MURDER ON POTRERO HILL marks the completion of the 15th audiobook project for STORYTELLER PRODUCTIONS. Not a lot, but not a little. Some narrators in this business have completed 100’s of audiobooks. But 15 in 6 months? I have no doubt there are many aspects to this business I have yet to discover. But as a veteran of the art and entertainment world, one area I do understand is collaboration.

The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘collaboration’ as:    noun                                  1.) the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

Self confidence bound by fearlessness & vulnerability is required for collaboration. Kelley’s def., not Oxford’s.

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It is interesting to observe the nature of a writer. It is in many ways by definition that of a ‘loner‘. Authors fight to maintain a hard won celebrity and can be reticent to share. Some find the narration of their words merely an extension of their own initial effort. In some of our early liaisons, STORYTELLER had only just begun to understand the powerful opportunity we had to integrate with the writer.

All of our authors have been lovely to work with. But ML Hamilton seemed to immediately intuit that, with the audiobook, we set off together to create a new and viable piece of art on its own merit. Her willingness – and courage – to see what could be born from that, which already existed, made me want to know more about her….

KH: What is it like to teach high school English by day and be a murder mystery and science fiction writer by night?

ML: This question made me laugh. Each summer, I make appearances at the California State Fair in the author booth and this year, a colleague came up while I was there. We were talking about teaching and expressing some of the frustrations that come into play with public education. She remarked that I must reduce my stress by committing murder when I go home at night. While funny, I have to admit the remark gave me pause. Maybe that’s why I chose such a violent genre in which to write. (Kidding!)

 Actually, it’s the best of two worlds. I get to share an appreciation of literature with my students by day, then become the author myself at night. I think it’s important for everyone to have a creative outlet of some kind. Writing is my escape, and teaching is my inspiration. Well, maybe the…ahem…teaching paycheck is my inspiration.

As a fantasy writer first of all, I felt constrained by the dialogue. You can’t get too modern with it, so the murder mysteries allowed me to explore the way people communicate in a modern world. However, I still like the sex-appeal and intrigue of the old fashioned “who done it”s. In my latest novel, Murder in the Presidio, I have one of the characters start talking like Sam Spade. Let me tell you, that was a fun scene to write.

 KH: Why did you become a writer? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

ML: From my earliest memory, I’ve always written. It seems like a story has always been tugging at my consciousness, but I didn’t get serious until 2009. I made my first New Year’s resolution ever. I decided I would find an agent. I found a publisher instead.

Taking that next step was very hard for me. Writing had been my escape, my salvation through every tough part of my life, even through my divorce. I feared that if people said I wasn’t any good, they would take away the thing that let me stay sane. And if they thought it was good, the world and the characters would no longer belong to me. They would be the experience of someone else.

Looking back, I can say I’m glad I took the risk. Through this adventure, I have met so many amazing people and made new friends.

KH: Why make an audiobook? Why the transition – why are you doing this?

ML: It was the next frontier on this adventure for me. I found out about it from another author friend and was intrigued. To be honest, a number of people have asked me for an audiobook in the past, but I wasn’t sure how to even begin the process.

While it is an adventure, I have to admit it’s also scary. I didn’t listen to the first chapter for hours because I feared that my words would sound ridiculous when spoken aloud. I am so proud to say that in Kelley’s hands they take on a new life and I am incredibly excited to hear the rest.

 KH: How does it feel to hear someone else reading your words? Have you ever heard anyone else read your words out loud before?

 ML: My mother has read passages to me when we are in the midst of editing, so I can hear the cadence of the language, but I’ve never heard my words performed before. That is something to experience.

As I said before, it scared me to no end to hear someone else read my work. It was humbling and terrifying, exciting and amazing. The way Kelley changes her voice to match the characters has me in awe. I don’t know how one person can do that, but what I love best is the way she reads the prose, particularly the descriptions of San Francisco, a city I dearly love. Her voice becomes almost poetic and the first time I heard it, I got teary-eyed.

I am excited to say as we go to publish ML and Storyteller Productions are in discussions about audiobooks for all of the installments in the ‘Peyton Brooks Mystery’ Series. It would certainly be my pleasure to be ‘ Inspector Peyton Brooks’ for a long while to come.

Maybe I have finally found a home.

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