In April 2023 Erin Mallon launched a Kickstarter campaign to celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of These Walls Can Talk. On November 17, a group of backers, readers, and listeners will join Erin for a unique release party. One that will celebrate the unveiling of ten commissioned audio plays featuring These Walls Can Talk original cast members and the campaign backers who inspired the stories. This week, on the eve of The Full Narwhal livestream, we* chatted with Erin about her experience creating bespoke audio plays.
SFN: What inspired you to add the Full Narwhal tier to the Kickstarter? What was it like for you to draw creative inspiration from the readers/listeners during their interviews?
EM: Well, I knew that this was the one and only time I’d run a Kickstarter to celebrate These Walls Can Talkin this way, so I asked myself what I could do to make it really special. One of my favorite things to do in the theater is hold salons where I interview actors and write roles specifically for them to play. The idea landed to hold these interview salons with my audio listeners and give them the opportunity to really enter the These Walls Can Talk world by performing alongside characters they’ve come to love. The process was so joyful! When I see readers, it’s mostly at busy book events where you get just a few minutes together in a signing line. Spending an intimate hour with each backer one-on-one and diving deep into discussion was a total delight and gave me all the creative inspiration I needed to write these pieces.
SFN: As a seasoned playwright and accomplished author, you’re no stranger to working under a deadline. But what was it like to create 10 fresh plays in a matter of months? Did you find it stressful? Exhilarating? All of the above?
EM: There’s always a certain amount of pressure involved when you’re creating under a deadline. And in this case I reeeeeeeally wanted the listeners who commissioned me to be excited about their piece. Generally though, I don’t see pressure as a negative. There’s so much distraction in the world, so a deadline (or a “lifeline” as Georgia Westwood calls it) has a magical way of bringing things into focus. It also helped that I know the These Walls Can Talk characters so well. They’re some of my favorite fictional people! Surrounding our original cast with 10 brand new troublemaking characters was an exhilarating way to pull out sides of them we haven’t seen before.
SFN: As one of the backers of The Full Narwhal project, I can attest that you and the narrators did a wonderful job of making the recording process a fun, relaxed experience. I wonder, what was your favorite part of recording with a mix of professional voice actors and listeners?
EM: That’s music to my ears and exactly what my intention was when we launched this thing. You did an incredible job. Honestly, everyone did! I think the most rewarding part for me was seeing folks who were very nervous at the beginning of the process rise to the occasion and bring their whole selves to the recording. I imagine it could be intimidating for people performing with narrators they’ve listened to for years, but you would never have known it! We became a true ensemble. It was a beautiful thing.
*This week's interview was conducted by audiobook listener extraordinaire and co-editor of the SuperFan News, Elizabeth Taylor