Author: Andy Zach
Narrator: Luke Castle
Length: 3 hours 3 minutes
Publisher: Jule Inc.
Released: Jan. 6, 2020
Genre: Middle Grade; Science Fiction
Jeremy Gentle fell flat on his face at therapy. That was normal since he had cerebral palsy. But his new superpower wasn't normal. Then, things got weirder when his best friend Dan Elanga got a different superpower. But Dan was still blind. Kayla Verdera and Aubrey Wilcosky, two girls in their middle-school special ed class, discovered they too had new superpowers. Kayla was mute and needed a walker. Aubrey lost two legs and used crutches. But they were as powerful as the boys. What should the four friends do? Jeremy knew if the word got out, it'd be a media circus. Then, they started fighting crime as the Secret Supers. Who knew a disability could be a perfect disguise? No one would ever think of disabled kids as superheroes. But they ran into problems they never expected.
Q&A with Author Andy Zach
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- No. I focus on telling the best story I can while writing. I assume a good story will always translate well into audio format.
- How did you select your narrator?
- I wanted a good, youthful narrator since my main characters are all in seventh grade.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- Yes. I have a complete character sketch on all my characters which I shared with my narrator. I describe their regional accents and their overall personality: shy or outgoing, intellectual, or sports minded.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- I always try to bring my real experiences into my writing. I remember bullies from middle-school, and what it felt like going to middle-school and relating to the opposite sex.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- Variety! I write novels and short stories, blogs, and non-fiction. I imagine writing in different genres: fairy tales and romances, steam punk and space opera, as well as satiric and parodic stories.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- Nuances of conversation and dialogue come out best in audio format. Humor, irony, scorn, and satire can all be sharper in audio format.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- It’s a different media. You cannot say one’s ears are inferior to one’s eyes. They both can tell a story.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Start writing your favorite stories and don’t stop. Figure out publishing after you’ve completed something.
- What’s next for you?
- I’m writing the sequel to Secret Supers and the audiobook should be out this year! Villain’s Vacation
Q&A with Narrator Luke Castle
- A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
- Absolutely.....NOT. I am a 17yr old, with no formal training, and I have landed 9 contracts in just over two years. While it is super helpful I am sure to have that formal training it is by no means necessary. What is needed is that you have the love of acting, and pretending.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Oh yeah! If you catch me during my walks and I take the headphones off by choice, you know that you mean something to me. I think that I love hearing a book from someone else's perspective. Listening to an audiobook lets you be floated along on someone else's thoughts. And that is a wonderful experience!
- Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
- Yes! I am always looking for ways to improve, so I read every single one. It can be hard sometimes to hear the critiques, but listening and making changes based on that is how you continue to improve.
- If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?
- Neither, I like the ones that tell it like it is. Tell me what you liked, and what you didn't, I hope that you don’t have a bad enough experience that the whole book was ruined! Likewise, I doubt that I was perfect, tell how you truthfully feel and that solves a lot of issues.
- Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?
- I would love to land a contract by Chuck Black, his work has always really inspired me. There is also Dickens, but he’s pretty these days being...... well...... dead.
- Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
- Oh yes! So I record out in a tiny little booth, under the stairs to the attic. It’s a GREAT little homemade iso booth in my opinion, HOWEVER, it’s still in the garage... One day I had just wrapped up the second chapter of Secret Supers and I look down, on my knee is the biggest spider I have ever seen in my life. I was out of that booth faster than you can say jack robinson, and let me tell you, that both underwent a thorough cleaning, and pest treatment before I settled back it.
Secret Supers is such a fun story, and it has a great message. I listened with my mid-grade kiddos, one boy and one girl, and they both enjoyed the story. The target audience may be mid-grade kids, but this is the type of story that is entertaining for both kids and adults.
This book is fast-paced and just loads of fun from start to finish, and it has such a positive vibe. The kids each have a different disability, and those disabilities are handled honestly while still keeping an upbeat vibe. I love how their individual super powers gave them what they needed, and the four together complimented each other so well. The kids are all lovable and quirky, and you can’t help but root for their successes and smile when they do succeed.
It’s interesting that the story is narrated by a teenager. In fact, my kiddos noticed it right away and commented about it. It gave them a whole new appreciation for audiobooks, and they’ll both be looking for more stories narrated by Luke Castle. This young man really seems to enjoy himself as he narrates this book, and that certainly comes through. For me, some of the voices were maybe a little over the top, but my tweens had no complaints, and since this is a mid-grade story, I would say that’s the most important thing. They were thoroughly entertained by both Andy Zach’s story and Luke Castle’s performance, and I have to say that the two do go well together.
All in all, Andy Zach has done a terrific job with this book. The story and its characters are a positive force in a world that is all too often focused on the negative, and it all comes together for one entertaining and uplifting listen for kids of all ages.