Interview with Sunny Patel

When my publisher, Next Chapter, contacted me to say a voice actor had been found for the audiobook version of The Phoenix Project, I was apprehensive. After all, how could anybody do justice to the book I had cried and sweated over for 10 years?

The Phoenix Project audiobook

But all of that anxiety drifted away as soon as I heard the voice of Sunny Patel. He could not have been more perfect for the role.

So here is an interview with this talented voice actor. I give you Sunny Patel:

Interview with Sunny Patel – Voice Actor for The Phoenix Project Audiobook

  • What is a day in the life of a voice actor?

It’s still a pretty normal life. The great thing about voice acting is that you are your own boss and I have my own schedule, and I try to be flexible with it. So for example, if I do discipline myself to do voice work between 9-3 everyday, and decide one day I want to meet my friends or play tennis etc that I give it a break and do voice work later in the evening. I don’t take my work too seriously that it takes over my life. Voice acting is meant to be fun and for me it is, so I try to stay relaxed and not ruin my voice by overdoing it. Of course you have to do the things like vocal warm ups and stay hydrated and watch what you eat, but again, I don’t let it suck the fun out of my life and I give myself a bit of a break at times. 

  • What, beyond talent, do you feel one needs to book work and keep working as a voice actor?

Self-belief, persistence and discipline. But I think self belief comes from persistence and discipline, especially for those who aren’t very confident about their abilities. I was sort of like that. It’s important first of all that you find the connections just so you can audition for work. E.g, join ACX, Backstage, Casting Call, voices.com (if you have the money), upwork, or even voice acting facebook groups (where you will occasionally get somebody posting a job).

It’s not getting the jobs that’s important, it’s about getting the chance to audition. Bryan Cranston said in his biography that as an actor the work does not start when you get the part. Your auditions are your job and you should treat it as such. So audition, audition, audition! And don’t worry if you don’t get jobs straightaway. You have to be persistent and keep doing it, and discipline yourself to keep going.  My first paid gig took months of auditioning and it’s only now after 5 years of voice acting that I am getting more regular work. My self-belief grew, and I now know I will get paid work. It may not be every week but I know it will come as long as I persist.

  • What in your life experience was most helpful to you in becoming a voice actor?

Well, I have to be honest, having a deep voice does help a lot. But sometimes having a baritone is not enough. You need skill to be able to voice many characters in an audiobook. To be able to understand what they sound like based on what the author has written about each character is important and it takes skill to execute that. For that you need life experience and to meet people. I have travelled the world, and have had different jobs, and grew up in a multi-cultural place where I heard many languages and people speaking English in different accents.

I was always a people-watcher, so naturally I liked to get to know people. For fun I always mimicked people (I still do), and tried to imitate their body language and their accents. I also used to watch a lot of movies as a kid. When I am voicing characters in audiobook or doing a voice-over commercial, I will just try to sound like a person, whom I know is exactly like the character in the book, or close enough. So travelling and being a people-person has been helpful, but the best part about it was that I wasn’t trying to be a people-person. I just was. Just put your phone down, and go out there and talk to people, or maybe let them talk, and just listen. 

  • Any classes, books or programs you recommend?

In all honesty, I did not read any books about voice acting, but I watched a lot of YouTube videos and I communicate with other voice actors on Facebook. I also have read a lot of articles on it and do listen to other voice actors’ work. So there’s a lot of books that people will recommend, but I choose not to confine myself to the opinions of one or two authors. I like listening to the experiences of a wide variety of seasoned and even amateur voice actors, and it has gotten me far. Social networking has helped but I don’t overdo it. I also try to give my own advice to other struggling voice actors where I can. One thing I would DEFINITELY recommend is taking acting classes. I started doing acting to help with my voice acting, and not only am I better voice actor but I loved my time on the stage, and being an actor is my main goal in life. 

  • How do you handle stress and pressure?

For work stress and pressure, I don’t feel it that much. The voice acting world is a lot friendlier than most professions. Clients can be flexible if you don’t deliver work within a certain amount of time, if you have good reason. So to be honest I have never had much to stress in that department. In terms of dealing with other life stresses, I find sometimes doing my work helps relieve some of the stress and pressure or I just go play tennis, or better yet talk to a friend. 

  • Why did you want a career as a voice over artist?

