Thursday, February 27, 2020
March will be a busy month. I will be participating in two con events and one presentation.
Follow the links for more detailed information. Hope to cross paths with you there.
Classic Plastics Toy & Comic Expo on March 7th & 8th (Parkersburg, WV)
Local Author Presentation at the Westerville Library (Self-Editing: Strategies for Writers) March 25th (Westerville, OH)
WittCon XVII on March 28th (Wittenberg University--Springfield, OH)
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Monsters, Maces and Magic: Outpost is now on sale for 99 cents through most ebook sites, including Amazon (US/UK/Australia/Canada), Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play, Nook, iBooks and more.
Here's a Books2Read link to get your copy: Outpost Ebook
Saturday, February 8, 2020
Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Jonathan. Please, tell us a little about yourself, your interests, and how you became interested in narrating novels.
Well, I’m Jon Waters and I’ve always been in the acting gig. Or acting bug as some might call it. It was just something that I think clicked naturally. Partially when in kindergarten I dressed as Batman, and then when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I came up short. I liked my parents and we weren’t rich so - Batman was out. Yet looking at everyone else choices of astronaut, officer, fireman, etc. I stumbled upon, probably from my dad watching movies while my mom got her degree in the evenings, actors. We’d watch Star Wars, Jaws, Conan, you know - kids stuff. And after a while it became clear that 1 - these are all play pretend. Something I was having a blast at during recess. 2 - these grown-ups were clearly living very well.
So I could potentially be a barbarian, hero, firefighter, anything all while trying to be an actor. Then I suppose being read to at night by my folks, Calvin and Hobbes, Harry Potter, Choose your own Adventure. I ate it up.
Then through college I’d always been interested, and had been doing, little goofy voices around. Then it dawned that stage and film actors age out. You can’t play King Lear as a college student and you can’t be Jon Snow as a geriatric. So time and roles are limited. The limitless, mostly, is Voice Over work. And yes the voice of a 50 year old will not be the same as a 20 year old, but there’s a big middle area where you can just live and be. That appealed to me wanting to, as my dad would put it,I do love me my video games, comics, Batman (still), movies, animation, and a lot of in between.
What skills did you have when you began your career as a narrator? What skills have you picked up along the way?
So I was already good in front of an audience, at least the reviews say, but the training starting all through middle school, to college, to hard knocks narrating have taught quite a bit.
Breath work, while overlooked, is a constant. Where to breathe, how to breathe, and maintain. Theatre and film are a bit of a marathon in their own way. So is narration. You have to be consistent. You don’t know if someone is going to binge your work or listen on their half hour commute. So you have to deliver a fine product every time. Same with theatre and film. Theatre you have a slower building up and maintain high standards through your performance run. Film, you maybe get a rehearsal, but you’re expected to have a high energy, recall your energy because you’re not necessarily filming in order. So scene 4’s energy might be different from scene 15, but three weeks later you’re back to doing scene 4 again for whatever reason.
You also need good communication skills. You’re working with your author and you need to make sure your lines of dialogue are clean and clear. It can get muddled, but good authors will be direct and concise with their notes. If you’re a character reader, like I tend to be, you need to know your buzz/hook words to get you back to your characters and stress that it’s important that your author/publisher/rights holder knows what characters are intended to sound like. There’s nothing worse than narrating what you thought was a male character and finding out it was actually a female character masquerading all along. Might not mean much to a more straight reader narrator but, to us character people, it is a deadly thing to deal with.
I’ve not quite picked up punch and roll as an editing device. It slows me down. But I understand the reasoning behind it. I do the click and roll method. Where I click my tongue, I see it on the file, and go back through and hunt. Regardless, there may be edits that need to be done when, WHEN, your rights holder listens to your work. Not necessarily the big ones of “oh this was actually Jen’s line” or “Where is this whole paragraph” but you might get things that are small and easily fixed. Examples are “too big of a pause here.” “repeated lines that didn’t have your click.” I’ve always been of the mind that two heads are better than one and most times I don’t have a ton of secondary edits. And if I do, they’re done the day after they are submitted. And you ensure your author is happy.
Take care of your voice. Some folks claim to be talkers, I am one of them, and you might be able to
chat all party long. But you’re needing to hydrate, to take a breath, let someone else talk, eat. Narration is a marathon. If you don’t warm up your voice, hydrate, maybe shower beforehand and sing (poorly in my case) you can potentially damage your voice and make the rest of your day, week, really rough for your vocal cords. Which may lead to your next project being pushed back. And in some crazy instances permanent damage. And not everyone needs a raspy hurt voice for their narrations.
