Mar 14

Witch Hunter Special Edition Hard Copy Available Now!

Like The Will of the Woods, our epic 13-hour gothic fantasy extravaganza Witch Hunter is now available in a very unique format!

This may look like a cassette tape, but it’s not. It is in fact a USB flashdrive cleverly disguised as a tape!

On it you will find the entire story plus a whole bunch of extra material, such as the map of Sevenpeaks, a number of wallpapers and illustrations, the updated original music score and even a “behind the story” feature.

If you are a fan of Witch Hunter, this is truly the ultimate edition and it’s available now from Audiobooksontape.com!

Witch Hunter Audiobook on Tape

Mar 10

Episode Two is out!

The second chapter in the epic gothic fantasy known as Witch Hunter!

In the aftermath of the great fire, Ludlov visits the mayor to tell him of Adomir’s fate. Meanwhile, Samina is locked up in the dungeons, arrested for unauthorised magical healing…

We’re also announcing a very special edition of Witch Hunter, which you can find HERE.
You can also still find us on www.audio-epics.com and on Facebook.

Witch Hunter is now also on the Stitcher Radio App so you can find us there as well.

Thursday will be our weekly release day from now on.

Mar 05

The Witch Hunter Podcast

The first episode of the podcast is out!

We’ve’ decided to turn Witch Hunter into a podcast! Every week a new episode will be released online!

The first episode is out right now, covering the entire first chapter of the epic dark fantasy adventure.

About the Witch Hunter Podcast

This podcast is an episodic “dramatized audiobook”. That’s a term we came up with to describe an audiobook that comes to life with music, sound effects and the voices of a varied cast.

In a dark renaissance fantasy world, we meet Ludlov, a fierce and devoted Witch Hunter, driven by vengeance. In this first episode of the saga, Ludlov is forced to make his way to the great city of Sevenpeaks when he receives news that the evil cult of the Black Sickle have a plan to murder the Witch Hunter’s beloved mentor…

Every week the podcast will bring a new chapter in the epic saga of Ludlov, the WITCH HUNTER.

Witch Hunter is written by Domien De Groot.
The music is composed by Peter Van Riet.

Cast & Crew

Voices:

  • Domien De Groot (Narrator, Ludlov,…)
  • Eline Hoskens (Samina)
  • Aron Bohdanowicz (Death, Vathek)
  • Featuring cameos by Ilias Vertenten & Jeroen Hendrickx

Music:

  • Peter Van Riet

Sound mixing & postproduction:

  • Domien De Groot

 

If you like Witch Hunter, you can find the novel on Amazon (e-book and hard copy).

If you want to listen to the entire audiobook in one go, you can purchase the download on Bandcamp.

Be sure to visit our website www.audio-epics.com !

 

Mar 01

The Audio Epics approach: Part One – It all began with an image

I’m a member of a few Facebook groups about audio drama. There is a lot of discussion in these places about the nature of audio drama, how to write them, how to produce them, what good voice acting is, etcetera. It can get quite philosophical at times. The online audio drama community is very passionate as well as very supportive and welcoming to newcomers. Everyone involved knows that we’re a niche of a niche and we’re not in competition with each other. There is a genuine effort to support one another so as to bring the medium into the spotlight. As Matthew McLean, host of the excellent Audio Drama Production Podcast put it, “a rising tide lifts all boats”.

I have some good friends in this community, and I sometimes follow their discussions on audio drama, which can get quite deep and technical, even philosophical. Now, I said “follow”, not “participate”. Once in a while I’ll comment just to show I’m still there, but on the whole, I’m more of a lurker. I notice that very often I just don’t have an opinion on these things. I just have a way of working that I like, which produces the stories that I like. If other people like them as well, then my work is done.

In this article, I’m going to delve a little deeper into what exactly my way of working is. It is not didactic in any way. I don’t believe what works for me works for everyone. I don’t think what I do is how audio storytelling should be done. There is no wrong way to create audio as long as someone gets something positive out of it. What I will describe is just the way I do it and enjoy doing it, and who knows, it might work for you.

