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Two authors creating an audiobook…without killing each other #audiobook #guestpost #mystery #bookish

Two authors, two military officers, two different personalities writing a mystery series about murder and mayhem



(Especially when writing a series!)

Two years ago, we knew nothing about how to produce an audiobook. But after reading Dead Man's Pose to each other about 50 times, we knew we wanted to try and create a quality audiobook. It’s almost undefinable what drove us to start this new and complex project. Our passion is telling a good story wrapped in the best art of the storytelling. But getting the audiobook put together and produced? Well, now that's a different story.

Blending two styles. Let's just start by saying we are two completely personalities. We met in Officers Candidate School in the US military. Our last names started with the same two last letters, and we stood beside each other. At 'attention' of course. John is tall, a long-distance runner and a person who is good at predicting future events. Susan is a slender woman, who is like a firecracker full of action and a long list of things that must be done today. On most topics, we see things differently, and our ways of expression are a stark contrast.

So how could we come together and write as one voice? By necessity, we've had a lot of practice. Through our wide-ranging occupations and projects over the years in multiple countries, we've learned to blend our styles to make a unifying approach for most things, including cooking. So, John cooks, and Susan says how great it is.

Classic Plus Cozy. Our books focus on classic literary fiction but with heavy dollops of a 'cozy-mystery-suspense' approach. We spend a considerable amount of time working on the plot of one book, while we may be writing others in the series. As the characters, plots and activities may overlap, it becomes a tracking process that includes spreadsheets, tables and lists. In this case, John thinks, while Susan makes the lists.

Plots as Coat Hangers. The plots are paramount to us as they become the coat hangers on which we fashion our characterizations. However, we may also have a specific issue or flaw that our characters work on during each book. As we have two main characters, we alternate who is the 'lead' or protagonist for each book.

Occasionally, some of the sub-characters feature with different issues to solve and, and down the track line, they will have a book of their own.

For us, it is hard to choose one scene over another as our favorites, as our writing is very layered. Working separately and then together as a team, then apart again, we tend to go back and forth on the various scenes within each book. This includes reading the book ourselves, and then reading to each other.

Action Scenes. When an action scene occurs, we often take time to create a replica of the scene. Sometimes we do this spontaneously, as our creative streak might happen right when we are having breakfast. So whatever is available is used during that moment.

Figure 1: Susan and John recreating a scene with various locations and personnel and using what was available during breakfast for the action sequence.

Character Smorgasbord. The challenge of course, is to make each character seem authentic and multi-faceted. This includes various characters with those every so quirky characteristics that allow them to be visualized in the reader's mind. We also rely on the readers' imagination to mold our characters to the people they might know or think about. It is part of the partnership of willing participation between us and the readers.

Our wordsmithing plays an integral part in this. Writers have the delicious opportunity to use a smorgasbord of options at their fingertips when building a character. Like any artist, they can dabble in one method and then switch to another if that isn't working.

Knowing the right balance can be a method of trial and error where we work at something repeatedly until it reads and sounds right. Sometimes the character comes to life with little or no effort like they are ready to jump out from the computer keys onto the page. Those are the extraordinary moments every writer loves.

Many of our characterizations are based on people we have met and interacted with over the years. John is using the books as therapy, while Susan is practicing her English Major (including Latin and Victorian poets) background.

Audiobook Creation. But an audiobook creation requires, first, a story that sounds 'fantastic' when it is heard out loud. This involves the recipe of a compelling plot and complex characters. So, as we created Dead Man's Pose, we purposely built it in ways where we could emphasize the 'performance' side of the story.

For example, Agatha Christie is known for her 66 detective novels and various short story collections. She sometimes has a scene in which all the essential characters are in a room, on a boat, or on a train, and the detective works through the known information. By the end of that section, the person or persons that committed the crime is revealed. We wanted to play with that in Dead Man's Pose.

12 Characters in One Room. In the chapter, The Crime Solver's Potluck, we have 12 characters in a room with various interests and backgrounds. This includes: a blind man whose nose is tour de force; an outback detective who hopes nothing is revealed in this informal setting; two homeless men, one of whom resembles a Shakespeare's Falstaff; and Professor Scott and his TackiNotes and Tabasco sauce. Of course, the hosts of the Potluck are our main characters in the entire series: Elaina (our solicitor / lawyer turned Yoga studio owner) and Ric (our mysterious dark horse photojournalist).

All these twelve individuals crowded into Ric's small apartment have voices we had to identify for our narrator. This alone took weeks in listening to voices across the planet. Did we want a Hugh Jackman voice for our Ric? And a Cate Blanchett voice for our Elaina? And what do we do about Alfred, the key homeless character? We knew we wanted he needed that deep Chris Hemsworth voice that is both gravelly and understandable. The voice you want to listen to no matter what he is saying. We listened to voice after voice trying to bring together the 'performance' model we had in our heads.

Acting it out. And when we got stuck on how the characters would respond, we acted out what we wanted each character to do and say.

You can imagine what occurred when someone came to our front door, and we were dressed in an array of clothing and hats to quickly go from one character to another. Naturally, we didn't bother explaining.

