Interview with a Listener: Shannon Gray

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

Listener Shannon Gray

Shannon Gray just listened to Cup N Cake, by Teresa Ives Lilly, narrated by Kate Tyler! Cup N Cake is a contemporary romance set in a sea-side east coast village.

Cup N Cake is currently available on iTunes, Amazon and Audible.

Hi Shannon!

Thank you so much for connecting with us today! We are excited to learn more about you as an audiobook listener, as well as your impressions of this audiobook!

First, some particulars:

Your Name: Shannon Gray

Title of the Book You Just Listened To:

Cup N Cake, by Teresa Ives Lilly, narrated by Kate Tyler.

In What City do you live?

Hatch, New Mexico

IHS: Can you give us a ballpark to know how “avid” an audiobook listener you are:  How many audiobooks have you listened to in the past 12 months?

Shannon: From March to now (end of June) I have listened and reviewed 79 audio books. Now I know that seems like a lot but if you look at my review page ( you’ll see a whole lot of short stories and kids stories. I also have quite a few medium ones (3-8 hours) and several long ones (10+ hours).

IHS: That's a lot! Awesome! What was your favorite part about this particular audiobook?

Shannon: Cup N Cake is the book I’ll choose for this. It is a clean, Christian romance by Teresa Ives Lilly. What I liked the most about this romance was that the Christian part wasn’t preachy or over-the-top like a lot are apt to be. Ms. Lilly kept the religion to a bare minimum and I appreciated that. Most books in the Christian genre tend to be a bit too “in your face” about the person’s beliefs. Now, don’t get me wrong, to each their own and I have no problems with anyone’s beliefs but sometimes authors go a bit overboard and it comes across as preachy to those of us who are not of the same faith. This book though, it was just a mention here and there. The story itself was a joy and I really enjoyed that the main characters weren’t perfect. Penny and Kyle are very relatable characters and watching the relationship grow was great.

IHS: Okay, How did you get into listening to audiobooks? Were you a reader first?

Shannon: I’m not totally sure how I got started with audiobooks, somewhere I signed up to Audiobook Boom’s weekly newsletter. However it took me about three to four months of newsletters to finally take a chance on signing up for a few books and I wish I had tried sooner. I am an avid reader and was on several ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) teams until life became too busy to actually sit down and read a book. I still love reading; be it a physical book or an ebook. I will always love reading and thanks to audio books, I can also listen while doing other things.

IHS: Out of curiosity, when do you listen to audiobooks? That is, what are you usually doing when you are listening to audiobooks?

Shannon: Usually I’m on my computer playing several games or organizing files when I’m listening to the audiobooks but sometimes I’ll also listen while I’m doing chores.

IHS: Listeners, like book readers, often have their favorite niche or genre, and things they don’t like to get into. What kinds of books do love, and which do you stay away from?

Shannon: My favorite genre is romance, erotica to be specific, but I also like a whole range of other genres like Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Suspense/Thriller, Biography, Educational, Self-Help, etc. If the blurb catches my eye then I’ll give it a shot. Majority of the time I’m not disappointed. What do I stay away from? Historical fiction of any kind, probably because if it’s written correctly then I get irritated with how most things were done in other times.

IHS: Great point! Okay, do you have any funny stories about something that happened while you were in “another world” while listening-away?

Shannon: When I have my earbuds in my husband and children will tap my arm or leg to get my attention.

IHS: Do you ever follow a narrator? If you like their voice, will you go out of your way to pick up another book by the same narrator? Any particular narrators you really like?

Shannon: There are several that will influence me to listen to a book more than another. I won’t go out of my way to find what all the narrator has done but the ones I really like I keep an eye out for. There are several narrators that I love the way they read the stories. For children’s books, you cannot beat Heidi Gregory. She has a lovely voice and does voice changes quite well. A Sci-Fi narrator that I thought was totally awesome was Jason Sprenger. There are a few romance narrators that I think really add to the stories and they would be: Kale Williams (who I think could make reading the phone book sound sexy), Season Presley, Terri Clark Linden, and Meghan Kelly.

IHS: What will make or break an audiobook for you?

Shannon: The narrator. If the narrator doesn’t deliver then it can really ruin a story. A narrator needs to make sure they can inflict the right emotions into the characters and story as well as differentiate between the various voices of the characters. I can even tolerate a “tinny” sounding book better than I can a bad narrator.

IHS: What should new listeners look for before deciding to purchase an audiobook?

Shannon. Well, I can only tell you what I do to choose a book. Whether it’s an author I already know or someone new to me I’ll read the blurb for the story. If it catches my eye then I’ll give the book a chance. But, if the blurb doesn’t totally convince me and the story has a high rating then I will look at the reviews. But generally I just go off of my first instinct from the book blurb, rarely is it wrong and I’ve seen some reviewers give a one star because 1) the blurb wasn’t all inclusive of the book’s content, 2) not what they usually read or listen to, or 3) the story was too long or short for their tastes. So you have to be careful about using reviews to decide if you’ll read or listen to a book.

IHS: What do you say to people who don't "get" audiobooks?

Shannon: No haters in my family. They all see the benefits to audiobooks. My family and friends don’t see a competition between physical books versus audiobooks. Both have their benefits and I feel there should be no “battle or competition” between the two. I buy all forms of books: print, ebook and audio. They each have their benefits and pitfalls.

IHS: According to Audible, only about 1 in 20 books is created in audiobook format.  If a book is not in audiobook format, will you buy it?

Shannon: Yes I would still buy a book without it being in audible format. Having a book in audible format is a bonus not a must. To me, if I like a book then that’s the reason I buy it. Audible books have gained in popularity lately due to people’s busy and hectic lives, sometimes it’s the only way a book gets “read”. How many books have I read in the past year? Well, that number would be about 100-200 books...I'm an avid reader, a bibliophile. :) 

IHS: Finally, what advice would you give to an author who is considering doing an audiobook?

Shannon: Make sure you have the right person reading your story. There have been a few stories I have listened to where the narrator ruined the experience for me. Authors should have several people read their material before deciding who will work best.

Okay, now. We'd like to know your Top 10 Audiobooks you've listened to in the last year:

1) Mary Morgan – Legends of the Fenian Warriors Bk 1: Quest of a Warrior

2) Marilyn Greene, Gary Provost – Finder: The True Story of a Private Investigator

3) Brian Barr – Songs of the Hallow Saints/The Coldest Winter

4) Arthur Conan Doyle – A Study in Scarlet

5) Dawn Chapman – Puatera Online Box Set

6) Gary Jonas – The Jonathan Shade Series (Books 1-6)

7) T.R. Lester – Kastor Blackwood Bk 1: Revelation: Demon Kin

8) Valerie Twombly – Eternally Mated Bk 1: Fall Into Darkness

9) Elise Sax – Three More Wishes Bk 3: Quick Bang

10) And Definitely, Teresa Ives Lilly – Cup N Cake

That's awesome! Okay, Shannon. Thank you so much for your time today.

That's it for now, folks! You can find Cup N Cake on Audible, iTunes and Amazon.


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