They discussed GayRomLit registration, which took place February 25 and that they’re looking forward to that October trip.
They reviewed the new Netflix show, Ultimate Beastmaster, and Jeff talked about the debut YA thriller from Igor Max called Awakened, which is the first installment in Max’s Mind Agents series.
Haley Walsh and Joel Leslie are this week’s featured interview. Haley is the author of the Skyler Foxe Mystery series and Joel is the narrator for the audiobooks. Haley discusses the series and how Joel came to be the narrator. Joel talks about his work on the series, including some of the challenges Haley has given him through the books. Haley and Joel are giving away five Audible codes to download Foxe Tail. Podcast listeners can enter to win with the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this page.
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.
- GayRomLit on website
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Ultimate Beastmaster on Netflix
- Awakened by Igor Max on Amazon
- Jeff’s review of Awakened by Igor Max on JeffAndWill.com
- Haley Walsh & Joel Leslie interview
- Haley Walsh: Website | Facebook | Street Team Sign Up
- Joel Leslie: Website | Facebook | Audible
- The Skyler Foxe Mystery series by Haley Walsh on Amazon
- The Skyler Foxe Mystery series by Haley Walsh and performed by Joel Leslie on Audible
- M. C. Beaton on Amazon
- The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith on Amazon
- Foxe Den by Haley Walsh and performed by Joel Leslie on Audible
- Jeff’s review of Foxe Den by Haley Walsh and performed by Joel Leslie on JeffAndWill.com
- Desert Foxe by Haley Walsh and performed by Joel Leslie on Audible
- Crazy Like a Foxe by Haley Walsh and performed by Joel Leslie on Audible
- Interview with Skyler Foxe Audiobook Narrator Joel Leslie (includes video of Joel in the booth) on SkylerFoxeMysteries.com
- Don’t Twunk with My Heart: Loving You, Book 2 by Renae Kaye and performed by Joel Leslie on Audible
- Though Heaven Fall by Jeri Westerson and performed by Joel Froomkin on Audible
Interview Transcript – Haley Walsh & Joel Leslie
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Jeff: So I’m happy today to welcome two people to the podcast. We’ve got Haley Walsh, who is the author of the “Skyler Foxe Mystery” series, along with Joel Leslie, who provides the audio performance on the audiobooks for that series. Welcome both of you.
Jeff: So I wanted to let you guys come to kind of introduce yourselves a little bit more to the audience. So, Haley, we’ll start with you for that.
Haley: Okay. Well, mine are a humble people, from farmland. No, I’m actually from Los Angeles. I’m a city girl. And I’ve always been a creative type. So I wrote stories based on my crayon drawings. I still do that but… So ever since I could really pick up a crayon, I was writing stories, but I never, never, never thought of that as a career. In fact, I started as…on the theater track. I was gonna be an actress. I did that all through high school and I started doing that in college. And then I went to real-world auditions. And I said, “I am not doing this the rest of my life. So what to do from there?” Well, all that time, I was designing posters and programs for all the productions that we ever did. And I realized that people actually make a living doing that. So I switched to art, became a graphic artist, and I did that in Los Angeles for some 15 or so years. And during all this time, I’m writing stories, I wrote my first novel when I was 16. And I just kept this to myself. It was just a hobby, it was something I just did. And then I sort of semi-retired from graphic design to have a baby. And I thought, “Well, okay, after two years, I’ve raised the kid, I could start doing the graphic stuff at home.” By that time, the entire industry had turned to computers. So, I did not. I did not know anything about it at that time, so this is how old I am. So, I thought, “Oh my God, what else can I do for a living? What will I be able to do?” And I thought, “Well, I wanna work at home, raise my kid. So, maybe this is the time to become a novelist. Maybe this is the time to try and get published.” So I went to my husband and I said, “You know, this is what I wanna do. I think I wanna become a novelist. What do you think?” He said, “I think it’s great. I’ll support you in any of your decisions. But do you write novels?” I said, “Oh, yeah, sure. I got a whole box of them here. Yeah, I do that all the time.” So, that started the whole career, and it’s been working out real well, so, finally, I’m making a living at it right now, which is unheard of. So…
Jeff: Yeah, it’s always great to hear about any kind of creator, content creator who could actually…
Haley: Who can do it, yeah.
Jeff: …make a living at it. Yeah.
Haley: And by the way, this is the last creative thing I know how to do, so this better work.
