Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 4 months ago

WB-S2E13 Audible Originals, Part 1

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

WRITERS' BLOCK Ron Block and Patti Callahan Henry have a fascinating conversation with Kathy Murray and Martha Hall Kelly about their Audible Originals collaboration, The Munich Cowboys Cheerleaders

This show is brought to you by our presenting sponsor, Charleston Coffee Roasters. Charleston coffee roasters painstakingly searches the world over for the highest quality coffee beans. They bring them home to Charleston, South Carolina, where slow roasting coaxes out their unique flavor. Along with their promise of great coffee, Charleston Coffee Roasters also pledges to help our planet and local communities. Globally, they support sustainable farming practices. Locally, they partner with the South Carolina seed Turtle Rescue Program Visit Their website, Charleston Coffee Roasterscom, and use the code coffee with friends, all lowercase, all one word, to get twenty percent off on all bagged coffees. Me, I worked out in Atlanta. I live in Connecticut now, but when I lived in Atlanta I worked out with CAFFIE. She's an amazing personal trainer, but I hate working out. So I found that if I talked to her enough about her own life and she had all these fascinating stories, I could kind of take it a little bit easier, and so I would always get here to talk about her time in Germany, because it was so fascinating and I used to say and day we're going to write this. Welcome to the friends and fiction writers block podcast. For New York Times Best Selling Authors, one rock star Librarian and endless stories, join Mary K Andrews, Kristin Harmel, Christy Woodson Harvey and Patty Callahan Henry, along...

...with Ron Block as novelists. We are for longtime friends, with seventy books between us, and I am Ron Block. Please join us for fascinating author interviews and insider talk about publishing and writing. If you love books and are curious about the writing world, you are in the right place. Welcome to the friends and fiction writers block podcast. On the next two episodes we're going to take a deep dive into the world of audible originals. First, with our conversation with Cathy Murray and Martha Hall Kelly, we're going to talk about the Munich cowboys cheerleaders, and then next in part two, we're sitting down with Don Kat's, founder of audible. Let's get started. We get really excited when we get to explore and delve into storytelling that might veer from tradition. Today we are focusing on the phenomenon that is audible originals. The demand for audio con ten has grown exponentially and audible ink has led the way. Some stories and voices don't fit perfectly in existing models and their audible originals have provided a perfect vehicle for many of these productions. What makes audible originals unique is that you can't find the story anywhere but on audible. I am Ron Block and I am Patty Callaghan Henry. I am a huge fan of audible originals, not only to listen to but to write for my Novella Wild Swan, about the incredible life of Florence Nightingale, was an audible original narrated by the astounding Cynthia Arivo, the Tony Award winning actress. It was an audio file, earphones award winner, a finalist for an Audi and yet these audible originals are such a new platform and since here at writer's block and friends and fiction, we are all about the origin of story, we wanted to explore...

...the history and practice surrounding audible originals. So we are so honored to have today's guests, the creators of one of the current and most popular titles on audible originals, the Munich cowboys cheerleaders Kathy Murray and Martha Hall Kelly. And then we are also thrilled on this episode to talk to the founder and CEO of audible ink don cats. First up, we welcome Cathy Murray, a sirtified personal trainer and fitness Guru, along with New York Times Best Selling Author Martha Hall Kelly. They've recently coauthored the audible original entitled again the Munich Cowboys Cheerleaders, which I devoured in one sitting, and I'm going to tell them both how much I was cheering for this team. I'm not that kind of exuberant about about cheer squads, but this really got me just quick in one sitting and I was drawn in by the power and the excitement of this incredible story of determination. So welcome both of you to the podcast. Thanks right. Thank you, it's good to be here. It's great to have you. Most of you know Martha Hall Kelly from her blockbusters, sunflower sisters and the Lilac girls being only two of them. So before we take a deep dive into the Munich cowboys cheerleaders, Cathy, can you tell us what it is about the Munich am more cheerleader's is a is based on my true story of quitting my medical sales job and the S and going to be a robust instructor in Munich, Germany. In the S. I was a freelance educator, fitness educator. Then once they're I had, of course, a cheerleing brackground where I had cheered for the oile State University and winning the National Championship there, and I was asked to coach the Munich cowboys. They cheered, they were German girls. They cheered in English because it was an America and...

