Audio Spotlight: Foundra + Author Interview

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Title: Foundra

Author: Emmanuel M Arriaga

Narrator: Melissa Reizian

Length: 16 hours and 7 minutes

Series: Foundra Series, Book 1

Publisher: EA Starchilde Company

Released: Mar. 4, 2022

Genre: Science Fiction; Space Opera

15th Annual National Indie Excellence Award Finalist
2021 Reader’s Favorite Finalist for Best Sci-Fi Romance Novel

The Huzien Empire has existed for 80 millennia and a powerful invisible force known as the enesmic permeates every aspect of the Twin Galaxy.

Neven is an engineer working for the pinnacle of scientific achievement known as the MinSci on the Huzien homeworld of Thae. His genius draws the attention of one of the immortal Founders and he finds himself drafted into the military as part of an elite group of special forces known as the Founder’s Elites. Not given much time to adjust, his team is called to investigate stories of otherworldly creatures attacking fringe colony worlds.

Soahc is the most powerful wielder of the enesmic in the Twin Galaxy. He’s also incredibly cocky. That is, until he senses a powerful shifting in the enesmic that he can’t explain. Terrified that something is horribly wrong, Soahc leaves his comfortable planet and hitches a ride with Neven and the Founder’s Elites as they investigate the carnage on the fringes of the empire.

Neven, Soahc, and their allies discover something ancient from another plane of existence. Something that exposes the fragility of their galactic empire as they fight to survive annihilation from enesmic beings.

 

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Q&A with Author Emmanuel M. Arriaga
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • When I created Foundra, I had a mental image of how the characters looked and sounded. It was incredibly valuable to document this process during the creation of Foundra, especially the phonetic process because it helped me further flush out aspects of the universe and language that had simply been in my head before hand. When you have to explain to a narrator how to pronounce something, it makes it real, and the first time you hear it spoken by an incredible professional like the narrator for Foundra, it blew my mind. During our collaboration on this project, Melissa invested a lot of energy in getting the pronunciation just right and I appreciated that professionalism.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • I spend most of my reading time listening to audiobooks, I think it brings the content to life in a way that is true to life for the original author and their vision of the characters. With that said, I think audiobooks with a lot of action translate very well. Combat scenes and intense moments of conflict build up that suspense in a way unique to the format.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • I always planned to have Foundra made into an audiobook. When I was in the final editing stages, I actually read the novel out loud, to make sure it flowed well. It was something I did unintentionally that really brought the story alive for me and something that I was excited to work with a professional to bring to everyone.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I spent a lot of time with auditions for Foundra. I utilized the acx platform and invested a lot of time and energy in going out and looking for great narrators. I would reach out to them directly and ask them to audition. This was how I met Melissa. After I heard her read my book, and the care and thoughtfulness that she spent in bringing the story to life, I knew immediately that she was the right narrator. People say it all the time but honestly, once I heard her audition, I knew I found the right person. I had over 15 people who had auditioned, many of them very good, but Melissa was heads and shoulders above the rest and just treated the content like it was special, putting energy into it that I hadn’t seen from anyone else.
  • 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?
    • We worked very closely during the original creation process, many text messages were exchanged with audio clips and questions about how to say something. It was a learning process for me and a valuable experience for understanding the process for how an audiobook is created. It’s not as simple as most people think and involves a lot of time and effort, re-listening to clips, noting down changes, etc. It’s a time investment for the narrator and the author (and producer if the narrator doesn’t do their own production).
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Some of the characters in Foundra were inspired by people I know in real life. I say inspired because they aren’t carbon copies, rather someone’s personality, style or character trait influenced a character and then that character took on a life of their own and became a unique individual. In many instances, characters are mash ups of multiple people I know and done in a way that allows for originality in the characters’ decisions and life choices.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • Honestly, the best way to avoid burn-out is to write every day. It sounds counter intuitive, but it’s actually surprisingly effective. I find when I take breaks from writing, or write infrequently, it actually becomes harder to write. It is less of a muscle and more of monumental effort that I have to find time for. But when I write daily, I find myself easily able to hop onto my computer, write a chapter and then head off to go do something else. The creative energies are constantly flowing, my subconscious continuously at work building out plots and sub pots and cool scenes and other things and I just have to sit down and get it into a doc to allow the creative process to continue. When I wait a long time to do that, my writing suffers and my progress slows. I also feel less fulfilled in everything else in my life and that tells me that writing is truly something that brings me joy. Something that influences every other aspect of my life. So for me, to avoid burn-out, I have to write daily.
  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • I love audiobooks, it’s the primary method that I get through books today with two young boys and a full-time job in Tech. When I think about how I best digest information, lecturing and hearing information has always been most effective for me. So when I listen to audiobooks, I process it quickly and usually listen at a faster speed than normal. This allows me to get through books quickly in a life that would otherwise make it difficult for me to sit down and physically read a book.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • There is this section of the story that deals with this monumental battle. It’s this pivotal section toward the middle of the story that switches between characters fighting in starships in space orbiting this planet and then characters on the ground of the same planet fighting in frontline combat. Without giving anything away, the emotions that come out across the two conflicts are raw and showcase the creative power of Melissa in bringing the story to life through the eyes of characters in this conflict, both on the side of the protagonists and the side of the antagonists in this conflict.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m currently working on the third book in the Foundra series, additionally, I’m in the editing phase for a new fantasy novel that I’ll share more about in the coming months. I’m also hoping to start work on the audiobook to Pride of Ashna, the sequel to Foundra, toward the second half of 2022.

