#AudioTour “The Lost Sentinel” by Suzanne Rogerson

Author: Suzanne Rogerson

Narrator: George Ellington

Length: 13 hours 28 minutes

Series: Silent Sea Chronicles, Book 1

Publisher: Suzanne Rogerson

Released: Sep. 22, 2020

Genre: Fantasy

The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel.The Assembly controls Kalaya. Originally set up to govern, they now persecute those with magic and exile them to the Turrak Mountains.Tei, a tailor’s daughter, has always hidden her magic, but when her father’s old friend visits and warns them to flee to the mountains, she must leave her old life behind.On the journey, an attack leaves her father mortally wounded. He entrusts her into the care of the exiles and on his deathbed makes a shocking confession.Struggling with self-doubt, Tei joins the exiles search for their new Sentinel who is the only person capable of restoring the fading magic. But mysterious Masked Riders are hunting the Sentinel too, and time, as well as hope, is running out.Against mounting odds it will take friendship, heartache, and sacrifice for the exiles to succeed, but is Tei willing to risk everything to save the island magic? If you like character-based fantasy, then you’ll love The Lost Sentinel – book one in the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy.

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Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two children and a crazy puppy.Her writing journey began at the age of twelve when she completed her first novel. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave Suzanne the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.Now an author of four novels including the recently completed Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and a Czech translation of her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again!She loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.Suzanne collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

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My name is George. Seoras, if you speak Gaelic. Born in the United States, German on my father’s side, a native of Bamberg, and a Stewart on my mother’s side from a wee parish outside Stirling. I am a keen learner, eager to travel the world around me, and an instructor of English with years of experience teaching in the US, Turkey, and Japan. In audiobook narration, I have discovered a perfect opportunity to perform and play with languages, dialects, characters, cultures. Essentially, my voice is my livelihood, and my spirit longs to explore.

