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Stevan Allred and Dan Rhiger graduated from Sunset High School in 1970; now they're collaborating on an audio book.

PHOTO: FOREST AVENUE PRESS - Dan Rhiger, left, an audio engineer at Medicine Whistle Studio, leads the crowd in song as author Stevan Allred looks on. Stevan Allred and Dan Rhiger graduated from Sunset High School in 1970, and nearly 50 years later, their audiobook collaboration on "The Alehouse at the End of the World" was released by Blackstone Publishing on Dec. 18.

Allred is the author of the fantasy published by Portland-based Forest Avenue Press. Kirkus Reviews called the book, "Richly conceived, enjoyable and a treat for readers of myths and legends."

Rhiger is a musician, audio engineer and the founder of Medicine Whistle Studio. Both are Portland residents.

Allred and Rhiger worked on the "Alehouse" project for five-and-a-half months. In addition to his engineering skills, Rhiger wrote and sang melodies to match Allred's lyrics. The longtime friends are now performing together at Allred's regional book events. cover

"It's a great excuse for us to hang out together," Allred said. "Plus, I am a truly terrible singer, which is why we had Dan sing on the audiobook for me. I love hearing him sing the songs from the novel."

Allred remembers Rhiger's voice from their days at Sunset High. "There is a moment etched in my brain of you on stage in the high school auditorium, singing a song, just you and your guitar. You turned your head to the side, so you were singing away from the microphone, and you started a note and then slowly brought your face around to the mike, so that note you were holding swelled louder and louder until it completely filled the auditorium. That blew my mind."

Rhiger said in the recording process, Allred's theatrical self and his ability to create different voice characteristics — several characters in the novel are six-foot talking bird demigods — surprised him. "I had never seen that side of him before. We've known each other since high school, and I had never seen him perform like that."

Rhiger usually works with musicians at Medicine Whistle. He said typical songs are three to five minutes. "As a musician I know if I'm in the chorus or the verse or the bridge," he said. "Alehouse was over 1,100 minutes before we started editing it, and that makes it a lot harder to find any particular spot you want to work on. We spent a lot of time managing the file so we could navigate through it to what we needed in any given session."

Allred credits working with his pal for his decision to push himself to learn new skills and get playful with his novel. "It was scary at first, he said, because I am not trained as a voice actor. Dan and I have a very easy rapport, which allowed me to really stretch myself. I got silly at times, and silly is a good way to lose your inhibitions, and that is what acting is all about."

"The Alehouse at the End of the World" will be available wherever audiobooks are sold. The novel is on the Multnomah County Library Best Books of 2018 list, the Eugene Weekly Winter Reading Top Ten Lists, "Best of the Northwest" in the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's Holiday Catalog, and Powell's Books staff picks.

Established in 1987, Blackstone Publishing is the largest independent audiobook publisher in the country.

Forest Avenue Press, based in Southwest Portland, was founded in 2012 by former journalist Laura Stanfill.

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