Author: Aaron Bunce
Narrator: Matthew Berry
Length: 10 hours and 3 minutes
Series: Overthrown: Chronicles of Denoril, Book 1
Publisher: Autumn Arch Publishing
Released: Dec. 24, 2019
It rests deep in the ground, they say, an ancient burial treasure of unimaginable wealth. Riches to humble even the most prosperous men, locked away from time itself. But the Council’s edict was clear – keep the tombs of the ancient dalan closed. Keep the past sealed. But where there is wealth, there is greed, and nothing stays buried forever.
Thorben Paulson is an ordinary man, trying to raise his family the honest way. Unfortunately, the Council’s tax collectors demand more and more each thaw, taking in both coin and food. For a branded man like Thorben, his checkered past means the burden is always greater. With hungry mouths to feed and winter on the horizon, Thorben’s desperation grows. A visitor appears unexpectedly in town, a man from his past, carrying a map and a promise – enough coin to feed his family for the foreseeable future, in exchange for a single job. Not just any job, however. Thorben must delve once again, leave the sun behind and enter the underground crypts, the realm of the dead, and find priceless dalan relics. And yet, more lies in wait than things that sparkle and glimmer, and in Denoril, some things never truly die.
Author Aaron Bunce started his academic career in criminal justice, but eventually connected his life-long love of literature with his passion for writing. He attended and graduated from Southern New Hampshire University’s English and creative writing program. His first novel, The Winter of Swords, is an introduction to his lush and dark fantasy world, Denoril, and the first entry in the six-part series, Overthrown. The second and third installments, Before the Crow and A March of Woe are now available, with the fourth, The Prince of Orphans due next. 2019 marked the release of The Delving, the first book in an all-new supplementary series, helping to build the lore and world showcased in Overthrown.
Beyond fantasy, Aaron also introduced readers to his new science fiction horror series, NecroVerse. Detailing the struggle of miners extracting ore from the asteroid belt, Unleashed (August 2019), and then Exodus (December 2019), tells a delightfully dark story, weaving together strands of rich science fiction, gruesome horror, and adventure along with some beautiful, kick butt ladies. The third novel in this science fiction series, Titan, is due out first quarter 2020.
Besides writing, Aaron is constantly searching for a portal to other worlds, working to keep his two daughters from taking over the world, and supports his wife’s desire to vacation in Skyrim. Check out his website http://www.aaronbunce.com for information on current books, series, as well as news on upcoming releases.
Matthew E Berry began his audiobook career in 2017. “The Delving” is his 12th audiobook performance. His recent credits include “Lovesick” by Jon Athan, “Dreamscape Adventures Inc.” by C.A Gray, and “Trail of Blood” by Keith Latch and Steve Wands. Check out www.mattheweberry.com for all current information.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I am a HUGE audiobook listener. In fact, in the last few years, audiobooks have become my primary reading escape. With most of my time occupied by writing, editing, work, or family, I rely on audiobooks to listen to my favorite stories. I listen in the car during my commute and will throw on a pair of headphones while doing housework. It’s mobile, and I can listen while doing other things. I miss my downtime, where I could simply curl up with a book. Now, I feel like books have become a guilty pleasure, and have to cram them into any nook and free moment I have. In that sense, audiobooks are a perfect compromise.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
Most definitely. I think most authors would be lying if they said no. The Delving is a really interesting choice in this regard, because I wrote it primarily off the idea of “how far a father would go to keep his wife and children safe”. I have two daughters and based some elements of the story loosely off my own parenting experiences. Beyond the premise, there are little influences that sneak in, most of which I’m not even necessarily aware of at the time. Little mannerisms characters have, things they say, or even their tendencies. We’re all sponges, constantly observing the world and people around us. Writers just get to use it in a little more creature pursuit.
