#AudioTour “Dolphin Way: Rise of the Guardians” by Mark Caney

Author: Mark Caney

Narrator: Mark Caney

Length: 9 hours 8 minutes

Publisher: Ocean Orb Publishing

Released: May 14, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

We share this planet with another intelligent race. They communicate fluently, have a society, a culture. They live in harmony with their world, but it is a harmony that is being torn apart by man’s careless acts. Dolphin Way is set in this world. The actors are the dolphins, as they try to make sense of a changing Ocean.

Dolphin culture evolved over millions of years so that they could remain perfectly attuned with their world, Ocean. Unlike man, they have created an almost utopian society without feeling the need to manipulate their environment, collect possessions or wage war. But the growing pressure of man’s activities becomes intolerable, and in frustration, one faction seeks an aggressive new path. They make a shocking departure from the Way — the ancient philosophy that has guided them so well through the millennia.

Sky, a male dolphin close to becoming an Initiate in the Way, unwillingly finds himself caught up in the violent consequences. To save the lives of his closest friends he will have to risk the worst punishment his clan can inflict and must decide between the two females who challenge everything he believes in.

The book is aimed at adult readers but will appeal to young adults too. Although it is a work of fiction, the author has based the story on the real lives and capabilities of these amazing creatures.

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Mark Caney became especially interested in dolphins after an extraordinary experience that started one night on a lonely stretch of desert coastline in the Red Sea. There he was fortunate enough to spend many hours in the company of a wild dolphin and became fascinated with these incredible creatures.

He has been a diver since he was eighteen when he started as a hobby while with the British military. When he was 23 he left the services to open a diving centre in Paphos, Cyprus.

He lived abroad for eighteen years and during that time travelled to many countries, training scuba instructors, conducting technical diver training and working on diving related projects. These varied from photo-shoots of sharks, running private courses for Arab sheikhs, and leading a four-month award-winning expedition to east Africa.

In 1996, he was appointed a vice president with PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors) and moved back to the UK to work in their PADI Europe, Middle East and Africa office in Bristol. In 2015 he moved to a position with PADI Worldwide, but is still based in a village near Bristol. He is also a board member of the major marine charity: Project AWARE.

He has spent a great deal of his life on or in the sea and as a keen photographer has his underwater photographs published many times. In addition to diving frequently, his other main hobby is sailing cruising yachts and is also an RYA sailing instructor.

During his life, he has been fortunate to have had many encounters with dolphins and has had the chance to study them in detail. He is a qualified Marine Mammal Medic with BDMLR.

