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Grover Joins Blackstone Audio

In January of 2007, Tanya, Alicia and I relocated to Medford, Oregon so I could join Blackstone Audio in nearby Ashland as their new Studio Director.  In addition to running the in-house studio, I'll be helping to cast and coordinate all audiobook production--as well as narrating, of course.  It's an exciting opportunity and I'm thrilled to be a part of the Blackstone family.  I'll be continuing my freelance work, and will be available for outside productions.

We love our new home here, along with the weather (yes, it does rain a lot) and the lifestyle.  Take note of the new contact info in the footer and get in touch whenever you need to!

Audie Nomination for Vor Game

The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold (Blackstone Audio) has been nominated for an Audie Award by the Audio Publishers Association. Part of an ongoing project to record all of the Miles Vorkosigan series, this is yet another installment in Ms. Bujold's excellent sci-fi saga.  

Audiofile gave it a thumbs-up:

Thwarted in his ambition to command a ship, Miles becomes embroiled in one undercover venture after another and finally is drawn into a search to find the emperor. Loyalty to the emperor might appear to be his motivation, but in truth Miles is driven by a desire to restore the emperor to the throne in order to avoid having to assume the job himself. Grover Gardner presents a precocious and quietly undaunted Miles. As Miles raises his eyebrows at what he learns, Gardner expresses the same in his narrative style. His tone is serious, with an undertone of wit, a love of intrigue, and a strong dose of confidence.

Kliatt's reviewer added a personal note:

Miles Naismith Vorkosigan is this reviewer's favorite fictional character of all time, so it's satisfying to find Blackstone handling the material well and giving it to a worthy narrator. Gardner is quite expressive and really nails the characters' interactions throughout the story, whether they're ranting or pensive or wry. It's interesting to see how effortlessly Gardner makes Miles' frequent internal commentary flow throughout the narrative. As noted, The Warrior's Apprentice precedes this volume, introducing the main character, but titles in the Vorkosigan Saga are written to function as stand-alones.

The Warrior's Apprentice has also been recorded and is available from Blackstone and Audible.  Cetaganda is next up and will be released this summer.

Narrator of the Year

It was an honor to be named "Audiobook Narrator of the Year" by Publishers Weekly in their January 3, 2006 issue.

Included with the citation was a brief interview with author and PW columnist Ben Cheever:

Audiofile magazine lists you as one of its golden voices, describing the sound you make as sandpaper and velvet.

[Embarrassed laughter] I don't know what that means. I do know that there's a little bit of nasality. I get teased about it. One friend said, "How can somebody who talks through his nose get as much work as you do?"

How many books have you recorded altogether?

It's over 550 books.

What do you find are the hardest voices?

The hardest voices that I've had to do were for the Young Jedi novels for Random House. I had to do all these alien voices [growling sounds]--they're guttural, with hissing and spitting. Doing Yoda was hard. Yoda talks like this, he does. And Jar Jar Binks. They wouldn't let us hear anything or see anything. All they gave us was the [film] trailer. The movie was embargoed. You weren't allowed to even talk about it.

Do you have trouble doing a woman's voice. Is that hard?

It's mostly about attitude. Women ask questions. Men lecture. Women want information. Men state facts. Woman want advice. Men, they've already decided.

Did training play a big part in your success?

I don't have any vocal training. That's my natural voice. First day when I went to college and walked into the radio station, you know, it was the same thing. They said, "What do you want to do?" [I was this] little kid with this great big voice.

Listen Up Award

Publishers Weekly included Listen and Live Audio's production of David Rosenfelt's Sudden Death among the top Mystery/Thriller titles for their 2005 Listen Up Awards.  Rosenfelt's comic thriller featuring the wise-cracking New Jersey lawyer Andy Carpenter won high praise from PW's reviewer: 

Abridging a mystery is always a tricky task--cut too much and the reader is either in the dark or wondering about dangling plot threads. But this abridgement is superbly done, reducing the length while maintaining the novel's essence and without sacrificing clarity. Lawyer Andy Carpenter finds himself roped into defending a New York Giants star running back who police find holed up in his house with a gun, and the dead body of a New York Jets receiver. Getting his unwanted client off won't be easy, especially when drug lords become involved, putting Andy's life--and the lives of those he cares about--on the line. Gardner's voice isn't what one would call resonant or even particularly pleasant, but he's undeniably compelling, and here he portrays the wisecracking and insecure Carpenter exactly right--a mix of neo-noirish gumshoe and hot-shot city lawyer. Gardner is one of the stars of audiobook narration--he's recorded more than 450 audiobooks and AudioFile magazine named him one of the "best voices of the century"--and he reinforces that reputation here. Gardner takes this otherwise mildly entertaining potboiler and turns it into a must-hear murder mystery.

