This is different from a lot of things I read, and I like it!
Challenges Of The Gods by C. Hofsetz narrated by Alfred Tam is a Science Fiction story.
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After Mike goes through a gut-wrenching betrayal by his fiancée, he finds himself in what he thinks might be the afterlife. But this is no heaven. The gods made a mistake and created another Earth in a parallel universe, putting both universes in peril. They need someone from his planet to destroy the alternate, and Mike is randomly selected for the job.
Trapped in an impossible choice, Mike accepts his mission and is returned to an Earth – and a body – so unlike his own. There, he meets Jane, who is – unbeknownst to him – the secret leader of an organization bent on tracking down Earth’s saboteur. In the face of her passion for humanity, Mike’s resolve falters. If Mike won’t complete his mission, the gods will.
About the Author: C. Hofsetz
After working for several years as a professor in Brazil, C. Hofsetz moved to the United States and changed careers. Currently, he is a Software Engineer Manager at Microsoft by day, and a writer by night.
Software engineering and computers have been his passion since he was a teenager, but he’s been reading novels for longer than writing code. One day, he couldn’t help it anymore. He wrote the first chapter of a book. How bad could it be? But things escalated quickly. Next thing he knew, he was writing yet another chapter, and then the next. He tried to hide it, but his family knew he was up to something.
When they figured out what he was doing, it was too late—he accidentally had written a whole book.
The result of this journey is Challenges of The Gods, a story about a fantastic world of gods meddling with humans.
And here with me is C. Hofsetz!
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
The process took longer than I expected. Like with any artistic profession, talented narrators are hard to find. You need to have the ability to bring not only the story, but also the characters, to life. Once you find a narrator like that who’s also willing to work with you, it takes about two to three months.
Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
Talented narrators will get milk out of a stone (this is a popular Brazilian expression). I’m so glad that Alfred Tam agreed to narrate Challenges of the Gods. His voice makes my novel shine. That said, I think that books narrated in first person are better for audio since we feel a closer connection with the narrator and the main characters.
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
All the time. I have been an avid audiobook listener for more than 10 years.
How did you select your narrator?
I signed the audio contract with my publisher before the print version was published. It took me six months to find the right narrator. Some of the auditions we got were just people reading the book with no emotion. Others were great narrators but had voices that didn’t match the character age or profile.
To make matters worse, it was especially hard for me to know if I had the best narrator because I’m Brazilian, and English is my second language. Thus I have to trust my narrator since I wouldn’t know how several words are correctly pronounced.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
The only thing I asked Alfred was to give accents to some of the characters. The problem with accents is that if they’re not done well, they distract from the story, but Alfred did a great job. Other than that, I gave him absolute freedom. For instance, there are a few made-up words in the book, and I let him choose the pronunciation.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
All characters are partially fictional and also a part of the author’s life. For instance, the main theme of the book is trust and betrayal, and who hasn’t been betrayed?
In Challenges of the Gods, I did include an inside joke between me and my daughter. I added characters named after my children in the book (Dr. Alice and Dr. David). I always told my kids that I’m not their friend—I’m their dad. I told them that it’s a completely different dynamic, and Alice always hated that. So the main character in the book says, “This means Dr. Alice is not my friend.”
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
I see each book as a learning experience. I started writing later in life, so there’s a lot of catching up to do. But despite the setbacks and rejections, I’m always learning. I also have a long-term plan for my writing.
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I love audio books. My problem is that I’m a fast reader and I often miss details here and there. Listening to an audiobook helps me avoid that, because an audiobook forces us to pace ourselves and follow the narrator. On top of that, I can listen to audiobooks almost anywhere, even while driving or in court. And in case someone thinks I’m a criminal, I’m joking. It wouldn’t look good for the defendant to be listening to an audiobook during their trial.
Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
Yes, Part III. When the book gets near the climax and the characters’ emotions are heightened, it’s so exhilarating and terrifying to hear the book read.
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
Who wouldn’t? I’d spend the rest of my days just going back in time and fixing stuff. I would use it to warn my mother about her cancer earlier, but also to stop me from buying that coffee that had been sitting for hours. Before you knew it, I would have won the lottery ten times, 9/11 would never have happened, and my wife wouldn’t understand why she couldn’t win an argument anymore. Oh, and I’d kill Hitler, of course. But not baby Hitler.
By the way, my favorite time travel book is The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
This list changes from time to time in my head. But most of the time, the character J.D. from Scrubs inspired me to write my main character, Mike. So, if I could, I would pick Zach Braff but unfortunately, he’s a bit older now for Mike. Rahul Kohli from iZombie is perfect to play Ravi. And Melissa Gallo from Brooklyn 99 would be an awesome Jane.
In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
Writing a series allows us to create richer stories and do more world building. However, once the first book is published, you have to be careful to not change the core of your characters, and you must use the tense and the point of view you had in the first book. Some authors change that, but it’s rare.
Another problem with a series is that even though I have the whole story in my head, the reader might not remember or may have skipped parts of the first book.
Finally, some publishers don’t like sequels that are not completely standalone. While this is easier to do with some genres, it’s harder for science fiction and fantasy because of the world building. For example, while we can watch standalone 007 movies without knowing what happened beforehand, we would be lost just watching Back to the Future 2.
Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
Don’t choose any narrator just to get your book out. Do your research and only sign with one that you believe is right for your book. After that, let the narrator do their work. Don’t micro-manage everything the narrator does. If you have to change every other sentence, maybe the narrator wasn’t the right one in the first place.
What’s next for you?
I’m in the final stages of editing the sequel – Enemy of the Gods – and it’ll be published by Spring next year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have the audiobook out sooner this time. In the next year or so, I’ll write the final book of the trilogy – tentatively titled Killer of the Gods. And then I’ll try something different. Beta readers love my young characters, so I may write a young adult novel as well. I want to have five books out in ten years, and once I retire from software engineering—many, many years from now—I’ll become a full time author and publish more often. That’s the plan.
About the Narrator: Alfred Tam
Alfred Tam was born in San Francisco, CA and raised in the Bay Area. Growing up as a first generation Chinese American, he was fascinated with cartoon voices and would mimic both American cartoon characters as well as his favorite anime heroes. Alfred went on to study biochemistry in University of California: San Diego, with additional courses in German and French language. He eventually pursued a career in veterinary medicine at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.
His passion for public speaking and voice over had not deteriorated, however, and he started the first veterinary public speaking club during his medical training. After finally completing his degree, Dr. Tam began narrating for podcasts, YouTube videos, and audible. His most favorite genre is science fiction, both to read and narrate, because of the infinite possibilities these worlds could provide by changing one simple rule of physics and mathematics.
Alfred is fluent in English and Chinese, proficient in Spanish, and knows basic German and French. You can find Dr. Tam practicing emergency veterinary medicine in South Florida (starting 2020) and primarily hear his voices on audible. Otherwise, he could be found at the beach throwing the frisbee with his Golden Retriever, Lady, or air-balling three-pointers on the basketball court.
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