That storytelling is a mark of our humanity is not, I believe, a debatable concept. We humans love to tell stories; we love to be told stories.
Early humans lived in a world that must have been quite confusing and, frankly, disconcerting. Big, fiery ball flying overhead every day; bright shining orb doing the same thing at night. And that damn orb kept de-orbing, then re-orbing, then completely taking a powder for a few nights every now and then.
And then there was the heat of the day and the cold of the night, how was one supposed to dress? Once one began dressing at all. And dangerous predators. And rough terrain. And certain foods made you sick and didn't even taste good. And big fluffy things in the sky that sometimes were happy and sometimes were mad. There was also the fact that some of our fellow early humans were nuts. Or wise. Or lovely. Or just stinkers. Not to mention that there were two kinds of us, alike yet different, the difference sometimes being a joy and at other times an annoyance. How did anyone make sense of all this?
By telling stories, of course. By making the best guess as to the reasons why, and hopefully amusing the family—later tribe, later village, later city, later nation—along the way.
After 200,000 to 300,000 years of experience and experimentation, we don’t really need to tell stories to make sense of the physical world anymore. But the world within, the landscape of us humans, some of whom are still nuts, or wise, or lovely, or just plain stinkers, is still great fodder for stories we tell and stories we like being told.
Stories, as you know, were first told orally, as there really was no other choice. Humans had discovered that their voice was a helpful instrument for more than just screaming out warnings of impending danger. It created sounds of not just rhythm and tone—like beating on stones and trees did—but when formed into words, it created sounds of meaning, of sense, of drama, and, I hope, even of comedy.
Then writing came along, scribbling on clay tablets, papyrus, or stone. At first, such scribbles merely noted trades and inventory. Then one day, or series of days, one individual, or series of individuals, possibly got bored with recording an inventory and decided instead to tell a story. Perhaps a well-known one the scribe first heard as a child.
There is one way to assure that your “voice” is heard by some people, at least. Have an actual sonic voice read or narrate or perform (take your pick) your book for an audiobook edition. Three of my past novels have audiobook editions. Traveling in Space, published by Bluroof Press and performed by Jeff Cannata. And Blood is Pretty (read by Jonah Cummings) and By the Sea (read by David Gilmore), both published by Crossroad Press. All three were a joy for me to see done, enhancing not only my experience as an author but the reach my novels had in finding an audience.
That's Seamus Dever and Juliana Dever, of course. If you were a fan, like I was, of ABC's Castle (2009 - 2016), starring Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, you know Seamus as Detective Kevin Ryan, part of the crime-solving team on the show.
|Seamus Dever with Jeff Cannata, Steven Paul Leiva, |
James Cromwell and Ray Bradbury
|James Cromwell and Seamus Dever|
|Seamus Dever and Luisina Quarleri in “The Abuelas” |
at the Antaeus Theatre
I only knew Juliana from her appearances on Castle. That is until I checked out some of her videos on her travel blog CleverDever Wherever.
But I balked. A rare moment of shyness hit me. Did I really want to bug Seamus and ask him? Especially if asking would be implying that if he didn’t have a setup, maybe he would set one up in his home just to accommodate me. Horrible, horrible chutzpah, I thought that would be.
But then the wonderful writer Jean Rabe,
I’ve learned to listen to Jean. She held my hand and gave me sage advice all through creating Magpie Press and publishing Creature Feature.
|Manfred M. Magpie looks over his first publication|
“Hi, Steven,” Seamus said. And from that moment, the ideal became real. The wish was granted. The magic wand demanded that I retract my slander.
|Juliana and Seamus at the mic!|
Seamus had an early suggestion that Juliana only voice Kathy/Vivacia. He would handle all the other characters, male and female. It was utterly the right idea as Kathy/Vivacia is the dominating presence in the novel. She demanded her exclusive interpreter.
Seamus created a setup to professionally record at home. But not without having to solve several technical problems which he strived mightily to overcome. Which I feel some guilt about—putting him through all that. But the results have assuaged my guilt.
Seamus has produced, directed, and edited the audiobook. He suggested having original music, which I happily agreed to. He recruited a friend, Ray Zigler, a bandmate of Seamus' from years past, to compose the music.
Ray created a witty, creepy, jazz score that I just friggin' love. It has been released on Spotify as a mini-album under the title of Suite for Le Cinema De Créatures (Music from "Creature Feature - A Horrid Comedy").
Seamus applied his innate fine sense of comedy timing to the directing and editing, giving all the right colors to the piece.
But most of all, Seamus gives a delightful and funny performance narrating Creature Feature, voicing Gerald, the nerdy/genius male protagonist, the demon Quntirextionkeedumtemgar, and all the other characters and creatures in the book.
And Juliana! Juliana is the perfect as Kathy/Vivacia, giving distinct voices to the two sides of this character, matching and complimenting Seamus in wit, comedy timing, and fun.
This ideal which became real has been a most satisfying experience.
Happy listening, folks!