Today, I’m going to focus on writing, but in future instalments, I will discuss my approach to sound and voice acting as well.

Writing

Obviously, the very first step is writing. I’ve actually been writing audio drama since I was fourteen years old (not that I would want to show you those original scripts). My stories used to be in Dutch (my mother tongue) for the longest time, so they will not appear on the Audio Epics site. Also, they are clearly the work of a teenager who is trying to make his own Star Wars while struggling to find his own voice. Nevertheless, I never wrote as much as during that period and I look back to those all-nighters very fondly. While there are many things I used to do as a writer that I wouldn’t do anymore today, there are some key concepts that have remained and that I will hold onto.

First of all, my stories have always started from an image and a feeling. I often hear how some writers start their stories from a concept or an idea, for example “What if vampires were out in the open, just like normal people?” or a mixing of two old ideas like Pride & Prejudice mixed with zombies. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this approach but I’m a very different kind of guy. I always start from the setting, from the atmosphere. Atmosphere is one of the main reasons why I enjoy stories and why I enjoy writing them. It’s sort of my thing.

Sleepy Hollow

When I wrote my first English audio drama Darkshire, I was really inspired by Tim Burton’s movie Sleepy Hollow. I loved those dark, misty woods, the gothic atmosphere, and so on. I wanted to tell my own story in a similar atmosphere, but I needed characters and a plot (pesky things!). So I started listening to the music for Sleepy Hollow as well as a lot of other Victorian gothic movie soundtracks like Interview with the Vampire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and so on. Listening to that music started generating images in my mind. I could see a large mansion in the middle of the woods, with a huge roaring hearth in the library. I could see an old man sitting in his chair there, drinking wine. There was a diamond-shaped black mark around one of his eyes. He was utterly alone in his opulent house in the middle of the dark woods. Then I saw a black carriage passing through the forest under the full moon, and wolves running after it. I saw a tiny hovel between the nightly trees, with cosy yellow light shining behind the windows. I saw a ballroom in the glory days of the Russian nobility. All of these images came together in a jumble, but they were images that appealed to me on some level I cannot explain. I picked the elements I liked best and came up with a general “feel” of the story. The tone was set. From there on, it wasn’t so hard to develop the characters, because they began to grow naturally out of these images and feelings. It’s always good to have very opposed characters. Out of that, conflict inevitably comes, and conflict means story.

Mr Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia

I found out C.S. Lewis worked the same way when he wrote the Narnia stories. It’s pretty well known that the first story (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) began with the image of a faun in the snow, near a lamppost in the middle of the woods. A peculiar image indeed, but a very striking one for the imagination. It became iconic. Lewis also said that he had been dreaming a lot about lions around that period. The great lion Aslan became the very core of his seven-book series. What struck me most was when I read some notes that Lewis had scribbled down in preparation of writing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a book in the Narnia series that is all about seafaring adventure. Lewis had written down some plot points and then added “To be a very green and pearly story”.

That little phrase really struck a chord with me, because I could recognise that way of thinking so well. When I started writing Witch Hunter, I wanted it to be a dark, brown and fiery story. I wanted people to smell burning wood when they listened to it. I could see its colours and its textures. Everything else came out of that. It’s very intuitive. I’m not very interested in the rules of storytelling. You figure out what works and what doesn’t as you write more, but what you need first of all, is a sense of identity to your story. What is the overarching feeling that you get from the story? That is what people remember afterwards.

Feb 07

Witch Hunter on Youtube!

Witch Hunter: The Dramatized Audiobook is now on Youtube! Or at least, the first chapter is, but if you listen to the end, there is a very nice little surprise there!

Many people use Youtube to discover new music, podcasts and audiobooks. Audio Epics has a presence on Youtube as well! Our crowdfunding videos were featured on the site, as well as the trailer for Witch Hunter and now the first chapter. Expect more Audio Epics material on Youtube in the future!

