Entertainment » Books

Janis Ian to Record ’When Women Were Warriors’

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday Aug 1, 2013

Dog Ear Audio, a publisher of lesbian audio books, is excited to announce that they have teamed up with lesbian icon, singer Janis Ian, to record the audio book version of Catherine M. Wilson's "When Women Were Warriors, Book 1 -- The Warrior's Path." They hope it is the first of many similar collaborations.

"I admire Janis both as an artist and as a person," said author Catherine M. Wilson. "Her remarkable career and personal history make her the ideal narrator for the story of Tamras, the reluctant hero."

Set in the British Isles during the Bronze Age, the first book in this epic trilogy tells the tale of Tamras, a young woman of the warrior class who leaves home to be fostered in Merin's house, a fortress guarding the northern border of a rich agricultural valley. There, she expects to find a mentor who will teach her the skills she will need to take her place in her community.

Wilson said of Tamras, "The hero's journey is the story of a person finding her own path through life. By doing so, she encourages all of us to live our own unique lives as fully as we can. But just like the rest of us, Tamras pays a price for going her own way, and one of the things that makes her a hero is her ability and her willingness to pay that price."

A parallel can be found between the protagonist's life and Ian's own early career. When she was 15-years old, Ian received a lot of flack for releasing her song "Society's Child," which dealt with interracial dating.

"She got booed off the stage and got death threats," said Karen Wolfer of Dog Ear Audio. "So she realizes the importance of being independent and getting these stories out there. Plus, she liked the character Tamras a lot."

According to Wolfer, Dog Ear Audio was spurred to reach out to Ian after seeing her online rave over Wilson’s series. This affinity, combined with Ian’s other award-winning narration work, made her a natural choice.

"She has a passion and has been doing a lot of narration lately," said Wolfer. "Her reading of ’Society’s Child’ won a Grammy for Best Spoken Word album in 2013 and an Audie Award [the Oscars for audiobooks] for Best Narration by an Author. She’s doing some other audio books, and the people she’s worked with in the past have said she’s a one-read wonder."

There is also an added benefit of having a lesbian icon narrating these pro-lesbian stories, said Wolfer, who noted that "we don’t have enough stories that reflect our lives, so to have both print and audio books speak to us, to see the heroes and heroines reflect who we are and to see lesbian lives as the usual state of affairs in this book makes it seem like we are not so alone, that we are part of a community, and part of a body of literature that reflects our lives."

With the advent of the age of digital downloads, the audio book industry has experienced a rebound. This medium now has the ability to impact the lives of countless people.

"Audiobooks are now seeing a resurgence; it is now a multi-billion dollar industry," said Wolfer. "It is easier than ever, thanks to downloadable files on iPads and MP3s. They are great for long commutes, great to take on vacation or even to play while you’re doing the dishes."

Dog Ear Launches Kickstarter Campaign

In the interest of continuing these audio recordings, Dog Ear Audio has launched a crowd-funding campaign via Kickstarter. They have currently raised $6,415, and hope to raise $14,800 by August 16.

"We are looking to cover studio, travel and recording expenses, plus some of Janis’ fees," said Wolfer. "This is a way to involve the whole community in the future of this series. We are offering 13 copies of the audiobook, signed by Wilson and Ian, plus other great rewards to contributors." That prize is available to those who pledge $125 or more; additional prizes are also offered to donors at other price points, including a personal phone call from Wilson and Ian for those who donate $750 or more.

At this point, Ian has signed on to narrate only the first book of the trilogy. Wolfer said, "We haven’t signed contracts for books two and three yet. Janis is a very busy woman, but we are keeping our fingers crossed."

Catherine M. Wilson’s "When Women Were Warriors" is a three-part series. The first issue is available for a free download at http://www.catherinemwilson.com/free-ebook.html

To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, please visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1851755083/when-women-were-warriors-book-1-audio-book-product

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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