Readers are getting the opportunity to have an immersive book experience from the comfort of their homes.
Local musician and city councillor James Gordon is bringing his book, The Ark of the Oven Mitt, to life through an audiobook and accompanying soundtrack.
Gordon’s book hit the shelves on Aug. 7. The book follows a touring band on a journey toward self-discovery.
Gordon has been a touring musician since the age of 20, and said his experience helped shape the story of Miles & Myles, the touring band in the book. However, he said his music was the real catalyst for the inspiration behind the story of the travelling band.
“Fans started to notice and said that ‘James, you have kind of a thread that's running through a lot of your songs,’” Gordon said. “I hadn't really noticed it myself but there's a certain themes that I keep returning to and those are a bit of a story line that is bigger than you can put in a song.”
There are 36 songs that accompany the book. Throughout the book, lyrics act as a prompt to press play for readers. Listeners of the audiobook will automatically get to hear the songs throughout the narration. But Gordon said that isn’t the only way to experience The Ark of the Oven Mitt.
“While you're reading the lyrics, my hope is that then you'll listen to (the song),” Gordon said. “I know some people have been testing the waters and they’ll just listen to the album as if it's an album. And then as you're reading the book, you'll see the lyrics and you'll recall the song so the reader gets to make their own choice about that.”
Gordon said writing and recording a soundtrack for the novel had unique challenges. However, one challenge required extra creative effort on Gordon’s part.
“The lead character in the story, Myles Gerber, he's a songwriter, and I had to learn his character … He's actually a bit of a different songwriter than I am,” Gordon said. “Sometimes I think he was a better songwriter than I am because it gives you that perspective … It actually gave me, as a songwriter, a lot of freedom to go ‘Okay, What would he write?’ And that was kind of a fun challenge.”
In addition to the challenge of putting himself in Myles Gerber’s shoes, Gordon had challenges regarding the actual recording of the soundtrack due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The day after we went into a new phase, I think we could have three people in a room,” Gordon said. “I recorded with the bass player and the drummer and myself, and a recording engineer, but all in different rooms within the same studio.”
Gordon said he hopes people note the similarities between the music he’s created and live music people would go out and see.
“I really wanted it to sound like you were just walking into the bar and hearing them,” Gordon said.
Gordon says he hopes that people who read his novel take the time to experience his work in its entirety, including the 36 whimsical songs that offer a slice of Canadiana to the reader.
“I've said something in this work that I really think would resonate with people if it was out there,” Gordon said.
Gordon has put all of the songs and the audiobook up on his Bandcamp page. People wishing for a physical copy can buy one at The Bookshelf in downtown Guelph.