Author: Colin Dodds
Narrator: Curt Bonnem
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes
Publisher: United States
Released: Jan. 24, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Jim Monaghan really didn't want to go back to Worcester, when sudden unemployment and his father's surgery forced his hand. Drifting into a dubious ICU romance while he tends to his father, Jim seeks out his childhood best friend, Joe Rousseau, who has problems of his own. Joe's in a feud with a local gang, and his plan to resolve the matter only makes things worse. Nonetheless, Jim follows his friend into the Worcester nights defined by drugs and violence. As the danger escalates, he makes a painful choice to try to save Joe. And then he has to live with the consequences.
A book about the threshold of childhood and adulthood, about straddling the expectations of a fading industrial home and the attenuated promise of an information economy, about reconciling the love for a friend with self preservation, Another Broken Wizard is, above all, a portrait of Worcester, Massachusetts.
“Exceptionally vivid characters, a story which sneaks up on you at first, then gathers pace, and the book has tight writing which keeps you turning the pages right until the profoundly moving denouement. Simply put, Another Broken Wizard is brilliant. Read this book!” (David Gaughran, author of A Storm Hits Valparaíso)
“Dodds gets Worcester and shows it in all of its glories and cracks.... He runs through the streets of and takes the reader with him...capturing all of the said and unsaid...so full of waiting, of pain, and of hope that never reaches past the next day.” (Worcester Pulse Magazine)
Colin Dodds is a writer with several novels and books of poetry to his name. He grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. Since then, he’s made his living as a journalist, editor, copywriter and video producer. Over the last seven years, his writing has appeared in more than three hundred publications including Gothamist, Painted Bride Quarterly, and The Washington Post, and praised by luminaries including Norman Mailer. His poetry collection Spokes of an Uneven Wheel was published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company in 2018. Colin also writes screenplays, has directed a short film, and built a twelve-foot-high pyramid out of PVC pipe, plywood and zip ties. One time, he rode his bicycle a hundred miles in a day. He lives in New York City, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.
Q&A with Author Colin Dodds
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
- Another Broken Wizard was the second audiobook I’d ever done, and it was actually quite difficult. I worked with two narrators before finding Curt. One big problem was the problem the region - Massachusetts and Worcester in particular. Beyond the elusive nature of the Massachusetts accent, there’s also the pronunciation of the towns in the area. Pronouncing “Worcester,” which seemed so obvious to me, was actually an enormous stumbling block for one of the narrators. But Curt got it off the bat, and knew how to use the accent without letting it take center stage.
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
- The novel is told in the first person, and the narrator drives much of the action, so the voice was always a big part of it. It’s central to the mood and the characters. And while I didn’t have audiobook in mind, Another Broken Wizard very much has the feeling of a single person telling a story. While I was trying to get an agent for it, I actually produced a short video trailer, which I narrated. So, when the idea of making an audiobook came up, it seemed like a natural next step.
- Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing?
- This book emerged from a tumultuous period in my life, twelve years ago. Over the course of five weeks, my parents separated, I turned thirty, my best friend from childhood was shot to death, and I met the woman who’s now my wife.
- At that point, I’d been in New York for ten years, and it forced me to face a lot of things I’d hoped to avoid. My friend’s funeral and wake brought me back to where I’d grown up in Central Massachusetts. And then the process of retrieving my things from my parents’ house as they prepared to sell it kept me coming back. That experience was the engine of the book.
- How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
- I have to take breaks, hopefully between projects. Sometimes I push too far past exhaustion to make a real or self-invented deadline, or because I simply can’t leave a project alone. Writing a book is a matter of obsession, and burnout will necessarily begin to loom, especially when you add in a full-time job and a young child. During a project, I do my best to get good sleep, some kind of exercise, and not drink too much. And that helps.
