Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Skyrim: In Faendal's memory

Okay, so I am fully aware that this post will reveal my complete and utter geekiness. But I'm okay with that. I've made peace with my inner nerd. Also, remember that, as a writer, I tend to see everything as an unfolding story. Which will make sense in just a moment...

So, as many of you know, I'm a gamer. When not writing, I can usually be found on any one of my three consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) or on the PC with my Sims. When I have a new game, everything except writing sort of goes out the window, and I vanish from twitter for as long as it takes me to beat the game.

This season's addiction of choice is Bethesda's Skyrim.

I've done video game reviews before. You can even find some of them on this blog. This is not a review, exactly. This is more....well, I don't really know what this is. A story. Yes, that's what it is; this is the story of the life and death of a fictional AI character in a video game.

You've been warned.

Skyrim opens, as the Elder Scrolls always do, with you as a prisoner for some unknown, never-touched upon crime. In Morrowind you were a prisoner on a slave ship, in Oblivion you were stuck in the castle dungeon. In Skyrim, you have been captured with a group of rebels and taken to a fort, where you are to be executed with no trial. But, just as your head lands on the chopping block, a dragon swoops down and attacks. You escape, and after fighting your way through the fort's underground tunnels (filled with giant spiders, why are there always giant spiders?), you emerge into the huge, wide world of Skyrim.

Your first task, assuming you don't go tromping about the world and run smack first into wolves and bandits, is to head to the sleepy little village of Riverwood and meet your fellow ex-prisoner, or ex-captor, deciding which path you decided to take earlier in the game. Riverwood is more of a stopping point where you can sell all that stuff you looted from slain enemies before moving on to the larger city of Whiterun, up the road. You can get a few "starter quests" here as well, including one that has you fetching a stolen item from a group of bandits.

It's also where you meet an elf named Faendal.

Faendal is your first potential follower in the game (assuming you went to Riverwood first, like you were supposed to). He's a bit strange looking, and is in a messy love triangle with a handsome Nord named Sven and a woman named Camilla. Both Sven and Faendal like Camilla, and both try to get you to help them win her. As I was playing a fellow wood elf, and because Sven struck me as an ancient Nordic jock meathead, I decided to help out Faendal. Once he became my friend, he followed me to the bandit's hideout to help retrieve that stolen item, and fought bravely at my side against bandits, undead draugr, and giant spiders.

That was our first, and only, adventure together.

I'm a lone adventuring type. Even if I have the option to let someone join me, I usually opt out. Because Skyrim's followers will unerringly stand in doorways, push you over cliffs, step on a trap trigger the moment you're in the danger zone, and so on. I had to do one quest with a brute named Farkas, or as I like to call him "sir Clanks-a-lot," because he couldn't sneak to save his life. Once, he rushed past me to get to the big bad at the end of a dungeon, just as I was lining up for a sneak shot in the doorway, and blew our cover. I shut the door on them both and went and sat in a dark corner while they duked it out. Hey, Farkas was a quest NPC; he couldn't be killed.

But I digress...

Faendal was the one follower who could hold his own. His sneak skill was better then mine, he never triggered trap plates, and he would stand back and pop baddies with his arrows instead of rushing between me and my target and getting whacked in the back of the head (cough Lydia cough). I rather liked Faendal. But because it is possible, and very likely, for followers to die trailing you about the countryside, I left him in Riverwood with the knowledge that he was living out a peaceful life with Camilla.

(Faendal. He usually has a shirt on in game, but I like this image. :D)

Then, many many hours of game time later, I returned to Riverwood for the current quest, and was attacked by an Elder dragon.

My first Elder dragon, no less. I'd been attacked by several dragons before, or I would see them soaring overhead, looking for things to accost, because that's what dragons do. I would usually be in the middle of a quest when this happened, and would hide until the dragon continued on its merry way, and I continued on mine. Hey, I wasn't being cowardly; I'd killed several of them already, as its impossible to get through an hour of Skyrim without running into one. And knowing they would continue to pop up throughout the game, I knew I wasn't missing anything by killing yet another dragon.

But this Elder dragon landed right the center of Riverwood, looking for me obviously, and attacked. It was a tough fight. Riverwood's guards and several villagers joined in as well, and together we tried to defeat this monster that had come out of nowhere. After we finally killed the beast (which went to a rather cool cutscene of me leaping onto the dragon's head and stabbing it with my sword), it collapsed, turned into a skeleton as I devoured its soul (its a dragonborn thing), and I looked around for casualties. Not too bad, for a dragon attack, anyway. A couple no-name guards had perished, no one important...

