How I worked successfully with the narrator of the audio book.

Alle C. Hall
2 min readSep 22, 2023
Melinda Cumming narrates As Far as You Can Go Before You have to Come Back: A Novel

The mere idea of an audio book was precious to me. I couldn’t wait to hear my work — mine mine mine mine mine — fully embodied.

I was also terrified: even it turned out well, what if it was different than I would do it?

I found that following discoveries resulted in an audio book that was not only (IMHO) stunning and evocative. It was a completely fulfilling experience to work on.

  1. As soon as I could, I reached out to the narrator with this message: I’ve done my work. Yours is to interpret the audio version as you see fit. Oooh, boy, did that take trust. I’d never met Melinda; I’d never heard her work. I saw what the Buddhists call “radical acceptance” as my best way to get that which I truly desried: a great audio book.
  2. I asked if I could hear the final version before it went out. I can see how some narrators would balk at this request. Who needs a neurotic, controlling author micro-managing how an autonomous artist and adult did this and how wrong that was? I told Melinda my truth: my book is the travel journey of a white girl in Asia. My bottom line was that the Asian and Asian-American characters be presented with dignity and grace. Toward that effort, I wanted to make sure that all the non-English words were pronounced correctly. (I speak Japanese. Melinda does not.) I didn’t tell her that I was also checking on her accents. A respectful accent was going to be critical.

Sept. 29th, 2023: me ‘n Melinda discuss respectfully presenting BIPOC characters as part of our in-person conversation at Village Bookstore in Bellingham, WA.

And then … Melinda asked me for input. I didn’t expect her offer, but boy, was I grateful for it! In listening to the rough drafts, I found only one place where her interpretation would lead to a psychological inconsistency in the character, down the road. Melinda seemed grateful for the feedback. Turns out, she respected my work as much as I respected hers.

Were their places where Melinda’s interpretation varied from the way I’d heard it in my head for three decades?


What it my job to control her artistry?


Am I thrilled with the outcome?


With many, many thanks to Melinda Cumming for her willingness to work collaboratively.



Alle C. Hall

Author: As Far as You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back: 1st Place: International FireBird Book Awards: "Literary" & "Coming of Age"