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
The process, although simple on the surface, is actually pretty complicated. There are ten thousand things the writer is fixated on–how characters speak, move, act, interact, as well as how the world looks, smells, and feels. I have to parse that list of ten thousand things down into a manageable list of things that won’t send the narrator running for the hills. I’ll send the manuscript over to Matt, or C.J. in the case of my other series, and allow them to read through. If properly written, a book can answer many of the questions all on its own, whether character based or with worldbuilding. Matt and I will then usually talk back and forth, discussing nuance, tone, theme, accent, cadence, etc. He’ll then record a short snippet (around fifteen minutes) and send it over to me to listen to. After that, we talk some more, fine tune little things, and when comfortable, move forth with primary production. As honed in on fine details as I am, I’m actually pretty relaxed about many elements with the audiobook production, as I like to look at the narrator’s work as a performance, and thus an almost separate entity to the book. Matt will breathe life into these characters and the events that sweep them forward. It won’t always completely mesh with the vision I create in my mind, but oftentimes I will end up liking it better than my own. It is this collaboration element to the audiobook process that I find most engaging and rewarding.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
Let me just say, I think that would be amazing! While writing, I usually have a pretty good image of each character painted in my head. In some instances, that image might actually be based off a real actor, or a character they’ve played in a favorite movie or show. For example, in my main Overthrown series, I pictured Captain Markus Teague as Russell Crowe from Gladiator. I’m not sure why, but every time I wrote one of his scenes, that’s where my brain would go. In The Delving, my visions were a little less vivid. And I think that might be because I rendered the characters off represented ideals more than their physical traits. Thorben is an “Every Man”, married to a no-nonsense, but warm-hearted woman, and then their house is filled with seven children. With that said, I really like John Krasinski’s quiet yet undeniably emotional power. He’s a little tall for the part, but when I watched him in “A Quiet Place” I said, wow, there is a man willing to do anything for the people he loves. That roll personified everything that Thorben is to me and really resonated. Iona is a man from Thorben’s past. He shows up and pulls him back into the dangerous world of delving. I am a huge Stanley Tucci fan, and have always thought that he could really play the part–a complicated mixture of arrogance, brash (almost to a fault) confidence, and tragic desperation. The last character I really envisioned is Gor, a member of the dubious River Guild and the story’s most unpredictable antagonist. He is a hulk of a man, both physically intimidating and unsettling in his comfort with random chance. With the flip of a coin he could slap you on the back or strangle you to death. I think Rory McCann, who played the Hound on Game of Thrones, could really bring Gor to life!
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Honestly, I hadn’t put much thought into audiobook adaptations before 2019, and I started writing in 2013/2014. It sounds strange, but they had always felt so cost prohibitive to me, that I’d viewed them as a long-shot. But that’s not to say attitudes don’t change. I decided to make 2019 the year that I fully committed myself to writing, so I ventured forth, and decided to see if my books garnered any attention within the narrator community. Ironically enough, Matthew Berry actually auditioned for my other fantasy series “Overthrown”, when I posted The Winter of Swords. I had an epiphany moment when listening to his audition and said to my wife “this guy would be even more perfect for The Delving” which I was just getting ready to release. I was a lucky author and found the perfect narrator for both series in one fell swoop.
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
Burn-out is hard, especially considering how many different pursuits we throw ourselves into every day. I honestly don’t know how full-time writers do it, but I try and manage my time between work (my full time job) my other work (writing every day) and my family. I think a balance really helps. But positive feedback helps, too. I don’t want to sink all my free time into something I don’t think people will enjoy. So, if readers reach out and respond favorably, it definitely helps. I also rotate between books and series, to keep things fresh. I wrote and published the first three books in my Overthrown series, then wrote and released The Delving, and have moved laterally to science fiction, to work on my new NecroVerse series for a while. The first two books (Unleased and Exodus) were released in August and December of last year and am working to finish up book 3 (Titan) for release soon. Beyond that, I’ve already been working on the fourth Overthrown book (Prince of Orphans) and the follow up to (The Delving). This rotation seems to keep my brain and imagination relatively fresh and has helped me avoid burn out. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that it continues that way!
What’s your favorite:
- Food – Oh, man. I have to pick? I just love food in general, especially now that I’ve been able to connect my love of geek culture to that love of food. I bought my wife the official cookbook from the Skyrim video game and the Firefly television show. We love broadening our food horizons and trying new things. With that said, I am a huge spaghetti fan. Yes, please.
- Song – it depends on the mood. When writing I listen to a lot of classical and instrumental music. David Tolk has composed some truly beautiful stuff. I could listen to his albumn Seasons on repeat over and over and over!
- Book – This is a truly unfair question for an author. I plead the 5th!
- Television show – so many to choose from. Firefly is up there. Battlestar Galactica, too. Outlander is the show my wife and I watch together (it’s an event with wine and everything). I really liked Game of Thrones, (until the writers mailed it in and broke my heart).
- Movie – Cinderella Man and Life as a House are two of my favorites. There are many more, but not enough room to list them all.
- Band – Alter Bridge
- Sports team – I’m a died in the wool Miami Dolphins fan, dating back to the early Dan Marino years. I’m sticking by them, too. Although they’ve made it difficult recently.
- City – Whichever one isn’t in the polar vortex in the wintertime.
How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
Usually dinner out with my wife and daughters, and then a day or two binge watching one of my favorite shows. This is a nice pallet cleanser between books, as I usually withhold video games and television while working hardcore to finish a novel. I feel a little guilty doing it, but deep down inside, I know I’ve earned it. LOL
What bits of advice would you give aspiring authors?
First and foremost, write for the right reasons. If you approach writing with the idea that it will make you wealthy or a celebrity, the reality of the life will hit you hard and fast. Second, stay passionate–about your story, your characters, and your craft. Be willing to learn, to accept critique, and always push the boundaries of your own abilities. Critique breaks so many writers, whether it be from alpha and beta readers, professional reviewers, or readers reviewing on sites like Amazon or Goodreads. You’ll never make everyone like you, or every reader like your book. Just don’t let them make you hate yourself or you book. Be proud of your accomplishments. And lastly, don’t give up. I’ve studied statistics since starting my own writing career, and one truth continues to dominate all others–more authors fail because they give up than for any other reason.
