Have I got a bunch of goodies for YOU! Literally! (more on that later) But FIRST- the COVER REVEAL of the new Guardian Herd book – Landfall!!!!
Synopsis- From the cover: “It has been many moons since Star received his starfire power. He has gone from being born a dud—unable to fly and shunned by the five herds of Anok, including his own—to becoming a strong yearling, ready to lead his own herd as an over-stallion. But now he will face his toughest challenge yet. Nightwing the Destroyer, Star’s eternal rival, is amassing an army to destroy him and all of Anok. The only way for Star to defeat him is to learn how to fight like a warrior—without using his starfire. For if he uses his power, even to heal, Nightwing will know where to find him.
As the threat of war looms over Star’s head, he can’t help but wonder if the current peace among the united pegasi is strong enough to defeat the powerful Destroyer once and for all.
With increasingly difficult challenges and brand-new areas of Anok to explore, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez will thrill readers with this epic and exhilarating third installment of the Guardian Herd series.“
Release Date: 02/02/2016 – but you can pre-order it HERE!
You asked – “Where do i find out more about Ms. Alvarez Erik?!?”
Author website: http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com
Series website: http://www.theguardianherd.com
HarperChildrens book links,
BUT WAIT!!!!! There’s MORE!
Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, [JLA] the awesome author of the Guardian Herd series, has generously provided an interview, where she interviews the actor that read the audiobook version of the Guardian Herd, Andrew Eiden! [AE]
Keep reading to the end- there is an AWESOME give away!
JLA: You have a background in theater, television, and movies—how did you also become a voice actor?
AE: It’s all in the family! My mom was my drama teacher in high school. My dad directed Whittier Junior Theatre where I grew up. My grandpa was involved in the community theater and my grandma did costumes and props for all the shows. My sister is an actress as well, and a very talented voice actor, she started doing audiobooks and told me I should get into it. She introduced me to Bob and Debra Deyan, big time Audiobook producers, and I’ve been doing it ever since!
JLA: When narrating a book, what do you do, if anything, to prepare your voice?
AE: I’m actually very bad at this. I rarely do anything to prepare my voice, and there is a LOT of talking involved. Sometimes I end up regretting it because after 6hrs in the booth my voice gets a little froggy. I will give you a little insider trick that I use quite often though. Sometimes during a session, your mouth gets really noisy, and nobody wants to hear gross mouth noises, smacking lips and such. I don’t know the science behind it, but for some reason eating green apples clears up your mouth so you can speak more clearly. It’s key because the mics they use to record us hear EVERYTHING.
JLA: Once you’ve agreed to narrate a particular book, do you read the novel in full before you begin?
AE: I once directed another actor narrating a book he hadn’t read first. There was this assassin character, mean, cold-hearted killer. We played with a few voices and decided on this great low growl. He sounded like boba fett from Star Wars. Anyway, in the last chapter of the book, after having been recording for 3 days, about 500 pages later, the main character finally meets this assassin we’ve been following face-to-face, and in the narrative, the character notices that the assassin has a high-pitched feminine voice with a slight lisp…..sooooo….we had to go back and re-record every piece of dialogue the assassin had said to match the author’s intent. I ALWAYS read the book before I start recording.
JLA: How is a voice performance different than a stage or screen performance? How is it the same?
AE: When I’m on stage or TV, there’s only so many parts I can play, or that an audience will believe me as. I did a show once where I played an old man, but it was a clown show and pretty far from reality. Ultimately, I’m going to play something closer to myself, a young man. However in Audiobooks, the sky is the limit. I’ve played young men, old men, teenage girls, mothers, and 6 year olds, heck I’ve played killer robots, romantic werewolves, nasty monsters, and of course heroic young pegasi! To add to it, I’ve played all the roles in a story, usually you just play one. That’s a very fun part of what I do.
JLA: When narrating, is there a director or a producer giving you notes on the characters or your performance? What types of input do you receive regarding playing the emotions of the characters?
