Narrator: Joel Simler
Length: 10 hours 32 minutes
Publisher: Audiobook Empire⎮2021
Genre: Fantasy; Humor
Release date: Dec. 17, 2021
In a world filled with powerful witches and wizards, Professor Marcus Orren is about as magical as your average brick, leading to a life of rampant cynicism, coupled with mild-to-moderate alcohol abuse.
While his contemporaries are content in their sorcerous ways, Marcus dares to ask the important questions in life, such as: “How can a pyromancer summon fire without fuel and a spark?” or, “What, exactly, is so special about a simple chalk circle that people assume it will ever turn iron into gold?”
His latest theory, an academic rebuttal of a God named Tomas, stands so air-tight that the Universe itself is forced to agree, promptly erasing the actual Tomas straight from existence. Unfortunately for Marcus, there are hundreds of Gods roaming the heavens above, and nearly all are the type to hold a grudge.
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Eric Gay received a master’s degree in Historical Linguistics from the University of South Carolina, where his work focused on utilizing literature and language comparison to determine whether the Norse and Anglo-Saxons could understand each other.
Turns out the answer is: “Eh, probably.”
Now he haunts the mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife and two daughters.
About the Narrator: Joel Simler
Who would’ve thought that the kid sent to remedial reading classes would end up reading books for a living? It’s true, his elementary school teacher sent him to a remedial reading program – but he soon became that kid in class constantly getting in trouble for reading, instead of listening to his teachers.
A lifelong performer by any means possible, be it theatre, music, dance, radio, or pogo stick, Joel finally found a home in audiobooks after getting his degree in Audio Production. Since then, he has sought extensive coaching from industry pros, and records fervidly out of his audio hovel in the Pacific Northwest.
He’s a family man (soon to be dad of two, what?!), a professionally certified ballroom dance instructor, has traveled the US in his 1978 VW bus, and has a propensity for picking up hobbies like no other. Rock climbing/bouldering? ✓ Bonsai tree cultivation? ✓ Playing drums and ukulele? ✓✓ Reading? Huh heh heh, yeah ✓ Skateboarding? Definitely ✓ Baking sourdough bread? Heck. Yes. ✓ Dungeons and Dragons? You know it ✓ Someday he will bake the most perfect homemade pizza.
About the Publisher: Audiobook Empire
At Audiobook Empire, audio reigns supreme, narrators are hailed as heroes, and headphones are worn with pride.
Marrying pomp and circumstance with quality you can count on, Audiobook Empire is a full-service production house that produces and promotes audiobooks with gusto.
Interview with Joel Simler
I went on a BIG ass trip with my partner back in 2016 (7 month cross-country in a hippie van plus time abroad in Senegal, Spain, and Italy). All along the way I was thinking to myself “what the hell am I going to do with my life?”. Having received my degree in Audio Production several years earlier, I knew I wanted to work with audio somehow. But HOW??? Tough question. While on that big ass trip, we listened to lots of music, podcasts, and… audiobooks. During one post-trip afternoon of mining the internet for jobs involving audio, I stumbled upon a posting looking for an audiobook narrator. I thought to myself “hmm, now that is interesting”. A wee bit later, my slow brain finally connected the dots of my joy of listening to audiobooks on that trip, and went “hey, wait a minute!”. I had taken acting classes all the way from elementary school and through college; and I know how to record. Maybe I should record audiobooks! What followed was 2+ years of endless research, copious amounts of coaching (both performance and business related), and oodles of ogling books and reading them out loud.
What type of training have you undergone?
As far as formal training goes, I took acting classes, primarily for fun, all throughout my days in school. For college, I received my AA degree in Audio Production from The Art Institute of Seattle. That formal schooling helped me build at least a basic foundation. However, I never enjoyed formal school, so in my sojourn to become an audiobook narrator I attended a litany of classes and programs to prepare me for a life of audiobooks. Now this was a kind of schooling I could get down with!
