Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the tag “Jack Reacher”

Lee Child Interviewed By Linda Fairstein

This fall Lee Child’s 21st installment in the Jack Reacher series, Night School, is being released. For those of you Reacher Creatures needing a Lee Child fix between now and then, check out the two videos I shot below of Lee from last year’s event at the Free Library of Philadelphia where he was interviewed by best-selling author Linda Fairstein. The first video is Linda interviewing Lee and the second one is Lee conducting a Q&A with the audience. Enjoy!

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An Interview With International Best-Selling Author Lee Child

Lee Child

Lee Child is the #1 international best-selling author of the Jack Reacher series, for which he’s won the Anthony, Barry and Nero awards. In addition to writing worldwide best-sellers, Child currently serves as the Co-President of International Thriller Writers – a terrific professional association that anyone interested in working in the thriller genre should join.

Child’s newest novel, Personal, just came out this week in the U.S. and is already a #1 best-seller in the U.K. It’s the 19th Jack Reacher novel and is receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Lee took the time to speak with me about his illustrious career, the creative process and his belief that nothing of value is ever achieved in the morning. Enjoy!

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Summer Thriller List

IMG_4625Summer is almost upon us and it’s one of my favorite seasons. What’s not to love? If you’re a music fan, there are a million concerts to go to. If you’re a foodie, you can eat outdoors at a myriad of restaurants. And, of course, if you’re a book lover there are numerous titles you can read in bed, on the beach or at the airport. To help you decide which books are worth reading, I’m going to share with you a few titles that I’m either currently reading or will be reading very soon.

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Audiobook Review: Three Jack Reacher Novellas

Three Jack Reacher Novellas by Lee Child_cover

Those who know me well are aware of my love for audiobooks. Like a lot of people, I lead a busy life and being able to listen to a book, as opposed to having to sit down and read it, means I can read a whole lot more. And it means that I can make mundane activities – brushing my teeth, walking to work, getting dressed – more enjoyable and productive. Therefore, the majority of the books I’m going to read this year will be audiobooks.

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Second Son, Deep Down and High Heat by Lee Child

Lee Child - High HeatAs any longtime reader of my blog knows, I’m a big fan of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books. I just started Bad Luck and Trouble, the 11th novel in the series, and I recently finished three Jack Reacher short stories: Second SonDeep Down and High Heat.

Lee Child has admitted at book signings that he only started writing Jack Reacher short stories because his publisher asked him to, thinking it would drum up excitement for a new novel. I guess it’s working because now Child has written three. But are they any good? Below are my thoughts on each one.

Second Son

  • Second Son was an entertaining read because it provided me with a glimpse into Reacher’s adolescence, as well as what his parents were like. His brother, Joe, also plays a prominent role in the short story, so it’s nice to see how they interacted in their younger days.

Deep Down

  • This short story is the weakest of the three. There isn’t much action, just a lot of talking. There’s nothing wrong with dialogue, but it felt as if this story didn’t have that signature momentum that Child is known for. It’s not a bad story, it’s just not a very interesting one.

High Heat

  • This is my favorite of the three and it’s the most recent. Perhaps the third time really is the charm. This novella takes place in July 1977, with the Son of Sam killings and a massive New York City blackout and heatwave as a backdrop. Not only did this make for a cool cultural reference, but Child did such a good job describing the extreme heat that I felt as if I was in Reacher’s shoes.

If you’re a Jack Reacher fan, I recommend reading all three of these short stories. Collectively, they provide a greater understanding of a fascinating character we’ve come to know and love.

I listened to all three stories in audiobook form. As always, the excellent Dick Hill did a superb job with the narration. If you haven’t heard him, you owe it to yourself to check him out. He’s the perfect voice for Reacher.

Below is a video clip of Lee Child talking about High Heat:

Tom Cruise Returns As Jack Reacher

20120722-205502.jpgI woke up to great news this morning – the 2012 film, Jack Reacher, which was based on Lee Child’s bestselling novel, One Shot, and starred Tom Cruise in the title role, is getting a sequel. It was just announced that Child’s newest international bestseller, Never Go Back, will be adapted for the film and Tom Cruise is returning as Jack Reacher. As of right now, Cruise and company are trying to get the original film’s Director, Christopher McQuarrie, back at the helm for the sequel, but he has yet to confirm whether or not he’ll be part of the project.

To me, this is excellent news. I know many obstinate fans of the novels will continue to lambaste Cruise for being Jack Reacher because he physically doesn’t “measure up.” But people need to get over this fact because Tom Cruise was excellent in the first film and, whether they like it or not, a sequel is being made. If it’s anything like its predecessor, we’re in for a real treat.

