Some People Can’t Find A Career – While This Woman Has Five?

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you have lots of company.

According to, around 45 percent of adults listen to audiobooks.

And it’s no surprise – in part because it’s so easy.  There are many ways to listen, says this article…

“Most audiobooks are available to listen to on your smartphone, tablet, smartwatch and desktop or laptop – how to listen to audiobooks depends mostly on which device you have and which apps can be downloaded on it.  Both Apple and Android devices will allow you to access virtually every audiobook app.”

And if your choice is audiobooks on CD with a CD player (pictured) – that works, too.

You can listen to audiobooks at home, in your car, on the bus, on the subway, on an airplane, while walking or running or doing almost anything anywhere, with or without headphones.

Just be careful not to drop your device in what many consider their favorite reading room…

But wherever and however you listen to audiobooks, did you know that the voice you’re hearing is called an “audiobook narrator”?

And it’s quite possible that you’ve heard the voice of this audiobook narrator:

This is Julia Whelan, and it’s her – and her five careers – I’m referring to in the title of this post.

According to this article in my Sunday Union-Tribune:

“Julia Whelan is a bestselling author, a screenwriter, an actor, a Grammy-nominated audiobook director, and an award-winning audiobook narrator.”

Yup. Julia has five careers.

Hardly seems fair, does it?

What’s that?  You think you’re hearing envy in my voice?

Envy?  Moi?  Because Julia Whelan has fabulous careers she loves, she’s won tons of awards, is very likely rich, and was profiled not only in the San Diego Union-Tribune, but in The New York Times?

Envy? No. 

OK, maybe.  A little.

But – curiosity, too.  I started doing some research, and now…

Let’s unpack Julia’s many hats.

Julia, a bestselling author:

Kirkus Reviews, considered a “credible, industry-renowned resource among authors, publishers, the media, libraries, booksellers, and readers,” said this about My Oxford Year:

“Whelan has created a beautiful, romantic story that focuses on big ideas – love, death, poetry, and what really matters in the end.”

And this about Thank You for Listening:

“A compulsively readable story about self-discovery with plenty of laughs and spice along the way.”

I hadn’t heard of her books, and I’m going to give Thank You for Listening a try.

Julia, a screenwriter:

I found many online references for Julia as a “screenwriter” but was unable to find any references to screenplays she’s written, on her website or elsewhere.

However, I did find a reference to her being “tapped to work on the screenplay for My Oxford Year,” so we’ll see if the movie happens.  

I’ll consider that career a “maybe.”

Julia, an actor:

This was much easier – her website says:

Julia (left) in “Once and Again.”

“Whelan’s breakout role came at the ripe old age of fourteen when she was cast as Grace Manning on ABC’s critically acclaimed Once And Again.

“Among her numerous guest-star roles, she has appeared on NCIS:LA, Castle, and an ABC pilot, Warriors.  On a special episode of The Closer, she received accolades for her portrayal of a bipolar, homeless rape victim.  She has also had leads in the TV movies Fifteen and PregnantThe Secret Life of Zoey, and The Confession…Most recently, she was the leading actor in two short films, Avalon and Ghosts of New York.”

Julia’s bio on IMDb confirms this, from her 60 episodes of Once and Again (1999-2002) to her last TV appearance on NCIS in 2017.

Julia, a Grammy-nominated audiobook director:

What the heck is an “audiobook director”?  Doesn’t an audiobook narrator just sit in front of a microphone and read? Who needs a director?

According to this article:

“As the [audiobook] director, you’re there for the technical and the artistic.  For the technical, you’re making sure that nothing is missed, words are pronounced correctly, you’re running on schedule, stumbles are re-recorded, and diction is clear.  With the artistic, you’re there as a listener and responding as a producer/editor, engaging with the text and making sure the interpretation is coming across clearly.  It’s a balancing act.”

Who knew? Not me, until now.

As for the “Grammy-nominated” audiobook director language, again – I found many online references using that language, but when I searched for Julia on I got…

Surely if she’d been nominated, she would have been somewhere on

Maybe the “Grammy-nominated” is one of those phrases that one person used online, and someone else repeated it online, then 10 other people repeated it…

I’ll consider this another “maybe.”

Now let’s get to the big-ticket item in Julia’s career:

Audie Awards, 2019:  Julia and fellow narrator Edoardo Ballerini.

Julia, an award-winning audiobook narrator:

Again, from her website:

“Having narrated over 400 audiobooks in all genres, Whelan is, by industry standards, considered one of the top narrators recording today.  She’s repeatedly featured on Audiofile Magazine’s annual Best-Of Lists.  She was named Audible’s Narrator of the Year in 2014…She has acquired multiple Audies and SOVAS (Society of Voice Arts) Awards, including for the performance of her own novel, My Oxford Year.   She has won dozens of Earphone Awards, the Audie Award for Best Female Narrator of 2019, and was presented with Audiofile Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Golden Voice Award in 2020.”

I was able to confirm some of these awards, but not all of them.

Perhaps Julia…or her webmaster…or someone…did just a bit of resume embellishment…you know – like what’s his name…

But “award-winning” – yes.

I can also confirm that Julia has narrated many, many books.

This article from 2020:

Lists some of the audiobooks Julia has narrated:

“Newly honored Golden Voice narrator Julia Whelan is known to listeners of all ages for her performances in a broad range of subjects.  For listeners of young adult audiobooks, Julia is a favorite for Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, and Plus One by Elizabeth Fama.  Lovers of fantasy might know her for Nora Roberts’s Chronicle of One trilogy, or Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch Chronicles

“Julia also stands out for her recordings of literary fiction like Flights by Olga Tokarczuk and My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh.  And let’s pile on the wonderful romance titles Julia has brought to listeners – more Nora Roberts, and Beach Read by Emily Henry.  My personal favorite in recent months is Julia’s wonderful performance of The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes.”

And for those who like visuals – that would be me – here’s an image of some of audiobooks Julia has recorded:

Note the “344 more” in the lower-right corner.

Now let’s go back to that first quote about Julia, this time with my edits in bold:

“Julia Whelan is a bestselling author, a screenwriter (maybe), an actor, a Grammy-nominated (maybe) audiobook director and an award-winning audiobook narrator.”

But even if Julia has only three (confirmed by me) careers – author, actor and narrator – that still means she’s darn busy pursuing her work of choice.

So busy that, when the author of the Union-Tribune article asked her:

Q:  Do you have time to read for pleasure?

Julia’s response was:

A:  Ha, no.  My list is massive and I don’t see getting to it until retirement.

And with that, I found my envy fading.

Because even though Julia Whelan has fabulous careers she loves, has won tons of awards, is very likely rich, and was profiled not only in the San Diego Union-Tribune and The New York Times

It seems that I have the time to do something that Julia does not:

Listen to audiobooks:

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