Tag Archives: Hachette Audio Books

James Patterson, “The Chef” & Me

 

Fellow muses – and co-authors – JAMES PATTERSON & BILL CLINTON sharing a moment.

 

Hired by the Hachette Book Group in NYC to record and narrate the AudioBook version of best-selling author James Patterson‘s latest thriller, I had no idea what I’d signed-up for.

 

Or how far down the “rabbit hole” I’d have to go.

But when you’re invited to audition for a title by one of the world’s best-selling authors, and by one of the world’s leading AudioBook producers… well, you do it.

Upon receiving my MP3’d audtion of Chapter One, I was cast by Hachette’s LIsa Cahn as studio of choice – my Airlift Productions – and narrator.

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“The Chef” CD Artwork – Narrated by Micheal Ziants, Airlift Productions, New Orleans

Set in New Orleans over Mardi Gras, “The Chef” unravels the tale of Caleb Rooney, detective in the NOPD by day, and celeb food truck operator by night.

Throw into the mix: the FBI, NOPD brass, a police shooting by our hero, recipes (yeah, recipes, it’s called “The Chef”, after all), sex, an ex-wife, a new flame, Middle East extremists, Muslims, “red herrings”, NOLA  tourists, travelogue-style descriptions, Mardi Gras…. and terrorists – and you’ve got yourself quite a rabbit hole.

The planet Earth’s best-selling author JAMES PATTERSON

Co-written along with Max DiLallo, a Los Angeles-based screenwriter, this one is certainly getting some mixed reviews around the planet at the moment (did these folks all listen to/read the same book?), but it was my task to READ THE WORDS.

While, at the same time, give LIFE to the characters!

And what characters – from the sassy ex-wife Marlene to the new flame Vanessa…from the NOPD chief to arrested ne’er-do-wells… from a Middle East terrorist suspect to his bitter widow!

Witness but a small sample in this video “trailer” that I produced for the YouTube krewe here…

* “The Chef”, available now planet-wide via Hachette AudioBooks *

Taking direction from producer Lisa Cahn via the Airlift Productions phone-patch, we recorded all the narrative across November and December 2018, with finished audio edited by Tim McCarthy at A-1 Sound Studios in New York.

And what a thrill the entire process turned out to be!

After all, Lisa informed me shortly into our recording sessions that Mr. Patterson listens to all his AudioBooks so, “Micheal, you’re the voice in his head right now!”

 

 

Really?  As if!

With over 375 million books already sold to this date, and with all the characters this character has already cooked-up…. isn’t there enough traffic there already?

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Steve Scalise & Airlift Mike during a break from “Back In The Game”, Airlift Productions NOLA, October 2018

“Mike, I can’t thank you enough for the great job you did coaching me through the audio recording of my new book, “Back in the Game!” Since this was the first book I’ve ever written (and recorded), it was all new territory for me. You made the entire process go very smoothly, and I am incredibly happy with the final product.

I appreciate all you did to bring this book to life. You know you are really good when both James Carville and I are in complete agreement that you are great to work with!!” — CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE

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Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy & Digital Magic from NOLA

Airlift Productions – we’ll leave the mics hot… and the light on for you.

“Back In The Game”, Congressman Steve Scalise & Me

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Congressman Steve Scalise records “Back In The Game” with Airlift Mike, October 2018 at Airlift Productions NOLA

I first met Congressman Steve Scalise Monday morning, October 8th, 2018 at the Airlift Productions Studios.

Hired by the Hachette AudioBook Group, based in Paris & NYC, my job was simple.

Or was it?

I would host the congressman, along with his body guards the Capitol Police, here at Airlift through the month to record and capture his personal memoir reading of “Back In The Game” for worldwide distribution.

The AudioBook recording process, even to the pro, can prove a daunting task. To a newbie, like Steve, it can prove most intimidating.

Even though as Majority Whip the congressman could and would speak on the floor of the United States House with conviction, confidence & fervor – THIS was something else altogether.

Alone. Isolated. Pensive. Painful. Hopeful.

While reflecting on a life-changing event. And one that damn near took his life.

** Steve Scalise Excerpt from “Back In The Game”, courtesy Hachette AudioBook Group **

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Airlift Productions records “Back In The Game” AudioBook, October 2018

“Back In The Game” details the congressional baseball practice shooting in June 2017 – what could have been the biggest political assassination in U.S. History – and the remarkable efforts of the police, first-responders, doctors, and surgeons who saved Steve’s life.

Not exactly light reading. 

It was harrowingly frightening, desperately challenging… and ultimately inspirational and hopeful.

Through our three weeks of recording, I hosted and made  all the Capitol Police comfortable, engineered the sessions, operated the phone-patch with our director in New York, delivered the wav files via FTP to the final producer – and bonded with the congressman.

