For those who don’t know, I’m the oldest of nine kids. A position of great power and great responsibility. I was always told growing up to set a good example for the younger ones, which I”m afraid I probably didn’t do a very good job of. I have memories of enticing my younger sister to push the “help” buttons at Lowe’s and run off, and of my brother and I sending my best friend over the back yard fence for something because we knew if we went the longer route past our moms, they would probably say no to what we wanted to do. But I did, somewhere in my depraved heart, desire to be a good big sister. One way I tried to do this was reading aloud to the other kids during lunch time. I have such fond memories of this time. We went through The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Men, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Five Children and It, Half-Magic, What Katy Did, Anne of Green Gables, and so much more. Each afternoon, when I’d finally get all eight of the others settled down to the table with their food, I’d ask “Who remembers what happened last?” I also distinctly remember that for awhile one three-year-old’s answer to this question was always “They tied Nancy,” hearkening back to a Nancy Drew book I’d read at one point.
I no longer live at home, and most of the other kids are too grown-up and too busy to be read to even if I were there, but those days instilled in me a love of reading aloud, and helped me develop clarity, inflection, and emotion in my reading voice. But I never thought about doing anything with that until I wrote the first Firmament novel as a birthday gift for my dad. I knew he wouldn’t have time to read it, so I decided to create an audiobook, complete with sound effects. My dad wasn’t the only person who listened to the audiobook. I sent it to my friend Aubrey Hansen, who stayed up half the night listening to it and asked me to do the audiobook for her soon-to-be-published novella, Red Rain. Which I did.
After that, my reading powers collected dust for a few years while I focused on publishing my own books as well as other pursuits both personal and professional. Then I moved out, needed money and thought to myself “Wait a minute, I can do audiobooks!” So I began actively pursuing more such jobs. In the spring, esteemed indie author Jaye L. Knight approached me to ask me to audition for her book Resistance, the first installment of her Ilyon Chronicles series. It’s a fabulous book, even for non-fantasy-lover me. I finished the book in October, and it is now available on CD and MP3 on Jaye’s website. Shortly thereafter I was able to wrangle a few more auditions, and got two more jobs, one of which I’m still working on, and the other of which I finished a couple of weeks ago–The River Girl”s Song, by Angela Castillo. Again, not really my usual favorite genre, but I truly enjoyed the story and the opportunity to be the voice of it. It’s also my first time working through Audible, which is exciting indeed.
So, I have two takeaways for you–firstly, check out some of these books! All three of them are truly fantastic stories and well worth your time. But secondly, do you perhaps have a talent you’ve been overlooking? Something that flows naturally out of your role and experience in life, whether that be a big sibling, a parent, an athlete, a barista, or a CEO? Finding and exploring those things can be very rewarding–not just financially, but in the joy that comes from doing something that comes naturally to you!
I may not have been the best big sister in the world, but I certainly had be best little siblings–who still love me even though I led them into trouble, who will sit and listen to me develop my reading skills mealtime after mealtime, and who are all so talented and inspiring in their own right that they far outshine me. Being their big sister definitely pays off.
In more ways than one.