Monday, August 22, 2022

Audiobook blog tour #The Cleanup Committee @RainsCordelia @kirbynarrator @AudiobookEmpire

Author: Cordelia Rains

Narrator: Michael Kirby

Length: 10 hours 56 minutes

Publisher: Cordelia Rains

Released: April 22, 2022

Genre: Crime Thriller

It's 1978. The drug trade is booming, and law enforcement can't keep up. Enter the Cleanup Committee. They've all lost children to drugs. They're rich, they're organized, and they have resources. Will they succeed where the law failed?
Cordelia Rains lives and works from home in the beautiful pacific northwest. Her debut crime novel, The Cleanup Committee, was inspired by her parents: a police dispatcher and a nurse. A children's series is also in the works. Cordelia enjoys coffee, movies, and rock music. She can often be found walking with her family and their Saint Bernard.
Michael Kirby is a classically trained actor who has performed in film, television, theatre, and voiceovers for more than twenty-five years. He has developed a style that envelopes the audience in the narrative, bringing to life the writer's work from the page. With clarity, grace, and a deep range of vocal techniques and characters to draw from, he puts the listener right in the heart of the story. He is a California native a lifelong skateboarder, outdoorsman and sci-fi nerd who spent a number of years living and working in New York City. Michael is a driven performer that brings mindfulness to all of his projects. As a father of two toddlers, he also approaches all things with a patient and nurturing spirit. Michael loves his craft and thrives on storytelling, both fiction and non-fiction.

Q&A with Author Cordelia Rains
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • When I looked into making an audiobook, Audible was the clear winner. I did some research and uploaded a short script for auditions. This is how I found my narrator, Micheal Kirby. His voice captured my attention immediately. We worked together to make The Cleanup Committee come to life.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • I did have an audiobook in mind when writing The Cleanup Committee. My father was blind, so audiobooks were his way of reading, and a major way he interacted with the world. It’s important that my story be accessible.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • My real life inspirations come from Oregon. While the characters are fictional, the cities and small towns are real. From urban Portland to rural Summer Lake, Oregon is a pretty amazing place.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I avoid burnout by focusing on the inspiration. I also don’t box myself into a set schedule; that way it doesn’t feel like something I “have to do”. I take advantage of inspiration and energy as they happen.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I love listening to audiobooks. I have ADHD, so it’s actually helpful listening to audiobooks while doing the dishes or laundry. Whether it’s author read, narrator read, or a full cast, audiobooks provide a unique listening experience.
  • If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
    • If I could cast The Cleanup Committee, I would pick Devin Druid to play Johnny Redwine. I could see Mackenzie Foy as feisty young Dot, and I’d love to have Richard Geere as Jonah Stoneking.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • To those who think audiobooks are somehow inferior to reading, I’d ask why reading has to be a competition. All that matters is that someone takes in the story, or the information, in whatever form works best for them.
  • What's your favorite:
    • Food- I love Italian food!
    • Song- Bring me to Life by Evanescence
    • Book- Oh man. I can’t pick one favorite. I’ve re-read Dracula a few times. I enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and adventure stories.
    • TV Show: Stranger Things
    • Movie: I love movies!
    • If I had to pick a favorite it would be “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
    • Band- Breaking Benjamin
    • Sports Team: Portland Trailblazers
    • City: Seattle
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • My advice for aspiring authors would be: make space for inspiration. Schedule time on the calendar for thought, or practice, or anything related to writing, because it’s just as important as any appointment.
  • What’s next for you?
    • My next project is actually a series of children’s books, inspired by my youngest son who has Autism.
Q&A with Narrator Michael Kirby
  • When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
    • As a classically trained actor I realized audiobooks are just like the long plays of Shakespeare and Chekhov, they require endurance and a connection to the characters in a visceral way. I love to tell stories on an epic scale and when I found audiobook narration, it just felt right as an actor.
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    • I stumbled upon audiobooks completely. I was in a production of Henry IV at my theatre company and the actor I was sharing the role of Prince Hal with was Ramon deOcampo, a phenomenal actor and audiobook narrator and he introduced me to the world and helped me to get started with it.
  • Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?
    • The community of audiobook narration is unique in the acting world, it is a community filled with generous and wonderful people who want to help you. Everyone I have come across has been willing to help answer questions to newbies in the community so no, it wasn’t too difficult. It just takes patience and a willingness to learn. I hope to pay that generosity that was extended to me forward. The independent author community is also an incredible world of kind and generous artists and the first several books I have done have all been with independent authors and their kindness and support is the reason I am on this audiobook tour. Thanks to people like Cordelia Rains.
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • I too have a background in theatre. While I don’t think it is necessary, I think it definitely helps for fiction. It’s not about finding different voices, it’s about finding what each character wants, what their motivation is and what they are fighting for and bringing that to the narration.
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • I have a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the Old Globe/ University of San Diego. I have studied with Audiobook Narrators Scott Brick, Sean Pratt, Andi Arndt, Ronnie Butler, and PJ Ochlan. I also have a BA in Theatre from Cal State Fullerton, and studied Shakespeare at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. I have also studied with and am a member of the prestigious Antaeus Theatre Company in Los Angeles.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I am an audiobook listener. I love listening to the narrators and hearing how much of themselves they bring to the work. My favorite thing however is when I listen to a narrator’s technique, and then I end up getting lost in the story and immersed in the different characters and no longer pay any attention to technique.
  • What would you say are your strongest narration abilities? In all my work I try to find the heart of the story. Where is the love? Once I find where the love is, I am able to key into the story. Honesty is very important to me, being truthful is my highest priority as a storyteller. And truth is usually connected to love.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • The story felt like such an adventure. A secret organization of vigilanties bent on stopping drug dealers and the lengths to which they are willing to go to stop them. It is so fun and I really connected with the lead character, it felt like a good fit. Luckily I got the book!
  • How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
    • I love to work with authors. I want any and all backstory and character information they have developed. The more involved the author is, the better it is for me to interpret what they want in an audiobook and it can only help me give them what they are looking for.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
    • This was a challenge because there are over 100 characters in this book and most of them are from the same part of the country, namely Oregon. Os I had to look for different qualities based on the characters age, sex, and what their function was in the telling of the story.
  • “Chinese Chicken” by Duke Williams and the Extremes:
    • This is a fun song that I imagine playing during the first car chase Johnny engages in.
  • “Fortunate Son” by Credence Clearwater Revival:
    • This song fits Johnny, because he is not a child of privilege. He is intimidated when he first encounters the Stoneking family and their mansion.
  • “Burgers and Fries” by Charley Pride and “It Only Hurts for a Little While” by Margo Smith:
    • These songs are mentioned in the book. They’re playing on the radio while the teams relax at Summer Lake.
  • “I Just Want to Love You” by Eddie Rabbitt:
    • A love song for a special pair
  • “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop:
    • Luke’s theme song
  • “Spanish Castle Magic” by Jimmy Hendrix
    • At one point acid rock is playing at the Rainbow’s End; this is what I hear.
  • “Runnin’ With the Devil” by Van Halen
    • Boxer’s theme song
  • “Stormbringer” by Deep Purple
    • Cain and Abel’s theme song
  • “Flirting with Disaster” by Molly Hatchet
    • A great car song. Chase? Musings while driving? Maybe both.
  • “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
    • This is the background music for Johnny visiting his sister’s grave
  • “Blue Skies” by Willie Nelson
    • I imagine this playing as Donna gets on the bus to leave Oregon.
  • “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath
    • For the end… and plotting violence.

