Author: Jo Elliott
Narrator: Luke Castle
Length: 4 hours 21 minutes
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing
Released: Oct. 21, 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Ally, Josh and Brendan are half-siblings living in Melbourne, Australia, whose family life is anything but ideal. During a chance family outing, the children discover a sacred scroll which offers them a solution to their problems.... Without forewarning, the children mysteriously find themselves in first century Palestine where they are compelled to live in a strange fishing village. In their desperate quest to get back home, the children learn about family relationships and God’s amazing love for them. Thrilling adventures will ensue as the children embark on the ride of their lives! This time-travelling tale allows Jesus to boldly speak to today’s youth on contemporary problems, encouraging the listener to "get into" the Bible and look to Jesus for help in times of trouble.
Q&A with Author Jo Elliott
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- I worked with a 16 year old energetic and engaging narrator who could relate to the storyline, and gave the book life. My publisher emailed me one day (out of the blue) to let me know that a young man would be contacting me about turning my book into an audiobook.
- Luke Castle was extremely professional and hardworking and would submit audio transcripts in sections which allowed me to listen and check for errors, omissions etc. Listening to Luke’s vocal interpretation put a smile on my face each time!
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- Not at all. The only voices I could hear were all in my head (with girl tones!). I can understand the attraction of the audiobook, however, as there is so much emotion and urgency in the spoken word.
- 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?
- As the narrator and I were both living in two different hemispheres, we worked closely together in a virtual sense, but I have yet to (physically) meet my narrator! Luke speaks with passion and enthusiasm and so it was easy to trust him with my book.
- Some words were not initially clear in the transcripts Luke sent, and there were small mispronunciations, as the language was probably unfamiliar to a 16 yo and perhaps even to an American. (Remember, I am Australian and our pronunciation is slightly different, HAHA!) Luke did, however, handle the Hebrew dialogue seriously well (as far as I know).
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- Absolutely! The two main characters of the book are my niece (Ally) and my nephew (Josh). They are both ok with me describing their personality traits and chronicling some of the highlights and challenges they have experienced in their young lives. The stories in the book are mostly based on truth and inspired by real-life events, although Ally insists that she never liked eating olives as depicted in the book!.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- Pre Covid19, I would usually travel overseas and visit different countries for inspiration. For instance, there is a cafe I frequented in the centre of Prague called “History Village” which immediately grabbed my attention. The proprietor had a passion for history and had decorated his interior walls accordingly. I, too, have a yearning for the past and this cafe name inevitably stuck in my head, and ultimately inspired me to commence writing my first novel.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- I would definitely travel to first century Palestine in order to track down Jesus and his companions. I would love to hear Jesus’ voice as he taught the “beatitudes” to the locals and see him in action, healing and restoring people. I might even get a glimpse of the actual boy (a central character in my book) that offered his five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus, who then handed it out to the crowd and miraculously fed 5000 people.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- Iain Armitage who plays Young Sheldon actually looks like Josh and is also 10 yo.
- Zach Sulzbach who plays Charlie in Hawaii 50 is certainly cute enough to play Brendan, but perhaps not as naughty!
- Selena Gomez would make a wonderful Ally as she has an understated beauty and loves to dance.
- Ryan Gosling would make a wonderful suitor for Ally’s affections (i.e. Aaron) as he wears a beard well, is romantic, and can also resemble a wounded puppy when his advances are rejected.
- Angelina Jolie would make a great Cassie, the stepmother, as she is also a glamorous-looking mother who appears to have exacting standards for her children.
- Elizabeth McGovern (minus the trappings of wealth) would do very well as Imma, as she was a wonderful mother figure in Downton Abbey: gentle; kind; caring; and putting her family’s interests before her own.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- My husband and I were in Majorca when the novel was published and we celebrated in a crowded tapas bar around the corner from our hotel. It was perfect!
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
- Yes, my second book describes the exploits of a historical figure called Rahab who lived in Jericho in 1210 BC. Her words and actions were constantly in my thoughts so it was inevitable that she should enter my dreams. Incidentally, Rahab was seriously friendly and down to earth!
- What’s next for you?
- I’m currently working on the third adventure for Ally, Josh and Brendan as they travel back in time to the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the world, Damascus. Syria was no less dangerous in the first century, as it is today. Back then, Jewish Christians were facing eviction from their homes, imprisonment and possibly death simply because of their faith, until a certain government official had a radical conversion on the road to Damascus...