Author: James W. George
Narrator: Angus Freathy, Mindy Escobar-Leanse
Length: 6 hours 34 minutes
Series: The Queen of the Blue, Book 1
Released: Nov. 13, 2020
Publisher: James W. George
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Book one of a brand-new, epic fantasy series by master historical story-teller, James W. George. Something inconceivable has happened, and all the world's colors are about to bleed.... Kellia. Kellia the Red. Pagan, seafaring warriors of ancient renown. They have sailed west, ever west, and have discovered an awe-inspiring, unknown land. Is it their salvation, or the seed of their destruction? Merova and the Throne of Blue. Wealthy, cultured, and the ultimate matriarchy. Kellia’s ancient nemesis, and a realm of secrets, intrigue, and treachery. The Holy Domain of Sanctia. Piety, sacrifice, and faith. They have a spiritual duty to spread the truth across the seas, and they will sail under the sacred banner of green. The Confederation of Orange. Cynical, profiteering financiers and lovers of pleasure. If there is a new discovery in this world, they will be poised to exploit it. Fans of historical fiction and fantasy will delight in this epic saga of empire, conflict, and power.
Angus Freathy was born and educated in London – that’s the one in England, for you Ohio folks!
After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he went to Switzerland to join Nestlé for a 2-year wandering assignment, which lasted 37 years and involved travel and work on every continent (except the cold ones at the top and bottom).
Periods of residence in the U.S., Hong Kong and Switzerland have resulted in a network of friends and acquaintances with an amazing range of world insight and a wide repertoire of mostly excellent jokes.
Since retirement, Angus and his (still working) wife, Debra have lived in Oregon, Maryland and are now in Dublin, Ohio, ‘the only place we have actually chosen to live since we have been married!’.
Following a crushing rejection by the BBC at the age of 19, Angus is re-activating a long-held ambition and launching a new career in voice-over, with the sole intention of having some fun and being in touch with some very talented people.
Q&A with James W. George
- You call this genre “history-inspired fantasy.” Can you tell us more?
- The book is fantasy in the purest sense, in that it’s a world of my own creation. Much like “Game of Thrones”, however, it derives a great deal of inspiration from European history, specifically the 16th century (or thereabouts) and the discovery of the New World.
- Savvy listeners will make connections with the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the Viking cultures of Scandinavia and England, the French monarchies, the Spanish missionaries, the Italian and Dutch merchant clans, and the scandalous rumor that dogged Queen Elizabeth I.
- Why did you feel like you needed two narrators?
- I think listeners might love or hate the two narrator format, but I love it. This is a book of contrasts and conflict. The masculine vs. the feminine; the barbaric vs. the refined; the pious and ascetic vs. the profiteering lovers of pleasure. I think this audiobook definitely cried out for both male and female voice actors.
- How did you select your narrators?
- I’m proud to say this is my third audiobook with Angus, so an easy choice there. A consummate professional, and a simply remarkable voice. He’s a great example of why we Yanks are so fixated on everything British when it comes to our entertainment. The 2nd narrator was a simple audition process, and I was very fortunate Mindy Escobar-Leanse auditioned. I’ve been astounded by Mindy’s talent, and she has truly captured these characters.
- How closely did you work with your narrators before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- Surprisingly little. I set the foundation with pronunciations (Bromid? Averrie?) and just turned them loose. They are both such talented performers that they were entirely self-directed.
- Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects was developing the voices for Marcel and Averrie. They needed to be child-like, but not childish. Averrie needed to convey a haughty, imperious nature, qualities not usually found in a girl so young, and Mindy portrayed her wonderfully.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- I’d say the relationship between color and societies. I think the visual imagery associated with flags, uniforms, and colors is quite striking. Sometimes colors can be so ubiquitous that they become almost synonymous with a culture. British redcoats. The all-encompassing red of the Soviet Union. Orange and Dutch culture. Orange and Protestantism. Green and Ireland.
- You may be familiar with the controversy associated with the development of the modern-day Canadian flag; everything red was associated with British culture, and everything blue was associated with the French, so it was difficult for them to agree on anything. Perhaps this is why I find strategy games like Catan and Risk to be so enthralling – the hypnotic imagery of watching colors and kingdoms expand and contract across the world.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- It’s important to dabble in different projects and diverse genres. I’ve devoted a lot of effort to my Puritan fiction, so it’s fun to step back and invent my own world. It’s a joy to invent my own empires, monarchies, geography, and religions.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- The Kellian Hymns of Battle certainly resonate! Imagine a commander of a barbarian vessel extemporaneously shrieking his prayers to the gods. Angus tactfully delegated the task to my teenage son. I think any throng of bloodthirsty Kellian marauders would be impressed with the results.
- But that’s only the first thing that comes to mind. Angus and Mindy magnificently captured so many moments and emotions I couldn’t possibly list them all. Olmar’s transformation, Averrie’s sinister condescension, Bromid’s scheming, Burboh’s sincere inquisitiveness, Amira’s lustful passion...this audiobook really transports the listener to a different world.
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
- Jeppe Beck Laursen probably is not a household name, but if you’ve seen “The Last Kingdom”, he portrays Haesten the Dane. He is blessed with a tremendous screen presence, and I could definitely see him as Jarrow. I’d love to see Beatie Edney as Bromid (you may know her from Poldark). Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) can steal a scene or two as Aniliese SDR. Ben Hawkey, one of the minor characters from Game of Thrones, (Hot Pie) can take on Burboh the Cleric.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- There are approximately five million books for sale in the Amazon Kindle store. Literally. Five million. If you genuinely believe the world needs another one, you’d better be extremely passionate about it.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- There is nothing you can do successfully if you don’t have a great narrator. (Or two great narrators!)
- What’s next for you?
- It’s time to finish up the Puritan New England trilogy. It’s time for Israel Brewster and Linto to meet their destinies.
James W. George's TOP TEN FASCINATING CHARACTERS IN THIS AUDIOBOOK
- Queen Makenna of Merova
- Jarrow Moncrief of Kellia
- Olmar Ansgar of Kellia
- Aniliese SDR of Merova
- Averrie Vallotten of Merova
- Marcel Vallotten of Merova
- Governess Bromid of Merova
- Jaccor the Smuggler of Kellia
- Burboh the Cleric of Sanctia
- Amira Medelli of The Confederation of Orange
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.