...Oh. Oh, Faendal.

There he was, lying in the grass, his bow beside him. He had perished fighting the dragon, defending his home. And, looking down at his body, I actually felt sad. Sad that this fictional character, this NPC in a video game, had died.

I couldn't leave him there in the road. In Skyrim, bodies don't disappear; he would be there every time I came back to Riverwood, and I couldn't have that. So, I took the key to his home, dragged his body to the river flowing right outside the village, and let the currant take him away. I watched his body until it disappeared downstream, then went to his home. Inside his simple cottage, I placed one of the dragon's bones I'd collected from the beast on his bed, and left feeling quite melancholic over the turn of events.

This got me thinking.

In a novel, this would be a turning point in the story. This would be the part where the reluctant hero would curse all dragonkind and vow to wipe them all out of existence. No more hiding from dragons, hoping they would pass him by. No more fighting them just for self-defense. With Faendal's death, the hero swears vengeance upon the monsters that killed his friend, and will now rush into battle wholeheartedly, in Faendal's memory.

Hey, that would make a pretty good book...

So, there was a point to this long, rambling post. And its one I've made on several occasions. Those who say video games do nothing but rot your brains are wrong. A video game is a story, just like any novel, one that is told a bit differently, but a story just the same. And if a video game can nearly move me to tears for the death of a fictional NPC, then I'd say its done a pretty good job.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Check out this post for another Skyrim character death story. It's hilarious, but it also gives me a bit of hope that I'm not the only crazy obsessed geek out there. :D

Until next time, I'll be fighting dragons.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A one-eyed kitty story

As some of you know, my orange kitty, Sniper, had been having some eye issues for awhile. A couple months ago, his eye became cloudy and filmy, to where it looked like cotton balls were floating around his pupil. We took him to our regular vet, who at first thought it might be FIV or Feluk (it wasn't, thank God!), but when those tests came back negative, he sent me to an eye specialist in Louisville.

After examining poor Sniper, the specialist said it his eye issues could be caused by any number of things: fungal or bacterial infections, cancer, ect. She gave me some drops to put in his eye (three times a day), and told me to check back in a couple weeks.

Sniper was not happy about the drops.

When he went back, however, his eye pressure had dropped from 80-ish to the 12-15-ish it was supposed to be at. We were all very happy, and the vet said to keep him on the drops for another month until they ran out, then to bring him back to see if he was better.

Unfortunately, he didn't get better.

His eye pressure had skyrocketed back to 80 when he returned, and the red cloudyness had gotten so bad that he could no longer see out of that eye. So, with few options left, we decided that the best thing would be to have the eye removed. Then the eye could be sent to a lab, and we could figure out for sure what was going on.

So, a little sadly but knowing it was necessary, we made the appointment.

Sniper went in for eye surgery two days ago and, happily, he is doing perfectly fine. The vet informed me that a one-eyed cat could see just as well as a two-eyed cat, and they really don't miss their other eye at all. Sniper seems completely normal now, and though he does look a bit like a bedraggled pirate, he doesn't seem to even notice he is missing something.

Now, we're just awaiting news on that eyeball.

Here is Sniper the day after surgery. His eye socket is a bit bruised, but that's normal, according to the vet. The reason he looks so annoyed is that I'm forcing him to stay still to take a picture, and he was looking for a way to leave. We did the whole "hold still until the human is just about ready to take the picture and then dart away" dance for about five minutes before I finally snapped this shot.

Sniper goes in to have his stitches removed next month. Thanks for all your concern and well wishes. Will continue to update his progress on twitter; you can follow me @Jkagawa if you want to see how he's doing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Immortal Rules: Cover reveal (the real one)

So, MTV's Hollywood Crush was fabulous enough to host an exclusive cover reveal for the Immortal Rules this morning. You can check out their post and awesome site here .

So, now I am free to reveal, for your viewing pleasure, the real cover for the new Blood of Eden series: Book 1. The Immortal Rules.

Ready for it?



Its much different then The Iron Fey covers, as a warning.



Still here? Okay, okay, I'll stop teasing. Here ya go. ;-)


Ta daaaaa!

As per usual, HarlequinTeen's cover department has hit another home run, I think. I love the dark, gritty feel of this cover, and the blood tear is just the perfect touch.

Oh, and here is the blurb.

You will kill. The only question is when.

