Today I am so pleased to welcome Kirt Graves to Joyfully Jay. Kirt has come to talk to us about recording the Lavender Shores series by Rosalind Abel. He also brought along an exclusive audio excerpt of the upcoming book, The Hideaway. Please join me in giving Kirt a big welcome!
Before I start gushing about the amazing Lavender Shores series by Rosalind Abel (aka the swoon-worthy Brandon Witt), I want you to take a moment and think about your job. Now I want you to think about the first few weeks you worked at that job. Think about the work you did as you learned the ropes, the mistakes you made, the muted looks of frustration you received from customers or co-workers as you sheepishly uttered, “I’m new here.”
Now I want you to imagine that everything you did in your first few weeks or months on the job was recorded in some sort of employee baby book. All your firsts memorialized in one place. And that baby book sits at your workstation, and everyone you work with now, years after you’ve mastered your job, gets to review this baby book whenever they want. How do you feel? Proud that, though you made mistakes, your performance was respectable? Humiliated by an embarrassing error you wish desperately you could undo? Humbled by the reminder that progress, and not perfection, is the goal of every employee?
I don’t have to imagine. I’m an audiobook narrator, and the history of my work product is (as RuPaul likes to say) currently available on iTunes.
Though it’s now expanded to a planned 10+ books, Lavender Shores was originally a five-book series. As I wrap up production on The Hideaway, book five in the Lavender Shores series, it seems like a good time to reflect on the journey I’ve taken as an audiobook narrator throughout the course of recording this series. Like any freelance artist, narrators have to hustle to get work. Sometimes we get lucky and find great material for which to audition. (TJ Klune’s Wolfsong and Jay Bell’s Straight Boy are two of my favorite auditions. I also loved the audition for Mason Thomas’ Lord Mouse, but I didn’t get that one, so…) Other times, there’s a draught of good auditions up for public review and you have to get creative. That’s what happened with the Lavender Shores series. I had narrated Brandon’s The Imperfection of Swans for Dreamspinner Press early in 2017. By that summer, I couldn’t find any books that I was interested in auditioning for, but I knew that it was important to keep working so that my skills wouldn’t atrophy and people wouldn’t forget my name. Brandon was self-publishing the Lavender Shores series under a pseudonym, and there had been no mention of it coming out as an audiobook. So I sent him a message asking if he’d be interested in partnering to bring the series to audio. To my great delight, he was and we did.
With a year and a half of hindsight, I look back on that first book in the series fondly. I loved Lavender Shores, the fictional LGBTQ haven on the California coast, from the first few chapters of The Palisade. As readers, we get to explore the town through Joel, a San Francisco businessman looking to commercialize the idyllic town, and Andrew, a native son who shows us the heart and soul of Lavender Shores. We learn that there is a rich history of inclusiveness put in place by five founding families, a sprawling cast of characters who we get to know quite well as the series continues.
As I listen to samples of each book, I also hear the progress I’ve made on this journey. When I bought a better microphone. When I started experimenting with different mastering settings. When I started coaching with the brilliant Joel Leslie. (Joel narrated, among many other things, Lord Mouse by Mason Thomas…if you can’t beat ‘em, you better learn from ‘em, right?) When I moved. When I got my act together after the move. In so many ways, this series is my narrator baby book. For better or worse, everything I’ve learned, and continue to learn, is on display. And while I’ll certainly look back and shake my head from time to time, I’m also deeply grateful for the opportunity Brandon/Rosalind has given me to develop as a narrator as I develop this series. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive collaborator.
Lavender Shores is a series that is filled with humor and heart, with plenty of hot sex along the way. Books 1-4 are available in audio now, and if you start today, book five will surely be out by the time you’re finished. In the meantime, please enjoy this exclusive audio excerpt of The Hideaway.
Lavender Shores’s resident tattoo artist, Connor Clark, looks the part—six foot six, musclebound, and covered in ink—and most definitely doesn’t blend in. Grafted into the Bryant family as a teenager to escape his abusive father, the Bryants saved his life, but Connor has never truly felt a part of the founding family royalty. And if his heart’s desire were revealed, it would betray everything the Bryants have done for him.
Micah Bryant was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He’s always had everything he ever wanted—save the one he desires most. Even moving to New York City for a few years didn’t dampen his passion. Not that Micah had expected it to. He’s known his destiny since he was nine years old, the moment it had walked through his door.
After years of longing, years of secrets and stolen moments of passion and love, Connor weakens enough to allow the town to see how he feels, and let the Bryants know his love for Micah is anything but brotherly. But no sooner had the decision been made than Connor’s biological family returns and shatters it all. Still, Micah holds on to the belief that their romance was written in the stars, but maybe he’d been wrong all those years…
Kirt Graves is an audiobook narrator most known for his work in the MM Romance genre. His first audiobook (TJ Klune’s Wolfsong) was featured as one of Audible’s Five-Star Faves in November 2016. A tenor by training, Kirt easily moves between characters of any age, genre, gender or ethnic background. In addition to his work as an audiobook narrator, Kirt is a graphic artist, a podcast host, and an award-winning speech coach.