AE: It always depends on who’s hired me. Sometimes, I record in a studio, and sometimes I record from my home. If I’m at home then I’m on my own, and I have to direct myself. It can be a little daunting because I don’t have anyone to watch my back and give me notes on how I’m doing. In the case of The Guardian Herd books, Harper hires Deyan Audio to record for them, so I get to go to a studio where there’s an engineer/director.
One of the guys there, Sebastian Zetin, is really great. On top of making sure I sound great, audio wise, he follows along with me as I read. He’ll catch me saying the wrong words, or check me when I get all mush mouthed, but he also is pretty great at helping with tone and emotion. He might stop me after some line and say something like, “It seems like this character is pretty upset, maybe we should do that last line again with a little more emotion behind it.” He’s also really good with helping jokes land. “Hey let’s do that again but put a little beat right before the last line, I think it will help the joke be funnier.” Having a director means you have someone in your corner, helping to make the production better.
JLA: How is the book’s text displayed for you? Do you read from the physical book, off a computer screen, or do you memorize the section you’re reading?
AE: I’ve heard horror stories of the old days when people used to read from physical pages. When they’d get to the end of a page they’d have to pause their reading, turn the page, and then continue like they hadn’t just had an awkward pause. But nowadays, we read from tablets. So scrolling on the page is silent so you can just keep going and going and going.
JLA: How many hours or minutes in a row can you narrate before your voice requires a break? What does a typical day of recording look like?
AE: For me, I usually don’t take breaks for my voice. The Late Great Bob Deyan once told me that as long as you narrate with your normal speaking voice, you’ll never have to worry about it giving out on you in the middle of a book. For me, the breaks are important because your mind needs a break. When you record, its usually for about 6hrs a day. But after a couple of hours, you start to go cross-eyed. You start reading words that aren’t even there, or you start misreading words. Like the sentence will say, “Let’s have a conversation,” but what comes out of your mouth is, “Let’s have a convention,” and you just keep going as if what you said made perfect sense. That’s usually when the director says, “Hey maybe after this chapter we should take a little break.” But again that’s just me, I know some narrators who can’t go an hour without stopping for a break, and there’s this one guy PJ Ochlan who’s famous amongst narrators for being able to sit down and record for hours and hours without making any mistakes or stopping for breaks.
JLA: What happens if you make a mistake? Do you have to go back and re-record the entire chapter?
AE: That would be so horrible. If we had to go back and record the whole chapter because I screwed up, I would still be working on the first book I recorded 5 years ago. I usually screw up at least 5 times per page. When that happens, I just stop the recording, go back to the start of the sentence, start recording again and punch in from there. I directed a quasi famous person recording a book they had written, and for famous people it’s usually what they call a roll record. You just hit record and let them go, if they screw up they just go back a bit and say it right. It’s much easier on the narrator doing it like that, but it makes it horrible for the editor. So punch in recording is pretty much the standard practice.
JLA: The Guardian Herd books include a lot of horse and fantasy terms. Did you study a word list before beginning? When you’re not sure how to pronounce a word, what resource do you use to verify it?
AE: That’s a good question. I actually ran into a little trouble with The Guardian Herd. Usually Deyan audio makes a word list for their narrators, that is a combination of particularly difficult words, difficult names, or fantasy words. They have a guy named Nate who’s kind of brilliant, he either looks up the words in the dictionary, researches names on the internet or reaches out to the author to get the proper pronunciation for the fantasy names. On day one recording Guardian Herd, there was no wordlist for me, so I had to sort of guess at the pronunciation of Anok. Turns out the wordlist was filed under “THE Guardian Herd” and so we found it about halfway through the session and realized I’d been pronouncing it all wrong. I was pronouncing it like Anne-ek, so we had to go back and rerecord every instance of it. It was lame, but at least we caught it early.
JLA: Do you ever get the giggles or have an emotional response to the text you’re reading?
AE: I have been known to find myself with tears and snot streaming down my face while reading a particularly good part of a particularly good book. I actually kind of like it, because it’s usually during a time when tears are called for in the story, and so rather than stopping the recording to compose myself, I let some of my real emotion eek into my voice. I find it makes for a more authentic, from the heart, reading. I’m not, like, sobbing while I read, but a little uncontrollable quiver in my voice slips past here and there.