...football team there in Munich. So that's kind of how the whole thing started. I became their coach. In the s they knew nothing about cheerleading, so they were kind of making it up as they were going along and I agreed to coach them. So it's about my journey in coaching them, along with trying to work their different culture, different language. So it was based upon my True Story and coaching the girls. So fascinating. Yea. So, Martha, I believe this is your first collaboration. Isn't it your first? Yes, yes, I've always been so jealous of other authors that collaborate and I never thought I could do it, but Cathie and I are good friends, so it was really fun. So you have this great author's note at the end of the of the audible original. So tell us a little bit about that and how this came about. What was the first seed of inspiration for you to collaborate in this way? Well, for me, I worked out in Atlanta. I live in Connecticut now, but when I lived in Atlanta I worked out with Kathie. She's an amazing personal trainer, but I hate working out. So I found that if I talked to her enough about her own life and she had all these fascinating stories, I could kind of take it a little bit easier, and so I would always get here to talk about her time in Germany because it was so fascinating and at I used to say from day we're going to write this, and I think both of us I don't know if either one of us really thought that that would ever happen, but it's just amazing that it finally came true. Yes, I was again. I was training Martha. She was referred to me by her physician who I was currently training, and she was shopping her lilac girls and you know, it's a personal trainer has a dual relationship as a therapist and a trainer for Shor. So she would tell me about, you know,...

...writing it and of course, of course you know we're friends too, and I was very encouraging and I kind of felt like I was I was writing the shopping it too, and I would always tell her about my different stories of living in Germany for five years and she would always say that's going to be part of the Cafe Murray Story and we would laugh about it, but we never did think that it would actually happen. So this has been a Mazeed, been an amazing journey and getting this written with her. That is fantastic. I love that. Is what a great entry into a friendship and building from there. So what we want to do is kind of give people an idea of how audible originals come about. Kuls so, can you talk about how you're you're talking about this story ended up as an audible original? who was the first one to say, Hey, let's really write this. Well, I moved, sadly, I had to move away from Atlanta back to Connecticut and and I really Miss Cathy. So we started working out over video, especially DIC during covid it was super helpful and at the same time, audible approached me through my Agen and said would you like to do an audible original and I said what an exciting idea, and the first thing I thought of was our story, Cathy's story, because I thought that a novella would be kind of the perfect length and you know, I had it all written in my head already. So I asked Cathy, you know, what do you think? And that's how it started. Well, I'Mbeknownst to me, she told me this that she wanted to to pitch my story and I actually said what story, and she said, you just story, your story and going to Munich and coaching these girls and taking them from nothing to champions, and you know, Martha's, Martha, Kelly, lightla girls and...

...you know. And I said, but you can write about anybody, and she said, I'm I'm really inspired by your story, and that's how it would started in her instinct was spot on. It really is. It's such a fascinating story and any any listeners going to love it. The other question I have, though, is why do you think this novella and audible originals is the best vehicle to tell this story. I just I love audiobooks. I feel like I can multitest go I'm doing them, and I feel like when I was writing it with cafe, we try to make it really come alive. I do that anyway when I when I write my other books, but since it's only through audible, I really tried to make it come alive in the reader's mind and I also felt like the chapters could be shorter and I don't know, I just thought it was the perfect medium. It's interesting when people ask why I did one, I say the same thing. Some stories feel like that is the right medium right there. It's a novella or it's and when I went and looked up audible originals, because I was a bit unfamiliar years ago, just like you, and saw how many authors, huge best selling authors like you, Martha Hall Kelly, did other stories and stories I hadn't heard of and they were novellas or they were spinoffs of their novels, and I just download them like candy want, especially when I'm a right like boom boom boom. Say it's perfect for traveling. I know. Yes, and if you find an author you love and you're not you know it's not a full length novel. Like you, they'll find this and it's it's I want more and more people to find them. But I'd love to talk about writing as a team. I've never done it and this is your first time to Martha. Ye. Was Your process? Tell me how you...