- But I do take breaks, which my wife always dreads. The breaks usually start with a week or ten days of euphoria - the thrill of having my mind and a chunk of my time back. Then I get cranky. I start to think too much about things that neither benefit nor delight me. I feel like I’m wasting my life. The enthusiasm to write again typically returns quickly.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
- Everybody appreciates things differently, and what provokes emotion and imagination can come from any of the senses. It may be the visual concentration upon printed words, or hearing a voice. There is no test, so there is no cheating. School’s out. If you receive something of value that you can share by listening, or in the frosting of a cupcake, then great. Audiobooks seem to be gaining in importance nowadays because of what has happened to our leisure time. It seems to have shrunk. More people are working longer hours. And that bleeds over into all the time we spend half-zombified commuting, working out, doing household chores or some braindead job. Those seem to be places where audiobooks, podcasts, ted talks and so on can provide real relief. So, if audiobooks are a way to smuggle some soul back into our lives, that can only be good news.
- How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
- Another Broken Wizard, more than any other novel I’ve written, was a real personal dredging, and an emotional clearance sale of much of my life up to that point. I remember finishing it, and I’m sure I either had a drink, or kept drinking. I was exhausted.
- The real celebration came over the next few months, and consisted of not having to think about the book or about any of what went into it. The real celebration was having placed those painful emotions into the book, and no longer feeling obligated to them
- What gets you out of a writing slump? What about a reading slump?
- Setting aside a time and place to write always helps. Nature abhors a vacuum. So, I’ll make a vacuum. A few drinks also help, less for the intoxication than as a reminder that writing is not some administrative task, but a defiant and spontaneous explosion of life.
- I’ve been lucky not to hit so many slumps in recent years, at least not in terms of production. Part of that is working almost exclusively on projects that hold out the possibility of real discovery and personal fulfillment. I haven’t done too many TV pilots on spec lately. In the past, I’ve found that I run into slumps when I don’t respect the act of writing, and embark on a project for an audience I hold in low regard, usually in the hopes of making money.
- Another reason I’ve avoided slumps is that I’ve earned my living as a writer for about twenty years. Nothing glamorous, but I know how to write when I don’t feel it, or when I’m writing something I want absolutely no part of. That allows me to start on projects when I’d prefer not to, and then let the inspiration find me as I go.
- I’m more prone to reading slumps. I’ll know I’m in one when I find myself in the middle of six books at once. My reading schedule is also more delicate, and subject to my commute, the mental withdrawals made at my job, the reasonability of my daughter, and the intensity that the book I’m reading arouses. When I’m in the middle of six books, breaking the slump is a matter of quitting them all, then getting out into the world and letting a book find me. That means talking to people, reading essays, browsing the shelves of used bookstores, with complete disregard for what I think I’m supposed to be interested in. Usually, a book will find me, and when it does, it brings its own friends, colleagues and strange relations.
- What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- There is no advice. You are on your own. When writers are doing something wrong, they’re each doing something different wrong. So, there’s no advice, really. When a writer is doing something special, it’s usually something no one has ever thought to do before. And there’s no advice on that front. I don’t mean to be glib or cruel. I just find stranger-to-stranger advice to be a bog of self-congratulation, hollow piety and braindead cheerleading.
- Good luck.
- Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
- Do it while you can. Right now, the ACX platform lets you create and distribute work with really good narrators, who are willing to take a chance on you and your book, and work on spec. I don’t know how much longer that will last. It’s a nice moment for authors when the financial risk is low, and it’s one more way to make some money off your book. Take your time and make sure you like the narrator, and then go for it.
- What’s next for you?
- I just finished a new novel, called Ms. Never, about a young woman who is the very reluctant destroyer of the world, and a telecom CEO who buys human souls through the terms of service in mobile-phone contracts. They fall in love, find out what each other’s big secrets are, and take drastic steps to save themselves.
- I’m still knocking on doors with Ms. Never. Mostly though, I’m closing in on the later edits of a new book of poems, which I hope to finish by the end of summer. I’m also co-directing, co-shooting and acting in a short film that I wrote. And of course, I’ve been working with a bunch of extremely talented actual actors and narrators to produce audiobooks of my novels. An audiobook version of What Smiled at Him just came out last week, and I hope it will give that misunderstood book another chance at life.
- Other than that, I hope to get out to the beach soon.
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