Hero Audiobook Blog Tour
Author: Belinda Crawford
Narrator: Jean Mahoney
Length: 7 hours 16 minutes
Series: The Hero Rebellion, Book 1
Publisher: Hendrix & Faust Publishers
Released: July 16, 2019
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Harry Potter meets The Golden Compass in an action-packed sci-fi about a ballsy teen and a centuries-old plan to change the world.
Centuries ago, humans colonised Jørn, a lonely planet on the far side of the galaxy. Arriving in five great colony ships, they quickly settled the surface only to discover, after a few short years, that the planet was killing them. The culprit, a native spore, carried on every wind to every corner of the globe.
Genetic engineering, blending DNA from Earth and Jørn species, saved their crops and livestock, but for humans there was no cure. Instead they took to the skies, turning their colony ships into cities that floated above the spore’s reach.
Hero Regan is special, and not in a way she likes. She hears voices, voices in her head that other people can’t. Surrounded by butlers, bodyguards and tutors, insulated from the outside world, her only solace is Fink, a six-hundred-kilogram, genetically engineered ruc-pard. They share lives, thoughts, triple-chocolate marshmallow ice-cream and the burning desire for freedom.
Their chance comes when Hero is allowed to attend school in Cumulus City. Here, along with making unexpected friends, Hero discovers she is an unwitting part of a master plan set into motion by the first colonists, a plan she must either help or foil if she’s ever to attain the freedom she craves.
Physics makes Belinda’s brain hurt, while quadratics cause her eyes to cross and any mention of probability equations will have her running for the door. Nonetheless, she loves watching documentaries about the natural world, biology, space, history and technology.
She’s also a sucker for a fast horse, a faster computer and superhero movies. When she’s not doing the horse, computer or superhero thing, Belinda writes science fiction (emphasis on the fiction), where she loves to write about butt-kicking girls who blow stuff up.
The Hero Rebellion was her first sci-fi series, and she’s currently hard at work on next, with occasional detours back to Hero which she shares with her mailing list as free short stories.
You can keep in touch with Belinda, or just pick her brains about sci-fi via her newsletter, Facebook or by sending her an email (she loves email).
Jean is an Australian audio book narrator and published author. She likes nothing better than being secluded in her cabin in the woods, as far from the city as she can get, writing and recording. In her spare time, she loves exploring the Victorian high country on her horse.
How did you wind up narrating audiobooks? Was it always your goal or was it something you stumbled into by chance?
It was really something I stumbled into. About 15-20 years ago I was first interested in audiobooks when I heard about the Libravox community where volunteers record public domain books. I thought that was a great idea and joined, but I never contributed as I felt my recording equipment etc weren’t adequate at the time and I allowed nerves to get the better of me. I’m older and slightly wiser and with better equipment now, so when an opportunity came up to record Hero I grabbed it. The author, Belinda Crawford, is a good friend, and I’d already read Hero and loved it. I think when you’re a newbie narrator it probably helps a great deal if you’re already passionate about a project.
What type of training have you undergone?
In terms of acting training – none. However, I trained as a singer for several years and the vocal exercises, breathing techniques and general “voice care” I learned for that were helpful and came back rapidly to me. When you’re recording for hours a day you’ve got to take great care with your voice.
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?
This is my first audiobook narration and, given my other projects and my newbie status, I’m planning only to take on books which I love and pace myself between my various projects.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I’m an avid audiobook listener. I regularly have to drive very long distances and it’s the audiobooks that help me manage the drive. I find I become more tired listening to music than I do when listening to a good audiobook. I will easily listen to about four standard length audiobooks a month. If we’re talking mammoth fantasy novels (ie Brent Weeks) I can get through about two a month. I love that something new is happening all the time rather than listening to the same playlist I’ve heard dozens of times. I enjoy hearing excellent voice actors portray an often astonishing array of accents and a huge cast of characters. As a newbie I love listening to try to learn new skills. I’ll often try to mimic accents etc, which usually winds up with me “losing my place” in the story and having to pull over and skip back to listen again. I’m thankful that I’m in the car on my own at these times, because I’m sure my attempts at some of the accents are hilarious.
What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?
