Author: E.A. Sandrose
Narrator: Ulka S. Mohanty
Length: 13 hours 44 minutes
Series: The Gempendium, Book 1
Publisher: E.A. Sandrose
Released: Mar. 5, 2020
Genre: Fantasy; Young Adult
On the planet Precios, gemstones can cure everything from heartache to heartburn, unless you're one of the children doomed to Devil's Crown to mine them. All Yrund wants is to get back to her beloved home in the Sky Country, but escaping the powerful Mining Wield will take more than just courage. Especially when Yrund accidentally steals the only living gem found in centuries. Journey into a rich new world where wonder and peril are never far apart - a tale of poetry-loving pirates, rebel bands of herders, invisible forest creatures, and a mysterious gemstone with a mind all her own. By turns heartwarming and harrowing, The Every Stone is about friendship, survival, and finding your power where you least expect it.
Q&A with Author E.A. Sandrose
- How did you pick Ulka S. Mohanty, the narrator for The Every Stone?
- Altogether, 108 auditions came in from all over the globe, which just blew me away. Some I’d reached out to, like Ulka, and some found the project through ACX or Voices.com.
- There were incredibly talented voices we got to hear, with such wonderfully different takes on the characters, but Ulka S. Mohanty was the only one who made it into the top two for all the judges. Her take on Yrund seemed so effortless, while at the same time she was able to capture entirely opposite characters like a booming mercenary pirate, and a sentient gemstone with a real mischievous streak.
- There were a few times in the audio where I was convinced Ulka actually was one of the Lumi. Her rendition of the Haya sisters squabbling was so realistic…or capturing Tana’s motherly tenderness. Wow. Just wow. Her range is really incredible. And that’s not even getting to the villains—it was like hiring a dozen different actors in one narrator.
- To be able to work with Ulka was a total dream. From the start I could tell how responsive and professional she was. And how organized and tech-savvy. That sense of having such an expert on the other side of the project was an immense gift. As a new author, you’re really giving your child away to someone else to care for, and this story was in such good hands.
- Are you a fan of audiobooks yourself? If so, what do you like to listen to?
- Yes! I love audiobooks and always have a few in rotation. If I’m cooking and need to pay more attention to the task at hand, I like to have a subject-heavy, non-fiction book going in the background. It might seem counterintuitive, but I don’t feel so panicked missing a sentence about the dense history of soup spoons because I’m watching something on the stove. I’ll often go back and replay an especially interesting part again later, like the section about chopsticks from Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson. Another cooking favorite is An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage.
- If I’ve got a migraine (something I deal with chronically), I can’t read in another format, so audiobooks are total lifesavers. They combat the loneliness and depression of being stuck in bed so often. Of course, I try to pick titles on the cheerier side for when I’m feeling the ickiest. A recent favorite is Joyful—The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee. I’ve also got the entire Harry Potter series in my Audible library.
- Did you ever consider narrating the book yourself?
- Oof, never. I know many of us don’t enjoy the sound of our own voices, but I’m probably at the extreme end. I wouldn’t call myself shy, but I’m introverted for sure. This is something I’m really trying to work on because as the author, it’s a good practice to read the entire book out loud before you send it on for editing. And even being a little self-conscious means you can’t hear mistakes. Listening to Ulka has given me so much more courage. I’ll never have the natural talent for voices or years of experience at the craft that she does, but her fearless performance has really inspired me. She just totally gets out of the way and becomes the messenger for the story—it’s such an act of love for the listener.
- How has your writing changed since hearing the audio version of The Every Stone?
- Overall, I’m much more aware of the pacing of different scenes and how the presence (or absence) of dialogue affects the emotional tone. The protagonist, Yrund, is by herself a lot in the beginning. Which totally fits, since she’s been imprisoned, but hearing that section out loud really drove home how much extra work the narrator is doing. To keep the listener right there with Yrund’s emotions when there aren’t many other characters or spoken lines on the page to drive the momentum, that’s a challenge that not every narrator would have been up to.
- Ulka is just entirely present for every line, and in that presence I think is a real gift for the listener, that sense of connection even in the hardest of times. That’s one of the best things about audiobooks—hearing another human beside us, telling us a story. It’s such a deep comfort.
- It's also a reminder to make sure I’m giving the writing my very best too. The narrator doesn’t get to skip a boring part like a reader can.
- On a more technical note, I’m definitely using dialogue tags more sparingly in book two. Your eye doesn’t even notice them on the page, but they can really get in the way for the narration.
- What does a writing day look like?
- Well, that really depends on what stage I’m in, but the day always starts with hot tea—sometimes spicy chai, sometimes Lady Londonderry, sometimes a green tea with toasted rice and popcorn… Then, after a few chores and possibly some unnecessary news perusing, I look at my big chalkboard to see where I’m at with my to-dos. I like having the big picture in one glance.
