The Folklore Cycle
John Hood’s new novel Mountain Folk uses elements of folklore and epic fantasy to tell the story of America’s founding in a fresh and exciting way.
Goran is one of the rare fairies who can live without magical protection in the Blur, the human world where the days pass 20 times faster than in fairy realms. Goran’s secret missions for the Rangers Guild take him across the British colonies of North America - from far-flung mountains and rushing rivers to frontier farms and bustling towns.
Along the way, Goran encounters Daniel Boone, George Washington, an improbably tall dwarf, a mysterious water maiden, and a series of terrifying monsters from European and Native American legend.
But when Goran is ordered to help the other fairy nations of the New World crush the American Revolution, he must choose between a solemn duty to his own people and a fierce loyalty to his human friends and the principles they hold dear.
Author John hood had a few questions for me about my experience narrating Mountain Folk. Enjoy! Maybe some of your questions will be answered along the way!
Was your experience narrating Mountain Folk different from your previous work on other audiobooks?
I've done about 60 audiobooks so far, and every book, or at least author presents a different style, pacing and presentation. I've done a few that I confess are kind of clunkers, but for the most part, I very much enjoy what I do. Mountain folk joins the ranks of about 3 other series in particular that I think stand head and shoulders above some of the others (kind of like Har the Tower & Chief Skenandoah). One of my other bestsellers (and one of those 3 - Jane Austen's Dragons) is similarly historical fiction with added fantasy, but with much more emphasis on the fiction. It's evident from right off the bat that you know the history of the American Revolution, much better than I do. By remaining true to the historical facts of the revolution, and I think mostly true to the historical characters as well, the book is educational and interesting to begin with. Then you insert the Fairy Folk, whether they be Fairies, Dwarfs or any number of other creatures, and you then can attract a whole different audience TO history. I also loved how you've incorporated into the Fairy Folk cultures and individual characters much of the struggle of what defined the Revolutionary War, emigration to America, and a slough of other topics. The biggest challenge as a narrator was the extreme diversity of origins of the many different characters. Without a doubt, I used more accents in this book than any other that I've done so far. You have the traditional characters ranging from various American accents to British, to German, Welsh & French. Then you bring in the fairy folk and you get even more variations. Some of the characters are truly ancient - having lived since the time of the Roman Empire. It's like a UN Gathering of myth folk. It was challenging, but also positively delightful to narrate.
Do you have a favorite Mountain Folk character?
I love so many of the characters, but probably my 2 favorites are Har the Tower and Peter Muhlenberg. Both come on the scene fairly reluctantly but eventually fully embrace the revolution. They both serve as reminders that life happens, and we do the best we can. So many of your characters experience amazing growth through the book (that ranges from the 1750's to the 1790's), but your writing keeps all the characters believable and engaging.
How do you go about developing distinctive voices for fictional characters?
Peter Muhlenberg for instance - He was born as a first generation American with a German pastor for a father in a German Community in Pennsylvania. Twenty some odd years ago, I had a friend & roommate for 6 months who was from Germany, but highly fluent in English - to the point where most people could tell he had an accent, but very few could identify where it was from. That was my starting point for Peter. Har the Tower on the other hand, first off is a Dwarf - but dwarfs in your book aren't British isles folk. They're from Germany and other Slavic countries. So I kind of went with Gimli meets Trumpkin meets Germany. And presto. Har is born. Only a little more lighthearted. For Goran it was a similar process, only with Cornish accents. Part of the whole process is thinking about all the aspects of any given character - body size & shape, gender, attitude, education, temperament. I imagine it's a similar process that goes into writing well thought out characters, only on my end I have a pretty good guide based on what the author has written. In case you can't tell from my narration, I love doing different accents for different characters & your book presented innumerable opportunities for me.
Needless to say... I'm looking forward to the next one and hope we're able to work on it too.