Author: Stacy Bennett
Narrator: Zachary Johnson
Length: 14 hours 49 minutes
Series: The Corthan Legacy, Book 1
Publisher: Miramae Press
Released: May 5, 2017
Cara has been a prisoner all her life, shackled by a broken soul and fear of her father’s temper. When a mercenary captain is taken prisoner, he sparks something in her she doesn’t recognize – rebellion. Determined to save the captain’s life, she flees with him intent on leaving her past behind. It isn’t love that drives her father’s zealous pursuit, but a hidden magical birthright she never knew about. Now she must solve the puzzle of her past before her father kills everyone she loves in his bid to reclaim her.
Stacy has always been a nomad, but is currently residing in New Jersey. For now.
She enjoys multilayered tales with simple structure and deeper intent, stories of soul and psyche and heart. There’s nothing better than a book that convinces you its inhabitants are as real as you are. Then again, maybe we are only characters in someone else’s tale.
Lover of mathematics, devourer of science fiction, and connoisseur of the dad joke. When he’s not doing math for business or fun, he’s devouring science fiction and fantasy, reading up on scientific advancements, going for a jog, or, on all too rare occasions, taking a refreshing swim at the beach. At your service, you shall have an able storyteller and gifted conveyor of information. Experienced in narrating fiction, from the romantic to the post-apocalyptic, and nonfiction, from the historical to the corporate, and armed with the tools to make it all sound great, Zachary promises that, no matter the job, you’ll be read-iculously pleased!
Q&A with Author Stacy Bennett
- How did you select your narrator?
- I know many would say that choosing a narrator is the result of reflection and study and an exhaustive search, days spent poring over reviews and samples of the candidates’ work. But I’m not that kind of person. I’m the kind of person to go with my gut and hope for the best.
- At the time, I was super excited to do an audiobook. They are one of my favorite things in the whole world. Once upon a time, I was married to a marine and we used to read to each other in the car on long trips. But reading the whole way on a cross-country four-day trip gets very tiring. So we switched to audiobooks. That way one of us could sleep while the other listened, driving deep into the night.
- So the chance of doing one of my own book was just thrilling, almost more than seeing it in print to be honest. So on recommendation of some writer folks, I went to ACX and searched for producers willing to do royalty share (since I didn’t have money) and who narrated fantasy. I perused male and female narrators, clicking on samples here and there, not really knowing what I was doing. If I’m completely honest I knew, even though my protagonist was a woman, I wanted a male narrator (for reasons that would answer an whole other question), but I gave the ladies an equal chance.
- Beyond that feeling though, I had no clue what I was really looking for or how I would ever make this choice. I just figured I’d know it when I heard it.
- And I was right. Out of about 12 narrator samples I heard that first evening, the minute I listened to Zach’s I knew he was the one I wanted. It was truly “love at first listen.” The tone, the pacing, the voice just WAS my book.
- So I put up an audition snippet which I was not very confident in and invited Zach along with three others to audition. (I only invited the others in case he turned me down.) The rest is history, as they say. And I’ve never regretted it.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- Quest of the Dreamwalker was my first book, first published book, first audiobook. Much as I i may try to deny it, I am a control freak, especially about my books. Well, maybe control freak is too strong a phrase (probably not), so let’s say I’m a Mother hen, just to be kinder. And Zach was gracious enough to allow all my prodding and questions and comments without complaining. He is truly wonderful to work with. He did ask for pronunciation and I had written some “foreign language” prayer into the story not realizing I may one day have to tell someone how to pronounce it! That was an interesting problem, but Zach read it without a hitch. It still makes me laugh.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- Actually, the two main female characters in Dreamwalker were sort of my attempt at sorting through why I felt like I had two distinct personalities which were fairly opposite of one another. Kind of a personal psychological pondering as it were.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- Frankly, I don’t avoid burn-out. I don’t seek it out. It’s not my favorite experience. But burn-out happens. When you’re a single working mom of two kids with a day job or two and aspirations of something more, burn-out is an occupational hazard. In a perfect world, I suppose if you were a great planner you could avoid it. But I’m definitely not a planner, more of a pantser, and my world has always been so far from perfect I’m just happy to get off the rollercoaster for a weekend once in a while.
- If I make a plan, set a deadline and work toward, it seems that is the best time for everything else in my life to blow up. So I stubbornly try to keep to the dream, to push through on grit and a little bit of masochism. At times, I juggled as many thing as the Cat In The Hat and just prayed I wouldn’t fall off the ball. Grit your teeth, get it done. That’s just sometimes how life is. And when it’s all over, you collapse in a heap and sleep for two days.
- Burn-out to me isn’t an ending. It’s not death. It’s just another phase, like a black day (those days of not being able to function left over from a history of depression) or a case of the flu. Or maybe it is death, but like a phoenix I rise from the ashes every time. Eventually you begin to trust the rising. So you take time with the pets, and the kids who were annoying you only three days before, you laugh and eat too much chocolate and sleep late, and heal up only to start all over again.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- I have always loved audiobooks and I think it stems from when I was little. My parents read to us or rather my dad read to me. I actually don’t remember my mother ever reading me a book or anyone reading books to my brothers but they were older and probably had outgrown it. But I vividly remember my dad reading to me. He would read The Golden Stallion over and over and over again any time I asked. He had the patience of a saint.
