Author: William Todd
Narrator: Ben Werling
Length: 5 hours 35 muntes
Publisher: William Todd
Released: Nov. 14, 2018
August 1888. Jericho Mannion is the captain of an old, cash-strapped steamer named the Orion. He’s been steadily losing money to his competitors, the railways. When he finds out from his first mate, Tal MacTavish, that the next passage across Lake Erie has only a few passengers, his hopes sink of ever getting out of debt. But Providence has smiled upon him. Though the passenger list is small, they have almost a full cargo hold, thanks to William Ross and the university he works for.
Ross is the team leader of a university archeology dig tasked with retrieving the debris from a meteorite crash in western Ohio. He is quite anxious to get his find back to the university for study and is willing to pay Jericho double the fare for his team and cargo for a straight shot across Lake Erie from Toledo, Ohio to Buffalo, NY. Jericho becomes suspicious when Ross refuses to divulge the contents of his cargo and the haste in which he wants to cross. Desperately needing money, Jericho reluctantly agrees when Ross finally offers him triple the fare; he will take him and his cargo on the nonstop 14-hour trek across the lake.
But what few people on the ship know is what was initially thought to be a meteorite crash turned out to be an alien craft. The crates in the cargo area hold the remains of the ship. And what no one knows, not even the university team, is that something in those crates is still alive.
Now, in a growing storm, alone in the middle of the lake, people are turning up dead. Who will survive the crossing when something wicked this way comes?
I have been writing online since the early 2000’s, primarily writing horror stories in the style of Poe and Lovecraft. I was the 2nd most popular author on the website storiesbyemail.com for two years before moving on. I had my first book, a Victorian era horror compilation called Bumps in the Night, published by Mystic Moon Press just a week before they closed their website and never saw my hard work pay off. Afterwards I took publishing into my own hands, became an Indie author and haven’t looked back. My first self-published book was Dead of Night, another compilation of Victorian horror stories, published September 2016 by Createspace and on Kindle by KDP. After its publication I left my comfort zone for mystery and wrote a short story about Sherlock Holmes in the Conan Doyle style. I loved it so much I then did a longer story A Reflection of Evil, both published in 2017 through Createspace and KDP. I have just release Beyond the Gossamer Veil, another compilation of both Victorian and modern supernatural/horror stories and am in the beginning stages of my third Sherlock Holmes installment.
Ben is an award winning actor and voice over professional, who has performed all across the United States. From Shakespeare to Neil Simon, he has displayed a versatility and diversity in the characters and dialects he has portrayed. Ben received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Leading Actor as abusive talk show host Barry Champlain in Eric Bogosian’s TALK RADIO, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Prosecutor Villeforte in Alexander Dumas’ THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, also in Chicago. He has worked with an extensive list of theaters in Chicago over the last three decades: Steppenwolf, Bailiwick, Famous Door, Next, A Red Orchid, Raven Theater, First Folio, Writer’s Theater, Buffalo Theater Ensemble, as well as Utah Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory, Madison Repertory, and Allenberry Playhouse in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania. He is an Ensemble member of Shattered Globe Theater in Chicago. For almost a decade he was the voice of the Adler Planetarium, hosting live shows and pointing out the stars, planets and constellations on the big dome. Ben has an eponymous weekly vlog on YouTube, that he films, produces, edits and narrates. He lives in Chicago with his wife Amy, two dogs and three cats.
Q&A with Author William Todd
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- I never used to even think about how a book would sound as an audiobook…until I finally had one done. Now, I do. The story is most important, whether read or heard. I a bad story is a bad story. But I am more cognizant now when I write with how a phrase might sound read aloud. I think my audiobooks now are much easier on the ear then my first ones because of that. And my narrator, Ben Werling, I’ve used on every story. He’s great and has a wide vocal range. He makes turning a book into audio so much easier on me. I think we’re a good team. I basically give him my manuscript with some simple directions as to accents, maybe weird words that might pop up, since I write typically late Victorian era material, and he does the rest. He does a chapter at a time and sends them to me to okay. We rarely have to redo anything. I am truly lucky because the process, at least for me, is very simple with Ben at the helm.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- Because audiobooks are so prevalent and getting more and more popular by the day, I think you have to be conscious of it becoming an audiobook while writing, especially if you plan on using that format. And I think an author is selling himself short if he doesn’t at least consider putting his creations on audiobook. It is another channel to garner readers and followers…and revenue.
- How did you select your narrator?
- I put up three pages of my book for narrators to “audition”. I listen to each audition and pick the best one. But because Ben and I have such a good working relationship, ultimately, he gets my jobs. It is not only because he is such a good narrator. I write Sherlock Holmes and gothic horror. At least for the Holmes stories, I prefer having the same Holmes and Watson in each of my stories. Ben has been hands down the best Holmes and Watson I have found so why would I switch? I don’t think my readers would like that, and I know they would hear the difference.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- I am. Until I land on the best-sellers list or get a movie deal, I have a job to pay bills and raise my family. I drive 45 minutes one way. Sometimes, that hour and a half is the only time I have to myself, and the perfect way to spend that time is listening to audiobooks. There are just times in this hustle and bustle life where cracking open a paperback is not possible. But your ears are always available to listen.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
- I might have to say all of it, but there’s a reason. Well, okay I’ll narrow it down to the final scenes of the book during a storm. But the reason I say all of it is because Ben employs subtle sound effects in the background much like the old radio stories. There is one part of the story where there is a storm, and the thunder and lightning in the background of the narrations lends itself perfectly to the feel of the scene.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- I usually don’t. I breathe a sigh of relief, take a few days off to unwind, then jump right back in. I usually have several ideas floating around in my head or jotted down on paper. I’ll pick one, let it percolate then start the process all over again. Being an indie author and all that entails, you rarely have down time. I’m a bit OCD. Just like Monk on the TV show who has to touch things as he walks by them, my fingers have to constantly be tapping on a keyboard. I’ll celebrate when I’m dead.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- For both it is the same–just do it. It is very easy for life to get in the way of writing. And it’s also very easy to fall out of the habit of writing. Mowing, cleaning, doing things with family, work, prepare for holidays, just plain being lazy (guilty as charged), etc. You have to make the time. This just happened to me where I wrote nothing for over two weeks, and I have deadline to have a Holmes story written by the end of the year for a publication next year. I had been under the weather and busy with life on top of that. There were times where I could have written but didn’t. The good habit of writing almost daily had been broken. But for me, all it took was forcing myself to sit at the lap top and writing a few sentences. Those few sentences ended at ten pages. Same with reading. Even if you have to force yourself, do it. If you love to read and love to write, just the mere act will set you right again. At least it does for me.
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
- That is where I usually get impetus for my stories, so yeah. Many characters I’ve come up with have appeared in my dreams. The trick is finding the story in which they will appear, especially when I might be working on more than one story at a time.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- Be picky in who you choose. The narrator is 50 percent of the audiobook, the other 50 percent being the story itself. I have heard many good stories butchered by bad narration.
- What’s next for you?
- I am finishing up a compilation of Sherlock Holmes stories that should be out sometime in the first half of 2020.
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