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Shadows Beneath
The Writing Excuses Anthology

by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells and Howard Tayler
Feb 11, 2016
10 Hours
Ages 18+
Ever wanted to know how the writing process works? New York Times Bestselling Fantasy Fiction Writer, Brandon Sanderson decided to develop a podcast writing advice show called Writing Excuses along with 3 of his colleagues. In SHADOW'S BENEATH, the Hugo Award-winning hosts of Writing Excuses provides a collection of all-new fantasy stories and an informative behind-the-scenes look at each story’s creation.

Brandon Sanderson’s “Sixth of the Dusk,” set in his Cosmere universe shared by the Mistborn books and the #1 New York Times bestselling Stormlight Archive, showcases a society on the brink of technological change. On the deadly island of Patji, where predators can sense the thoughts of their prey, a lone trapper discovers that the island is not the only thing out to kill him.

Mary Robinette Kowal’s “A Fire in the Heavens” is a powerful tale of a refugee seeking to the near-mythical homeland her oppressed people left centuries ago. When Katin discovers the role the “eternal moon” occupies in the Center Kingdom, and the nature of the society under its constant light, she may find enemies and friends in unexpected places.

Dan Wells’s “I.E.Demon” features an Afghanistan field test of a piece of technology that is supposed to handle improvised explosive devices. Or so the engineers have told the EOD team that will be testing it; exactly what it does and how it does it are need-to-know, and the grunts don’t need to know. Until suddenly the need arises.

Howard Tayler’s “An Honest Death” stars the security team for the CEO of a biotech firm about to release the cure for old age. When an intruder appears and then vanishes from the CEO’s office, the bodyguards must discover why he is lying to them about his reason for pressing the panic button.

For years the hosts of Writing Excuses have been offering tips on brainstorming, drafting, workshopping, and revision, and now they offer an exhaustive look at the entire process. Not only does Shadows Beneath have four full cast fantastic works of fiction, but it also includes transcripts of brainstorming and workshopping sessions, early drafts of the stories, essays about the stories’ creation, and details of all the edits made between the first and final drafts.

Come for the stories by award-winning authors; stay for the peek behind the creative curtain.

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Director & Cast

Director Rose Elizabeth Supan
Starring A Fire In The Heavens: Colleen Delany as narrator, Kimberly Gilbert as Katin, Michael John Casey as Stylian, Mort Shelby as Lesid, and James Konicek as Apex. With Gregory Lington, Chris Davenport, Lily Beacon, Christopher Graybill, Tim Getman, Bob Payne, Dylan Lynch, Andy Brownstein, Jeff Allin, Nanette Savard, Shanta Parasuraman, Elizabeth Jernigan, Dani Stoller, Scott Graham, Scott McCormick Rose Elizabeth Supan and James Lewis. An Honest Death: Richard Rohan and Terence Aselford as narrators, Richard Rohan as Blakely and Cole, Terence Aselford as McDonald and Wollreich, Thomas Penny as Mohammed, Dylan Lynch as Michel and Scott McCormick as Death. With Mort Shelby, Colleen Delany, Thomas Keegan and Yasmin Tuazon. I.E. Demon: Eric Messner and Dylan Lynch as narrators, Eric Messner as The Patrol Commander, Evan Casey as The Engineer, Ken Jackson as The Demon and Thomas Keegan as The Gunner. With Tim Getman, Chris Davenport, Todd Scofield, Patrick Bussink, Paul Reisman, Bill Gillett, Mort Shelby, Chris Genebach and David Jourdan. Sixth of the Dusk: Terence Aselford as narrator, Ken Jackson as Sixth of the Dusk, Dawn Ursala as Vathi and Colleen Delany as Mother. With Thomas Penny, Mort Shelby, James Lewis and Kimberly Gilbert. When Your Story’s Climax Isn’t An Ending: Nick DePinto as Brandon Sanderson and narrator, Michael Glenn as Isaac, Lise Bruneau as Kaylynn, Deidra Starnes as Karen, Andy Brownstein as Peter and Nanette Savard as Kathy. The Brainstorming and Workshopping Sessions participants are Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells and Eric James Stone.
Book Adapted for GraphicAudio by Johann Dettweiler
Dialogue Editors Johann Dettweiler, John Glennon, Justin Wortz and Nathanial Perry
Sound Designers Johann Dettweiler, John Glennon, Justin Wortz and Nathanial Perry
Cover Illustrator Julie Dillon
Producers Richard Rohan and Duane Beeman
Executive Producer Anji Cornette


