Author: S.J. Varengo
Narrator: Austenne Grey
Length: 6 hours and 8 minutes
Series: Clean Up Crew Thriller, Book 1
Publisher: Audiobooks Unleashed
Released: July 6, 2021
What would you do if you found a body in the trunk of your wife’s car?
This is the question facing Dan Porter as he stood in the parking lot and looked down at a man wrapped in clear plastic sheeting…a man with a tidy .38 bullet hole in his forehead. But finding the body is a mere curiosity compared with the twists and turns Dan’s life will take over the next few days.
International intrigue and edge-of-your-seat action abound as Dan and his lovely wife Nicole – who clearly has more than her share of dark secrets – risk their lives to rescue a stunning model and bring down one of the most evil men either of them have had the misfortune to meet.
S.J. Varengo is a married father of two adult children. He lives in Upstate New York despite dire warnings. His published works include a volume of short fiction (Welcome Home), the Cerah of Quadar fantasy series, the Cleanup Crew thriller series, and the SpyCo novella series, which he co-writes with series creator Craig A. Hart. These two gibrones also co-host the best literary podcast in the world, possibly the galaxy, Good Sentences.
With thirty-four years of performing art experience, Austenne guarantees emotionally connected and nuanced characters. She specializes in young adult, fantasy, romance, sci-fi, and non-fiction narration with a wide variety of accents.
Q&A with Author S.J. Varengo
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- No! At that point in my career the thought of a recording never even crossed my mind. Now that I’ve had a couple of my books made into audio, I’m a little more cognizant during writing of phrases that might be verbally difficult, AND, if you listen to my narrators, include as many of them as possible. (Just kidding.)
- 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?
- Before recording begins I always prepare a character sheet for the narrator, and then answer any questions. Austenne didn’t really require much more than that from me. During the recording she had a few additional questions here and there, but mostly took it and ran, beautifully.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- The inspiration for this book was a real life incident. I had just dropped my wife off in front of Home Depot on a rainy day and when I parked the car I heard something thump in the trunk. Writer’s brain kicked in immediately, and I thought, “What if Kim is actually an assassin and that’s a body bumping around back there?” I never checked, so technically the body is simultaneously in the trunk and not in the trunk, but anyway from the moment it happened I felt like I had to write something that included that idea. Our Home Depot is also very close to a Panera Bread, so there’s that.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- I, in all honesty, believe the audiobook is superior to the printed work in every aspect. Austenne’s intuitive reading of the various characters elevates them to a level that the printed book strives for but does not achieve. Also, as I mentioned in a recent Facebook Live episode, her insertion of emotion into the exposition sections makes even those parts come alive.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- I just smile and nod my head, and say, “Okay, little buddy. Okay.” Maybe tousle their hair a little. Because they don’t seem to have that problem watching a film adaptation of a book. And I can guarantee you that an audiobook is going to be a lot truer to the original than any film could ever be. And with the quality of the narrators working today, the acting is generally better than you’ll get in a film as well.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- Writing slumps are generally conquered by sitting my ass in front of the computer and getting to work. Like I said, I’ll give myself a day off when the tank is on “E” but basically the best way to break out of a writing slump is to start typing words. I always go back to Hemingway on this. “Start with one true sentence, and the rest will follow.” With reading – oh man, does this touch a sore spot with me lately. I have fallen so behind on my reading that it’s not even funny. To conquer this I now force myself to sit still for an hour a day and just read. I set a timer and everything. The habit has not yet cemented itself, though, and there are days I climb into bed at night and realize that once again I didn’t read. Still, I’m hoping that some organization and some habit-forming exercises will turn that back around for me.
- What’s your favorite:
- Food – Taco Bell
- Song – Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd
- Book – LOTR
- Television show – 30 Rock
- Movie – Casablanca
- Band – The Beatles
- Sports team – The Mighty Yankees of Nuevo York.
- City – New York City
- Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work?
- Taco Bell appears in CUC #3 and #4. I think I make reference to something Tina Fey does in 30 Rock somewhere. And the Yankees are all over book #4, (Dan Porter is a fan of the Colorado Rockies, however. Weiner.)
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- I’ll share a quote a friend of mine recently posted on Facebook: “If you feel something calling you to dance or write or paint or sing, please refuse to worry about whether you’re good enough. Just do it.” – Glennon Doyle. Another good friend of mine puts even more simply. “A writer writes.” – Angelique L’Amour. Just tell your story. Eventually that will lead you to finding your voice. Once that happens, watch out.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- Trust your narrator! Resist the urge to over control. These people know how to tell a story, and they care about your book as strongly as you do. If you’ve written something that you want to turn into an audiobook, hand your baby to your well-prepared narrator and let her/him do their job.
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.