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

NaNoWriMo 2020 – I must be crazy…

An update on my Works-In-Progress

For the past year, I have been slogging away at The Sins of Silas, taking feedback from my completely amazing beta readers and occasionally just wanting to burn the damn thing. I think it has potential, but it is causing me so many issues! Since I began writing it, I have completed courses, and read plenty of books on writing craft. So my style has matured and I learned many things that I just wasn’t doing before. So this book needs a HUGE amount of editing and rewriting. After hacking away at the thing for a year, I am still only on Chapter 13… of 34…

Though I love the story and the characters (especially Silas – he’s a lot of fun to write) I am suffering some major burnout on the book now. It’s time I put it aside and focused on something else, just for a short time, to clear my head, and my nerves.

Which brings me nicely to…

For the month of November, I shall be casting aside The Sins of Silas, and continuing with another work-in-progress, The Ballad of Benedict. This novel has two point of view characters and one of them is halfway completed. The other, I haven’t even begun yet. That storyline shall be my NaNoWriMo project.

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Writers pledge to write a 50,000 book in just one month.

Terrifying. Insurmountable, some might say.

They’re probably right.


But I managed a 25,000 word camp NaNo project a few years ago (which became my novella Genesis of Light) and I have a lot more free time now between teaching my online students. So I’m just going for it.

A Little About My NaNoWriMo Project

I shall be writing the secondary plot arc of a character named Favian – a demon hunter with a peculiar weapon, and an even more peculiar mentor…

Book:
The Ballad of Benedict – a novel in the Light and Shadow Chronicles.
Temporary Blurb: In the forests of Thos, Benedict Thialdor – an ambassador with the Children of Light – must uncover myths of old to reclaim a legendary weapon believed to hold the key to defeating Hell’s most dangerous demons.


For the other writers out there, are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Support from other authors is the way we all get through this!

Here are some helpful resources for NaNoWriMo and getting that novel finished!

https://www.tinyrayofsunshine.com/blog/nanowrimo-resources

https://www.bustle.com/articles/122600-8-resources-to-help-you-finish-nanowrimo-because-we-all-need-a-little-support

RELATED LINKS:

The Light and Shadow Chronicles

A Chronicle of Chaos

The Shield of Soren

Genesis of Light

Origin of Shadow

The Sins of Silas

The Ballad of Benedict

Special Abilities in Film and Literature

A guest post from ericuseshiswords. Find him on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram for more great content.

In the majority of fictional worlds we consume, we see people who are different than those around them. Harry Potter was a wizard living amongst muggles. Gandalf has lived for thousands of years, using his fantastical abilities to great effect.

As you can probably tell, many special powers come down to simply “magic”. Someone was born a witch or wizard or with the gift of flight or whatever it may be, and that’s that.

But if this is overdone, how can a potential author separate themself from the crowd. How can you make your characters special without simply giving them an overused magical quality and a weak explanation?

Simply put, you need to make the special abilities in your world unique. Create a backstory that goes deeper than “He is magical because I SAY he is magical!” Now more than ever, readers and viewers want to dive deep into fantasy worlds, and creating a unique reason for special abilities helps them do just that.

Let’s take a look at a few samples.

X-MEN: Genetic Mutations

Wolverine heals and has blade-like claws sprout from his hands-on command. Cyclops fires beams from his eyes. Jean Grey controls things with her mind. Each character has a unique special ability, but each ability is tied to a common cause: freak genetic mutations.

So-called mutants have mutations in their genetic code that give them radical powers; but, like most mutations, these also come with downsides. Wolverine feels the pain every time those claws come out. Cyclops needs special glasses to hold in his beams.

By giving them a scientific backing, the X-Men went from simply being superheroes to being a unique relative, the Mutants.

The Stormlight Archives

Written by Brandon Sanderson, the Stormlight Archives are set in a mystical world much like Middle Earth. Highstorms sweep through the land with mystical energies swirling around in them. The rich and powerful own shardplate and shardblades, powerful pieces of armor and weaponry that charge through the highstorms.

Likewise, Surgebinders are the closest there comes to magicians in this fantasy world. They can bind different ‘systems’ – such as gravity and adhesion – and manipulate them. Users do this through binding with a spren, a small mystical creature. Like shardplate, Surgebinders need to recharge in highstorms.

By creating a storm system that really fuels almost everything mystical in the Stormlight world, Sanderson thought up a unique way of giving his characters special abilities.

Star Wars – Jedi/Sith Abilities

Although it annoyed a lot of fans in the process, the Force got an explanation. Midi-chlorians  – microscopic organisms  – live in every race in the galaxy and give them the powers of the force. Some people have more, some people have less.

From there, through focus and meditation, users can increase the potency of the Midi-chlorians, therefore increasing their powers.

All three of these are great examples of different ways to introduce magical powers into your universe. People latch onto unique ideas, so if you can discover a different approach to what you want to achieve, you’re on your way to success.


What are your favourite uses of power or ability in film or literature? Comment below or message me with your ideas!