In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.

What sayest thou? How does this compare to the Iron Fey covers? Do you think VAMPIRE when you first see it? Is it creepy enough? :D

Let me know!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Immortal Rules: Cover reveal

Who wants to see the cover for The Immortal Rules?

(Not the real cover)

You do? Excellent! Then you'll want to check out MTV's Hollywood Crush tomorrow (no firm time yet) for the exclusive cover reveal for The Immortal Rules.

Have I already seen the cover? Yes, I have.

Is it awesome? YES. Yes, it is. :D

So bookmark Hollywood Crush or follow them on Twitter @hollywoodcrush to keep up with the excitement.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Interview with the Voice of Ash

Hi everyone!

Okay, so last week was the interview with the hilarious and charming Josh Hurley, the voice of Puck. The previous week we had the fabulous Khristine Hvam, the voice of Meghan. So for our last guest, it is my absolute pleasure to welcome MacLeod Andrews, the narrator of The Iron Knight and the voice of the ice prince himself.

1. Was it hard getting into the character personalities? Or intimidating even, since we love them so much?

I think with any book that isn’t a series you’ve already recorded it takes a chapter or two to solidify your narrator. This was the case for Ash although I came into it with a voice in mind. I modeled him after a young version of a highly regarded older actor. I don’t want to influence anyone’s listening though, so I’m not going to tell you who. Being an Ice Prince I knew Ash needed to command respect, carry himself with elegance, and a degree of emotional detachment. Puck’s playful snark came to me pretty quickly. The Big Bad Wolf was pretty much a constant struggle to growl deeper.

2. Do you read the books for fun, as opposed to a job/audiobook?

I enjoy many of the books I record. If you mean the Iron Fey Series, unfortunately no, I haven’t read any of the other books. Though after reading this one I may have to change that. On my own time I’ve mostly been reading historical nonfiction.

3. Who are their favorite characters from the books?

From Iron Knight I would have to say Ash, Puck, Grimalkin, BBW, Glitch.

4. What do you have in common with Ash/Puck?

Like Ash, I think I have a strong sense of responsibility and follow through. And am also looking forward to a son or daughter with the right woman some day.

5. What were their favorite moments of the audiobook? What was the most fun to record?

The River of Dreams, the doppelganger fight, when they came back for the Big Bad Wolf, when Ash became human and still had some powers, and the third trial for Ash’s humanity. My favorite section to record was definitely the third trial where he experiences a potential version of his life as a human. I couldn’t keep myself from breaking down a little in that section.

6. Whenever they are given the voicing over job, do they get to know the characters first?

Sure, I always read the book first and in this case I contacted the previous narrator Khristine Hvam to ask about the characters I encountered.

7. How's was it like to portray/read Puck/Ash?

It was fun and emotional reading Ash. He’s practically a superhero. And his journey lays bare fundamental aspects of the human condition in a powerful way.

8. What scene did they have most difficulty narrating?

Nothing stands out. Maybe the town where the forgotten faery are sucking the life out of our heroes. I recall there being a number of minor characters to voice there.

9. Do they do any preparations before recording?

First I get the book in PDF format and load it onto my iPad using the app iAnnotate. As I read the book I bookmark new characters and start taking note of their attributes. I also assign a “stamp”, like a symbol, to each character. Every time the character has a line of dialogue I put their unique stamp next to it in the margin. If the book is part of a series like this one, I’ll contact the other narrators to check pronunciations and character voices. If there are no other narrators, I’ll often contact the author to ask for pronunciations and whether they hear their characters in a specific way. Sometimes I’ll look up samples of other books from similar genres to hear how other narrators have approached similar material.

10. If you were fey, would you be Seelie, Unseelie, or Iron?

Probably Seelie. I think I’m too emotionally present and cheerful to be Unseelie. But I do like to ski, so there’s that.

Thanks so much, MacLeod! And if you'd like to know more, check out his blog here. You can also listen to a snippet of The Iron Knight at audible.com. Or, if you'd just like to say hello, follow MacLeod on Twitter @MacLeodAndrews.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview with the voice of Puck

Last week, I was lucky to have Khristine Hvam, the voice of Meghan Chase and the narrator of The Iron King, stop by for an interview. Today, I have the great pleasure of welcoming another awesome narrator to the blog. He has a fabulous voice and put it to good use while narrating Summer's Crossing. His name is Josh Hurley, but you might know him better...

...as Puck.