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Q&A with Author Suzanne Rogerson
  • The Lost Sentinel is book 1 in Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy. Do the books follow one main character throughout and if so tell us about them?
    • The Lost Sentinel follows three story threads that come together over the course of the trilogy and the main character holding everything together is Tei.
    • Tei is a young exiled mystic charged to find the missing Sentinel – the only person able to restore the dying magic of their island home. Tei has opposition from the Assembly, who are against all magic, and mysterious masked riders who seem determined to find the Sentinel too. Tei struggles to deal with the responsibility thrust upon her and suffers heartbreak at every turn but she never gives up even when everything is against her.
  • Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning?
    • I am not the greatest of planners, in fact I usually start with only a character and a situation and wait for the story to emerge as I write. Only then do I start to plan where the story will go. With The Lost Sentinel I always knew Tei was special and would need to face up to her destiny if she was going to save her people, but I didn’t realise the full scale of her involvement or how the fate of the other islands in the Silent Sea would also rest in her hands.
  • What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
    • I have always loved nature and the natural world, so creating an island that has a connection with its people really appealed to me. I imagined our world and how our actions have consequences. How our greed, neglect and terrible misuse of resources and the creatures we share our home with is destroying our world. On the islands within the Silent Sea the inhabitants are destroying their homes with their disregard of magic, but it isn’t too late to change if they can just work together. I hope the same can be said for our world.
  • What inspires you to write?
    • My characters are my inspiration. I need to find them before I can start properly writing their story and once I get to know them I just want to keep going until their story has been told.
    • I have never been happy doing anything other than writing, I couldn’t imagine life without creating stories.
  • How do you to keep motivated?
    • I always have several projects on the go so I never get bored. I hate being idle and find when a book is finished that I feel an emptiness inside, so keeping going with other ideas helps curb that feeling.
    • Although I love writing, sometimes it’s important to switch off completely. I would happily spend day and night at the computer but when I’m trying to relax, I love nothing more than to binge watch TV shows on Netflix. It’s great for inspiring new ideas and characters too.
  • What was the hardest part of writing this book?
    • I suppose the hardest thing was the time it took me to write The Lost Sentinel. I started it years ago and broke off from it many times whilst I learnt my craft through evening and online classes. I then finished and published my debut, Visions of Zarua, before I was able to focus my attention of this book. I loved working on a trilogy as it gave me direction, but it was hard publishing them a year apart. I wish I could have shown some patience and waited to publish them a few months apart, but that’s just not me!
    • It will be nice to do that with the audiobooks instead. Hopefully, the whole series will be complete by early 2021.
  • Was it strange listening to someone else voice your words?
    • As with my previous audiobook, I’m amazed with the difference hearing someone narrate your story can bring to a novel. George has given the characters life beyond the page and acted out the emotions of the story so well. He’s also added some sound effects that have given the scenes more depth.
  • What was your favorite chapter (or part) to listen to in The Lost Sentinel and why?
    • I have some favourite scenes that I was looking forward to hearing George narrate and he didn’t disappoint. He didn’t just narrate them; he performed them and captured the emotions of those traumatic events. I can’t explain the scenes I’m talking about as they involve the deaths of some prominent characters, but George did my characters proud.
  • Is it different having a trilogy being produced in audiobook, than just a standalone?
    • It has been an interesting experience having the trilogy produced and I’ve enjoyed working with George on a longer project. He’s very professional and we’re found a way to work that suits us both.
    • One good thing about the trilogy is knowing there is still more to come. Book 2 is almost finished and we still have book 3 to go. I know I’m in for many more hours of enjoyment watching the trilogy reach its conclusion and I hope listeners will feel the same way. The end of the trilogy is very special to me so I can’t wait to hear George narrate it.
  • What are your future projects?
    • I am working on two main projects that I hope to publish in 2021; a new fantasy trilogy and a series of romantic novellas set within a fictional seaside town in England. This is a departure from my favourite fantasy genre, but I feel passionately about the new project and can’t wait to share it with readers and listeners. I’m also working on a spy novel with a friend and it’ll be interesting to see what we come up with together.
    • After that I hope to dive back into the world of the Silent Sea and see what has become of my characters. I’ve really missed them, though I’ve love reconnecting with them whilst listening to the production of the audiobooks.
Q&A with Narrator George Ellington
  • How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
    • Narrating audiobooks was not something I was looking to do, although for quite a while I was attracted to the notion of voice acting. I’m a language teacher; I’ve been teaching English in colleges and universities in the United States, Turkey, and Japan for several decades now. So I love language and voice and accents, but it was my wife who guided me to the ACX platform where I found Suzanne Rogerson’s novel The Lost Sentinel and for which I subsequently auditioned. My wife, Laya V Smith, is an author herself, and she has always tried to help me find the work that would be most fulfilling for me. When she guided me to audiobook narration, I immediately took to it. I loved it! And I am very grateful to her as well for having chosen me to narrate her own novel, The Lumbermill. That was the biggest challenge I had faced—narrating my wife’s novel. I think you should always work closely with your authors, but to have the author there in the recording booth with you is a different matter. Especially if you’re married to her! Which is not to say that she was micromanaging; she was performing all the female and children’s roles in the story, so she had a very good reason for being in the booth. And fortunately for me, The Lumbermill is a fantastic novel, and Laya was very good at guiding me and inspiring me to find the right voices. The Lumbermill is a neo-noir thriller, and Laya knows that I am a huge fan of Dashiell Hammett’s work and Humphrey Bogart’s performance in The Maltese Falcon, so when I was struggling with voicing for her novel, she suggested I “channel your inner Bogie.” And it worked. I am very happy with my performance in her audiobook, and have heard people who know my normal speaking voice, remarking how unbelievable it was to find out that, yes, that really was me performing The Lumbermill.
  • A lot of narrators seem to have a background in theatre. Is that something you think is essential to a successful narration career?
    • I can absolutely see the benefit of having a background in theatre. I wish I had had such a background. In a way, what eventually brought me to audiobook narrating was the fact that I had always been too shy to endeavor performing on stage. For some of us, voice acting and audiobook narration is a chance to act, but in a safer environment where no one can see us. But yes, it is still acting. In fact, with Suzanne’s audiobooks, for the first time I found the courage to change my audiobook credits from “narrated by” to “performed by.” It’s not presumptuous to think of ourselves in this way. In fact, to some extent I have been acting throughout my profession as a college teacher. But with audiobooks—and in particular with Suzanne’s stories and my wife’s novel and Zach Abrams’ mysteries—I have been given a chance to really indulge that desire in me to perform. I listen to many audiobooks, and at least in the realm of fiction, those I am most likely to stop listening to early on are those audiobooks in which the narrator—for whatever reason—chose not to perform, chose instead to deliver a multi-character story with essentially one voice for everyone and very little alteration in the style of speech.