Sudden Death also attracted the attention of AudioFile magazine:


Just as Joe Mantegna IS Spenser, and Judy Kaye IS Kinsey Millhone, Grover Gardner, with his deadpan reserve, IS Andy Carpenter, the self-deprecating mystery-solving, dog-loving millionaire defense attorney. This time around there’s plenty of craziness as Carpenter attempts to clear a pro football player of murder, all the while being followed by a screenwriter who wants to make a true-story movie of the events (if only he could give an “arc” to Carpenter’s life). This is Rosenfelt’s fourth Andy Carpenter mystery and the second to make it to audiobook, so it’s time to make a plea: Whoever is in charge---let Gardner read the other two, pronto. 

Booklist was equally enthusiastic:


...As usual, veteran narrator Gardner reads the role brilliantly, giving Carpenter the right balance of playfulness, curiosity, and mystery. His tones, usually full of subtle nuance, seem broader and more in your face. He narrates in a thick, meaty East Coast accent (for example, call sounds something like cole), tossing off the frequent asides and witticisms with an impish snap. Listeners will pick up on the comic elements of the novel through Gardner's impressive reading.

Sudden Death is available from Listen and Live Audio and as a download from  I also recorded the previous mystery in this series, Bury the Lead, for Listen and Live.

Earphones for Idiots

AudioFile has selected The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buying and Selling Your Home by Shelley O’Hara, and Nancy D. Lewis (Audio Oasis) for an Earphones Award in their December 2005/January 2006 issue:


As this splendid guide unfolds, it's fun to realize how smoothly it's been crafted. The ideas are easily comprehensible, making sense at even a visceral level. The program covers a lot of ground but comes across like an articulate neighbor talking over the backyard fence. As always, Grover Gardner is an excellent interpreter of this kind of material, which could sound dry and mechanical without his vocal pizzazz and nuanced intelligence. Like many Idiot's Guides, this one is technically comprehensive and clear, yet personal enough to speak to the emotional sensitivities most listeners will have when buying and selling a primary residence.

The book is indeed excellent.  By coincidence I was refinancing my home at the time I was recording the Guide, and I can vouch for its extremely helpful and informative approach.

The Sound and the Fury

In conjunction with Oprah's "Faulkner Summer," Random House has re-packaged my recording of The Sound and the Fury (originally done for Books On Tape) for retail release under the Random House Audio imprint.  This is quite an honor.  It's surely one of the most challenging things I've ever done.  I had to keep a study guide next to me in the booth at all times, in order to keep the characters and timeline straight in my head.  I was pleased with the way it turned out, and though it hasn't been reviewed to my knowledge, it's gotten some nice praise from customers over at

Phoenix Rises

Blackstone's production of Elliston Trevor's classic adventure yarn, The Flight of the Phoenix, recently earned a nice review and an Earphones Award from AudioFile:


A cargo plane with 12 men aboard crashes in a Sahara sandstorm. With no rescue in sight and fighting heat, hunger, thirst, and each other, they struggle to cobble together a substitute flying craft before death claims them. Grover Gardner individualizes the guilt-ridden pilot; two British military men; Stringer, the plane designer on whom survival depends but who is not what he seems; the dying German boy; and others. He almost humanizes the forces of nature seeking to destroy these men as he expresses their hope, frustration, pain, determination, and longing for loved ones. Adept at conveying the plethora of technical details involved in plane construction, Gardner reads the narrative parts in documentary mode. This classic 1964 adventure tale has twice been made into film but is equally riveting—and more informative—in this superbly read audio.

The Flight of the Phoenix is available for sale or rental from Blackstone Audiobooks, and as a download from

Shelby Foote

I noted with sadness the passing of Shelby Foote this summer, one of my favorite authors.  I had the honor of recording not only his magnificent three-volume history of the Civil War, but most of his novels and stories as well.

I never got the chance to meet Mr. Foote in person, but following the completion of The Civil War, Craig Black of Blackstone Audiobooks sent me a copy of a typed note they had received from him.  It said, among other things:


The second batch of tapes (Parts One, Vols I and II) arrived while I was up in Washington last week.  I've had time to give them a go-through, and they turned out to be flawless...


I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am with the whole production--the format, of course, and the quality of the sound; but above all with Grover Gardner's performance.  No writer could ask for a better out-loud reader, especially his precision in following the text and the absence of any overdramatization or "posturing," which so many readers find irresistible once they mount the platform.  Please tell him for me how much I appreciate his work on what must have indeed been an arduous undertaking.  I myself write for reading aloud to myself, and it is wonderful to hear him reading it much as I myself would do if I had the talent...


Thank him for me, and above all tell him how much I look forward to receiving the three Parts of Volume III, which I suspect is the toughest, as well as the longest, of the three.  He must be struggling with it even now, or perhaps he is recovering from the exertion that was required of him down all those weeks and months in the studio.  Give him my thanks along with my sympathy and admiration.

Much as I appreciate reviews and awards, they can't compare with the pleasure of receiving an author's praise and blessing, especially when they come from a writer of Mr. Foote's stature.

1625 Stratford Ave., Medford, OR 97504  tel. (541) 944-5285 email: grovergardner (at)