1. Was it hard getting into the character personalities? Or intimidating even, since we love them so much?

Sure. I think when you read a good work of fiction for the first time, the characters have something you can relate to, some quality or attribute you can connect with. Good or bad. And some characters you can identify with better than others. And then there are those characters that are far removed from what you as a reader and actor think or feel or believe. I try to find their core by looking for similarities. Robin Goodfellow, for instance, is somebody I identify with. His humor is a sword and shield against the outside world but underneath is a lot of complex feelings and emotions, and some sensitive tenderness’s that only we as readers get to see. And I feel for his love of Meghan, even though he is fighting an uphill battle. Ash is fierce, passionate, and loyal on the inside but outside, at least to Robin Goodfellow, cold as ice. And the relationship between Puck and Ash itself is complex and fun to explore. Queen Titania was really fun, because she is just, wow, she has a lot of vanity (well, don’t we all to some degree). Oberon is strong, commanding, and very intimidating. Playing him—that’s not me so much, so I drew on people that I knew had those qualities. My dad was one of those kinds of guys. You really respected him and he was really generous and kind but as a kid, I did not look forward to the days my mom would say “Dad’s not gonna be happy about this when he gets home”.

I think you find in most great books that stay with you long after you read the last page have characters you can’t quite put your finger on. There’s no clear cut good guy or bad guy—a collage of grey as opposed to clear cut black and white—these creatures are always much more identifiable (and a lot more fun to play) than the archetype hero who can do no wrong or the villain who can do no right. I Think Julie has given us some great characters in the Iron Fey series; wonderful and complex—exciting and mysterious, yet familiar and relatable. So when I get to play well written, multi faceted characters, there is a definite surge of nervous/excited energy I get. And when you have characters that are as loved and well known as Puck, Ash, Meghan and the entire cast of the Iron Fey—yeah, you want to represent them all as best you can. Because the readers know—they know details, they know what the characters sound like in their head, and they can easily call you out if you’re not giving it your all.

2. Do you read the books for fun, as opposed to a job/audiobook?

Yes, I read them for fun, always. I believe that reading a good book (or acting, or singing, or standing on your head, or any creative endeavor) should be done in a spirit of fun and should forever trump critique, or “ the job”, or deconstruction because in my opinion that is what they are made for­-- to enjoy. I think anything created in a state of joy brings more joy, so a book or story-- especially works of fantasy-- are perfect examples of creation borne from joy. Even if the story itself is sad, or terrifying, or dramatic, heavy, heartbreaking (hopefully, all of those things combined), it should still feel in some way good to read. It’s enlightening, suspenseful, or something like that, otherwise why not read a math book, or a McDonalds menu, or a how-to manual on building tree-houses, right? But that doesn’t mean it can’t teach us something in the process because good fiction always does. For me, understanding and really delving into the world of the story (here, the Iron Fey realm) is a key to playing each character, but unless you are really having fun, enjoying the reading inside that recording booth, you’re in big trouble. I think work and play should be an awesome, complimentary combination, like strawberries and whip cream, p.b. & j., or macaroni & cheese (I love food metaphors).

3. Who [is your] favorite character(s) from the books?

I really do like Puck (he said, with unabashed bias). I feel like he is someone I can relate to and he’s got a great, razor sharp wit that I love. An outsider in his own world, yet one who really sees things for what they are, he has a unique view of everything that’s going on around him. Also, I love the Seelie Royalty, because they’re larger than life characters and so fascinating—Oberon and Titana, their relationship with each other is really electric.

4. What do you have in common with Ash/Puck?

A four letter first name?

Well, I guess I would say that Puck’s main weapon is his wit and humor--this endless desire to joke and mock the hand that feeds him. I can definitely relate to that. In jr high and some of high-school, I was kind of geeky kid, certainly not one of the “populars”. And in that sense I was an outsider—but I did find that if I was IN on the joke, by default I was in with the other kids. It was US (the students) against THEM (the teachers), and not me vs the other kids. So, when, I was supposed to be quiet or study at my desk, that’s when I would pipe up— and the other kids were happy to reinforce my insubordination with the best kind of currency a slightly insecure jr high school kid could have—laughter. The teacher would say one thing, and I would try, as fast as I could, to say another. I guess I was the class—not so much clown—but the class smartass (Heck, Shakespeare’s Puck even turns someone INTO an ass). Not mean humor, I hated the idea of being MEAN or hurting anyone-- just really abrasive, rebellious, and goofy. It made me somewhat unpopular amongst my teachers. To me, Puck and Titana (Puck and anyone, really) are always playing a similar game-- attitude vs. power. Puck’s trying to outdo, outwit the powers that be-- he with commentary, the others with rank and force. I love that his weapon is his brain and his ingenuity. And often, IT WORKS! Also, Puck’s pure love for Meghan. His hurt when it doesn’t go his way. Sometimes, caring about someone really sucks. I definitely understand that, too.

