The Novel Approach welcomes Jordan Castillo Price today to chat a bit about the audiobook release of Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary. If you’ve been waiting for the gorgeous Michael and Wild Bill to be brought to life on audio, the time has come, and Gomez Pugh turns in another sexy knockout performance.
Enjoy Jordan’s interview, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an audio copy of the collection.
JCP: Hi, Lisa! I was really excited to talk about the Channeling Morpheus audiobooks with you, since you’re such a longtime fan of the series. Thanks for having me on TNA today!!
TNA: It’s my pleasure to have you here with us, Jordan, especially since we’re talking all things Michael and Wild Bill. :) Let’s get things rolling:
Q: There’s obviously got to be a huge level of satisfaction for an author to bring characters to life on the page, but how does that compare to the first moment you actually hear them brought to life in spoken word?
A: It’s a really big deal. I tend to be a lone wolf, so for me it’s both challenging and rewarding to work with narrators or translators. Being willing to collaborate with other artists is really the only way I’m able to expand into new languages, like French and German, or these different formats, like audio.
Initially I was thinking I’d have to settle for a narrator who was just okay, inoffensive, who basically pronounced the words right, didn’t breathe weird, and maybe had occasional good moments. And then I heard Gomez, and I felt the earth move.
Q: Having had so much success with Gomez Pugh’s narration in the PsyCop series, what made you decide he’d be the right narrator for the Channeling Morpheus series as well?
A: I felt it was risky to go with the same voice artist for a new project, actually, because there was the potential that Wild Bill would be talking away and suddenly he’d sound just like Victor Bayne. When you think about it, I do write a lot of snarky middle-aged guys. Though they sound different in my head, authorial voice must color it all and lend them a certain similarity. But I’ve sampled a number of other mainstream projects Gomez has worked on, and I knew he could maintain a plausible, distinct accent or cadence or character for an entire book.
I think one place he shines in Channeling Morpheus is with Michael. I really believe he’s a depressed 21-year-old whenever Michael speaks. I didn’t really KNOW what Michael should sound like, and the communication between us is such that he was able to help me figure it out. I couldn’t see having that level of communication with someone new. This seems to be circling back to my tendency to work alone, doesn’t it?
Q: What did Gomez think about the level of erotica in this series in comparison to the PsyCop series? Did he comment on that at all?
A: No, he didn’t say! But he originally found me when he decided he was going to try his hand at reading erotica for fun, and ended up discovering PsyCop instead and identifying with Vic. I’ve heard about narrators who project embarrassment when they’re reading a sex scene, and one thing I really enjoy about Gomez’s performance is that whenever there’s something steamy on the page, he totally goes for it, just belts it right on out.
Q: What’s the vocal preparation process like? Is there a lot of back and forth between you and Gomez, a lot of describing the characters’ voices as you hear them, then him going through a process of elimination to get it just right?
A: Initially when you work with someone on the Audiobook Creation Exchange, the system funnels all of your correspondence through the site to keep it all professional and relatively anonymous. The author puts up a sample from a story, indicates how much they’re willing to pay, and hopefully some decent narrators will come back with auditions. Some narrators will submit auditions whether or not they’re appropriate for the part. I heard PsyCop read with a variety of accents and ages. It was pretty weird. Once you get an audition you like, you make a formal offer to the producer to work on the book. And generally, once they do they audition, they give you the book in one big chunk. You don’t really have the chance to fine-tune anything once you okay a piece for production.
It’s a little less formal since Gomez and I have been working together since he started narrating PsyCop for me last year. I’ll just email him and start off by saying, “I have a story, here’s what it’s about and here’s how long it is, is this something you’re interested in?” and if so I put a word doc in our shared dropbox and we ballpark a timeframe for production.
For figuring out the voices, I read through the story and decide which important characters I have preconceived ideas about and I write up some descriptions of what makes them tick and how I’d like them to sound. I find key bits of the text that would allow Gomez to play with the voice. We take the spot where other artists would normally upload auditions, and we use that for him to deliver some voice tests to me.
