Author: Eric Gay
Narrator: Joel Simler
Length: 10 hours and 32 minutes
Publisher: Audiobook Empire
Released: Dec. 17, 2021
Genre: Fantasy; Humor
One world, two cultures, and a mystery - four thousand years in the making. When Nolan Hayes crashes his borrowed (don’t say stolen) ship on Janusia, he finds a planet split by a river of epic proportions. Fast, deep, and deadly, the river is home to three kingdoms and a cable system left behind by people from the stars, who left no clues as to its intentions. Now, the river and all it’s connecting ports are controlled by a single guild. Night after night, ships fall from the sky, breaking apart and scattering bodies across the wide plains, the empty southern ocean, and the warring kingdoms. Some of these ships have survivors, and some of those survivors aren’t victims at all, for their arrival on Janusia is anything but an accident. As Nolan unravels the intrigue of a world at war, he’ll gather powerful allies on his march to the river and to a meeting with destiny - Corra, the woman chosen to lead her people in a fight for justice. It’s a fight against greed, evil, and a hidden truth that will change history itself on a world at the end of the galaxy - a place where ships die, the river rages, and war is never-ending.
Top 10 books Author Eric Gay read this past year
- PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir (sci-fi, humorous)
- Ryland Grace and his team of astronauts travel across the stars in one last-ditch effort to save humanity.
- PIRANESI by Susanna Clarke (fantasy, mystery)
- Piranesi wanders an endless expanse of enormous rooms filled with unique wonders, all while chronicling what he finds for the benefit of a mysterious man known only as The Other.
- SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson (sci-fi, apocalypse)
- When a catastrophic event destroys life on Earth, the progeny of several surviving groups meet again five thousand years later.
- THE WAY OF KINGS by Brandon Sanderson (epic fantasy)
- War ravages the Shattered Plains, where royal houses risk entire armies all for the hope of finding powerful artifacts from a forgotten time.
- LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S. A. Corey (sci-fi, space drama)
- In the future, a power struggle rages between humans who live on Earth, Mars, and the asteroid belt, where water is harvested and shipped all over the solar system.
- CHILDREN OF TIME by Adrian Tchaikovsky (sci-fi, speculative)
- A science experiment gone awry brings about a new species evolved not from ape, but arachnid.
- THE BURIED GIANT by Kazuo Ishiguro (fantasy, historical)
- Dense mists have slowly robbed a land of its memories, but an aging couple risk journeying into the countryside to find a son they haven’t seen in years.
- CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Rohd Dahl (fantasy, children’s)
- Charlie Bucket’s luck turns around when he finds a golden ticket, one of five that allow children entry into the factory of a famous chocolatier named Willy Wonka.
- PROMISE OF BLOOD by Brian McClellan (epic fantasy)
- A successful coup against the king has solved many problems, but also ignited an internal war as the ambitious scramble for power in the vacuum.
- DOWN AND OUT IN THE MAGIC KINGDOM by Cory Doctorow (fantasy, speculative)
- Long after humanity has achieved immortality, a small war breaks out among those who have been fortunate enough to take residence in the parks of Disney World.
Q&A with Narrator Joel Simler
- When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
- I went on a BIG ass trip with my partner back in 2016 (7 month cross-country in a hippie van plus time abroad in Senegal, Spain, and Italy). All along the way I was thinking to myself “what the hell am I going to do with my life?”. Having received my degree in Audio Production several years earlier, I knew I wanted to work with audio somehow. But HOW??? Tough question. While on that big ass trip, we listened to lots of music, podcasts, and… audiobooks. During one post-trip afternoon of mining the internet for jobs involving audio, I stumbled upon a posting looking for an audiobook narrator. I thought to myself “hmm, now that is interesting”. A wee bit later, my slow brain finally connected the dots of my joy of listening to audiobooks on that trip, and went “hey, wait a minute!”. I had taken acting classes all the way from elementary school and through college; and I know how to record. Maybe I should record audiobooks! What followed was 2+ years of endless research, copious amounts of coaching (both performance and business related), and oodles of ogling books and reading them out loud.
- What type of training have you undergone?
- As far as formal training goes, I took acting classes, primarily for fun, all throughout my days in school. For college, I received my AA degree in Audio Production from The Art Institute of Seattle. That formal schooling helped me build at least a basic foundation. However, I never enjoyed formal school, so in my sojourn to become an audiobook narrator I attended a litany of classes and programs to prepare me for a life of audiobooks. Now this was a kind of schooling I could get down with!