Oh, and one more thing-- I refer to all my brooding, male friends as “ice boy”.

5. What were their favorite moments of the audiobook? What was the most fun to record?

I really loved all the exchanges between Puck and Ash. Those two I could watch all day, verbally sparring with each other, because there is history between them and so much complexity, but also they make me think of some of the friendships I’ve had-- how sometimes people we may think we “like” least are people who end up teaching us and helping us the most. For me, a huge source of fun is getting to play with different voices.

Also, I really love making voices. Ever since I was a kid I loved hearing and imitating other peoples sound. At 8 years old I remember being thrilled when I thought I had learned to imitate tv host Robin Leach (this dates me, oh man does it date me, but look him up on Youtube anyway, he has a really crazy voice). I would do my impression of him at the drop of a hat for everyone, everywhere (which, for an 8 year old, was really just my parents, brother, my best friend who lived next door, and a few politely interested relatives). I thought that if you could really make your voice sound like someone elses, it was so much easier to pretend to be them. Honestly, I still believe that. My love for voice mimicry still motivates me today, as does my politely interested relatives polite interest.

6. Whenever they are given the voicing over job, do they get to know the characters first?

Yes, definitely. I think Anthony Hopkins said something to the effect that he reads and rereads his the script he’s working on over a hundred times just to become familiar with it. I certainly haven’t mastered that level of commitment, but knowing your characters is your job as an actor. So I try to dig as deep as I can. But funny enough, sometimes, after getting to know each character so well, the actor knows far more than the character that he/she is playing, but here’s the tough part-- you can’t play omniscience for each character—you have to let each one have their secrets, and each one discover things along the way. The character has been created and fleshed out already by the author. So I’m just there to try and make them speak in their own unique way and to do it the best I can. I was trained in improv. A great bit of wisdom from Del Close, a revered and brilliant improv mentor is, “Always play to the top of your intelligence”. I think he meant that you, the actor, should never play “dumb” in a scene where you clearly understand what’s going on. That’s condescending to the audience and to the other characters. I think that carries over to acting in audiobooks—play each character to the top of your intelligence. In that way, you really get to know them because you are discovering right along with them.

7. How's was it like to portray/read Puck/Ash?

I think in some ways Puck was easy and in some ways more challenging. Puck, the great character (both in this series, Shakespeare, and beyond) is known for his slyness, trickery, and love of shaking things up. But underneath all of that, he has a soft, vulnerable spot-- a heart-- and that heart of his is in love. It was fun to play him because at times he would let down his guard and we could see him and and empathize with him. I have a friend, Nick, also an actor/comedian friend of mine, who is very Puckish in nature, and I used a little of his essence to bring out the prankster/trickster of Puck. Thanks Nick!

8. What scene did they have most difficulty narrating?

I have to say that the beginning of Summers Crossing, where Puck is addressing the readers, was more challenging for me than other parts of the book. I’ll be honest, I really enjoy recording solo, it gives you so much freedom to explore, but I really love working with other performers in the room— the collaboration and play off each other is something I really thrive on. As far as human contact is concerned, recording an audio book can be very lonely in the recording booth (aside from the words on the page and the always present and most always friendly sound technician) so when the characters are talking to each other or communicating with each other, it was like playing off other actors, only I guess I was the only one playing. I talk to myself. Does that make me sound crazy? Probably. But it’s really true, reacting to something (even if it is your own strange voice coming back to you in the headphones) is far more interesting to me than acting something without any feedback. But that’s one of the beauties of literature; the author and characters are having a communication, only instead of it being between other performers, it’s between the unseen reader and the unseen narrator. There is a constant dialogue there. As an actor you have to find a happy medium.

9. Do they do any preparations before recording?

I eat a lot of apples.

