Author: Melissa McPhail
Narrator: Nick Podehl
Length: 32 hours 6 minutes
Publisher: Podium Publishing⎮2016
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: A Pattern of Shadow and Light, Book 1
Release date: Jul. 26, 2016
In Alorin...300 years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor's brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D'Lacourte's mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he'll have to find him....
In the kingdom of Dannym...the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.
In the Nadori desert...tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.
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Melissa McPhail is the author of the best-selling epic fantasy series A Pattern of Shadow & Light. She's the mother of twin girls who think boys in books are just better, and the adoptive mother to four very large cats who basically rule the roost; and while she can never leave the house in one attempt, she's pretty darn good at spinning a tale. She's also a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid tea drinker. Melissa's fantasy series has won eight best fantasy awards and (even more importantly to her) a fiercely devoted following. She is known for being an engaged author on social media and welcomes your thoughts on her work, the speculative fiction genre or writing in general.
About the Narrator: Nick Podehl
Nick Podehl is an award-winning audiobook narrator and voice actor who's narrated hundreds of titles across many different genres. In addition to narrating the epic fantasy series A Pattern of Shadow and Light and prior to his new long-term deal with Podium, he narrated the epic fantasy series the Kingkiller Chronicles, as well as some iconic works of teen fiction – including Wonder, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He was named an Audible Customer Favorite in 2018 and has been honored with an Audie Award, along with multiple Earphones Awards from AudioFile Magazine. He lives and works in the Midwest with his lovely wife and two beautiful daughters.
Interview with Melissa McPhail
I was thrilled when Podium contacted me with an offer to publish my series in audio format. One of the most interesting parts of the process has been going through each book and pulling out words and nomenclature that are unique to my world and its magic system in order to catalog their pronunciations.
Sometimes I had only heard those words in my head up to that point. Trying to pronounce them for Nick Podehl, my incredibly talented narrator, sometimes proved challenging. I had to practice saying the names aloud so I could correctly show Nick how to say them.
Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
In my (admittedly limited) experience, a simple story can be made interesting if the narrator really knows his business, while even the most lyrical writing can be ruined by a narrator who doesn’t sound interested in the material.
As with any art form, when you translate it from its original medium into another one, the translator really needs to be an artist himself. Nick Podehl has an amazing talent with voices, as well as an ability to interpret and present the correct emotion for each character. My series would not have done nearly as well read by a less talented (or less passionate) narrator.
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Sadly not! I might’ve come up with much less complicated names if I had been thinking about someone having to speak them aloud—LOL.
A major factor in my name choices is how the word looks on the page. The spelling as much as the sound of the name imparts a certain feeling to the character. The spelling is critical, in fact, to my concept of the character.
The reader both sees and hears the word in their minds. If I had been writing specifically with audio in mind, I might have named some characters differently.
How did you select your narrator?
I trusted Podium to find the best narrator to bring my story to life, and I cannot now imagine anyone else but Nick Podehl as the voice of my series.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
As I mentioned above, I sat down with a Podium producer and walked through all the names, titles, cities and magical nomenclature specific to my world. This enabled Nick to know how to say the names properly.
Because I have so many diverse peoples and cultures in my world, we also discussed types of accents and inflections that might influence the way Nick could portray the character. With that said, all I really did was give him some guidelines. Nick did the heavy lifting in bringing my words and characters to life.
Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing?
A number of books significantly impacted me as a teenager, in part because of my age upon first reading them, and in part because of the things that were happening in my life at the time. These experiences showed me how profoundly stories can influence our lives for the better.
I write allegorical fantasy because I want to share the philosophical truths I’ve found through my own studies of philosophy and comparative religion, but I want to present these ideas in a way that doesn’t preach, isn’t political and has no personal agenda.
Sometimes we read stories that hit too close to the mark in our own lives. We don’t want to think about those problems, and we reject any inherent truth the story has to offer.
The value of allegorical fantasy is that it’s generally just far enough removed from our own lives to be able to look at a character’s struggles, see that their path is similar to our own, but still find hope or encouragement in the way the character is handling those trials.
It’s important to me with my writing to present philosophical ideas in a way that others can compare them to their own lives without feeling endangered by the ideas. They can see events from a different perspective and determine if the characters’ ideas and ways of handling things could also be true for them.
It’s hugely rewarding to me when readers write to tell me that they’re using some piece of philosophy from my books in their daily lives, or that a particular character’s struggle has helped them overcome or in some way feel more capable of dealing with their own life challenges.
Ultimately, it’s important to me to present ideas of hope, courage, honor, and most of all, causative action, through the experiences of my characters.
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
For me, writing is a calling. It’s my passion and my first love. I wouldn’t want to envision life without this means of communicating my ideas and thoughts to others.
I think because of this, I’ve never experienced burnout, but my yoga background has also helped me to know the importance of finding balance in our lives. Finding balance is a key theme in my life and in my series.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I absolutely adore listening to non-fiction in audio format. My writing is heavily informed by world history, and I continue to be an avid student of it.
I’ve been making my way through the Great Lectures series, learning about everything from the impact of the Black Death on the Renaissance to the true history of secret societies. Being able to learn about important events in world history while doing my housework or taking a walk is one of the greatest inventions since sliced bread, as far as I’m concerned.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
You would have to ask this of the many readers of mine who have both listened to and read the series, often multiple times.
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
I would save the Library of Alexandria.