The Countdown to GayRomLit Celebration continues today with author Sara Alva. Sara, along with her narrator and friend Joseph Northton join us today with an interview they did with each other about Sara’s new audiobook Pura Vida. Enjoy and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an Audio Copy of the book.
Thank you for having me on The Novel Approach!
Hi, I’m Sara Alva, and this year I’ll be attending GRL for the first time, thanks to some coaxing from fellow authors. I often tend toward the wallflowery end of the spectrum, but I’m looking forward to spreading my…petals?…and getting to know other attendees. If you’re there and you happen to see me standing in a corner, feel free to come snap me out of it!
I don’t have a new release at the moment, but this past month I contracted Joseph Northton (narrator of Dani Alexander’s Shattered Glass) to record an audiobook of my summer love novella, Pura Vida. The audiobook is now available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, or you can listen to a sample chapter on my website.
Narrators and authors don’t always get the chance to converse beyond the basics of what it takes to produce the audiobook. Luckily for me, my narrator and I are pretty close, so I invited Joseph to chat in order to delve a little more into the book and the narrating experience.
Here is the (slightly) edited transcript:
Sara: Okay, fire away!
Joseph: All right. The novella Pura Vida is set in Costa Rica. How did your experiences in Costa Rica influence your writing?
Or wait, does that sound too formal? Just tell them about the time you got electrocuted.
Joseph: Kinda bummed that didn’t make it in the book
Sara: Lol. Well Costa Rica is amazing. Everyone should go there–beautiful scenery, fantastic wildlife, and super nice people– the kind who return the camera your husband accidentally left in a taxi. But yes, one time there was a lightning storm while I was in the water at the beach. The lightning struck near me and for at least an hour afterward, I was electrically charged. Any metal anywhere near me produced a visible spark. Maybe I’ll save that experience for a sequel… Struck by Love!
Joseph: Haha. So the wildlife in Costa Rica factors into the plot. You saw actual sea turtle nests right? Burying eggs and hatching?
Sara: I did, yes. Sea turtles are my first loves. Actually, the baby turtle in the cover art is one I saw crawl into the ocean. I hope he made it.
Joseph: Really? See, that’s a great tidbit for this interview. I thought it was a plastic toy.
Sara: Lol no. My husband took that photo.
Joseph: Did you have to do any supplemental research about them?
Sara: Not really, I already know everything.
Ha, just kidding. Actually, I wrote Pura Vida right after returning from Costa Rica. Much of the story was brainstormed there, at the beach. So all turtle-related info was pretty fresh in my memory.
Joseph: The stuff about how sea turtles are guided or misguided by light was really cool.
Sara: Yeah, part of the decline in population has to do with man-made structures too close to the beaches. The lights confuse the turtles and they head the wrong direction. All our development has reduced their nesting grounds pretty severely, unfortunately.
Joseph: How do you feel about poachers, and how did you decide to use them in the story?
Sara: Costa Rica has done amazing things to preserve their natural habitats and their wildlife, but there is still an issue with poachers, because there’s still a demand for the items procured. So the best thing for us to do is to continue to educate people in the hopes the demands go down, and preserve as many nests as possible.
Joseph: The notion of “risking one’s heart” is a big part of this story. Were you ever caught in such a dilemma?
Sara: Lol. Well, love is always pretty risky. Trusting someone that much? It has to be. Maybe even riskier for Juan and Simon in this book than for a lot of others. They have geographic, social, economic, and cultural barriers to overcome. In theory, most of us wish things like that didn’t divide us as human beings. In reality, though, they do, whether we consciously accept it or not. Actually, sometimes consciously accepting it is the first step in breaking through.
Joseph: Yeah I can see that. Well thanks for answering my questions!
Sara: Okay, my turn. Since you’re an actor as well, how is narrating similar to and/or different from acting?
Joseph: I had to learn how to overact, and under-enunciate. So it’s basically the opposite of acting.
Sara: Ha, I hadn’t thought of that. That’s true.
Joseph: From a technical perspective at least. But, of course, I’m drawing from the same emotional tool belt that an actor does.
Sara: What’s in the tool belt?
Joseph: Just the ability to be an observer of human behavior, as actors are supposed to be. That helps when it comes to saying things the way people talk, which is surprisingly difficult to recreate.
Sara: (I’m trying to think of something funny to say and failing)
Joseph: Yeah, there’s nothing funny about acting theory.
Joseph: No one really knows what they’re talking about. Well, some people do. Maybe like five people. The rest are just trying their best. Me included.
Sara: Same with writers.
Sara: What did you enjoy about narrating, and what parts made you want to fly across the country and smother me in my sleep?
Joseph: I enjoyed the Alyssa sections. She was fun and perky, so I wasn’t afraid to go too far with the “acting.” I think that helped make her character come alive. In other reads I’d sometimes do a take with this big emotive face, then listen to it later and realize my voice was flat. That didn’t happen with Alyssa.
Sara: Ah, cool. Yeah I bet the emotion would always come across a lot clearer if we could see your face. Wait, I got it! The next big thing. Books read to you by actors over Skype. Sorta like bedtime stories from your mom, only with adult content. And not read by your mom.
Sara: Okay and your least favorite part? Don’t avoid the question just to spare my feelings.
Joseph: Haha. Nah, but I’d say the technical aspects can be a challenge. It takes a lot of hours and a lot of cutting and pasting to create the illusion of something read effortlessly. Every time you do a retake you have to match the tone and volume so the listener isn’t jarred from the flow of the story.
Sara: Well, I appreciate all the hours. I think you did an amazing job, and I’m really excited you brought this novella to life.
Joseph: You’re welcome.
Sara: Okay, that’s probably good right? Can you think of something else I should’ve asked you?
Joseph: Nope. Goof job.
Sara: Haha, don’t worry, I’ll edit it.
Joseph: No, I say we go raw. Just cut and paste. Except correct my typos. But leave that part in, so they know I made typos.
Sara: All right then. Goof job to you too! :-)
Thanks for reading our little chat! If you have any other questions for Joseph about audiobooks or narrating, feel free to leave them in a comment here. I’ll make sure he answers!
Blurb: Simon has found himself in an open relationship for the summer—though not by choice. Instead of wallowing, he’s decided to make the most of a family vacation to Costa Rica by hooking up with the first hot guy available. Trouble is, he has no clue how to go about doing that.
Luckily, he runs into someone with a little more experience. But when the moments of lust turn into something more, Simon isn’t so sure he’ll be able to return to his old relationship. And there’s no way to hold onto this new one, either, as thousands of miles will separate them in only a few short weeks. Either way, he’ll have to learn to let go.
About Sara: Sara Alva is a former small-town girl currently living in big-city LA with a husband, cats, and an avocado tree. She recently discovered—after a year in her house—that she also has a fig tree in her backyard, which might mean she needs to get out more. But sometimes the stories waiting to be told demand more attention, and when she puts fingers to keyboard, it’s usually to write about journeys of self-discovery, heartache, personal growth, friendship and love. When she isn’t writing, she’s teaching or dancing. For more information, free short stories and news on upcoming releases, visit Sara’s website.