If you’re a fan of dark, twisted psychological thrillers, Jody Gehrman‘s Watch Me: A Gripping Psychological Thriller, will leave you guessing until the very end. Listen to our interview with the author to find out the inspiration behind the story, her advice for aspiring narrators and authors, and more!
Audiobooks.com: Watch Me is a psychological thriller about how far obsession can go. Where did the inspiration for the novel come from?
Jody: I’m a professor at a small college and I’ve been teaching at the college level for two decades, so I’ve seen a lot of changes on campus and was thinking about how much fear had entered into the campus equation in the last two decades. We were doing trainings about active shootings and what to do if God forbid that ever happened, and I was thinking about that and wanted to find a way to personalize that fear, to express it through two characters. At the same time, I had been thinking a lot about women – and certainly this happens to men, too, but especially women – when you turn a certain corner in your life and you no longer feel very visible or relevant. You start to feel less seen, and I realized how vulnerable that can make a person feel, especially if there’s someone who does give them that attention.
Audiobooks.com: You describe yourself as a lifelong audiobook lover. What ignited your passion for audiobooks and audio in general?
Jody: My obsession with it predates this wonderful renaissance we’re going through with audiobooks. I found a collection of tape cassettes at the library ages ago that were old, 1940s radio drama. I just fell in love with this form of storytelling and drama. there’s something so nurturing about coming home, doing the dishes, and having someone tell you a story. it’s the most fantastic, nurturing thing to just shut off and become the listener.
Audiobooks.com: Absolutely! So how did the opportunity to narrate your own novel arise?
Jody: I let Macmillan Audio know that I listened to one or two books a week and am really obsessed with [audiobooks], and had all kinds of ideas about narrators. They were open to that and I sent them a list of narrators. As I was listening to possible narrators for the role of Kate, I couldn’t fight this nagging feeling that I wanted to read it myself. So I told them I really do understand that sometimes, the author is not the best person to read their work. But I wanted them to audition me on equal footing with other narrators just to pick the person they felt would work best and so they asked me to do it. I absolutely loved reading my own work and kind of visiting it from that angle. It was a completely different perspective on the book for me.
Audiobooks.com: What do readers gain from listening to the audiobook that they miss out on if they just read the print version?
Jody: One of the things that struck me in listening to especially Holter [Graham]’s section was that he really brought out a lot of humor in the character, Sam, and he’s not inherently a funny character – he’s a really demented person, rather a scary brain to inhabit. i love the way he was able to make me laugh out loud. i don’t know that i would have that experience just reading the book.
Audiobooks.com: What advice would you give someone interested in narrating, writing a book, or both?
Jody: I’m not going to pretend to be an expert, but because I do listen to so many audiobooks, I notice a lot of things narrators do well and things they do not so well. I think a big part of it is trying to sink into the spirit of the work and not overdramatize.
Part of what a good narrator does is they disappear; they’re no longer thinking about their voice. they’re lost in the story.
The temptation for actors much of the time is to really have a huge variation in the voices – for example, for a man to go really high on the woman’s voices or vice versa for women. I think that’s mostly distracting. In my opinion, less is more.
If the hope is to be a novelist because you love to write, because you love to write more than anything, that’s the biggest secret to making it – indulging that love and writing as often as you can. I know most of us have busy lives and it’s hard to carve out space. Figure out a daily practice to keep working and use that love of writing to balance out the more crazy making aspects of the industry. For example, pitching, promoting and selling your work are necessary, but they’re not the heart of being a writer. The actual heart is writing.
Audiobooks.com: Do you think you’ll narrate any future novels you put out into the world?
Jody: I would love to. I don’t want to force it. If I write a character that isn’t in the right age range or demographic, I certainly would prefer that someone who fits better would be the person. But I’m also getting more interested in the issues of being in your late 30s and 40s and experiencing the changes you go through in those time periods, so maybe I will fit the right demographic. I certainly would love to do it again.
Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor, the follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman a decade younger. She fears no one will ever truly look at or know her again. Except for Sam Grist, her most promising student. A talented writer who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, he’s not just there to be a great writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years. As he makes his way into her life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire.
Read more and sample the audio.
This interview has been condensed and edited. For the full interview, listen here.