Listen to podcasts. Levar Burton does a great one to try to learn a new way of reading books. Pacing, and inflection, and some things you may not have heard before and want to attempt. Research is everywhere.
What three individuals would you love to discover have listened to and enjoyed your work—would make you say, “Now that is totally awesome!”
I’d assume living yes? Hah! Steven Spielberg - I mean come on. Obviously, right? Not that I think he’ll give me a job off the bat but - hey who knows. Still the idea that the guy who filmed Jaws, helped create my first monologue in middle school (Quint’s Indianapolis speech), it would be a full circle moment.
Kevin Conroy - I mean anyone who played the Bat would be a godsend for sure. However, the guy who, if not my father, really pushed that voice thing home would be him. “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman.” Ooooh, chills. Every time. And, to that end, to follow that/him too. That somewhere down the line someone like me could be where Kevin is, and some kid somewhere follows my suit. “Holy shit! Jon Waters heard my stuff! How cool is that?”
Kevin Smith - From me not quite knowing his films as a child, but knowing Dogma. Then being re-introduced to him through Tusk and then Clerks when I tried and “succeeded” in making my own film “Twelfth Night” was a great inspiration. I listen to his pods every chance I get and, frankly, a guy so excited about the new, nerdy, and awesome always has my vote. A guy who lights a candle instead of cursing the darkness and certainly someone I want to meet and work with someday.
What things influence your decision to take on a project and narrate a novel, and what are some things that cause you or to pass on potential projects?
A good chunk of it used to be “Will this be fun?” “Is this something that I can do?” And while the answer is most commonly a “Sure” or “why not?” There is something to be said these days, since becoming full-time, that makes me go “Will this pay the bills?”
Where I lucked out with The Silver Serpent and others from Gryphonwood Press was they seemed to take a chance on me in the beginning. And for them I’ve done their books royalty share through ACX. I was always a fan of fantasy. Lord of the Rings, Conan. I was in. So that brought the excitement of “What magic is going to solve this?” “A super sword that can do WHAT?!” It’s in my wheelhouse.
What makes me choose on a monetary level is “Can I get this done in a good time, and can I get a return on my time.” Some books, yes. Luckily I live and work not in the big three cities of LA, New York, or Chicago. And most cases I’m not charging Union rates. Which, if I did, it’d become a whole supply and demand issue where I’m putting out fewer books, but maybe getting one somewhere that does pay for my month. But what about my royalty share, and throwing more out there. I think I can luckily say, after nine years doing this that I have both Quality and Quantity on my side.
Sometimes you can just tell by the audition script that it’s just not your cup of tea. Sometimes it’s an author trying to show off with fancy language. And while it may be a challenge to use all those hard to pronounce words one after another, there is a simplicity in the ease of reading and description. “Tom went to the store and he cried, hard, but with the rain falling it was easy to hide.” As opposed to…say, “Tom, morosely, and with the less than truncated air of a bereaved partner wept his oceanic eyes to their tumultuous tsunami as he attempted to parade himself, shivering, through the winter cold to the packed store for nothing less than a pack of cigarettes.” Better? Yes. Sure. In a literary sense, I hope. For me I gotta take a big ol’ breath and hope I don’t mess it up because I gotta attack it again and again until it’s correct.
Many novels have a variety of characters. How do you determine the voice of each character, including tone, dialect variations, mannerisms, cadence, among other things to use when portraying them?
Hopefully the work gets done for you in preproduction with the author to tell you what voices they hear in their head. Some authors leave it to us dumb actors to figure out.
Adjectives help. Rough, course, light, airy, mousey. How are these characters described as moving. “Tom clanked with his heavy armor over to the box.” “Matilda’s lithe form moved like water to the crate.” You might give Tom a more hardened voice. He’s a veteran. Is he a bad guy, good guy, hero? Matilda, does her voice reflect that grace? Does she enunciate her words? Is there a whispery quality to it?
But accents should be, hopefully, clearly labeled in the book. In the sense that “Tom was born and raised in Scotland.” Bet he isn’t Russian. But sometimes it’s never spoken and at that point you and the author can kinda collaborate. For me it’s always Authors choice first unless they pass it on to me.
I remember having to redo Omar’s voice in both Silver Serpent and Keeper of the Mist because before I gave him a husky voice. While I liked it, listeners were not necessarily thrilled. Live and learn.
Are there any words or word combinations/phrases that, for some reason, your tongue always stumbles over and you sort of dread seeing in a novel you’re about to narrate?
Alliteration always tongue ties me. It shows your authors craft for sure. But it messes me up something fierce.
