Audiobook Spotlight: Shadows of Lela + Excerpt & Interviews

Author: Tessonja Odette

Narrator: Emma Faye

Length: 8 hours 44 minutes

Series: Lela Trilogy, Book 1

Publisher: Crystal Moon Press

Released: Oct. 22, 2019

Genre: Fantasy; YA

 

A forgotten princess. A deadly quest. A threat that hides in shadow….

Sixteen-year-old Cora is a princess with a dark past. Exile has kept her safe. But when she rescues a dying unicorn from a mysterious band of hunters, her identity – and her life – are in danger.

Prince Teryn has the perfect plan – win the quest, marry his betrothed, and become king. But his mission goes awry when he faces a feisty young woman in the woods. Although they meet as foes, she shares a secret that bonds them.

Teryn and Cora’s fates are entwined in a plot far deadlier than they ever imagined. Can they face the threat together? Or will a terrifying enemy destroy the land they love?

Shadows of Lela is book one in the Lela Trilogy. If you like swoon-worthy romance, adventurous quests, breathtaking magic, and surprising twists, then you’ll love Tessonja Odette’s epic fantasy tale.

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Tessonja Odette is a fantasy author living in Seattle with her family, her pets, and ample amounts of chocolate. When she isn’t writing, she’s watching cat videos, petting dogs, having dance parties in the kitchen with her daughter, or pursuing her many creative hobbies.

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Narrator Bio

Emma Faye is an actor and audiobook narrator with 20+ years of experience on stage, screen and voice over. Being an LA trained actor, Emma is great at bringing characters to life, very versatile with voices, and draws the listener into the story. She loves doing audiobooks and specializes in Clean/Sweet/Christian books. She is a proud cat mom to 4 fur babies and runs a local community theatre.

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Q&A with Author Tessonja Odette
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I selected Emma by posting a sample for interested narrators to read. I listened to a few from other narrators that I enjoyed, but when I got to Emma’s, I was like, “That’s Cora! That’s her!” And she did the male voices and other characters so well that I knew I had to work with her. I’m so glad she agreed to work with me on this series because she really brought it to life.
  • 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?
    • I worked very closely with Emma at the start of the first audiobook. That one was the most important to nail down, since many of the characters appear throughout the entire series. So I sent her a pronunciation guide with little insights into each character so she could channel their personalities into their voices. I also explained how I envisioned certain characters sounding, like Valorre the unicorn. She did an amazing job taking all my notes and expressing them through her own creativity. I loved working with her!
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I love audiobooks! My favorite things about audiobooks is that I can listen to them while I’m doing other things, like commuting or crafting. I recently had a sewing project I needed to do for my wedding which took so many hours. Having an audiobook to help me pass the time made the tedious job way more fun than if I were just stitching in a silent room.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • I think listeners really enjoy hearing the specific accents of the Faeran and Forest People that Emma has created. It gives it a magical feel to be able to hear that, and it’s just something that is much harder to achieve in book format.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I would say, it’s simply a different format. Audiobooks provide an additional opportunity to process a story, often in cases where reading a physical book wouldn’t be possible, like during a commute, or perhaps when you’re under the weather and can’t do much other than lie in bed and listen to audio (I do this whenever I get headaches!) or when doing something that requires physical attention but not mental attention. Audiobooks have their time and place in the world of reading, and I’m so glad they exist.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • It’s been so long, I honestly can’t remember. But I will tell you that for my most recent series that I just finished writing, I celebrated by buying a lot of tea and skincare. Those are my favorite luxuries to splurge on!
  • What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
    • When I’m in a writing slump, I’ll either take a break to read and edit my progress up to the point where I feel stuck, or I’ll take a full-on break to watch shows, movies, and just fill my creative well. For a reading slump, I’ll change formats (like from ebook to paperback, or paperback to audiobook), just something to switch things up in my brain. If that doesn’t help, I’ll switch genres. Since I read primarily YA fantasy, reading a fast paced adult thriller will almost always get me out of a slump, or even a sizzling rom com.
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • They have! There’s a scene in Shadows of Lela in a chapter called Interlude, where two of the characters have a romantic meeting and the male character sings his lover a song he wrote for her. The day before I wrote this scene, I had no idea what to write. Then that night, I dreamed about the couple meeting and they sang this super sweet duet. I woke up humming the song to myself, thinking it was brilliant. The song was, however, contemporary and not quite right for the feel of my book. But it did give me the idea for Larylis to sing a song! Other than that, two other books I’ve written were taken directly from actual dreams I’ve had.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Well, I just finished my most recent series, a romantic fae trilogy called The Fair Isle Trilogy. I’m releasing book 3 at the end of December, then it will be time to move on to my next series! I have two in mind that I’ll be working on next year, so it’s time for me to kick my creative brain into high gear and plan out both of those so I can decide which one to write next. But writing about fae has been my favorite thing, ever since I wrote about the Forest People and Faeran in the Lela Trilogy. I’ve been exploring fae more and more with every book, and will likely continue writing books about fae, romance, and fierce females.

