Author: Suzanne Rogerson
Narrator: Guy Barnes
Length: 15 hours 46 minutes
Publisher: Suzanne Rogerson
Released: Jul. 18, 2019
Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past? An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria. Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the royal order of wizards refuses to investigate. Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer. The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects, and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?
Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two children and a crazy puppy. Her writing journey began at the age of twelve when she completed her first novel. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave Suzanne the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day. Now an author of four novels including the recently completed Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and a Czech translation of her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again! She loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes. Suzanne collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.
Guy or the Big G as he is known to his friends is a London/ Brighton based actor and singer songwriter and producer. He has recently completed his first leading role in the film Typo out next year and played the role of Alvin Turner in American film Holly Turner also out next year. Guy only started narrating audiobooks in 2018 and Visions of Zarua is his 2nd. He has also narrated 2 classics, Bram Stoker‘s Dracula and HG Wells The Time Machine. In his spare time Guy is a passionate biker and cigar aficionado and he’ll not say no to a Sierra Nevada beer or two!
Q&A with Author Suzanne Rogerson
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- I waited three years after publishing Visions of Zarua before deciding to get an audiobook produced. I used ACX and found the whole process very simple. Once you have an account, you select your book and provide the details of the kind of narrator you are looking for. Then you upload your script audition, which is the hardest part in my experience as you want a snippet that will allow the narrator to showcase the style you can expect for the book. The final stage is making the book available for auditions and waiting for them to come in.
- Once you have chosen your narrator and made an offer they accept, they do the rest. You just sit back and enjoy the process of hearing your book come to life in their experienced hands. It’s so simple, I don’t know why I waited so long.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- I never considered the fact my novels could be made into audiobooks. I dismissed the idea as I thought it would be too expensive to produce. Thanks to the ACX royalty share, I was able to take a chance and make Visions of Zarua with minimal cost. I’m so pleased I took the chance and have an audiobook I’m really proud of.
- How did you select your narrator?
- I feel so lucky that Guy Barnes saw my script and decided to audition. Straight away I loved his tone and the voices he gave my main characters. He was actually the first narrator to audition so the whole process was quick and painless!
- 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?
- I asked Guy to read Visions of Zarua before we finalised anything and I then allowed him to make the decisions on what characters would sound like. I was confident he would do a good job because I already loved what he’d done with Paddren, Leyoch and Varnia in the audition. We spoke often via email and decided to work on a chapter by chapter basis. Once a chapter was recorded he uploaded it and I listened, making notes along the way for anything I felt needed changing. It quickly became apparent that the best way to work through those changes was via a spreadsheet and Guy would either change it straight away, or set aside time to do bulk edits. The process worked really well for us.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- I haven’t listened to an audiobook in a while, but I do enjoy them. They help me get through boring tasks and I’ve even listened whilst on the treadmill.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- Visions of Zarua is all about the visions Paddren has suffered since childhood, where he sees strange monsters murdering people and a city on the brink of war. Guy Barnes did a wonderful job making these visions stand out by using reverb to bring out the surreal quality. I’ve never heard that done in other audiobooks so it was exciting to try something new.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- Audiobooks are not cheating, they’re an escape! They help pass the time when you’re stuck commuting or doing boring tasks like washing up. They are also great for people who have health problems that make reading difficult. They enrich people’s lives.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- There were many steps along the way to finishing Visions of Zarua and plenty of opportunities to celebrate. The biggest steps I celebrated with a bottle of fizz included publishing the ebook, publishing the paperback a month later and when the audiobook went live in July 2019.
- In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
- I have written both a standalone and a trilogy. I love the freedom of writing a standalone; you don’t need to worry about carrying story threads as your focus is on telling the story in one volume. The only downside is that you have to leave the characters to their own devices after the book is finished, their story is told and it’s sad to say goodbye. In some ways it’s quicker to write a standalone because you only have that one story, but with a trilogy you get to know the characters so well that they almost write the books for you!
- What’s next for you?
- I’ve just made an offer to a narrator to produce my Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy. It’s very exciting to know work will soon begin to bring the first book, The Lost Sentinel, to life. Audiobooks are a great addition to my writing catalogue and it’s wonderful to be able to reach readers who struggle to read due to health conditions.
- I also plan to release a novella and another standalone novel in 2020.
Suzanne Rogerson’s Top 10 Bands to Listen to When WritingMusic always gets me in a creative mood and can be a huge help when I come up with ideas and write my first drafts. Music triggers emotions and can lead writing in unexpected directions.
- Ben Howard – Atmospheric and emotional music that always inspires me. My favourite song is ‘Oats in the Water’.
- Led Zeppelin – They have some really great fantasy sounding tunes like ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Achilles Last Stand’.
- Halestorm – They are a great band to write to as they have a mix of rock and ballads. Plus Lizzy Hale is an amazing singer and front woman, a perfect role model when I’m trying to write strong heroines. Their song ‘I am the fire’ played a huge part in the end of my Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy.
- Philip Glass – Classical music with so much emotion, especially Violin Concerto II from Akhnaten Prelude. That listened to at full volume is beautiful and tugs at your heartstrings!
- Coldplay – Coldplay are my favourite band of all time and I love all their songs. They are a band for any mood whether I need to feel emotional for a particular scene or want to have fun and feel energised. I often have their albums played on random because it’s too hard to choose a song myself!
- Hawkwind – The Chronicles of the Black Sword is pure fantasy. It’s based on the stories of Elric by Michael Moorcock. It’s perfect for setting the mood especially Zarozinia and The Sea King.
- Ghost – Some of their music is quite dark, but atmospheric and conjures great images.
- Pink Floyd – They have written some very inspiring music and I particularly love the music on The Division Bell album.
- The Black Keys – I love their groove, so any of their songs will lift my mood and put me in a good frame of mind for writing.
- Avenged Sevenfold – Hail to the King album has a fantasy feel to it too especially the title track. I hope to use this as inspiration as I plan a new book series.
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