Jeff: So Joel, what’s your backstory?
Joel: I grew up in Bermuda, of all places, which is a British colony and, yes, the triangle. And I can explain all about the Bermuda Triangle one of these days, but next time I see you, I need to make a diagram, though. It involves visual aids. So I ended up growing up there. My parents are American, but I ended up growing up in this British Commonwealth, and going to a British school with teachers from all over the UK, then my best friend was Scottish. And so I grew up around all these different sounds. And if my parents weren’t American, I basically would have probably spoken with a British accent all the time. So I ended up as this kind of weird mutt, hearing all these sounds, and then went to USC for performance. And while I was there, kind of discovered that I had a gift for dialects and accents, and sort of focused on that. My intention, I mean, my primary career goal was quickly to become a director, a stage director. But I really had this huge passion for speech and, oddly enough, dramatized literary works. And in fact, the thing that made me fall in love with theater was the RSC dramatized version of Nicholas Nickleby. And so I did that in college. I did my masters in directing, and then I went to London to apprentice, and worked as a director there, and did things like assistant directed “Delicate Balance” with Maggie Smith and Eileen Atkins, and did a bunch of cool stuff, and then ended up moving to New York, where I met my partner, Rich, who you’ve met. And we swore to start a theater company. So we found this hundred-year-old building in the middle of Indiana, I had never even been to Indiana, we found this hundred-year-old vaudeville house, and we moved there.
And over the past 10 years, we sort of renovated it and turned it into a full size working theater, professional theater company, which is great, except for the fact that it’s in Indiana, and in the middle of kind of nowhere in Indiana. And it’s been very tricky in the past eight years as the socio-economic climate has changed and the political climate has changed. It became really difficult to get something like this to grab hold. No matter how proud we were of the work we were doing, and the reviews that we were getting, you know, and all that, just actually getting bums on the seats was very difficult. And I was also… I’m also a professor, and I was teaching in the university here. I was running the drama department for a while here. And then… So through a whole series of events, we decided to sort of try something else. And at the same time, a friend of mine, a female who’s very successful with audiobooks, said to me, “You know, you should try this.” Because one of the things I did when we ran a theater company was I would do, like, these little one-man show versions of famous books. I did “Dracula,” and “Sleepy Hollow,” and “Treasure Island.” And she said, “You should try this.” And I was like, “Okay,” and I did. And it has been… You know, I’ve always been a huge fan of audiobooks. I’ve always loved them and really inspired by them. And the fact that it suddenly has turned into something that I do full time for a living is fantastic. And weirdly, I think the first book that I ever auditioned for was the first “Skyler Foxe” book. And from there, 8 books later and 90 titles later, it’s turned into a full-time gig that I love. It’s fantastic.
Jeff: Awesome. That’s a good story.
Joel: Thank you.
Jeff: So, Haley, with “Skyler,” what was the initial inspiration behind the “Skyler Foxe Mysteries”? And kind of give us an overall view of what the series is for those people who may not have picked up one yet.
Haley: Well, the “Skyler Foxe Mysteries” is… Somebody said something about that on the audiobook, that it’s Neil Patrick Harris meets Stephanie Plum or something. So it’s a comedy-mystery series, kind of romantic, but mostly comedy, lighthearted. Where it kind of started from was, I also write a medieval mystery series. It’s kind of my bread and butter series. And I started with that, first published with that. And it’s just so dense with prose and heavy on the research that I just needed another series so I could just relax. I wanted something that was light, and fun, and funny, and contemporary. Not that I don’t do research, but it’s not as heavy as what I do for something medieval, obviously. So, I also worked with teens at the time as one of my part-time jobs. And I realized there is a lot of drama there. So, it just sort of began to form in my mind about a teacher who is an amateur sleuth. So that sort of puts it in a kind of cozy category. And the comedy is bringing that out. So, when I write a mystery, I like to have a lot of different elements going on in the story. I like to have interesting characters. I like to have little side things going on, a little romance, a little of this, a little of that because for those smarty pants people who solve the crime right away, they gotta have something else to read while they’re going through the book. So, I like to have all these different things going on. And I think it makes it more interesting and more fun, and maybe a little more realistic. I don’t know. I mean, you have to have a lot of faith. You gotta have a lot of disbelief. You gotta just let it go when you’re reading an amateur sleuth. Because I don’t know about you, but if I found a body, first I’d scream, then I’d call 911, and that would be the last I wanna know about it because, you know… But not an amateur sleuth. They have some reason that they wanna… So you have to suspend your disbelief on that.
