Tuesday, July 23, 2013

David Copperfield - Release Through The Classic Tales Premium Podcast

After wrapping up The Gods of Mars, B.J. Harrison and The Classic Tales Premium Podcast bring us David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens.  This book was released as a full novel in 1850, after being published serially the two previous years.  The actual title of the book is, The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account).  As you probably know, Dickens got paid by the word.

Dickens said that, like many parents, he had a favorite child, "and his name is David Copperfield."  It is also B.J.'s all time favorite book.  If you ask him today, "What's your favorite book?"   He'll say, "David Copperfield, of course!"  If you'd asked him the same question ten years ago, he would have said, "Why, it is David Copperfield!"  If you ask him in five years.... well OK.  You get the idea.

Why is this his favorite book?  "I don't know how Dickens does it," B.J. says,  "but he creates characters that really latch on to our subconscious archetypes. For me, this gives me a very sweet satisfaction when the villains get what is coming to them, and a personal connection to the trials of the hero. I know of no other book with which I feel a greater personal connection than with David Copperfield."

So why has he waited so long to produce this book?  Well, for two reasons.  First, he wanted to get better at narrating, so he could do justice to the wonderful, and varied characters who populate this book.  Then of course, there is the length.  If he tried releasing this through The Classic Tales Podcast, which releases an episode only once a week (and is FREE!), it would have taken the better part of two years, (about as long as it took the first time this book was serialized) and everyone needs an income!   So now, with six years of doing what he does best, and with a great new vehicle for its release, we get David Copperfield!

B.J.'s own introduction to this novel was the 1939 film with WC Fields, Basil Rathbone, Una O'Connor, Lionel Barrymore and the rest of the all-star studio cast.  And it blew him away.  Can't you just picture Basil Rathbone as the evil Mr. Murdstone?

B.J. forms bonds to the audiobooks he listens along with the projects he is working on.  For example, when he thinks of Jane Eyre, he thinks of The Testaments film. Tess of the D'Urbervilles is the Tree he made for Park City.  When I think of Wuthering Heights, I think of popcorn garlands for a Christmas tree.  Do you have similar relationships to books?

I've been listening as the episodes are published.  It is truly excellent narration.  B.J. is so familiar with the novel, that he can bring to life the subtleties of the narrator as he looks back through his life perfectly.  I promise you, that no matter how many times you've read this book, you'll find new meaning as you listen to B.J. perform it.  If you are new to this novel, you could not have found a better introduction.  His character work is impeccable.  In true Dickensian fashion, the voices and tones of the characters tell you what kind of person they are.  For some of the women, I swear he's channeling Eric Idle!  And judging from his bio, he might very well be.

Let me leave you with some of B.J.'s favorite quotes from the novel:

  • "I am well aware that I am the umblest person going."
  • "Never… be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices, Trot, and I can always be hopeful of you." 
  • "Accidents will occur in the most regulated families"
  • "I sit down by the fire, thinking with a blind remorse of all those secret feelings I have nourished since my marriage. I think of every little trifle between me and Dora, and feel the truth, that trifles make the sum of life."
Go ahead and leave some of your favorite quotes on the comments!

Mark Twain's The Stolen White Elephant - Free Release Through The Classic Tales Podcast

Cover from the first edition
This week, we lampoon detectives the world over with "The Stolen White Elephant," by Mark Twain!  This story was written in 1882, a time when detective stories were all the rage (think Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue").  Mark Twain never missed an opportunity to poke fun at anything or anyone.

B.J. Harrison has been thinking about producing this story for about three years. I take full credit (not really) for nudging him on a recent facebook post.

The story is about a white elephant meant as a gift to the Queen of England from the Emperor of India.  Somehow, this animal, we'll call him Jumbo for the sake of brevity, disappears somewhere in New Jersey, and hilarity ensues.
Does this sound silly?  That's because this story is a farce, a light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect.*  In these kinds of works, the plot is so incredibly convoluted, that the audience often gets lost along the way.  That's what makes it hilarious.  One of B.J.'s favorite farces is The Great Race, an incredibly funny film filled with outlandish characters that are only surpassed by the story in which they get caught!  A more contemporary example, and one of my favorites, is Ferris Buller's Day Off.  You get the idea.

If you enjoyed this title, check out Oscar Wilde's "The Canterbury Ghost," or "The Sensational Baron von Munchausen," by Rudolph E. Raspe.

Speaking of Audiobooks produced by B.J. Harrison, you will all be happy to know that this is now his full time job!  He's got at least two month's worth of work right now.  "Let's hope the pattern of success will continue!" he said.  Leave him a note on this blog post to wish him a long, long, long streak of success!

