Draped in a cloak of mystery, the Manor House podcast is into its second season, filling the digital waves with single serving horrors done with the aid of a cast, music and sound effects. Recently I contacted the manager, decidedly holding onto the mystique (to a point), he called himself Rock Manor for the sake of the show, as it must go on, and I asked him a few questions about the Manor House podcast and its origins.
“I hosted a fitness podcast series in early 2014. During that time I also began listening to many podcasts about fitness, business and other areas of interest. One of these included horror fiction. I've been a horror fan since I was a kid. By late 2014, I had been featured as a voice performer on horror audio programs such as The NoSleep Podcast, Chilling Tales For Dark Nights and Tales To Terrify. At the same time, I was submissions editor for Tales To Terrify during their transition period when they needed some help with their huge backlog of entries. It wasn't long after that I knew I could do my own horror fiction audio series more in the style of a traditional anthology similar to Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt, two shows that made quite the impression on me as a kid. I created a background story, a host, and started in the summer of 2015,” said Rock Manor.
On the Manor House website a historical timeline and brief assumed history of those involved embroils the podcast in the above use of the name Rock Manor.
Some believed it was the spirit of John Manor. Some believed it was a demon sent from Hell.
This showmanship carries into the program and offers a tour-guide vibe for each episode. Rock Manor revealed himself to be much more than just the tour-guide however and that he’s not alone in this endeavor, at least not anymore.
“Manor House just completed its first year so it's been bare bones minimum so far. I wear multiple hats: host, editor, sound designer, director, marketing...you name it. When the show first started, I was also the only performer. Now I play bit parts here and there so I can focus on the other areas. We recently added the talented musician and performer Abysmii as the show's narrator since mid-Season 2. He's ‘the voice’ of Manor House.”
To listen to the show, is to hear the layers of effort stacked atop one another. This is something that has Manor House standing outside the norm with many of the other audiobook podcasts.
“You may not believe it. I often compare it to writing. As Ernest Hemingway once famously said, ‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ The same goes for audio programs such as Manor House. Some episodes can take three drafts. Some four. Some five-six. It depends on the story. The first step is the story itself. We have open submissions every late spring in preparation for the next season's episodes. We also gathered a group of writers to write episodes specifically for Manor House.”
Rock Manor was especially excited about two authors featured in the upcoming Season 3.
“Submissions have been tremendous in quality. There were many more to choose from in this season. It was really hard to pick the best! We have stories coming from Adam Cesare and Adam Howe, both excellent horror and suspense writers.”
Like most productions, paper, audio, visual, there’s a system of submissions, contracts and payment. From there, a series of steps from copyediting to talent selection occurs before a story hits the studio.
“We offer roles to the performers with highlighted texts, deadlines, and stage directions including performance and sound effects. Once the role is accepted, the performers record from their homes or studios and send them back. It's amazing what you can do with today's technology. We have performers in the Netherlands, Australia, England, Canada, the United States and all over the world appearing in an audio presentation as if they're in the same location,” said Rock Manor.
For listeners, there are changes to come moving forward.
“The show's format has been a hybrid of audiobook and audio drama but there are more audio scripts coming in Season 3 so some episodes will sound like a full audio play. There will be new performers making their debut this season as well. We will also be debuting our Fantom Zone Access membership. It's a premium service that includes episodes not found in the free version along with a bunch of other goodies for our fans AKA The Fantoms.”
Like most artist works meeting a fixed platform, there is constant change and adaptation. Even from Season 1 to Season 2 the changes are there and carry through the productions. Rock Manor hasn’t yet reached his dream for the show however.
“There was a children's educational show from PBS a long, long time ago called Gather Round where the host would perform the story and an artist would draw the scene with chalk in the background. It was a huge influence on me as a kid too. As far as short term, I'm looking to incorporate more illustrations and artwork to accompany the web series version in a similar manner to Gather Round but without the real-time artwork. As far as long term, too many to mention here. It's a constant evolution,” said Rock Manor.
Rock Manor was reached online, taking time from his family on a Sunday afternoon to answer questions and we thank him for that.
Manor House presents both original and classic horror stories through a combination of acting, music, effects, and a supernatural host. Join The Phantom Collector as he shares tales of the macabre from within the walls of Manor House.
Won’t you stay the night?
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