Creating Iago’s Audiobook

Creating Iago’s Audiobook

  • Social Media
  • -
  • Aug, 23 , 23

by Rose Guildenstern

Rooted in the works of Shakespeare, Iago's Penumbra: A Metaphysical Novel explores death, love, and what it means to be human in the hopes that, at last, we might perchance stop lying to ourselves. It’s a complex book unlike anything else on the market in the new genre of Metaphysical Visionary Fiction, made popular by such esteemed works as The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.
Metaphysical fiction explores topics like consciousness expansion, past lives, alternative spirituality, mysticism, the occult, and parapsychology. These visionary novels essentially have two components integral to the story itself: a philosophical exploration of the nature of reality and a non-corporeal, ineffable or supranatural element, as in characters or events that transcend the natural.
This emerging genre finds readership among those who enjoy otherworldly tales, magical realism, science fiction, philosophy, cartomancy, the paranormal, and alternative spiritual paths—those who seek to delve into the larger questions about life, for, as Shakespeare wrote:
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
This genre is growing because there is an urgent need in the world for a fiction category that helps readers explore spiritual ideas and concepts not just rationally—as one might through a non-fiction book—but emotionally and experientially. In a Metaphysical Visionary novel, you don’t simply learn about deeper spiritual truths, but you feel them unfolding through the power of story on a gut level, experiencing them vicariously through the eyes of an engaging cast of characters from the safety of your own armchair so that you can apply them to your life as you wish.
As a Metaphysical Visionary novel, Iago’s Penumbra takes the reader on a spiritual journey into a fascinating story with beloved characters to help the reader ask and safely explore these fundamental metaphysical questions:
• What happens after we die? Why do we die? Why do things end?
• What is this force called love that seems to rule almost every aspect of life? Why is it so powerful? How can it simultaneously seem as though it’s both the greatest and worst thing to ever happen to us?
• What does it mean to be human? Can we lose our humanity? How can one human being treat another human being as though they are less than human?
"Iago's Penumbra takes you on an unforgettable journey through the shadows while weaving an exquisite tale of love, life, and the afterlife. Guildenstern's writing has the rhythm and depth of a musical ocean with tides of longing, joy, sorrow, and the inevitable. A deeply satisfying and thought-provoking tale that everyone needs to read." –Monica Bodirsky, The Shadowland Tarot, Shadowland Lenormand, & Between the Worlds Oracle
It's become critical for any novel published today to be offered in three formats: physical book, eBook, and the ever more popular audiobook. With this in mind, for the first time REDFeather released all three versions of Iago’s Penumbra within a month of each other to offer potential readers the option(s) they prefer to explore the immersive world of Iago’s Penumbra. What I learned through this process, however, is that creating an audiobook is far more involved than simply converting physical book to digital text. In order to make the best audiobook possible, we needed to find the right narrator to read it.
I first heard Melanie Hooks read my novel aloud at an all-night rogue retreat during the Southern California Writer’s Conference in San Diego, California. I was on the third draft of the novel at that time and had just finished reworking a critical chapter in which Val, a clairvoyant heartthrob, confronts the “Big Bad” terror of the novel for the very first time. It’s frightening, but also shockingly humorous, and most crucially sets the stage for the broader exploration of spiritual reality revealed throughout the cosmic horror that’s to come. And it just so happened that Melanie, an accomplished voice actress in her own right, would read the chapter aloud to the critique group that night. Although she and I had no idea at the time, this was actually her impromptu audition to eventually be the novel’s audiobook narrator in the future, for as soon as I heard her give voice to these challenging characters so flawlessly, simultaneously capturing their individual expression of character while communicating the horror and humor seamlessly, I knew I’d met the person meant to voice the audiobook version of Iago’s Penumbra.
Melanie was the consummate professional to work with and she made the arduous process fun, too. Creating an audiobook truly is a separate creation, not just a continuation of the novel. In preparation, while she read the novel herself, she sent me an involved character sheet to fill out about the main characters, exploring their goals, hidden motives, flaws, and even asking me to find a modern celebrity whose voice encapsulates the character in my own head. This final aspect was unexpected, and quite eye-opening. She said she would not copy the celebrity voice exactly but use their vocal intonations and habitual manner of speaking to create an entirely new voice for each character.
Curious whom I chose? Well, here are the main characters from the final list I sent her:
• Vee: Combination of Megan Follows’ Anne of Green Gables with Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday Addams
• Val: Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen from Twilight
• Iago: David Tennant’s Crowley from Good Omens
• The prince of darkness: Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka
• Julie: Whitney Houston’s Rachel Marron from The Bodyguard
• Peter: Zac Effron’s Charlie St. Cloud

Next, Melanie sent me various audio tracks to choose from as she experimented with different vocal interpretations of the characters based on my notes. I chose my favorite version, and she began to record the audiobook, chapter by chapter, which she sent me to give further notes on as she painstakingly honed the vocal expression of the broader story. She’d even send me various clips of certain critical takes to choose the one that worked best, giving the Houngan his distinct accent and learning the many curious occult and literary terms with their often archaic pronunciations.
The process took months, and I’m thrilled with the result. In an interview with IG influencer Chris Onareo, he commented that he played the audiobook in the background while he read Iago’s Penumbra, because Melanie’s voice acting brought such life to the characters. As professional book editor Jean Jenkins wrote me in her notes:
“…this story comes alive when read aloud. There’s very much a performance element to it.”
Whether your inclination is softcover, eBook, or audiobook, immerse yourself in my metaphysical novel Iago’s Penumbra today, and let your spirit take flight.

Learn more here

Two roads into the woods of truth diverged to create novelist Rose Guildenstern and cartomancer Juno Lucina. For truth through fiction, Rose writes novels. Disturbing novels. Insidious novels. Novels that bump round in your head and soul into the middle of the night, making you doubt everything but wish to live life more fully. Rose’s debut novel, Iago's Penumbra, is a modern treatise on love and the darkness that redeems us, rooted in the works of Shakespeare—with a little philosophy, divination, and the occult thrown in, just for fun (available in eBook, Audiobook, or Deluxe Paperback formats).
For truth through cartomancy, Juno Lucina is best known for The Healing Tarot: 78 Ways to Wellness, a tarot deck based on medical astrology, as well as The Kingdom Within Tarot deck and The Alchemy of Tarot book (available in eBook or Deluxe Paperback formats). Watch for Frame This Oracle to be published by REDFeather/Schiffer in 2024. Whether you prefer to find your truth in stories or in the cards, pick the persona you prefer. Let's craft lives worth living...together.
The best place to connect with Rose & Juno:\


  • Share this post :

Older Post Newer Post

Translation missing: