Author Kelly Coon next to the cover of her book Gravemaidens
Kelly Coon, Author of Gravemaidens, Runs Farther With Audiobooks

By Kelly Coon

At mile eleven, I contemplated faking a heart attack.

Me: “Listen. I cannot breathe and my heart is doing some ping-pong version of its normal rhythm.”

Paramedic: “Ma’am? Um. You’re just…tired.”

Me, collapsing on the floor of the ambulance, peeking at her out of one eye: “Are you sure?”

Paramedic, rolling her eyes: “Yes. I’m sure.”

Me: “Well maybe you can just say I had a heart attack and that way I don’t have to finish this thing?”

Paramedic: “NEXT.”

I didn’t fake it, but I wanted to.

Running the Iron Girl half marathon was one of those things that I’d always wanted to do for some obscure reason, but maybe hadn’t completely and totally prepared for as I should have. The only thing—and I mean the only thing—that made the wickedness of a sun-blasted, April morning in Clearwater Beach, Florida up and down three very steep hills bearable, was an audiobook.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, read by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher, kept me breathless. Or maybe that was the pace. BUT EITHER WAY, my concentration was decidedly not focused on the burning in my lungs or shakiness in my quads; it was on their melodic trio of voices pushing me through Hawkins’ gritty words, one British syllable at a time.

Before I started training for the Iron Girl, I knew I’d need an audiobook to hold my hand through the training and the race itself. As a former high school English teacher, I understood in my bones how listening to text could unlock your imagination and transport you from your present circumstances to a canal in Venice or a dank subway station or the back of a unicorn flying through stardust.

I used to play audio versions of short stories and novels to my class and watch the students melt into their desks, minds far away as they teleported into their versions of various settings, mesmerized for a solid 45 minutes. Students who hated reading, had never once picked up a book they weren’t forced to, would listen carefully, absorbing that assonance and repetition, drinking in the themes.

For me, having an audiobook of my very own YA fantasy, Gravemaidens, is nothing short of miraculous. When my editor first told me I’d have an audiobook, I screamed, scared the dog, and raced into the kitchen to squeeze my kids much more tightly than they wanted to be squeezed.

Because for me, it meant that maybe one day, my words might transport a kid from their desks into a tomb laden with treasures or the top of a sandstone palace, looking out the window at a serpentine river.
Or it might propel a middle-aged mom, almost finished with her first half marathon (contemplating faking her own heart failure), to go just a little bit longer, a little bit farther.

Words have the power to do that, and I’m so grateful mine get to be spun into this version of a reading experience.

Listen to a clip from Kelly Coon’s Gravemaidens, read by Bahni Turpin.

And coming in December: the thrilling conclusion to the Gravemaidens duology, Warmaidens!