Audio Spotlight: The Summer’s Gem + Narrator Interview

Title: The Summer’s Gem

Author: J. Edwards Holt

Narrator: James R. Willoughby III

Length: 4 hours

Series: Little Men, Big Treasures, Book 2

Publisher: J. Edwards Holt

Released: Sep. 22, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Three decades after returning home from the adventure that made him famous, the legendary dwarf treasure hunter O’balin Undur has gone missing. Many have presumed O’balin to be dead, including his old friend Bindle, the aged and worn mayor of Mountainside Village. After receiving an urgent letter addressed specifically to him, Bindle sneaks out of town to visit the home of an old friend. There he is greeted by a surprising guest who claims to have seen O’balin alive, searching for a mysterious stone called the Summoner’s Gem. Middle-aged and tired, but still craving adventure, Bindle leaves behind his home and family and embarks on a quest to find his long-lost friend.

Along the way Bindle forms lasting friendships, travels to new and strange places, and finds himself face to face with a wizard in an encounter that will forever change his life.

Experience adventure, suspense, and even laughs in the epic follow-up to J. Edwards Holt’s Little Men, Big Treasures.

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Q&A with Narrator James R. Willoughby III
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • This was a long audition, and while reading it, the characters just flowed for me. I didn’t even have to stop and think about it. There was a certain atmosphere that I thought I could convey and then maintain throughout the story. And it was the most fun I had narrating in quite some time. I finished the book quickly simply because it was that fun.
  • How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
    • Each author is different. Some have a very specific way that they “hear” the book in their head and they want you to convey that. Others, as with this title, like the audition and give you the freedom to create the characters as you see fit. Of course I always want input from the author on pronunciations of unusual names and such.
  • Who are your “accent inspirations”?
    • I find most of my accent inspiration comes from movies. I admit that a few are impersonations. The more we hear and watch movies, TV, or even friends and family, the more rubs off on us. After years some of it is subconsciously a part of us. In Atlanta I met people from all over the world. Not only did I learn some accents from them, I learned some of their culture as well.
  • How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
    • The first characters we encounter, the dwarves, needed to be humble in my mind, with an air of innocence. I thought the summoner should sound a bit more sophisticated and even worldly. The author left clues for many characters as to what they looked like and what tone of voice they had. And of course the audition called for a British accent.
  • What types of things are harmful to your voice?
    • When I first started, I would stay in the recording booth for five to six hours. That was not a good idea for me. After about two hours my voice starts getting lower and I started losing range. Later when editing, if I had to re-record something I did in the first hour, I couldn’t match the same voice quality until the next morning. Now I record for no more than two hours a day.
  • Has anyone ever recognized you from your voice?
    • Not yet but I live in a rural area outside of a very small town.
  • Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
    • Obalin, from this title. Here is someone who reached a bit too far and paid the price in torment. He was the most fun for me to do. Sometimes life stresses us to the very brink of sanity.
  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
    • I think morally one would have to. To try and prevent a world war, or prevent a plague. Or for more selfish reasons, to witness the building of the great pyramid, to meet Leonardo Davinci. In any case imagine trying to explain how you know that certain actions lead to war. Most likely you would be shunned as mad.
  • How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?
    • It’s surprisingly similar to the radio work I have done. I was an electrical contractor and did the voiceover for my own ads. The only difference is in radio, I wrote the copy, which I’m not bad at. But when it comes to novels, I’ll let others do the writing.
  • Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
    • Yes I have read many.
  • If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?
    • My career is still young and I haven’t had any reviews that I would call negative yet. It will happen eventually. So I have to say that the positive ones stand out the most. It is flattering and all but the best part is that what I did was appreciated by others. And isn’t that the point?

Born in North Carolina, United States, J. Edwards Holt always knew that he wanted to be a writer. After graduating high school, he attended college and pursued a degree in education, but later decided to change course and follow his dream to become a novelist and children’s author.

Now a full-time writer, editor, and blogger, Holt spends his free time dreaming up stories and reading. He is passionate about spreading Christian messages through his writing, watching science fiction and super hero movies, and collecting comic books.


When James R. Willoughby, III was in college, he created copy and did production work at the campus radio station. There he learned from a communication student whom, in the 90s, went on to be a program manager of a radio station that was voted the number one classic rock station in the country for three consecutive years. Years later when he was a project manager of an electrical contractor, he made some radio ads for them. Later he did the same for my own electrical contracting business.
He has recently built a sound booth for recording. It is lined on the inside with 2 ½” acoustical foam and lined on the outside with mass loaded vinyl. He currently owns a Rode NT1 mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 preamp.

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