- My favorite days are working on a rough draft where the story can meander off the outline a bit, and I can sneak over to the internet to research ice caves or airships or gem-related science news. For instance, there is an actual bacteria here on earth that feeds on gems. I mean, come on—that is totally going in a future book. I love the information gathering and can be overly obsessive about research, partly as its own fun tangent and partly because I want to get the details right, even in a fantasy world.
- There are lots of snacks and breaks too. If I’m writing outside, I get distracted by birds and chipmunks a lot. If I’m inside, it means I’m probably at the table in the kitchen, which is very close to the refrigerator, which needs regular investigation.
- What do you like to eat while you’re writing?
- If it’s first (or second) breakfast time, then it could be some thick toast with peanut or almond butter and berries or an egg from our hens fried in butter. If I’m in a big hurry to get going, I’ll “drink” dry cereal and nuts from a glass, which other people seem to find quite odd.
- For lunch, I rummage around for leftovers. We love to cook, so you never know what might be in the fridge—some cold Vietnamese noodles, preserved lemon and lentil salad. My husband is a chef, so it’s pretty good pickings around here.
- If I’m still working when dinner rolls around, which happened for nearly an entire year straight while I was revising book one, my husband feeds me. Hence the book dedication to him. “Can I make you a bowl?” is one of my favorite sentences in the English language as it always precedes a delivery of something tasty, be it homemade sauerkraut with sautéed greens over brown rice or a spicy pineapple and fish soup.
- The other book dedication is to your family. How influential were they in your becoming an author?
- Very. One of my earliest memories is of my dad reading The Fellowship of the Ring to us. Books were everywhere in our house. Both my parents loved to read and my mother, a teacher, took us regularly to the library. We didn’t have a television until I was eight or so, which meant either playing outside or hiding away with a book, lest my mother remember we hadn’t cleaned our rooms or done the dishes. My brother, who’s older than I am by several years, is also a bookworm and got me even further into science fiction and fantasy when I was a young adult. One of our favorite things to do on a trip, then and now, was toodle around the local bookshops. At the peak of my parents’ collection, there were as many books in their house as some small stores—with shelves lining most of the walls. I took it for granted at the time, but now I realize how lucky I was, and, with the shift to ebooks, how increasingly rare an upbringing that will be.
- As important as surrounding me with stories was my family’s encouragement to follow my creative pursuits. They were extraordinarily supportive when I was writing The Every Stone and read many, many revisions over the years. I could never have gotten this far without them.
- In The Every Stone, the people in Asteria are born into wields that determine their livelihood and career for them. What wield would you want to be born into if you had to pick one?
- Oh man, this is a tough question. I’m such a stubborn person, I’m afraid I would always want to go explore my own interests, which would definitely get me in trouble in Asteria, where each wields’ secrets are so carefully guarded.
- If I had to pick, though, I think I’d like to be in the Merchants’ Wield, like Trader Ansyn. At least I could travel then and get to do business with all the other wields whose goods I sold, which would get me a little expertise in a lot of different areas—from how to pick the best glow pearl to who had the most potent dream elixirs to how to tune a finger harp. And maybe I’d finally find out what was in alat!
- Which leads to the next question—what’s your favorite gem on Precios?
- I won’t cheat by saying an allstone, but I will pick two. For everyday use, I’d dearly love to have a wello. I had a really bad mountain biking accident when I was in college with a traumatic brain injury and the whole works. Luckily the treatments and medical advances have really improved over the years, but it’s still tough being out in the sun for long or being around strong smells or loud sounds. If I had a wello, I could go to one of those bright, noisy outdoor concerts and spend the entire day dancing and listening to ear-blasting music in the sunlight.
- My special-occasion choice would probably be a rubily, which is rather vain I know. But I just adore makeup—the joy of playing with the bright colors, the instant boost to my mood. Then again, I wouldn’t get to spend all that time looking for the perfect berry or red lip stain if I had a jewel that could do it all… Hmmm, maybe a canary diamond would be a better choice. Then I could finally sing. Or scat, like Ella Fitzgerald!
- What are you working on right now?
- Book two of The Gempendium series is in progress! For those that haven’t finished book one yet, I won’t give too much away, but there are more gems, more travels and many new characters. Hoping to have a rough draft for beta readers in early summer and final copy for ARC readers by late summer. Folks can stay posted by signing up for my newsletter at theeverystone.com, where they can also get access to the extra bonus chapters from The Every Stone. I’m also slowly putting together an actual gempendium for readers to keep track of all the fantastical stones on the planet Precios as the series goes on.