A Rough Guide to Creating Audio by Brian Sexton

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Brian Sexton

Brian Sexton

Author Brian Sexton is a writer and standup comedian living in Sligo. He has spent the last few years looking at different ways to deliver storytelling.

Nancy Goodaim, Space Ranger – an audiobook/ podcast/ novel adventure.

Nancy Goodaim is, or was, an Irish member of the European Space Agency’s first crewed Mars mission. Or so the story goes. The story is an attempt to match the dynamic live energy of standup comedy with long form storytelling.

My name is Brian Sexton, and it’s my fault it’s happening. I’m a writer and standup comedian living in Sligo. I have spent the last few years looking at different ways to deliver storytelling.
I had been looking for a new format for my latest novel, and decided to try a podcast style. My original plan was to mix sections of voice acting with narration, and I decided to try it as a podcast. In practical terms this involves writing out the Chapter (which usually takes about two hours), and recording it (which usually takes half an hour). If you are a writer reading this and considering creating an audiobook, or releasing your work in podcast format, here are a couple of thing I learned from the experience which may be useful to know:
  • You do not need expensive equipment (a basic microphone will set you back about fifty euro, but in theory that should be your biggest outlay).
  • I think, and I could be wrong, that the story is the main event. So you don’t need a studio to record, as long as you can be heard and understood. I record when I can, which sometimes means recording in the car at a quiet spot. I’m open to correction, but I don’t think it is easy to notice any background noise in the recordings. There are high quality handheld microphones available (at a cost of roughly one hundred euro) which will automatically adjust audio levels, but I haven’t tried them. I’ve found a mic connected to a laptop with editing software installed does the job. I use a free open source piece of audio software called ‘Audacity’ -there are plenty of tutorials for using it online, and it is very intuitive and user friendly. Another option for recording is a mobile phone, but I’ve found this method is time consuming (every time you pause you need to swipe etc., then go back and edit the gap, which can add up to hours of fiddling!).
  • Once you have an audio recording you are happy with it is easy to upload it as a free podcast (all the platforms have step by step guides for doing this and it should only take about twenty minutes).
  • If you plan to sell your audio through Amazon’s ‘Audible’ then there are a few more steps to complete. Audible’s author interface (known as ACX) has a step by step guide. You can expect to spend the best part of two hours making sure all the formatting and sound settings are up to specification (once you have your master copy saved it is relatively easily to make the adjustments needed using your audio editing program).
I also publish recordings on my website as I think it is useful to have all your writing link back to one place.
In general I think the level of technical skill needed to self publish audio is relatively low (NOTE: Audio actors and sound recording specialists are highly skilled folk who do great work …I’m only writing here about simple self published storytelling!). And I think that because I did not have any relevant skills or experience to start with. I took up writing late in life, and published ‘The Turd Prophecy’ in 2021 (described by an article on Writing.ie.
I then put together a collection of micro fiction stories by local and international Science Fiction writers (again, covered by Writing.ie.

There is an active genre fiction scene in Ireland. It might be to do with the size of the scene, but there is plenty of encouragement and support between writers in the genre. Several established Sci-Fi authors did not hesitate in contributing to ‘Twelve Robots of Christmas’ and made it a success.

It was the same for the  ‘War of the Worlds 2022’ comedy audio drama, which I published at the end of 2022. Quite a few established writers and actors did not hesitate to muck in and make it work. All these professionals gave their time freely and generously (the drama was also covered by Writing.ie.

The War of the Worlds drama brought together the world of Stand Up Comedy and the Science Fiction writing community, which I think make a good match. I took up standup comedy at the beginning of 2021, primarily as a means of telling stories. As many new writers will testify, one of the trickiest aspects of writing is getting an audience for feedback -with standup comedy it is right there in front of you. Something that surprised me about Standup was that standup comedians are all writers. I recommend Standup as writing practice to any writer reading this and thinking of giving it a go, the Irish Standup community is very open and welcoming to new members -just like the Sci-Fi folk. There are still a few baffled faces in the audience when a Standup crowd is hit with Science Fiction, but I’ve started mixing in ‘traditional’ jokes and have found it a great way to get writing feedback.

The story of Nancy Goodaim itself is a space adventure that tries to capture a bit of what our relationships with each other are all about. It was inspired by a piece of Sci-Fi pulp fiction artwork from the artist Ali Fell (who has been keenly following Nancy’s adventure!). The plot throws the listener into a silly fantasy world in which the crew from a European Space Agency Mars mission find themselves trapped.

The Nancy of the title describes an astronaut with the European Space Agency who was killed during a failed crewed Mars mission. The fantasy world is taken from an unfinished novel Nancy had been working on, which was discovered by her children. The children read it, and as they do they become more and more involved in the story.

The writing would be similar to the work of Spike Milligan. I’m a big fan, and although I made no attempt to copy his style (which is probably impossible), writing influences always come out in some form or other. Science Fiction is already whimsical, and when a bit of comedy is added it tends to take on a life of its own. I will package the whole story into one big file once it is finished, but in the meantime the weekly twenty or so minutes of storytelling should break up a commute. There are hopefully enough gags to make it possible to jump into a random episode without paying too much attention to the plot.

Episodes will be published weekly (currently at Chapter 9 of 56), and can be found at the address below, or search for ‘An Roinn Ultra’ -it’s Sci-Fi, but not as we know it;)

(c) Brian Sexton

Nancy Goodaim, Space Ranger

About Nancy Goodaim, Space Ranger:

Nancy GoodaimA brand new audio space adventure book.

Anthony McGinley was ten years old when his mother died.

She was given full honours at a state funeral, but after that life in the McGinley household began to slowly fall apart. Untill Anthony found an unfinished novel among his mother’s things. It described an allegory for a flawed antihero.

Can Nancy Goodaim save the solar system from the evil Sozman Borkstapple?
Is there such thing as magic?
Or are we simply the heroes of our own stories?

Listen to all episodes on Spotify (or any podcast platform under ‘Irish Science Fiction’)

About the author

I’m a mapmaker by trade and live in Sligo with my wife and two children. I have been writing for four years, so in theory have six years to go before I have a good grasp of the discipline. I started performing standup comedy two years ago, and use it as another outlet for writing.
I use a sort of fast paced slapstick storytelling style for the standup, which is probably closer to storytelling than traditional standup. I run a monthly night in McLynns Bar in Sligo if anyone wants to join in (details on my website). My first novel tells the story of a 1990’s rave gone awry, and is available in audio or text.
I also have a collection of over a hundred short stories and comedy sketches with some talented local comedians available on my website.
There is also a really good (I’m biased;) piece of work called ‘War of the Worlds 2022’ -it was the work of multiple experienced contributors and I strongly encourage a listen!

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