Author: Isobel Starling
Narrator: Gary Furlong
Length: 9 hours 43 minutes
Series: The Quiet Work, Book 1
Publisher: Decent Fellows Press
Released: Apr. 24, 2019
Genre: LGBT Fantasy Romance
A new LGBT fantasy series from award-winning author Isobel Starling
A lost lordling, a farm boy, and a tale of mystery, magic, and murder!
After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick. He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest.
As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer. The only man who stands up for him is the farmer’s beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction.
Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm. The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it. He also cannot take his eyes off Adam, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind!
Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write fantasy and found she loved writing more than making art.
Isobel writes M/M fantasy, thrillers, and comedy, and to date, has written twenty books, 11 of which are audiobooks narrated by Gary Furlong .
In 2018 Isobel Starling and Gary Furlong won what is now called The Independent Audiobook Award – Romance Category with the audiobook “As You Wish” .
Isobel and Gary are also finalists for the 2019 Independent Audiobook Awards in the LGBTQ+ Category with the audiobook “Sweet Thing”.
Originally from Ireland, Gary Furlong worked a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, and a festival performer in Ireland.
A naturally-gifted mimic, Gary began narrating audiobooks for a living in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.
Gary specializes in accents and dialect, with fluency in Irish, British RP, and Standard American.
In four years of working full-time with audiobook production, Gary has narrated over 100 audiobooks spanning Fantasy,Thriller, Romance, YA, and non-fiction for world-class publishing houses and independent authors.
In 2018 Gary won a much coveted AudioFile Earphones Award and the Independent Audiobook Award for Romance.
He now lives in Texas with his wife and their golden retriever called “Gansey,” which means “Sweater” in Irish Gaelic.
I shook my head. I would say, if anything, I was deeply traumatized by the unfortunate circumstance I’d found myself in, but not, I was certainly not a mute. I just wasn’t used to a lowly man speaking to me so roughly. Generally, men who dared to address me knew their betters and behaved appropriately. But here in Mallowick, in the province of Erias, I was no better than a beggar on the street. There was no one i could call on for favors, no one who, on hearing my family name, would loan me coin for the stagecoach or a horse to ride to the city and send word to my father. When I first arrived in Mallowick, telling the truth of my station had gotten me dragged down an alley where my finger and earrings were stolen, and I’d received a beating. This farmer from Blackdown Farm had no idea who I was, and I would not make the same mistake again.
If you were destined to wonder alone in a world full of cruelty and condemnation for being who you are, what life would you lead? Would you look at the glass half empty or half full? Deciding to make every breath count, Starling’s main character has a determination and drive that will take him through many hardships on the road to finding his way back to his family. Readers will be immersed into an adventurous tale with this first installment.
Winter Aeling is just a young man who will one day rule Thorn. Being inexperienced when it comes to knowing the lay of the land, he decides to travel through surrounding cities in hopes of learning their cultures and ways of life. Never in his wildest dreams does he imagine the ill intent that befalls him and his beloved protector and companion on his journey to Serein, leaving him without any of his belongings or money. Winding up in a little place called Mallowick, Winter is forced to hide his identify for fear of punishment or death. He finds himself needing to make some money to get to his destination; therefore, heads to Blackdown Farm. Little does he know that this is not the only reason that he has been drawn to this farm. An item that was taken from Winter’s family long ago has resurfaced and the farmer of Blackdown Farm is none the wiser of what secrets he holds with the item being in his possession. With the help of the farmer’s son, Adam, Winter is shown kindness for what seems like the first time since leaving his home. Finding himself quite smitten with Adam, he can’t help but attempt to distance himself, knowing he will have to continue on his journey alone. Feeling torn between what he wants and his destiny to get information back to his people, he doesn’t know how to proceed. It appears that he would need a miracle…or some type of magic to aid him on his journey?
Starling has a captivating tale with creativity and well-developed characters. The pace is steady and the story appears to be well-written; however, this review is complimenting the audiobook. The narrator’s voice relay is effortless and engaging. His voice differentiation between characters is absolutely stunning and adds to the story, creating exuberant scenes from they way he reads the words alone. If you are a reader of LGBT fantasy and adventure, you are sure to love this story. Since this is the first installment in The Quiet Work series, readers are able to dive right into the tale.
A copy of this audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a five-star rating to Apple Boy by Isobel Starling.