Q&A with Narrator Emma Faye
  • When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?
    • I’ve been an actor my whole life but I didn’t get into listening to audiobooks until I was an adult but after I started listening I realized how fun they would be and with my acting background it was a very easy transition for me. YA Fantasy is my favorite genre to listen to so I knew I would want to record those too!
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • I personally think it’s crucial but some would debate that with me. If not a background then at least a study of it in some way. Understand how to delve into characters and understand who they are is critical in my opinion to believable and relatable voices in an audiobook.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I listen to so many audiobooks! I rarely have time to sit and read anymore so I listen to audiobooks while I am doing other things such as driving or doing the dishes. I love being able to still take in stories when I can’t have a physical book in hand.
  • What are your favorite and least favorite parts of narrating an audiobook?
    • I adore getting in the booth and creating the voices! It’s so fun to delve into the story and characters! I actually enjoy the editing part as well to an extent. But that can also get tedious as well. Shadows of Lela was my first book and I didn’t know as much as I do now and the process goes so much quicker and smoother than before! So when I did SoL I would’ve said the editing was my least favorite haha
  • What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
    • I’m really good at getting into the mind of the characters and find the right voice. I had one author tell me that she had no idea what a character sounded like until I gave her a voice and she knew that was the voice all along. And then Vallore was a challenge to figure out but Tessonja said something similar, that she didn’t know what he sounded like either but when she heard my take it was perfect.
  • 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?
    • I will only narrate clean books! I won’t do books with excessive swearing (such as the f word) or explicit sexual content. It’s something I stand true to and I am proud of it. I’ve had similar standards throughout my life as an actor as well. I may lose out on projects and money but I feel good about my decision.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • Tessonja approached me and I absolutely fell in love with the story and characters right away! And the challenge of maintaining a British accent for an entire series was very enticing!
  • Who are your “accent inspirations”?
    • I didn’t really have any for this book, except for Lex. Tessonja didn’t like the original voice I’d chosen for him so I went back and changed it up and I think she is the one who said Ron Weasley, so that’s who I tried to channel.
  • Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
    • I loved Cora, I felt she was most like me and I really enjoyed her character.
  • How does audiobook narration differ from other types of voiceover work you’ve done?
    • My favorite part about audiobooks verses stage and film is the fact that I get to be characters I would never get to be on the other mediums. I get to play men, sorcerers, unicorns, etc. It’s so much fun!!
  • Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?
    • Kiera Cass!!! I adore the Selection series. She is my bucket list author for sure!
  • If you could narrate one book from your youth what would it be and why?
    • I have a book I have loved since I was a child called “Being of Two Minds”, I would love to turn that into an audiobook, it’s always stuck with me.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m currently recording a new series called Soulwanderer, it’s a really fun fantasy series about a race of people that live under the sea with all the great elements of a book with magic and war and soulmates. It’s great fun! Then I have 3 more in the queue after that.
  • Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
    • For some reason I mix up body parts a lot haha!! Like one time I said she put head on her heart instead of knees?? Like what? Haha so grateful for proofers!
  • Who was your favorite to voice? Most challenging? Most fun?
    • Ooh, good question! There were so many that were fun to do! Cora is probably the most like me both in voice and personality and so she was fun to do but not much of a challenge. Mareleau was fun to bring to life, her bratty quips are so good and were fun to record. I also loved doing the voice for Morkai, there were times when I would listen back to my recording and get chills because of how evil he sounded. Physically he was a hard to do as it was a strain on my voice because it was so far back in my throat haha I had to take a lot of breaks in his later chapters.
    • Valorre was also a challenge as I wasn’t sure what he would sound like and just had to go with it. Tessonja was amazing and provided awesome descriptions which helped a lot but he was one I was most nervous to get right. I think the hardest though were probably Teryn and Larylis, simply because I needed to find voices I could maintain. They’re also twins so finding voices that were similar as brothers but different enough when they talked you could tell the difference and a voice I could maintain as leads was a challenge, but I was pleased with the final versions (yes, there were a few).
  • What was your favorite scene to voice?
    • I loved the Forest People scenes, they are some of my favorite characters and it was fun to add a bit of Irish in there. Scenes with Lex cracked me up, he’s such a fun character.
  • What are some of your top favorite books/audiobooks that we should add to our TBR? (or recently read/listened to etc.)
    • Ooh fun question! One of my favorite audiobooks of all time is “And The Trees Crept In” by Dawn Kurtagich, the narrator and direction is phenomenal! As well as “All The Truth That’s In Me” by Julie Berry, excellent voice acting! As far as just a good story, the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan is my current favorite series.

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