And the big words one right after the other that I, personally, loathe. Because I do have to look up words, and I’d rather not have to do it 9 times in a sentence.
But sometimes a random combination of easy words just throws my tongue and throat in to a spin. Somedays you just can’t quite get out “Jane went for a walk.”
I do like to go to the bar. Have a drink. I’m not a beer snob but I do know a little bit. More of a lager and darker beer fan.
Video games for sure. I just finished Borderlands 3 and am hopping back into Assassin’s Creed 3 remastered. I have been spoiled by the newer games for sure.
Love reading comics. Since I read professionally it’s nice to have pictures with my literature. Eases my eyeballs.
Especially over a long project (or even narrating sequels), how do you keep consistent with character voices, including accents, inflections and pacing? Are there procedures or techniques you've developed?
I write down the characters on a notepad by my computer. So that I can potentially go back and go “Oh, he sounds like….” But sometimes it happens that it’ll be years between sequels and notepads go missing. So, I have to try to remember what this side character, who may not have been anything in book 1, is a huge part in book 2.
But here again you talk to your author and hopefully if they’re writing to your narration as well, they can help guide you back on the track.
Accents and dialects I learned in college but it helps to watch movies. Listen to people from different places on YouTube. And try to find those hook words. For my German-accented characters my hook line is “right, red, road” which should come out as almost “‘ight,’ed,’oad” with a deep in the throat sound that isn’t present for say, cockney, in place of the R’s. Etc. etc.
If an editor from a small press, or a self-published author heard some of your work and was interested in you narrating a novel, what would be the best route to take?
REACH OUT! I’m happy to answer any questions or help you out. You can find me on acx.com, voices.com, findawayvoices.com, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and hell, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to help.
I do have to charge these days, but we can discuss. Even new authors looking for narrators and what they charge. I’ve been, and am all over the board.
Explain yourself in your message. I mean, I like a “I LOVE YOUR VOICE” e-mail as much as the next guy. But if you’re an editor from a small press you probably have some sort of pitch to get me interested, maybe some things coming up in the future.
Hell, ask if I have promo codes for some books. I probably do. “I need to do more research.” I’d be happy to help.
As we’re closing in on the end of the interview, Jon, is there anything you’d like to add or say to the readers here at Up Around the Corner?
I’ve got some books coming out and I’m hoping to put out as many books as possible. I’ve signed an NDA with one group of books, however, I got a bunch of romance books coming out and I got some great stuff from Gryphonwood and Adrenaline Press that I am looking forward to tackling.
But the big goal of this year is to, at least, do 52 new books. One for each week. And so far I think I’m doing alright. If nothing else, I’m going to get really close.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Welcome to Up Around the Corner, William. Please, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
I'm Willie, a Scotsman in his early sixties writing full time with over thirty novels published in the genre press and over 300 short story credits in thirteen countries.
I live in Newfoundland with whales, bald eagles and icebergs for company and when I'm not writing I drink beer, play guitar and dream of fortune and glory.
When I was at school books and my guitar were all that kept me sane in a town that was going downhill fast. The local steelworks shut and unemployment was rife. The town suffered badly. I could have started writing about that, but why bother? All I had to do was walk outside and I'd get it slapped in my face. That horror was all too real.
So I took up my pen and wrote. At first it was song lyrics, designed (mostly unsuccessfully) to get me closer to girls. I tried my hand at a few short stories but had no confidence in them and hid them away. And that was that for many years.
I didn't get the urge again until I was past thirty and trapped in a very boring job. My brain needed something to do apart from writing computer code, and fiction gave it what was required. That point, getting close to thirty years ago now, was like switching on an engine, one that has been running steadily ever since.
I was on my way.
Tell us a little about The Midnight Eye series?
My series character, Glasgow PI Derek Adams, is a Bogart and Chandler fan, and it is the movies and Americana of the '40s that I find a lot of my inspiration for him, rather than in the modern procedural.
That, and the old city, are the two main drivers for The Midnight Eye stories.
It is often said that the British Empire was built in Glasgow on the banks of the river Clyde. Back when I was young, the shipyards were still going strong, and the city centre itself still held onto some of its past glories.
It was a warren of tall sandstone buildings and narrow streets, with Edwardian trams still running through them. The big stores still had pneumatic delivery systems for billing, every man wore a hat, collar and tie, and steam trains ran into grand vaulted railway stations filled with smoke.
By the time I was a student in the late '70s, a lot of the tall sandstone buildings had been pulled down to make way for tower blocks. Back then they were the new shiny future, taking the people out of the Victorian ghettos and into the present day.