But we will say that we have purposely acted out how Ric would kiss Elaina in a few scenes. Susan insists we had to do that particular action with many retakes to get everything right. John has questioned whether it will take at least until Series 5 or 6 of the Yoga Mat Mysteries before the method is perfected.

Focus on the Outcome. Writing is a hard job. Production of an audiobook takes it to a whole new level. And no amount of effort guarantees anything.

When we started writing together, we aimed to have fun, focused on creating quality fiction and overall enjoy the outcome. Before Yoga Mat Mysteries (YMM), we published three books. With our new YMM series, we have Dead Man's Pose as an ebook and Cobra Pose as an ebook. Dead Man's Pose has been released as an audiobook and the Cobra Pose Audiobook is weeks away. We are learning all the time.

Have we had fun in all this writing and producing? You bet we met that goal. And while there are moments of tension and frustration, Susan suddenly stands up, signaling we have to practice the kissing scene again. John is happy to give it another go.

Title Dead Man’s Pose

Author Susan Rogers & John Roosen

Narrator Rupert Degas

Genre Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Romance

Publisher G-EMS PTY LTD and PS LLC

Audiobook Cover Tess McCabe, Susan Rogers, Christopher Roosen, John Roosen

Book Blurb

Dead Man’s Pose is a tension-reliever in yoga. Not this time!

A spirited yoga teacher teams up with a dark horse partner (determined to right wrongs); and together they seek closure on the sudden and mysterious death of a friend.

Throw in a cast of quirky characters that includes a savvy outback detective, an eccentric academic, a highly observant (but sight-challenged) witness, an exotic hairdresser, a Falstaffian nomad, crooked officials, and some assorted mob thugs.

Add some heat between the investigators, plus Ric’s wry humour and Elaina’s smart dialogue, while they both tumble into chase scenes to avoid sharks, cruise through a darkened saloon and conduct late-night spying on a ‘high roller’ that floats.

Combine that with word pictures of Sydney, one of the world’s most picturesque cities (which also has sleazy backstreets and a gummy web of intrigue), and you have the cocktail mix of Dead Man’s Pose.

It’s a jigger of Agatha Christie’s compelling plotline; adding two parts of Cherringham Murder Mysteries; shake in the backdrop of Sydney, Australia which acts as another character and garnish with the mood and tempo of a Michael Connelly’s clue-packed charge. Dead Man’s Pose has all the classic hallmarks of a whodunit genre … But presented as a gin fizz romantic mystery with extra fizz.

Your Dead Man’s Pose eBook is just a click away. Hungry for more? Dead Man’s Pose is first in the Yoga Mat Mysteries’ line-up. Second in the series (now online) is Cobra Pose. Next will be Tree Pose – coming soon!

Watch the book trailer

Listen to an audiobook sample

Buy Links


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Authors Biographies

About the Authors

John Roosen started his career as a biologist, served as a commissioned naval officer and environmental emergency specialist in the United States, and has lived and worked in Australasia, Antarctica and the Middle East. At a moment’s notice, he would respond to chemical and refinery plant explosions, deal with rocket fuel plant meltdowns and dismantle illegal drug labs. John worked in the Middle East on a number of projects in Iraq, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and several conflict zones and other locations. As a change-up, John switched careers to chasing pirates and duelling with a con artist extraordinaire on a remote South Pacific island as the Commissioner of Maritime Affairs. In between, he organised jungle expeditions and deep-sea scuba diving. However, John’s experience extends beyond responding to cataclysmic disasters and includes mastering the intricacies of making soufflé omelettes without burning the edges.

Susan Rogers already knew she was a writer at age six, but as an adult she took a major detour in becoming a commissioned naval officer and a designated law enforcement officer. She has conducted sting operations, run extensive weapons training programs and directed the restoration of a Presidential yacht. In between, she has written a number of books. Susan’s work has taken her into government operations in the United States, Australasia, the South Pacific and the Middle East. She has run health and safety operations for multi-billion-dollar projects in Abu Dhabi and worked for engineering and environmental firms in the Middle East on projects across the region. She also revamped a South Pacific maritime service with responsibilities for local trade vessels and an international fleet servicing the maritime industry. Susan continues to write: whether braced against the hull of a sailing vessel on a hard tack, during a crossing of the Middle East’s empty quarter in a Mini, or bouncing around in a troop carrier in Australia’s outback.

After writing Surviving Paradise about their life in the South Pacific, John and Susan created the concept of their mystery series. Dead Man’s Pose is first in the Yoga Mat Mysteries’ line-up, with Cobra Pose as the second in the YMM series (online February 2023). Next will be Tree Pose – coming soon!

Social Media Links


Mindy Bormann
Mindy Bormann
Jun 10, 2023

I got a kick out of this. It seems they work well together.


Jan Sikes
Jan Sikes
Jun 09, 2023

What a fun and interesting project! I love it when people collaborate and produce a compelling story. Best wishes to Susan and John!


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jun 09, 2023

Thank you, Susan and John, for the fantastic guest post!

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