- I am a proud graduate of Sean Allen Pratt’s Ginger Yoda Dojo - which is a 14+ month NonFiction narration curriculum. I have done private coaching with other notable narrator coaches in the field such as Carol Monda, Shannon Parks, and PJ Ochlan. Not to mention a slough of other group classes and seminars with other generous and excellent coaches.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Oh yeah, absolutely! I tend to listen to a book or two a month on average. Growing up I always loved reading, though as an adult it became hard to salvage time in a day to sit and read. Audiobooks have been a boon to my reading, as I can easily do dishes, drive, or clean the house while digesting books. One of the best parts is that my partner and I can listen to the same book together! We’re working through the Wheel of Time series at the moment.
- How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
- I like to get very close with authors, up to a certain point. Before I begin recording, I want to dive deep into their mind and do my best to glean their intentions with characters and get their communication style down. I’m open to as many conversations as needed before I get started. I’ll even make some short voice and scene clips of the book to share with the author to get their approval. However, once we get everything nailed down, I need the space to then record the entire book in peace. At this point I request that the author cease their directorial notes, and let me do the job I was trained for.
- How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
- Creating character voices is a very fun part of the process! For any book I narrate, I read through the entire book and take notes of each character. I’ll take into account how big they are, their age, their confidence level, what kind of education they have, any notable accents, or even what color hair they have. All those details, big and small, allow me to actually picture this character as a real living person. Once I’ve got that in my head, I’ll play around with “their” voice and see what feels right. While doing this I also check in with the author to see what they think the character sounds like.
- Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
- Y’know, on some level, I have to connect with every character in the book. If I can’t find a way to personally connect with that character, then there’s a big risk that the person will sound phony and unreal, and that’s the last thing I want! So I’m always checking in with myself in relation to each character to make sure that we’re connected in some way. Though I will say that I was surprised how well connected I felt to Tycho Mateen. Not that I’m a highly trained assassin that specializes in killing mages, but a part of me is quite curious what that life would be like. What can I say, I grew up on lots of fantasy and martial arts movies!
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- Oh now that is a dangerous question. Who knows what the ramifications of time travel would actually be! I’m not sure that I’d have the confidence to take a risk and travel time like that. BUT! If I had to, I’d probably scooch a decade or two into the future to check on myself and see if I ever do manage to succeed in making the most perfect homemade pizza.
- If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
- Well, my first reaction is to say, I’d love to narrate the Dark Elf series written by R.A. Salvatore! However, that’s a tricky question because Victor Bevine does such a great job narrating that series, that I don’t actually think I’d want to detract from it at all. As to why that series? Because it’s such a great fantasy series, with a compelling main character, and speaks to my literary roots as a reader. Plus the main character is a misunderstood badass with a heart of gold and amazing sword skills. Yeah, I’m into that.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- I mean, how could storytelling, one of humanity’s oldest pastimes, be cheating? Heck, I could argue that reading books is cheating, as our oral traditions predate the written word by a considerable amount. I’m not going to argue that point though, because I don’t think it’s relevant. Listen (pun intended), listening to or reading a story activates your brain regardless, and so why bicker over one being better than the other?
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
- Ok, I’ll admit, my job sounds incredibly easy. I mean, reading out loud? Like, we all did that in grade school, right? I’ll also admit that the same thought crossed my mind when I first started. However when I went to narrate my first audiobook - which was only 20 minutes long - I very quickly realized how hard this actually is! Man, it turns out that talking is really hard. Not to mention having to listen back to your own voice for hours on end. To get the skills needed to do this job, I quickly realized that I needed to do a LOT of research, and sought the help of a LOT of professionals. If this is something you want to do, then I’d urge you to start by researching; and don’t just research, but research the people whose words you are reading as well. Check to make sure that this person's word actually has some value in the field. Have they narrated a notable amount of books? A lot of people try to sell this field as a “get rich working from home” gimmick, which I can attest that it is most certainly not. Oh, how I wish it was. But. It’s. Not. Depending on the individual, this career can take years of toil before making any amount of money, let alone enough to make a living off of. If you go into this field, know that it will be hard work just like any other career out there. But if it’s the life for you, then just go for it!
Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.