Author: J.R. Erickson
Narrator: Allyson Voller
Length: 7 hours and 26 minutes
Series: Northern Michigan Asylum Series, Book 1
Publisher: J.R. Erickson
Released: May 20, 2020
The dead have stories to tell. Are you listening?
On a sunny August morning, in 1935, 13-year-old Sophia Gray finds her friend Rosemary wandering in the woods. Rosemary’s yellow dress is tattered and stained, she walks with a strange lurch, and her eyes are vacant and glassy. She beckons to Sophia, desperate to show her something, and Sophia follows.
In an abandoned cabin, beneath a tattered blanket, Sophia discovers Rosemary’s body. It was not Rosemary who led her there, but Rosemary’s ghost.
Step into the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane
Twenty years after Sophia discovers Rosemary’s body, she finds herself trapped in the sprawling, and eerily beautiful, Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane, in the hands of a malevolent doctor who preys on patients who exhibit paranormal abilities.
Sometimes the dead don’t rest
In 1965, Hattie, much like her mother, 30 years before, is led by a ghost. A newspaper hidden in an attic reveals a secret that has shaped the lives of Hattie and her siblings. Hattie with her sister, Jude, embark on a crusade to remedy the wrongs of the past and discover the tale of deception that stole their mother a decade before.
Hattie and Jude are in a race against time to discover a murderer and save their mother from a horrific fate.
Get lost in a uniquely chilling story that spans the life of a family and the ghosts who haunt them.
J.R. Erickson (aka Jacki) is an indie author who writes murder mysteries woven with elements of the paranormal. Since childhood, J.R. has been fascinated by otherworldly things. She started penning creepy stories in her adolescence, but didn’t pursue a career in writing until her mid-twenties. Like most paths, J.R.’s has been winding and filled with detours.
Today, she lives in the forests of northern Michigan with her excavator husband and her critter-loving son. In addition to writing, J.R. teaches yoga, hosts the true crime podcast Bitter Endings, and spends every spare minute hanging with her family and her kitties.
Her latest series, the Northern Michigan Asylum Series, is inspired by a real former asylum in Traverse City. J.R. regularly visits the former asylum that has been partially renovated into shops, restaurants and condominiums.
Allyson is an accomplished actor with a fun, versatile style. She’s been working professionally for more than two decades in Chicago’s theatre and improv community. Her body of work appears in hundreds of projects in all mediums: film, television and commercials, both in front of the camera and behind the microphone. Allyson’s love of performing led her into narrating audiobooks and she has never looked back. She has a degree in theatre, as well as having studied improvisation at both The Second City Conservatory and iO Chicago. In addition to narrating audiobooks she lends her multifaceted voice to the country’s oldest running radio drama as a company member.
Doctor Kaiser held the framed photograph in his hand. His mother had been beautiful and terrible like a witch from a fairy tale who appeared golden and glowing until you saw her reflection in the mirror. Then you’d see her molten skin and flashing red eyes, her hands like claws reaching out for you when you turned your back. He put the photograph in his desk, locked the drawer and stood.
Would you believe it if someone came to you and said they see ghosts? Do you believe in ghosts? If your answer is yes to both, this is definitely the book for you. Erickson’s first installment in the Northern Michigan Asylum Series is pretty interesting. Readers may be able to predict some of the mystery, but it is one of those stories hard to put down.
Hattie and Jude grew up with their grandmother, Gram Ruth, after an accidental death took their father and mother away. After Hattie begins seeing ghosts, she questions those around her as to why she has never seen her mother, even though she has called to her countless times. The short answer, their mother is not dead. The longer answer is bit more complicated than that. This story switches back and forth as the narrator transitions from Jude, Hattie, and Sophia. The readers get to understand each character on a more personal level rather than if the narrator was observing each character with the focus on just one. While Jude and Hattie are in search for answers, Sophia has escaped from the asylum she has been locked up in for the past nine years, and she must figure out how to clear her name. Being locked up for seeing ghosts is the least of her problems. She was also convicted of two murders, soon to be three, and everyone is out for her blood, including the evil Dr. Kaiser, the man who has an unhealthy obsession with her and his dead mother.