What’s next for you?
More of the same. Write-write-write. I am working to release more books and stories every year, win over more readers, and hopefully, at some point in this crazy game, establish myself as a brand. I would like people to come to trust me as a source for compelling, engaging stories. If I can do that much, I think I’ll feel pretty darn good about this crazy writing adventure.
Born and raised in Yarborough, Thorben showcased a quick mind and knack for mechanical components from an early age. As a child, Thorben’s father took him north to Klydesborough, the Provincial seat, where his delicate fingers and uncanny knowledge of small, moving parts made him an invaluable asset to the Earl’s armorers. Times would change, however, as political conflict would force King Algast to increase the demand for taxes. As a young man, Thorben was introduced to an exotic goods broker, the promise of wealth for his tax-burdened family a siren song he ultimately could not ignore. Not graced with exceptional size or strength, Thorben’s quick wit and problem solving abilities quickly earned him renown as a delver, and by his second winter thaw, he had earned the title of Owl (a delver whose mind sets them above a laborer (Mule) or an artifact collector (Mouse). Successful winter thaws of delving brought good fortune to Thorben and his family. They expanded their house and land, paid debts, and acquired some status within the community. But one fated day changed his fortunes forever. Caught leaving a tomb, Thorben was shackled and declared guilty of Delving. He was branded and thrown into a prison mine, where he toiled and labored night and day. Thorben was a changed man after his release, both physically and mentally. The mines broke his body, while the brand (forever marking him as a criminal and man without honor) broke him emotionally. His family fell into disgrace, both of his parents sliding from health and eventually dying from sickness. As a single, branded man with little to no prospects, Thorben met Dennica, the unwed daughter of fisher folk from the middle-boroughs. Fiery and independent, Dennica took a liking to Thorben, even when her family forbid her from courting him. Thorben’s brand didn’t scare Dennica away, like it did with others. She insisted that it was a mark of character, as “most men do unscrupulous things no one knows about. At least I can pull up your sleeve and see yours.” Against her family’s wishes, Dennica wed Thorben. They went on to welcome seven healthy children–six boys and an unsurprisingly fiery and free-spirited girl. They struggled through each winter thaw, living, supporting one another, and earning their way honestly. But all changed one fated day, when the tax caravan rolled into town, and a mysterious character from Thorben’s path appears. A man with an offer that will both test and threaten everything Thorben and Dennica have built together.
A man of illicit prestige, Iona recruited Thorben, and many other young men and boys, into the world of crypt delving. He is a man of small stature, with dark hair and eyes, carrying the physical traits, accent, and sun-kissed skin of the Ishmandi settlers from across the Kartherous Sea. He is blessed with a silver tongue and disarming nature…one responsible for both talking high-born into buying reclaimed and banned relics for piles of gold, and convincing young men and women into procuring them from deep, underground tunnels and chambers…at any risk. Iona’s appearance in Yarborough, and his motivations, are both shrouded in mystery.
Jez is a mouse, a delver granted distinction by her small stature and slim build. Mice are prized for their ability to fit into the small, usually cramped underground spaces that mules and owls cannot enter. Jez has dark, unruly hair, large, intelligent eyes, and a quiet, almost unfriendly nature. She is quick with a quip, incredibly observant, and at times hints that she might care more than she initially admits. Although her presence is not surprising, Thorben struggles with the idea of her introduction into the life, due in part to her similarity in age to his own children, and his desire to prevent her from making the same mistakes he did.
The largest and most physically imposing of the mules, Gor is a mountain of a man. He has short, sand-colored hair, a wide flat nose, and close-set eyes. His teeth are rotten and his breath smells of sour, rotten cabbage. He commands the other mules and gives Thorben the suspicion that he is more than just a hired laborer. Gor harbors terrible secrets, and attributes his action and direction to a religion of fate, where a man’s life or death hinges on the simple flip of a coin.
Shorter than Gor, but taller than Renlo, Hun is a man of foul tempers, fueled by a barely concealed urge for violence. His thinning, shortly cropped hair and poor evident hygiene speaks of a low-born man, while his visible scars and crooked nose further supports a penitence for brawls and violence. Hun is an unpredictable wildcard; whose motivations and urges make him someone Thorben fears–a man he will not willingly turn his back to.
The shortest of the three mules, Renlo has dark, medium length hair, light brown eyes, and a rather wide face and brow. He is sturdily built and carries himself with confidence. Renlo follows Gor’s lead and appears to be a man both familiar with taking orders and used to a life of hard, honest labor. Unlike Gor and Hun, Renlo doesn’t appear as comfortable with the idea of violence, but more so resolved to its occasional necessity. He is firm but fair, repeatedly hints at a more cultured upbringing than his counterparts and leads Thorben to believe that he is a decent man trapped in a less than ideal circumstance.
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