New Audio Series Blog Tour: The Dragon’s Brood Cycle by Josh de Lioncourt

Author: Josh de Lioncourt

Narrator: Reay Kaplan

Length: 16 hours 26 minutes

Series: The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, Volume 1

Released: Oct. 7, 2015

Publisher: Draconis Entertainment

Genre: Fantasy

Legends never die; they just go into hiding….

Sixteen-year-old Emily Haven, heroine of the girls’ hockey team at Lindsey High, has spent her young life keeping two secrets: her rapidly deteriorating home life and the seemingly supernatural power that makes her a star on the ice. When she begins seeing visions of a lost and ragged boy reflected in mirrors and shop windows, a series of events unfolds that tears her from 21st-century Minneapolis and leaves her stranded in another world with horrors to rival those she has left behind. Lost amidst creatures of fantasy and legend, she’s forced to confront the demons of both her past and future to unravel the riddle of the mysterious boy and embark upon a journey to uncover long forgotten histories and the dark, cloaked figure in the shadows behind them all.

Caught between opposing forces of a war she doesn’t understand, Emily must find new strength within herself and, above all, the will to remember her friends.

Josh de Lioncourt, a proud Ravenclaw, enjoys creative projects in a variety of fields, including fiction, music, software development, blogging, and more. He has written on Apple accessibility for Macworld and Maccessibility, hosts or participates regularly on several podcasts, and writes and records music with Molly, his wife. Josh enjoys the works of Stephen King, the music of George Michael, Masters of the Universe, and Los Angeles Kings hockey. He also happens to be blind.

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Haven Lost (Book One) is available for review through the ADOPT-AN-AUDIOBOOK program. Request your copy today!

At some point, between one sip and the next, Emily’s vision began to blur, and she blinked to clear it. A tear ran out of the corner of her left eye and fell from the tip of her nose. For a moment, Emily wondered why her eyes were watering, then the gears in her head began to turn once more. The shock that had been offering its nebulous protection teetered on the razor edge of her emotions for another moment, then toppled. The damn broke apart, and the image of her mother’s small and lifeless body swam before her eyes. And Emily began to cry. 

 

Would you feel sadness if you entered into another world and didn’t know if you would ever return to this one? For those who have parents, children, and friends, you would imagine that this would seem like a very difficult concept to broach. But if you didn’t have anyone…would you think about it any differently? De Lioncourt takes one seemingly ordinary sixteen year-old girl and thrusts her into an extraordinary world, much like Alice in Wonderland, only without the rabbit and the doped up Caterpillar of course. Readers will get hooked by the adventure and trials that Emily and her new friends face for their survival. 

 

Emily Haven is a hockey player, but she has this gift. She has a sensation of knowing what is going to happen, like an enormously powerful gut feeling…you could say. Leaving her world to come to this new one filled with unrecognizable creatures and danger around every corner, she has lost everything and now she doesn’t know what this new world will bring. With visions of a boy looking back at her through mirrors, she starts to piece the puzzles together that something is very wrong in this new world and she may have been sent to find and save him. At first, Emily knows nothing about where she is and she is immediately placed as an apprentice in Marianne’s castle, but soon transitions into a knight’s role. It becomes very apparent that she has entered into a war between Marianne’s knights and the Dragon’s Brood. Forced to pick sides, Emily goes with her gut and sticks to her original plan of finding the boy; everything has to work itself out after the rescue mission, right? Little does she know that her life may hang in the balance, and the danger that she has brought to her new friends may ultimately be death.

 

De Lioncourt has a spellbinding fantasy, filled with creativity, adventure, and darkness looming in every corner of the world. In the beginning, the pace feels rushed, but then evens out to a steady and enjoyable pace. The characters are mysteries, filled with curiosity, determination, and the shear will of living to see another day. The author ensures to create flawed characters that must face their own demons and the ones that are after them in this new world. Emily and her new friends have a long journey ahead and each character will learn more about themselves as they go. Since this review is complimenting the audiobook, the narrator enlivens the story with her vocal and emotional differentiation. Every character is unmistakably different in tone and sound. There are a few words here and there that appear to be mispronounced; however, this should not hinder enjoyment of the novel. If you are a reader of dark fantasy, you may be interested in picking this book up. This is the first installment in The Dragon’s Brood Cycle Series; therefore, readers are able to plunge right into the story. 

