Author: Paul L. Arvidson
Narrator: Benjamin Fife
Length: 9 hours 2 minutes
Series: The Dark Trilogy, Book 1
Publisher: Mr. PL Arvidson
Released: Sep. 14, 2020
Genre: Science Fiction
In the strange labyrinth of pipes on the planet called Dark, things are falling apart. Dun doesn’t want to be a hero, he just wants to find an answer to the terrifying dreams he’s been having. But the answers, the real answers, are going to take him places he’s never imagined and tear him from the only home he’s ever known. With a half-finished map from his missing father, an old friend, a new friend, and the mysterious Myrch to guide him, he journeys through parts of his world he’s never imagined. Are his dreams real foretellings? Who can he trust to be who they say there are? What are the strange forces that seem to be literally pulling their world apart? As he travels through a world that is much bigger than he thought it was, what he won’t know will kill him. And everyone he knows.
Paul Arvidson is a forty-something ex lighting designer, now SFF author who lives in rural Somerset, UK. He spends his non-author time bringing up his children, fighting against being sucked in to his wife’s chicken breeding business and preventing Morris the Dashund contributing to his typing. His SFF works form ‘The Dark Trilogy’. Dark is the first book in the trilogy and came out in 2017. The sequel Darker came out in 2018 and the series will be completed by a final book in 2019. There will not be a prize for guessing its title. It’s audiobook time! And I just KNEW that this was going to be an amazing one to listen to! This story was everything I wanted it to be and I was pulled even further into it by listening to this wonderful narration. It’s dark (teehee, I HAD to eek that in somewhere!), gritty, and sometimes a little spooky. And it was just the right mixture of fantasy and science fiction to fit my extremely niche adoration of this power genre combo.
I think this is my first male narrator (this might be a full on fib, my memory is terrible), and I really enjoyed the change in style that comes with a male narrator. I find that I’m extremely picky with female narrator voices and oftentimes want to speed them up, but I didn’t feel that way with this one. And the narration tied in with the subject of the book was absolutely perfect! This is just one of those stories that screams “read me aloud!”
Outside of the narration, however, I really just enjoyed the heck out of this book. Like I mentioned above I tend to love books that don’t necessarily fit into either the fantasy or the sci-fi genre and instead are almost a combination of the two. It tends to be that perfect pairing for me that always leaves me satisfied. It was a truly unique and interesting story that I look forward to continuing.
Q&A with Author Paul L. Arvidson
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- It was a surprise all round really. I had no real clue what I was getting into. Luckily, I found a great narrator/producer who held my hand through the process once I’d found him. I really enjoyed the process though, the ‘directing’ part of it and casting voices for the characters as well as some of the creative tweaks we came up with along the way. This book has been begging to be an audiobook since I wrote it. The whole world is set entirely on a lightless world, so it’s really got the feel of a book to snuggle up with and let your imagination run riot.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
- I don’t think there are any ‘bad’ genres of audiobook, but I do think that Sci-Fi and fantasy translate really well into that format. You keep all the imagination aspects of the book, but you don’t have to pay for special effects wizards if you’ve got spaceships or aliens. (Though we may have dabbled here, in Dark!)
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- Yeah, once I’d realised that the whole world was set in the darkness, I knew it wanted to be translated into audio.
- How did you select your narrator?
- I used the ACX audition process which was pretty easy. The hard part was choosing between everyone when the auditions came in. Loads of performers wanted to have a go at it and there were some really, really great voices. Picking one was so hard. I picked Benny Fife and was hugely happy with how it turned out, he’s been awesome.
- Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
- We worked really closely together. It made a massively creative book in the end that we’re both really pleased with.
- Pronunciation tips are always a thing that comes up with Sci-Fi and Fantasy aren’t they? When Benny takes a book on, he does a proper ‘casting’, i.e who would you get to play this role in the film, not so he can impersonate them, but so he can get a proper feel for who I imagine they are and how tthey interact.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
- This one is so hard to answer without spoilers. Hmm… I spent a lot of time researching science in this. Once I’d decided that there was no light and that’s how the eco-systems for the world had evolved, I needed to know it would hang together scientifically. I spent ages researching ‘extremophile’ life forms that exist without, light, water, oxygen, crazy stuff. It seems that life does a great job of existing in what we would imagine are the most inhospitable of places.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- Blimey, so many really good questions. Currently avoiding it by nowhere near meeting my writing targets for Book 3 of the series. Though if I was kinder to myself, I would phrase that as ‘I am fitting the pace of my author career to the pace of my life.’ Besides, while I was keeping the family sane during lockdown, instead of finishing Book 3 (sorry superfans on my mailing list!) I completed this very audiobook, so there’s that!
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
- Historically yes, recently no. The format of ‘someone reading you a story’ is so primal and cosy, but can also be scary and adventurous, like fireside tales. And it doesn’t put bounds on your imagination like video does.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- The audiobook? By signing Benny Fife up quick to do book 2 (Darker) for me. Which reminds me, I owe him a whole new set of casting for the voices in Book 2.
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- Writing slump, I luckily don’t have them all that often. I’m a big believer in ‘put one word in front of the other and fix it in the edit.’ Reading slump, I tend to swap formats from EBook to paperback. Currently have an awesome eReader full of cool sff stuff (Rosewater Trilogy, by Tade Thompson, Fleet of Knives Trilogy by Gareth L Powell) but I’m reading Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi in paperback.
- In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
- I don’t know. All my SFF stuff so far is in the Dark universe. Even shorts and novellas. In my other life, where I write thrillers, the first one there is in a series too. Perhaps I can’t write stand alones? Watch this space.
- What’s next for you?
- Soooo much! The audiobook of Book 2, Darker goes into production in October. I’ll hopefully finish the first draft of Book 3 before Christmas, (I’ll let you guess what the title is) then editing for that and release. Following that Book 2 of Cady Grey, my thriller series (already pretty well formed in my head, but I need to sort out the details: who gets killed, how and why!)
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*I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Paul L. Arvidson. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.*