An AudioBook for Christmas anyone?
As 2022 draws to a close, so does something I’ve been working on for the past few years.
In 2008, author Helen S Michaelsen began writing what was to become a 73,000-word original Christmas tale, inspired by a book and some of the characters therein, which was written in the 1930s.
Helen’s novel was published as an eBook several years ago but, as happens sometimes, the platform where it resided was bankrupted in 2016.
Having met her around 2017 in a professional capacity, Helen told me of the book and we began to work on the prospect of re-launching it with me as the narrator, along with a handful of voice-overs and voice-actors I know playing just a few of the many characters.
Fast (but not really that fast) forward to the present day and, after three plus years of voicing, recording, editing, making and adding sound effects, music, songs, proofing, checking, sound-sweetening and now marketing, it’s finally published!
It is more of a complete “radio play” or audio-musical than a straightforward Audiobook, with around 20 voices (and a cat!) playing every character in the story, and an amazing soundtrack, composed by Helen together with her SoundCloud musician friends.
Ideally, it’s been designed so that each of the 24 approximately half-hour chapters can be listened to, one per evening, on the nights from December 1 to December 24, advent-calendar style, but the fable can also be enjoyed by jumping in and out whenever time permits.
The book is also a story of and within another story – in Helen’s words:
“Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to dance, sing, and read stories of magical kingdoms and faraway places. She and her mother loved Christmas and the sense of wonder it evoked.
There was a very special book called “The Land of Never Grow Old” written by Stella Mead, which first belonged to her aunt, and then her mother, and they would read a chapter together every night until Christmas Eve. One of her favourite characters was a polar bear named “Mektoub”.
Nothing could compare to the warmth and excitement of those shared moments that stayed with that little girl throughout her life.
That little girl was me.
When I read the story to my own children, I realised how much had changed in the 70 years since the book was first published. Humans had landed on the moon, frost patterns no longer appeared on the windows of houses, and the English language had evolved so much that the text was no longer appealing to children of the 21st century. But I knew I had to bring the story back to life…someday, somehow.
So, in 2008, I began writing my first chapter, inspired by this wonderful story from a forgotten era, which was destined to become a unique advent-calendar-styled audiobook – ‘The Call of Mektoub’.”
I’m extremely proud to have been a part of the journey – and a very Merry Christmas to one and all…