Hero is a fast paced YA adventure in a detailed world. As a fan of fantasy books, I loved the genetically engineered companion animals. The characters are well crafted and often flawed and Hero is a character that grows and changes with the series. It’s enormously good fun to read and hopefully will be to listen to.
How closely do you prefer to work with authors?
Very closely. I had detailed discussions with Belinda about her characters and how she envisioned them sounding and we also discussed their personalities. Also, due to the nature of many of the fictional terms and exotic animal names, I had to regularly run pronunciation past her.
How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?
The author and I talked about accents for the recording and, given that this is science fiction and the inhabitants of the world would have originally come from a variety of places on earth, the author decided that the accents didn’t have to come from any particular region.
I based the voices on attitude. Hero is about twelve and has a bit of a chip on her shoulder, so there’s almost always a slight defensiveness to her tone. Norah is very “Hermione Granger” in her outlook, I envisioned her as being the good girl, who studies hard – precise, neat and a little shy until you get to know her. I tried to make her sound a little “lighter”, higher and a bit more breathy than Hero. Hero’s mother is uptight, formal, well educated, brusque and secretive. Her enunciation is more precise. Imogen is shrewd and has exotic looks so she got a very different accent. Tybalt is a world weary security operative and, as such, I gave him a slightly gravely, oft long-suffering sounding voice.
What types of things are harmful to your voice?
Caffeine - either in tea or coffee and alcohol. Recording for too long in one go.
Do you read reviews for your audiobooks?
Given this is my first book, probably. However, my other gig is as a writer and I know from experience that madness often lies in checking reviews! I think by now I’ve learned to not take them personally and if they’re constructive, then they can be very helpful and you can improve from the feedback.
What’s next for you?
More of the Hero Rebellion Series. The next project will be recording the novella Race and then onto the other full length novels in the series.
Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?
There are a lot of weird (sorry Belinda) made up words in this series – plasteel, steelcrete, rucnarts, rucpards, flurry-thyt, doe-oc, slale-bear, swatai just to name a few. In particular, I kept mucking up plasteel and steelcrete which was odd because they were probably the easiest. My husband used to come home at the end of the day and say “Hi, How’s the plasteel and steelcrete going to day?” Any outtakes would have involved a lot of swearing and the odd sound of me bashing my head into the wall in frustration, and occasionally me telling the dog to shut up / stop snoring.
Belinda Crawford's Cast for Hero
- Brianna Hildebrand. I saw her as Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool and went, ‘Stop the movie. That's Hero!’ And, yeah, ok, so we might have to invoke some kind of time travel for her to actually play Hero, but with all that attitude, she’d be perfect.
- I didn't quite jump to my feet when I saw Lana Condor as Jubilee in X-men: Age of Apocalypse, mostly because I thought those pigtails were awful, but I can totally picture a linch-adder peeking through her hair.
- I can totally picture Hugo Weaving running his hands through his hair in frustration at Hero’s latest antic and then turning around a pulling out a gun to keep her safe. I’m pretty sure it’s got something to do with the frown lines.
- Finding the right person to play the Lamb took some doing and I sort of stumbled upon Elizabeth Debicki. She's had roles in a number of films including The Man from U.N.C.L.E. as well as a Marvel film (can you guess which one? Hint, she’s gold). She looks really sweet, but she plays mean really well.
- Finally, an actor who hasn't been in a Marvel film! Jodie Foster has always struck me as someone who could pull off being Hero's poised, powerful and oh-so-serious mum. I can already see the fallout when Hero tries pulling one over on her.
- David Mazouz stared in the Gotham TV series as Bruce Wayne, which I haven't watched yet, but I think I’m going to have to change that since everyone keeps telling me how good it is. (Plus, Catwoman’s one of my favourite characters.) I picked David because he gives off the same pretty, rich-boy vibe I image Dorian having.
- Finding someone to play Tis was hard, but then I watched Maleficent for the third time and there she was. Elle Fanning plays Aurora (aka Sleeping Beauty) who is my least favourite fairytale princess, and that’s pretty much why I chose her. Plus she has those rosy cheeks and all that hair and I bet she’d play a really good mean girl.
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