Jeff: Yeah. And so much seems to happen in the Skyler’s little neck of the woods, too.
Haley: Yeah. But, ironically, no spoilers, but the thing that goes to the whole story arc of the first three books really happened at my son’s high school. So truth is stranger than fiction, as we are living in the now. So you never know where you’re gonna find stuff like that. And, actually, I’m always trolling newspapers for different murder ideas anyway, as one does.
Jeff: And, of course, you brought “Skyler” to audio in 2015 after there were already at few books out. What led you to that choice? And then how did you two make the connection to start working together?
Haley: Well, I really wanted audio because I just want it accessible to as many people as possible. The “Skyler” books are bought in a lot of foreign countries. They’re all still in English, but they’re bought in all kinds of places, and audio seemed more accessible to a lot of people. Plus, I really wanted to hear the characters. So that was sort of a push for me. And Amazon has a self-publishing arm for audio. It’s sold through Audible, and it’s called ACX, and you find your narrators there. You can hire them out right or you can share or…
Joel: It’s match.com for audiobooks. It really is.
Haley: It is. It is. We totally have to like each other and, you know, exchange pictures. Now, you basically hear lots of different auditions from narrators. You go and you plug in all the different things about your book. You want a male narrator. He has to be about this age. He wants to be able to access or, you know, whatever. You plug that stuff in, and a bunch of names come up, and you start listening to the guys. Now, he wasn’t the original narrator for the series. I picked this other guy. And I kept telling him, I kept saying, “You know, there are some fairly detailed graphic sex scenes in this. Are you okay with that?” “Sure. Sure. Yes.” So he was doing the narration for a while and suddenly, one day, just flaked away, and I never heard from him again. And so I had to start the process all over again, heard Joel’s voice and said, “Oh, my God. That’s Skyler. Please accept it. Please accept it. Please accept it.”
Joel: You said the reason you liked me, that you particularly liked my audition was the fact that I made Jamie believable.
Haley: Yeah. Yeah.
Joel: Apparently, to a lot of people, Jamie is this character in the books that’s very flamboyant, and he’s very kind of over the top and fun. But, apparently, you said a lot of people had made him…a lot of the male narrators had basically made him too…
Haley: Stereotypically way over the top.
Joel: Yeah. And too…
Haley: Insultingly so. Yeah.
Joel: Yeah. And so, apparently, I rang true with Jamie and the rest is history, but…
Haley: He is the voice of Skyler because when he called my house… And I didn’t tell my husband he was calling or really much about this. He knew that there was an audiobook. But when he called, my husband picked up the phone and heard his voice, and he said, “Hon, Skyler’s on the phone. ”
Jeff: That’s awesome.
Haley: Yeah. So I knew that was right.
Jeff: And for you, Joel, I mean, of all the things that are running around in ACX to choose to audition for, what drew you to the “Skyler” books?
Joel: Well, I’ve always had a thing… One of my favorite genres is cozy mysteries. I’m crazy about MC Beaton’s “Agatha Raisin” series and “Hamish Macbeth,” and the number one ladies detective series, and those kind of books. I’ve always loved them. And so, to get a chance to do a gay spin on that was so cool. And also for him to be… I love the fact that he really is a role model. Like, he’s…you know, they say too stupid to live. I mean, he does do very dumb things. However, in terms of the way he teaches his kids, he’s a fantastic role model. And he goes through a really interesting journey of…you know, he goes through a coming-out process. He goes through coming to terms with basically growing up and what it means to be an adult. And, you know, it was really, really cool. And also, in that initial audition, there were, like, five very clear what I call the Scooby gang, his best friends, who sort of end up swept into the mysteries along with him, but these five very distinct, fun characters. And I love doing colorful. You know, I’m not someone that you hire for a dead read. I’m not someone that goes, “Page one. You know, the mist was very blue in the sky, and…” That’s not me. And some people want that. Some people do… Some authors get very freaked out if they hear their book narrated not the way an author would do an author reading, you know.
Haley: It’s not how you do an author reading. That’s not how I do it.
Joel: If you’re good. If you’re good.
Haley: I want it performed. Yeah.
Joel: Right. But a lot of authors just want their book literally read, but these characters sort of jumped off the page and wanted to be performed, and they were lovely. And I just, I guess, hit the jackpot the first time out, which has been fantastic.