 

NOTE: This story is tagged as a coming of age fantasy; however, due to the graphic detail of the violence that is produced in this story, it would be recommended for an audience over the age of 18. 

 

A copy of this audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a four-star rating to Haven Lost by Josh de Lioncourt.

 

 

Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook. The first step was finding a narrator versatile enough to portray the rather wide range of characters in the series. General American, American southern, British, Irish, and even some more alien accents make appearances, and I knew I had to find someone who could make that all sound authentic while also doing justice to the nuances of the characters personalities. I’ve heard otherwise well-written books fall flat in the audio editions because the narrator was not the right fit for the work, and I was very conscious of not allowing that to happen.

So I listened to samples of over nine hundred narrators and began sending out requests for auditions. The scene I sent for the auditions was a very emotional heart-to-heart between Emily (our protagonist) and Celine, a young orphaned girl she befriends early in the story. Emily is describing some things about her life that even she hasn’t fully dealt with yet. The scene was challenging not only for the emotional resonance I wanted a narrator to be able to pull from it, but also the fact that the two characters had very different manners of speaking and accents. I got a few submissions back, but none of them was quite right, and I started to get nervous.

Then, I got the audition from Reay Kaplan and was totally blown away. She captured both characters so perfectly and absolutely grasped the raw emotional weight of the scene. I knew immediately that she was the one.

When it came time to record the second volume in the series and the prequel novella, I was a little more hands on, doing much of the editing of the audio. I also composed the opening music for the audio books and the song that is referenced in the title of Harmony’s Song, which is performed by my wife, Molly.

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? I always knew I wanted my work to be produced in audio, although that was more of a pipe dream in the beginning. When I write anything, it’s generally playing in my head as if I was listening to it. I spend quite a lot of time (perhaps too much time) agonizing over the rhythm of the syllables, sentences, and narrative as a whole, in much the same way I do when writing lyrics for a song. Prose has, or at least should have, a cadence and rhythm to it that enhances the story’s telling, and those aspects become infinitely more crucial when a story is read aloud.

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? Fantasy, especially of the sword and sorcery variety, pretty much demands a pronunciation key for narrators. I recorded a guide for the more unusual words in the series and also gave Reay some direction for character voices, but I try to be mostly hands off overall. Narrators are performers, and I think if you give too much direction as the author, you run the risk of producing something that is stale and stilted. Narration needs to have a life and spontaneity to it that is authentic. Besides, if you’ve done your job well as a writer, the narrator will pick up naturally on the signals you’re sending to the reader.

For some of the characters, most notably Celine and Paige, Reay’s portrayal of them was eerily spot on with what I’d heard in my head; in other cases, like the character of Matthew, it was very different and, I think, better than what I originally had in mind. So, it’s important to give your narrator room to breathe life into the characters and story.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? There absolutely were, although I didn’t always realize it when I was writing. Emily, the star of her high school girls’ hockey team when the story opens, was inspired in part by the amazing players of the Penn State women’s hockey team of 2013–2014, something I was very conscious of.

On the other hand, I can see characteristics of people I’ve known throughout my life reflected in several characters, and even more especially in the relationships between them, although that became much more apparent in retrospect.

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? I’m a lifelong lover of audiobooks. Being blind, audiobooks were often the only accessible format available to me growing up. Even today, with the vastly more accessible ebook formats out there, I still find myself gravitating toward audio. Part of that is familiarity, of course, but a great deal more of it is simply an appreciation of the collaborative process between author and narrator to produce something that is wholly unique.

