At Long Last, the Audio Book is available!

It’s alive with the characters of the Riverfront; full of humor, hauntingly beautiful songs, quirky birds, and boastful toads.

Over the summer we had the pleasure of working with actress Madeleine Barker, and are thrilled to share with you the audio production of In the Wake of the Willows.

Madeleine brings her extensive talents to the book. Currently an MFA candidate at Brown University/Trinity Rep Theater Arts Program, she has appeared in many productions throughout the US. See for a list of her theatre credits. She has produced a highly polished and professional audio book with the help of Audio Producer Joel Thibodeau, and under the guidance of voice coach Tom Jones.

The audio book is available through Audible, Amazon and iTunes.



As the promised 30 business days, turns into 50, we have been given no clue as to when the audio version of In The Wake of the Willows will be released. ACX the Amazon and Audible giant has a huge backlog of submissions. Great! lots to listen to. But announcements have been published in Brown Alumni Magazine and on printed promotions, and a slew of reviewers are standing by for the first glimpse (or listen).

Patience and understanding, safety and good health, fortitude and gratitude are only some of the lessons to be learned during this time of covid.

Author’s Preface

Audition Clip #3

While we wait for Audible, iTunes and Amazon to release the audio book, we thought we’d share a new audition clip each day for “In the Wake the Willows”. It is taking longer than expected for it to be released. Covid-19 patience is yet another new skill we must learn. We’ll keep you posted.

Here is Mr. Otter coaching Toady:

Audition Clip 2

While we wait for Audible, iTunes and Amazon to release the audio book, we thought we’d share a new audition clip each day for “In the Wake the Willows”. It should be available within the next few days. We’ll keep you posted.

Here is Mrs. Badger helping out Toady. Enjoy!

Audio Book coming soon!

Take a listen, then look for In the Wake of the Willows audio production available October 15, 2020 through Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

We are thrilled to introduce you to Madeleine Barker, our extremely talented narrator, and professional actress currently in the Brown University Theater Arts Masters program.

Here is what Madeleine had to say upon the completion of the 3 month long project: “It’s been such a pleasure working with you and Fred on this gorgeous project. I can’t wait to share it with the world. “

We can’t wait to share the results of this collaboration with you, dear reader!


In the Wake of the Willows, audio sample

Have Our Little Friends Found Their Voice At Last?

Amy and I are both audio book fanatics.  We really love many of the audio book narrators, Katherine Kellgren in particular.  Kellgren was most famous for her rollicking narration of L.A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack Series.  In the back of our minds we have always wanted to do In the Wake of the Willows as an audio book (and mix in nature sounds), but never had the time.  However a few weeks ago I decided to start exploring our audio options.

The first step was to find a great narrator.  Anyone who has heard my radio bits ( know that I, like most authors, cannot narrate my own book!  We needed a professional actor that could do voice overs.   Could we find someone as good or almost as good as Katherine Kellgren?   Kellgren was probably the best there ever has been in our genre (rollick, amusing, accented tales), so we set the bar pretty high.

We wanted a local actress that we could work with closely, so I started following some leads, but none of them panned out.   One university’s theater arts program said they could not help us at all!  I got no response from the Zeiterion Theatre nor did any of the other leads pan out.  So I decided to take a flier and contacted Brown University’s Theater Arts Program.  I sent a request in and got crickets for about a week; I never even got an acknowledgement of my request.   Then last Tuesday, all of a sudden and without warning, I got flooded with young actresses interested in narrating the book.  The Brown Theater Arts Department (TAPS) had posted my request that day and wow.  I was overwhelmed at the quantity of requests and the ability of these students.   I spent a number of sleepless nights trying to decide who to choose; they were all just so talented.  It was torturous, and I kept saying to Amy, “I was such a happy person before I started this audio book business.”

Finally we picked four actresses based on these criteria:

1.    They had a smooth, melodic, enchanting voice suitable for a nature book such as our book.  A voice that could charm adults and put children into a peaceful sleep.

2.    They were The Wind in the Willows fanatics.

3.    They were highly motivated to do our book.

4.    Could do accents such as a Scottish accent for Mrs. Badger and other accents.

With these criteria, we whittled the list down to four actresses.  Now what? How did we chose one of them? It was a tough choice, and we were still left with the dilemma of how to say no to three of them when we finally picked our narrator.  As far as we could tell, they were all exceptionally talented.

We sent these four actresses segments of the book to read such as some dialogue from Mrs. Badger and a segment of the firefly square dance.  Within a few days (like I was saying, they were all highly motivated), we got the samples back.  We really enjoyed listening to them.  Each of these actresses is so different in their approach but talented in their own way.  We had two actresses from the TAPS MFA program and 2 undergrads.  The MFA actresses seemed to have more timber in their voices and appeared to have had more voice training.  The undergrads had young, delightful, perky voices that would be very appealing to our young listeners, but we were looking for a more mature voice.