Haley: He loved them.
Jeff: You know, it’s interesting you mentioned the Scooby gang because I took an interesting route into the “Skyler Foxe” books because I started, I believe, it’s “Foxe Tail,” that is the for holiday stories.
Haley: No, it’s “Foxe Den.”
Jeff: “Foxe Den.” Sorry. It’s the for holiday stories. And I picked that one first because…
Haley: And it doesn’t have a mystery.
Jeff: From the blurb, right? From the blurb, it seemed like I could read it standalone and it was the right timeframe for the trip I was on so I could get it done. But it was an interesting entree to these characters and to your performance because you’re really dealing with the non-mystery things with Skyler and his friends. And I love the family elements, getting to see Skyler’s family, and all of that. So it was an interesting, like, entree. And now I just need to go and actually visit one of the mysteries to get that side of it too.
Joel: Well, one thing that happened with… Which one is “Desert Foxe?” Is that book five?
Haley: Five, the fifth mystery, yeah.
Joel: So with “Desert Foxe,” what suddenly happens is, out of the blue, because she hates me, she decided to make all of these ancillary characters have their own chapters and their own very serious relationship issues. So it was really… You know, I was lucky that I hadn’t made them too stereotypical or whatever. You know, when you’re an actor, you always want to find truth in however big you go. But it was a real challenge to suddenly take these characters that were meant to be the comic relief, and give them their own focus, and give them their own, you know, relationship arguments and bedroom problems. And so, yeah, I was ready to kill her after that one. But …
Haley: Well, you gotta mix it up. You gotta mix…
Joel: She’s also not allowed to add… She keeps adding students to the class and it’s…
Haley: Oh, you’re not gonna like me now.
Joel: Every time she adds a damn exchange student or someone new, I’m like, “Really? How many straight teenage boys can I voice?”
Jeff: Now, we should mention that there is a new audiobook out, that came out middle of January, “Crazy Like A Foxe,” which is book six. What is Skyler up to in this book?
Haley: “Crazy Like A Foxe.” Okay. So Skyler, again, he’s got a murder to solve. And it’s right behind me somewhere. He has… This is during the summer. He’s a teacher. And teachers aren’t teaching in the summer, of course, so he has no job. But he usually picks up a job at the local little museum that’s there. And he’s doing his regular stint. And two things are kind of happening at this museum. One, things seemed to be missing at the museum. And the other thing is that his boss is murdered, his beloved boss, so he’s got to solve that problem. He’s gotta solve that crime. And all sorts of other emotional things, as usual, are going on with the relationship, and his mother’s relationship with his dad. And all these other things are happening at once, like I said, as usual. So we have… I don’t wanna give things away. I’m trying to explain without spoilers.
Jeff: Well, no, it’s a mystery. We don’t wanna give away spoilers.
Haley: But you can be sure that the Scooby gang is together and there’s high jinx that happen when they’re trying to solve the crimes. And Skyler and Jamie take a self-defense class together, which is kind of fun. So there’s all sorts of things going on, and the books are all interconnected. So you really have to read them in order because it always leads to the next thing, which I can’t talk about either. But just suffice it to say it’s another fun romp of Skyler and the gang with…
Joel: And one of my favorite things about the series is that the murders are great, but they’re not what makes me excited to read each next chapter. She charts the relationships and the growth of Skyler’s relationship with Keith, and the relationships with the other characters, and their relationships. You know, it really becomes this family you care about. And I think the fact that you care about the characters makes them getting into perilous situations matter much more to you as a reader. But yeah, no, it’s, I would say, probably out of… At some point in each one, maybe six out of the eight books I’ve done, I would say I’ve ended up in tears at some point while narrating it. So…
Jeff: Is that tears of laughter?
Haley: Because he hates it so much.
Jeff: Tears of laughter or tears of sadness?
Joel: Tears of sweetness.
Joel: There’s a…
Haley: There’s always some pathos, maybe.
Jeff: Yeah. There’s a first time scene in one book for these two teenagers that is just really beautifully written. There’s a prom scene that’s fantastic. So, yeah, no, it’s great. And, you know, we haven’t talked about the fact… Well, you did sort of mention the fact that the books are also very sexy. They are. She writes good sex scenes. She really does.
Jeff: She does. I would agree with that. Because there was some good holiday sex going on that book that I read or listened to, rather.