...two did it. I was nervous at first because, as I said before, I had never done it before and but I know Cathys so well that I wasn't really worried about it. But but I have always written about people that are no longer with us, show away, say, and you know. It's one thing to write about somebody that was alive in the s and can't you know, call you up and, you know, say why did you do that? But it's a different thing to write about someone you know. It's Cathy's real life. So that's the part I was a little bit worried about. So I would just write chapters and will. First of all, we started out with a real deep dive into Kathie's life and I just asked her about everything, her mother or father, where she grew up, the Ohio state years, and that was super helpful. Then I went off and wrote a couple chapters and came back, gave them to her and she added her input. So we just went back and forth like that, which was kind of perfect, I think. I don't know. What do you think, Cathy? Well, of course I had to remember back then. It's not natural, is it to me? No, it is not on a daily basis. Yeah, it is not. I actually had a really we just remember. I sent you voice recordings. I just started at got going back and what was it like when I was, you know, in this this job that I hated in medical s ills, and you know I'd always taught fitness part time and, you know, telling my parents that I'm going to leave a fortune five hundred job and moved to Germany, you know, and just going through all the emotions on what it took to get there, what was like when I, let you know, landed, what it was like not to speak the language. So just I would just send her recordings of okay, this is what I remember and this is what I how I remember meeting the girls, and I actually did reach out to them because,...

...you know, to help me remember some things. So yeah, I think that's kind of how it came together. You were really a dream to work with Kathy. It was so much fun. I thought that you would be much more kind of reluctant about, you know, sharing the details of your life, but once you get into it, I think you found it. You remembered things too that you had forgotten. Like one day I remember you said, Oh, yeah, we met Tom Selleck. I was like what, how did you forget that? Because you found a picture. You guys that right, Ohio state cheerleaders. Yes, and went through a lot of photo albums. Luckily I processed a lot of photos and put them in a book. So yeah, we went to Hawaii for the championship at Ohio State. It was Magnam Pi was really big then. So he was filming and we got to meet them. So that's when I was like, oh, that's right, we did meet Tom Selleck. So funny. It's like you gave Martha a character sketch. I Know Martha's. It does the same because we both write historical fiction and we spend so much time diving into these real women and even imagined characters and giving them a life and a motivation and a childhood at a you know, a psyche and and it sounds like what you two did your roles got swished. Miss Kathy Murray, you were her therapist and then she became yours by making you dive into your life and your motivations. I that's really fascinating. We usually are relying on primary source material that is not alive and breathing and talking to us. It made it so much easier, I have to say. And the fact that Cathy was so good about one day I just said, what if we gave you like a hot Italian boyfriend? And she's like, okay, that sounds great, and I thought, you know, I was a little afraid to, you know, bring that up at first, but then she was just so, so good about it. And where did the character of Anaka come from? Talk...

...to me about that. Anaka is a composite of all the different cheerleaders, because it cathy and I talked about it early on and we didn't want to feature one of the girls. They had all become so close to Cathy, so we just decided to make it a composite. Yes, yeah, because I mean the girls were, you know, when I approach them about doing this this book, you know I really wanted to assure them that, you know, I couldn't choose one or two. You know, I like fifteen girls. So audica became the the composite character to get past that. And we do that so often in historical fiction. Yeah, we want to highlight every woman's bravery and resilience and perseverance and sometimes we have to take this compilation of different women and put them into one character. So I love that. That's right, that that's where she came from. Exactly. The friends and fiction writers block podcast is brought to you by our presenting sponsor, page one books. The page one book subscription provides the personal touch of an Indie bookstore with the delight and surprise of an online subscription service created chest for you. The literary match makers at page one books hand select books just for you based on your preferences and their knowledge. At page one books, you are more than algorithm shop. Now at page one Bookscom, that's page the number one bookscom choose their three, six or twelve month subscription plan. The gift of...

