It’s True Blues Tuesday! For the next nine weeks, the plan is to put a chapter of the audio book “True Blues Retold” online on the site. I’ve been recording this thing for two years now. However, to clarify, that’s not in a “two arduous agonizing years” sort of way – more of a “whenever I can get to it and it’s been two years now” type thing.
Listen to Chapter One
Oddly enough, this is the second time I’ve recorded this story. The first was back in 1998 with my friend and co-creator, Dwight. He and I made up the story together as we were doing a media training program in Perth. We both brought elements in from previous creative endeavors (Johnny Matthias was his, Randy was mine) and melded them together with the inspiration we were getting at the time to construct the tale of four disparate characters and their journey across America.
How did it all come together? We had a teacher who talked about felt needs, and that quickly led to the idea of “Felt-Need Frank”, for whom the felt need was always jelly doughnuts, regardless of the situation. We partnered him together with Dwight’s previous character, Johnny Matthias, and started them on their journeys. We brought Randy the Cabin Boy from The Adventures of Captain Strong into the picture, (the mechanics of which helped to shape the plot). And we gave them a pet dog Bobo, who got renamed Bo and eventually became a duck. Then one day, the idea struck that Bo could talk, and at that moment, the whole story found its tone.
We talked about the story for over a year before actually writing it down. That gave us plenty of time to explore and develop each character’s back story. When the time came to start composing it officially, the biggest question was really what order to reveal story. Because of our intimate knowledge of where things were going, it gave us lots of opportunities to seed lots of hints of what was to come in earlier episodes, usually through the divergent ramblings of Dwight’s brilliant character, Walter.
That isn’t to say that there weren’t things that took us by surprise. Maruska was intended to be a one-off character in Episode 4, but we liked her so much that she came back for a return appearance in the story’s climax. And it wasn’t until I was actually writing it that I knew what the resolution of the relationship between Frank and Fiona was going to be.
There are only two reasons why I haven’t already gone ahead and put the original recordings of True Blues up on this site. First of all, the recording quality is a bit fuzzy – not so fuzzy that you can’t listen to it, but it is distorted enough that it’s hard for my daughters to sit through it. They love the story, they love Bo the Duck (there are particular moments with him in Chapters 7 & 9 that they love for me to tell them over and over again), but the actual production, with all its ramblings between Walter and his friend Dreamchild, are hard for them to focus on. That’s what inspired me to start recording True Blues Retold, a more “audio book” version of the story with me playing (almost) all of the characters. It loses something without Dwight’s participation, to be sure, but gains a listening ease.
The other reason is because the original True Blues is full of copyrighted music (mostly blues music, of course) that I have no legal permission to distribute over this site. So again, it’s a trade off – the production isn’t as fun without the music, but on the other hand I can put it up here.
Because of the collaborative nature over an extended period of time, True Blues is possibly my most satisfying story, featuring arguably my best character (Bo the Duck). You may or may not agree, but I hope you enjoy the ride.