Music, Mayhem, and the Making of an Audiobook: The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

Question: What happens when you combine a book about feminist time-travelers, a punk-rock narrator, and an enthusiastically nerdy audiobook production team?

Answer: One kick-ass, geoscience fiction audiobook adventure.

Annalee Newitz’s novel The Future of Another Timeline is an exhilarating science fiction adventure about time-travel, murder, Riot Grrrl punk bands, and so much more. When it came to translating Annalee’s world into an audiobook, the team at Macmillan Audio jumped on the opportunity to make it special.

Macmillan Audio producer Tom Mis is both a musician and a fan of all things sci-fi/fantasy, so he immediately connected with The Future of Another Timeline. He said that “[this] is the kind of audiobook I stopped everything else to work on. We had all the right elements—Annalee created engaging characters you cared about tackling issues you should care about, wrapped in a punk-themed, sci-fi dystopia not too far off from reality.”

The first step for creating an audiobook is casting a narrator, so why not find the most punk rock narrator possible? Or, as it turned out, the most metal narrator, since the reader Annalee and Tom chose is Laura Nichol, front-women for melodic death metal band Light This City and guitarist/back-up vocalist for the metal band Heartsounds. Laura understood the tone of the book immediately, and really inhabited the voices of Tess and Beth. When recording the audiobook in studio, Tom said “Laura held back nothing in her performance, at times literally screaming into the mic, and laying the entire emotional capacity of the book in front of you.”

With Laura’s music experience and the Riot Grrrrl themes of the book, the final piece to tie the most punk rock audiobook together is actual live music. You might have seen the music video made for the book, with the song from fictional band Grape Ape called “What I Like to See” (watch here). Annalee and musician Desi Lopez co-wrote the Grape Ape song from the book.

Hear Annalee Newitz and Desi Lopez discuss the music in this piece taken from an interview at the end of the audiobook:

Tom was able to take the recording of the song and work it into the part of the book where the song shows up during a backyard punk concert. Since Tom and the audiobook team couldn’t pull together a real live concert in time (tragic, we know), they had to make their own noise. To make it sound like an actual backyard concert, other Macmillan Audio employees came to help embody the crowd and scream into the mic. If you ever need a good shot of catharsis, we recommend shouting “the bitches” at the top of your lungs in a sound-proof studio, it works wonders.

When asked about the audiobook, Annalee said, “I’m really grateful that Macmillan Audio and Tom Mis really understood how to create an audiobook whose sound matched the story so brilliantly. From the music to the incredible acting by narrator Laura Nichol, this book sounds the way I imagined it in my head.”

The Future of Another Timeline audiobook is available wherever audiobooks are found! (And, if you like more bonus goodies in your listening experience, then you can listen to the full interview with Annalee and Desi at the end of the audiobook!)

Sarah Pannenberg is a marketer and self-proclaimed queer SFF expert at Macmillan Audio. When they aren’t reading or listening to audiobooks, you can find them yelling about comics, replaying Zelda games, or telling their dog how handsome he is.

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