Summer reads are frequently poolside fluff, romances, and stories of family traumas that heal by reconnecting with the past.  Not for this girl.  Bring on vigilante justice, murder, and mayhem with some slightly angsty first love all in the name of ridding our streets of drugs that destroy.  Or dragons - but The Cleanup Committee doesn't have dragons.  They do however have guns - lots and lots of guns.

Cordelia Rains crafts a fascinating story of a group of individuals, all impacted by the heartbreak of drugs, who band together to fund and create a vigilante army. Dedicated to the proposition that all drug dealers must be destroyed, Jonah Stoneking and his associates fund a secret program designed to finance and train assassins who will go into the cities and towns of  Oregon to slay the villains before more families can be destroyed by the effects of drugs.  The young recruits for this army are either former addicts or surviving family members who, like the Cleanup Committee founders, were trying to make something good happen after the bad of their loved ones lost to drugs. Jonah's daughter, Dot, takes on the role of head recruiter and brings in the likes of Johnny Redwine, Linda, and Paula. The ensuing saga reads something between a true crime novel and a '70s Pulp Fiction redux.  It is captivating and ear-bending.

Michael Kirby's narration absolutely enhances the listening pleasure of this tale.  He pushes the pace when necessary, slows it to emphasize the moments, and breathes life into each and every character, regardless of their role. There were afternoons where I sat in my car just a little bit longer, just to listen to him relay the story created by Ms. Rains, inspired by her parents and doubtless tales of their work from that era.

I give this wild ride 4 chocolate-covered strawberries and am intrigued now what YA delights this author can concoct.  For sure Michael Kirby will go into the must-buy column for narrators.

   I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Michael Kirby. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.  
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