“I’m convinced that listening to storytelling is in our DNA.”–Adrienne Kress, author of THE EXPLORERS: THE DOOR IN THE ALLEY

Author Adrienne Kress explains why audiobooks are a gateway for reluctant readers. Plus, producer Nick Martorelli shares how they found the perfect voice for THE EXPLORERS: THE DOOR IN THE ALLEY, the first audio in this hilarious and action-packed new series!

Author Adrienne Kress on Why She Loves Audiobooks

Author Adrienne Kress

One of the best compliments I ever got for my writing was when a teacher told me how easily my book could be read aloud. I must confess this was never something I had purposefully intended, but when she told me this it made me so happy. My relationship with storytelling and oral traditions is a strong one. For one thing I’m an actor and so performing words out loud is a great pleasure to me. For another I was a very lucky kid growing up and had a father who read to me every night before bed.

But it was when I was first introduced to the term “reluctant reader” that I came to realize just how important audiobooks were. I’m using the term to mean a person who, though capable of reading at high level, is nonetheless reluctant to pick up a book, who is possibly intimidated by the prospect. Someone who would rather watch a movie or play with friends. I didn’t have the term when I was growing up as a child, but I absolutely would apply it to myself then and even now. And one way that I found to enjoy reading was to have someone read to me.

Original art of Adrienne’s father reading The Lord of the Rings
© Deena Pagliarello

My father read to me a wide range of books from authors like Charles Dickens, to Judy Blume, to J. R. R. Tolkien, to Douglas Adams. All the books he read to me went on to have a great influence on me as a writer, and I am certain I would not have had the same relationship with them if he hadn’t read them to me first. To me, hearing and visualizing these stories meant they weren’t intimidating at all. They felt alive and human instead of just words on a page. And it definitely helped that he was great at doing voices for all the characters as well.

This is a very large reason that I’ve always been a huge supporter of audiobooks, to the point where I not only recorded the audiobook of my YA novel The Friday Society, but I also worked for a time recording children’s audiobooks professionally.

So as an author, getting to have an audiobook of my own work is not only very special, it’s important to me. Especially with a book like THE EXPLORERS: THE DOOR IN THE ALLEY that is geared towards the reluctant reader. It was a truly wonderful experience working with my producer Nick Martorelli to choose a voice actor to read the story. And while all the options were just amazing, the narrator we went with, Kristen Sieh, really shone through for me. Her voice was personable and a little quirky, two things I thought were perfect for the book. Her quirkiness is a great match as The Explorers itself is quirky. And I wanted a narrator that the listener would immediately be drawn to, would understand was on their side. Warm and human.


I’m convinced that listening to storytelling is in our DNA. When we read well-written stories, a voice in our head converts them into a telling, inviting us to collaborate in the narration. When we hear stories that are well-told, live, or recorded, we tap into something ancient in us that plays out vividly on the screen of our imagination. That’s the advantage that audiobooks can give reluctant readers: a strong inner experience of the book, and possibly even the encouragement to develop their own narrative voice.

Hearing a story read well shows the reluctant reader what a story can sound like and how involving it can be. And a good audiobook becomes a gateway that gives them the confidence to discover the voice of the story the next time they pick up a book to read for themselves.

Author Adrienne Kress

Nick Martorelli

Producer Nick Martorelli says, “Adrienne’s book hooked me from the first page. Any story that starts with a pig in a teeny hat is the kind of story I know I’ll enjoy. With a terrific blend of adventure and humor throughout the book, I knew the audiobook could be something special—provided I found the right narrator for it. I had wanted to work with Kristen Sieh for a while, and I knew that her voice would be a terrific match for Adrienne’s writing. Kristen brings her quirky sense of humor, but she also brings a warmth to the characters in vulnerable moments, which plays so well with Adrienne’s writing.

Narrator Kristen Sieh

There is a specific moment that demonstrated that Kristen was the perfect choice for this book. She was discussing the voice she wanted to use for Myrtle Algiers, the president of the Explorers Society, and she suggested a voice based on Dame Judi Dench. When I reached out to Adrienne to clear the choice with her, she sent me the reference photo she had given the illustrator for Myrtle—a screenshot of Dame Judi Dench! Their visions of the character were totally in sync, and I knew we’d found the right actor.”


“A quirky and lighthearted romp with likable characters and ample plot twists and turns; hand to fans of Lemony Snicket.”—School Library Journal

“A notably diverse supporting cast ranging from a female Indiana Jones (with an affinity for animals but no people skills)…Fans of a Series of Unfortunate Events will be drawn to this series opener.”—Booklist

“Animals in teeny hats, Wonderland-style logic, and loads of wordplay and sarcasm will keep readers giggling all the way through to the dramatic—and metafictive—cliffhanger…Readers will look forward to the sequel.”—Kirkus