About the Audiobook
Author: Marc Secchia
Narrator: Siromi Arserio
Length: 14 hours 33 minutes
Publisher: Marc Secchia⎮2015
Series: Shapeshifter Dragons, Book 1
Release date: April 05, 2015
I love dragons, but I haven’t read many books with dragons. When I saw this one I knew it was a book I would enjoy. Yes, I know we shouldn’t judge books based on covers, but look at the cover! It’s beautiful. This story is as beautiful as the cover. The author created a completely new world with such detailed description I wanted to book a vacation to this mysterious land. His combination of Victorian, steampunk, and fantasy images brought the setting alive to the reader. The action was developed in such a way that sometimes I felt like I was watching a movie and not listening to a book.
One of the things that impressed me was his description of Dragon Aranya. I think of dragons as being very masculine. Secchia created a fierce dragon that was very feminine but just as strong as any warrior. All of his characters were such real people I wanted to meet them.
The narrator does a fantastic job with the various voices. Each character had a unique voice and it was always easy to determine the different people. I think her interpretations only added to the richness of this great story. She even did a good job with the sound of arrows and fires.
Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?
Long ago, Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonising, building and warring. Now, the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom–the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.
Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.
About the Author: Marc Secchia
Marc is a South African-born dragon masquerading as an author, who loves writing about dragons and Africa, preferably both at the same time. He lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs and a variable number of marabou storks that roost on the acacia trees out back. On a good night there are also hyenas patrolling the back fence.
He’s the author of 21 fantasy books in 3 languages (2 more languages coming this year – watch this space!), including 8 rip-roaring dragon fantasy bestsellers. Dragonfriend won a Gold Award for Fantasy in the 2016 IPPY Book Awards. Look out for Whisper Alive, his latest release. The 4th tale in the Dragonfriend series, Dragonstar, is coming soon!
When he’s not writing about Africa or dragons Marc can be found travelling to remote locations. He thinks there’s nothing better than standing on a mountaintop wondering what lies over the next horizon.
About the Narrator: Shiromi Arserio
A native of London, England, Shiromi Arserio is a stage actor, voice talent and audiobook narrator. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. In addition to narrating dozens of audiobooks, her voice can be heard in documentaries, e-learning projects and video games such as Nancy Drew: The Shattered Medallion. Shiromi currently resides in the Seattle area with her husband and her two furbabies.
Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card
Runs Aug. 9th-16th⎮Open internationally
Aranya Giveaway: $50 Amazon Gift Card
I’ve read about your background on your blog, but can you please tell my readers about living in Africa and why you chose the myths and legends from here to be the background of your stories?
I think there’s a generation of readers and fans who have grown up with Euro-centric and Tolkeinesque paradigms in fantasy. That’s all well and fine, and some truly excellent work has been produced. But I also feel those tropes are now somewhat overused and under-represent the diversity (to pick one example) of the world around us. I choose to draw from African traditions, mores and values because firstly I connect with those best, but also because there’s a great unexplored world out there that I’d love to draw readers into. I think there’s something beautiful about the African values of humanity and community which I would love to communicate and celebrate.
For myself, I grew up in Cape Town near the ocean and now live and work in Ethiopia. I resonate with the richness and diversity of the African histories and societies which surround me, and I deliberately chose to come back (from the UK) to work in Africa because I wanted to give more or give back to the continent where I grew up. Africa has a magical quality which gets under your skin. Yes, there is poverty, but there is also an extraordinary opportunity if people would give Africa and Africans a chance.
Addis Ababa, where I live, is a city of some 5-6 million persons, always growing and thriving and bubbling from dawn to dusk. Early in the morning you’ll hear the Orthodox churches worshipping and dogs barking and the night is thick and velvety. During the day, the city explodes with busyness. There are people everywhere. Cars dodging donkeys. Sheep. Street vendors. Sights and smells to take in. It’s a joyous, vibrant place where you cannot walk down a street without being greeted or even invited to share a meal, no matter how small. That’s what I love about Ethiopia – much hospitality, and many smiles.
You obviously spent a lot of time world building for your series. How did you get started, what did you use for reference, and is this world static or is changing when you need to add something new?
I love landscapes and situations that play into and shape a story and the characters that move within that world. Also, I think fantasy fans enjoy the unusual. I started worldbuilding when I was in my teens, misspending English lessons dreaming up fantasy worlds – but usually it starts with concept, say, what about a world above the clouds? How would that work?
I tend to draw up broad principles before I start but then allow my imagination loose in the world and adapt and add details as I go along. I try hard to stick within the bounds of physics (for example, how high can a dragon fly before falling over from hypoxia?) but if those need to be stretched a little then so be it. So we have supersonic dragon flight, for example, space-faring whales and a world that is comprised entirely of canyons beneath a scorching surface.
Describe your writing process.
I have a story idea or I dream a story – I’ve always found this the easy part, as I’ve far more ideas than time to write them. I write a synopsis, just a few lines or words about what will happen, right the way through to the ending (that’s so I don’t meander). Then I separate it out roughly into chapters and scenes to form a framework, before fleshing out that framework starting from the top. I’ll separately brainstorm the characters to build in a few quirks and think about how they’ll interact. Each character gets a brief sketch beforehand but I like to throw them into the story and see what happens.
If I’m uncertain about a writing idea I’ll file it for later. But generally speaking, that’s the process – I try to write 3 – 5,000 words per day, usually mornings from early (5am).
What is your favorite snack while writing?
I don’t snack a whole lot while writing, but if I do, it would be to pause for a Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Coffee is my morning addiction.
What is it about dragons that fascinate you?
Dragons are Fantasy’s most majestic creatures. I like my dragons served up awesome, magical and as full of character as any person you’d wish to meet, the kind of person you’re almost compelled to spend time with or watch. I’m a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern as well as her other writings. It was her viewpoint of fully-formed dragon characters, the telepathic communication between Dragon and Rider, and the possibilities of Human-Dragon interaction which shaped my early fascination with dragons as creatures and characters.
Dragons can fly anywhere. They spread their wings and soar into the realms of the possible. That’s why they’re so rewarding to write.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to become a writer. I was the kid who when we were asked to produce a haiku, I’d write an epic haiku series in 16 parts. I know because when I write and create, something in me comes alive.
It took 8 books to find any kind of success in writing. For me, while success wasn’t the point, it was a watershed moment when I thought, ‘I love this, but I could also do this for a living’. There’s something awesome and humbling about realising that you could make art for a living. What a privilege.
What are your writing plans for the future?
Firstly, finish all these series I’ve started. I’ve made great headway but there’s a ways to go yet. I’d love to sell a film deal. Back in real life, I’ve many other ideas that I’d like to bring alive. As long as the love of reading and writing is there, I think I’ll continue.
I will take you and any author or character of your choice out to lunch. Who’s coming with us?
Goodness, you do like your tough questions don’t you? Ok, I’m going to pick a certain Mister Tolkien because he is my all-time favourite author, and the breadth and depth of his imagination are simply dazzling.
What are you currently reading or have recently finished?
Mike Shelton, The Dragon Orb – read it!
You can have only five books on your bookshelf, what are they?
AAAARRRGGH! How could you? Ok, now that I have that off my chest:
- The bestselling book of all time, the Bible
- LOTR – does a box set count as one?
- Something by Anne McCaffrey – probably her Crystal Singer Omnibus
- Roget’s Thesaurus, a very well-thumbed one
- A space for that next book to obsess over. Something unexpected. It’s calling to me, just waiting to be found …
**I received a copy of this audiobook in exchange for a review**