Sometimes, for books that I especially love, I’ll seek out multiple audiobook editions read by different narrators, just to have that unique experience. Examples are the Jim Dale versus Steven Frye editions of the Harry Potter series, many books by Mark Twain, and the first few volumes of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower saga. Every performance is unique, and of course I have my favorites. (I’m team Jim Dale!)

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format? Harmony’s Song, the prequel novella in The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, feels very much that way to me for a variety of reasons. First, Reay Kaplan’s performance is just astonishing. The story is told in first person from the point of view of Daniel, a very young street urchin, and she inhabits the character so completely that you forget you’re listening to a book at all. Second, being able to include the companion song in the audiobook really adds a dimension to the story that just isn’t there when the ebook reader has to click a link and seek out the song on their own online.

If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? I think I probably would time travel if I could, and anyone who knows me will not be surprised in the slightest that I’d go back to the 1980s. Particularly in the arts—books, movies, music, TV, etc—there was a joy and vivacity to so much of what was produced during that decade. For me personally, that is especially true where regards the music. How great would it be to go back and see some of my favorite artists in concert when they were at the height of their careers My heart stutters at the very thought!

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series? As both a reader and a writer, I definitely gravitate toward series, though I have nothing against stand-alone novels. In either case, I tend to prefer long stories with a lot of meat that I can sink my teeth into and characters that I grow to know like living breathing people. I also really enjoy world building, which nearly always works better in a series context over a stand-alone, although authors like Stephen King or Brandon Sanderson are masters of doing it in both types of mediums.

The downside to lengthy novels or series is the risk of overstaying your welcome. Open ended series often lose momentum or become stale if they go on too long or the author runs out of fresh ideas. There’s a line to walk there. It can be done well, but often is not.

What’s your favorite:

  • Food: Pizza…or lasagna…actually most things Italian. I also have a huge soft spot for Mexican cuisine.
  • Song: Praying for Time —George Michael
  • Book: That’s nearly impossible to answer, so I’ll mention a few. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.
  • Television show: Again, this is tough. Most incarnations of Star Trek (save TNG), the various versions of the Masters of the Universe/Princess of Power franchise, and Roswell all come to mind.
  • Movie: Naming more than one is becoming a theme here! In no particular order, some of my favorite films include Interview with the Vampire, A Few Good Men, My Cousin Vinny, and The Sixth Sense.
  • Music artist: George Michael
  • Sports team: Los Angeles Kings
  • City: London, UK

Are any of those things referenced in your work? I rarely make direct references in my work to things I enjoy, but I often pay homage or otherwise more subtly pay tribute to them. Hockey plays a key role in the life of Emily, the hero of the Dragon’s Brood Cycle, and I’m a life long hockey fan. “Go Kings Go!” British, Irish, and Scottish mythology and history, among several others, are woven into the story throughout the series. I love hiding Easter eggs throughout my work for careful readers (or re-readers) to find.

What’s next for you? I have a short stand-alone novel in the works that is unrelated to The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, as well as another DBC novella and the next installment of the series proper. I’ve also recently been working in the area of interactive fiction which has long been a love of mine as well. The Eamon Remastered project at http://eamon-remastered.com is of particular interest to me, and I have plans to contribute new stories to that IF system.

HAVEN LOST

June 20th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

June 21st:

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

June 22nd:

Jazzy Book Reviews

June 23rd:

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

June 24th:

T’s Stuff

Crossroad Reviews

June 25th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

June 26th:

Turning Another Page

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New Audio Series Blog Tour: The Dragon’s Brood Cycle by Josh de Lioncourt

Author: Josh de Lioncourt

Narrator: Reay Kaplan

Length: 16 hours 26 minutes

Series: The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, Volume 1

Released: Oct. 7, 2015

Publisher: Draconis Entertainment

Genre: Fantasy

Legends never die; they just go into hiding….

