Audiobook Review: Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone – Abigail Drake

Author: Abigail Drake

Narrator: Alex Bonner

Length: 11 hours and 27 minutes

Publisher: Abigail Drake

Released: Apr. 4, 2022

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Pride, prejudice, and a puppy! A romantic comedy from a Labrador’s perspective. Capone, the newly acquired puppy of Miss Josephine St. Clair, owner of Bartleby’s Books, is a literature-loving Labrador. Obsessed with Jane Austen and cursed with a terrible name, Capone hopes to change his doggie karma and prove he’s just as much a gentleman as the heroes in his favorite books by finding the perfect Mr. Darcy for the lonely and bookishly adorable Miss Josie. Unfortunately, the only men Miss Josie seems to encounter aren’t Darcys at all. They’re Wickhams, Churchills, and Willoughbys. Even worse, there is trouble afoot. Someone has been sabotaging Miss Josie’s business, and all signs point to her evil ex. Can Capone find a way to save Bartleby’s Books, help Miss Josie find her true love, and earn, at long last, a name befitting a true gentleman?
 
Abigail Drake is the award-winning author of seventeen novels, but she didn’t start her career in writing. She majored in Japanese and economics in college, and spent years traveling the world, collecting stories wherever she visited. She collected a husband from Istanbul on her travels, too, and he is still her favorite souvenir. Abigail is a coffee addict, a puppy wrangler, and the mother of three adult sons. She writes contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and young adult fiction, and has taught workshops for many different writing organizations. In her spare time, she blogs about her dog, Capone, and teaches writing classes for children at her local library. In 2019, Abigail was awarded an honorable mention for her book “Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone” in the Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-book Awards. She is the winner of the 2017 Prism Award for her book “Traveller”, the International Digital Award for her young adult novel, “Tiger Lily”, and the Stiletto Contest for “Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone.” In addition, she was named a finalist in the Golden Pen, the Golden Leaf, the Dante Rossetti Book Award, and the Cygnus Award for Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction. Abigail is represented by Lauren Bieker of FinePrint Literary Management and she is the cofounder of Romancing Your Muse (www.romancingyourmuse.com). For more information, visit her website at http://www.abigaildrake.net.

