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THE HALVES OF US Audiobook Tour: Interview with Sydney Paige Richardson and Narrator, Rocky Taylor

In tandem with the audiobook tour for The Halves of Us extending September twenty-seventh through October third, I took the opportunity to speak with both Sydney Paige Richardson, the author, and Rocky Taylor, the audiobook narrator, to get their thoughts on the process of collaborating to create this beautiful audiobook. We dive into the ins and outs of character development, narrative tone, and the nitty-gritty of the process from both perspectives. Let’s dive right in...

MALORIE NILSON: Hi, Sydney! Thank you so much for sitting down with me (metaphorically speaking) for this interview. I hope you are doing well. We are so excited about the release of the audiobook for The Halves of Us, and I am sure you are just thrilled! Can you tell me a little about your writing process? Do you write full time, or do you balance it with other things in your life?

SYDNEY PAIGE RICHARDSON: I wish I had a writing process. Really, I write when I can. I have a full-time job as a contract manager. I have a fourteen-year-old foster son who is doing virtual school that we have to work with on assignments closely. And I have two artistic passions: fine art photography and writing.

So, during the evenings I try and alternate when I can (work on photography one night, writing

the next). And I write in 1-3 hour spurts, depending on what is going on with my family that


Weekends I can get more writing done. Recently, I have been setting the mood: a dim room,

some candles, my Spotify Writing playlist… I get my best work done on the weekends!

MN: Is this your first audiobook project? Is it a nerve-wracking process bringing someone

else into your creative vision?

SPR: This is my first audiobook project – but I don’t think it was nerve-wracking. I guess I love

working with different people and bringing things to life. With my photography, I am working

with friends and models that help me bring life to images in my head. So, I think I view the

writing the same way. I love working with artists, narrators, book designers, etc. in bringing

something that was once just words in my head to life. I know I couldn’t do it on my own. Rocky

was great – she wanted to know anything and everything. So, I sent her e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g! I

recorded myself saying the types of races, character names, locations, objects – I had so much

fun with that, to be honest. I even sent her the song I wrote (my grandmother wrote the music,

and my cousin sings it) for the book. It’s a lullaby Aura sings to Adie to help her go to calm down

and go to sleep after her nightmares.

MN: What did you look for when choosing an audiobook narrator? Did you have an idea of

what you wanted going in, or did you wait for a voice to speak to you (pardon the pun)?

SPR: You know when you hear some music and you get the chills? Or you see a painting and you

forget words for a second and fall into the scenery? I think that’s the only way I can describe

what I look for in an audiobook narrator. I heard Rocky’s voice and I got the chills. I heard her

tell me the story and I fell back into a tale that I have read hundreds of times. That’s how I know.

MN: Were there any specific voices or accents that you wanted for your characters? Did your narrator, Rocky Taylor, bring any ideas to you that gave new life to certain aspects or gave you a new perspective?

SPR: I gave Rocky lots of information about the characters. Personality traits, goals, things they struggle with, etc. I never really had any specific voice or accent in mind for my characters in The Halves of Us, really. But I feel like Rocky completely captured them by reading the information I sent and the story – she got to know the characters and got their voices down pat–so much better than I think I ever could have on my own. I love that about her and really hope to work with her on future projects.

MN: How involved were you in the whole process? Did you go chapter by chapter, or did you take a more holistic approach?

SPR: At first, I was sent samples of Rocky reading the first chapter or so, and like I mentioned above I knew it was the right fit. I think I took a more holistic approach after I handed over everything to Rocky. I knew I could trust her to bring everything together and breathe new life in it.

MN: Was there a scene in Halves of Us that was your favorite prior to recording? Was that scene your favorite once recorded, or was there a surprise favorite that jumped out at you?

SPR: I have always loved this scene that is one of Adie’s premonitions. In it, she dances with skeletons across an icy floor. It is based on a nightmare I had, and it felt so real. Putting it into The Halves of Us was almost cathartic in dealing with my nightmares. I couldn’t wait to hear Rocky narrate it. And so.many.chills.

It really is everything.

The end always makes me cry. Reading it each time I edited it was so tough. Hearing someone

speak it, was even harder—but in the best way. (Yes, I cried. I am a crier).

MN: Do you have any plans in the works for audio releases for the other books in this series?

SPR: I would love to have The Reflections of Us and The Souls of Us out as audiobooks for the world

to fall in love with. We shall see!

MN: Do you have any tips for other authors or potential authors out there for publishing an audiobook and working with a voice actor or narrator?

SPR: Don’t be afraid to correct any mispronunciations. Give them all the information. Dive deep into

your characters. Physical traits. Photos. Attributes. Quirks. Personalities. And talk with your narrator. I think a good connection where you both trust each other and both know the process is important.

MN: Sydney, it has been a pleasure. Again, thank you for taking the time to sit in conversation with me. Happy writing, and stay safe out there!

SPR: Thank you for having me. Stay safe!


I then had the opportunity to sit with Rocky Taylor to get their perspective on the audiobook process...