Actually, one thing I did was listen to Khristine Hvam reading the other books, just to get a sense of her tone and to make sure I wasn’t totally departing from what was already established audio-book wise. Which by the way Khristine is great…so talented-- I even spoke to her briefly via phone and she was so nice and accommodating. Her voice is very intoxicating when reading, I got drawn in right away. And reading and rereading the story, letting it sink in. I will say I don’t like to overdo the research because I want it to be fresh, ya know? Try to surprise myself in the reading. But I want to do enough that I feel comfortable in the characters skin and most of all, that I’m being true to Julie’s words. Great writing does so much of the heavy lifting for you, I just did everything I could to keep it that way-- the polish on the silver—er…Iron.

And the recording process itself is so fun-- so relaxed and enjoyable. Mike, Kat, the technician in the booth with you, and everyone at Audible (where I recorded Summers Crossing) made the process so relaxed and enjoyable- I feel very lucky to work with them. They are true professionals so that makes it easy to ‘play’ in the recording booth.

Also I’m very lucky two of my roomies, who happen to be two of my best friends and fellow actors, Mike Brown and Tracy Mull, have been so helpful. They’ve been very generous listening to me bounce voices off and giving me their very honest opinions. They are troopers- It’d be like 2AM and I’d be talking like a fawn or a nymph, saying, “And how about THIS one!?!” Like I said, I love working with others and they are two of the people I trust to bounce ideas off. Also, a few times I’ve felt creatively stagnant, so Tracy would do these fun voice drills with me—she’ll go, “Now do it like a werewolf in the circus…now do it like your drowning…now do it like you’re Mrs. Doubtfire on fire…”crazy stuff, but it really gets the creative juices going, and usually produces some laughter as a bonus.

10. If you were fey, would you be Seelie, Unseelie, or Iron?

This is a great question—very tough actually. Well, my hometown is Pocatello, Idaho, and I love it there. Idaho is really a mix of all three (yes even the Iron realm, sadly). Winters there are very cold, brisk, and dark, but beautiful, snowy, and wondrous. Very Tir Na Nog-ish. And I love the winter season (I especially miss downhill skiing) so temperature wise, Unseelie would suit me just fine. But spring in Idaho is beautiful, refreshing, and clear, and certainly my favorite season. Spring leads right into Summer, so Seelie fits me like a glove. But Iron— there’s something wild, crazy, and appealing about the barron jagged desolation there. A tough call. Can I say all three? I’ll travel between them. No? Ok…well, then it’s between Seelie and Unseelie… I’ll say--


But you can bet I’d still have a lot of Frequent Fey’er Miles.


Thank YOU, Josh! And if you want to know more, Josh's twitter tag is @Joshuwhaaat, and he will be more then happy to answer all of your Puckish questions. ;-)

And check out Josh on Audible.com. You can even listen to a snippet of Summer's Crossing here

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interview with the Voice of Meghan

Hey everyone!

Today I have the huge privilege of featuring an interview with Khristine Hvam, the wonderful narrator for The Iron King audiobook and the voice of Meghan Chase. I actually got to chat with Khristine face-to-face at the Audible studios in New York City, and it was a total blast being in the studio with her.

Anyway, rather then thinking up an interview to send her, I thought it would be fun to give readers a chance to ask the questions. So I posed the question to Twitter: what would you ask the voice of Meghan, Ash, and Puck if you had the chance? And Twitter never disappoints. So here is Khristine, in her own words, on the voice of Meghan Chase.

1 1. 1. Was it hard getting into the character personalities? Or intimidating even, since we love them so much?

Absolutely intimidating at times BUT… when I was a little girl I played the part of Peter Pan in my 4th grade play and while I was onstage I would mouth the lines of all the other characters. So I guess you could say, I’ve always wanted to play ALL the parts. This kind of work allows me to do just that. For as long as I can remember I’ve been making up voices and characters. In the early years to entertain my family and friends, and later on when I thought being a film or stage actor would be my path. But as the years went on and I found myself in so many different careers while I searched for my bliss, voice over kept popping up. One day when the universe was tired of all my milling around what it had been placed so clearly in front of me, it just sort of clicked that this was what I was supposed to do. And then I just did it. Lesson learned: listen to the universe… it always gifts you what you need.

2. Do you read the books for fun, as opposed to a job/audiobook?

I absolutely read books for fun as well. Working in audio books has opened my eyes to different genres that I would have normally passed by, and because of the work, I was able to discover beautiful new adventures that truly touched my life. This series is one of them.

3. Who are their favorite characters from the books?

This is such a hard one for me! There are so many well thought out and fun characters it’s impossible to choose one. I love Grimalkin and Leananshide because they are SO fey. I love Puck, because I have always loved the Puck character (way back in Mid Summer Night’s Dream). Ash… is just… well… you know. They’re all great!

