Today we are delighted to welcome our author David Wake to the blog. As June is National Audiobook Month, we have been showcasing each of our authors and their fantastic audiobooks. David very kindly agreed to share with us the inspiration behind The Other Christmas Carol (which you can download here)
So, David... where did the idea for The Other Christmas Carol come from?
It's been a cold June. It reminds me of when I was going slowly insane.
I used to do technical stage management and had a gig running the Christmas Show at the Tamworth Snowdome. I'd collect the cast in the dark and drive them through the cold, dark, snow-covered early morning to arrive at the wonderfully warmed reception, then we'd go into the refrigerated snowdome itself. After tramping through the snow covered inside, we came to our 'green room', which was thankfully heated. And then, like another Russian doll, inside that was a fridge to keep our milk cold. The heat being pumped back and forth was an environmental nightmare.
We did 475 shows in 27 days. Hearing 'Frostie the Snowman' made me twitch. Father Christmas was wonderful, but incredibly blue in his anecdotes off-stage. I spent the time huddled around a heater (in the snowdome) trying to keep warm and watching it all on a small TV set ready to raise the lights, hit the music cue (not 'Frostie' again!) or rush out to head off some disaster or other. But mostly it was just sitting there being cold.
I had to do something to keep sane, so I took my laptop in to write. But I couldn't. I needed to be ready for the lighting and sound cues, and it was just too cold to type.
Instead, I spent ages staring at a single screen, gradually working out an anti-Christmas story, slowly changing the bullet points during the non button pressing sections of the show.
When it was all over, I thought I'd see if I could type up the story within the twelve days of Christmas. It turned out that this was no challenge at all. I didn't need the whole dozen, the words just flowed out of me.
And it's not that anti-Christmas, either. More a dig at the commercialism.
This was the screenplay. Much later, I re-wrote it as a novella. And later still, Tracey Norman of Circle of Spears narrated it to make the quite wonderful audiobook. Go and have a listen, because it's a story that's not just for Christmas, but also for this cold, cold June.
That's a great peek behind the curtain, David - thank you so much for sharing it with us. And thanks also for your kind words - nothing makes our day more than an author who likes what we have done with their words!
It occurs to me that the story of how Circle of Spears began as a company is not something that we've talked about much in a public forum so here for the first time I shall present an abridged version of how we all ended up making audiobooks and theatre together.
Back in 2015 I met Tracey and subsequently Mark as we actory types often do through a show Tracey and I were part of. Shortly after, Tracey invited me to take part in a freelance audio project she and Mark were working on. The project itself was fun enough to do but the person behind it was less than stellar. Having enjoyed collaborating on someone else's project though we were keen to do one of our own. We all had our own home recording set ups, we all had a background in theatre and the performing arts, pooling our resources seemed like the obvious thing to do.
People sometimes ask us where the name Circle of Spears came from. There are two answers to this, both equally true. The first is that the image of a group of individuals coming together to create something greater than the sum of their parts is something that has always been very intrinsic to our ethos as a company. So long as there are enough spears to form a circle (two or more) we had a group of creatives whose skill sets and enthusiasm constantly fed back into the whole group. Initially there were five members of Circle of Spears and we've had as many as eight working on a project at one time but the number of individuals doesn't matter, what they create together that they couldn't create alone is the thing that matters. The second answer is at the time we founded the company I was running a Dungeons and Dragons game featuring everyone who was in the company at that time and the group of adventurers they were playing as in that game were also called The Circle of Spears. The real life parallels of comradeship, shared goals and values was not something lost on any of us.
In the four years, numerous productions and now over twenty audiobooks that have followed we've had our ups and downs, people have come and gone, but our goals and what keeps us coming back to the company remains the same. We all want to make a living bringing stories to life and doing things together it would be impossible to do alone.
We were delighted this week to be able to confirm a new performance date for our "Victorian Evening of M.R. James" Ghost Stories show. Next month we will be heading up the motorway to Somerset, where it will be our pleasure to provide some late night campfire entertainment for the resident campers at this year's Nudefest Festival.
Nudefest is the biggest event in the naturist calendar in the UK, so it is an honour for us to be joining the slate of excellent entertainment being put on during the week long festival.
This will be an interesting performance for us. Firstly, they say that if you suffer from nerves, then you should imagine your audience naked, but this is the first time where we will not need to imagine at all. And secondly, this will be an (almost) outdoor performance which is another first for this show. We will be in a marquee, with a real campfire just outside. We hope that the darkening night and the flickering flames will add an extra element of suspense and atmosphere to the evening.
If you're interested in learning more about the Festival, please visit https://www.nudefest.co.uk/
We all had a great time last night at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, where we once again shared our "Victorian Evening of M.R. James" show with an appreciative audience. This is our third year of telling ghost stories live, the way that they were meant to be told, and it has been interesting working with a new format of all the stories coming from one author. Of course, it helps if that author is very popular in the genre!
While were we there, we took the opportunity of taking a new publicity shot for the show, which Tracey subsequently converted to give it a more Victorian feel. Here is what we came out with.
Pictured are, from left to right, Cousin Alice (Tracey), Cousin Henry (Mark) and his school friend Archie (Sam). Not pictured is Cousin Edith on the piano!
We were delighted to receive this five star review recently for this show, from an audience member who is a big M.R. James fan and who drove from Birmingham to Cornwall to see us perform.
"I would definitely recommend this to anyone. Great atmosphere and a great reading of the stories. Shall be looking forward to the next time. 10/10"
Thank you for taking the time to leave a review for us. We're glad it was worth the drive!