Emmanuel M. Arriaga is an imaginative award winning author with an engineering background working in the Technology sector. He is best known for the Foundra Series, a sci-fi space opera and National Indie Excellence Award (NIEA) Finalist. His rich worlds introduce diverse characters and expansive worldbuilding with innovative technologies and concepts. He is a bronze winner of the Readers’ Favorite Award for Best Young Adult Action Novel and a TopShelf Book Award Finalist.

Melissa Reizian has been a full-time voice actor for 20 years. She is an Audible-Approved Producer for audiobook narration and has accreditation from the World-Voices Organization.

Over the years, Melissa’s work has been featured by popular global brands, corporations and government agencies, including: Dr. Pepper, Sam’s Club, the Humane Society of the United States, The American Heart Association, Lytx (formerly Drivecam), Verizon, Motorola, 5/3 Bank, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

Previously, Melissa was an award-winning, Emmy-nominated television journalist. Most recently, she was a reporter/producer/anchor at WLEX-TV in Lexington, Kentucky, where in addition to daily reporting and anchoring duties, she produced the award-winning half-hour education TV show, “Rising Star.”

Melissa’s news reports from Armenia aired on CNN World Report during the early 1990s, where she reported on the blockade there and war in neighboring Nagorno-Karabagh. Melissa is a 2nd-generation Armenian-American, and was there to help train journalists in that country in the ways of “American style journalism” after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she minored in Theatre.


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Audiobook Spotlight & Character Profiles: Winter Masquerade, by Kevin Klehr

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Title: Winter Masquerade

Author: Kevin Klehr

Narrator: Jon Bolitho-Jones

Length: 3 hours and 40 minutes

Publisher: NineStar Press

Released: Feb. 22, 2022

Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Ferris wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted cruise ship sailing on a chocolate sea. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.

The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea, with scones, and jam.

Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.

With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.



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Ferris is unsure of himself, yet at first, we’re not sure why. He lives with his boyfriend, Harris, in a rented Sydney home, but this is not where this tale begins.

He wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted ocean liner sailing on a chocolate sea with a permanent rainbow above. He is in his early twenties with brown hair and brown eyes, and is both delighted and disturbed at what happens aboard this mystical journey.

Cole is the guitarist in the band that is rehearsing for the masquerade ball. He doesn’t say much, but broods instead, covering up the fact that he’s a little shy. He wears a white suit and is never without his sunglasses.

Janus is a very small horse with wings. Yes, a miniature Pegasus! He helps The Detective solve mysteries and is carried around in the investigator’s man-bag. He is also highly intelligent and well educated, and often debates when The Detective has no clue how to solve a case.

In Winter Masquerade, Janus and The Detective are trying to find The Alchemist, the only person who can help Ferris get home to his boyfriend.

Camilla is The Alchemist’s wife. She is cultured and is the favourite character of Jon Bolitho-Jones, the narrator of this audio book. Jon claims Camilla has the personality of an old actress – dramatic and whimsical. She sounds as if she’s born into money, yet she has always existed in the fantasy world aboard the Sea Queen.

Molly is ditzy. She is Camilla’s best friend, and like Camilla, is in her early sixties. She can read handwriting and believes she was a fishmonger’s wife in a previous life. The narrator believes Molly is like those eccentric aunts you find in Jane Austin novels.

Olive is also ditzy. She is the harp player in the band and the best way to describe her is to say – think Stevie Nicks at forty years of age. Olive has long red hair, green eyes and wears a long sheer dress for comfort. Scallywag is the ten-year-old boy who plays the drums for the band. He is plump, has short dark hair and is wiser than his age. Like Ferris, he is from our world, but there’s a grim reason he hides out in this alternate reality.


Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.

His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

Recently, his work, The Midnight Man, scored Runner Up in Best Gay Fantasy at the Rainbow Awards, while Winter Masquerade received an Hourable Mention. The Midnight Man also scored a first place in an LGBT category at the Paranormal Romance Guild’s Reviewers Choice Awards.

So, with Guy, his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

Jon Bolitho-Jones is an actor/writer based in Prescot, a place between Manchester and Liverpool in the UK. He can also be found hanging around in Watford and Kings Langley.

Jon graduated from ArtsEd School of acting and since then has worked in Short Films, Shakespeare, Fringe Theatre, and Pantomime. He also has experience in Improv Comedy, Stand Up, Writing and Directing.


 

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