4. What do you have in common with Meghan?

I’m not sure Meghan and I have a lot in common at all… (maybe her romantic side) and I’m sure that’s not really the answer you were looking for… BUT, if I found out that I was the half daughter “princess” of the Faerie King, my best friend was Puck, and I’d ride off into the sunset with the hot bad boy who pledged his undying love for me… I’d be WAY more ok with that.

5. What were their favorite moments of the audiobook? What was the most fun to record?

My favorite moment out of all three books is when Meghan kisses Puck in Leanansidhe’s “outcast place.” This is when things got really good for me. There was just so much happening between these three characters… love, friendship, desire, loyalty… just a great moment in the story and a big turning point.

6. Whenever they are given the voicing over job, do they get to know the characters first?

While I’m prepping the book I get to know all the characters. And sometimes if I’m lucky, I have the opportunity to chat with the author and get some of their input as well.

7. How's was it like to portray/read Puck/Ash/Meghan?

Each character is so different and so complex. They really have a lot going on inside them… this is a tough one to answer.

8. What scene did they have most difficulty narrating?

The most difficult scenes to narrate are the scenes with lots of different characters talking to each other. Since we record the book from beginning to end, and don’t separate the characters, its my job to switch back and forth…. And sometimes it can get a lil crazy.

9. Do they do any preparations before recording?

Before every book I record, I read the book. I find out about each character; Who they are, where they’re from, how they behave, does the author give them accents, what do other characters say about them, and how do they sound in my head… stuff like that. I try to tap into the eight year old girl and me… and just pretend.

10. If you were fey, would you be Seelie, Unseelie, or Iron?

I would definitely be Seelie. Chances are I would be the female version of Puck. Always cracking jokes, getting into trouble, and causing mischief… always looking out for the people I love, and risking it all to save them regardless of the consequences.

Thanks so much, Khristine! It was a such a pleasure talking with you.

Find Khristine here on her website. Or, check out a snippet of her work here at audible.com.

And check back soon for an interview with Josh Hurley, or, as you might know him, the voice of a certain redheaded prankster.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Iron Fey website

The new Iron Fey site is live!

And wow, has HarlequinTEEN outdone itself. Totally, completely, absolutely GORGEOUS. I'm in awe. You really need to see it for yourself. Not only is it REALLY PRETTY, it has lots of other fun things.

Fun things in question:
-Quizzes (What type of fey are you? Summer/Winter/Iron?)
-Downloads (Check out the awesome backgrounds for Team Ash and Puck)
-Never before seen deleted scenes (Including the Extended Balcony scene from Iron Queen, and another scene from Iron Knight with Ash's doppleganger.)
-Ash's Letter to Meghan (If you didn't get to read it before, now's your chance. Ash's final letter to Meghan before the events of The Iron Knight.)
-A blurb of The Immortal Rules, the upcoming post-apocalyptic vampire series.

So, before I begin to sound like an advertisement, I'll just leave you the link and let you check it out yourself. Go here and see the awesome for yourself, and then go onto twitter or Facebook and let @HarlequinTeen know if they did good. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ash and Puck, come to life (sort of)

I'm back from the Iron Knight signing.

It was great! Thanks to everyone who came, especially those who drove so far to see me. It was wonderful meeting you all.

But, the coolest part of the signing, were these guys.

I knew there would be life-sized figures of Ash and Puck at the signing, but it was still pretty awesome to walk in and see them staring at you. Or rather, at each other. (Puck seems to be giving Ash the evil eye.)

Here are a couple more pics.



Me with the boys. ^__^

There were also goodie bags with a never before seen picture of Ash, Meghan, and Puck together. I got to take home the big poster of them. *happy*

I love this pic.

So where are the boys now, you wonder? Don't worry, they're safely in the corner of my office, where they shall remain forevermore, my preciousssssssssssssssss.

Twitter party: Aftermath

So, the #IronKnightParty was a blast.

I don't know how many people showed up for it, but the screen was rolling by so quickly you couldn't keep up with all the comments. My laptop froze and crashed only once during the whole two hours, which I consider a win. Such is the case with these twitter parties, and I love them because they're so fast, furious, and fun.

Some highlights of the party:

The Iron Knight playlist was revealed, which I shall post here for your enjoyment. I wish I could post the music, but Playlist.com has the bad habit of dropping songs on my list or removing links. So I'll post a YouTube vid of my favorite song on the list, which I think captures Ash's struggle perfectly.

