12:30 pm EDT, November 8, 2018

Lauren Blakely gifts audiobook fans an incredible ‘Birthday Suit’ surprise!

We have great news for Lauren Blakely fans, audiobook fans, and romance fans alike. Check out the awesome gift Lauren Blakely will have ready for us in early 2019.

We already know that Birthday Suit is set to be Lauren Blakely’s first release in 2019, and we just saw that incredible cover for the first time yesterday. If you haven’t heard of Birthday Suit, you’ll want to head over to Lauren Blakely’s website and check out all the details. We’ll wait for ya.

Sounds good, right? Well, we’ve got news that will make this awesome story sound even better…

What’s better than two amazing narrators bringing you romance? A full-cast production of twelve—including a cast of rock star romance narrators, heavy hitters across all genres in audiobooks, and a handful of romance rising stars—a perfect ensemble of talents, skills and accolades to give the listener everything they could want in an audiobook!

#1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blakely is bringing her most exciting and groundbreaking audiobook yet, Birthday Suit. Releasing January 14th, this standalone romance will be narrated by the superstar team of Andi Arndt and Sebastian York, and performed by a full cast of characters! Get ready for a whole new style of audiobook that listeners will love!

That extended cast includes Jason Clarke, Shane East, Julia Whelan, January LaVoy, Erin Mallon, Joe Arden, Dion Graham, Robin Miles, RC Bray, and Savannah Peachwood. If you’re stumbling for words, asking yourself, “What?! How?! Wha…” you are not alone. Take a peek at the cover and look at all those names.

We couldn’t help but be curious about how this incredible audiobook adventure came to be, so, naturally, we went to the source. Lauren Blakely was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about this ambitious venture. Read on for her answers.

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard a full cast recording for an audiobook. For us first-timers, what is it about a full cast recording that make it the perfect fit for ‘Birthday Suit’?

As an avid audiofan, I’ve always enjoyed a well-done full-cast production, with multiple voices playing the parts, like the one Audible produced recently for Murder on the Orient Express. It’s so immersive and truly makes the best use of the audio medium for telling a story with the voice. It’s like marrying the radio plays of old with the modern form of audiobooks.

For Birthday Suit, I made the decision to produce the audiobook in this style before I began writing it, so I wrote it with the production in mind. That means I was able to weave the characters into the story in such a way that would make the voices shine, and also give each actor a chance to truly stand out vocally, whether through accents, verbal styles, or even how they come into a scene.

The story is a forbidden romance — the hero has fallen in love with his best friend’s woman, and it’s told in the present against the backdrop of a scavenger hunt in Manhattan and with a few scenes in the past. My hope is that both the romance, the emotional backstory and the setting will truly come alive with this capable cast.

Was casting this an easy process? You’ve got some of the biggest names in romance audio involved here, it’s like the dream team.

Yes, it is my dream team!! Casting it wasn’t easy, but it was phenomenally rewarding! I knew from the start the first six actors I wanted involved — Andi and Sebastian, Joe and Erin, and Shane and Julia.

Specifically, I wanted Andi and Sebastian as the heroine and hero since they anchor so many of my audios, and Joe and Erin narrate many as well. Joe Arden is so versatile and talented that I knew he could handle any part, and that was so wonderful to have in mind as I wrote what I think is a fun, high-energy part for him. I also had a clear idea from the start that the hero MUST have a British best friend because I had to have Shane East and Sebastian York in scene together. To have one of the best and sexiest male voices paired with one of the best British voices was part of my initial goal with this audiobook!

I’ve also wanted to work with RC Bray ever since I heard The Martian, which is one of my all-time favorite audiobooks. As I wrote the story, I hunted out ways to work in a character for him, and as I was fine-tuning, I found a perfect opportunity to bring him on board. Julia Whelan is so immensely talented that I simply had to have her, and Andi helped me to find an ideal role for her. 

Birthday Suit has been a great opportunity to work with so many of my favorite narrators. Normally, I only have one or two narrators on a book. But to have twelve parts to cast was like having tons of presents on your birthday and they’re all exactly what you’re longing for. To bring on my favorite narrators, from rising stars I adore like Jason Clarke and Savannah Peachwood, to seasoned pros like Julia Whelan, January Lavoy, Dion Graham, and Robin Miles, was an audio fangirl’s dream.

Without giving too much away, could you give us a tiny teaser about a favorite scene you’re excited to hear narrated? Or maybe a hint at who from this stellar cast is voicing one of your favorite characters from ‘Birthday Suit’?

Gah! That’s so hard to pick!! I can’t wait to hear all of them! I’m especially excited to hear Shane and Sebastian together, and I also think the character I wrote for Shane is a scene-stealer, so be on the listen for his scenes! Shane is so talented and incredibly easy to write for, and I have to say he has some of the best lines. Dion Graham has such a delicious voice and I can’t wait to hear him as Andi’s character’s best friend. And I could go on and on about every actor and every scene! I can’t wait to hear what they all do, and I even have one scene with Andi, Sebastian, January, Joe and Erin! That should be a fun one!

Luckily, we were also fortunate enough to get to ask one of our favorite narrators, Andi Arndt, a few questions about what we can expect. Read on for all her expertise.

First of all, we want to congratulate you on passing the 300 books narrated mark! What an accomplishment!

Thanks! I love that so many of them were for Lauren Blakely and that there are more to come.

Your pretty extensive theater background must come in handy for a project like this. What is the one tip/trick/skill you think you’ve found most helpful so far?

When I used to direct plays, making the rehearsal schedule was always a puzzle. You want to have everyone available for the sections you’re working on, and not have anyone sitting around feeling that their time is being wasted. Making the studio schedule for Birthday Suit definitely required me to dust off those skills and put them to good use. It was fun to figure it all out. I am really looking forward to being in that collaborative creative energy again, since narration is such a solitary pursuit much of the time. I’ve even planned a group dinner to celebrate wrapping this project because why not?

Many avid audiobook listeners know that a lot of narrators have soundproof booths in their homes rather than recording in a studio. Will you be recording your part of this full cast audio just like you do your other titles?

Birthday Suit represents only the third title I’ve ever recorded outside of my home studio. We felt very strongly that we wanted all of the recording to take place in real time, preferably in person, so there are only two narrators who will not be in NYC with us, and they are patching in remotely so that the conversations and scenes will still be recorded all at once. You can get away with separate recordings edited together if there are text message conversations. If we are supposed to believe that the people are really with each other, listening and reacting, then the best thing is for them to be together.

‘Birthday Suit’ hits listening devices January 14 and shelves and e-readers on January 18!

You can pre-order your ebook or print copy of Birthday Suit now at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, or Nook. If you want to sign up to be alerted when this incredible audiobook (or kindle copy) is ready for pre-order, you’ll want to sign up for Lauren Blakely’s newsletter alert. Oh, and don’t forget to add this one on Goodreads!

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