Q&A with Author Isobel Starling
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook. “Apple Boy” is the eleventh audiobook I’ve made with narrator Gary Furlong. We have had much success with our audiobooks having won the Independent Audiobook Award Romance Category in 2018 for the audiobook of “As You Wish” and another title, “Sweet Thing” has been nominated for the LGBTQ+ category in the 2019 awards. This title “Apple Boy”(The Quiet Work #1) has been a long time coming. It is my first completed fantasy book and took 18 months to write. Our usual process is that I send Gary Furlong the manuscript and a separate word file listing main characters, their accents, and anything in particular about them that he needs to know. I also include a list of place names and tricky words with correct pronunciations. Gary then takes my direction and sends me audio files where he improvises the characters I described. This is a very fun part of the process for me as Gary has a tremendous, never ending range of characters and voices in him! As this is very much a collaborative process, I let Gary know which accents suit the characters, and we have a back-and-forth of messages until we can nail down the right voices to suit the book. Then Gary narrates 15 minutes of the book and I proof listen to it. If all is going well, I approve it leave him to do what he does best. When the final book files are uploaded to ACX, I will then proof listen to the whole audiobook – with my manuscript handy so I can pinpoint any errors. I provide Gary with a list of timestamps and the errors (usually, not that many!) Gary then fixes any errors and uploads the final files and it’s off to Audible for our book! Ta Dah! We’ve got this process down to an art form by now, but I never cease to be amazed and delighted when I hear the final narration.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? You could say that I heard the audiobook for “Apple Boy” before I even finished writing it! The book was written with the narrator already on board. Like me, Gary is a huge fan of the Fantasy genre, and so, understanding the expectations of the genre and knowing Gary’s narration so well, I heard him reading it in my head as I wrote. Therefore, I was very conscious that I was not only writing my fantasy novel I was writing specifically for audio – and it helped me provide a cast of wonderful eccentric characters for Gary Furlong to voice.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? There is no way I could allow a publisher to send in a manuscript to a narrator and have no input into an audio production of my work. My audiobooks are very much a collaborative process with my narrator. It’s my job as the author to make my narrator’s job as easy as possible. Therefore, I always provide an edited manuscript, and a list of pronunciations. For words that are really tricky I will record myself saying them on my phone and send Gary the sound file. This ensures we are on the same page and the recording process goes smoothly with few corrections.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? I am an OBSESSIVE audiobook listener. I want to close my eyes and see a movie of the book I’m listening to with a cast of characters. Audiobooks appeal not only for performance values of the narrator, but because I spend my days in front of a laptop, writing. To relax, I can’t read traditional books or e-books anymore because my eyes are too tired. Audiobooks help me loose myself in a story.
- Is there a particular part of “Apple Boy” that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format? Gary Furlong gives an injection of life and personality to my characters that one would not necessarily get from reading. There are many scenes in “Apple Boy” where Gary excels and adds more emotional depth to my words by his performance. Also, from my own impression and that of avid listeners, his narration of my sex scenes is always something special!
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles? I chose images for the two primary characters Adam, and Winter as I needed to provide reference photos to my cover artist, Lennel. Adam is male model Guy Robinson, and Winter is actor, Freddie Fox. Oh, and I’ve promised Gary Furlong that he can play a character called Lord Ivon Aeling, should this ever come to the screen as his performance of Ivon for the audiobook is spot on and hilarious.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors? DON’T look at reviews. Reviews are NOT for authors, or narrators, they are for readers and listeners. ALL authors get one-star reviews. They are an opinion and not a reflection of an authors worth as a person or writer! None of us can please everyone. Moaning about bad reviews online can be counterproductive and damaging to a new author’s career.
- What advice would you give to authors who are interested in breaking into audio? I love audio as a format and encourage all authors to dip their toes in. I’ve written several blog posts about helping authors break into audio. This post to help authors understand how to use the ACX.com site to find a narrator. https://isobelstarling.wixsite.com/books/single-post/2017/03/12/Indie-Authors-Using-ACX-to-Find-a-Narrator I also wrote a post to assist authors in preparation of manuscripts before they send their book to their chosen narrator. https://isobelstarling.wixsite.com/books/single-post/2018/04/10/Tips-on-Working-with-an-Audiobook-Narrator Financially, breaking into audiobooks it can be difficult because audiobooks are expensive to produce if an author pays per finished hour. Royalty share options are available, and for independent authors, there are several distributors to choose from who can get your audiobook onto many sites and offer varied royalty structures. With paperback sales dropping, and audiobook listeners increasing it seems to be a wise decision to invest in audiobooks. Once an audiobook has been produced it can give an author another stream of income for years.
- What’s next for you? I am completing book #5 in my Shatterproof Bond thriller series, which will then be narrated by Gary Furlong. After that is done, book #2 in the Quiet Work Series, called “Dark Harvest” needs to be edited, and when that is done it will also be an audiobook.
Giveaway: Apple Boy Prize Pack
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