It is my debut fantasy novel, one I used to launch Grim Oak Press and my battle to destroy my cancer-related medical debt. The hardcover release of The Dark Thorn was a test of sorts, creation of the physical book teaching the skills I would need to publish Unfettered, the anthology that would ultimately end that debt.
I had no idea how both would be received. I’ve been blessed. The Dark Thorn has had strong reviews. The same with Unfettered. And I think based on the strength of those reviews, Audible came calling.
Audible is an audiobook publisher, one of the largest. They work hard at producing quality audiobooks and including writers in every facet of an audiobook’s creation. They contacted my agent and wanted both The Dark Thorn and Unfettered. I knew the work they did, so I immediately said ‘yes’ to the deal. After all, the book industry has become a multi-medium experience and I had had a number of fantasy fans ask about audiobooks—either fantasy fans who are blind or people who listen to audiobooks exclusively.
I signed the contract—and then heard nothing for several months. To be honest, I forgot about the audiobooks. But about six weeks ago, I received an email from Nick Podehl. And that’s when the fun began.
Nick has been narrating audiobooks for some time. Most of you will recognize his work on The Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. He delivered great work on those books and he is known for his accents, bringing characters to life with distinct voices. I was so very lucky to have Nick be attached to narrate The Dark Thorn!
He called and we talked. He had probably 50 questions about not only character voices but how to pronounce names of characters and places. More goes into a fantasy audiobook than one would think. All of a sudden, I was forced to come up with pronunciations I had no idea about. Heliwr. Annwn. Cailleach. Caer Llion. Why did I use so many Celtic-derived names! Argh!
But Nick had great ideas where I faltered, and after an hour-long conversation, I think we came up with a great audiobook. Nick then went into the studio for the week. Eight hour days. Lots of reading. And when he finished, he wrote me to say, “I loved it. I loved reading it before I went into the studio and I loved it even more afterward.”
Well, I love how Nick brought my book to life! It’s frickin’ awesome! You can listen to Nick reading the opening of The Dark Thorn in an audio sample on Audible! And next week, on January 21st, you will be able to listen to a sample from Unfettered!
More soon! Stay tuned!
Shawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”