Ruby Allure's Books

Ruby Allure's Books
Ruby Allure's Books

Saturday, 28 November 2015

An Interview With Ray McCurdy, Audio Producer.

An Interview With Ray McCurdy, Audio Producer
At the beginning of 2015, I put The Office Zoo up for audition on, the audio production platform. In all honesty The Office Zoo was an accidental book, one that I wrote for fun while observing office dynamics and politics. I used to take part in a weekly 'call of doom', which was an incredibly boring call. In that time I would observe a character and post it on a blog and share it with my fellow office workers. I have to admit what made the blog so popular was the brutal honesty of the observation. I wrote what others dared not to say. Well, I had to stop because the call stopped and my working life is intense. It was then fate stepped in because I ran into a colleague on a train. We were both about to go on holiday and she said to me 'I used to love your blog and reading about the bizarre characters - is there anyway you could turn it into a book? I want to get it as a Secret Santa and as leaving gifts for people who leave the office.' I had not considered that such a book would be popular but produced it anyway because I like to take opportunities when they present themselves.

Anyway fast forward to Ray's audition. I had asked for a 'voice' who could deliver a humorous dialogue and sounded like David Attenborough. Well Ray didn't just deliver, he had me crying laughing at the delivery of the Office Stinker. As soon as I heard his voice, I knew he was the 'one'. Anyway here is his interview and I hope he inspires you!

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How did you get into producing audio books?
In 2014, I was the musical director, and also played one of the main characters, in a production of the musical Smoke On The Mountain.  One of the starring roles was played by my friend Rich Grimshaw who has been producing audio books for several years.  Rich and I talked about his audio book experiences and he encouraged me to give it a try.   I've always been an avid reader and I also enjoy voices and dialects.  I enjoy performing, so its a way for me to combine all these interests into one activity.  

What do you look for when choosing to work on an audio book?
When choosing a book to record, I look for something that I enjoy reading first of all.   Then, when possible, I like to find something that allows me to use different character voices or dialects.  Sometimes, I'll find something that I think is good information, like a self-help book, that someone might listen to, but not get around to reading.  So I can read it for them!

What are some of your funniest / weirdest and most awkward experiences within audio production?
The funniest times are when you read something that makes you laugh, and the laughing causes you to mess up the take somehow.  Then you have to do it over, and over, and over.  Sometimes the more you try to fix it, the worse it gets until you just have to come back to it later. 

What was it about The Office Zoo that appealed?
As I read through the audition text for the Office Zoo, I began to recognize "types" that I had encountered myself in the various offices I've worked in.  I loved Ruby's
descriptions of her observations of these wacky "animal" characters and I found myself channeling Sir David Attenborough in the Life series of nature documentaries.   That's where the accent came from that I used when reading the book.


What are your favourite bits of The Office Zoo that the readers should listen out for?
My favorite is the "Office Take All The Credit".  There is great satisfaction when he / she gets what they deserve!  I also identify with the Freaky But Definately Geeky as (there is one sitting close to me right now!).     

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Readers should listen out for the insufferable "Office Maternal / Broody / God She Wants To Get Pregnant" and the accompanying "Office - I Did It! I Got Pregnant - I Am Going To Be A Mom!".  Sadly, everyone knows this person and Ruby says what we've all wanted to say but didn't.  That's what I like most about this book.  It gives hilarious voice to all those things we WANTED to say, but were pretending to be polite enough not to say. 

The Office Zoo Audiobook
If you were an office animal, what would you be? Erm...what do you mean an office animal? Well you may not know this, but there are numerous varieties of office animal migrating to the workplace each day. Every type, with its own characteristics, is awaiting discovery in The Office Zoo. All of those who enter the office jungle on a daily basis have potential for office animal categorizing adventure. Whether we like it or not, each of us falls into one of the many office zoo categories. So which one are you? Which office animals surround you?
The paperback on
I’ll try to write this without spoilers or going too long winded, but the basic gist of this review is: If you are a fan of humour with a generous helping of wit and you’ve ever worked in an office, you will like listening to this!

