Diane Magras grew up on Mount Desert Island in Maine. The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, the companion novel to Return to Faintree Castle, was her debut novel. She is the editor, writer, and chief fund raiser for the Maine Humanities Council. She volunteers at her son’s school library, and is addicted to tea, toast, castles, legends, and most things medieval.
Think back to the origin of stories. They were told beside a fire by a bard, an old one, a teller of tales. People clustered round, nodding at the rise and fall of the speaker’s voice. Many stories were of adventure, of battle and bravery, of people seemingly bigger than the listeners. They were tales meant to inspire as much as entertain and delight, to give courage to warriors about to plunge back into the field, to comfort those who had lost someone they loved. The power of the human voice would draw everyone instantly into adventures, wars, and quests so vivid that they seemed real.
That storytelling tradition makes The Mad Wolf’s Daughter a particularly apt choice for an audiobook. This is a tale of bravery, of dangers and escapes, of true friendship and heartbreaking loss. It’s full of chases, battles, scenes of drama and despair, as well as tenderness and hope. I wrote it as a classic adventure with a few twists. Like any adventure, it calls for a storyteller.
It’s also a tale that has often been read aloud.
First, in the creative process: I mutter as I write, speaking my sentences as I type them, hearing the rhythm and the voices. I muttered a great deal of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, working out the voices. It’s crowded with them. From Drest, a scrappy young lass, whose overblown insults (“you crab-legged gull’s bottom”) roll and pop on the tongue; to Emerick, a young enemy knight, whose efforts to speak with nobility despite his serious injuries (“Mercy is worth more than you realize”) add a certain lyricism to his voice. Tig, a village boy, is a storyteller himself, and his dialogue represents that (“Please—let’s have no cutting down of anyone”). And then there are Drest’s brothers, each gruff in his own way, but with differences: stern Wulfric, gentle Thorkill, the sly twins Gobin and Nutkin, and whiny Uwen.
I know their voices so well because I read all my drafts aloud. My audience is my son, an avid reader to whom I’ve read since he was an infant, and so I’ve narrated this book the way I’ve read other books, with drama, tense pauses, and of course those many voices.
I’ve read parts of this book to students when I present school talks. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it aloud. I know these characters, hear the timbre of their voices in my mind—perhaps I know them a bit too well.
The British actor Joshua Manning is the narrator for the audiobook of The Mad Wolf’s Daughter. When I was about to listen to his audition of the first chapter—this was before he’d read the whole book, or knew the characters—I wondered how I would feel. Would I find the story I knew so well battling the story I was about to hear? Would these characters still feel like my characters, or would they be unfamiliar? No matter what, it would be an entirely new experience for me to hear someone else read aloud my writing.
Joshua’s audition was extraordinary.
I hadn’t realized how powerful it would be to hear my words spoken in his rich, dramatic voice. Within seconds, I was caught up in the story, with the pacing, even though I knew full well what would happen next. Drest’s slide down the path through the gorse, pebbles spilling, was vivid in an entirely new way. And the manner in which Joshua read my characters’ dialogue brought them to instant life.
Throughout the process of publishing The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, I’ve felt unusually lucky, to have the editor I have, the team, the publishing house, the artist for my cover. Now I have something else: a master storyteller narrating my audiobook.
So gather round, my readers, and hear this tale of a brave lass and her sword, of the bloodthirsty villains who love her, and of her journey into new lands. The audiobook will draw you into this world just as would a storyteller before an ancient bonfire. All you need to do now is sit back and listen.
THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER
“It’s clear we’re in the hands of a master storyteller. ‘The Mad Wolf’s Daughter’ feels like an instant classic.”—The New York Times Book Review