RELATED LINKS:

Worldbuilding – Meraxor

How Brandon Sanderson helped me with my writing

Brandon Sanderson on writing

DM Cain merchandise A Chronicle of Chaos banner

A Chronicle of Chaos merchandise is now available!

The official line of merchandise for A Chronicle of Chaos has now been released!

Together with merchandise brand LitMatter, my publisher Next Chapter Publishing have created two types of merchandise for my epic fantasy novel, A Chronicle of Chaos.

NOVEL DESIGN

three young people modelling A Chronicle of Chaos t-shirts

GENERAL DESIGN

two young people modelling A Chronicle of Chaos t-shirts

More about 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?

If you enjoyed A Chronicle of Chaos, why not check out the rest of the Light and Shadow Chronicles?


RELATED LINKS:

A Chronicle of Chaos

The Shield of Soren

Genesis of Light

Origin of Shadow

A unique fantasy series

A Chronicle of Chaos Soundtrack

Worldbuilding – Meraxor

Struggle with small print? Never fear – large print is here!

A Chronicle of Chaos and The Shield of Soren are now available in large print! You can get copies in paperback or kindle here:

Epic fantasy books large print

A Chronicle of Chaos Large Print version

The Shield of Soren Large Print version

RELATED LINKS:

A Chronicle of Chaos

The Shield of Soren

Genesis of Light

Origin of Shadow

The Light and Shadow Chronicles

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’

How much wizard power is too much?

A thrilling Arthurian-style adventure

by Mike Shelton

 

Today, I am featuring a fantastic Arthurian teen and young adult book by Mike Shelton. 

The Golden Dragon

It is a brand new release and priced at only $3.99. It’s too good to miss!

The Golden Dragon Arthurian legend

How much wizard power is too much?

Some people are born with magical powers.

Others are not.

It’s that simple.

Roland Tyre, High Wizard of the Citadel, has always wanted to be the most powerful wizard in the land and adored by all.  But there is already someone else that vies for that title – Bakari, the Dragon King; one of his best friends.

While Bakari and the dragon riders race off to find the lost dragon artifacts and the mythical golden dragon, Roland discovers his own magical artifact that gives him the opportunity to increase his own powers and influence in the land.

Can friendships survive greed for power?  And who will emerge as the most powerful wizard in the land?

A grand adventure awaits with powerful wizards, kidnappings, traitors, kingdoms changing hands, and of course dragons and other magical creatures.

Is the Golden Dragon real and if so, who will find him first?

This is a follow-on series to The Alaris Chronicles, but can be read as a stand-alone series also.

Grab your copy here today!

mybook.to/TheGoldenDragon

Mike Shelton is the author of the YA/Teen fantasy series The Cremelino Prophecy, The Alaris Chronicles, and The TruthSeer Archives. Follow Mike’s work here:

mikesheltonbooks@gmail.com
www.MichaelSheltonBooks.com
www.amazon.com/author/mikeshelton

https://www.facebook.com/groups/MikeSheltonAuthor/ (facebook group)

https://www.facebook.com/mikesheltonbooks/ (facebook page)

http://www.Twitter.com/msheltonbooks

http://www.Instagram.com/mikesheltonbooks

https://www.pinterest.com/mikesheltonbooks/

 


RELATED LINKS:

Magical books about King Arthur legend

Guide to the classics: the Arthurian legend

Best Arthurian Fiction

D.M. Cain’s fantasy adventures

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration for The Phoenix Project

The Phoenix Project is a story that is very close to my heart. I had the original idea in 2002 and it has slowly grown with the input of a variety of influences and inspiration.

Inspiration #1: Raven Kennedy:

Raven began as the villain, Vincent, in my first novel “Dead End” (an idea which never came to fruition). The plot didn’t work, but I adored his character so I kept him and developed him as the antagonist in the fantasy world of ‘The Light and Shadow Chronicles’ (You may have met him in A Chronicle of Chaos or The Shield of Soren).

I loved the character so much that I took the idea of him and developed it in another direction—into the dark and depressed Raven in my next novel, The Phoenix Project.

Having worked with Raven for so long, I am very emotionally attached to him. Even though he is fictional, I feel that he is a part of my heart and soul. Hence this tattoo:

D.M. Cain profile picture - Raven tattoo

Raven also features as a major character in The Light and Shadow Chronicles. I don’t think I will ever write a book that doesn’t have Raven in it in some way. He is my muse and my access to my creativity.

Continue reading “Inspiration for The Phoenix Project”

Coalville Writes literary festival

Coalville Writes Literary Festival

This Saturday I will be appearing alongside Stewart Bint at the Pop-Up book fair as part of the Coalville Writes literary festival in Leicestershire (10.30am – 4.30pm) Why not pop along and see us? You can buy signed books, get some free goodies and enter a competition to win something cool (prize yet to be decided!)

authors writers Coalville Writes

Related Links:

My first radio interview!

D.M. Cain’s Books