AudioFile spoke with author and narrator Eric Jason Martin about creating the full-cast audiobook for his sci-fi novel about a deadly plague and a virtual reality game, NEW ARCADIA: REVOLUTION.
AudioFile: Tell us how you went about putting together the cast—which includes Matthew Mercer, Erika Ishii, Sam Riegel, Dave Fennoy, Marin Ireland, January LaVoy, James Urbaniak, Emily Lynne, and many more narrators—for NEW ARCADIA: REVOLUTION.
Eric Jason Martin: We have an incredible cast for this project, and I’m very grateful that they are a part of it! I’ve been an audiobook narrator for the last decade, and it’s through that frame that I approached the writing process. For me, this means imagining the books in audio from the start, and “casting” each character with a voice performer I can hear in my mind as I’m writing. It’s been a very helpful tool for creating unique and specific characters.
AF: This is the second audiobook in the series—is there anything you learned when recording NEW ARCADIA: STAGE ONE that made you change your approach when recording this one?
EJM: Yes, we went bigger and better! I’ve produced and directed quite a few full-cast productions over the years, but STAGE ONE was the first time I had led a production of my own novel-length work.
For REVOLUTION, I wanted to bring back as much of the original cast as possible while also layering in some great new talent. So our cast expanded from 19 performers to nearly 30 this time around. It was easy for the returning performers to get back into their characters, and easier to bring the new folks up to speed as well for their sessions.
It was really a refinement of the existing process—to record the cast at a convenient time at their homes and to direct and be their scene partner virtually over Zoom.
We took some big swings in terms of expanding the scope for this production, the amount of dialogue as compared to narrative and the musical elements that involve the performers. I also wanted to make sure that new listeners could start listening with REVOLUTION and have a great stand-alone experience while also catering to returning listeners who loved STAGE ONE.
All of this was in service of telling a great story, but it was equally important to make sure everybody was having fun being a part of it, too.
AF: Tell us about the score and sound effects and how those were created.
EJM: We have some awesome collaborators on the music and sound design for this production.
One of my favorite musicians of all time is Lloyd Cole, who started back in the ‘80s with his legendary band, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, and has gone on to an eclectic and fascinating solo career. I asked him to write the theme for the series, and was so excited when he said yes. He describes the haunting main theme as Escape From New York meets Stranger Things, with a hint of Dune. It’s an awesome piece.
Casey Trela is our incredible composer for the series. He’s impressively diverse and creative, and he can write in the “chiptune” style of music we need for this project. This time he wrote an original song, “Dance of Life,” which I describe as the catchiest ‘90s dance song you’ve never heard. I was thrilled to team up again with Emily Lynne. I directed her in HEADS WILL ROLL, the Audible Original she co-created and co-starred in. She knocks it out of the park again here, both with the song and in the dual roles of Berta and Beata.
Finally, the incredibly talented team at Mumble Media did the postproduction and sound design, bringing all the voices together seamlessly with the music and a tasteful sound design that perfectly supports the story. I’ve worked with them on our Audible Originals STINKER LETS LOOSE! and PASSABLE IN PINK, and their skills and storytelling instincts are first-rate.
AF: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about NEW ARCADIA: REVOLUTION?
EJM: NEW ARCADIA: REVOLUTION is a love letter to the ’90s. If you were alive during that time, or know someone who was, you’ll probably get a big kick out of looking back, with a view that’s both nostalgic and critical.
My goal for the audiobook production was to bring together the most incredible cast and crew I could to share a unique, funny, and thrilling story that only we can tell.
I love working in the medium of audio storytelling not only as a narrator but also as a producer, director, and now author. It’s important to continue to push the audiobook form forward and to take inspiration from the worlds of film, music, podcasting, and comedy.
When it comes to exploring what’s possible with the audiobook medium as an industry, I think we’re just getting started.
Eric Jason Martin, January LaVoy, and Sam Riegel photos courtesy of the narrators