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Steve Scalise at the “hot mic”, October 2018, Airlift Productions NOLA

Steve and I recorded for hours (over two dozen), had lunches together, shared anecdotes from our respective life-walks, laughed long and hard, and talked of God, politics, and country.

Incredibly, to this audio engineer, two of our recording sessions followed lunches he had just come from with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and another with our U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (and former two-term Georgia Governor) Sonny Perdue!

Ya know, not exactly my lunchtime cohorts down at the Subway.

Although after this rather unique month of October, I can now look upon this affable, personable & warmly sincere congressman as more than an acquaintance.

So, Steve, if you just so happen to be reading this – you’ve got more than just a constituent on Pomona…  you’ve got a friend.

And howzabout a rematch on that ping-pong game?

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Steve Scalise & Airlift Mike during a break from “Back In The Game”, Airlift Productions NOLA, October 2018

“Mike, I can’t thank you enough for the great job you did coaching me through the audio recording of my new book, “Back in the Game!” Since this was the first book I’ve ever written (and recorded), it was all new territory for me. You made the entire process go very smoothly, and I am incredibly happy with the final product.

I appreciate all you did to bring this book to life. You know you are really good when both James Carville and I are in complete agreement that you are great to work with!!” — CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE

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Airlift Productions ~ Telling America’s Greatest Stories from New Orleans … since 1984

New Orleans Authors, Audio Books… And The Hereafter

In NBC’s raucous 1960s LAUGH-IN, Arte Johnson, as “the dirty old man” Tyronne Horneigh, would sidle up to Ruth Buzzi’s frumpy, old lady character on the park bench and ask her if she believed in “The Hereafter”.

When told, “Sure!” he’d retort through lecherous laughter, “Well, I guess you know what I’m here after!”

Jokes aside, being human, as we all make that journey from womb to tomb, sperm to worm, maternity ward to crematorium … we all wrestle with this issue… THE HEREAFTER.

The issue of existential angst.

But none more skillfully than Ms. ANNE GISLESON.

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New Orleans Author ANNE GISLESON records her audio book at Airlift Productions NOLA

Anne has dealt with more grief, heartache, pain & loss than anyone should have to deal with in one lifetime, and yet found her release – and relief – in the keyboard of her computer.

A gifted writer, Anne today divides her time between teaching creative writing at our NOCCA (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts), raising Silas & Otto, and caring for her ultra-cool & talented Hollywood South set painter/artist & husband Brad.

I didn’t even know Anne two weeks ago.

I sure do now.

Contracted by Hachette Audio Books in NYC, together with the Listen Up Audio Book krewe in Atlanta, it fell upon me to work with Anne, record her, and give LIFE to “THE FUTILITARIANS”.

Oh. My. God.

Opening up the pdf from New York on the iPad, it quickly became apparent what I’d signed-on for.

Suicides. Yes, two. The twins. The babies of the family. Cemeteries. Bourbon Street. Oncology wards. Father’s death. Hurricane Katrina. And Plato?

You see, what Anne, Brad & friends had done to survive through all the pain and loss was to form a club. The Futilitarians.

Sub-titled, “Our year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading.”

Forming what amounted to a 21st century, old-fashioned reading club, they bonded through weekly readings of Tolstoy, Plato, Sartre,  & Kirkegaard.

Each week, comparing notes and discussing what they’d each gleaned from their studies… over wine, scotch, and other libations.

Group therapy. Without a lettered shrink to assist.

So, day-by-day, through the third week of July, Anne & I, together with Listen Up’s director Jennifer Nittoso via the phone-patch, doggedly plowed through painful story after story, chapter after chapter.

Coming soon, from Hachette Audio/Listen Up, sample a small excerpt from Chapter 3 here ….

** Anne Gisleson reads from Chapter 3 of “The Futilitarians”

Well, light, frothy summertime reading at the beach this ain’t.

But for those of us who wrestle, perhaps in those early morning pre-dawn hours staring at the ceiling, with those “Why are we here? Where do we go when we’re gone?” issues ….

This one is an exceptionally essential existential must!

And, Anne, next time I catch you around the bar at the Napoleon House in the Quarter, the Johnny Walker’s on me.

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“Working with Airlift Mike in NOLA was an utter pleasure. I was in town for business for a month and needed to maintain my audiobook recording schedule. Mike was accommodating and a pure professional. He mastered the punch and roll technique in 24 hours to be ready for our first session, and over the course of the month we laid down 5 books and a number of auditions. His studio sounds great. The vibe & atmosphere can’t be beat. You’d be hard pressed to find a better recording studio in the southeast – no matter what your needs. I wish I could have stayed!” ~ Amy Landon

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Airlift Productions ~ Telling America’s Great Stories from New Orleans, since 1984