Author: N.E. Conneely
Narrator: Jeff Hays, Soundbooth Theater
Series: A Witch’s Path, Book 1
Length: 7 hours 14 minutes
Publisher: N.E. Conneely
Released: Feb. 11, 2015
Genre: Paranormal, Supernatural
Most witches don’t work for police departments, but Michelle isn’t your average witch. She’s clanless, looking for a wizard who isn’t offended by her lack of family connections, and in danger of losing her job if she can’t find the escaped trolls before they start eating the local residents.
Trolls, angry police, and misbehaving spells are the least of her problems. Statues attacking homeowners might be problematic for your average witch, but to Michelle it’s another day at the office. Her real concern is the wizard suddenly interested in dating her and an old elf set on pestering her. When her happy family is rocked by a long kept secret her stable life falls apart faster than she can pick up the pieces.
N.E. Conneely lives in northern Georgia with her dog and a mountain of books. They sweat through the summer and freeze through the winter, and life as they know it comes to an end when so much as a single snowflake falls out of the sky. For fun, N.E. plays with her dog, reads, knits, crochets, paints, and does tie-dyeing and origami. She makes a great pizza and is currently negotiating with her husband about raising sea monkeys and growing a vegetable garden.
Jeff Hays has made a name for himself in the audio book world by creating immersive experiences out of his productions. His versatility and authenticity in voicing characters, expressive low-impact narration, and dedication to offering the highest quality audio possible has earned him a loyal following of listeners. Having been fascinated with sound since he can remember, Jeff takes his background of composing and producing music, and his continual consumption of the avalanche of fictional media we all experience in these modern times, and uses it to inform his style of story telling in the audiobook realm.
And now, having produced more than 80 audio books and perfecting his craft, using the namesake of his live streaming narration show, the Soundbooth Theater shingle has been hung. Soundbooth Theater is dedicated to applying Jeff’s production methods to new audio books with other budding narrator talent, and expanding his scope from audio books, to voicing and producing animation.
After coasting into my parking spot, I sat for a moment, letting the tranquility of the house soak into me. The land was covered with elegant decorations and charming gardens that begged to be explored. The house—more of a lodge, really—was built of rough-hewn logs. Two wings sheltered the sides of the covered porch, protecting it from the weather. It was four steps up the porch and eight feet to the oak door. It wasn’t my house. It was owned by a brownie couple who maintained it and rented out suites. There were a few long-term renters like me, but it also functioned as a bed-and-breakfast to people and magical creatures passing through. A renter, like myself, was entitled to two meals a day, which made up for the microscopic kitchen. Being something of an indifferent or terrible cook, those kep me from eating fast food every day.
Know any witches who would be willing to join the police force to keep back the evil and vile supernatural creatures from the light of day? What about any vampires, werewolves, unicorns, or trolls? This supernaturally charged first installment is highly entertaining, mysterious, and quite criminal! Conneely has written a series, filled with humans and magical creatures who can both live simultaneously in the same place and still know who each other really is. That is very original and unlike the typical “keep it a secret from humankind”. In this first installment alone, this witch is all about no secrets and first on duty when the spooky comes through.
Michelle is a witch…as if you couldn’t guess. She practices her magic very openly, but her spells and rituals are done to help her fellow friends, neighbors and the occasional police case… This case should be a simple cut and dry one, “find the escaped trolls…that are not very bright…and confine them with magic until something more permanent can be found”. Well, never take anything for simple…especially when it comes to the magical. These trolls that have escaped are somehow brighter than they appear or someone is cloaking them and causing the minutest cases of death throughout the city. Michelle gets a good whiff of what’s going on after she brings in the shapeshifters to help with tracking the trolls from last known locations. There is a very prominent floral smell masking the smell of death and after hearing that description, Michelle fears that they might be over her head…plus almost out of magic.