He also reads through and asks me for pronunciation clarifications. We had a pretty lengthy discussion of how badly Vic would botch the pronunciation of ‘gyros’, for instance :D
Our engineer is the third member of our team—he’s responsible for the quality and consistency of the recording and he does an absolutely stellar job. I’ve heard of audios where page-turns or distracting breaths impinge on the listeners’ experience. I’d hate to get a good audition, then start working with someone new and later realize that they’re just winging it in their living room with a USB mic and Garage Band, and in the final cut there was all kinds of crappy background noise or lousy recording levels. (Or excessive breathing or lip smacking!) The surety that my team would give me an utterly professional studio-quality job was another key reason I chose to work with them for another series.
Q: Which scene(s) in this series were you most anxious to hear Gomez narrate, and why?
A: I was eager to hear what he’d do with the Minnesota state park scene in Vertigo, because years ago I actually read that scene to an audience at a local bookstore, and it was tough. So having tried to make it sound halfway decent myself, I had a good appreciation for how much skill and craft Gomez was bringing to the scene.
I think this is where Wild Bill’s voice really works, too, because when he speaks for an extended period of time, when he narrates, I really find myself swept away in his cadence and flow. Hearing Gomez do it, it’s nothing short of hypnotic.
He also brings something really special to all the side characters. He’s not just reading a book, he’s enacting a story. The vampires in this series are absolutely terrifying to me when he voices them. Marushka, dripping with sincerity as she shaves Michael’s groin; Dr. Jim pretentiously explaining vampirism; Miranda’s eerie calm as she pours them a cup of coffee.
And I can’t really talk about Channeling Morpheus without mentioning the sex. The sex scenes are stunning in audio. They all leave me a little weak-kneed, but I was particularly touched by the tenderness in the bathtub scene in Rebirth. It really feels as if they’re their own microcosm.
Q: Now that Michael and Wild Bill are out there for all the world to hear in the first five novellas in the series, when can we expect to have them back for A Bitter Taste of Sweet Oblivion?
A: Because of the production cost, it might be a few months. This will probably sound like a shameless plug for reviews, but I’m being honest when I say that readers can influence my workflow by leaving positive reviews on Amazon and Audible on my audiobooks. Professional audio is expensive to produce, and good reviews and recommendations directly affect sales. The quicker the audios pay for themselves, the more feasible it becomes for me to step up the schedule.
As for me, I’m super eager to proceed. I cannot wait to hear what it will sound like when Dr. Jim talks them into trapping a feral vampire in the Wisconsin woods in Snare. Or the dog surgery scene from Swarm. Or the underwater scene in Fluid. Heck, I wanna hear it all!
TNA: I do too, lemme tell ya! Thanks again, Jordan, for taking the time to answer my questions.
Blurb: Michael is a waif in eyeliner who’s determined to wipe vampires off the face of the earth. Wild Bill’s got the hots for Michael and will stop at nothing to go home with him. Forget about moonlit castles and windswept moors. These bad boys haunt all-night diners and cheap motels, cut-rate department stores and long, lonely stretches of the interstate. Ride along with Wild Bill and Michael as the twists and turns of Channeling Morpheus for Scary Mary unfold in America’s heartland.
About the Author: Author and artist Jordan Castillo Price writes paranormal thrillers colored by her time in the midwest, from inner city Chicago, to small town Wisconsin, to liberal Madison. Her influences include Ouija boards, Return of the Living Dead, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” and boys in eyeliner.
Jordan is best known as the author of the PsyCop series, an unfolding tale of paranormal mystery and suspense starring Victor Bayne, a gay medium who’s plagued by ghostly visitations. Also check out her new series, Mnevermind, where memories are made…one client at a time.
Find out more at www.jordancastilloprice.com