Boy, it’s a jungle out there. If only there was a field guide with the helpful hints, tips, and ‘general don’t get yourself eaten accidentally’ advice that could help us navigate it all…well this might just be it! Office zoo reads like a Nat Geo guide or a safari special, but on the study of a species of 'animals' that you don't need to travel outside of your city to see in their natural habitat (yay!).

The book reads from point of view of an explorer, which added to the experience and immersion into the guide. The author’s tone was to me perfect for the subject matter. It took me a moment to get used to the narrator’s voice, but once I settled in I realized it was actually a good choice. The narrator reminded me so much of animal nature guide narrators, and that definitely put my brain right in the action, and I had no trouble visualizing the office beings that the author was so helpfully describing.

Despite it being in the humour category, there were quite a number of valuable lessons presented, albeit some slightly over emphasized - the better for us to recognize and work to correct them. If only all company welcome packages included certain snippets of this with the avalanche of company policies - if not only to show that humour is not dead in the office world, but so that people would have a much more enjoyable (and more memorable) reminder to be aware of how they engage with others in the office. We spend so much of our lives in offices (unless you are an actual safari guide, professional base jumper, or something equally office-free), a guide is definitely needed.

There are some characters that were rather harshly covered, but these are made in ‘lemme tell it to you straight’ tone, so it fit with the narrative of the book. Near the end of the book a few of the character’s seemed repeated, or at least very similar to those described in the beginning of the book (granted a I listened to the whole book in one shot, so it may be better to listen to the chapters in segments).There was a weird thing with the recording on my device where all of a sudden it sounded like the narrator teleported to an echo-y tunnel right in the middle of a chapter. I got over it, but it is jarring.

I went into this book expecting to be entertained. I was. But it also got me thinking about my everyday environment in a different way. A humorous take on office culture and a well spent afternoon! I will look up the author’s other work.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

An Interview with Helen Lloyd, Audio Producer

An Interview with Helen Llloyd, Audio Producer
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Just to give you a little context: Helen first provided an amazing audition for the production of Money Farm, a book about the future of finance. It has been described as the Brave New World of Finance. What astounded me about her was how she switched between numerous accents and had such power in her tone when she delivered. What's more, she completely engages readers,which has been mentioned in the numerous audio book reviews.
Once Money Farm was complete Helen noticed I had written some comedy chic-lit books called Love Hunt. The premise is simple: two women are hunting rich men to remove them from their mundane office lifestyles. One woman is a tick-list fanatic and the other is a self-confessed Russian gold-digger. The pair are living secret dating lives and engaging with wealthy men in hope to live a better life. They email each other at work about their escapades and the happenings in the office. Of course there is an issue - nothing is good enough for Gracie and Eva, the Russian bombshell, intends to get her debt paid off and increase her collection of shoes.
When Helen provided me with her audition I was actually blown away. The Russian accent was astounding and in terms of portrayal of the Russian character, well she had me in absolute states of hysterical laughter. Honestly she was brilliant.  When Love Hunt 1 was finished Helen went straight into Love Hunt 2 and delivered a performance so excellent that I am proud to have written the book. Anyway here is her interview and I have to say she is so humble considering her phenomenal talent.
As I said I before, I feel it is a real joy to be able to work with such talented people.
Please enjoy!
Love Hunt II: The Love Game:, Book 2 | Ruby Allure
Q: How did you get into producing audiobooks?

I recorded my first audiobooks way back in 1980s … recording in a professional recording studio onto tape and the books were distributed on cassette tape – so my involvement with audiobooks goes back a long way – though there was a long gap in the middle when I was working as a television producer, when I just didn’t have the time to continue with something that is so time intensive, so audiobooks took a back seat until I took redundancy from ITV and set up my personal studio.    

