Jordan: Hi Nick! I’m so eager for everyone to hear this next leg of the Dixon and Yuri story, especially with several of the new characters that are introduced in this audio.
Nick: Hi Jordan, hi everyone! I’m so excited for everyone to hear these new stories as well! It’s great to return to Pinyin Bay and get to hang out with Dixon, Yuri, and all the rest of the Spellcraft characters again.
Jordan: A lot of the time as I’m writing and I hear the words play out, I imagine the lines being delivered a certain way, which is really helpful, because I can then describe to you how I hear it. And then sometimes, frankly, I got nothin’. The notorious Seer from Practical Penn, Rufus Clahd, was one of those misty figures I had absolutely no idea what to do with. I imagine it’s like having a casting call with zero expectations of who’s going to show up. And you were so great about giving me some really unique takes on where we could go with him. What was that like for you as that character really started to take shape?
Nick: I think Rufus has become my new favorite character to voice. For readers/listeners who don’t know, whenever you send me text with new characters, you’ll give me a quick description of them. Sometimes that includes specifics about their voices for the ones you already have a feel for, or in the case of Rufus, you suggested I “try out some wackadoo stuff.” So the first take I did of him was kind of a space cadet, aging hippy type feel. Not terrible, but really not the right vibe for the character, especially since he has a couple of lines that just don’t work with that sort of lower energy. So I recorded a few more takes just playing around with different sounds. What we ended up with, Jordan, I think you described as having a bit of an Orson Wells-in-his-later-years feel. Deeper voiced, ever so slightly slurred, and I picture him with big ol’ bushy eyebrows that make him look very sleepy, except when he’s making an important point, and his eyes just pop open wide.
Vano Shirque was another voice that took a couple tries before we got it. The first take, I tried to find the effortless cool you describe him as having, but he sounded much too close to Dixon (really, just too normal-sounding). I think one of the most important parts of the voicing process is coming from a place of honesty. It’s fine if a character has a wacky sound, as long as that wackiness comes from the truth of their personality and experiences. So for round two, I tried playing up the idea of this mysterious power he effortlessly wields. It gives him an other-worldly quality, and the coolness just happens naturally from that.
It’s also very useful for me to find a character’s physicality. For Husky Lou, Drew Draws, and Skip Stone, among others, getting the feel for how they look in your mind as the author, is a huge part of finding how they sound, for me. That’s something that’s great about the world of Spellcraft, is that I get to play with such a broad variety of characters!
Jordan: It feels like Pinyin Bay is starting to become a character in its own right. In this set of stories, everything takes place on Dixon’s home turf, so I was able to develop some different landmarks and neighborhoods, my favorite of which was Scrivener Village. It’s old and rickety and totally sketchy, but hopefully it comes across that I think it’s charming and I’d totally live there myself. I just adore old homes with all their quirks and weirdness. Okay, maybe not the way my back door has now decided it won’t close, but in general, old homes just feel like they’ve got so much heart and soul.
Nick: I love Scrivener Village! There’s something so special about that kind of area, and you’ve written it in such a way that I wish I could visit. I’ve lived in various apartments in New York City all my adult life, and “quirks” abound in all of them. The last place I lived was owned (and possibly built?) by this little old man with huge round glasses, who I don’t think ever got dressier than a tank top with suspenders, and trousers hiked all the way up to his chest. Seriously, he would be togged up like that when his wife was all made up for a night out, heels, gown, the works. They were adorable.
Anyway, the entire building was on a very slight incline. Not enough to see, but I had to keep a throw rug under my rolling desk chair to keep it from wandering to the other side of the room. That, and for reasons I still don’t understand, the bathroom floor was raised about six inches from the rest of the apartment, so you had to step up to get in there. Of course, you couldn’t see any of this from the outside, but that was… unique as well. The houses all touched, so the backyard was only accessible either through the basement apartment, or by sneaking through the empty lot on the other side of the block (which was how we got the WiFi installed… that was an interesting day). Oh, and for most of the block the houses were red brick, but my place? Bright yellow siding. You know, come to think of it, I can’t say for sure that my landlord wasn’t a Scrivener...
Jordan: I tried to ensure that even the exteriors of Pinyin Bay felt like places you might visit, especially the South Dock Boardwalk. There’s a boardwalk here in Sheboygan where you can stroll and occasionally hear bands playing on summer weekends, but it’s not quite the cheesy carnival atmosphere of Pinyin Bay. Think, less rides and more fishing boats. Though there is a very cool park up in Green Bay with the sorts of rides I’d imagine in Pinyin Bay—including a really awesome old wooden coaster.
Nick: That sounds lovely. When I was a kid (before the mysteriously tilted apartment), we lived just down the road from the county fairgrounds, so every year my family would spend at least one day there. I don’t think it was wooden, but they had a coaster that at the time, was the height of daredevilry in my mind. Probably pretty tame in the grand scheme of things, but I remember having to psych myself up to get on it every time. And of course, I rode it several times each year.
Jordan: I’m pretty keen on all kinds of rides, but my friend Paula was not into roller coasters and I somehow convinced her to ride it with me. I think it was the most awful two minutes of her life. But I had a good time :)
Nick, thank you so much for chatting with us all today. I’m absolutely stoked for readers to hear what you’ve done with this latest Spellcraft romp. I know they’ll love it as much as I do.