All posts by trekelny

About trekelny

It's really Will Hahn, the chronicler of the Lands of Hope tales. www.williamlhahn.com

Voicing a Past Master- the Tales of Clark Ashton Smith

I’m always looking for new projects, ways forward that can widen my platform and bring me new challenges. As 2020 finally left our lives, it gave me a final gift in December with a positive Covid diagnosis. The symptoms were fairly mild and I recovered as so many others have done, grateful for my family’s safety and the new year.

But the cough remains. Just a nagging occasional thing, but enough to screw with the spirit of a hopeful audiobook narrator. I’m taking different meds trying to beat it, but in the meantime it’s tough to audition for new projects, because I can’t stick to a schedule with my hack rising up all of a sudden.

Can’t Work, Need to Work

I need to keep doing projects.

But they can’t be long.

And Lord knows, I can’t do much with short! The Book of Tales represents my output of shorter-than-

novella length writing for the past three years, and maybe the next three too.

Once again, it’s better to be lucky than good.

Voicing a Past Master- Clark Ashton Smith

Wiki

A friend and fellow author sometimes writes and enthuses about one of the old pulp masters- what a great tale this is, here’s a link if you want to read it, etc. I sometimes click, and in January I did for a Clark Ashton Smith yarn entitled The Double Shadow. It was perfect; as soon as I started reading I could just hear the tale, the voices, the effects, the whole thing.

And with acknowledgements, opening and closing files, the whole thing was less than forty minutes. I recorded it in a single morning. And became hooked on a feeling…

The Pulp Masters- They Knew How to Write!

I was always more of a Robert E. Howard guy. His tales are more rollicking, a bit more classic. The good guys win fairly often- I like that part, so sue me. I had read a lot of Burroughs and Lovecraft too and they have their features.

But something about Smith. I couldn’t tell you how many of his works I read back then, but there’s this high-flown vocabulary (real tongue-twisters!), words that make my Kindle dictionary cry for mercy just piled thick on each paragraph. I sincerely believe that’s the kind of challenge I can take on, and I loved doing The Double Shadow. My author friend mentioned it was in the public domain–more about that later!– and an idea began to form in my brain.

Audiobooks and “Classic” Tales

You may see occasionally a famous tale, for example a Sherlock Holmes mystery or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, being issued as an audiobook by an ambitious narrator. If the work was performed roughly a lifetime ago and no estate or other person picks up the “estate”, then others can simply come in and make use of the work themselves.

Sort of.

I blew through Double Shadow in a heartbeat, as I said; it stoked me up, and I started the process of publication on Findaway Voices. And I laid out a plan, to do maybe five or six of these tales. Maybe it would get a little notice. Maybe I would become known as “the voice of Clark Ashton Smith”!

Then I got a bad feeling and decided to check into whether his work was really freely available.

Maybe I would get myself in trouble.

It’s a Bit Complicated…

I searched some forums and learned that there IS a rights-holder for CAS’ work (or some of it, anyway) and like the commenters said, it’s just good manners to ask. So I wrote to the gentleman at CASiana Literary Enterprises and he confirmed. It’s complicated.

joshuablubuhs.com

CAS works are not simply in the public domain, but some versions of his tales probably are. The folks at CASiana and Night Shade books collated and edited the latest, clearest and most official versions of Smith’s canon and those works ARE copyrighted, under The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith.

Having said that, he asked me what my intentions were and I told him. And he graciously gave permission for me to proceed. My sense of it is, the folks minding the Smith estate haven’t thought very much about audiobooks, and the gentleman figured my work might have some merit and attract new customers. I’m on board with that!

All’s Well (Except for the Tales’ Endings!)

So my project is up and running, starting with publication of The Double Shadow due February 15th followed by The Death of Malygris by March 1st. This should keep me out of trouble for a while as I wait for this damn cough to go away… and I can take comfort that my tale seems to be ending much better than most of Mr. Smith’s! These will be fun little horror tales you can curl up with in a loose half-hour or so, but don’t expect to hear of marvelous sunsets and couples kissing. CAS wrote some of the most exotic, bizarre, and usually hero-less tales in all of pulp. I hope it made him happy. Trying to voice and relate his stories to a new audience is certainly giving me joy and satisfaction.

I’ll have plenty of free Author House codes for anyone who would like to take a listen and maybe leave a review. Just let me know in the comments below and I’ll hook you up.

A Fantasy Series that Gives the Gift of Hope

Shards of Light: Adventure in All Formats!

The four-part fantasy series chronicling chaos in Cryssigens is now available in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Give the gift of Hope for the holidays! Descriptions here with links below.

A leaderless city in turmoil, from a dark conspiracy well hidden, in a wounded Empire tilting back toward civil war.
And three heroes who together are the kingdom’s only hope…
have never even met.

Shards of Light 1: The Ring and the Flag

I was always drawn to the events of this first adventure, one of the first two stories I published nearly a decade ago. If you like a classic fantasy quest– doomed secret mission, race against time, mystery monster and a hero who doubts himself– you should enjoy Captain Justin and his exploits. It ends well I think, but you can tell there’s more.

Shards of Light 2: Fencing Reputation

The second book and hero were well known to me and took far less than a year to write and publish. Feldspar the Stealthic is certainly a less usual hero. Without giving the game away, you might have to count him as more than one person depending on circumstance. Vaulting bone-shattering heights, dodging assassins, probing dark places for even darker secrets, these pose no problem. How to meet the new neighbors, on the other hand? That might be the end of him. I took real delight in penning this first-person, detective-flavored adventure.

Shards of Light 3: Perilous Embraces

Here my efforts hit a definite snag. Alongside the labor to finish another full-length novel, introducing the central member of the Shards heroic triumvirate proved to be the hardest task I have ever faced. And in bringing the beautiful mystic W’starrah Altieri to the page, I believe I did some of my best work. Here the plot swirls together and the conspiracy is nearly exposed. The connections to the other two heroes are captured in cross-over scenes which required some nimble footwork on the calendar of days. New characters, as always, were folded into the action. I finished on a hard note, assuredly (I can say no more).

Shards of Light, the Finale

Now my fingers flew again and the final book, for all its complexity, came together very quickly. I enjoyed the return of long-unvisited characters as you would welcome in an old friend. The pace of the action accelerated along with the writing, and I was thrilled to see it coming together in a way that (I hope) brought the entire epic around. I think faithful readers will gain a very satisfying ending from their efforts.

Where to Find Shards of Light

The series is available in paperback or e-book formats, as separate volumes as well as a collection set on Amazon and other major retailers.


 

 

The series is also available in audiobook format as well, with the revision of the first volume, and is rolling out to new retail outlets just as this holiday season rolls around.