Haley: I think 90% of the readers are far more into the relationships, and the characters themselves, and how they develop, then the mystery, you know, the other 10 is big into the mystery, but it really is about the characters. I mean, that’s what I like to write is, to me, real people, like, that could walk through the door.
Joel: Yeah. The other thing that, I think, really makes me happy about the series is, and this sounds stupid, which, you know, so many women are writing in this genre for us, which is fantastic, and the audience is largely women. But what tends to happen for me as a narrator, I found, is you almost always end up with versatile couples. Everybody’s versatile. Every single person in the world is versatile. This sounds dumb. I love the fact that she’s written this really great hero, who’s a bottom. I think that’s awesome because…
Haley: I’m proud of it.
Joel: …that doesn’t happen.
Jeff: No, it really doesn’t.
Joel: That doesn’t happen, where the lead character is, you know, a receiver. And I think that’s great. I think it’s…
Haley: And I did that on purpose because I was tired of reading that too. I thought, “No. These are not the people that I know.”
Joel: I need to narrate a series where I don’t have to worry about trying to sound straight in order to voice a gay man, which happens to me a lot. I mean, a lot of the time, I’m voicing like alpha males, and it’s like, “I’m in special ops.” And, like, they’re great books. But I love the fact that Skyler really is some gay guy that you’d be friends with, and hang out, and have brunch with on a Sunday. Like, he’s not this idealized version of anything. You know, he’s such a fully rounded, plausible, flawed character. But I love the fact that she writes tops and bottoms, and that’s so cool.
Jeff: What was it like for you to find Skyler’s character even going, and how did it change from what you might have had in the audition to what’s actually in the books?
Joel: Well, this is slightly interesting. When we started Skyler, his voice was my voice. But since then, because I become a full-time narrator and because I’m doing so much other genre of material, my pitch has actually dropped. So now when I voice Skyler, I actually have to sit him higher up than my own voice. And we did… And there was book three, I think, I sent Haley the first 15 minutes and she was like, “What the hell is going on? ”
Haley: Why are you so depressed? This isn’t sad.
Joel: And I was like, “Oh, shit.” So I had to sort of, like, figure out how to now play Skyler, now that my own voice had changed. But Keith kind of sits at the bottom of my range, and Skyler sits slightly above my own range now, and Jamie sits right at the top of my range, and he’s much more colorful, and he’s there. And, you know, the others are… A lot of them are based on people I know, which is really funny. The lawyer character is definitely someone I know.
Haley: What a coincidence. So do I.
Joel: But he’s very persnickety and particular. My favorite thing about this person is he picks up potato chips with a napkin. He doesn’t wanna get… He’s a little bit germophobic and he picks up… But he’s just sort of… And so he’s just very careful. And that’s what I like about, you know, the way I suddenly voiced him. So, yeah, no, it’s weird, but…
Haley: And a lot of that is, now, when I write them, I hear, especially Philip…
Joel: Most probably.
Haley: …and I had Rodolfo but yeah, but definitely Philip and Skyler’s mother, I hear you. I know. And now, I sort of write them based on how I think you’re going to make them sound when you say certain, you know, phrases and sentences. So that’s not…
Joel: Your vocabulary actually has shifted because the first books that I did, Philip never said the word dude, and I voiced him as a character who would never… The way I did his voice is he was not someone who would say dude. And then all of a sudden, like, book three, she started writing dude, and I called her up and I was like, “What the hell do I do with this?”
Haley: “I wrote it before you.” I was gonna say that was BJ but that’s not a good announce…
Joel: It’s quite funny, though.
Jeff: It’s interesting you brought that up because I was curious, like, what’s the collaboration between the two of you, now that you’ve been doing this for a while, as a new “Skyler” comes up for audio?
Haley: Well, it’s not a collaboration when we… I write the book. The book is done. However, Dave, because I never had a voice particularly in mind for Dave, and you picked sort of a Texas kind of thing, that’s what he is now to me. So, I will, again, use vocabulary about that. But the book has to be finished. It has to be in print before Audible will accept it. So, then Joel takes it away.
Joel: I try…
Haley: So, well, I do you do right the character sketch on new characters that…
Joel: I send… I ask her… Whenever a new character shows up, I sort of ask her, you know, not as involved as I do with my new writers, we have a sort of a shorthand now, but I’ll ask her, like, “If you’re thinking of casting somebody famous, who would you cast? You know, where are they from? How old are they?” That kind of stuff. With my new authors, when I approach new material, I send them a whole very detailed character questionnaire. I ask what…
Haley: What kind of animal are they?
