Last year we had the pleasure of chatting with author and audiobook narrator Eric Jason Martin about his debut novel New Arcadia: Stage One. And a little over a year later, we are back to chat about his second novel and sequel, New Arcadia: Revolution. Martin has worn many hats in his lifetime, including director, producer, podcaster, comedian and audio master. But our particular favorite is “90s pop culture fanatic.” As he celebrates the release of his second book and prepares for the upcoming release of its audio version, we chatted about how production was different this time around, what new pop culture references we can expect and how the pandemic changed the industry.

Be sure to preorder your copy of New Arcadia: Revolution today!

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Eric Jason Martin

Eric Jason Martin at the Audie Awards.

Julia Roth: We are heading back to Arcadia! The last we spoke, you mentioned that there was always going to be more. What are we looking at? Six books and a movie?

Eric Jason Martin: Well, it was always conceived as a trilogy. I had some sense of where I wanted the story to go, but I always kept it open. In the beginning, it was in the very near future, but as the story became the present, I wanted to absorb events as they were occurring in the real world. I had a structure that allowed it to grow and change based on time passing, what things resonated with the audience and what I wanted to focus on. So while I have had the books planned out, they are different from what I thought they would look like last year.

JR: I am super thankful that the real world hasn’t become what the story did. Is there anything in particular that you can think of that changed with the times?

EJM: This is a great question. What if we had to stay locked up for three years? That would have been horrible. We barely made it out of this last one. The real world reopening sort of mirrors what happens in the book because people are getting out, coming together and building a community. All sorts of crazy things can happen as a result. This book has an undercurrent of heavier situations with the excitement of the first book.

JR: Following trilogies typically, I assume that we are going to see a similar tone in New Arcadia: Revolution.

EJM: Yes. There are certainly variations, but the throughline of the story is the same. This book is bigger, wilder and more fun than the first. New Arcadia had a deliberate start because we’re introducing all these concepts and wanting to get that tone and feeling down. But, the whole trilogy is about opening up and moving past this moment we are in.

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JR: This doesn’t end in a cliffhanger like most middle books, right? Right, Eric?

EJM: Well. I will say that there is a very satisfying ending while also letting you know that the third book will resolve all of these questions that you may have. Is that a cliffhanger? I guess you will have to wait and see.

JR: When New Arcadia was recorded, we were at the peak of the pandemic, and everyone filmed in separate locations. Did that change for New Arcadia: Revolution?

EJM: It was possible for us to meet, but we chose to continue doing it in the same way. It was just easier, especially for a project like this. We are given a lot of bang for our buck, but this is still an indie project, so we need to make the budget go as far as possible. It would have been nice to be able to interact with each other, but in this case, everybody stayed at home and recorded from their home studios.

JR: Do you think this is something that could become a norm in the industry?

EJM: The pandemic shutdown showed us the benefits and possibilities of home recording. A lot of audiobooks are already recorded at home anyway, and more and more productions are able to figure out a way to transition. Of course, some will transition back because studios are able to do a lot of great things when everyone is there. But now, projects that may not have the budget for a studio or the resources are still able to happen. It’s a great opportunity there for other independent creators and me.

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JR: I think across the board, people are starting to realize what we are able to accomplish without being in the same room, and, as you said, it opens doors for indie creators that may not have the resources to create something great. Now that New Arcadia: Revolution is here, how far into the third book are you?

EJM: It is sort of outlined. I have a sense of what it’s been and have been writing it in my head for the last few months. I was thinking about how I would be tying things up and what events would be taking place while finishing up the recording on book two. With two books under my belt, I am anticipating it will be a smooth process, and I am excited to see how it winds up on paper.

JR: How long would you say it took to write the first two books from concept to print?

EJM: Book one was very quick. That took just a few months to write, but this one took a little bit more time. The production varied a bit. Both times we were still in lockdown, but during book two, the cast was back to doing other work as well. And our cast gets to do some really incredible things, so we didn’t mind waiting for them.

JR: You really just have to roll with the punches. And everyone is planning on coming back for book three?

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EJM: That is certainly my intention. I think we will figure out a way to get everybody back.

JR: That’s great news! So, what really drew me into New Arcadia was all of the pop culture references. Will this be something that continues in New Arcadia: Revolution?

EJM: Definitely! It’s morphed a bit for book two. I think one of the best pieces I read in reviews was how much people loved the pop culture stuff. But people did ask about where all the stuff for the girls was. And I didn’t really know a lot of girl pop culture, so I turned to longtime friend Brittany Walloch to help me expand my knowledge. She grew up in a situation similar to one that I wanted to show in the plot and helped me find a way to expand my horizons and include that perspective in the book.

But yes, pop culture is back! I know some folks were annoyed with how the movie references were done in a scholarly way, and we do play off that in some really fun ways here by explaining and poking fun at it. And the fun thing with pop culture is that it’s fixed in the past, but our understanding of it continues to morph and twist. So 90s pop culture landscape is different now than it was a year ago.

Eric Jason Martin headshot.

JR: Do you have a favorite reference that comes to mind?

EJM: I think it’s easier to say that my least favorite pop culture reference is Furbies because I was terrified of those things. But, I found a fun way to make peace with that in the book. Specifically, though, this book is about 90s music and the movement it birthed. I wasn’t going to clubs since I was a kid, but I would hear this stuff on the radio all the time and wanted to make it such a big part of the book.

JR: Do we get a dance club scene in the book?

EJM: Several and an original song, no less. Dance becomes both a game mechanic and a way to bring the community together, so it’s an important part of this book.

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JR: Do you have any ideas for future projects?

EJM: Yeah, certainly. I’d love to either work in an existing property or develop some more of my own. Knowing the process and having gone through it, I feel confident in carrying forward. This has been an incredible launch pad and a growth opportunity, both artistically and in terms of the business and outside things.

JR: That’s fantastic! I’d love to see what else you have in store for us. Any chance we might get to see New Arcadia make its way to TV?

EJM: Oh, sure. Absolutely. I mean, this could be a movie, TV series, a series of commercials – it could be whatever. We will have to see what they want to do, but I am certainly open to it.

JR: Six seasons and a movie! Eric, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. It’s always a pleasure. I can’t wait to check out the audio version of New Arcadia: Revolution when it drops and to see how everything ties up next year.

EJM: Thank you! We can’t wait for everyone to check it out, and I can’t wait to get started on closing on this incredible story.

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