* From: thefreedictionary.com.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Choosing, by Jeremy Laszlo

This week, we are featuring a recent Fantasy work by Jeremy Laszlo, called The Choosing.  It is the first book in a series called The Blood and Brotherhood Saga.

I am going to borrow the description of this book from the publishers.  It sounds very interesting.  Here it is:

Seth is a young man torn by fear and indecision. His life no longer in his hands, he fears an uncertain future where the only certainty is a life of servitude to the kingdom. Fortunately for Seth, he is not alone. His brother, Garret, too attends the choosing ceremony where their fates will be decided. Together, the twins make their way to the castle city of Valdadore for the choosing ceremony, but along the way, Seth notices a strange new trend in his life.
Time after time, strange circumstances befall him in what others might call a coincidence, but Seth knows something else is amiss and begins mentally cataloging each new and strange event. Learning his past is all a lie, Seth begins to fear more for his future as a dark goddess vies for his service to her cause. Seth's loyalties and responsibilities begin to stack up as he makes friends and allies and even falls in love, but with the choosing ceremony growing ever nearer, will he be forced to flee the kingdom into a life of exile, or choose to serve the goddess who swears that only through her will he find peace?

©2012 Writer's Edge Publishing; (P)2013 Writer's Edge Publishing.

Mr. Laszlo asked B.J. Harrison to produce the audiobook version of his novel.  I've heard some of it on audible, and the production is excellent!

Jeremy Laszlo approached B.J. because he liked the character voices he heard in the production of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.  This makes sense, as B.J. had to create 25 characters for The Choosing, and Ivanhoe is a great show case for B.J.'s wide range of talent when it comes to creating characters.  As for the narrator, Mr. Laszlo wanted a British accent, a little like Gandalf.  B.J. thinks it worked rather well, and I concur.

Before the production began in earnest, Mr. Laszlo asked B.J. to send him samples of these characters, so he could hear what his cast would sound like.  This was important to the author, as this first volume of his saga introduces the characters of the series, as well as the mythologies involved.

If the sales of this audiobook are good, B.J. Harrison and Jeremy Laszlo will continue to work together on the rest of the series, of which 5 books have already been published.  Let's wish them both good luck!

A word of warning, if you like to listen to your audiobooks with your little ones.  There are some 'sexy' scenes in this novel.  I am curious how those sound, personally.

Also, if you would like to have B.J. Harrison turn your book into an audiobook, there is a blog post for that!

So, enjoy The Choosing!  And maybe pick up a copy of the book that inspired this team effort!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Sixth Anniversary, Classic Tales Podcast!

Last Friday, marked the 6th anniversary of B.J. Harrison's The Classic Tales Podcast.  This gives me the perfect opportunity to write about some of my favorite stories he has produced during the many years I've listened to the Podcast.

I am trying to remember what the first story I listened to was, I think it was Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Speckled Band."  Although I had read that story a bunch of times, B.J. really made it come alive to me.  Ever since then, each time I read a Sherlock Holmes story, it is his version of the sleuth I hear in my head.

Also, if you haven't heard B.J.'s  Jeeves and Wooster you are so missing out.  But don't worry, he has bundled all of the books and stories he's recorded by P.G. Wodehouse for you.  You will love every minute of it and be in constant stitches!

But getting to listen to some of my favorite stories is only part of what makes me love this podcast.  There are so many wonderful books and short stories I've discovered through the years.  I will be eternally grateful to B.J. for introducing me to Wilkie Collins and The Moonstone.  If you haven't read/listened to this book, do it NOW.  The first five hours are free to download at thebestaudiobooks.com.  Trust me, you'll thank me for the recommendation, and like me, be indebted to B.J. for producing it.

If I went through every story that I've loved and discovered over the past six years (yes, I've been listening since practically the beginning), it would take all day and you'd get bored of reading this, but let me say a word about the most important thing about The Classic Tales Podcast:  It is FREE!

I can't even begin to imagine how much work goes into producing one episode of  The Classic Tales.  He has to create the voices for each character, record and edit, and then post it on to iTunes.  He does this because he wants to share great literature with the world.  With you and me.  He does this because he knows it will be much easier for the general public to tackle Hamlet as an audio book than trying to read the text.  He's brought us the lightest and most fanciful stories, such as Alice in Wonderland to the weightiest such as Moby Dick.  The variety and of his choices speaks not only to B.J.'s commitment to literature, but to his vast knowledge of it.  And he shares it all for free.

So take a moment and support his effort, so that we may have many more years of this treat we all look forward to with so much excitement each Friday.   Buy a book! Subscribe to The Classic Tales Premium!  And don't forget, there is a donate button on his website!

Oh, and get the app (available for Apple and Android platforms).  The bonus features are so worth the couple of bucks you'll put down for it!

And don't forget to tell your friends about it!

Happy Anniversary, B.J.!  Thanks for all you do for us!