Voice acting is fun for me, and I was tired of doing work which I found non-creative. So I chose this route. I never thought about being a voice actor. Most people said I had a nice voice, so I thought I would give it a go. I did, and it’s fun. Voice acting for me is creative and storytelling specifically is a tough art. Every voice acting gig you do is you telling a message, and getting people to listen is a tough challenge to master, and I enjoy the challenge.

  • Is it your only job?

I have another side-hustle. I work in a call centre as market research interviewer, where I now have the luxury of working from home due to Covid lockdowns. Saves me the journey to work, and it also means I can do both my jobs at the same time. Which is incredibly convenient. I also am an actor, so if I get an acting gig, that’s a bonus.

  • What type of character/genre do you prefer working with?

I have no genre preference. I have done sci-fi, fantasy, spy thrillers, action, memoirs and I am currently working on a book that is an epic fantasy, reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. I prefer to stay open with my genre preferences because I know I am versatile. I would however like to do some children’s stories. As for favoured characters, alpha characters suit me, but I prefer the challenge of being a beta. Or even being a comic sidekick. 

  • How do you feel about doing accents/genders etc?

I was always pretty good with accents, but I have improved in that department. The fact that I have booked work including audiobooks with US, Caribbean, Indian and Middle Eastern, and Scottish has helped. But there is still room for improvement. Genders has been the challenge for me since I have a deep voice. Doing a child’s voice too. I can’t remove the baritone voice for their parts, but there are some tricks that I have seen from my youtube videos or just listening intently to women (and even mimicking them), that has helped me to alter my voice when doing female characters, and I have improved drastically.  

  • Have you ever been asked to voice a character you have truly despised?

Not yet. But that time will come. 

  • What about one you’ve completely fallen in love with?

I wouldn’t say fallen in love with. But I have felt a deep connection to some. My favourite was Mehran in True Lover’s Knot. A very realistic portrayal of an Iranian man, who fled to America after the revolution in his teens, whose hardships and losses were difficult to fathom. But he still remained a kind and caring person after all that. There are people who I have met like that and have read about who really leave you dumbstruck, considering the vast majority people who face such trials end up embittered and angry. They really remind you of how powerfully complex the human spirit is. The body can die, but the ability to be so forgiving and kind despite the incredible cruelty they face is just beyond impossibility. I don’t get inspired easily, but Mehran’s compassion really left me thinking. Mehran’s character was so well written and his adversities and how he overcame them was utterly believable. And I have used his ethos and principles in my own everyday life. 

  • Where do you see your career heading in the next five years?

I don’t focus on a specific vision on the future of my career. Whether that’s five years, or ten or twenty years. Like I wouldn’t say I see my self doing voice overs in a Hollywood Studio, replacing Morgan Freeman as the voice of “Through the Wormhole”, or playing a Pixar character. All I know is that in five years, I will be in a much better position than I am now. If I end up in Hollywood then awesome, if I don’t, then I won’t be disappointed because considering the trajectory of my career in the last 5 years from where I started, I am doing tremendously well, and I can only see myself getting better in the next five years, and most importantly I will be happy and really enjoying my work. And hopefully other people will be enjoying listening to it. I will only keep getting better and one day, I will get a job that I never even imagined I would get. It’s going to happen, and I can feel it. All I have to do is be persistent. 

  • What would be your ideal booking?

Narrating a wildlife doc for the BBC. 

  • If you could narrate any famous classic, which would it be?

Maybe Lord of the Rings I guess. It’s not just an action-packed fantasy, there’s a lot of things going in there that takes you on a journey through the human emotional spectrum. A story of friendship, love, struggle, sacrifice, determination, betrayal, the power struggle between good and evil. Depending on how you look at it, it’s an allegory of tiny little allegories that maybe we can draw some value from to change modern life for the better. It’s a great story, and I would love to give it a go. Plus it has a lot of incredible diverse characters, so I imagine I would have a lot of fun doing it. 

  • Can you share with us what you are currently working on?

I am currently working on a book called “Legends of Agenor”. Some of the characters in there really remind me of Lord of the Rings, but the storyline is of course different, and it’s brilliant. Every character has depth and enough detail for you to feel them around you. The great thing about it is that, unlike Lord of the Rings, this epic fantasy crosses over to the Eastern world, so there are Indian, Persian / Middle Eastern characters, even Caribbean pirates. A truly diverse novel. Which is refreshing as epic fantasies tend to be western-centric. 