I have always read for pleasure – and I guess heard characters in my head right from the very beginning of reading stories. I read to my son … and now read to my grand-daughter. I also think   that moving into audiobooks was in many ways a natural progression from my initial training as an actor and the first two decades of my working life as an actor.  Audio training and voice work was part of my drama school course (I trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and always felt quite comfortable in front of a microphone. I have done some radio drama as well and have played a wide variety of roles on stage in theatres up and down the UK and in the West End and also doing bits and bobs on television, so I am well used to interpreting other people’s words and creating credible characters.  
In the early 1980s, I moved into television as a presenter and began to do VO work, then moved sideways to behind the camera and eventually became a programme producer making documentaries for ITV and digital TV channels, while at the same time doing quite a lot of corporate and commercial voice over work as well as narrating over fifty broadcast television programmes.  I learned about production technically and artistically … and also how to edit (pictures as well as audio) and how to meet deadlines – all transferable skills, invaluable in audiobook production.
I took redundancy from ITV and returned to my roots – I went back into theatre briefly as a producer and director, also as a youth theatre leader and company manager and even worked as an actor once more. Eventually, I set up my home and got back into full time narration and VO work – often working remotely with Audiobok producers and production houses from my own studio, and I realised that this was something I really wanted to get more involved in. ACX was not at that time available in the UK, however it was increasingly seen as an additional opportunity for narrators in the US. I joined forces with an independent US based producer who, acting as a third party ‘producer’ gave me direct access to ACX in the US and I produced my first three independent reads through Push Play Audio in 2013.  When ACX opened up in the UK in 2014, I signed up and started looking for books to narrate and produce myself while continuing to narrate for audiobook publishers remotely through various producing houses in the UK and US. 

Q What so you look for when choosing to work on an audio book?  
It always has to be about the writing and the story for me, and I enjoy working in almost all genres of books. I don’t feel comfortable reading erotica – or overtly political or religious books. My favourite kind of read are those with a great storyline and a clear narrative voice combined with vibrant and original characters that move the story forward in an interesting way. I like multi-layered books where there is more going on beneath the surface – where there is scope for real character and emotional development.  If a book is badly written and poorly constructed, has clich├ęd characters and stilted dialogue, then that is a real turn off. It is just not worth the effort and time involved.  
It takes a lot of hours to produce an audiobook – and if a book does not engage me, how can I hope to engage the listener?  I am unwilling to spend hours and hours producing something that will always be substandard because however well it is read, if the writing is poor, it will never really work - you just can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear I’m afraid. So quality of writing is what I am looking for … always. 
I narrate all genres of book - heavyweight histories and non-fiction reads, short stories, lots of romances, fantasy, comedy, classics, horror and just about everything in between.  I prefer to work on books that offer a fee payable per finished hour (PFH rate) or at least offer a stipend if they are royalty share (RS). As a full time narrator - I don’t have another day job – narrating books and doing other VO work is how I earn my living – and as well as the time it takes and the investment in equipment that  have made, there are other costs involved. Though I am very happy to edit my own work, I prefer to hire a professional audio proofer. This makes such a difference to the quality of the finished read and it is notoriously difficult to proof one’s own reads.  I need to know that those costs will be covered. On a royalty share deal, there is always the chance that I will end up being out of pocket. 
Having said that, there are rare occasions when a book just jumps out at me and I just feel I have to do it … even if it is a Royalty Share. However, I can only afford to do that a couple of times a year – and at periods when there is no paid work in the pipeline. 

Q What are some of your funniest/ weirdest and most awkward

experiences within audio production?

I have discovered that I have a particularly noisy digestive system - I rumble
when I am hungry and also for an hour or so after eating, especially if I eat bread or wheat based cereal – so grabbing a sandwich is not an option when I am working. Fortunately porridge doesn’t seem to cause such a repertoire of rumbles!  
That aside, I cry at the drop of a hat. Anything remotely sad and I sob. I have
wept buckets at a baby alien saying goodbye to its master (! Yes really).  Things always go wrong in books, a hero is killed or injured, people get sick, a relationship comes to an end (or ends happily … I still sob); animals or people are shot, hurt, maimed, hunted, haunted, frightened lost.  You name it, anything remotely sad, and I cry. As you can imagine, this causes major problems - sniffing is not allowed – and when you really cry it makes your throat hurt and your voice sounds snotty for a considerable time.  I have also been known to get the giggles. Sex scenes can also be particularly problematical –highly educational they may be but mostly I just find them funny, especially at ten in the morning.  There I am … old enough to know better, shut away in isolation in my little box, essentially talking to myself – and when things get steamy I am often struck by the silliness of the situation and get the giggles.  Then there are the days when your brain and your mouth just won’t talk to each other. Even the simplest phrase becomes gobbledeygook and nothing sounds right … the only thing to do at this point is to give up for an hour or so … walk the dog, hoover the stairs, do something totally different, switch off and try again later. 