Erickson leads her readers into a cold and dark world, but quite a fascinating one. While the story and the characters are fictional, the asylum is real and has been researched thoroughly. This provides originality, while still giving the author credibility. This place, you can imagine, has a ton of creative and unusual stories and this is where Erickson is able to lure her readers into this first installment. Voller’s narration is harder to critique. The story is riveting; however, Voller is quite monotone in her voice relay. Each character she narrates has the same tone, the same sound, the same everything. This makes it very difficult for the reader to differentiate between characters. It can also bore the reader as well and for such a fascinating story, it is hard to see it muddied by a narrator that doesn’t keep this compelling aspect. The narrator also seemed to mispronounce words, but this could be an editing issue; it is not a huge issue, but noticeable. If you are a reader of paranormal fiction and mysteries, you may want to pick it up for a read. Since this is the first installment, readers can dive right in. Just to clarify, this is a story about ghosts, but it is not a horror story.
The audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a four star rating for Some Can See by J.R. Erickson.
Q&A with Author J.R. Erickson
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook. The process is pretty simple when you go through ACX. I post a script (a short sample of the book) on ACX and open the book for narrators. I also listen to narrator samples and try to find a narrator who matches the voice of the main character in my mind.
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? I’m more conscious of it now; however, I wasn’t originally. Mostly it causes me to use fewer dialogue tags and to be extra conscious of repeated words in the manuscript.
How did you select your narrator? I try to choose a narrator who matches my idea of the primary character; however, since the books are spooky, I also want a certain tone. Many of the books have multiple point of view characters, so that also influences my narrator choice.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? The Northern Michigan Asylum Series is inspired by a real asylum in Traverse City, which is near where I live in Northern Michigan. It’s a beautiful place with sprawling Kirkbride buildings and sloping forests and grounds. The stories themselves did not originate with the asylum, but the setting is inspired by it.
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing? I write every morning while my brain is fresh (usually around 4 a.m.) which helps because my writing is done and out of the way before the other daily to-dos starting pouring in. Usually, I don’t experience much burn out, but when I do, I just take a few days off the writing and focus on other aspects of self publishing or I just hang out with my toddler and take a break from the story.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? Yes, I love audiobooks. Honestly, my favorite part is the convenience. I can listen while driving, cleaning, etc.
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? Hmm… my immediate response is yes, of course, but then I come upon all these moral dilemmas like needing to go back in time to stop major catastrophes or on a more personal level wanting to go back and see people I love who’ve passed away. I guess that means I’m not sure if I’d use it or if I’d be paralyzed by the possibilities.
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”? Nope. I totally disagree. It’s different, absolutely, but a story told through words leaves us to develop the images and that’s what is so wonderful about reading whether we’re doing it with our own eyes or someone else’s.
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel? I’m terrible about celebrating the completion of a novel. After the book goes live, I breathe a big sigh of relief and usually take a few days off before I start the next one.
What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump? Finishing a project is probably the best way to get out of a slump, but sometimes I step away and work on a short story or an upcoming novel just to give my brain a break from the current story-line.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series? I really like what I’ve done in this series because it’s a series connected by a larger story, but all of the books are stand-alone. My first ever series were five books connected by a single narrative and after a while it became difficult to juggle all of the characters and the overarching plot. The pros of stand-alones are that we get to start fresh with a new story each time. The cons are that readers want to stay with characters they’ve grown attached to and it’s hard to let them go at the end of the book.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors? My biggest advice is to write every day. Even a hundred words a day will create a book within a year (a small one, more like a novella, but still…). Not only does writing daily help you improve your craft, it gets your brain in the habit of being within a story. It’s also a reminder to yourself and to those around you that this is important, that time needs to be allotted for this. I personally spent years only writing when the muse struck, but the less you write, the less you feel inspired to write. You’re the muse, you’ve got to show up for yourself.
Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks? I’m exclusive with ACX and the process is so easy and has been great. My advice is to go there.
What’s next for you? I’m currently writing the 8th, and final, book in the Northern Michigan Asylum Series, which is called Let Her Rest. I plan to start another haunting/paranormal series, but I haven’t dialled in on exactly what it will be yet.
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.