Conneely has a superb story-line and wonderful character development in this first installment. The characters are snarky, mysterious, humorous, and most importantly magically-inclined. The pace is very fast and provides a sense of thrill and urgency to the story, but not in a bad or harsh way. Since this was an audiobook that was provided, the flow of the story was terrific and the story seems to be well-written in order to flow as well as it did. Hays is virtually impeccable with his audio relay talent. This narrator makes this story come to life, more so than imagery that the readers can come up with through description alone.
A copy of this book was provided to Turning Another Page by the Audiobookworm Promotions, but this in no way affects our honest opinion of the book or the review that has been written. We provide a five-star rating for Witch for Hire by N.E. Conneely.
Q&A with Author N.E. Conneely
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- As an author the process is rather easy. Once Jeff was onboard with the project all I had to do were some pronunciation recordings, listen to the book, and give it the go ahead. The Jeff and Soundbooth have done all the heavy lifting.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
- I think my experiences in working with Soudbooth Theater and Jeff have been different from most author’s because of how Jeff approaches the narration. He really wants to bring the story to life and make it as immersive as possible for the reader rather than simply read it
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- Not even a little. Witch for Hire started out as a combination of writing exercise and National Novel Writing Month project way back in 2009. It wasn’t until 2013 that I got motivated to publish the book and write the rest of the series.
- How did you select your narrator?
- A put a smale of the book up for audition. Jeff was the only narrator who could do a male and female voice, which was rather necessary for the story as it has multiple first person points of view, so I picked him.
- 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?
- Yes and no. Jeff read through the books before starting the narration so he had a pretty good feel for the characters. The pronunciation of some of the names and terms have been trickier. Since the books take place in north Georgia there are a lot of names that can be traced back to the Cherokee tribes who originally lived here. Ellijay, Etowah, Cohuttah, Dahlonega, and other names are a little tricky to figure out just from the spelling.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- I always heard the saying, “Write what you know.” That sounded great until I wanted to write fantasy. No one really knows magic, but I did know north Georgia. I grew up there, went to college, and worked my first job in the area so I picked that for the setting. It was what I knew.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- It’s not really a single part, but I love how the narration brings out the snark and sarcasm that are in the books! It can be difficult to make that show through in text, but it’s so vivid the audiobook!
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- No. I think we experience time as a linear constant to give us motivation to stay in the present and make the most of it. We only get one try at the here and now, which to me is part of what defines the human experience.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- No. Not everyone can physically read. Audiobooks give the deaf access to thousands of books they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience. Even lifelong print readers can find themselves transition to audio. My grandmother loves to read, but she had tremors that make it very difficult for her to hold a book steady enough to read it or easily turn pages. Audiobooks are how she continues to read.
- How did you celebrate after finishing each novel this series?
- Oh, well, it depends on the book. When I finished Witch for Hire I celebrated by starting A Witch’s Path. When I finished A Witch’s Path I went out to dinner with my family and had a margarita. I think for A Witch’s Trial I had two glasses of wine and bought myself a tiny glass flying pig. Upon completing A Witch’s Concern, I went on a date with the man who became my husband. I didn’t celebrate finishing A Witch’s Rite because I was sick. For A Witch’s Demons, I went out to dinner and had a margarita.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- When I’m in a writing slump I try to read more and sometimes I switch projects until I find something that sparks my imagination. As for a reading slump, well, I tend to go in cycles of reading a lot and not reading much.
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
- Yup! Michelle first showed up in a dream. While the dream has nothing in common with the books, it did spark the idea and I’ve really loved writing Michelle’s adventures.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Read, write, repeat. Write new things, read news books, reread books, read your own work, and write something new. Then do it all over again. There’s no substitute for reading and writing.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- Enjoy it. Enjoy hearing the characters come to life and know that even if audio isn’t your favorite format, you’re making some readers very happy.
- What’s next for you?
- Write another book! I have a story arc for three more Michelle books as well as lots of other worlds that are begging to be explored so I have a lot of work to do!
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