Author: Suzie Plakson
Narrator: Suzie Plakson
Length: 11 hours and 54 minutes
Publisher: Pilmsthistle & Co.
Released: Aug. 2, 2019
THE RETURN OF KING LILLIAN is a new hero’s journey for dreamers of all ages. When Lillian, the one and only heir to the throne, is cast out of her kingdom by malevolent forces, she accidentally wanders into the Forest of Forgetfullness, where she is rescued by wolves and raised by an eccentric old wise woman. When she comes of age, she is called by Destiny to return home. The trouble is, when Lillian steps out of the Forest, she has no memory of who she is or from whence she hails. Undaunted, the spirited, self-reliant young woman sets off into the unknown, determined to rediscover her long lost self and to reclaim her stolen birthright. Early readers and listeners have compared this allegorical saga to The Last Unicorn, The Alchemist, The Princess Bride, and The Once and Future King. The Return of King Lillian is a story for people who take the road less traveled, people who live outside the box, people who love fantasy, fairy tales, myth, and metaphysics. This debut novel, written and narrated by multi-media artist Suzie Plakson, is a journey full of comedy, calamity, and a host of unforgettable characters. 2019 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner 2019 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner EDITORIAL REVIEWS: “The Return of King Lillian is entrancing, audacious, and addictive in the very best way. A splendidly creative allegory told by Suzie Plakson with flair, wit, and passion.” — Marianne de Pierres, author of Parrish Plessis and The Peacemaker series “The Return of King Lillian is a basket of magic. Echoing Joseph Campbell’s feeling that the world needs new storytellers and new myths to help us greet the coming age, I’ll say that Suzie Plakson is one of those storytellers, and King Lillian is one of those myths.” — Jacob Nordby, author of Blessed are the Weird: A Manifesto for Creatives “With The Return of King Lillian, Suzie Plakson has done the impossible, telling a tale that at once seems both like a timeless classic and something modern, fresh, and entirely new. And her audiobook performance is a joy in its own right. Suzie casts you under her spell as she inhabits the character of Lillian, as well as every other magical creature and person Lillian encounters along her journey. This impeccably-produced recording is guaranteed to brighten your day and lift your spirits!” — David Briggs, Supervising Sound Editor, Tales of the City, Divorce “To say that King Lillian thoroughly enchanted me and left me spellbound would be the understatement of the century. I’ve listened to hundreds of audiobooks, and King Lillian is my favorite of all. Suzie Plakson’s voice is velvet mixed with grit mixed with enchantment. It takes you into another realm – into the mystic.” — Kelly Sullivan Walden, author of It’s All in Your Dreams
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Suzie Plakson has been in love with fairy tale and myth ever since she was a young lass growing up in the wilds of suburbia. The idea for “The Return of King Lillian” first came to her when she was a struggling theatre actor in New York City, doing odd jobs, improv comedy, and various off-off-Broadway productions. She eventually landed a lead in a national tour, which dropped her off in Hollywood, and since that time she has appeared in such films and television shows as “Mad About You,” “Love and War,” “Wag the Dog,” “Dinosaurs,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “Star Trek.” She has also done voiceovers, written short stories and poetry, written and recorded an alternative country album, created an allegorical solo show, and produced sculptures large and small in her otherwise unused oven. “The Return of King Lillian” is her debut novel. Read more at: kinglillian.com and suzieplakson.com I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Pilmsthistle & Co. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Q&A with Author/Narrator Suzie Plakson
- When you were writing this, were you always thinking of this as an audiobook?
Well, I’ve always wanted to narrate fairy tales, so this is most certainly an age-old dream come true. And when I write prose, I tend to write as if people are conversationally telling the tale, so I’m certain the audiobook was a natural expression of this story from the very beginning.
In The Return of King Lillian, The Prologue and Part III are a fairy tale narrated in omniscient third person – and being read to as a child by a wise narrator speaks to so many of us so primordially. Also, Lillian’s diary – which comprises the lion’s share of the story – is told in direct address which, though it’s a wee bit unusual on the page, is the natural way most people tell stories.
- You clearly have a deep love of language. Have you always been a collector of words?
I’ve always been charmed by words, and enchanted by people who could weave them together into something that sounded and felt like music. For instance, I’ve always been smitten by Dickens and Tolstoy and Twain. And I’m a sucker for a massive old dictionary, filled with beautiful words nobody uses anymore.
In other stories I’ve written, other characters have had very limited vocabularies; however, Lillian’s love of language spoke to me and through me, and the story is told in her own very particular (some might say peculiar) vernacular.
- How did you select your narrator?
