First Times

Do you remember the first book you read? What about your first kiss? What about your first f/f book? Your first crush? Your first R-rated movie? So many special firsts in life.

As Cobie says in Rachel Spangler’s In Development: First times matter. They set the expectations for everything that comes afterward.

Just now, in my 50th year (how did that happen?!?!) I am experiencing a first that has been a long time coming. The stage was set in 1979 when 5th grade me auditioned for the school play. This was pre voice lessons and pre choir experience and I am not a naturally gifted singer. I can, and could, however read aloud. Naturally, I was not cast in any of the singing parts, 0a1ad7e4-b165-4170-99fe-16088bf1b99dbut Ms. Aubin, my wonderful director, was delighted to have loud, precise little Ann Shanks be the narrator. I proudly stood in front of the audience of parents, looking down from my perch on the stage at one end of the school gymnasium.




I still remember some of the songs I introduced in that musical retrospective:68ce55a4-f043-40bc-81a7-550ffc94e7c5 Good Morning Starshine was sung by a group of teachers, In the Year 2525 featured a number of my classmates tripping around the stage in cardboard boxes covered with aluminum foil. It was my first experience reading to an audience and I was hooked.

In that same school, just across the hall from that gymnasium, I read my first book, Go, John, Go! in 1974. I can still picture the green and white pages with their simple line drawings.


Over the past 40 years I have read thousands of books. I have also spent countless hours on stage, inhabiting all manner of interesting characters from c27fe789-cd0f-476a-a12e-2d607e7131ffDorothy Gale of Kansas to Barb of August: Osage County. 097fbf6b-17aa-46ce-995e-d8c5b82b7cfcOne of my true loves remains the act of reading to people. I was always the first to volunteer to read aloud in English class and as I got older I started volunteering to read at church and other venues where narration was called for.

As audiobooks became more popular I picked up another dream- to narrate audiobooks. This combines two of my great loves- books and speaking. I started with voiceover lessons, then moved on to shorts and clips, thanks largely to Catherine Lane and to Sheena Lemos Ebersohn’s book clips through her site The Lesbian Review.

In 2018 Rachel Spangler let me have the pleasure of narrating and producing the audiobook for In Development. This week I sent it off to Audible. Let’s hope I got all the technical pieces right!cafe2ecc-268c-467d-a1e4-313257f0d071

This is a major first for me- my very first full-length audiobook. 40 years after my narration debut and 45 years after learning how to read. I am so filled with gratitude to have this opportunity and I can’t wait to share the audiobook with you!

I am honored that In Development is my first audiobook. I hope it sets an expectation of more wonderful audiobooks to come.

What are important firsts in your lives that have come about recently?




  1. Congratulations Anne – haven’t listened to any lesfic novels but I am now tempted to give them (or at least this one) a try. I loved reading the book – it will be interesting to see how the two experiences compare.


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