AudioFile’s Jo Reed spoke with author Brad Meltzer and Golden Voice narrator Scott Brick about their longtime collaboration and about Meltzer’s new nonfiction audiobook, THE NAZI CONSPIRACY, out this week. Listen to their conversation about their work together, the research that goes into writing and performing these audiobooks, and more.
Jo Reed: There are reasons these two work so well together. I was lucky enough to sit down with Brad Meltzer and Scott Brick to talk about their long and successful collaboration.
Brad Meltzer: When my grandmother years ago was going blind. Before anyone was really into audiobooks, she could only use an audiobook because she just couldn't see anymore. She could hear, but she couldn't see. I gave her Scott's first recording that he ever did, a thriller of mine called THE FIRST COUNSEL. And I waited for her reply. And she said, “Darling, I’ve got to tell you, he sounds handsome.” And that's when I knew we had our guy. That was it!
Scott Brick: He has told me that story so many times, Jo. And whenever we exchange a text or an email, and I let him know, “Hey, I'm getting started in this studio pretty quick,” he'll text back, and he'll say, “You sound handsome as ever.”
JR: Your fictional books, Brad, are thrillers, and your nonfiction books for adults look at different conspiracies or secret histories. I know each of the titles has “conspiracy” in it, but it’s such a freighted word now. What you do is, deep down, history. You’re poking a flashlight into a closet. And I want you to tell me how you happened upon the title THE NAZI CONSPIRACY.
BM: You hit it right on the head. The word “conspiracy” has become something terrible these days, right? We used to be starved for truth. And now we've turned it into misinformation. And we're a culture that has more access to information than any before it, but the hardest thing to find today is the truth. And that's actually devastating to me. So, what we pride ourselves on with each of these books is showing you the real history. There are 50 pages of footnotes at the end of them.
We found the secret plot to kill George Washington at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, which was the first conspiracy. We did the secret plot to kill Abraham Lincoln with THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY, before John Wilkes Booth, at the start of his presidency. And then we found this story, THE NAZI CONSPIRACY, about a secret plot, and it's all true, to kill FDR and Stalin and Churchill at the height of WWII, and I found this story years ago. It was just a little online mention of it, this quick story, and I said, “Is this real? What's going on here?” And, of course, as always, I went down the rabbit hole and started finding out there really is kind of a misinformation campaign around it. Half the people will tell you that, you know, Hitler himself was jumping out of a plane with a knife in his teeth, trying to kill them; the other half will say, “No, this was a Russian decoy plot.” And I was just determined to find the truth. THE NAZI CONSPIRACY is us literally pulling apart the history of WWII to see what really happened on those days when Adolf Hitler was trying to truly kill the big three in their first official meeting.
JR: It was an extraordinary book, you really take us through the history of the war, but also the rise of Nazism in Germany. And it was a fascinating listen. Scott, you’re called upon in this book to deliver this history, and it’s a different kind of narration, I would think, from narrating one of Brad’s thrillers. Can you talk a little bit about the difference there and what you had to bring to THE NAZI CONSPIRACY?
SB: Sure, absolutely. It is a little bit different, I think. When you're working on a nonfiction book, I think there's always a subtext going on. As the narrator, it would be my inner monologue. And the inner monologue is always, “This really happened.” You know, it's seeing somebody in a bar, running into him at a restaurant, bumping into them on the street. And even if you're in this really loud environment, you still think, “Oh, wait a minute, you don't know this story. I have this story I need to tell you, because you don't know it now, but your life will be better once you do know it and understand it.” You know, whenever I'm working with new narrators, I always encourage them to channel the author’s excitement for the story, the reason that that they chose to write this book in particular. And look, it doesn't hurt that I've narrated a dozen thrillers that Brad has written. The wonderful thing about the writing in these books is that, with all three of the conspiracy titles, Brad comes at this from a thriller writer’s mentality. He knows how to write nonfiction as though it were fiction. And it's all the more glorious that it actually happened. Please don't tell the publisher this, but every time one of these comes from Brad and Josh, it's like a paid vacation. I mean, I would do these for free. Again, please, don't tell them that. I like to get paid, but I learn so much while I work on these books that it just doesn't feel like work at all.
Discover more audiobook collaborations between Brad Meltzer and Scott Brick in our reviews. Follow us for more interviews and recommendations on our Behind the Mic podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, or your favorite app.
Brad Meltzer photo by Michelle Watson, Catchlight Group; Scott Brick photo by Susan Stitt