Niles author, voice actor team up to produce audiobook

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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NILES — A pair of friends have teamed up to create a new storytelling experience.

Author Marty Klubeck and voice actor Bob Feifar collaborated to create an audiobook of Klubeck’s latest work, “The Adventures of Sir Locke the Gnome,” a collection of six stories about the greatest detective in all of Aethrofell, a world based on a weekly Dungeons and Dragons campaign Klubeck has been playing in for more than two years. 

Klubeck and Feifar’s collaboration resulted in an audiobook that blends Sherlock-ian mystery with Middle-Earth-like worlds. 

“It’s an epic adventure we started when the pandemic broke out” Klubeck said. “The players are spread out across the country and now two of us are in Japan.” 

Klubeck made an extensive backstory for his character, a Gnome Bard who was modeled after one of his heroes, Sherlock Holmes. 

“Our Dungeon Master wanted us to build a full character for the game, and I may have gone a little overboard.” 

Klubeck decided the best way to describe his character, Sir Locke, was to write a story about him. 

“My oldest daughter, one of my harshest critics, told me that she was surprised by the story. She said, I didn’t think you wrote it, it was great. “I think she meant it as a compliment.” 

Klubeck decided he agreed with her. The story was different from anything he had ever written and he believed it was special. 

“I think most writers and artists are their own worst critics. I’m almost never happy with anything I create. But this was different. I think I found my niche, my calling.” 

He started writing a story every month, publishing them as ebooks. Finally he felt he had enough to produce a paperback from the stories and “The Adventures of Sir Locke the Gnome, Books 1-6” was published. 

The next step

Being a lover of audiobooks, the next step seemed logical. But for Klubeck, the choice for narrating the books wasn’t as obvious. Should he do it himself? Should he hire someone from the many services offered online? He decided to ask his friend, Bob Feifar, a voice actor who also lives in Niles, for advice. His voice can be heard on audiobooks, while readers are on hold at various businesses, on local radio and television commercials and more. 

Feifar had converted a short business book into an audiobook for Klubeck years before. Whereas business books involved straight narration, this one would be challenging, requiring acting, multiple voices and accents. 

So Klubeck checked Feifar’s online credentials for these special skills and it turned out that he

had a pretty impressive resume. The samples of his talent were just what Klubeck wanted. A phone call later and Bob was on board. 

“Marty had a vision for what he wanted,” Feifar said. “He suggested I watch the old Basil Rathbone movies to get the idea of the voice in his head. He also had what I thought was a strange request at the time, which was to read all six books before I agreed to take on the project. Marty told me that, while Sir Locke was the main character, he wasn’t the one telling the story, that was Latswin, his best friend. And Latswin grows a lot from book one to book six.” 

Feifar came to understand Klubeck’s request. Reading all six books helped him fully understand the characters involved, their experiences and how they would change. As the project progressed, it became much more than a publishing project. It became a labor of love and took more than six months to finish. 

“Bob has done a lot of audiobooks,” Klubeck said. “Sometimes just narrating them, and sometimes, as in this case, he also directed and produced it; He did an amazing job. I have listened to the stories four times during the review and edit process, and each time I’m fascinated by how Bob captured each character’s personality. You see, when people read your books, you hope they read it the way you intended for them to, but you never know. It’s one of the best and worst things about writing. As a result, each reader can interpret it their own way. However, an audiobook is special. 

“As an author you can actually hear it the way you meant for it to be. From volume and inflection to tone and emotion. It’s all there, and Bob totally captured it. I get goose bumps everytime I listen to it.”

Feifar said that Klubeck was more involved with the audiobook process than any author he had ever worked with.

“He really cares about the characters and the story. But he didn’t micro-manage the project,” Feifar said. “He gave me a lot of freedom to tell his stories.” 

Pursuing their passions

Klubeck has lived in Niles for more than 20 years after spending 20 years in the United States Air Force. Since that time, he has dabbled in a variety of things, such as teaching chess in the 11th Street Martin’s Deli, running chess tournaments at the Niles District Library, creating sidewalk chalk paintings, coaching volleyball with Krush VBC or leading Simon Says during the Niles River Fest and Life Walk. 

He created a chess-based card game that can be found at Apotheca Teas on Main Street. But that’s not enough. After writing six organizational improvement business books, he decided to chase another dream. 

For the last few years, he’s been writing fiction. His first book, “The Time Warp King,” was a joint effort with his daughter, Alyssa. It’s a Young Adult story about a young man that finds out that he’s the heir to a kingdom. 

As to Feifar’s journey in life, he says that like Klubeck, he enjoyed a wide variety of experiences. One of those being in the Air Force, where he spent two of his six year enlistment on the island of Mallorca, off the east coast of Spain. When he was honorably discharged he went to college for a degree in the arts. While there, he discovered that he had a certain gift. 

“God showed me that I could sing and act, and people seemed to like it when I performed,” he said.

Feifar said he was the lead in several musicals in both college and community theater, such as “South Pacific”, “Finian’s Rainbow”, “Cole” and others. 

After a while, reality set in and Feifar decided that he needed a paycheck, so he changed his college major, became a Registered Nurse. As time went on however, he discovered that something was missing, that being a nurse was not his calling. 

He prayed for direction and through a series of events decided to put nursing on the shelf. A short time later, he got a job at a local radio station, WYEZ, where he spent three years as a

full-time announcer. That led to him starting his own recording studio, Feifar Productions.

A project forged in friendship

The two friends enjoyed working together on the project. When asked which characters were their favorites or which stories they liked the most, their answers differed.

“My favorite was the first book although I don’t think it’s the best in the series,” Klubeck said. “It was where I met Latswin and Sir Locke and the town of Little Thoracia.” 

Feifar said he has two favorites. 

“I like books four and six the best, because of the spirited interaction between all of the characters.” 

Klubeck and Feifar encourage those thinking about pursuing their passions to take the plunge.

“Any good writer never writes for themselves, you’re writing for someone else,” Klubeck said. “You have to have a selflessness about you. I think with anything that you have a talent for you’re giving to someone and you’re giving to the community; giving to someone else. As long as you remember that you’re doing it for other people, you can keep doing it. As soon as you start thinking that you’re doing it for yourself, then other things will take priority and distract you and keep you from your goals.”

“You’ve got to get in your head what you are and find your niche,” Feifar said. “If you really believe that’s the way to go, write it down. Give yourself a ‘why’; ‘why am I doing this’ and stick to that. For me, I feel led by God to go there and he’s given each one of us talents. What’s your talent? What is your gift? Now, go find what you can do with it and once you find it, go do it. Now, there’s gonna be mountains, there’s gonna be valleys. Keep looking at your ‘why’ and keep praying, keep looking and stay the course.”

Physical copies of “The Adventures of Sir Locke the Gnome” are available at the Niles District Library and St. Joseph Library. The audiobook is available on Hoopla, Spotify and Barnes and Noble. The duo said the audiobook will soon be on 40 different platforms.