Joel: I ask what… I thought what was useful to me is I ask about every character in the book what animal would they be? And now I’ve started listing it as if what would their patronus be? Because, for some reason, that resonates easier for some people. But, you know, if an author thinks somebody is a weasel versus an owl, versus, you know, a snake or a bear, that makes it very clear to me what that voice is. So that really helps me a lot. So…
Haley: Cartoon characters, wasn’t that another thing you got in there?
Joel: Yeah. So, yeah, she sends me stuff about each new bunch.
Haley: And then you record, how long does that take? I’m just taking over this interview.
Jeff: Go ahead.
Joel: It takes me… To do a “Skyler” book, it usually takes me about 5 solid days, recording about 8 hours a day or 7 hours a day, because they’re about 180 pages. Right?
Haley: Well, they’re 300 pages of the books. So maybe manuscript pages.
Joel: Oh, 280. I’m thinking they’re like 280. Yeah. Yeah.
Haley: Almost 300 pages. Yeah.
Joel: Yeah. Yeah. So I do 50 pages a day usually. So five days. And then my very patient, lovely boyfriend edits them, which is hilarious because he hates audiobooks, and now this has turned into his full-time job. Like, personally, he hates…
Haley: Poor guy.
Joel: …audiobook. Always has, nothing to do with me. It could be Jim Dale and Meryl Streep narrating together for him, and he wouldn’t pick them. But he edits them and then I send it along to Haley, and she listens, and then sends me back notes saying, “Ninety-nine percent of the time there you messed up these word notes.” I think, like, maybe one…
Haley: Or left out a sentence or something.
Joel: Yeah, like, maybe one-note in an entire book, she’ll be like,” Can you say that more stressed out?” Or, “I meant that to be sarcastic,” or, you know…
Haley: Yeah. Because I don’t believe in directing the narrator because everybody… It’s just like a movie. An audiobook is a different animal from the written word. Everybody’s a professional. Let everybody do their job. You know, just every now and then, I just gotta bitch out and say, “No.” But…
Joel: I think we only…
Haley: …I just want them to do their job.
Joel: In eight books, we only went back and we changed one character. I can’t remember who it was, but there was one relatively minor character in the book that I got wrong. And you said, “Can we fix that?” And I went back and just punched it in. It was just one book and it was a couple of lines. But yeah, she doesn’t like my sassy black ladies. Haley…
Haley: You’re gonna get one. You’re gonna get one coming up in the next one.
Joel: Whenever I voice a sassy black lady, she gets rather concerned.
Haley: You’re gonna get one. You can be as sassy as you want in this one. And I want it sassy.
Jeff: What kind of preparation is there for you, Joel, besides, obviously, like, reading the manuscript to get ready to go into the booth?
Joel: You know, I’ve had to start having a very disciplined routine because you get to the point where the weird thing about being an audiobook narrator is you can’t go to work sick. I mean, if something is, it shows. And what you recorded yesterday isn’t gonna sound the same as you recorded today, and that’s bad. So, I get up and I have to… I do a vocal warmup and I have to stretch, and I have to do weird mouth exercises, and I steam, and I recently discovered that I have reflux. So I have to be on a reflux diet now because that affects my speech. But I figured it out, there was a series of about three months when I was releasing books and my reviews kept saying I sounded older than they thought I should, and it was because of the reflux. So it involves a certain amount of discipline. But, yeah, I record three days in a row, and then take a break in between, and on that off day is when I do my prep. It’s when I’ll be reading… It’s when I’m reading the next book and making notes, and, you know, figuring out character voices, and doing research for certain dialects if I need to, and things like that. So, it’s three days on, one day off. And yeah, it’s a routine. It requires… You know, I think this is one thing that’s very similar to being a writer, is it requires you having your own discipline because you’re the only one making you get your butt out of bed and doing the work, you know. Especially if you’re an indie author or an indie narrator, as I am, you know, it could take me five days to record a book or it could take, you know, a month-and-a-half, depending on if I actually do the work. So I have a pretty specific schedule that I work on now and it seems to work. So…
Haley: You should go to my website because Joel was kind enough to give me a little video of him recording. I mean, it was “Desert Foxe,” and it’s hilarious to watch. I know he didn’t intend it to be hilarious but…
Jeff: I will link to that in the show notes, for sure, so that people can find it.
