Television producer, comic book writer and prose novelist Greg Weisman has just added a new job description – audioplay mastermind. That’s not a euphemism, Weisman is taking his nine-book novel series known as Rain of the Ghosts and bringing it over to Kickstarter in the form of an audioplay. The author has just finished the second title in the series: Spirits of Ash and Foam. The novels and audioplay focus on Rain Cacique, a heroine with some mysteries to solve and new (ghostly) friends to hang out with. This work is also produced with the young adult market in mind – a smart decision on behalf of the creators to make the work much more accessible. With a Kickstarter campaign in the works, and a new Marvel book featuring a popular Star Wars: Rebels character known as Kanaan, Weisman is a busy creator.
Did you first build Rain of the Ghosts around the female hero Rain Cacique, or did you start with the world building first?
It was so long ago – I first developed Rain of the Ghosts in 1997. I definitely wanted to do a show around a female lead. We really did the origins of it developing a show set in New Orleans. The more I researched about the Caribbean, the more I wanted to do a show set there. Part of it, is the setting itself, and then the cast just seemed to come together with the mythology of the Taino people. It just worked for it to be a female lead in that it was something I wanted to do. So it kind of felt like more of a holistic approach in that I started more with this,
Aside from your setting and environment, how did you weave the mythological aspects into the story?
My method involves a lot of index cards and a very large bulletin board. I just started putting the index cards up moving them around and changing the order that began to coalesce for me. That’s how I began to work on the television shows, and it’s how I do the novels. On the second book: Spirits of Ash and Foam, I used 693 index cards to outline the book. I covered an eight foot tall bulletin board, a big table and a pool table before I was done – I completely covered all three. Even then, I took the index cards and wrote them up into a document. There were these two characters that in the outline were very minor. They were each in one short scene or something like that and very functionary characters. They had no drive of their own per see. As I was writing the book the characters came up and said nuh-uh. We’re way more important than that. So I had to sort of figure out what there arcs were in the second book. They turned out to be very important characters.
How did you first start to get the idea of taking the book and getting in the audioplay format?
Initially it was pretty straightforward, thought it would be really cool to make an audioplay of this. I found myself with the dilemma which would be: I have first-person narrator who is an adult male. If it’s a first-person narrator you get an adult male to read it. Then I thought, but my lead character is a thirteen year-old girl and she has most of the dialogue. Listen to this adult male trying to do the little girl voice for the whole book, it would be really awful. I decided that I would add a musical score because most audiobooks are just one guy reading with no music and no sound effects. Let me do this like a radioplay, let me do it like an episode of an animated tv series only without the animation and that’s something that I do know how to do. We cast the whole book – that’s done. What we’re doing, is raising the money on the Kickstarter for the post-production of all the Dynamic Music Partners; the group that did the music for Spectacular Spider-Man. For the editing and sound effects and all the post-production work; because this is a studio quality production without the studio interference. We get to decide whether or not it gets made and that’s what the Kickstarter is for.
Did you construct a budget for the audio play different than how you would an animated series?
I sat down and talked to a bunch of people and figured out the budget: a SAG Union production. We got a discount because we are an audioplay, and not many people have done that before. It doesn’t cost as much as it would if it was a full episode, but we have four hours worth of material. It’s a lot of bang for the buck, I called in a lot of favors and a lot of people were working for free. Most people are being paid if the Kickstarter goes through at least a little bit. Just turning it around and giving us the best work that they can give us. We broke the budget into two halves, the first half is for the voice cast, paid for by me, and the second half is the post-production which was paid for by the Kickstarter.
Did you look at the foreign market in the UK where audio plays are a known quantity?
I didn’t do any detailed research into that but I was very aware of Big Finish, and that kind of thing and I thought we could demonstrate that it’s good stuff that might be a place where we could take it. To some extent I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself. The Kickstarter is at the halfway point and it hasn’t even been up a week yet. I don’t wanna count my chickens before the hatch in that essence.
Do you have a plan for how you will be able to market the audiodrama to more people?
I’ve got people working on the marketing side of things, obviously the social media aspects are a big part of that. The Kickstarter itself is good advertising – we were hoping to bring some more attention to not just the audioplay itself – but to everyone. I just keep trying to reach out to people, I have a comic book series called Star Wars: Kanaan that came out on Wednesday, and if that can help me reach more people for Rain…great. I have a new television show that I am not allowed to talk about yet. Eventually that will come out – hopefully that will generate more interest with me and interest in Rain. If we can make it happen we’re gonna try do it.
Are their any last words on your upcoming projects?
I got the book ready to go with Spirits of Ash and Foam which is available on Amazon or in any bookstore. If they aren’t literally on the shelf, you can go to the front desk and they will order them for you. That’s the big thing that I am pushing right now, other than that, there’s Star Wars: Kanaan which is a lot of fun. It has the first issue out now with a great second issue out in a month. I am pushing this Kickstarter, we so had a great time recording the voices. We really want a chance to finish this thing off so people remember what we did.