We listened to the samples again and again trying to decide, but there was one actress who appeared to have spent a great deal of time carefully examining each sentence to get the emphasis and cadence just right.  In addition her Scottish Mrs. Badger was spot on and she chose a nice salty Cockney accent for Mr. Otter.   But when she did Rickie and Mr. Rat and sang, yes sang (beautifully) the first two stanzas of the firefly square dance, Amy had tears in her eyes.  Our little friends had found their voice.

We are beginning to work with this actress right now.  Stay tuned; we will announce her name and may share some samples.

Audio Version of the Book?

We are currently working on an audio version of our book.  The first step is to find a voice actress.   A local university sort of unexpectedly posted the position, and last Tuesday I mysteriously started to getting resumes from actresses at the university.  Incredible resumes; these actresses are all so talented.   We will post specifics once work out a deal with one of them.

Book Review: Down at the Docks

Down at the Docks by Rory Nugent

I don’t feel worthy of reviewing a masterpiece such as Down at the Docks, but I will give it a try.  Rory Nugent has perfectly captured the lingo, ambiance, and pathos of the waterfront in New Bedford, MA.   Alec Wilkinson said this about Down at the Docks, “No writer I can think of, unless it is Sebastian Junger, could have written this obsessed, intrepid and intelligent book…”  I disagree with part of this; only Nugent could have written this book; it is not even close.  Near the beginning of the book, Nugent writes about an unpleasant encounter he had with a belligerent wharf rat named “Sword” in a dockside dive bar called the National Club.  Nugent, the ultimate survivor, was able to wiggle out of his difficult situation unscathed.  I suspect that Junger, or me for that matter, would not have fared as well, and the story would have ended right there.

Nugent is uniquely qualified to write this book because of the street cred he had with the tough seaside crowd in New Bedford; he had spent a lifetime on the water, including some harrowing experiences.  Nugent sailed single-handed across the Atlantic four and one half times.  On the fifth attempt, his boat, a 32 foot proa he built on Martha’s Vineyard called the Godiva Chocolatier, capsized 600 miles west of the Azores, and Nugent spent five desperate days clinging to the overturned hull before being rescued by a Greek vessel that was vectored in by his EPIRB signal (a Russian boat salvaged the Godiva Chocolatier as a prize).  Over the course of 17 years living in a studio on the waterfront in New Bedford, Mr. Nugent earned the respect and confidence of the locals, enough so that he was able to take notes during his conversations with these colorful characters.

Nugent is no stranger to extremely dangerous people and dicey situations.  His most famous article, published in Rolling Stone in 2001, was “My Lunch with Osama Bin Laden.”  When he was reporting on the Irish Republican Army for Spin Magazine and met some of their officers, he was told. “Mr. Nugent, if you are picked up by the British, you will not make it to the Police station.”  In other words, an IRA operative would shoot him before he could identify anyone.  As a writer for Spin Magazine, Nugent said that he “tracked nitwit generals and their lousy wars in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Along the way, he became intimate with both the priests and prophets of intolerance, along with the demons that rise out of bullets, machetes, famine and killing fields the size of Texas.”  In 2002 he came back to American and settled in New Bedford where the seeds of Down at the Docks were first planted.

Commercial fishing is an extremely dangerous profession, made worse by federal regulations, in pursuit of a diminishing resource based out of a financially depressed town.   It is not surprising that the type of person who can survive such a challenging environment needs to be tough.  The book starts off in a seedy dockside café and progresses through various venues catering to the fishing industry in New Bedford.   Every salt-encrusted page is filled with first person encounters with some of the extreme characters that haunt the dockside in New Bedford.  Here you will find rogues, drug-dealers, insurance scammers, mafia operatives, card sharks, smugglers, swindlers, junkies, hard-scrabble desperadoes, scofflaws, and even some honest, hard-working fishermen.   It is as if all dodgy behavior possible has been distilled down to its pure essence on the New Bedford waterfront, pickled in brine, and applied so lavishly that the book becomes a rather appalling, but highly entertaining, read.

Down at the Docks has garnered a huge number of high-profile reviews in elite publications, but I have to wonder how many of the reviewers gulped down the book with their coffee instead of carefully reading each sentence.  If they had paid careful attention, they might have noticed that Nugent is not just a great story teller, but also an exquisite wordsmith.  Every sentence appears to be carefully engineered with the prefect phrase or analogy woven into the narrative.  As a supposed writer myself I was a bit awed, and I think you will be also if you pick up this book.