Witch Hunter – The Dramatized Audiobook is Audio Epics’ magnum opus. A 13-hour long epic gothic fantasy adventure read by author Domien De Groot with additional character voices by Eline Hoskens and Aron Bohdanowicz. The story is brought to life with a rich tapestry of sound effects and a dazzling original score by the acclaimed composer Peter Van Riet. A sprawling, unforgettable experience, Witch Hunter will sweep you away into the dark and magical world of Sevenpeaks…

Listen to the first chapter on Youtube and get the full audiobook from our Bandcamp page!

Jan 15

Witch Hunter Influences: Warhammer Fantasy

Witch Hunter and Warhammer Fantasy

Warhammer Fantasy? What is that and what has it got to do with the audio adventures of Ludlov and Samina? Allow me to explain.

Every creative endeavour has its influences. George Lucas lists Flash Gordon, Akira Kurosawa and the works of Joseph Campbell as some of his most important inspirations for the Star Wars saga.

Witch Hunter is no different. In a series of articles I will talk about the influences on Witch Hunter, why I went to those sources and what they are all about.

Warhammer Fantasy is one of those influences. In a way, it’s the most obvious one.

The Warhammer World

Originally, Warhammer was a tabletop hobby game in which two players take command of an army of fantasy warriors. Players collect and paint miniatures to create their armies and play out epic battles on playing fields that resemble maquettes, including miniature trees, hills and buildings. The game rules are quite complex and attempt to realistically simulate what such a battle would look like. The hobby began somewhere in the seventies and it still exists, even though the company that makes the games has since moved in a different direction.

army

To make the battle game more interesting and more fun, the developers developed a whole world around it, including an impressive history of all the peoples and countries in it. This in itself is nothing new, but what makes the Warhammer world a bit more unique compared to other fantasy settings, is its very European renaissance setting. Most fantasy settings take their inspiration straight from Tolkien or Dungeons & Dragons. Warhammer went for a fantasy version of the Holy Roman Empire, a specific time and place in history that is very recognisable.

Secondly, the Warhammer universe has a very dark, gothic feel to it. This is interesting when you compare it to the German roleplaying game Das Schwarze Auge (The Dark Eye) which is also set in a kind of 16th century German atmosphere, but it has a very light and fairy-tale like tone, which brings to mind the works of the brothers Grimm. Warhammer contains these Grimm-like elements also but presents them in a very “grim” way.

The Roleplaying Game

Now, where Warhammer really caught my eye was not so much the wargame, but the roleplaying game. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is a very interesting tabletop roleplaying game that moves its focus away from the over-the-top battles of the wargame and instead tells the story of the adventures of ordinary people in the world of Warhammer.skaven

Players can embody the roles of rat-catchers, ferrymen, peasants and bounty hunters, but they can learn to become priests, captains, and yes, witch hunters.

The Warhammer roleplaying game has a more subdued and mysterious tone that really evokes its setting in a brilliant way. It’s gloomy, but also humorous.

The Cities

What appealed to me in this setting was its atmosphere. In particular, I love how the artwork for these games depicts cities as enormous, overpowering and dark. I’m no lover of big cities in real life, but there is something about these fantasy locations that really strikes me as strangely attractive in all their darkness and oppression.

The illustrations of Altdorf, the capital of the Empire where most of the Warhammer adventures take place, really spark my imagination. It suggests a place full of mysterious alleyways and hidden buildings, where shocking discoveries and perils lurk around every corner. Simultaneously, it is a testament to mankind’s cultural aspirations and the peak of civilisation. This dichotomy intrigues me as well.

In short, Altdorf was a great source of inspiration for Sevenpeaks.

altdorf

Witch Hunters

Witch Hunters are also a prevalent aspect of the Warhammer world. They tend to have an iconic look, with the tall hat that Ludlov also wears. At the time, I was completely unaware of Robert E. Howard’s character Solomon Kane, who actually inspired the Warhammer witch hunters, but I did recognise that the Warhammer witch hunters were inspired by the actual witch-hunts that took place in the 16th and 17th centuries and their outfit was based purely on the typical clothing of puritans of that era.

