Veteran actor brings ‘Mr. Mayhem’ to life

Alan Wade is a character. It’s a description he likes, one that has brought him work in theater (King Lear), movies (The Pelican Brief) and television (House of Cards Season 4). And one of the reasons he was drawn to the narration of Mr. Mayhem, the first in my series of crime novels starring a defrocked journalist turned PR whiz named Brinker.

Alan Wade as the drunken clerk in Shaw's Augustus Does His Bit for The Washington Stage Guild

Alan Wade as the drunken clerk in Shaw’s Augustus Does His Bit for The Washington Stage Guild

Alan is a veteran of film, television and stage. Actor, writer and director, he has appeared in regional theater and off-Broadway, as well as television (Homicide) and film (The Pelican Brief, Major League II).

For almost four decades he has served as a professor of speech communications and theater at The George Washington University and directed 30 plays there. His professional work has won praise from After Dark magazine and The Washington Post.

For his latest project, Alan drew on his extensive stage experience to bring the dark story of Mr. Mayhem to life as an audiobook, as he explains in this two-part interview, conducted shortly after he finished the narration.

Alan Wade as Sgt. Rough in “Angel Street” for the Olney Theatre Center with Julie Ann Elliott (Stan Barough Photography)

Alan Wade as Sgt. Rough in “Angel Street” for the Olney Theatre Center with Julie Ann Elliott (Stan Barough Photography)

Tell us a bit about the path you took to a career in acting and narration.
I was a freshman in high school when the “bug bit.” I took some after-school courses, went on to Northwestern University’s theater program, to Catholic University’s drama program (M.A.), and back to Northwestern for a Ph.D. in what is now Performance Studies. Intertwined with this academic work was a stint as a resident actor at Center Stage in Baltimore.

You’ve appeared in everything from King Lear to The Pelican Brief. How has stage and television influenced your voice work?
Well, I’m what is thought of, certainly now, as a character actor, which can often involve roles differentiated in part by changes in vocal characterization: dialects, accents, vocal qualities, and other speech mannerisms. My first Equity role was as Billy Bibbitt in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at Center Stage. Billy suffers from a pronounced stammer.

How does audiobook narration differ from your other projects?
You’re by yourself and, for someone like me who enjoys the culture of theater and its sociability, this aloneness is a pronounced difference. I’ve done two one-person shows during my stage career, so I’ve had a performance experience that approximates being in a booth alone, but there was always the audience to provide companionship.

What do you like best about voice acting?
In the case of audiobooks, it’s somewhat self-directed (though you do interact with the author and sometimes a producer), so there is a larger creative component to voice acting of this kind.

‘Peak Season’ now available in audio

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00064]Peak Season is now available as an audiobook through Amazon, Audible and iTunes. The book is narrated by Pamela Almand, who captures the determination of CW McCoy as well as the nuanced voices of her mentor, friends and enemies.

Fans of Lorelei King’s rendition of the Stephanie Plum books will enjoy Pam Almand. It’s a voice that will ring in your ears long after she turns the last page.

New crime series debuts

Mr Mayhem 3d_coverAllusion Books has launched a new crime series from author Jeff Widmer. Mr. Mayhem marks the first of the books starring a defrocked journalist named Brinker, who find that in this economy, even a serial killer needs an agent.

When his doctor asks for help in euthanizing terminal patients, Brinker hires an assassin named Angel, who brings chaos and fame to the sleepy resort town in Pennsylvania. But as Angel’s demands soar with the body count, Brinker wonders whether he’ll become the latest addition to his own list

In trade paperback and e-book formats, Mr. Mayhem will soon be available as an audiobook.

 

Allusion Books looks behind the badge

Riding 3D coversFrom Ferguson to Baltimore to Hattiesburg, police officers face an unprecedented challenge—how to keep the law while maintaining public trust, as well as their own safety. Theirs is a balancing act that largely goes on behind closed doors.

Riding with the Blues explores the inner world of the Sarasota (Florida) Police Department as it strives to meet its mandate in an increasingly critical world. Veteran journalist Jeff Widmer takes a look behind the badge in this new work of nonfiction, coming this fall to Amazon, iBooks and other channels.

‘Peak Season’ launches new mystery series

For the heroine of Peak Season, life at the beach is murder. The first in the CW McCoy series, the crime novel debuted in July on Amazon and Smashwords in both e-book and paperback formats.

Written by Jeff Widmer, the book features detective-turned-real-estate-agent CW McCoy, a woman who surrendered her gun, her badge and her confidence after shooting a fellow police officer. She flees the Northeast for sunny Florida but even in paradise during peak tourist season, violence finds her like a divining rod.

Peak Season 3D coverWhen a fugitive kidnaps her family, the former detective must decide which side of the law she’s on.

“Writing from a woman’s point of view has proven challenging and rewarding,” Widmer said. “CW has a strong sense of justice as well as a soft spot for motorcycles, underdogs and country music, all things we have in common. It seems a natural fit.”

While McCoy hales from Northeastern Pennsylvania, the novel takes place in the fictional city of Spanish Point, a wealthy tourist mecca located between Tampa and Naples on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Widmer said fans of Sara Paretsky, Robert B. Parker, Jennifer Crusie (Agnes and the Hitman) and Chelsea Cain (One Kick) should enjoy the book.

Widmer is the author of several works of nonfiction, including the Spirit of Swiftwater and the forthcoming story of the Sarasota Police Department’s Citizen Academy, Riding with the Blues. He has contributed to national publications such as National Geographic World, US Airways and Advertising Age as well as Sarasota’s Herald-Tribune, SRQ Daily and BIZ 941. A former city editor for the Pocono Record in Stroudsburg, Pa., he worked as a public relations professional in the Lehigh Valley, Pa. His blog about commerce and culture appears regularly at jeffwidmer.com.