works those readers have narrated, reassured to learn that these three women and one man are professionals with pleasing voices. Was I tempted to become a reader myself? To narrate the part of Coleman Carter, a character I know something about? You betcha. Audible is no doubt used to this from authors thinking that because they can write, they can read. They very tactfully suggested I record a three minute segment and send it to them for evaluation. In the quiet of my study I did two takes, then performed my own evaluation. Listening to my voice reminded me why I usually pass on karaoke night, and I was not about to inflict that pain on listeners kind enough to pay $29.95 for the audio book. So if any of you want to hear me read A Southern Girl, you'll have to come to Beaufort and sit in my den. Audio books have become wildly popular. I listen to them on my drives to book club meetings or literary festivals. On one such recent occasion, I listened to David McCullough read his marvelous The Wright Brothers. The trip went so quickly I felt I arrived before I left. And who hasn't idled in a driveway at their destination to catch the end of a chapter or a book? The narrator makes or breaks the audio book experience, so even though I had listened to my narrators read from other books, I was intently interested in how they would sound reading from my book. The verdict? Great! Listen for yourself to Hallie Ricardo read from Chapter 1.
Now that Format #4 is about to become a reality, will there be a Format #5 in the book's future? I speak, of course, of a film in which the role of Coleman Carter will be played by . . . Matthew McConaughey? Russell Crowe? Donald Trump? I'm reminded of the story Pat Conroy often told, to the delight of audiences, about informing his father, The Great Santini, that his role in the movie had been cast with Truman Capote. I'm no more tempted to be an actor than I am a narrator, but if they need a screenplay written, I'm all in.