Author: Sydney Paige Richardson
Narrator: Rocky Taylor
Length: 11 hours 37 minutes
Series: The Halves of Us Trilogy, Book 1
Publisher: The Parliament House
Released: Sep. 3, 2020
Genre: YA Fantasy
Twin Sisters: One destined to rule, one cursed to destroy. Some say blood is thicker than water. But for twin sisters, Adie and Aura, their connection runs even deeper than blood. After investigating a surprise attack carried out by dark souls controlled by the Wicked Willow, an evil residing in a neighboring region, Aura uncovers a family secret: She is the fulfillment of a curse placed upon her family centuries ago. While Aura is destined to destroy their planet, Thindoral, Adie is fated to follow in their mother’s footsteps and become Ruler, but even Adie’s path comes with revelations. Dangerous premonitions plague her dreams, all depicting Thindoral’s demise at the hand of her sister. As darkness takes control of her mind, Aura must determine whether defying fate and time is the choice that will seal her destruction, or if self-sacrifice will save all she holds dear. Meanwhile, Adie is faced with an impossible decision: Save her sister, or protect their world?
Sydney wrote her first book, Girls, in the second grade, about her and her best friends in college [because college was super cool when you were 8]. They went on treasure hunts and fought bad guys with their super powers. Her second-grade teacher was so impressed with her, she laminated a cover and bound it. That will forever be the moment Sydney dreamed of holding a copy of her own book and placing it on a shelf. Now all grown up, Sydney’s head still stays in the fantasy world, fashioning worlds where the power of a star can be harnessed and used for time travel, flying is just as easy as walking here on earth – and her best friends are fairies. Her characters are dark and lost individuals, but your love for them will grow when you realize not everything is black and white.
Rocky hails from Washington State and frequently haunts the Oregon coast. She holds a BA from The Evergreen State College and has worked as a stagehand since 2008. After years of bringing stories to life behind the scenes she has transitioned from backstage to behind the mic. An avid reader, traveler, and lover of humanity, she brings all of that to the world of story-telling. When not in her studio, she volunteers as a community mediator, loves partner dancing and like all Pacific Northwesterners, lives for beautiful summer days.
Q&A with Narrator Rocky Taylor
- What makes The Halves of Us stand out as an audiobook?
- The Halves of Us lends itself to audio particularly well. There are dream sequences, inner dialogue, recurring haunting whispers and a beautiful little lullaby woven through the whole book. All of those elements really added dimension to the story in audio form.
- What was your favorite thing about narrating this book?
- I had two favorite scenes to narrate in this book. One was a nightmare sequence where one of the characters is surrounded by dancing skeletons. The imagery and atmosphere was so vivid it was just so dang fun to do. The other was set in “The Room of Papers” where the characters go to learn their fate. Everything was looming and moving and very visual and active, you could picture and feel the changing environment. It’s a great stand alone scene, and it also captures some of the turmoil that is at the heart of the book. Also, Sydney writes particularly satisfying final sentences for each chapter.
- What was your process for developing character voices?
- Sydney sent me these wonderful character sheets with things like age, education level, which famous actor would play who, and some adjectives to describe each character. That was fantastically helpful. I started by watching youtube clips of all the actors she would cast, and then as I read through the manuscript I made notes on the character sheets. I also wrote down the first line of dialogue each character had, and when I finished reading through the manuscript, I organized the character sheets by how large of a role they had, and then by gender and age and went through my pile of character sheets saying that one line of dialogue out loud until I felt like it was them. I pinned all the character sheets and a map of their world to the walls of my studio.
- What is your dream project?
- I have so many narrator and author crushes. I’m also an Outlander fan, so in my dream world I would someday work with Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan and then we would all become best friends. I have an author crush on S.A. Chakraborty who is currently writing some lady pirate books. To be honest, I also kind of have a crush on the book I just finished narrating.
- When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
- My uncle has a really great voice and reads aloud to my grandma nearly everyday. He really should narrate books. After thinking this for the umpteenth time, I realized that it was something I wanted to do. I have been a stagehand for years, so conveniently, I wasn’t afraid of setting up a microphone or audio interface. From there it was a lot of research and hard work.
- How do you choose books?
- I only audition for books that I think will be a good fit for me and that I will enjoy doing. Before I audition, I spend time researching the author and the book. I want to work with authors who take writing seriously, and I also want to see something about them as people on their website or their social media. My heart lies with sci-fi and fantasy.
- What training do you have?
- I am a mediator and a partner dancer. As a mediator I have spent a lot of time sitting with strangers trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on while they fight with each other. All of that time sitting with people at their best and worst has given me a deep empathy for and understanding of people and was also excellent training in character development. Dancing is so much about grounding, listening, connection, sensitivity, creativity and expression. Audiobook narration is kind of like an eleven hour and thirty-six minute dance with conflict thrown in. I also have an excellent coach who I am incredibly grateful for.
- How closely do you work with authors?
- Authors will sometimes spend years working on a book that I will produce in a matter of weeks, so I want there to be a line of communication open. I always ask if there is anything that doesn’t appear in the book that it is important for me to know and give them the chance to share anything else they think is important. Once I finish reading through the manuscript, I’ll ask whatever questions I have and then there is a passing of the creative baton and I produce the book. From there I spend some time desperately hoping that they’ll love it and then try to let go of attachment to anyone’s opinion and just know that I did my best.
- Any funny anecdotes from inside the booth?
- It turns out there are a lot of words I have read and never said out loud before, and it turns out that the way I have been saying them in my head and how you have been saying them are sometimes quite different. I was shocked to realize how you all have been pronouncing “beige.”
- If you had five other lives, what would you do with them?
- I would be a country singer, a train engineer, a marine mammalogist, a monitoring and evaluation specialist and a florist. I do like flowers.
- Carry You by Ruelle and Flueurie – I chose this song because it reminded me of the sisters and their love for each other. They would do anything to ensure the other’s safety, including carrying them through the darkness.
- In Reverence by David Tolk – has no words, but the music is what inspired me to finish the book and write the ending. I am in tears every time I listen to this song.
- Heresy by Full Tilt – This song would definitely be the movie trailer soundtrack if The Halves of Us is made into a movie.
- Cut by Plumb – This song reflects the descent of Aura into darkness.
- Fall into Me – is the darkness talking to Aura. This song always gives me chills.
- Head above Water by Avril – To me this song is about Adie trying to keep everything together as she watches her sister fall away, takes on her new roles, and deals with the night terrors.
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