Book Review: One Shot by Lee Child

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One Shot by Lee Child is the ninth Jack Reacher novel and the inspiration for the 2012 film, Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise. Like the movie, One Shot focuses on a violent crime and whether or not the man being accused of it is actually the perpetrator. As with the previous books in the series, Child does a fantastic job with developing the protagonist and having him intelligently overcome the odds. And, as always, I opted for the audiobook version of the book because of Dick Hill’s spectacular narration – he is the voice of Reacher. If you’re a fan of the series or a newcomer, this is a great thriller and, quite possibly, the best Jack Reacher novel up to this point. I highly recommend it.

Synopsis

Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me.

And sure enough, ex–military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. He knows this shooter—a trained military sniper who never should have missed a shot. Reacher is certain something is not right—and soon the slam-dunk case explodes.

Now Reacher is teamed with a beautiful young defense lawyer, moving closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings. Reacher knows that no two opponents are created equal. This one has come to the heartland from his own kind of hell. And Reacher knows that the only way to take him down is to match his ruthlessness and cunning—and then beat him shot for shot.

Jack Reacher Returns In Never Go Back

Lee Child and I at ThrillerFest VIII.

Lee Child and I at ThrillerFest VIII.

Lee Child’s 18th Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back, is coming out next week in the U.S. For those interested in learning more about the book, below is the trailer and background on the novel from the man himself, Lee Child.

 

Book Review – The Informationist by Taylor Stevens

The InformationistI recently finished Taylor Stevens’ 2011 debut novel, The Informationist. It’s the first in a series of books featuring Vanessa “Michael” Munroe, an expert in uncovering information for her clients. She’s best described as a detective without a badge that’s not afraid to rough somebody up. Similar to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels, this book was about the main character and what she did to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. It started off slow, and trudging my way through words that most people outside of Africa wouldn’t know how to pronounce wasn’t fun. But once I cut past this and reached the half-way point, the story found its groove. As I neared the end I was eager to see how things would wrap up. It was filled with action, believable dialogue and a lead character I look forward to following on future adventures. If you’re seeking an enjoyable thriller, The Informationist is worth a read.

Below is the official synopsis and book trailer. And stay tuned for my interview with Taylor Stevens later this summer; it should be a good one.

Synopsis 

Vanessa “Michael” Munroe deals in information—expensive information—working for corporations, heads of state, private clients, and anyone else who can pay for her unique brand of expertise. Born to missionary parents in lawless central Africa, Munroe took up with an infamous gunrunner and his mercenary crew when she was just fourteen. As his protégé, she earned the respect of the jungle’s most dangerous men, cultivating her own reputation for years until something sent her running. After almost a decade building a new life and lucrative career from her home base in Dallas, she’s never looked back.

Until now.

A Texas oil billionaire has hired her to find his daughter who vanished in Africa four years ago. It’s not her usual line of work, but she can’t resist the challenge. Pulled deep into the mystery of the missing girl, Munroe finds herself back in the lands of her childhood, betrayed, cut off from civilization, and left for dead. If she has any hope of escaping the jungle and the demons that drive her, she must come face-to-face with the past that she’s tried for so long to forget.

A Conversation With Dick Hill

Dick Hill HeadshotOver the past year I’ve become obsessed with audiobooks. They’re a great way for someone with a busy schedule (i.e., me) to enjoy books on the go. Whether I’m walking around town or brushing my teeth, I’m almost always listening to an audiobook on my iPhone or Kindle Fire HD, through the Audible or Overdrive apps.

Audiobooks are a magical form of entertainment because of the narrators that read them. These men and women are legitimate actors that breath life into the stories they read with a variety of intricate character voices, accents and dialects. The right audiobook narrator can make a mediocre book good and a great book excellent.

One of my favorite audiobook narrators is Dick Hill. Most famous for being the voice of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, Hill has nearly 500 audiobooks on Audible – including classics, sci-fi and fantasy, mysteries and thrillers, you name it. Hill is one of the most prolific audiobook narrators in the business and his ability to turn words into theater for the ears is impressive.

I recently had the honor of interviewing Dick Hill, and I hope the questions and answers below provide you with a greater understanding of this interesting profession. Enjoy!

How did you get involved in narrating books?

A friend of mine, Brit actor, was narrating for Brilliance Audio. They were looking to cast a WWII combat novel, and he suggested I get in touch. I did, recorded a couple pages of something similar I got off the supermarket shelf on a crappy little recorder and sent it to them. (They weren’t looking for audio quality, they’d provide that, they wanted to hear me read). Booked the gig, and knew I’d found my niche. Never looked back.

On average, how many hours does it take to record a book?

Depends on the length of the book, type of text etc. Generally I finish an hour of recorded book in around 75 minutes.

Do you read chapters straight through, or do you stop and start and edit the pieces together later to establish a seamless sound?

Susie is upstairs engineering and directing, and whenever I stumble or miss a word, we stop, roll back to a likely spot, then do a punch edit. She plays back for me to hear a lead in, then does an on the spot edit and I come right in and do it right. Generally.

How many audiobooks do you narrate each year?

I’d guess around 40 a year now, give or take a dozen.