Fast forward to the present day and there are all new ghettos. The tower blocks are ruled by drug gangs and pimps. Meanwhile there have been many attempts to gentrify the city centre, with designer shops being built in old warehouses, with docklands developments building expensive apartments where sailors used to get services from hard-faced girls, and with shiny, trendy bars full of glossy expensively dressed bankers.
And underneath it all the old Glasgow still lies, slumbering, a dreaming god waiting for the stars to be right again. It can be found in the places where Derek walks, in bars untouched by time, in the closes of tenement buildings that carry the memories of past glories, and in the voices of older men and women who travel through the modernity unseen, impervious to its charms.
Derek Adams, The Midnight Eye, knows the ways of the old city. And, if truth be told, he prefers them to the new.
Derek has been with me from very close to the start of my writing career; the first short story, THE JOHNSON AMULET that later turned into the first novel, was among the earliest things I wrote back in late 1992. He's turned up in three novels so far, THE AMULET, THE SIRENS and THE SKIN GAME, all still available singly in ebook at all the usual online stores, in print in THE MIDNIGHT EYE OMNIBUS Volume 1 and in individual shiny audiobook editions, all available from Gryphonwood Press.
There are a handful of Midnight Eye short stories collected in the omnibus editions, in the second of which they are alongside three novellas; RHYTHM AND BOOZE (also in my Dark Melodies collection), DEAL OR NO DEAL (also available as a free sampler in ebook from Gryphonwood Press), and FARSIDE (also in the OCCULT DETECTIVE QUARTERLY PRESENTS anthology from Ulthar Press.)
My GREEN DOOR novella on Amazon represents the start of the next stage of work for Derek and is his introduction to my Sigils and Totems mythos.
Derek has developed a life of his own, and I'm along for the ride.
What authors have influenced your writing?
Back in the Sixties as a kid I graduated from Superman and Batman comics to books, with people like Robert Louis Stevenson and Conan Doyle figuring large and I was a voracious reader of anything I could get my hands on. A few years later Alistair MacLean, Michael Moorcock, Nigel Tranter, Ed McBain, Raymond Chandler and Louis D'Amour all figured large. Pickings were thin for horror apart from the Pan Books of Horror and Dennis Wheatley, which I read with great relish. Then I found Lovecraft, then King and things were never quite the same. All of the aforementioned are influences in one way or another.
The covers for the series are distinctive. How did they come about?
I wanted something with both a noir and pulp feel, so the darker theme came out of that. I had the idea that Derek, The Midnight Eye, was a shadowy figure on the outskirts of society, and included him as a dark shadow that became a motif on all of the covers. The concept grew from there.
What do you have coming up?
I’m working on a couple of things. Operation Congo is the latest ( the ninth ) in another series of mine, the S-Squad series for Severed Press, which feature sweary Scottish squaddies (possibly friends of Derek's) fighting monsters around the world. There's that pulp influence again.
I'm also working on a new Midnight Eye novella, Hellfire, which sees Derek involved in a very traditional Dennis Wheatley style Devil worshiping sect case in Glasgow.
As for books coming, the next thing in the pipe is a new Carnacki collection from Dark Regions Press, which is where I indulge my Edwardian ghost story fetishes.
As we’re coming to the end of our interview, is there anything you’d like to say or add?
Just a wee bit more insight into where Derek comes from.
A big part of it is the countryside, the history and weather of my home country. All those lonely hillsides, stone circles, ancient buildings and fog are ripe for stories to be creeping about in.
Then there's all the fighting. A country that's seemingly been at war with either somebody else or with itself for most of its existence can't help but be filled with stories of love and loss, heroism and betrayal.
The fact that we've always been England's scruffy wee brother, and have been slightly resentful of the fact for centuries adds another layer – the wee chip on the shoulder and the need to prove yourself is always a good place from which to start an adventure.
Added to that that we're a melting pot of Lowlander's, Highlanders, Islanders, Scandinavians, Picts, Irish, Dutch, English, Indians, Pakistanis and Chinese and everybody else who has made their way to the greatest wee country in the world, all with their own stories to tell and to make.
What does it all add up to?
A psyche with a deep love of the weird in its most basic forms, and the urge to beat the shit out of monsters.
Please share where readers can find you on the internet and where they might locate The Midnight Files and your other works.
My home port is at williammeikle.com where I keep all the book details up to date, and you'll find a dedicated Midnight Eye page there.
If you fancy a blether, I mostly hang out on Twitter@williemeikle. Mostly. I’m also on Facebook, but not as often.