  • What would you say are your strongest narration abilities?
    • With my background in languages, not only teaching language, but also working closely with students from all over the world, and by virtue of the fact that I am the product of generations of immigrants, I feel most confident in my ability to empathize with characters in stories, to convey the emotional experiences they are engaged in, and to provide authentic voices for each one. I was born in the United States, and a California accent comes natural to me, but most of my audiobook narration has been closer to my mother’s background, whose family came here from Scotland, while my father immigrated to the US from Germany. Throughout the day, without even meaning to do so, I dialect switch, changing my pronunciation and lexicon depending on the situation and on whom I am speaking with, so it is not much of a struggle in narration to create new voices and to perform them in distinct dialects. In fact, it’s one of the things I love so much about audiobook narration—playing with different voices. I can’t imagine any other job that would allow me to have so much fun with my own voice, modified to become many different people. I do the same thing at night, reading stories to my weans before bed—lately I’ve been performing a lot of Winnie the Pooh for my four-year-old son. But with audiobook narration, I actually get paid to do it. Brilliant!
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I have spent my life reading quite voraciously, and only in recent years discovered and fell in love with listening to audiobooks. And there does seem to be some confusion about perhaps the intention of audiobook production. Reading a book is a completely personal experience that calls upon ones own experiences and expectations and imagination to make a book—in particular, a novel—come to life. And that is a wonderful experience. Nothing can supplant that, including audiobooks. But you see, that’s just the thing—audiobook listening should not be seen as replacing the experience of reading for yourself. With an audiobook, you’re trusting in someone else to help bring that story and those characters to life. Listening to an audiobook is a different kind of experience—an experience in which the work of the author is enhanced by the skills of the narrator or performer. I see nothing odd about a reader, having read a book for themselves—and having thoroughly enjoyed it—deciding to then listen to the audiobook for a very different experience. I sincerely hope not only to attract new listeners to Suzanne Rogerson’s novels, but also to entice those who have already read her novels to come back and listen to my interpretation of them—to relax and let me bring the stories to life for them in my own way.
  • What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
    • My first real love as a reader were fantasy tales. I recall well how enthralled I was back in high school reading Tolkien’s works. If this fantasy realm was populated by warriors and wizards, by elves and dwarves, then I had to read it. But then I went to university, majoring in literature, and suddenly had no time to read fantasies any longer. It was all Dickens and Shakespeare and Hemingway and Joyce, all of whom I still love, but I think I never quite stopped longing for a good fantasy. When I saw book one in Suzanne’s Silent Sea Chronicles open for auditions, I couldn’t believe it. Not that I ever thought she would choose me, but I had to give it a go. There was no way I could pass up the opportunity to narrate such a fantastic trilogy. The Silent Sea Chronicles has everything in it I love about fantasies: a keen understanding of characters populating these tales, including those you love and those you hate, and all of them are compelling. I love to see how magic in Suzanne’s tales is not just some supernatural element dropped into an otherwise unrelated environment, but that in fact—comparable perhaps to Native American or Celtic beliefs—the world is animated by magic. There is a strong sense of respect for the world in Suzanne’s writing, and for how what we do impacts the world around us.
  • How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
    • I feel much more confident with the work I do when I can work closely with the author. Yes, the narrator brings their own interpretations into the performance, and that is as it should be, but I also need to know what the author wishes to hear from all of the work I do, including voicing, characterizations, pacing. When an author can say, these three characters mean a lot to me, and I want them to sound like this and this and this, then that makes my job all the easier. It helps a narrator no end to know up front the parameters within which the author foresees an audiobook sounding like. From what I gather reading feedback from other narrators, it is still an unfortunately common occurrence that a narrator continues on with a work, even unto its completion, only then to discover that a character or, even worse, the narrator does not meet the author’s expectations. Narrators should always work closely with authors. Suzanne has been a joy to work with, giving me such useful feedback every step of the way, even helping me with finish editing, catching things I might otherwise have missed, and still otherwise, giving me a great deal of free reign to interpret and perform as I choose. Zach Abrams was like that as well, for whom I narrated three books in a police procedural series set in Scotland, always encouraging and helpful in guiding and polishing his audiobooks. I’ve been very fortunate with the authors I’ve worked with.
  • Have there been any characters that you really connected with?
    • In Suzanne’s novels, characters are so well developed and so sympathetic that I find myself caring about many of them. My first real connections was with Rike and Garrick, perhaps because they were primary characters in my audition for the work, but more so because they are just very good men, striving to help others, seeking to overcome their own failings and face the incredibly daunting threats that surround them in these stories. They have fine hearts and struggle with love, and possess those very same talents that make for a great fantasy: one the keen, sensitive mystic, the other the big warm-hearted bear of a warrior/protector taking care of the mystic. There are great relationships in these stories, and characters like Rike and Garrick made me love the series from the start.
  • Do you read reviews for your audiobooks? If so, which ones stand out to you most, positive or negative?
    • I’ve been warned a number of times to not pay too much attention to reviews, but I can’t help it. Of course I look. Sometimes daily! I’m not sure how many readers and listeners out there understand how crucial it is for the success of authors and narrators that they actually take the time to rate and review the works they read and listen to. Especially within the online medium that we depend on more and more to choose our next read or listen, and how search results are generated—reviews are critical. (No pun intended.) So yes, I look, and negative reviews hurt, and fortunately for me, most of the reviews that have been written about my performances have been very good. What still surprises me—and makes me blush—is that the greatest number of positive reviews I have received have been for romance performances. One novel in particular, Storm the Castle by Jolie Vines—another great author to work with!—has evoked some rather gushing praise that pleases me so very much of course, although I wonder how much of that is due to the popularity of a deep-voiced Scottish accent in a romantic lead. One reviewer talked about my performance melting her clothes off. Who wouldn’t blush at that? So yes, I love reading positive reviews. I’m sure we all do.
  • Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?
    • I have already had the glorious good fortune to work with authors whose works I have enjoyed and whose talents I have deeply admired. As I have said, Suzanne Rogerson has been a joy to work with. Because I have spent so much of my life reading, I know many authors whose works I wish I had had the chance to narrate: JRR Tolkien, AA Milne, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Graham Greene, Val McDermid. The list goes on and on, really. A couple of authors whose works I truly love and would have given anything for the chance to narrate are John Le Carré and Ian Rankin. Deeply intriguing stories, wonderfully constructed characters. Just brilliant. As a listener, I am grateful that narrator James Macpherson was brought on to continue narrating the Rebus stories; he does a fantastic job of it! But yes, I do wish I could have had a chance at narrating something from Ian Rankin. Dream author, indeed!
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