Saturday, October 13, 2007

Voices of New Media: J.C. Hutchins - Author of 7th Son

The President of the United States is dead. He was murdered in the morning sunlight by a four-year-old boy…
J.C. Hutchins

…And so begins 7th Son, one of the most entertaining, action packed and well written series you’ll never find in a book store…at least not yet. 7th Son is the brainchild of author J.C. Hutchins. The reason you won’t find it in a book store is because the author has decided to release the trilogy as a series of episodic podcasts available through his website,, and through Originally conceived and written as a single story, the author has split the tale into three pieces: Decent, Deceit and Destruction. Each of those pieces is split into several episodes containing a chapter or two of the story as a whole, and what a story it is.

Seven seeming strangers are abducted and forced work together in a beyond top-secret government installation to try and save the world from the evil plans set in motion by the shadowy John Alpha. As the seven begin to work together, they start to realize they may be closer to him than they think, but also that time is running out for them, and the rest of the civilized world. They have to find John Alpha and stop him. The story takes you, as the listener, all over the globe in the search for John Alpha and introduces you to seven of the most similar yet amazingly unique characters an audio drama has ever seen. 7th Son is full of nonstop action and plot twists from its opening minutes and never lets up through its last episodes. In this work of epic scale, Hutchins manages to bring together the best aspects of the thriller genre and mix it together with a political conspiracy liberally seasoned with mad scientist pulp. If it were in print, it would be a book you simply couldn’t put down.

You may be thinking that since this is a podcast and not a big-budget audio production, how good could it be? Well, as I’ve said before, I love audiobooks and I devour them. I’ve probably listened to hundreds of titles so far and 7th Son ranks as one of the best I’ve heard. J.C. Hutchins, in addition to writing the work, is the voice talent for the 7th Son podcast. As the reader, he seems to effortlessly manage the difficult task of giving all his characters their own unique voice and not just reading the words he wrote from the page. The podcast is excellently produced by Shawn Bishop of The Dividing Line Broadcast Network, has musical chapter cues and even features its own theme music written by Celldweller. So that chalks up to being entertaining, well written, well read and sounding great. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The podcast and Podiobook versions of J.C. Hutchins novels have thousands of subscribed listeners, figuratively tuning in to each new episode release. Thanks to its own popularity and the seemingly ceaseless promotion by its creator, 7th Son has been featured both in print and on the web at venues such as Boing Boing, Mac User and the New Times. While that may be impressive, J.C. Hutchins has not only been covered by several New Media outlets, but also by such Old Media mainstays as The New York Times. In addition to that, the peers of the 7th Son podcast have given it their own brand of recognition and praise, as it has twice been nominated for a Parsec Award and twice won at the Podcast Peer Awards.

As if all of that weren’t enough, J.C. Hutchins’ 7th Son has taken on a bit of a life of its own at the author’s website. The podcast novel has spawned both the Ministry of Propaganda and the Beta Clone Army of fans. The Ministry of Propaganda is the equivalent of a Street Team for the novels. In a fun twist on the traditional Street Team, members are issued promotional challenges by Natasha, the voice of the Ministry of Propaganda. By completing these challenges, they then have the opportunity to win actual 7th Son swag and some have even won the opportunity to appear on the 7th Son podcast and relate “The Story So Far…” In doing so, they find themselves in rather distinguished company as this feature of the podcast has been read by actors and authors with names like Nathan Fillion, Richard Hatch, Ron Glass, Alan Dean Foster, Nick Sagan and Kevin J. Anderson just to name a few. The Beta Clone Army is made up of fans who have thrown their support behind J.C. Hutchins by pointing their browsers over to and purchasing a 7th Son themed shirt…especially the particularly fashionable Beta Clone # shirt where fans are issued their own unique Beta Clone ID number. The new Beta Clones can then submit a picture of themselves wearing the shirt and have the image posted on the Beta Clone Army webpage, and often times named in the podcast itself.

So that’s 7th Son, a brilliant little idea that has found a devoted audience through unconventional means. J.C. Hutchins has the amazing gifts of being able to write a great story and find it a market in any way, and in as may ways as possible. If you’re a fan of a great story, I can’t recommend the 7th Son trilogy enough. The same goes for if you’re looking for a great podcast or just something to take up space on your iPod and kill a half and hour here and there. The series is worth a listen and J.C. Hutchins is worth keeping an eye on because it won’t be long before you’re picking up his next novel in the bookstore of your choice.

PS – If you were wondering how I knew so much about the Beta Clone Army…I’m Beta Clone #185.

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