Author: Abigail Drake
Narrator: Kasey Miracle
Length: 5 hours and 21 minutes
Publisher: Abigail Drake
Released: Mar. 23, 2022
Genre: Paranormal Romance; Young Adult
Starr Valentine, the most popular cheerleader at Middleton High, has led a charmed life. But the day she is chosen as the youngest member ever of homecoming court, is also the day her parents reveal a secret more than a decade old: They are monarchs in exile from a mysterious planet called Vega, and it’s time for all of them to return home. Best day ever, ruined! While she likes the idea of being a princess, Starr realizes something is terribly wrong when they arrive on their new world. She’s always been the best-looking girl in the room, but everyone is ignoring her and fawning over her frumpy older sister, Astra, and it doesn’t make sense. Although Astra is the sweetest person around, she’s never even had a date. So why is she now getting all the attention? Starr soon figures out the awful truth. The standard of beauty on Vega is different, and Starr isn’t pretty anymore. To make matters worse, everybody treats her like she’s annoying and shallow, including an irritatingly handsome young duke named Julian. Can Starr find a way to get noticed again, or is this once beautiful swan doomed to remain an ugly duckling forever?
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.
Q&A with Author Abigail Drake
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- I’d already worked with my voice artist, Kasey Miracle, in the past, and knew she’d be the perfect fit for “Starr Valentine.” Therefore, the process was rather simple. The first step, listening to auditions for narrators, took only minutes. I knew Kasey would be the right person to bring my characters to life, and I wasn’t wrong! She 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 “Starr Valentine” I definitely had plans early on to make it into an audiobook. I heard Starr’s voice loud and clear the whole time I was writing it.
- How did you select your narrator?
- It was so easy, since I already knew Kasey Miracle and wanted her 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?
- Kasey Miracle is a pro, and we had a great collaboration. I gave her character sketches (just a few lines), to help her out. For example, I would tell her that imagined a certain character would have a gruff voice or a soft voice. When any pronunciation issues came up, she took care of them right away. She was a pleasure to work with—and really quick, too!
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- Yes, oddly enough! The inspiration for this story came when I was waiting to pick up my oldest son from a tennis match years ago. I noticed a woman standing by the courts who really stood out. She was a big lady, wearing a crazy cacophony of prints and colors, and her curly hair was put up in three odd-looking ponytails on her head. She stood out, but not because of her size or clothing or her hair. She exuded confidence and simply radiated joy, and that was what drew my eye to her. I noticed a girl standing next to her, with similar attributes and clothing. She also seemed very happy and confident, and I assumed they had to be mother and daughter. But then I noticed another girl standing next to them. She had on a plain tennis skirt and shirt, and she was ducking her head, as if embarrassed. And that’s when I began to wonder…what if this girl was also the women’s daughter? What if she was embarrassed about how her mom and older sister looked? What would the family dynamics be like? Because I lived abroad for many years, and saw different ideas about beauty everywhere I visited, another thought occurred to me as well. What if someone was considered to be beautiful, but then they go to another culture where the standard of beauty was different, and they weren’t beautiful anymore? And that’s when Starr Valentine was born.
- 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?
- Starr Valentine has such a strong voice, and she’s a really fun character. What came through when I heard Kasey Miracle narrate the book was the essence of Starr’s personality. 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!
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