Highlight: Dream Keeper
For every light, there was a shadow, for every dream, a nightmare.
The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora's closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn't want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she'll crack. So when Nora's friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn't altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for...
Remember to keep a true heart and a true mind, and that the power of the dream is yours.
For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord's escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there's no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.
When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora's sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn't careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.
(Please note: This story contains vivid death scenes.)
Delightfully vivid artistic renderings of Dream Keeper's lead characters: Nora, the Sandman, and the Weaver. Nora's haunted, forest-green eyes reveal a wisdom far older than her youthful seventeen-years ought to be familiar with. Sandman's unruly curls and boyish smirk hide a responsible soul yearning for a freedom that which may not be completely attainable. Finally, the Weaver's sleek coiffure and angled jaw encase what could only be described as beautiful evil. Someone hardened to the woes of nightmares and torture. Dare it be said — someone who may even find pleasure in that suffering.
Behind the Scenes
As the Sandman would say, 'the power of the dream is yours'. Never give up!
I wanted to include some "behind the scenes" information for the special audiobook release of Dream Keeper. This unabridged audiobook goes on my list of firsts as a dual point of view story featuring two narrators! A blend of traditional audiobook and radio drama. I felt it was important that Sandman and Weaver's narrative offer an entirely different telling from that of Nora to provide a more fulfilling storytelling experience. It was then that Ryan High was brought on as a collaborative partner with the audiobook project. As his very first long-form narrative experience, first audiobook, first Dark YA Fantasy -I have to say he absolutely nailed it. His soothing baritone timbre coupled with an ever-present, sincere performance sneaks up on an unprepared listener and soothes them into a dazed, hypnotic lull; taking them on an unforgettable adventure. Featured Talent
A Short Biography
My name is Ryan High and I'm a voice actor (among other things) who currently lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan! All my life I've had a knack for telling stories to make people laugh or pique their interest, but only recently did I realize that that was something I could do as a career. Thanks to the help of the visual and performing arts department at Michigan Technological University and my friend Dollcie, that's now what I'm working to become. When I'm not working on voiceover projects or keeping busy at my day job, I'll often be relaxing with a video game, listening to podcasts, or running a weekly Dungeons and Dragons game--where I can get a lot of exercise in rapidly switching between interesting character voices! I'm always on the lookout for interesting new voices, accents, or character concepts, so my phone is perpetually full of notes with ideas on how to make new characters sound unique. Though I still have lots to learn, it's a career I find all sorts of fun in! There's no other line of work where someone can play with unique characters with such regularity, and that's what I love the most.
The voice you created for the Weaver is incredible. Do you have any words of advice to help actors create a believable villain's voice?
Villains are some of my favorite characters to play! The easiest way to make an antagonist seem like a threat is to make it sound like the protagonists can't possibly threaten them, and I emphasized this in the Weaver by playing up his supreme confidence and the way he almost seems entertained by the heroes' attempts to stop him. But one of the most important things to remember about playing a villain is that they have some inherent flaw--something that drove them to evil, and often the same thing that leads to their downfall. In the Weaver's case it was his overconfidence, but other villains may be afraid of some upcoming event in the story, or believe they are actually saving the world, or many other things--it's on you to find the flaw for each new antagonist!
What is something you really enjoyed about Dream Keeper?
I think my favorite part of Dream Keeper was how it never seemed to settle into a rote formula. Just when I thought I knew where the plot was going to go next, the author surprised me with a new development or twist that shook up the lives of the protagonists and affected how they interacted with each other, while still having logical consequences for all of the events of the story. It's not easy for a writer to surprise me without bringing something completely out of left field, and yet I found myself shocked in several places--especially at the ending!
Now that you've completed your first long-form narration project, do you have any words of advice for other fresh-faced audiobook narrators?
Don't be afraid to play! It might feel silly to practice strange voices, mimic characters you hear, or read your favorite stories aloud to nobody but yourself, but that's the best way to grow even when you're not working on a professional project. The more time you spend refining your vocal skills outside of projects--even if it doesn't feel like work--the stronger your skills will be when the next project comes around!
Meet the Author
Amber R. Duell
A Short Biography
Amber R. Duell is the YA Author of FRAGILE CHAOS, THE LAST GOODBYE, THE DARK DREAMER TRILOGY: DREAM KEEPER, DARK CONSORT (11/5/19), and NIGHT WARDEN (Spring 2020), and has a short story in the mermaid anthology OF THE DEEP. She's a Navy wife and mom of 2 awesome boys. AmberHey has been a #WriteMentor mentor since 2018 and is a co-host on the live broadcast show Young Adult Edition. Red Bull keeps her kicking.
What is the inspiration behind the creation of Dream Keeper?
The idea for Dream Keeper actually stemmed from threatening my then-5-year-old that I would call the Sandman if he didn't go to sleep. I knew that night I wanted to work with the Sandman as a character, so I just started writing and let him tell me who he was.
Which character are you most drawn to?
This is tough! I think it's a tie between the Sandman because he's a sweet cinnamon roll and Kail because he's sarcastic and fun to write.
What is one thing you would like the reader's of Dream Keeper to come away with?
Believe in what you know, even if everyone around you tells you that you're crazy.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing Dream Keeper? How did you overcome it?
The doubt that I was taking things too far. I've always toned down the 'dark' aspect of my stories until Dream Keeper when I forced myself to leave in all the gruesome scenes. I'm not sure I really overcame that doubt, but I forced myself to move on when I wanted to delete anything.