Haley: You’re in a little, I don’t know, booth or closet or something.
Joel: A little booth, a little crazy. It’s a little cave.
Joel: It’s actually my… Where I record is underneath the balcony of the theater. So the ceiling is slanted like this. Because you’re underneath where the audience sitting in the balcony is. And, yeah, I did a video of me doing one section of the, like, seven characters talking to each other and people found it funny. So I record slightly differently now. Back then… In that video, I’m using what they call the click method, which is when you make a mistake, you use a dog clicker, and you click into the mic, and that spikes the mic. Sorry, that spikes the thing so the editor can find out when to jump in. Because otherwise, people are, like, “Why is he constantly clicking this thing?” And it’s because I have to mark for the editor where I’m starting again. Now I do it a slightly different way, that doesn’t involve that. I just sort of rerecord over myself with a series of keystrokes. But doing the characters is the same and it’s fun, so, yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, we’ll have the link to that for sure. What’s it like for you, Haley, hearing your work interpreted?
Haley: Oh, well, it’s pretty fantastic. I think very…and right cinematically. So I love to see it performed. See it, see. It’s a movie for your ears. I can hear it performed, but I can see it. And, like we’ve talked about, it’s effective kind of the way that I write it, and nothing else has happened that way for other books. So it’s great because it does add that dimension to the series, to the books that you can’t get any other way unless someone would love to produce these. So, we’re open to that.
Jeff: Make the “Skyler” movie series.
Haley: Or TV. I’m hoping for TV. Stars, come on, man.
Jeff: Netflix, Amazon.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. Any stories from the booth, Joel, like flubs or numerous things that ended up on the cutting room floor that should be on some DVD extras somewhere?
Joel: There is not… I have one horrifying story. And it actually… It doesn’t have to do with the “Skyler” books. But I’ll tell you because it’s pretty darn funny. You know, one thing about working with indie authors is that, sometimes, sometimes they don’t invest in an editor as they should. And if you ever wanna be good to your narrator, hire a decent editor because…
Haley: New readers.
Joel: Because, oh, my God, you’d be amazed at the stuff that we have to figure out on the fly. But I was doing this one particular book, and it was so incongruously edited. Like, sentences just went off. They didn’t make sense. They didn’t make grammatical sense. They ended somewhere they should have been… It was just… And I was exhausted and it was, like, hour seven and I was three-quarters of the way through the book, and I hit this page, it was just, like, every sentence was a mess. And at one point, I just said into the mic, “I can’t fucking do this anymore.” And it ended up… Rich somehow missed it and didn’t cut it out.
Jeff: Oh, no.
Joel: It went to print with me going, “I can’t fucking do this anymore.” We pulled it back, luckily, and…
Jeff: Well, that just shows you the author, how well they didn’t proof their audiobook either.
Joel: And so, yeah, it missed… It was really funny because we had beta listened on our end and he had… But whatever. But that’s the worst. That’s the worst one that’s ever happened to me. And, you know, the lesson that every narrator learns is you have to read the whole book because I did once do about half of an entire book and then realized the character was supposed to be black because they didn’t mention that until, like, page 134. And I went, “Oh, shit.” So, you learn the ropes quickly.
Jeff: So Haley, what’s next for “Skyler”?
Haley: Well, we have the book called “Stone Cold Foxe.” And that is high jinx on the high seas. So there’s a cruise involved. But there’s all kinds of other things that I can’t talk about because it will spoil you for “Crazy Like A Foxe.” But, yeah, that’s basically it. It’s murder on the high seas, and the SFC, the Scooby gang, do a little stowaway trip on the boat to look out for Skyler to make sure he’s okay because he’s kind of stuck.
Joel: I am correct in saying at some point someone is getting married? Yes?
Haley: You are correct. I wonder who that is.
Joel: Well, there are choices. I mean, there are a number of options.
Haley: Yes. This is true. So yes.
Joel: Skyler’s mom, for one.
Haley: Could be. Could be. Because we’re all anxious to see that. So, yeah.
Jeff: Do you have an idea how many books that there are for “Skyler” or do they just keep rolling as long as people are picking them up?