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Q&A with Author Mark Caney
  • What inspired you to set a story in the world of the dolphins?
    • I have been fascinated by the underwater world since I was a child. I’ve worked in the diving industry for over forty years and my favourite hobby is sailing, so I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time around dolphins. It always seemed to me that they have a fairly utopian life; they spend all day playing, eating and making love. They have an intelligence that probably rivals our own, but they don’t use it to manipulate their environment as we do. As a result, they have a way of life that could have gone on forever; it’s truly sustainable. But then I learned about all the threats they now have from man, and it made me think. If you had a near-perfect society like that and they started to find that they had factors like overfishing, military sonar and pollution impacting on them – what would happen? What would they make of it? Because these things are happening right now.
  • What was your most memorable experience with dolphins?
    • I’ve had lots of very close encounters with dolphins, but there was one very special one. I heard of a lone dolphin that had been seen regularly in a particular bay in the Red Sea. I drove there overland with some friends and it was a hard place to reach, so by the time we arrived it was late at night. It was summertime though; the sea was calm, and a full moon was rising over the water. So, I went out in snorkelling gear, and there she was. At first she was wary, and circled around me, but then she became more confident and eventually came up to touch me. After a while, she let me stroke her and hold her; she obviously liked it and didn’t seem to want me to leave. We spent hours playing together that night, and with the moon shining through the calm sea onto the white sandy seabed, it was easy to see. I looked into the dolphin’s eyes that night and clearly saw another intelligence looking back at me. We could not talk, but there was a mutual recognition of another sentient being and a shared affection.
  • How realistic is the world you portray in Dolphin Way?
    • Very. Pretty much everything about the capabilities of the dolphins, such as how long they can hold their breath, how they sleep, how they hunt, is all factual. So, although this is a fictional story, the reader or listener will learn a lot about dolphins and the real threats they are facing while enjoying it. There’s a website that gives more information about the book that details the facts and the fantasy covered in the story: www.dolphin-way.com.
  • How did you end up narrating the book yourself?
    • Some professional narrators did audition for the book at first, and some of them sounded very good, but there were some nuances of meaning that they just weren’t picking up on. And that’s totally understandable, as this book is set in another world, but it is not just a fantasy world, it really exists. I know that world intimately, and I know what I was trying to portray. I’ve done a bit of acting myself, and so decided to try doing it, so that I could get exactly the meaning across that I wanted.
  • Do you think that dolphins actually speak to each other as fluently as in the novel?
    • Yes, I think it’s very likely that they do. We know that dolphins have a culture and a society. They have larger brains than ours and we know they communicate with a very sophisticated range of vocalisations. The signature calls that the characters use in the book are real, for example — dolphins actually do just that. I loved reading Watership Down when I was younger, but I always knew that in the end, talking bunnies was just fantasy, and that cute as they are, they are not very sophisticated creatures. But dolphins are. We don’t need to wait for another intelligent species to come from space; they’ve been here all along.
  • Where do the quotes come from at the start of each chapter?
    • I wrote them all. I put them there to emphasise that the dolphins have a sophisticated culture and a long history. Of course, they can’t write anything down, so it would make sense that they’d have oral histories. I used the concept of the Starwriters as a logical way for them to record those histories accurately; specially trained females who use the predictable motions of the stars and planets along with a unique song to memorise information while in a trance-like state.
  • Are there any underlying messages in Dolphin Way?
    • There is certainly a message about how we are abusing the oceans. Mankind has viewed the seas as a giant carpet that we can lift up and sweep all our unwanted mess under, and then it’s gone – out of sight and mind. But it’s not gone. It collects and gradually poisons the water. And as Sylvia Earle said, “No water, no life. No blue, no green.” There’s also a warning about the danger of any kind of extremism, and what that eventually leads to.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • No, I didn’t really think about it much at the time, to be honest. But I did often picture what I was describing as a film – I’m a very visual thinker and that helped me ensure the world I was describing was cohesive. But I’m very glad I’ve now created the audiobook version; I think someone listening to the book will probably get some extra insights into the story that a reader might well miss.
  • What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
    • Punctuation and sentence construction can only go so far in terms of trying to express what I, as the author, am trying to convey. When I read those words, I can put exactly the emphasis and emotion into them that I envisioned.
  • The book title is Dolphin Way – Rise of the Guardians; does that mean there could be another part to Dolphin Way later?
    • Yes, I hope so. I have sketched out the storyline for a second book and written the first ten chapters. If this first book is popular, I plan to write at least one more book in the series.

Top 10 List

Top Ten Reasons to Listen to Dolphin Way
  1. You’ll learn a lot about dolphins, as nearly all of the descriptions of how they live are factual
  2. You get to visit a fantasy world that really exists – our oceans
  3. Dolphins really are very intelligent; probably with an intelligence close to our own, so they are actually talking to each other
  4. It’s an adventure story
  5. It’s a love story
  6. It highlights the damage man is unwittingly inflicting on the marine world, and therefore the whole planet
  7. The book is read by Mark Caney, its author, who has spent much of his life in this world and makes it come alive
  8. It’s like no other book you’ve ever read/listened to
  9. Dolphins are really amazing and can teach us a lot
  10. This is a wonderful story that will make you laugh and make you cry; and one that will stay with you forever

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