Author: Chantal Gadoury
Narrator: Ryan Haugen
Length: 9 hours 37 minutes
Publisher: The Parliament House
Released: Mar. 3, 2020
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
The village of Krume is plagued by a haunted wood and a hungry witch. It’s been that way for as long as Hans and Greta can remember, though they have never seen the witch themselves; no one has. When men start to disappear once again in the cover of night – their bloody hearts turning up on doorsteps – the village falls into frenzied madness. Hans and Greta, two outcast orphans, find themselves facing accusations of witchcraft and are met with an ultimatum: burn at the stake, or leave the village forever. With nowhere else to go, they abandon their only home. As they venture into the strange forest, their path is fraught with horrific creatures, wild and vivid hallucinations, and a mysterious man tied to the witch’s past. The Shrike is watching, just beyond the deep darkness of the woods.
Amazon Best Selling Author, Chantal Gadoury, is a 2011 graduate from Susquehanna University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. Since graduation, she has published “The Songs in Our Hearts” with 48Fourteen Publishing, and “Allerleirauh” with Parliament House Press, with future titles to follow. Chantal first started writing stories at the age of seven and continues with that love of writing today. Writing novels for Chantal has become a life-long dream come true! When she’s not writing, she enjoys painting, drinking lots of DD Iced Coffee, and watching Disney classics. Chantal lives in Muncy, Pennsylvania with her Mom, Sister and furry-‘brother’ (aka, puppy) Taran.
A.M. Wright is an Ohio native, perched on the shores of Lake Erie for as long as she can remember. She is a graduate of Walsh University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Corporate Communications, with two minors in Marketing and Writing. She has a passion for reading, writing, and drawing; and has a particularly strong love for shojo-manga and all genres of anime. When A.M. Wright isn’t focused on her day job, she is sorting through submissions, writing too many stories to keep track of, and playing video games with her fiance in a townhouse that’s just a fifteen minute drive from “The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”
Ryan Haugen tried to write for a long time. He has nothing to show for it – in fact this is the first time he’s sat down to write since college. Actually, he isn’t even sitting right now. He’s standing, and coming to grips with how writing has always caused him to deceive himself. So, that honest work tied to fiction would ever materialize shocks even him. As a narrator, Ryan has no formal qualifications or training. As a producer, he has an above-average grasp of Windows 10 and Audacity. As a purveyor of twist endings, he would have you know he quit his day job to pursue narration full time in his home studio after 7 months of part-time narration, and 15 books narrated. Ever engaged, passionate, and consumptive of all forms of media, Ryan floats in bewildered contentment at the notion anyone would want to listen to him speak for dozens of hours, but hopes you enjoy his youthful performances in the tales he tells, and that by now, you truly believe he is a better storyteller than he is writer.”
Q&A with Narrator Ryan Haugan
- When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
- Around July 2019 I was encouraged by a friend online to “do something, anything” with my voice. For most of my life I viewed the prospect as impossible, but something I’d be great at if I were in “other” circumstances. I’d also been told by players in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I used to run that I really need to do something “performative” with my voice and storytelling abilities. Audiobook narration kind of came up in discussions with my partner as yet another form of gig work one day around this time, and I looked in to it pretty much immediately. So there’d been this sense that I need to do something with my voice and performative style, at least from people I viewed as honest friends, for quite a while.
- Did you find it difficult to “break into” audiobook narration? What skill/tool helped you the most when getting started?
- If you’re willing to work for free, you can break into almost any line of work, I’m sure – your patience will wear thin quickly, though. And that’s my story with narration, and probably most others, too. I was doing 6-10 auditions a day to start out, everything I could get my hands on, from diet books to homegrowing weed to crime thrillers to smuttier stuff, you name it – but ultimately it came down to a string of Royalty Share (no money for you or the rights holder/author unless the audiobook sells) on ACX as a proof of concept, a leg-stretch. Within a week of completing my first Royalty Share project, I’d received an offer to actually work for a wage (!!!) and have since collaborated with that author on numerous projects.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
- I’m sure this’ll probably change somewhat, but that I’m able to quit my day job to do much more lucrative/fulfilling work has kept my enthusiasm at a very steady burn. I’m overjoyed at the opportunity to narrate/produce – I’ve known nothing like this in my life. But, it’s easy to tire of longer pieces/narrative styles you don’t particularly jive with. Knowing there’s something else radically different on the horizon reinvigorates me. Shorter projects, subjects I don’t particularly have much interest in – the unknown keeps things interesting.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Yes, an avid one at that. Until this week I was able to listen to them during my entire shift at work, but, now that work is narration full-time, I probably shouldn’t have another voice narrating in the background while I narrate. So of course the convenience factor appeals to me, but an adept narrator can turn a novel in to something of a stage performance. A well-written character is worthy of a demanding performance. I appreciate the added immersion, and this sort of “heartbeat” being given to a narrative.
- What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
- My favorite part – intense internal monologues are frequently the most intimate parts of any fiction, but they also flow the most naturally for me. I find myself doing the fewest retakes when I’m directly in a character’s mind. So the ROI so to speak is huge here. Least favorite part? Excluding editing, sticking just to the narration, awkwardly-worded sentences, unnatural character interactions, daily sinus rinses, the list goes on.
- Is there a particular genre you feel unsuited for? Have you ever declined a project because you didn’t think you were right for it?
- If work is slow enough, I’ll audition for just about any project that isn’t strictly demanding a female/elderly voice – I’ve still tried to sound elderly, though, don’t think I haven’t! Genres, specifically, I’d say political thrillers, westerns, romance in general – based on anecdotal evidence, harem romance authors don’t seem to enjoy my work, haha. But I do try to do my research and adapt to styles I haven’t tried before.
- How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
- The characters had a pretty big say in how they sounded! A well-written character just screams their voice to you. But I like to collaborate with authors on ideas they have for their characters’ voices, a back-and-forth until some agreement is reached, though I’m usually given free rein over interpretation. I have stock voices ready for a handful of character types, though The Shrike and the Shadows saw me trying some voices I’d never used yet. Father Emory in particular was a blast to portray. I took some influence from the clergymen in Castlevania. Rabble rousers/fanatics allow a lot of wiggle room, so more opportunity to experiment.
- Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
- Yes, though I’ve been busy enough recording them lately that I haven’t really had the time for that. Feedback from authors and their creative teams is far more valuable to me. Narration is not one-size-fits-all; not every reviewer will appreciate what the author is trying to achieve through audio, nor what you are trying to achieve. I have some older pieces in particular that I’m not happy with honestly, though I achieved what the author demanded and they’re happy with the result. So some criticism may be valid, but at times it’s like not enjoying a genre of fiction. Is something bad just because you dislike the genre? Not necessarily.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
- Listen. Listen more than you record. You’re an artist, and you need inspiration. Listen to bad audiobooks – however you make this assessment is up to you, but they’re out there – take notes. Watch bad movies, take notes. Learning what’s awful is just as important as knowing what’s good. And focus more on your performative style and consistency rather than having the most expensive setup, starting out.
- What’s next for you?
- Working on M.A. Leon’s first book in her YA fantasy Steel and Magic series, Elemental Links. This book and its sequels should keep me busy for a few months. I’m also supposed to be moving across the country with my partner in a couple months, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world at the moment. Luckily, I’m an olympic social distancer.
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