You agree with publishing industry guru Fionnuala Barrett when she says, “When you've got the right voice on a particular text, it's just magic to listen to.” Audiobooks have given a new dimension to the written word.
Indian author Christopher C Doyle's books are a blend of ancient history and present-day mystery. His latest audiobook in collaboration with Audible, Magadh Mystery (Hindi & English), is based on Doyle's works from his popular Mahabharata series. “It is about an ancient legend from the time of Jarasandha and a mysterious secret hidden away by Bimbisara, the ruler of Magadh 2,500 years ago. The grandfather of the protagonists, Vidya and her brother Amar, had told them a story called the Magadh Mystery that was passed down through generations in their family. It involved a secret and an ancient riddle that didn't make any sense. Vidya, an archaeologist, and Amar, a history professor, had always dismissed the story as one made up by their grandfather,” reveals Doyle while giving a peek into his book.
He speaks of a surprise discovery in modern-day Kashi that supports the story. The siblings follow the clues to know the secret. An ancient legend from the Mahabharata. A secret from 2,500 years ago. A riddle that can lead to glory or death. What is the secret behind The Magadh Mystery? Well, you need to listen to the book to know what, we ain't giving spoilers!
There are many authors in the mythological fiction space, but what Doyle offers is different from others. “The Mahabharata Quest series spans multiple genres: science fiction, historical fiction, mythological fiction, thrillers, adventure books and mystery books, yet does not fit into any of these genres. The Pataala Prophecy series spans fantasy, mythology, adventure, thrillers and mystery books but doesn't fit neatly into any of these genres,” Doyle says.
Readers know Doyle’s books as fast-paced thrillers filled with ancient secrets and science. He was always keen on exploring the ancient text of Mahabharata with science, scientific facts and research. “The scientific facts in my books and the theories that underpin my plots are always vetted by experts, who ensure that I get my facts right. And the same goes for the historical facts. The fiction comes while making connections between science, history and the Mahabharata. I think that is what makes the genre so interesting. I do a lot of research that enables me to blend fact and fiction in a manner that to makes the story credible. It is difficult to know where fact ends and fiction begins,” Doyle explains.
Writing books for the audio format are a different ball game compared to the regular print version. Sharing his experience about working on an audiobook, Doyle says, “Since the story is being narrated rather than being read, the style of storytelling has to change. A bit more drama has to be added so that the narration does not become monotonous. A lot of descriptions and emotions need to be conveyed through the dialogues. The advantage of writing an Audible Original was that I could write the story as an audiobook, rather than having my print book being converted into an audiobook.”
But fiction does not interest him much these days. He devotes his reading time to research and pursuing knowledge. His library is now chiefly made up of non-fiction for research purposes. “There is so much out there that we do not know. There is so much research and amazing discoveries that most have not heard of. The whole journey of reading these non-fiction books is most enlightening,” Doyle admits.
For the past few years, audiobooks have been slowly making inroads into readers' hearts. Even the old school bibliophiles who were once shunning the format are now finding a newfound respect for them. So, what does this mean for the publishing industry? For many years now, ever since the advent of eBooks, there have been numerous predictions about the slow death of their print counterparts. But, the end is nowhere near, feels Doyle. “Past predictions like that of the imminent death of the printed books have failed to materialise. In India, at least, physical books still reign supreme. What is certain is the distribution of physical books will see a change. Even before the pandemic, bookstores were an endangered species; after the pandemic, even more so. Perhaps bookstores will change and adapt. I feel in India, physical books will continue to rule the roost,” he avers.
The year 2022 will be a busy year for Doyle. January saw his nonfiction series launch at The Quest Club on his website. Called Revealed – Mysteries of the Mahabharata, it would be a chance for anyone still blissfully unaware of the epic or have questions regarding the same.
“I found over the years that many of my readers want to read the original text. But they didn't know where to start and was not interested in the retellings or the translation available,” Doyle explains. “They wanted something they could understand & relate to and covered the entire epic. In this new series, I share my research and explain the original Sanskrit Shlokas of the epic. Then, Book 3 of The Mahabharata Quest series, the sequel to The Secret of the Druids, is also slated to release in the next few months. In the second half, I expect to release the Book 3 of The Pataala Prophecy series. There may also be additional releases on The Quest Club Gold channel.”
1. Akshoy Majumdar’s The Hindu History.
2. Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of the Gods and Magicians of the Gods.
3. Hamlet’s Mill by Giorgio De Santillana and Hertha Von Dechend.
4. Uriel’s Machine by Christopher Lomas and Robert Knight.