In Warhammer, the witch hunters are an institution. They are not quite as organised as they are in my setting, but they do form an important part of the civilisation of the empire and everyone recognises this.

witchhunter and brightwizard

I liked the idea raised in the Warhammer lore that the witch hunters were every bit the dangerous extremists that modern culture would make them out to be BUT they actually did kind of have a valid point to their extremism. In the Warhammer world, illicit magic is a very real danger and it can and does lead to horrible consequences. In the modern world, the term “witch hunt” is used to refer to dishonest, phony trials, scapegoating and superstitious fear where there is nothing to be feared. I personally generally have a less than enthusiastic view of modernity and I have to admit that there is something about the way Warhammer portrays the witch hunters that makes me smile. What if there really is a magical danger? Wouldn’t witch hunters be seen as an important line of defence? Everyone would be afraid of them but they would understand their necessity.

Then again, in the story of Witch Hunter, I certainly didn’t want to glorify these dark and disturbing characters. That’s why tried to create a more nuanced situation where good and evil people can be found both among the magicians and among the witch hunters.

Influences and departures

The Warhammer world is wonderfully atmospheric and it has certainly played an important role in my creation of the Witch Hunter world. However, I never intended to make a Warhammer audio drama or even to mimic its style. There are some key ways in which I deliberately stayed away from the influences of Warhammer.

One of these is the level of high fantasy. The Warhammer world is very over-the-top. There are guys wearing armour with shoulder pads ten times the size of their heads and the sheer amount of skulls everywhere borders on self-parody.

Just try and count the skulls in this picture!

I found more than 20 skulls.

I found more than 20 skulls.

I have no problem with Warhammer’s approach but this style is absolutely not fit for the more thoughtful story I wanted to tell. The Witch Hunter universe is much more toned down and earthy. I wanted the fantasy elements of the story to feel truly magical, and I felt that could be achieved best by not plastering them all over every single scene.

Simultaneously, I would say that Witch Hunter is also more spiritual. While religion plays an important role in the Warhammer world, it isn’t really explored in a meaningful way. I know there are some metaphysical ponderings in some of the roleplaying books, but they stay very far away from anything I personally relate to. In Witch Hunter, I really wanted the whole conflict to be based on serious discussions about theology. I wanted the listener to feel that the actions of the witch hunters were not simply the result of stupidity and irrational hatred, because that allows us to distance ourselves from it and keeps it in the realm of pure escapism. The best fantasy is truth disguised as escapism, and for that reason I wanted the motivations of the witch hunters to be believable and understandable.

Thirdly, there is an element of cynicism in the Warhammer universe. It’s a hopeless universe, where Chaos is ultimately unstoppable and all comes to ruin. Seriously, last year the game developers have actually ended the traditional line of Warhammer games, destroyed the universe and started over with Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, which is more of an abstract multi-dimensional type of “space fantasy” universe that has nothing to do anymore with the renaissance world of the original. Needless to say, I don’t like what they did.

I certainly didn’t want this kind of nihilism in my story. Witch Hunter takes place in a world that is fallen, but not without grace, much like I view our own world. I wanted to take the story into some very dark places but always with a slight ray of hope at the end of the tunnel.

All in all, Warhammer’s influences on Witch Hunter are very clear but they are also relatively shallow. I will be mentioning other influences in future articles. These may not be as clearly recognisable, but they are ultimately more important. Still, the Warhammer universe is really what prompted me to start working on this story, because it was an influence of atmosphere. And for me, all stories begin with my desire to evoke a powerful sense of time and place, usually a very mysterious and fantastical one. Warhammer absolutely did that for me.

Are you curious about Witch Hunter? Listen to the first chapter free on Bandcamp! The entire audiobook is also for sale there.

Jan 02

Witch Hunter released at last!

We have come to it at last… Witch Hunter released on Bandcamp today!

“Witch Hunter: The Dramatized Audiobook” is now available for purchase on Bandcamp.

We have worked long and hard on this 13-hour epic and we hope that you will enjoy it.

You can listen to the prologue and the first chapter below and decide if you want to purchase the full 13-hour experience.