Interested in booking Sunny Patel for voice over or acting work? You can find out more about his work, and contact him on his website HERE.


RELATED LINKS:

The Phoenix Project audiobook

Inspiration for The Phoenix Project

How was The Phoenix Project inspired by D.M. Cain’s love of geek culture?

The Phoenix Project review

The Phoenix Project second edition

Other books by D.M. Cain

About D.M. Cain

How Brandon Sanderson changed my outlook on writing

I recently read a great piece of advice from one of my favourite authors, Brandon Sanderson, and it has completely revolutionized the way I look at my work. He said that you shouldn’t aim to be an author who wrote a great book, you should aim to be a great author.

I took this to mean that you should nurture yourself as a writer, put time and effort into your craft and your personal development, as you would undergo training and professional development in any career. Because of this, I am now putting a lot of time and effort into improving my craft. I am taking courses on worldbuilding, character development and writing dialogue, as well as closely studying some of the greatest authors I know (Sanderson’s courses and advice being the main source of knowledge!). And I’m loving it! I’m already changing the way I write and altering my perspective on building a series.

Brandon Sanderson writing advice quote

So, I want to know, which authors have inspired or motivated you? Who has given good advice or tips to help you develop your craft?

Origin of Shadow sneak peek

Epic fantasy novella – Origin of Shadow

Origin of Shadow – Find out where the Brotherhood began

As many of you are aware, I released a novella last year called Genesis of Light. It told the story of the beginning of the Children of Light, and gave the start of Callista’s story in the war.

DM Cain Genesis of Light multiple promotional formats image

Well, now I am preparing to release the second half of that story.

Origin of Shadow covers the same time period as Genesis of Light, but from the perspective of Vincent Wilder. Vincent is the leader of the Brotherood of Shadow and this novella tells his beginnings in the seedy underworld of crime.

Creativia (my publisher) has accepted the manuscript and it is now going through final editing, with a view to being released later this year.

I can’t reveal the cover design just yet, as it is still being finalised. However, here is a sneak peek at some of the first art draft (credit again to Irina French).

Origin of Shadow cover art sneak peek

A blurb and extract for Origin of Shadow will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

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How to Write Believable Sci-Fi Characters

A fantastic guide on writing believable characters, and lots of handy tips for improving your protagonists or antagonists.

How to Write Believable Sci-Fi Characters

https://andrewtpostwriter.com/2019/02/03/how-to-write-believable-sci-fi-characters/
— Read on andrewtpostwriter.com/2019/02/03/how-to-write-believable-sci-fi-characters/

immersive fantasy series by D.M. Cain

Epic fantasy series – 2nd edition brand new covers!

My epic fantasy series ‘The Light and Shadow Chronicles’ has undergone a makeover!

A Chronicle of Chaos was first published by Creativia in June 2016. The amazingly talented Irina French designed the original cover. It features an ancient shield carved with symbols of importance to the history and lore of Alcherys and Meraxor (the warring nations in the series.)

Now, Creativia Publising has designed brand new covers, but still utilising the work of the original artist. Here are the two covers side by side:

A Chronicle of Chaos

In a world ravaged by war, the paths of two warriors are about to cross with world-shattering consequences.

Chaos is a soldier of The Children of the Light, and fights in the name of destiny, honor and glory. Arrogant and headstrong, he believes he is the strongest warrior in the land, until a fateful coincidence puts him at the mercy of the demon Anathema.

The two strike up an intense rivalry, but their obsession to destroy one another only leads them closer together. When the forces of light and dark collide, where will their loyalties lie?

Amazon buy button

The Shield of Soren is the second book in the epic fantasy series (although you can read them in any order). Released by Creativia in March 2017, this book has also had a makeover:

The Shield of Soren

Ten-year-old Soren Nitaya’s marked talent makes him the youngest soldier ever to become an apprentice to the legendary warrior, Raven Lennox. As a prince of Alcherys, he will be expected to fight in the eternal war against the Brotherhood of Shadow when he reaches sixteen.

But is the young prince up to the task when he’s more interested in causing mischief than in mastering weapons?