Haley: You know, I’m a big believer in having an endpoint in the series. And in my other series, I know exactly when those. I don’t know exactly when this is gonna end, but it will at some point. But right now, I’m still having fun writing them and people still seem to want them. But I do wanna end on a high because you don’t want people to say, “Well, that’s just a retread of the first three or something.” So, you don’t want people to do that. You want people to love the book. So they will end at some point. I probably don’t have very many more books coming. I’m running out of titles, for one. So…
Joel: I feel like we have to at least get to Skyler adopting a baby so it can be called “Mother Foxer.”
Haley: Well, the next one after “Stone Cold Foxe” is “For Foxe Sake.”
Joel: “For Foxe Sake.”
Jeff: Oh, awesome. Any date projections for when we get to see “Stone Cold Foxe”?
Haley: In the spring. And there’s a really fun contest that goes along with it, and it involves the winning person, they get to use their name in the book. So they will be a character in the book.
Joel: There was some bitterness about that.
Haley: I know. Well…
Joel: Like eight books later and I’m not in the damn book?
Haley: You know what’s gonna happen? You know what’s gonna happen? Somebody’s gonna get a dog and they’re gonna be named Joel. Okay? I promise it’s a wiener dog. All right?
Joel: I’ll just kill someone. I’ll probably just get someone murdered.
Haley: It’ll just be the body.
Jeff: You’ll be, like, the starring bit part on, like, you know, the opening of, like, “Law & Order…”
Haley: “Law & Order.”
Jeff: …or “CSI,” where you have the body scroll on the floor.
Haley: Yeah, just the sheet. Yeah.
Jeff: So Joel, what’s up for you? I mean, obviously, “Stone Cold Foxe,” when that happens, but is there anything else we should be looking for you in the near future?
Joel: I have, like, a bucket of stuff coming out. I’ve got a Renee K book that just came out. I’ve got another one that’s coming out for Dreamspinner. But the one that’s out right nowm literally just came out is like “Don’t Twunk With My Heart.” It’s Australian. The book I’m recording right now, I’m in love with. It’s called “Lord Mouse” by Mason Thomas. I’m doing it for Dreamspinner. It’s kind of like… It’s very “Game of Thrones.” It’s like, sort of, if Tyrion Lannister was, like, a gay sword for hire. It’s so cool. I really love it. It’s great. Then I’m doing a Boston series by SJ Himes called “Necromancer’s Dance,” and some stuff for Kim Fielding. There’s a bunch coming up. So…
Jeff: Busy guy.
Haley: He’s a busy voice.
Jeff: So what’s the best way for folks to keep up with both of you online so they can keep…find all the good stuff that’s going on for the both of you?
Haley: Well, Facebook is the place to find me because I can’t get off of it. So look for Haley Walsh or “Skyler Foxe,” and that will get you there. And you can sign up for my street team. The street team gets extra stuff. They get to have sneak peeks of future books and all kinds of neat stuff that I will mail you. So, sign up for that.
Joel: What’s the website?
Joel: What’s the website?
Haley: Well, this is just a street team. So if you go to my website, skylerfoxemysteries.com, then you can sign up for the street.
Joel: I’m on Facebook too. Facebook is a good way for me. Either you can Facebook premier Joel Leslie Froomkin or Joel Leslie Narration. And my website is joelleslienarration.com. And one other thing we should plug is my alter ego and Haley’s alter ego have another book out. It’s “Though Heaven Fall.” And it’s a medieval mystery, a morality tale. It’s amazing. It’s so good. And it’s just…
Haley: Westerson is my other name. Jeri, J-E-R-I.
Joel: So, yeah, that’s written by Jeri Westerson. And it’s a standalone, but it’s a great book. So if people wanna hear me be my other self and her be her other self, it’s a neat little strange crossover.
Jeff: Yeah, absolutely. We’re happy to link up to that too, and send people that direction. And we should mention, because you guys are so generous, there will be a Rafflecopter in this episode to give five of our listeners a chance to pick up the first “Skyler Foxe” book, “Fox Tale,” which Haley is holding up very nicely right there.
Jeff: So that’ll run for the entire week that this episode is new and, hopefully, we’ll bring some new people into the “Skyler Foxe” universe.
Haley: Yes, come to the fold.
Joel: Join the SFE.
Jeff: It’s a fun place to be.
Joel: It is.
Jeff: Well, thank you both so much for joining. This was a blast.
Haley: Thank you.
Jeff: I enjoyed it.
Joel: Thank you. Bye.
Here’s your chance to be one of five winners of an Audible code good for an audiobook copy of Foxe Tail
a Rafflecopter giveaway