Q: What was it about Money Farm and the Love Hunt books that appealed?

I think the thing that drew me to Money Farm was the fact that the book was so inventive and so multi-layered.  It also echoed the real life situation where the Global banking crisis had made most of us ordinary mortals feel disgust and mistrust at the financial system – and the heroine of MF was so cynical, so tough and so anarchic that she instantly appealed. Also Money Farm was so original, unlike any other book I had come across … it was full of inventive characters and there was the full gamut of worldwide accents specified in the book. It posed a real challenge to come up with believable and original voices for so many people. I really enjoyed that and some of the reviews have commented on the range of voices in the read– very gratifying. 

Although The Love Hunt books have a similar financial theme (the heroines are definitely looking for guys with money) these books come at things from a completely different angle – and one which again I found original and challenging. The Love Hunt books are purely character voices … there is no narrative voice at all – there is also a lot of humour in the books as well as a lot of common sense. I found the two main women really interesting to play and particularly warmed to Eva the crazy Russian blonde bombshell. She just had the best lines! 
Q What are your favourite bits of Money Farm and the Love Hunts that the readers should listen out for? 
I don’t really have any favourite bits that jump out at me. I think taking any section out of context is almost impossible to do. That is why it is so difficult to find the right sample section to go on the ‘Audible’ listing … choosing any individual section is really difficult.  Hopefully people will be grabbed in the early pages and will just want to go on listening! 

To hear Helen's Brilliance!!!:
Money Farm | Ruby Allure
How do you feel about the value of your life being based on the amount of money sitting in your bank? If we are all inter-connected by money, then why do so few people pay attention to how money works? Fear and denial are perfect for generating debt and that is what the world is run on. Now imagine, if in the future, one financial institution became so powerful that it could choose to eradicate the present monetary system. Then what happens?
Love Hunt: Dating Game Audiobook

Come on admit it - as much as we deny it - we ladies like a good love hunt.
We have tick lists, ideals, and we hunt in high-heeled packs. Of course, we're all hunting for that elusive right man who ticks every box and even has tidy nostril hair. Okay maybe not you, but you know other ladies who love the hunt.
Well, it's time for Eva and Gracie to love hunt, and their "targets" are rich men - the golden sperm. Such exciting escapades would provide the pair with entertaining discussions during their dull office hours - or so they thought. What they did not anticipate was the discovery of the "booby man"; humorous but very hard truths about wealth, themselves, power; and the phenomenon.
The question remains: can love really be hunted?
 Love Hunt II: The Love Game:, Book 2 | Ruby Allure
The Love Hunt has returned. Gracie is back on the dating horse after a huge fall in her first tick-list-tastic love hunt.
Her new dating adventures take her and Eva into the depths of "the love game".
In the meantime, Eva, the ultimate Russian gold digger, has come to the conclusion that her poor "village idiot boyfriend" will never be enough. He will certainly not pay off her accumulating debts. She needs a rich man, and that means rich idiot dating.
In The Love Game, Eva and Gracie travel the journey of extreme love learning. On the way, they will discover their love and lust lists, their intrinsic issues, and experience some hilarious and jaw-dropping dates in pursuit of the wealthy ideal.
All of this in the pursuit of love.
The Love Hunt II is on!


Saturday, 21 November 2015

With What's Happening in the World...