When one of Soren’s adventures goes off course, he unwittingly unleashes a deadly threat. It appears that an age-old prophecy is finally coming to pass, and Soren and his family must take a perilous journey deep into their enemy’s land. Does Soren have what it takes to save his country before the Brotherhood destroys everyone and everything he loves?

Amazon buy button

RELATED LINKS

Buy A Chronicle of Chaos on Amazon

Buy The Shield of Soren on Amazon

The Light and Shadow Chronicles novella: Genesis of Light

A unique epic fantasy series

A Chronicle of Chaos soundtrack

5 Ways to Worldbuild Without the Infodump

5 Ways to Worldbuild Without the Infodump

https://plottingblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/5-ways-to-worldbuild-without-the-infodump/
— Read on plottingblog.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/5-ways-to-worldbuild-without-the-infodump/

A fantastic post on worldbuilding and how to avoid the infamous ‘info dump’

poetry collection

A poetry collection with stunning language and beautiful symbolism

Dancing-you: Dançar-te By Gisela Pereira – 4 / 5 stars

This poetry collection was originally written in Portuguese and then ‘translated’ into English. Instead of a direct translation, however, the poet used similar rhyme, rhythm and symbolism to recreate the atmosphere and emotion of the original. Both language versions are presented beautifully alongside one another.

The use of vocabulary, structure and rhythm in the collection are beautiful. The author has a stunning grasp of language and description, and each page is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous hand-drawn pictures. What makes this collection of poetry great is that each work is an extended metaphor of love and human connection as a dance. This gives the book a cohesive structure, even though each poem is self-contained.

My personal favourite poem from the collection is entitled ‘Hermaphrodite’. The use of rhyme and rhythm is exquisite and the language choices paint a lovely mental image.

I only have two criticisms. There are a few spelling errors in the translator notes which is unfortunate, considering how well translated the rest of the book is. The other criticism is that some of the poems have lovely use of language but it is difficult to see the meaning behind the words. The beauty of the language occasionally masks the intention, when the words should merely be a conduit for the meaning. This is merely my own opinion, however, and I am sure that every reader will take meaning from the poems in their own way.

Blurb:

Dancing-you is a passionate tale written in the shape of poems. Each poem is a moment of a story swaying through metaphors and literals of dance, myths, and philosophic thoughts. Bringing in mythological tales and gods, pagan beliefs, romance, spirituality, and mysticism. The fusion of two bodies as a puzzle. The merging of two souls as one. The merging of oneself with the own essence of life. A magical book, exquisitely crafted and illustrated in watercolor paintings and simultaneously displayed in two languages, Portuguese and English



poetry collection Portuguese

Read more of Gisela Pereira’s work here:

https://www.amazon.com/Gisela-Pereira/e/B078BLFXHP/


RELATED LINKS:

DM-Cain-fantasy-author-1000-true-fans

The ‘1000 True Fans’ theory of marketing

Are you a fan of The Light and Shadow Chronicles or The Phoenix Project? If so, I want to hear from you!

Over the past few years I’ve tried lots of different marketing tactics, social media platforms etc and I’ve come to the conclusion that quite a lot of it is a waste of time and money. It helps for exposure, of course, but it doesn’t produce sales or convert people into fans.

Then I heard about Kevin Kelly’s ‘1000 true fans’ model – which suggests that if you can get 1000 true fans of your work or product, they are infinitely more valuable than tens of thousands of non-engaged randoms. (You can hear Kevin talk about it more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlg3808gDic)

So, my aim is to identify my real fans. Those of you who look forward to my new releases, who are interested in how I write or where I get my ideas from, and most importantly, those of you who are immersed in my fantasy world and are desperate for the next installment.

It’s entirely possible that there will only be one or two of you who consider yourself true fans, but that’s okay – you’re still more valuable than my random 10.1K twitter followers! I’ve put together this form to gather information on my fans – who you are, what you want from me, and what I should write next.

Fill in the form here

Here are the links to my books, you know – just in case you aren’t a fan… YET

A Chronicle of Chaos multiple formats image
The Shield of Soren multiple formats image
Genesis of Light multiple formats image
The End by DM Cain multiple formats image
Soren by D.M. Cain multiple formats image

RELATED LINKS:

Epic fantasy novel may get its own soundtrack!

Getting back on track – an author vlog

How was The Phoenix Project inspired by D.M. Cain’s love of geek culture?