...page one is always a custom. Fifth and now you can get fifteen percent off all book subscriptions with the Code Friends Fifteen. So you just mentioned, and you said it the author's note too, that you had approached to the cheerleaders about being included and having their stories told. How did they react? All ever excited. I mean, first of all, I had not spoken to them my fact when I a lot of them are my friends on facebook, and when I had reached out and said Hey, I'd like to talk to you about something, they were all emailing me's sending me message saying someone hacked your facebook account, someone's pretending to be you. I mean, no, it's me, I'm trying to I'm trying to read you, to talk about the book. So I got said as many as I could together and we did a zoom and that was really nice. It was a great reunion because, you know, we weren't they were young, they were fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, and now you know they're in their s and they have families and, you know, independent working women. So it was just a really great reunion and for them too, they said, you know, when they were cheerleaders that was their family. So it was a really nice reunion to get back in touch with them, even though you know they a lot of them live in the same city. You know, you go about your life and and lose touch. So they were really pleased that they could reunite with each other that way. Also. That's awesome and it's very rare that we get to go back and thank somebody who's had such an impact on our lives. So I bet it meant the world to them, and that's what I was saying. That's what story does. So many historical fiction books have brought together reunions of different sorts for different reasons, where people can come together and remember, even if they're the ancestors. Yes, so what was it like, Cathy, to tell your story? Like, how did it feel...

...to bring all of that up, because you're not a writer and yet you were probably editing and working on it while doing fitness and athletics. That that would be like me trying to teach a exercise class, which would go so poorly. You know, I had a great teacher with Martha. Mean, she really helped me learn. You know, if I would, we would talk about a character, which she would say, well, what was, you know, what was expression, or what was our hair like, or what was you know, what what sent that they have one. So she really gave me a crash course into writing that I never had. She really did, Martha. Are you teaching exercise classes. Now, Oh my God, that would be everyone would want their money back. No, definitely not. But we did have a out to talk about during our sessions. You know, I'd be on the treadmill walking away and we'd talk about, you know, characters and stuff. It made maybe the time go by quickly. That's the true that's awesome. So the question I have now is whence you get it all together, you get it recorded. What's the path from your work to production in an audible original? Martha, it's pretty easy base right. There's so yeah, there's so good at it and so quick. That's the beauty of it. I love working with my publisher, Random House, but it takes a long time to produce a book. But I couldn't believe how quickly they did the audible original and before we knew it, once the manuscripts approved, they sent us voices, possible voice actors for happy and I you know, to pick one, basically. So that was Super Fun and that happened really quickly, to in a matter of weeks, and so they recorded it and that's pretty much it. It was. It was really a dream easy process. It's astounding how easy they make it it's different. They're...

...not producing a book and and distribution. So we miss a, you know, a lot of that, the hassles and the fun of putting out up. You know, a book you hold in your hands, but it's so seamless. You finish it, they edit it, they choose a an incredible narrator and they you probably had some input on the cover and boom it exists in the world. Yeah, Oh, yes, I forgot to cover. That was Super Fun. Yeah, they gave us a lot of you know, they they listen to our feedback on the cover. I actually spoke to them to make narrator because there was a lot of German words and she really wanted to make sure she was, you know, pronouncing the the German words correctly. So it was. It was great. Yep, there are dream to work with. You were so fortunate to to get the narrators that you did. They were really like, is it June? He's with the Cathy like she blew me away. Last year was called the rival season and I was just oh, she was spot on, spot on. Seems Great. Ron and I interviewed an audio narrator recently, Fiona Hardingham, and that she talked about how the audio narrators now have become this real community, because audiobooks and audible originals have become so popular that the audio narrating acting and actors and actresses have this really great community. And you know, when you find when you like, you go try to find another book they narrated, just like we go try to find another author we like after we read a way we like. Now it's that way with narrators and I love that, I do. That's so cool. So I have one a quick question for you, Martha. How was it writing in this new format, because you're used to a whole different process and procedure and now here's this. Was it easier, harder? I loved it. It's just you get that immediate gratification. I...

...mean, Patty knows it's, you know, historical fiction especially, there's a lot of backwork, research and just I know, I know it's crazy and I mean it's fun or we wouldn't be doing it, but it is. It was just a real palate cleanser to be able to just say hey, here's our idea, do do the fun research with Cathy and then just dive in and and have that immediate gratification it was. I loved it and I do have to say that when I was making sure that Martha wanted to do this and she said, Cathy, I write about dead people, she said this is I'm writing about someone living. This is going to be really fun, so much easier. When I was reading, read Caroline Faraday, it was like Hen, you know, finding him's teeth, trying to get information about her, but with Cathy I just say, Hey, what was your mom like? What was your and sheep describe it and I be like, Oh my God, this is so great. And you pictures of my childhood home. Yes, okay, I'm living people now. Yes, so great. All right. I know that sometimes when we write, Martha, themes bubble up and sometimes they're deliberate. Sometimes we go into a story saying this theme is really going to be crucial to my story, and sometimes they appear when we're writing. And I know in this audible original racism is faced head on in both sports and also in Germany. Can you talk a little bit about that thread and if it was something you both started to see when you started to write, or if you went in saying we really need to make sure we look at this. Cathy what do you think? I think that talking about my story, I was you know, I was younger and I...

