Greg Weisman’s Rain of the Ghosts is a book unlike any other, so it’s fitting that the audio version isn’t your run-of-the-mill audio book. No, Weisman is taking it above and beyond. Rain of the Ghosts is the first book in a series and tells the story of Rain Cacique, a young girl who resides in the Ghost Keys in the Caribbean. She works at her parents’ bed and breakfast and leads a relatively quiet life until she learns she can communicate with ghosts.
The book is riveting and explores locations and mythology that haven’t really been visited by popular culture. At least, not to this extent. And Weisman wants to bring another dimension to the story with a fully voiced audio play. Note that I said “audio play” and not “audio book.” Weisman has launched a Kickstarter campaign to produce what is essentially a four hour movie without the visuals. He has a full cast who’ve already recorded the story, sound effects, a score – basically everything he would do for an episode of an animated series. Given his history working on shows such as Gargoyles, Young Justice, and Star War Rebels, Weisman has the contacts and knowledge necessary to make the Rain of the Ghosts AudioPlay something special. He just needs a little help to complete the project. I talked with Greg about what sets this audio play apart from typical audio books, the cast, and where the Kickstarter funds will go.
Nerdist: Tell me about the premise of Rain of the Ghosts.
Greg Weisman: I’ve written two novels, Rain of the Ghosts and its sequel Spirits of Ash and Foam. This is obviously just the first book but we’d love to do the same thing for the second book eventually. Rain of the Ghosts is about a 13 year old girl, Rain Cacique, who lives on a chain of Caribbean Islands called the Ghost Keys or the Ghosts for short. Her parents own and operate a bed and breakfast so even at age 13 Rain spends a lot of time making beds for tourists, serving them breakfast. She goes from doing that stuff to finding out that she can see and communicate with the dead. She finds out that she’s got a mystery to solve, a mission to complete, a destiny to fill. This is, in theory, a nine book series. I’ve written the first two and would very much like the option to write the other seven. I’m very proud of these books. They’re full of all this great mythology. The Taino people, who are the indigenous people of the Caribbean before Columbus arrived, had a mythology that’s just as rich and just as interesting with amazing stories just like Greek mythology or Norse mythology or Egyptian mythology.
Nerdist: How is the Rain of the Ghosts AudioPlay different than a normal audio book?
Weisman: We’re doing an unabridged reading of Rain of the Ghosts but unlike a typical audio book which is usually one narrator reading all the voices, doing the narration, just reading the book without any help from music or sound effects, this is an audio play. A full cast production with twenty actors, a musical score, sound effects, full mix. It’s basically the same process I’d go through to make an animated show only without animation. But otherwise it is studio quality but without any studio backing. We did all the recording and all the post production is going to be an Advantage Audio. We have already recorded all the voices–and that’s not just recorded but paid for. Myself and one other person invested our own money to make this happen, but we’ve launched a Kickstarter to raise $43,000 in order to do the post production on this. What that includes is editing–we have all the dialogue tracks but we obviously have to edit them together—and to pay for the musical score which is being done by Kris Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis of Dynamic Music Partners. They did the score for Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Justice League Unlimited.
They will be composing over three hours of music for this piece. They’re giving me a huge, mighty discount on this thing but still, they can’t lose money on it. Advantage Audio’s doing all the sound effects and the foley effects for this, again, as if it were a full production, because it is. And then we’ll mix that. We will come out the other end with this available either on CD if you choose to take that as a reward, but it will obviously be available digitally. This has been a real labor of love for me. It’s also been one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long time. We have tremendous actors on this. Brittany Uomoleale is Rain and we’ve got: Thom Adcox, Edward Asner, Jeff Bennett, Steve Blum, Daniela Bobadilla, Jim Cummings, Elisa Gabrielli, Bryton James, Josh Keaton, Eric Lopez, Vanessa Marshall, Jacqueline Obradors, Gregg Rainwater, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, Deborah Strang, Joel Swetow, and Jacob Vargas. And then me, I’m in it too. That’s twenty actors, all really talented. It’s a union show because it was important to me that it be a union project. We just went for it.
Nerdist: And given the large number of people you had to schedule, how long have you been working on recording Rain of Ghosts?
GW: I started working on it probably about right after San Diego Comic-Con last year. We started casting in September. We held auditions for the parts of Rain Cacique and Miranda. Everyone else we just cast ,but those two parts we had auditions for. We started recording, I’m going to say in October and we finished in December. We took Christmas off, but from that point on we’ve just been getting our act together to get the Kickstarter up and running.
Nerdist: As you mentioned earlier, there’s no studio tied to the audio play. What’s it been like doing a project without having to worry about powers that be?
GW: It’s been great. There are two aspects of it–even in terms of writing the novels. One of the things–and I’m sure fans feel the same way–is I do a show like Gargoyles or Spectacular Spider-Man or Young Justice and I have a great time doing it, the fans seem, in general, to have a great time watching it, but then it ends and it’s not in our control whether we get to do more. In this case, I own Rain, I own Charlie, I own Miranda, I own Bastian. I own these characters and it’s not up to some studio whether we get to do more. It’s up to whether or not I can afford the time. There’s still a monetary aspect to it, but I get to make that decision not someone else, not some committee at a studio somewhere who have 25 other agendas and all these other projects that they have to think about and worry about. That’s a great relief.
Nerdist: Assuming the Kickstarter funds, what’s your estimated completion date?
GW: I don’t have a specific date, but we’re looking at September. We have to edit the tracks and that will probably take about a month. Then we have to give the composers time to compose three hours of music. Give or take, it’s about a four hour audio play. Simultaneously, Advantage Audio will be building the sound effects and foley tracks for four hours and will probably take two or three weeks to mix. We definitely want to proceed with all deliberate speed. I’m excited for people to hear this–very excited–so we’re not going to waste any time. It’s one of those things you fill out on the Kickstarter, “What are the risks to this?” And the truth of the matter is that if we fund the risk is almost non-existent.
Reward levels range from $1 to $6,000 and cover everything from digital versions of the audio play, to outgoing voice messages, to the finished CDs, to an associate producer credit. The Kickstarter campaign runs through April 29.