Great collection by Mr Ryan P (Posted on 6/1/2018)
Many awesome stories by gifted authors. Very good collection.
Shadows beneath by Joseph (Posted on 9/14/2017)
I really liked it. I got it for Brandon Sanderson's story but liked all of them. I actually enjoyed A Fire in the Heavens best and the writing advice.
Long time writing excuses fans will love this by Harry (Posted on 1/29/2017)
As a long time fan this is amazing, getting to hear how everything worked out and compiled nicely with the original episodes and notes. this ties together really nicely and it's helpful for an aspiring writer like me to see a slice of the writing process for these authors.

The stories weren't necessarily the strongest but the background that you get on them makes them all the more interesting. highly recommend for any aspiring genre fiction writers and fans of the individual authors to see the creative process
This is a Must Listen To production! by Patrick (Posted on 1/18/2017)
This is a very different concept for Graphic Audio where we get a collection of four stories with very different styles.

First we get to listen to the finished novellas, we then listen to when the authors were brainstorming the stories - and we also get to listen to the first draft of the stories in order to see how they were improved in the final version.
It's quite fascinating and I would love to see more short stories published in this way!

I think "A Fire in The Heavens" is the best story. Mary has written a novella which feels it could have been written by Brandon Sanderson, and I mean that as a compliment. Several interesting concepts which I've not seen any author explore before are weaved into a mix of sci-fi and fantasy told with a "feeling" of a historical novella.
"Sixth of the Dusk" is a close second. Brandon Sanderson experiments with a different style on how to tell a story than I'm used to. Initially I started to wonder if the story would be any good - but after ten minutes or so the story really picks up!
"An Honest Death" is also good but would have benefited from being somewhat longer. Interesting concepts are sort of thrown at the listener at a rapid pace without exploring them to their full potential.
"I.E. Demon" was not really my cup of tea. It felt kind of shallow, but if you're into military action and demons you might like it.

The production and casting was very well executed and the sound and music really made the stories come alive!
an excelent listen by Daniel (Posted on 10/12/2016)
I recently purchased this anthology, and must admit that I found it to be most enjoyable.
My personal favorite was IE Daemon with an Honest Death coming in a close second.
As a writer myself, the writing process for each story was of particular interest, although it will not be to everyone.
Even if you are not interested in the writing process, purchase the anthology for the four masterfully told short stories that are in it.
All awesome stories... by Joel (Posted on 5/9/2016)
If only a little short. Each one leaves you wanting more.
Book 1 by justin (Posted on 4/24/2016)
Good book
Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology by Kathy (Posted on 4/6/2016)
This is a wonderful CD for those who want to learn more about the writing process and for those who are just interested in some very good stories.

The final drafts of each story are at the beginning of the book, so you don't need to wait to hear the finished projects. My personal favorite is I.E. Demon, because not only is it a funny and tightly-written story but Eric Messner's performance helps the humor to shine through. A Fire in the Heavens is my second favorite and all the performances are wonderful but Mort Shelby's character stands out. An Honest Death is satisfyingly spooky and Richard Rohan does his usual awesome job as narrator. It took me a little longer to get into Sixth of the Dusk but the worldbuilding in the story is amazing and the performances by Ken Jackson and Dawn Ursula were solid and added to the atmosphere.

It's harder to comment on the writing process sections because, well, those aren't performances in the same fashion as the stories were. It's very interesting to listen to the authors talking about the writing process from the beginning of the story through to the end and being able to hear earlier drafts of some of the stories is helpful for getting a feel as to how a story can change over time (An Honest Death and I.E. Demon really demonstrate this since the structure of both pieces changes dramatically from the earlier drafts to the finished projects).

