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Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Mer Chronicles! Author & Narrator Interviews, Plus a Guest Post!

The Mer Chronicles by Errin Stevens
Narrator: Sean Posvistak
Genre: Young Adult (Romantic Fantasy)
Date Published: April 20, 2017
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books

For Kate Sweeting, love isn’t in the air. It’s in the water.

Since her father died, Kate Sweeting’s home life has been in the pits, her well-being on life support. Her future looks desolate until she and her mother, Cara, make another plan: abandon their shriveled existence for more promising prospects on the coast, where Cara can play small-town librarian-bachelorette and Kate can figure out what’s up with that secretive Blake family from the beach.

Everyone is eerily captivated with Kate and her mother, and Cara is the first to figure out why when the man of her dreams arrives all dripping and devoted and closed-mouthed about what he intends. Kate is willing to go along with their subterfuge for a while, but eventually makes a charge for the water to learn what her mother is hiding. Gabe Blake is there waiting for her…and so is someone considerably less friendly. By the time Kate navigates her way home, everything will have changed for her—what she feels, what she wants, and what she’ll risk to be with the man she loves.

The Mer Top Ten
1. “Rise Up” (song) by Thomas Jack & Jasmine Thompson. Addictive and hypnotic – give it a listen!

2. “Splash” (movie) is still as funny and adorable as ever.

3. “Mermaid” (book) by Carolyn Turgeon is a lovely reinterpretation of mermaid mythology, all adulted up.

4. “Robinson Crusoe” (book) by Daniel Dafoe is a revered classic for a reason. There are no merfolk but lots of ocean and it’s yummy and you should read it.

5. “Gift from the Sea” (poetry anthology) by Ann Morrow Lindbergh is dreamy and thoughtful and just right.

6. “Calypso” (song) by Suzanne Vega combines ocean nymphs, a Greek hero, and folk rock music in the cleverest of ways. What’s not to love?

7. “The Little Mermaid” (animated movie) will have you singing ‘undah da see’ for the rest of your natural born life.

8. “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” (movie) has the BEST, most convincing mermaids the movie world has ever given us.

9. “The Mermaid” (poem) by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a warm bath of beauty you can take anytime you want.

10. “Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything” (song/video) by Veggietales is HILARIOUS. Charming for grown-ups and little ones alike.

1. Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
Well, I went to the ACX web site and did a LOT of internet research while I considered how to best approach my projects. I decided I don’t much like how often we all get asked to create on the if-come, so even though it was expensive for me, I carved out a section of Updrift for use as a script and put the project up as a paid gig through the ACX production system. I got such wonderful responses from some truly talented narrators and was so agitated about choosing the right one. I co-opted the opinion of a longtime friend and actress to listen with me to help me figure it out! She told me to go with the one that pulled the “right” emotional response as I felt it… and since she and I both thought Sean’s read was the most compelling, I made him an offer. Thankfully, he accepted.

Sean was an amazing professional to work with. He made every edit I requested, did everything smoothly and beautifully, and the second I could amass my next pile of cash to produce the sequel, I contacted him to see if he’d be interested, and he jumped all over it. Same with my third. I’m really grateful for the care Sean took with my stories and can’t recommend him highly enough.

2. Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? 
No, but I found when I listened to auditions I did in fact have beliefs about how my characters should sound. As I write my fourth - and having produced three audiobooks at this point - I can say I do think of it, now. And it’s a helpful perspective to have, has helped me refine my own narrative voice on the page, I think.

3. How did you select your narrator?
Sean was one of several people who auditioned for Updrift on the ACX platform. His audition really stood out to me and my actress friend.

4. How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
Very closely, and Sean was the consummate professional throughout. He may remember the process differently, but just as proofing a written manuscript results in copy edits, the same little things come up in voice narration. I think there have been only two sentences in the whole of all three works where I asked Sean to re-read with a different tone. The rest was small stuff.

5. Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format? 
Oh my goodness, yes. Sean’s voice is just this terrific blend of compelling goodies, prompts for the listener to envision the story as well as hear it, and to feel more viscerally the tension the characters feel. And then I think his rich, resonant delivery does a much better job bringing both my hero and my antagonist to life.

6. If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? 
Okay, so my imagination has been completely captured by the Starz series, Outlander, and as long as I could bring soap and moisturizer with me, I’d go back to 18th century Scotland in a flash!

7. If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the  primary roles? 
Oooo, that’s a hard one. I think I’d cast Mads Mikkelsen as Peter, Colton Haynes as Gabe, and Saoirse Ronan as Kate.

8. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
Try it! Especially on a long drive or if you have a headache! Seriously, hearing Sean read Updrift and Breakwater and Outrush was like listening to my dad read A Wrinkle in Time to me when I was a little girl. The human voice is a powerful storytelling tool, and while it needn’t replace traditional reading, it can add an amazing dimensionality to a story.

9. Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
Do you mean have I been haunted?!??? YES!!!! Since I started writing these books, I seriously think about them all the time, even when I’m supposed to be paying attention to something or someone else. I’m pretty sure I’ve annoyed every single one of my family members and friends who have to repeat portions of their conversation to me. And yes, I think about scenes and what-ifs even in sleep!

10. What’s next for you?
I’m going to finish a fourth for this series, Crosstide, if it kills me. And it might. Seriously, I think my brain got broke last year… ;-)
1. When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator? How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
This was a suggestion from my mom. I was having trouble making ends meet at the time trying to pursue my personal passions, so she suggested a slightly different field of work that also took advantage of my voice. People always said I had a "radio voice", so I figured I'd give it a shot. Turns out that wasn't just my family being nice. Who knew?

2. What type of training have you undergone?
I was producing videos on Youtube for years before I started narrating audiobooks. It helped me refine my delivery style, and gave me plenty of opportunities to learn how to not suck from professionals like TotalBiscuit and Jim Sterling. Practice really does make perfect, in my case.

3. How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
Remind myself of my overwhelming need to eat.

But seriously: I used to work retail. This is paradise compared to that, because I get to set my own hours. Being able to work when you feel like it and still make ends meet is a dream, and keeping in mind how fortunate I am to be able to do that is what keeps me going. Because I sure as hell ain't going back to OfficeMax.

4. What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
I love fiction. Don't get me wrong: I can't complain about the steady paychecks the instructional books I usually get provide, but my heart belongs to exciting narratives meant to invoke a mood other than just self-help in you. I like getting lost in a world. I like going on a journey with pleasant characters. And I like bringing them to life in the way only a narrator can.

5. How did you decide how each character should sound in this title? 
I pulled from real-world sources. Art imitates life, so I figured basing the voices on the delivery style and people I knew would give it that edge.

6. What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
Do it.
I'm not being facetious; that's the best thing you can possibly do, and you will get that advice from anybody even remotely worth their salt. Keep recording. Keep improving. Keep learning and honing your craft. That's the only way to get better at this. Study those
 who have already gone down that road. And bear in mind: even those guys are still learning. That's how they STAY at the top of their field.
Also: buy a huge jug for storing water in. You'll thank me later.

7. If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why? 
Nate the Great. That was the book that introduced me to the concept of detectives and made me a huge fan of the genre. I have so much respect got those with an analytical mind, because I can't even beat a Phoenix Wright game, let alone solve a real-world mystery. Plus, they remind me of my personal hero: my grandfather, who actually spent his life solving real-world mysteries on the California Highway Patrol.

8. Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
Of course! Feedback is the only way I'll improve. It's already hard enough to get noticed on the great expanse that is the internet, so when someone thinks you, specifically, are worth the time to explain what you're doing right and wrong, I find it’s worth it to listen.

9. What type of the review comments do you find most constructive?
There are plenty of types of commenters, but my favorite are called "The Talkers". As in, the people who can write more than one sentence breaking down exactly what about your delivery style they like or don’t like. That kind of information is immediately useful, be it positive or negative.

10. Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
Studio? Hardly. All those samples you heard were recorded in a bedroom with blankets held up on the walls by Command hooks for noise cancellation. My pop filter is propped up on the tripod of my camera. And here's the part that's really gonna tick off my fellow VO artists: they were all recorded on a Blue Yeti. I've used a Shure SM7B, and the only thing a sample size of 4 people could tell was different was that the Shure had slightly
 better noise cancellation.

Moral of the story? Don't think you can't afford to do this job. You can get clever. You can find neat tricks as you experiment with the tools available. And you might have been
 lucky enough to be born with a voice that just works better on cheaper hardware.
Errin Stevens writes paranormal romantic suspense stories from her home in Minnesota. When not wrestling with unruly narrative - or reading literary and commercial fiction like a fiend - you’ll find her poring over seed catalogues (winter) or gardening (the other three days of the year).

To learn more about Errin Stevens and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Sean is an aspiring game developer who's used his years of work on Youtube to excel at audiobook narration.

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