Sixteen-year-old Emily Haven, heroine of the girls’ hockey team at Lindsey High, has spent her young life keeping two secrets: her rapidly deteriorating home life and the seemingly supernatural power that makes her a star on the ice. When she begins seeing visions of a lost and ragged boy reflected in mirrors and shop windows, a series of events unfolds that tears her from 21st-century Minneapolis and leaves her stranded in another world with horrors to rival those she has left behind. Lost amidst creatures of fantasy and legend, she’s forced to confront the demons of both her past and future to unravel the riddle of the mysterious boy and embark upon a journey to uncover long forgotten histories and the dark, cloaked figure in the shadows behind them all.

Caught between opposing forces of a war she doesn’t understand, Emily must find new strength within herself and, above all, the will to remember her friends.

Josh de Lioncourt, a proud Ravenclaw, enjoys creative projects in a variety of fields, including fiction, music, software development, blogging, and more. He has written on Apple accessibility for Macworld and Maccessibility, hosts or participates regularly on several podcasts, and writes and records music with Molly, his wife. Josh enjoys the works of Stephen King, the music of George Michael, Masters of the Universe, and Los Angeles Kings hockey. He also happens to be blind.

WebsiteTwitter
Haven Lost (Book One) is available for review through the ADOPT-AN-AUDIOBOOK program. Request your copy today!

Coming Soon…

Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook. The first step was finding a narrator versatile enough to portray the rather wide range of characters in the series. General American, American southern, British, Irish, and even some more alien accents make appearances, and I knew I had to find someone who could make that all sound authentic while also doing justice to the nuances of the characters personalities. I’ve heard otherwise well-written books fall flat in the audio editions because the narrator was not the right fit for the work, and I was very conscious of not allowing that to happen.

So I listened to samples of over nine hundred narrators and began sending out requests for auditions. The scene I sent for the auditions was a very emotional heart-to-heart between Emily (our protagonist) and Celine, a young orphaned girl she befriends early in the story. Emily is describing some things about her life that even she hasn’t fully dealt with yet. The scene was challenging not only for the emotional resonance I wanted a narrator to be able to pull from it, but also the fact that the two characters had very different manners of speaking and accents. I got a few submissions back, but none of them was quite right, and I started to get nervous.

Then, I got the audition from Reay Kaplan and was totally blown away. She captured both characters so perfectly and absolutely grasped the raw emotional weight of the scene. I knew immediately that she was the one.

When it came time to record the second volume in the series and the prequel novella, I was a little more hands on, doing much of the editing of the audio. I also composed the opening music for the audio books and the song that is referenced in the title of Harmony’s Song, which is performed by my wife, Molly.

Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? I always knew I wanted my work to be produced in audio, although that was more of a pipe dream in the beginning. When I write anything, it’s generally playing in my head as if I was listening to it. I spend quite a lot of time (perhaps too much time) agonizing over the rhythm of the syllables, sentences, and narrative as a whole, in much the same way I do when writing lyrics for a song. Prose has, or at least should have, a cadence and rhythm to it that enhances the story’s telling, and those aspects become infinitely more crucial when a story is read aloud.

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? Fantasy, especially of the sword and sorcery variety, pretty much demands a pronunciation key for narrators. I recorded a guide for the more unusual words in the series and also gave Reay some direction for character voices, but I try to be mostly hands off overall. Narrators are performers, and I think if you give too much direction as the author, you run the risk of producing something that is stale and stilted. Narration needs to have a life and spontaneity to it that is authentic. Besides, if you’ve done your job well as a writer, the narrator will pick up naturally on the signals you’re sending to the reader.

For some of the characters, most notably Celine and Paige, Reay’s portrayal of them was eerily spot on with what I’d heard in my head; in other cases, like the character of Matthew, it was very different and, I think, better than what I originally had in mind. So, it’s important to give your narrator room to breathe life into the characters and story.

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? There absolutely were, although I didn’t always realize it when I was writing. Emily, the star of her high school girls’ hockey team when the story opens, was inspired in part by the amazing players of the Penn State women’s hockey team of 2013–2014, something I was very conscious of.

