• William D. LaRue

This past spring, I received an email from Tantor Media, a leading independent publisher of audiobooks. The company offered to publish an unabridged audio version of my true-crime book, A STRANGER KILLED KATY, which went on sale in January 2021 in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

Now, just four months after I got that email, readers can download the audiobook from numerous online sites, including Audible.com and AudioBooks.com. It has a retail price of $19.99, although you can find it discounted, or even free if you sign up for a trial subscription to one of these services.

If you’re a fan of audiobooks, you will recognize the name Tantor, as they have published more than 5,000 titles, including ones written by some big-name authors, including Allen Eskens, Marie Kondo and W. Bruce Cameron.

Small publishers like me also love Tantor because the company saves us the hard work of creating an audiobook while giving the same quality production that an author would receive from a traditional publisher. As part of my contract with Tantor, I was also given a chance to weigh in on the design of the cover, as well its choice of narrator.

How fortunate I am that Tantor chose award-winning narrator David Marantz, whose plain-spoken delivery nicely complements the serious prose of A STRANGER KILLED KATY. So far, he’s narrated more than 130 books through Tantor alone. David won an AutoFile Earphones Award for “The Mind Club” and was nominated for an Audie Award for contribution to “Rip-Off!”, a short story collection. David is a careful narrator. More than once in the past few months, through a Tantor representative, David asked me for guidance on the correct way to pronounce a person or place. David is also a New York City-based actor who has performed on stage, film and television. (You might have seen him in small roles on “Law & Order” and the science series “Nova.”)

I first fell in love with audiobooks in the 1990s when I spent a lot of time on the road visiting my family in Northern New York or going on assignment as a reporter for The Post-Standard. I remember many times I would become so enthralled with the story-telling that I’d almost find myself wishing the trip lasted a bit longer. These days, I mostly enjoy audiobooks at home, particularly in the evening, when they give me a chance to rest my weary eyes and get swallowed up by interesting storytelling.

This photo of Katy Hawelka was provided to the Times by her family.

Watertown Daily Times reporter Ellis Giacomelli did a great job writing about Katy Hawelka and my new true-crime book, A STRANGER KILLED KATY, as part of an awesome package of stories that appeared on the print edition's front page on Sunday, April 18, (see below) and at its subscription website.

The newspaper even dipped into its archives for a gallery of photos, some of which I've never seen before.

The main story, which includes that gallery, examines the 1986 murder of Katy and her family's efforts to fight parole for her killer, Brian McCarthy, now serving time in prison. You can find the story here.

A sidebar features an interview with me about the research and writing of the book. You can find that article here.

55 Plus magazine in Syracuse just published reporter Margaret McCormick's splendid article about the research and writing of A STRANGER KILLED KATY.

Here's an excerpt:

LaRue says he relied heavily on news coverage of the time, including hundreds of stories published in The Post-Standard and Syracuse Herald-Journal, The Watertown Times and smaller community newspapers in the North Country. Even The New York Times covered the story and its impact on the community. Before the murder, Potsdam was the kind of innocent place where no one locked their doors.

He also interviewed more than two dozen people, including Katy’s mother, Terry Taber; her three siblings, Betsy McInerney, Carey Patton and Joseph Hawelka Jr.; and many of her close friends from high school and college. He also spoke with several former Potsdam police officers who investigated the murder; the district attorney who prosecuted the case; the chief of the ambulance crew that treated Katy on the scene; former Clarkson University President Allan H. Clark; and attorney Joe Fahey, who for many years has assisted Katy’s family in their quest to achieve justice for her.

“It’s amazing today the amount of information that’s available online,’’ LaRue says. “When something wasn’t online, I could often request it through email… There was a tremendous amount of documentation.’’

The article appears in the April/May print edition and also has been posted on its website.

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