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I don't know about you but I feel of late that the world has gone mad. With everything that happened in Paris, the migration of so many Syrians and fellow human beings being in peril, it makes me wonder how on earth humanity has lasted this long. Yet with the constant bombardment of media showing us fear, torment and suffering something has transformed in many. With such crisis there has developed unity, a unity where courageous souls have addressed the killers of their loved ones and stated they will continue to love. They will not be tormented by fear, control and the evils within the world. Instead they will move beyond that and continue life with an open heart, albeit suffering loss and grief. For me this is an inspiration. It is a true representation of the courageous soul, one who has lost yet will stare into the face of the enemy and not demonstrate hatred, rage or retaliation but instead an empathy for a twisted creature whose anger and rage resorted in them killing fellow human beings.
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It is the power of empathy and courage I wish to focus on instead of the cruelty, the terror and the rage. I do not wish to focus on conflict, war and the harming of others; instead I desire to see more courage, more love and true authenticity. I love that man whose bravery and wisdom inspired the world on the BBC and Facebook. I am astounded by the true inspiration he evoked in a time of utter despair for him. I love that man unconditionally for showing the world a vulnerable and masculine man who can rise above the cruelty of others and move others to unite in their hearts. For me this is the way forward - to love others unconditionally, to demonstrate vulnerability, love and courage in the face of adversity. If more people opened their hearts instead of residing behind the armours of fear, defense, hatred and rage we could raise humanity to the next phase and progress into a peaceful and united state. It is the anger, the hatred and the damage that drive people to kill others in vengeance. People who love, experience kindness and tranquillity do not have the desire to harm others. So why aren't we working towards our own personal healing rather than fear and terror?
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I may well be an idealist; but that is why I write. I write to make suggestions, to reach people and share the inner workings of a complex interior world. Maybe something I will write will inspire others to become the best they can be because I want you to know, that even though I never met you, I am your friend because I, like you, am human. I am vulnerable and have the courage to be authentic. I hope you feel inspired you and that your inspiration will inspire others.

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An Interview With Mil Nicholson, Audio Producer

An Interview with Mil Nicholson, audio producer, is the second in the series of interviews with the professionals I have worked with who gave my books an audible existence. What I have loved about these interviews is that you gain an insight into what the producers are looking for and that highly experienced producers are out there looking for original new works to bring to release into the audio market place. Thank you Mil for the interview because it is so insightful.

An Interview with Mil Nicholson

How did you get into producing audio  books?

In 2005, my husband and I left Hollywood for North Carolina,  after fifteen years of working stage, screen and TV.  Missing acting work, I came across an item in a computer magazine, listing the best free sites, being one, and they were looking for narrators.  Everyone involved in the site is a volunteer, and their goal is to record all the literature in the public domain. After joining a team and performing some chapters in Anthony Trollope's works, I desired to try going solo, with my favorite author, Charles Dickens.  I've now completed seven of his works, each having about forty or more different character voices, over a period of several years, and so far there have been over a quarter million downloads, and lots of wonderful fan mail from all over the world. A fan in New York, after finding my Dickens recordings were voluntary, obtained work for me with, and for them I recorded a fantasy series of eight books, by Dave Duncan, and a western saga series of nine books, by Janet Daily. Happily this was paid work at my professional union voice rate.

Then I found ACX, and some wonderful writers like Ruby, and have recorded about fifteen books, whilst continuing my quest to perform the complete works of Dickens. My husband, Gary Bullock and I, who have had the good fortune to work together as actors in several productions on stage, now work as a team for the audio books, he's my editor, sound person, and producer, and we really look forward to each recording session. Our site is where there are links to the free Charles Dickens recordings.

What do you look for when choosing to work on an audio book?

When I read the audition piece, I want to feel something, excitement, sadness, laughter, anger etc, and a compelling desire to read more. Interesting characters are always a draw, and good writing, comfortable to record, also comes into play.

What are some of your funniest/ weirdest and most awkward experiences within audio production?

When in Hollywood, I was auditioned to play Julie Andrews voice on the 'making of'' DVD of "Princess Diaries". The piece was a really fun 'Rap' poem, quite long, and in her voice, was a hoot.  The Disney people had put together a cartoon to go along with it, and we all laughed heartily. They left the studio all excited.......BUT, it never appeared on the DVD.  Perhaps someone didn't think it quite appropriate for Ms. Andrews to do Rap!  However on another casting, I was chosen to narrate the life story of JRR Tolkien on the "Lord of the Rings" DVD. I felt very proud of getting this job, as my agent informed me that actors from Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and England had been auditioned. My Agency were thrilled.  They liked the check too!!!

