The Unsealing Audiobook Launch - Interview with Robert Brighton

The Unsealing is now available as an Audiobook!
Several months ago—after quite a few requests for an audio format of the book—I went into the recording studio to read the whole novel, cover to cover, for your listening pleasure.

Today, it's now ready for you to listen at all of your favorite places to get audiobooks!

Recently, I was interviewed about The Unsealing, and about the audiobook creation process. That interview is here on today's blog as a sneak preview. I hope that you enjoy it.

Many thanks to all of you who are with me on this journey, to the very talented professionals at the recording and production studio, and to my publisher, who heard your requests for an audiobook and made this happen.

Interview with Robert Brighton—The Unsealing Audiobook


Why an audiobook?

In a past life, I did a great deal of solo exploring in my car—things like driving the entire Trans-Canada Highway from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and back—and as much as I enjoyed the scenery, sometimes there are hours of rather boring stretches. As much as I’d like to be able to ‘notice’ every one of ten zillion pine trees, for example, I’m simply not yet that Zen. And the danger was that my mind would then wander, and I’d get sleepy, and—well, that doesn’t generally end well.

Then I discovered an audio series called The Great Courses, in which professors of this or that go on for hours about Greek history or classical music or whatever. While there are boring stretches in those too, generally they were quite compelling and kept the mind active and alert while the pine trees went flying by.

So when readers told me and my publisher that they’d like to read my books—but have to spend too much time on the road or doing other things (like household tasks, walking and exercise, you name it) to manage sitting and reading—we decided to give an audiobook a try.

You narrate the book yourself. Why?

My publisher investigated various options for recording and producing an audiobook, including narrators, studios and all the factors that go into producing an audiobook. 

In the end, we jointly decided that since I was a) was willing to do it, and b) have done hundreds of lectures, radio interviews, and TV spots, I was comfortable that (if you’ll allow me to indulge in a bit of hubris for a moment), I could voice my words at least as well as a stranger to them could.

What’s it like to read an entire book in the studio?

It took about five days in the studio, five or six hours a day, to read the whole (damn) thing. At first, it was a bit terrifying, and every little mistake caused me to break out in a cold sweat. But then things smoothed out, and by about halfway through I was really enjoying it. At the end of a session, though, a good stiff drink was very welcome!

In a metaphysical sense, narrating one’s own book is a bit like looking at oneself in a mirror — familiar yet somehow not quite expected. Is that really how I sound?

But you do find that the sound of the words is what matters, since writing itself evolved to record speech. Reading my book aloud was a real test of the quality of the writing, because one can immediately hear any awkward phrasings or stilted dialogue. Since writing is most often done in silence, this was a most valuable lesson. Now I read my stuff aloud and eliminate anything that doesn’t ‘sound’ right long before it goes to press.


What was the hardest part of the process?

Voicing the various characters without sounding like an idiot.

The narrative portions I did in my own natural voice, but early on—since, having written the book, I could hear the various characters in my head—I made the decision to voice them the way I heard them speak. A lot of narrators make the opposite choice, and I’m here to tell you why: it’s much easier to read a whole book in one’s own voice than to keep character voices separate, yet consistent and identifiable throughout.

And while I didn’t try to imitate any of my women’s voices (which would have sounded ludicrous because my vocal register is entirely unsuited to it), I did try to convey their differing temperaments as best I was able. It will be for listeners to decide how well I did or didn’t do on all of this.

Tell us about the cover of The Unsealing. What’s on it?

The cover of The Unsealing features two vintage postcards from my collection. On the front, an image of the Electric Tower, the central feature of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, held in Buffalo, New York. More than eight million people from around the word came to the great world’s fair.

On the rear of the book is a broader view of the Pan-American, which at night was illuminated not only by the spotlights of the Electric Tower, but also by countless thousands of lights that outlined all of the buildings.

What does the title mean, The Unsealing?

That you’ll have to figure out for yourself! To me it has both a literal and a very spiritual meaning, but what matters is what it means to readers. Once a book is done, it doesn’t belong to me anymore . . . which I have found I rather enjoy, since readers are thoughtful people and will often notice or uncover things in my words that frankly I wasn’t conscious of.

Tell us about the music you chose to punctuate the sections of the book.

I chose Antonio Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’ as the music for the audiobook of not only because it is a familiar and beloved piece of music, but also because its four seasonal movements map pretty closely against the changing moods of the book, which spans the period of almost exactly one year — January 1901 to February 1902.

And in some ways, too, these changing moods also reflect the mood of Buffalo itself in its peak year of 1901: a city hopeful, happy, and optimistic in spring, with all the promise of the Pan-American Exposition still ahead, and then at the close of the year in deep mourning over the assassination of President William McKinley — at the Pan-American, no less—and with all its illusions shattered.

Will you be recording audio versions of your other novels?

Thankfully, that’s not my decision! It will depend on any number of factors.

But I hope so, because I feel an obligation to all of those folks who would rather be reading (or listening) than inching through traffic or driving long distances. I’ve been there, believe me!

Where can listeners find The Unsealing audiobook?

The audiobook is on just about every audiobook site, and through local libraries, too. (As of the time of this interview, Audible was still working to get the audiobook into their databases, and if readers' local libraries don't yet have the book, ask your friendly librarian to order it.)

Note: here's a link to various options to order the audiobook.