...think a lot of the things that I was going through, being pulled over and that kind of thing, it wasn't. So I started recalling a lot of what had happened to Martha that I was like wow, I really really went through something. But at the time I was just trying to survive. I was working and I chose to live there. So that's you know, I could always leave if I didn't like it. But you know, Martha knows me, I don't. I like a good love, good challenge, so I'm not just going to cut and run when things get tough. But I think that I think actually the year before that, Martha we really bonded with the killing of George, George Floyd, and she really was trying to understand what I was going through as a black person, what I was going through, and we had a lot of talk about that and I really do appreciate her wanting to know. You know, we talked about books and we talked about movies for her to understand. She can never understand, but I've just really appreciated her trying to understand and what I would was was going through with with the racism then, you know, and today, what what we as black people go through, that you couldn't even understand. So she was she was really great. Well, I write a lot about injustice in my historical fiction. And Cathy, when you first started talking about your story, you would say things like, Oh yeah, well, I went out with my German friend and we looked for an apartment for me, but once they saw me they would just slammed the door in my face and I thought, oh my God, how and and Cathy was just so casual about it and say things like, Oh yeah, I was rollerblading and a man, you...

...know, called me a terrible name and try to, you know, pushed me and I must fell off my skates. I I just thought, Oh my God, how do you just like talk about that like it's an everyday thing? So even back then, when we first started talking about it, I thought you know this, you know someone needs to know this story. It's a really important one. So it sounds like you went in knowing that this was going to be a big part of it and then watching how it bubbled up kind of a duel, a dual threat there. Yeah, we never actually talked about it, right, caffy, I mean I think we both knew were on the same page and you know, I don't think we ever had to really, you know, say it in words. That's beautiful. Yeah, and it really comes through in the narration. It really you can. You can hear it, you can feel it, you could be mad about it and but it's somebody's reality. So I want to thank you both for joining us today. Before you go, though, can you tell everybody where to find you online and on the social media's and also where to go if they want more information about this story. You go first, caffy. I can be found my my website is fit bodies. Is Fit bodies, be as a boy O diees dotnet. On social media, facebook, fit bodies or Cathy Murray, try baby. I'm a tryathlete. So on Instagram, try baby one and you're right and I'm all right. And now you're right, thanks to mark. That fancy and I'm at Martha how Kellycom and everything can be found there. All the social media. I mind everything. So yeah, thank you so much for having us. You that having this so fun fascinating. I really could talk about this for a lot longer, but I just said it makes me. You mentioned briefly at the beginning you were jealous when people had collaborated, and I have both an admiration and...

...a fantastic fear of doing it. So I'm really proud of y'all. This is this is a story that needed to be told. Thanks somebody, and Ron, and Ron. Thank you, Ron I all right. Yes, showing you, yes, she is showing your stay admiration for Ohio State. They still have it. Good for you. So this story is so inspirational and I know that, if our listeners have not already done so, they will be lining up to lend an ear to this. Thanks, Rynk. You and that concludes part one of our two part discussion about audible originals. Doing US next week for part two, where we have the great honor of talking with Don cats, the founder behind the genius that is audible. You are not going to want to miss this fascinating conversation. You won't even believe it. Audible is actually branching out into live theater, so stay tuned, and thank you to our listeners for tuning in for this truly remarkable and inspiring episode. On behalf of Patty, Mary, K Kristen and Christie. We so appreciate your supporting the podcast. Please share with a friend. Thank you to our presenting sponsors, Charleston Coffee Roasters and page one books, for their generous support. Show our sponsors some love by follow them on facebook and instagram and subscribing to their email newsletters. Remember, use Code Coffee With friends for twenty percent off bagged coffees at Charleston Coffee roasters and code friends, plural friends fifteen for fifteen percent off book subscriptions at Page One. Thank you for tuning in to the friends and fiction writers block podcast. Please be sure to subscribe,...

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