A very awkward experience occurred when I had contracted with an ACX author to perform her book. When I got the whole script it was impossible to read, words missing, sentences incomplete, tenses changing in every paragraph and much more.  I had to contact the author  to say I could not perform the book in the condition it was in. 

Thankfully the author agreed it was a mess, and would take it off the listing and get it put right, but I felt sad, as it was a neat premise and story, but I would have gone insane trying to fix it myself. I never heard from the Author again.

What was it about Clan Destine  that appealed?

I thought the opening was terrific, and the whole idea of a band of women assassinating the miserable jerks who did what was described, stirred me. The whole story just whips along at a grand pace, and the twists and turns keep one guessing all the time. I enjoyed all the characters, what they had to say fit so well with the way they were described. 

What are your favourite bits of Clan Destine that the readers should listen out for?

There are so many. The opening, as mentioned, sets things up so well.  Eve's meetings with Madam and Sue, always left one feeling things were not quite as they seemed, and therefore intriguing.  When Alex explodes onto the scene, Eve's life is drastically changed, and not in ways she likes. Describing her inner thoughts was well done. The club scene, where the two murders occur, was terrific, there was no way to know this would happen, or how it would be resolved.  Eve's scenes with Mike were really lovely, you could feel how divided she was with herself, and how letting go could make her so vulnerable. I thought the prison scene was great, her little bit of Scottish accent livened it nicely. Finally, learning all about her real self, was a fascinating unfolding, she underwent such trauma during that scene.

I would like to add, that my husband and I were horrified at the statistics in the 'Truth' section, it really brought home how appalling the violence against women really is. Certainly these figures made Clan Destine seem a very real possibility and the actions believable.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed performing Ruby's book, from my experience I can tell she is a very talented writer and if she doesn't continue writing, the public will be missing out on some first class novels.
Thank you so much Mil and to those aspiring writers who are reading this - make sure your book is edited and proof-read to the highest level because the time involved in producing can be dramatically affected by having to have additional re-proofs done. I learned this one the hard way!  If you have any comments please share:)
To listen on audible:
Clan Destine: Dead Women Have Vendettas | [Ruby Allure]
How would you feel if you knew there were women out there who worked to protect the innocent from the cruel, depraved, and vindictive people who walked Earth? The Feminas, an elite group of women trained to assassinate in calculated feminine ways, work for the CLAN. They don't use guns or their bodies as lures; instead they are calculated, precise, and not easily traced when removing their targets. They are the "grey women" who blend in, observe, and create perfect accidents.
Eve, one of the Feminas, excels at target eradication. However, her compulsion for perfection causes the CLAN concern. The more she attempts to conceal her tapping to the beat of 10, the more she feels she's breaking down. The problem is that when one suppresses emotions, then the trauma will rise in other ways. So how can Eve maintain her perfect targeting record and reconcile her denied self without facing a whitewash process?

"Drama, Drama and more a good way"
Any additional comments?
This was definitely a very good book. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book which adds a nice bit of suspense to the mystery of Eve's previous life and her current situation. The main character, Eve/Jane, was psychologically messed with so much that at times it seemed a bit much. While the premise is not that original and some aspects of the book were a bit out there, I still enjoyed it very much. The narration was excellent and I highly recommend this book to lovers of mystery, suspense and thriller novels. On a serious note, the statistics noted in the novel with regard to domestic violence and crimes against women was a real eye opener.
Clan Destine: Dead Women Have Vendettas by Ruby Allure is my third book by Ruby Allure. AND: Its the best! Money Farm and The Office Zoo are both funny and good. This is darker, and i like, no wait; I freaking love it! Yes this not the most funny one, no it does not have the lough out loud moments, but the humor works even where it is a thriller. I recommend all the books i read by Ruby, and i cant wait to see what she is going to do next.

Mil Nicholson is the perfect voice for this book, her british accent is just what this book need. It is read with love and i do feel that. 11 hrs and 17 mins never feels boring, uninteresting or just bad. It feels right!

Ruby Allure is maybe new to you, but i see all bright things in her future.