Alex Bonner is an NYC based actor and voice-over actor from Miami, Florida. Voice of Diego Rivera in Fragmented Frida (Brooklyn Academy of Music – Fisher), and performed as Danny in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea (Kraine Theater, NYC). Alex has trained at the T. Schreiber Studio with Peter Miner, Playhouse West-Brooklyn Actor’s Lab with Jim Parrack, and the Andrea Dantas New York Conservatory. Alex would like to thank his parents, Tom and Liisa, for their unyielding support, as well as his girlfriend Lauren, and his teachers for their guidance and mentorship.
Q&A with Author Abigail Drake
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • I already knew an excellent voice artist who I thought would be perfect for the part—Alex Bonner. He’s a NY trained actor, and so talented, so, the process was rather simple. I asked Alex to do it, he created an audition clip, and that was it. He did an amazing job, and I’m delighted with the results.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • I’ve enjoyed listening to audiobooks in many genres. The only ones that are difficult for me personally are books with lots of sexual content. I love reading those books (don’t get me wrong!), and writing them, too, but I get oddly uncomfortable listening to them. I guess I need to get over it. I’m working on a sci-fi romance series with a higher heat level than I usually employ, and plan to make those into audiobooks too.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • With “Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone,” I definitely had plans early on to make it into an audiobook. I heard Capone’s voice loud and clear the whole time I was writing it. Since he’s my actual dog, I mean this both literally and figuratively.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • It was so easy, since I already knew Alex Bonner and wanted him for the job. Normally, I would go to ACX, described the requirements, and accept auditions. You kind of know right away which voice will work and which won’t. It’s an interesting process.
  • 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?
    • Alex Bonner is a pro, and we had a great collaboration. He read the book ahead of time, so he really understood the characters. I just let him go for it, and I was so pleased with the results. When any pronunciation issues came up, he researched and took care of them right away. He was a pleasure to work with!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Yes, oddly enough! The inspiration for this story comes from my actual dog, a black Labrador retriever named Capone. Many of the things that happened in this story are actually true, but I won’t tell you which. I’ll let my listeners guess!
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • I think part of the way I avoid burn-out is by writing in several different genres. All of my books are either romances, or have romantic elements, but I write everything from sweet YA to not-so-sweet sci-fi romance. Others have advised me to find a niche and stick with it, and they are probably right, but if I did that, I think I would get burned-out! As far as enthusiasm is concerned, I just love telling stories. I always have, and hopefully I always will. I also love every element of the process involved in creating a book, from the first whisper of an idea, to the rough draft, to edits, and then (my favorite part), getting it into the hands of my readers! When I hear they enjoyed my work, it’s the best thing in the world.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I am an avid audiobook listener. I love the art of oral storytelling, and it truly is an art. I also like that I can listen to a book on a long car ride, or while I’m cleaning or cooking. It gives an escape even while performing mundane tasks, and it makes them easier to complete.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • Capone has such an appealing voice, and he’s a really fun character. What came through when I heard Alex Bonner narrate the book was the essence of Capone’s personality, but he also did an incredible job with the other characters in the book. It’s so interesting what elements a good narrator will uncover!
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m finishing up a sexy sci-fi series, and I have four more audiobooks coming out this spring. Life has been an amazing roller coaster ride lately. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
Q&A with Narrator Alex Bonner
  • What type of training have you undergone?
    • After graduating from the University of Miami (BBA), I moved to New York to train as an actor. I was lucky to start my work with students in the Columbia MFA program as an actor used in scenes run for classroom discussion. I learned a great deal from the faculty there, and through it met the wonderful director Peter Miner, who invited me to take his scene study course at the Terry Schreiber Studio in Chelsea. Peter is a fantastic teacher, and he guided me towards the next chapter of my training, a two year Meisner program I attended at Playhouse West Brooklyn. Under the instruction of actors Jim Parrack and Andrea Dantas, I learned what it meant to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances, to connect myself deeply to my work, and most of all, to give myself freely to my partner. It was my first experience in theater, and it was magic. All of the things I’d never been asked to say or never had the courage to do had a place on stage.
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • It might not be essential, but it’s definitely helpful! I think a good read can only be enhanced by training, and quality technique can really help in bringing the characters to life. This can be especially true on the days you might not feel up to record! You could’ve stepped in gum on the way to the studio and got caught in the rain, but the script calls for you to have the best day of your life for that take. Theater training can help the actor bring their whole person to any project, despite any obstacles life throws in your way.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out?
    • Recording and producing a book is a marathon, and not a sprint. Organization is key, and it helps to create unbreakable contracts with yourself to hit your milestones for each day. If you’ve got 5 chapters for that day, make it all the way to 5 chapters. That also means that if you crush a recording session and have time for extra chapters, give yourself a break and say “jobs done for today, I did what I set out to do for this project, now I need to do what I need for me”. Spending time with your family and self care is essential. If you’re running into that often, you can always increase your goals for output. But keeping a promise to yourself is an investment in self confidence.
  • What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
    • No holds barred in the booth! Sing, dance, and do whatever silly thing that will put you in a mindset of “no wrong answers here”.
  • How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
    • I really love working closely with authors! Sometimes it’s fun to start the work with a blank slate and fill in the gaps with your own imagination. Your instincts can open up a character in really cool ways. Other times, having conversations with the author about the story and characters can feel like getting a peel at the answer key to an upcoming test. Specificity is key; the more specific I can make a read or character, the more alive that character will be, and ultimately in line with the authors vision.
  • Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
    • Only the good ones!
  Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone 5.5/5 Stars! Alex Bonner 5.5/5 Stars! This is exactly the type of books that I love to read/listen to, and I am so glad that I found this book! If I ever had a dog, because I am more of a cat person, it would be like Capone, thought I would definitely would never name my dog that name. However, it made a great part of the story, a dog who wanted to be like a gentleman, but is called a gangster name.This audiobook with all the antics of Capone, made me laugh and smile all thru the story, and I was sad for it to end. This would be a great movie! ALex Bonner: Alex, I couldn’t have had a cuter voice for Capone, and sometimes I just felt as if I was was in the settings of the book and watching everything unfold in front of my “eyes.” I hope to hear more from this narrator! I can’t wait for the next book! I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Abigail Drake. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
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