Why audiobooks can appeal to ALL your senses
Guest Post byParis Rivera
“Radio is a very visual medium”, a wag once said, and I think there’s a lot of truth in the statement. When you can’t see, it does stimulate the imagination. Audiobooks have that visual quality that radio has. And since I’ve been publishing lesbian erotica audiobooks quite intensively in the past year (all available in ebook form too), I’ve had a great chance to explore and discover the huge erotic potential of the audio format.
In erotica, pictures always come flooding in, and audio is certainly no bar to that. Colors, for example, are super-important, as in this brief passage about the journey home of one woman, 34, and her electrifying encounter with a beautiful and assertive 20-year-old Japanese woman (from my audiobook Strangers on a Train):
Sally let her eyes drift down to the girl’s dark blue skirt, somewhere between a mini and a midi, and she could not help but notice the long and shapely legs that were crossed rather elegantly within the skirt, with milky thighs and smooth white calves that tapered down to delicate ankles and dark blue heels. Her nails were painted dark blue also. Wow, this girl was really something!
Whether in a book or an audiobook, the absence of an image invites not only the visual imagination but all other senses too. You get a hint of this in the old movie ‘9 ½ weeks’, in which Kim Basinger wears a blindfold and is driven wild by Mickey Rourke and some ice-cubes!
Audiobooks invite you to play with sound a little more than you would in a text that’s designed only to be read. Some well-placed ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ can contribute hugely to the mounting excitement, and the narrators I’ve worked with have been sinfully good at this!
I also try to use sound more subtly. In the audiobook The Morning After, which is wonderfully and excitingly narrated by Charm, a young woman wakes to find her new girlfriend Sandra has left the bed they just shared. But the visit of Sandra’s bright-eyed Spanish maid, Maria, brings surprising consolation, and, after a teasing conversation, the diminutive Maria is soon lifting the narrator, clad only in black undies, and placing her on her belly on the same giant bed that the narrator had only just shared with Sandra:
If the stimulation of Maria’s hands and words was not bad - or good - enough, I suddenly felt something else – and I gasped. It was the touch of Maria’s nose and mouth behind me, the feel of them pushing gently but insistently between the mounds of my behind. With all the strength I could muster, I raised my butt slightly, to encourage and help Maria, fighting the shuddering weakness in my own muscles as the pleasure intensified.
Once more, I wasn’t sure if I could stand it, or hold my position. I wanted to call out and wake the entire neighborhood. ‘Enjoy the flight’, I told myself once more, gripping the sheets like I was trying to rip them.
“So sexy girl, Diana,” Maria said softly. Her voice was slightly muffled now, but I think I could still make out what she was saying.
“So sexy for your Maria. So sexy Sandra’s girlfriend.”
When the narrator speaks these lines in a voice that is distinctly muffled, it really is very sexy to hear!
Another sense that audiobooks have encouraged me to explore is the sense of smell. In my story Study Break 2, Savita and Becky are two students who take a train with the intention of studying en route but end up getting drawn into the mysterious and sensuous world of an intensely beautiful black woman who is sitting opposite. Mrs Smith has a smooth, gentle, velvet voice and the slow, confident manner of an aristocrat. As the seduction unfolds, scent plays an important role. Savita recalls one moment in particular:
I lay across the seats with my head next to Mrs Smith’s thigh and stretched out my long legs towards the far window.
“Be gentle with me,” I said softly, pushing my head against that thigh as if to emphasize the point.
I tried to calm myself, breathing as deeply as I could. I looked over at Becky. She was smiling at me. She looked intensely beautiful. Once again, I wondered if I was dreaming and I literally pinched my arm to check.
Not dreaming I guess…
I breathed in through my nose and drank in that gorgeous scent [At this point the listener hears the sound of breathing in.] It really was a kind of marsh-mallow aroma, with apple, vanilla and now I was getting a little sweet musk as well.
I wanted this gorgeous woman so badly. I wanted to drown in that scent and give her all the pleasure I could…
In this story, I try to emphasize the erotic potential of ‘not seeing’. Soon Mrs Smith is turning to face Savita’s feet and actually kneeling astride the young college student. Suddenly, Mrs Smith lets her dark brown skirt over the student’s face like a tent, before slowly, tantalizingly, lowering herself into a position of great intimacy. Savita cannot see much but all her other senses are on fire, not least her sense of taste as Mrs Smith’s high state of arousal communicates itself through the thin cotton of her undies. Nor can Savita see the events that are subsequently unfolding between Mrs Smith and her fair-haired friend Becky; but she can certainly hear the conversation and the references to various kinds of undressing. Soon Savita can also feel Becky’s presence, not least her knowledgeable hands. And when both her companions fall silent, Savita senses the long kiss between them…
Oh gosh! Where was I?!! My mind is drifting.
And not just my mind…
Ah yes, the challenges and potential of audiobooks!
I find that the character of the narrator can make quite a different to how a story is written. Some narrators – like Charm - are just so talented at building the excitement and the ecstacy hat it encourages you to write with a kind of wild abandon. Other narrators have a coolness and restraint that is itself intensely erotic and encourages a long slow build-up in which passion may also be expressed by what is not said and even, as with Mrs Smith and Becky, by silence (Study Break; Study Break 2; Tell Her She’s Pretty; Your Bath is Ready, Madame). In Your Bath is Ready, Madame, the narrator went to the lengths of recording some water sounds to accompany the following lines and you can just feel the delicious tension between the two women in her restrained, soft voice:
The bubbles were so high and fluffy that Amanda could not actually see anything beneath the surface of the water, but she gamely moved to kneel beside the bath, comfortable on a thick-pile bathmat, and she began to sweep her left hand slowly through the water, feeling for the bottom of the bath.
Almost immediately, she felt the soap, but she ignored it. Why end the game when it had just begun?! Amanda’s hand continued its explorations, brushing against the side of Chantale’s dress and then feeling where the hemline gave way to the top of the French girl’s stockings.
“I’m sorry, I cannot find the soap, madame!” Amanda said, trying to sound as contrite as possible.
“Well keep looking!” Chantale said in a stern voice.
Overall, it’s been amazingly fun to collaborate on these audiobooks. Both the narrators and the audio medium have influenced the stories in subtle and interesting ways. The reviews suggest that listeners are having a good time too. I’d definitely recommend this format to other writers – and of course to other listeners and readers.
The old saying goes that “The eyes have it.” Well, that may be true. But let’s not forget those other sensual organs – the brain, the hands, the lips, the tongue, the nose… and of course the ears.