I am a proud graduate of Sean Allen Pratt’s Ginger Yoda Dojo - which is a 14+ month NonFiction narration curriculum. I have done private coaching with other notable narrator coaches in the field such as Carol Monda, Shannon Parks, and PJ Ochlan. Not to mention a slough of other group classes and seminars with other generous and excellent coaches.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
Oh yeah, absolutely! I tend to listen to a book or two a month on average. Growing up I always loved reading, though as an adult it became hard to salvage time in a day to sit and read. Audiobooks have been a boon to my reading, as I can easily do dishes, drive, or clean the house while digesting books. One of the best parts is that my partner and I can listen to the same book together! We’re working through the Wheel of Time series at the moment.
How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
I like to get very close with authors, up to a certain point. Before I begin recording, I want to dive deep into their mind and do my best to glean their intentions with characters and get their communication style down. I’m open to as many conversations as needed before I get started. I’ll even make some short voice and scene clips of the book to share with the author to get their approval. However, once we get everything nailed down, I need the space to then record the entire book in peace. At this point I request that the author cease their directorial notes, and let me do the job I was trained for.
How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
Creating character voices is a very fun part of the process! For any book I narrate, I read through the entire book and take notes of each character. I’ll take into account how big they are, their age, their confidence level, what kind of education they have, any notable accents, or even what color hair they have. All those details, big and small, allow me to actually picture this character as a real living person. Once I’ve got that in my head, I’ll play around with “their” voice and see what feels right. While doing this I also check in with the author to see what they think the character sounds like.
Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
Y’know, on some level, I have to connect with every character in the book. If I can’t find a way to personally connect with that character, then there’s a big risk that the person will sound phony and unreal, and that’s the last thing I want! So I’m always checking in with myself in relation to each character to make sure that we’re connected in some way. Though I will say that I was surprised how well connected I felt to Tycho Mateen. Not that I’m a highly trained assassin that specializes in killing mages, but a part of me is quite curious what that life would be like. What can I say, I grew up on lots of fantasy and martial arts movies!
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
Oh now that is a dangerous question. Who knows what the ramifications of time travel would actually be! I’m not sure that I’d have the confidence to take a risk and travel time like that. BUT! If I had to, I’d probably scooch a decade or two into the future to check on myself and see if I ever do manage to succeed in making the most perfect homemade pizza.
If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
Well, my first reaction is to say, I’d love to narrate the Dark Elf series written by R.A. Salvatore! However, that’s a tricky question because Victor Bevine does such a great job narrating that series, that I don’t actually think I’d want to detract from it at all. As to why that series? Because it’s such a great fantasy series, with a compelling main character, and speaks to my literary roots as a reader. Plus the main character is a misunderstood badass with a heart of gold and amazing sword skills. Yeah, I’m into that.
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
I mean, how could storytelling, one of humanity’s oldest pastimes, be cheating? Heck, I could argue that reading books is cheating, as our oral traditions predate the written word by a considerable amount. I’m not going to argue that point though, because I don’t think it’s relevant. Listen (pun intended), listening to or reading a story activates your brain regardless, and so why bicker over one being better than the other?
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring audiobook narrators?
Ok, I’ll admit, my job sounds incredibly easy. I mean, reading out loud? Like, we all did that in grade school, right? I’ll also admit that the same thought crossed my mind when I first started. However when I went to narrate my first audiobook - which was only 20 minutes long - I very quickly realized how hard this actually is! Man, it turns out that talking is really hard. Not to mention having to listen back to your own voice for hours on end. To get the skills needed to do this job, I quickly realized that I needed to do a LOT of research, and sought the help of a LOT of professionals. If this is something you want to do, then I’d urge you to start by researching; and don’t just research, but research the people whose words you are reading as well. Check to make sure that this person's word actually has some value in the field. Have they narrated a notable amount of books? A lot of people try to sell this field as a “get rich working from home” gimmick, which I can attest that it is most certainly not. Oh, how I wish it was. But. It’s. Not. Depending on the individual, this career can take years of toil before making any amount of money, let alone enough to make a living off of. If you go into this field, know that it will be hard work just like any other career out there. But if it’s the life for you, then just go for it!