Unknown Soldier by Breaking Benjamin
Here Without You by 3 Doors Down
Evil Angel by Breaking Benjamin
Carry on my Wayward Son by Kansas
Without You by My Darkest Days
I’m not Okay by My Chemical Romance
Cross my Heart by Marianas Trench
Pieces by Red
Famous Last Words by My Chemical Romance
Come What May by Nicole Kidman and Ethan McGregor (Moulin Rouge)

But the highlight of the party (and what many people came for, I think), was Ash's Letter to Meghan. There was much speculation about what was in said letter, which led to some hilarious poems and notes as everyone waited for the reveal. Such as:

"Roses are red, violets are blue, Meghan is mine, Puck get a clue." -Team Ash

Team Puck's response?

"Roses are red, violets are blue, eff you Ice-boy, I kissed her too."

And of course:

"Roses are red, violets are blue, I am a cat, I pwn all of you."

LOL, but then the real letter was unveiled. And while I can't post it on my blog just yet, I will share the link to the HarlequinTeen FB page where you can unlock the download. Go check it out. They made it all pretty and stuff. :)

Link to Ash's Letter.

So now we were getting close to midnight, and the official release of The Iron Knight. But Harlequin Teen had one last little surprise in store. (Actually, there's nothing little about it.) A photo contest, running from now to November 18th, where you take a picture of yourself and an Iron Fey book in a creative, faery-ish way, and post it to their FB page. The prize?

A signed copy of The Iron Knight, and A TRIP TO NYC TO MEET ME.

Sound cool? Want to go to New York City? Then follow this link to enter the contest and good luck!

Whew, I think that's everything! If you have questions about the letter or the contest, please don't inquire here, I won't be able to help you much. Ask Harlequin on their Facebook Page or on their twitter account @HarlequinTeen. Hope to see one lucky winner in New York City soon!

And if you happen to be anywhere in Louisville, KY tonight, I'll be having the second Iron Knight launch party at the Summit B&N. Come by and see me, grab a goodie bag, and have your pic taken with the life-sized cut-outs of Ash and Puck! They'll be staring over my shoulder the whole time. ;-)

Details here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Iron Knight Night twitter party

I'm excited.

Tonight is The Iron Knight Night Twitter Party!

There will be contests and Q&A and prizes, special guests and exciting announcements, secret reveals and more.

Including this. ASH'S LETTER, a note he wrote to Meghan before he left for his journey in The Iron Knight. It's never been seen before, but tonight it will be revealed.

The party starts at 10pm and goes to 12 midnight, EST. If you're unsure how to join, check out TweetChat and use the hashtag #IronKnightParty. It will take you to the party. In fact, this should take you right to the room.

See you there!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Iron Knight launch party (Both of them).

Hi everyone.

I'm having a launch party for The Iron Knight!

Actually, I'm having TWO of them.

The first will be on October 24th on Twitter, and will run from 10pm to midnight EST, so anyone can hop in and say hello. Super exciting stuff happening that night: there will be contests, prizes, a Q&A where I answer all your burning questions, some author friends dropping by, and a couple of awesome Sekrit Announcements. Really, you do not want to miss it!

To join the online Iron Knight launch party, use the hashtag #IronKnightParty on Twitter or any twitter-related platforms. (I recommend TweetChat.) It's sure to be fast-paced and crazy and chaotic, and most of all FUN.

So, for the nitty gritty details:

The Iron Knight Night Twitter party
Where: Twitter
When: October 24th, 10pm to midnight EST
How: Use the hashtag #IronKnightParty to jump in
Why: Chat with me, contests, prizes, Q&A, secret reveals, announcements, author special guests, and a whole lotta fun!

That's the FIRST launch party.

The SECOND Iron Knight party will be October 25th at the Summit Barnes and Noble in Louisville, KY. Details here.

I'll be there signing copies of The Iron Knight, and there will be goodie bags for the first 20 people who come to see me. I actually have a picture of what will be in said goodie bags. :D Check out the awesome below.

That Ironhorse is original artwork by me, and inside the Ash poster is a never before seen image of Meghan, Ash, and Puck together.

Pretty cool, right?

So I hope you can come see me this coming Tuesday, October 25th, starting at 4pm. Or at least join me on Twitter on the 24th for the Iron Knight Night online launch. Both parties are going to be a blast!

See you soon.