From a business standpoint, do you have long-term contracts with publishers where you have to narrate a certain number of books a year, or are you hired on a book-by-book basis?

I’m paid per finished hour.

How are audiobook narrators compensated? Is there an upfront payment, a monthly retainer, royalties based on sales, or a combination of all three?

There are some works being done through ACX on royalty share, but I work strictly for fee. If Lee wanted to do a royalty share, or Stephen King, I’d be happy to, but those are not the kind of authors hoping to get someone to narrate their book on spec.

How do you make sure your recordings don’t include any background noise from inside the studio, like turning pages?

I’m quiet. I’ve developed a technique for moving from one page to the next that’s mostly soundless. If I do screw up, we just do an edit.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job and what is the most rewarding?

I find all the aspects I deal with challenging, but in a very good way. I relish the challenge of presenting the listener with the best, most compelling delivery I can achieve. It’s of the moment work, which I love doing. I don’t pre-read things, with a few exceptions. Susie preps the books, makes a vocabulary list to check, and gives me a character sheet noting gender, age, any accents mentioned or implied, etc. I use those to guide my performance. Since she’s prepped the book, she can alert me to any potential traps (e.g., don’t make the mystery caller too this or that) so the voice seems reasonable to fit the character it turns out to be. She generally doesn’t tell me just who those people are, or really, anything beyond performance guidance. I like to discover what happens right along with the listener. I love flying by the seat of my pants, doing cold reads. I’m good at them, and I think the sense of discovery helps with my work. Most rewarding?…pretty much all of it. Plus the checks. Getting paid to have fun, in large part.

Without naming it, have you ever had to narrate an awful book? If so, did you have to work harder or approach it differently than a book of higher quality?

Yes. Harder work. A couple were so bad I felt like a five dollar whore faking passion. I turned down any more work from those authors. Pretty lucky now, the publishers I work with most often have a very clear idea of the sort of things I like to do, and I’m seldom offered work I’d find offensive.

I’ve noticed that some of your books feature interesting audio effects to immerse the listener in the story. For example, Jack Reacher might be talking to someone on the phone and the voice on the other end is altered to sound as if it’s coming through a phone line. How is this done?

Those were probably earlier books. I prefer eschewing that sort of thing myself. If you’re gonna’ have a phone effect, then how about ambient noise, traffic, door slams, gunshots? I don’t include any effects or ask for any. I’m not aware of any publishers adding them any longer, though I’m not sure. I don’t listen to audiobooks myself, my own or anyone else’s. It’s immensely pleasurable to record books, but once I’ve done that why would I want to listen to them? Been there, done that.

What kind of personal preparation goes into getting to record an audiobook and how do you preserve your voice?

Occasionally if Susie gives me a heads up about a particular accent, I may go online to find samples of 15-year-old Malaysian girls with lisps raised in Irish Catholic orphanages till age ten then indentured as servants to a family of Germans with a Spanish head of the household. Other than that, I pretty much have a handle on how I approach accents, etc. Might not be Meryl Streepalicious, but then she has to perfect an accent for several hundred lines in a few projects per year. I do many more characters, many more books, so while I do try to do a good job with accents and dialects, my primary concern is to create characters and narrators that feel well motivated and interesting and further the author’s intent.

Recently, three of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books, Die Trying, Tripwire and Running Blind, were rerecorded by another audiobook narrator, Jonathan McClain, and released on Audible. There was a backlash from fans for you not being the narrator. Do you know why your versions of these books were replaced and will you continue to be the voice of future Jack Reacher audiobooks, including Never Go Back, which comes out in the fall?

Yes, I’ve heard from a number of concerned folks. I think what that is, audio rights for the UK are issued separately, and Mr. McClain has been doing those. I will be doing the latest Reacher, and unless something happens I expect to continue doing so. Folks just have to look carefully to ensure they’re getting the reader they prefer, I guess.

Aside from narrating books, what other kinds of acting have you done?

I’ve worked regionally in live theatre, onstage. No film, some commercial video, ads and the like.

You and your wife have extensive experience in the audiobook industry. How did you two meet, and have you had the opportunity to collaborate on a project?

We met when she played Guinevere and I played Arthur in a production of Camelot. In addition to our work onstage, once we entered the audio world I directed her several times, she’s engineered and directed me on lord knows how many projects, and we’ve recorded a number of dual reads, one of which won us both Audies, the audiobook equivalent of an Oscar or a Tony. Or a Westchester Kennel Club best in show I suppose.

What projects are you currently working on that fans should look out for in the months to come?

Expecting that Reacher script soon, think there’s a fall release. Doing the last of the Stephen White series about Dr. Alan Gregory, which is heartbreaking for us. Love his writing and character insight, and one supporting character, Det. Sam Purdy, is one of the characters nearest and dearest to my heart. Susie’s prepping it this week, and is raving about how good it is and wailing about the fact that it is the last.

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