Author Guest Post: Christine Negroni on Narrating The Crash Detectives

Special guest post from the author and narrator of The Crash Detectives.

Recently, while at the wedding of a family friend, I heard someone standing nearby say, “It’s a Negroni.” He was referring to his cocktail and he was not talking to me. The fact that the drink and I share a name was what diverted my attention from my own conversation and caused me to start eavesdropping on his.

Dale Carnegie once wrote that a person’s own name is the most beautiful sound. After my experience recording the audio version of my new book, The Crash Detectives, I discovered something even more exciting; linking one’s name to “Penguin Random House Audiobooks Presents.”

I am a two-time author, but a long-time audiobook fan. The first book I listened to was Bob Woodward’s Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, narrated by NPR’s John Hockenberry. I plugged it in during a drive from Chicago to Atlanta to start a new job. The tale was complicated and the drive was long, so I listened to it twice.

When I took up running in the nineties, I visited the library for something to listen to in an effort to keep my mind occupied. The CD set of the Chronicles of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope, read by Nigel Hawthorne, was a wickedly good distraction.

These days, I still listen to audiobooks on long road trips and while running, but also because writing is a sedentary activity and listening to books gets me off my butt.

My husband complains audiobooks put him to sleep, but not me. Listening to Sarah Vowell read her hilarious Partly Cloudy Patriot or Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, I’ll clean the house, fold the laundry, finish weeding my own yard, and start on my neighbor’s.  My morning gets going by walking the dog while listening to the Washington Post and The New York Times Digest.

Even with all that listener experience, the prospect of recording my own book was intimidating. Before my date in the studio, I sent emails to executive producer Aaron Blank and director Louis Milgrom loaded with questions: “How do I read italics?” “What do I do with quotes?” As I practiced reading the book aloud, I regretted interviewing so many people with such hard-to-pronounce names.

The week before I was to begin recording, I stopped by the Greek restaurant Kellari Taverna and asked the maître d’ for help with the names Andreas Prodromou and Pambos Charalambous.

Having started this post with a wedding story, I will end with a story from my own because, with a proportionate difference in gravity, I approached my session in the recording booth the way I did my wedding day more than 30 years ago—with great apprehension.

Waiting in a small room at the back of the church, I panicked. What was I doing? Why had I agreed to spend my life with someone I’d only known for eighteen months?

As I started down the aisle and saw Jim standing at the other end, I saw not a frightening stranger but the man I knew well and loved more. Comforting familiarity washed over me.

I felt something similar in the recording booth as soon as I started reading the words of The Crash Detectives, the book I’d spent eighteen months crafting. No one was better able to deliver those words into the ears of my audiobook listeners, and nothing in my recent professional life was more thrilling than being able to say, “This is the author, Christine Negroni.”