In addition, for a limited time, we’re including a special launch promotion! Share Audio Epics posts about Witch Hunter on Facebook to receive a 50% discount code for the audiobook!

What is Witch Hunter?

Witch Hunter – The Dramatized Audiobook is Audio Epics’ magnum opus. A 13-hour long epic gothic fantasy adventure read by author Domien De Groot with additional character voices by Eline Hoskens and Aron Bohdanowicz. The story is brought to life with a rich tapestry of sound effects and a dazzling original score by the acclaimed composer Peter Van Riet. A sprawling, unforgettable experience, Witch Hunter will sweep you away into the dark and magical world of Sevenpeaks…

Credits

Witch Hunter released on January 2, 2016.

The story was written by Domien De Groot.

The audiobook was performed by Domien De Groot, Eline Hoskens & Aron Bohdanowicz.

Domien De Groot was the narrator and played Ludlov, mayor Grundheim, Adomir, Sigurd and other voices.

Eline Hoskens played Samina, Lady Hoskiv, Tara, the Storyteller, the Goddess and the Maiden.

Aron Bohdanowicz played Death, inquisitor Gorliwosc, Vathek and Gustav Finsterdunkl.

WH_soundclouddemopic

Witch Hunter includes cameo performances by our crowdfunding backers Jeroen Hendrickx and Ilias Vertenten.

The music was composed by Peter Van Riet.

The audiobook also featured additional music by Mattia Cupelli.

Soundmixing & Postproduction was done by Domien De Groot using Adobe Audition.

Dec 09

Goodbye Chronicles, hello Witch Hunter!

Good news everyone! The release of Witch Hunter: the Dramatized Audiobook draws nearer. We’re aiming to release it before the end of 2015 but of course, we want to make it the best it can be. That is our priority. Therefore it is possible we might have to release a little later than that.

Ludlove_homepage

Meanwhile, there is still The Witch Hunter Chronicles, the 2010 audio drama, available on Bandcamp. This older version of the story is different from the upcoming Witch Hunter, which truly is the author’s preferred edition of the story. If the story of Sevenpeaks continues, this dramatized audiobook will be considered canon. We’ve thought long about it and concluded that the continued presence of The Witch Hunter Chronicles (old version) next to Witch Hunter: the Dramatized Audiobook (new version) would be confusing for new visitors. For that reason, we are going to discontinue the audio drama The Witch Hunter Chronicles.

Since we know that many of you are fans of the chronicles, we won’t remove it just like that. The audio drama will remain available on bandcamp right up until the release of Witch Hunter. And to make this goodbye a little more bearable, we’re throwing in a GREAT deal!

The Witch Hunter Chronicles is about 3.5 hours long, whereas Witch Hunter will be between 10 and 12 hours long. The dramatized audiobook is set to have an initial selling price of $40. However, if you buy The Witch Hunter Chronicles on Bandcamp for $7 before Christmas, you will receive Witch Hunter for free when it is released! That’s a huge discount, from $40 to $7!

You can find The Witch Hunter Chronicles on Bandcamp. Feedback is always welcome.

Feel free to spread the word!

Nov 23

The Will of the Woods … on tape?

Audio Epics has teamed up with In Ear Entertainment to bring you The Will of the Woods in a brand new version!

The Will of the Woods is an award-winning fantasy fairy tale audio drama brought to life with a talented cast of voice actors, lively sound effects and a rich, original music score.

Now, for the first time, you can get The Will of the Woods on tape. Well, not technically on tape. It’s a USB flash-drive cleverly disguised as an old-fashioned cassette tape.

This nostalgic novelty might just make a wonderful gift for family members when Christmas comes around this year!

The Will of the Woods on tape

 

Nov 03

Halloween in the woods

On Halloween, Audio Epics was present at the Fiesta de la Fantasia in Troostembergbos, Belgium. Lonely wanderers could find us deep in the woods at night and listen to music from The Will of the Woods, get books and CD’s and even have a sip of Rootleaf juice!

fiesta