I do love the fact that the drafts are as fully performed as the final stories were. Not only was it a nice touch, it helps to set them apart from the podcast sections.

If you're a writer and you want a deeper insight into the writing process, I highly recommend this CD. It's like a mini-writing workshop and you get some awesome stories. For those who aren't necessarily interested in the process, the stories are right up front so you don't have to wait to get to them and if you search through the CD/audio file you can find the earlier drafts if you're interested in hearing those performances as well.
Really great stories, quite a buy, very well worth it. by John (Posted on 3/21/2016)
Even just for the end story, completely worth the money. Graphic Audio is now my all-time preferred method of entertainment these days. I can recognize the actors in all the different productions, that takes dedication to your products.

Thank you Graphic Audio
Buy for Sanderson, stay for the rest! by Brandon (Posted on 2/29/2016)
I haven't been this eager for a GA production in a long time. In fact, I bought it within seconds of hearing about it on Twitter. I am a huge Brandon Sanderson fan and the GA productions of his works have been top-notch. But his story was overshadowed by some of the others! Indeed, this was not his strongest work.
However, the point of the entire set is not to showcase a story, it is to showcase a process. Four stories are taken from the brainstorming stage, through a first draft, through critique and then back to a final draft. And you, listener, are along for the ride. This offers tremendous insight into the writing process including the dreaded revision process! I dropped a star, er, headphone, off my review for a technical reason. Some of the background noise, particularly the jungle sounds, overwhelmed some of the voice actors. I listen in a vehicle and I had to BLAST the volume in order to understand all of the dialogue and narration. It may prove different via headphones.
Great and helpful, but might not be for everyone by Jared (Posted on 2/17/2016)
While I personally have to give the anthology collection a 4/5, it might not be the same for everyone else. The shorts themselves are four very different and very much their own things not only in terms of writers but in production styles, and I was not disappointed by any of them save for the fact that they suffer the same problem all good/great shorts do: I'll probably not get to hear the rest.

The highlight of the collection are really the last two: I.E.Demon and Sixth of Dusk as the most entertaining. I.E.Demon is a military thriller that had a baby with a supernatural comedy, and it's hard to not be grinning when it gains traction quite fast. Sixth is different, however, delivering a glimpse of a seriously epic fantasy that, if it were a trilogy or saga, would be right at home in the GA archives with Night Angel or Demon Cycle.

That's not to say A Fire in the Heavens and An Honest Death don't hold their own, with Fire delivering a tragic tale of culture shock and rediscovery I'd happily read but fear may lose something in a longer telling. Honest Death suffers from that same fear, a spy thriller with a supernatural/cosmic horror twist that would be a pretty kick-ass direct-to-dvd action film, but may lose steam if given more room to gallop.

What will make or break this for you, though, is the essays and collection of round-the-table chats behind the scenes with the authors brainstorming. Included are also full productions of the first and sometimes second drafts of the stories already told, and the sometimes radical or subtle differences between them and the final product. I loved it, I loved listening to these professionals bounce back and forth ideas and mold their stories together, talk about what was working and what needed fixing, really as an amateur writer myself I found it informative and it gave me alot to work with.

BUT, again, not everyone will like it. It does drag out the length of the audiobook, and you'll feel odd listening to the same but different book as before, instead of listening to the story you may find yourself looking for what's different from the first time around.

In the end, it's worth it for four very well done and engaging works of fiction, but most readers might be inclined to stop after Sixth finishes if they aren't inclined towards behind the scenes stuff.
too long by rafael (Posted on 2/15/2016)
I have to say I enjoyed the story. I'm not a writer, so I didn't like hearing the ideas or reasons for this and that. I just wanted to hear the stories. Hearing the authors talk took me out of the mood of listening to the story. I wish I could just skip right to the next story without have to hear the rest of the other things. The stories good but the way the book with all the extra wasn't.

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