It’s funny, as I get older, I start to notice weird things trigger an emotional reaction from me. In Guardian Herd, I never cried at the sad moments, maybe because the circumstances are so dire for Star and the rest of the herds that the sad parts seem to be the norm. But then there will be these moments when someone shows Star kindness, or a stranger from a strange herd shows mercy, or a helpless filly does something incredibly brave. Moments like those are what hit me the hardest and got me all weepy during Guardian Herd.
JLA: Through narrating the Guardian Herd series, you’ve become the voice for many characters. Did you study them before beginning? Do you have a favorite character?
AE: I don’t really plan voices out until it’s time for them to speak. But that’s another reason why reading the book first is so important. Beyond just to check to see if you, the author, has said specifically what their voice sounds like, or if they speak with an accent, it’s also important because you get an idea of who these characters are. Are they going to be brave? Are they betrayers? Do they die? How do they react in adversity? All of these things will influence how I portray their voice. Personally, I really liked Grasswing from book 1. I liked him a lot because not only was he this gruff, old military guy, a war stallion of legendary skill, he was also this kind soul, almost like a grandpa to Star. That’s a fun voice to play with, hard and soft at the same time.
JLA: You perform the Guardian Herd chapters with heartfelt sincerity and fans of the series have fallen in love with your performances! Since your voice brings these pegasus characters to life, I’m curious—do you have any experience with horses?
AE: I rode a horse once. That’s about the extent of my experiences with pegasi. I will say, my mother is a writer, and she used to tell me bedtime stories. Sometimes with me, my sister, and my cousin, she had this ongoing story she would tell when we were all together. I don’t remember what would happen, but I remember that in the story, the three of us had magic whistles and when we would get into trouble, we would blow our whistles and three Pegasi would come to our aid. We each had our own, and they had names and various colors and such. I don’t remember much because I was very young. So while I don’t have much experience with horses, clearly telling stories about pegasi runs in my blood!
JLA: How about acting tips? Any advice about how to get into character, or how to portray emotions?
AE: There are a lot of schools of thought on how best to approach a character. For me, it’s about asking questions of what do they do and why do they do it, what type of person would I have to be to do those things for those reasons. The answers you get will always be determined by the questions you ask.
JLA: What advice would you give to kids about becoming an actor? What are the rewards of an acting career?
AE: Acting is a very rewarding gig. You’re a storyteller. We tell stories for a lot of reasons, sometimes it’s just for entertainment, to give people some relief from their stress, sometimes it’s with purpose, to shed light on some part of humanity that needs attention. As an actor, you become the vessel for those stories, you take these words on a page that were written to make other people feel something, and bring it to life. It’s a very cool job. As far as advice goes, I have no idea how to get into it or get good at it. I say just do it! Audition for a local play. Take a class. Join an improve troupe. Anything to just get up and do it. Its fun!
And there is STILL MORE!!!!
Mrs. Alvarez is offering a SWAG PRIZE GIVEAWAY!!!
Just comment on this post and you are entered to WIN this amazing prize pack! I will randomly pick a winner from all the entries on June 24th! Good luck!
The fabulous swag prize pack includes:
- A Guardian Herd tote bag
- A series poster for Book #3, Landfall
- A sheet of character trading cards
- A signed paperback of Book#1, Starfire
Critical Praise for the Guardian Herd Book Series:
- “Chock-full of adventure and twists, making it difficult to put down. Readers will be clamoring for the next book in this adventure.” School Library Journal
- “Alvarez’s world is lush with description and atmosphere, and her premise has much to offer. Fans of animal fantasies should find it enjoyable..” Publishers Weekly
- “Filled with fantastical action, and rich with description. A well-paced and engrossing story. Alvarez has created a series that will be beloved by readers.” Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
- “The clever resolution will get kids psyched for more tales from the Guardian Herd.” Booklist
- “This epic adventure is richly developed. Compelling.” Kirkus Reviews