On the other hand, I can see characteristics of people I’ve known throughout my life reflected in several characters, and even more especially in the relationships between them, although that became much more apparent in retrospect.

Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? I’m a lifelong lover of audiobooks. Being blind, audiobooks were often the only accessible format available to me growing up. Even today, with the vastly more accessible ebook formats out there, I still find myself gravitating toward audio. Part of that is familiarity, of course, but a great deal more of it is simply an appreciation of the collaborative process between author and narrator to produce something that is wholly unique.

Sometimes, for books that I especially love, I’ll seek out multiple audiobook editions read by different narrators, just to have that unique experience. Examples are the Jim Dale versus Steven Frye editions of the Harry Potter series, many books by Mark Twain, and the first few volumes of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower saga. Every performance is unique, and of course I have my favorites. (I’m team Jim Dale!)

Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format? Harmony’s Song, the prequel novella in The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, feels very much that way to me for a variety of reasons. First, Reay Kaplan’s performance is just astonishing. The story is told in first person from the point of view of Daniel, a very young street urchin, and she inhabits the character so completely that you forget you’re listening to a book at all. Second, being able to include the companion song in the audiobook really adds a dimension to the story that just isn’t there when the ebook reader has to click a link and seek out the song on their own online.

If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go? I think I probably would time travel if I could, and anyone who knows me will not be surprised in the slightest that I’d go back to the 1980s. Particularly in the arts—books, movies, music, TV, etc—there was a joy and vivacity to so much of what was produced during that decade. For me personally, that is especially true where regards the music. How great would it be to go back and see some of my favorite artists in concert when they were at the height of their careers My heart stutters at the very thought!

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series? As both a reader and a writer, I definitely gravitate toward series, though I have nothing against stand-alone novels. In either case, I tend to prefer long stories with a lot of meat that I can sink my teeth into and characters that I grow to know like living breathing people. I also really enjoy world building, which nearly always works better in a series context over a stand-alone, although authors like Stephen King or Brandon Sanderson are masters of doing it in both types of mediums.

The downside to lengthy novels or series is the risk of overstaying your welcome. Open ended series often lose momentum or become stale if they go on too long or the author runs out of fresh ideas. There’s a line to walk there. It can be done well, but often is not.

What’s your favorite:

  • Food: Pizza…or lasagna…actually most things Italian. I also have a huge soft spot for Mexican cuisine.
  • Song: Praying for Time —George Michael
  • Book: That’s nearly impossible to answer, so I’ll mention a few. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.
  • Television show: Again, this is tough. Most incarnations of Star Trek (save TNG), the various versions of the Masters of the Universe/Princess of Power franchise, and Roswell all come to mind.
  • Movie: Naming more than one is becoming a theme here! In no particular order, some of my favorite films include Interview with the Vampire, A Few Good Men, My Cousin Vinny, and The Sixth Sense.
  • Music artist: George Michael
  • Sports team: Los Angeles Kings
  • City: London, UK

Are any of those things referenced in your work? I rarely make direct references in my work to things I enjoy, but I often pay homage or otherwise more subtly pay tribute to them. Hockey plays a key role in the life of Emily, the hero of the Dragon’s Brood Cycle, and I’m a life long hockey fan. “Go Kings Go!” British, Irish, and Scottish mythology and history, among several others, are woven into the story throughout the series. I love hiding Easter eggs throughout my work for careful readers (or re-readers) to find.

What’s next for you? I have a short stand-alone novel in the works that is unrelated to The Dragon’s Brood Cycle, as well as another DBC novella and the next installment of the series proper. I’ve also recently been working in the area of interactive fiction which has long been a love of mine as well. The Eamon Remastered project at http://eamon-remastered.com is of particular interest to me, and I have plans to contribute new stories to that IF system.

HAVEN LOST

June 20th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

June 21st:

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

June 22nd:

Jazzy Book Reviews

June 23rd:

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

June 24th:

T’s Stuff

Crossroad Reviews

June 25th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

June 26th:

Turning Another Page

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