- Now audiobooks are a boon because the time that would be perfect for reading an actual book are now in conflict with actually writing. If I have time to read, I have time to write and wouldn’t I rather do that? But when I’m driving, or walking, or jogging, or shopping, I can listen to a book being read to me. So in order to keep up with my writing AND my reading, audiobooks are the best thing since sliced bread.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- I would say that general wisdom holds that the best way to teach a child to read is to read to them. Partially because they love it. The fall in love with stories, and words, and rhymes. So why should we not still love being read to just because we’ve been on the planet more than 18 years? Knowing how sentences sound in your head informs your writing style as much as what a sentence looks like. So why should it be cheating? When I listen to a reading of the unabridged Jane Austen, why are those words less precise and alluring as the written ones. I find them both infinitely appealing.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- When I have slumps of any kind, usually a day in nature cures me. Either a hike in the woods, a day on the beach or taking the camera to nearby farms or sculpture gardens always brightens my energy and gets me back in the motivation. Music also works which is why we authors frequently have playlists for our books. A rousing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody works wonders!
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
- Yes, Lela the wolf definitely came to me in a dream.
- What’s next for you?
- I had a long hiatus from writing due to a job situation that was less than ideal. Now that I’ve gotten things rolling again, and my kids are mostly grown, I have time to devote to my stories again. And I guess in my head I think of it as working my stories more than WRITING. It’s not about the act but the mystery behind it. And now that I’ve started again I really don’t want to stop. Next up is to finish the third book of the Corthan Legacy, Hound of Barakan. I also have a lovely standalone which was a NaNoWriMo project and I absolutely adore it. It is called Mask of Innocence and should be out directly after Hound of Barakan. After that, there are a number of Corthan Legacy storylines that need to be written, as well as at least one more standalone (temporarily named City of Flowers) and a duology/trilogy (Goddess Stone).
Narrator Zachary Johnson on which reviews stand out to him most
This is my all-time favorite positive review, and it’s actually for “Quest of the Dreamwalker!”
Zachary Johnson, narrator, performs this epic novel as if he were born to do so. He owns the book with his talent to step into the story and wear each character as if it was his true identity. While his female voices are not feminine by any means, he does a good job of making them female through emotion and style of speaking. In other words, Fallon is spoken strongly – she is a strong female lead; Cara is hesitant – she is shy and unsure; Moira is in love, hopelessly with a man and is tired of waiting; her tearful voice demonstrates her passion. I enjoyed Zachary Johnson’s reading so much so that it was a disappointment to reach the end of the book.
This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves magic, dragons, and knights in shining armor (ok, slightly tarnished armor).
There were no issues with the production or quality of this audiobook.”
This one stuck with me for a couple of reasons. First, I was always afraid that I could never convincingly voice female characters. My voice is deep enough that I have trouble pitching it high without sounding like I’m intentionally trying to be ridiculous, which obviously isn’t suitable for every character I’d play, and would really only grate on the poor listener if I tried to sound “feminine” that way. My solution was not to bother trying. I would just use exactly what this reviewer describes. I would vary cadence, maybe add some of those quirks I mentioned (I’ve even used depth and gravel for female characters and it totally worked because it matched up with the characters’ personalities), maybe use accents. But really what I chose to focus on was personality over pitch. I wish I could say this was some great insight on my part, but it really was just a response to a fear I had of trying too hard to “sound female (whatever that means).” Nonetheless, reading this review taught me an important lesson: What matters, above all else, is my acting, not my range. Range is great, but acting is everything. Second, I was convinced I would never even be competent at engineering my own audio. This review dispelled that notion. And I’ll forever be grateful for this one.
This is probably my favorite negative review (I got two stars for my performance):
“The inflection of words and manner in which this was read was not how I pictured this beautifully written novel to be narrated. There was an underlying angst in the narration that didn’t fully fit. I definitely enjoyed physically reading this instead of listening.”
This one taught me an important lesson. And that’s that everyone has their own idea of how a story should sound, and, no matter how right my acting choices might feel, or how much the author likes them, there will *always* be those listeners who won’t agree with me. And they’ve every right to do so. Art is meant to be enjoyed by an individual in their individual way, and while I was sad I couldn’t connect with this particular listener through my performance, it would be ridiculous for me to begrudge them their opinion on it, and equally ridiculous for me to cast aside my whole performative paradigm just to please this one person. Nobody is really at fault here. We simply enjoy and imagine our art differently. And that’s as fine as it is inevitable. That is to say, completely.
Book 2 of The Corthan Legacy is in production and will be released this summer!
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Disclaimer – I have not read/listened to this book so I cannot speak to its appropriateness for a K-12 Christian School library. I encourage librarians to read the book before making a purchasing decision.
I choose to share it because it does sound interesting. If you read it, let me know what you think.