Well, Suzie Plakson kept pestering me to hire her, and finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I caved in. But, believe me, I looked everywhere to find somebody who was a lot less difficult to work with.
- Is there a dream author or a dream book that you would like to narrate?
Probably Through the Looking Glass. I just love the characters and the dialogue in that book so much! I once did a little solo scene in a college performance and literature class. It was the scene at the end of the chess game, and I was playing the Red Queen, the White Queen, Alice and the Narrator. Damn, that was challenging but so much fun! And I have such a love of the fairy tales by brilliant authors like Oscar Wilde and Herman Hesse and e.e. cummings and Anne Sexton.
- What type of training have you undergone?
I’m a theatre actor from way back. I went to school at Northwestern University in Chicago, and I’ve worked on stage, in film and TV as a professional actor, and have always adored voicework. I’ve discovered that just letting all the worries about the outer shell slide off and making magic in a booth over a microphone is pretty heavenly.
- What were your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating your audiobook?
Well, art-making is art-making no matter what the medium – meaning whether I sculpt or act or sing or write there’s a price to be paid in the nerves of it. As I’ve said, I adore being in the booth, but I am always wrestling with performance nerves, which is never, ever comfortable and certainly my least favorite part.
But then, in the recording of The Return of King Lillian, in the manifesting of something that had been in my psyche for so many years, there was so much joy and satisfaction. I absolutely loved the fun of projecting an emotion, a character, a scene, a world, with only my voice. And I just adored working with my director/collaborator Kristin Overn, and our amazing sound engineer, Kevin Cleland. Much laughter, for sure, along with many comical threats to replace the talent (me).
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
Holy moly, that’s a big question because it’s a really big answer! In fact, decades ago, I first saw Lillian in a flash of a dream, galloping uphill on a big chestnut horse, disappearing under an archway of gigantic trees, in a setting so saturated with color and majesty it took my breath away. Then, over time, I had more and more dream-visions of this enchanted place, and I became determined to bring Lillian and that world into this one. Over a period of many years, the story and the world grew through dreams, trials, errors and finally, collaboration. So, you see, this whole story stemmed from those initial dream-sightings of that character and that world.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
I’ve always been fascinated by faerie tale and myth ever since I was a young lass. And of course, over the years, I’ve been influenced by everything I’ve ever been passionate about in art and life and nature, and I’m certain all of those influences got tossed into the cuisinart of my mind.
However, ultimately, my predilections aside, I really do believe – and as I’ve learned whenever I’m sculpting or songwriting or whatever – each work of art has its own mind, its own time frame, its own personality, and thereby its own demands and ideas. So, I’m just a sort of portal through which the story passes.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonant in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
In the microcosm, there are, sprinkled through the audiobook, a few “crowd scenes” with overlapping voices – so the listener can experience more than one person speaking simultaneously and hopefully get a clearer idea of the personality of these crowds.
In the macrocosm, some people who have read the paperback have remarked that in places it reads “like a libretto,” and to some it feels a bit like a script. And many people have said that when they’re reading, they’re often tempted to read out loud (which I find so exciting). So, The Return of King Lillian is a bit eccentric on the page, while on “the stage” (that is, in the audiobook), it just feels like someone’s reading you a story or telling you a tale.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
Yes, I would definitely want to use it, and definitely want to go backwards in time. I’m not sure where exactly, but I do know that I’d most definitely seek a place and time that was quiet and purely peaceful, where the air was fresher and birdsong was the ruling sound. Maybe that was one of my longings in creating the world of King Lillian. By and large, Lillian roams in quiet, lush, pastoral settings, like life inside a Maxfield Parrish painting.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
First off, however we choose to escape, however we nurture our spirits with art and ideas and information, well, that’s our business.
Secondly, I would put forth that reading and listening are apples and oranges. The focus is different, the inward muscles we use are different, the benefits are different. I would say that listening is more physical and possibly more visceral, and perhaps contacts the right brain more directly, like music does.
I remember once reading an article about some scientists who proved that DNA can be re-programmed and rejuvenated by words and frequencies – which makes perfect sense to me, as it will to anyone who is particularly sensitive and receptive to sound. Also, oral storytelling is one of the earliest forms of art, and what with this astonishing proliferation of podcasts and audiobooks, maybe it’s all a return to the primal instinct to feel more meaningfully connected with each other somehow.
- What would you like for people get out of listening to your audiobook?
I hope they’ll laugh a lot, I hope it’ll move them, and of course, I’d be so happy if it inspired them. And perhaps my fondest hope is that The Return of King Lillian will be a place of Joy and respite in a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
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