Interview: Benjamin Maio Mackay – The Phoenix Files by Chris Morphew comes to life as audio drama


Young Adelaide actor, director, writer, singer, producer, host, podcaster and entrepreneur, Benjamin Maio Mackay, has adapted Chris Morphew’s best-selling Australian young adult novels, The Phoenix Files, into an exciting new audio drama; the first instalment of which will be available this coming Thursday, 30 Nov 2017. It will feature a multitude of local Adelaide talent PLUS BAFTA nominee and Doctor Who star Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor), Australian acting legend John Jarratt (Wolf Creek) and Chaser member, Andrew Hansen.

Benjamin kindly took time to chat to Glam about this exciting new project.

This first interview (of three) examines adapting a great series of novels into audio drama.

B.G.: Hi Benjamin, how are the episodes going to appear (eg weekly etc) and where? Also, will it be a podcast or audio drama?

B.M.M.: Great question Brian. Firstly, I would like to clarify the difference between an audio drama and podcast. A podcast is free, usually with little to no budget and a very small cast – also, typically it’s an original story. An audio drama is a product for sale via major distributors, typically based of a pre-establish series or novel with typically a larger budget and bigger cast. This two mediums often get mixed up, but there are important differences.

There’s three novels in the series, The Phoenix Files and there’ll be three audio dramas. The Phoenix Files: Man in the Shadows will be released November 30 2017, with the final two to be released in 2018 on April 26 and August 30. They’ll be available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play – you can even pre-order Part 1 (Man in the Shadows) now! You’ll also be able to buy them directly from .They appear under the music on all three services as spoken word albums. The first audio drama runs for 2hrs 50 minutes and can be appreciated by science-fiction/adventure fans of all ages.

There’s a cast including BAFTA nominee Paul McGann (Dr Who) and John Jarratt (Wolf Creek), alongside a host of Australian icons and amazing local actors. There’s an original score and theme music by Sean Braithwaite (Gemini Downs) and there’s cameos from actors from some of my personal favourite shows. There’s absolutely no need to read the books prior to hearing the series. It’s much like a film adaptation – the two stand alone, but people who love one can enjoy the other too!

B.G.: Why this particular series of books?

B.M.M.: Chris Morphew, the author of the books wrote a fantastic series of novels, that not only appeal to Young Adults, but really connect with an adult audience too. In addition to a plot that can be described as a combination of Twin Peaks and Wayward Pines, he’s written really well-rounded characters. Every character grows and develops over the trilogy. This makes for interesting listening and proves to be interesting for the actors too. Chris was also really supportive of the idea, as were his publishers who ultimately sold me the licence. It’s a fantastic series of novels that sold really well, have a great story and excellent characters – it has all the winning elements!

B.G.: Could you give us a brief synopsis of the plot?

B.M.M.: The Phoenix Files tells the story of a brand-new invite-only town, which is supposed to be a paradise. However, it’s not long before the cracks begin to show: malfunctioning phone lines, restrictions on car use, and a private security detail instead of a police force. Teenagers Luke, Peter and Jordan uncover the true reason for the town’s existence – a secret that means Phoenix is suddenly the safest and most dangerous place on Earth: Someone in Phoenix is plotting to wipe out the human race.

 B.G.: Who has adapted the novels: you or the author?

B.M.M.: I adapted the series, but I did run the scripts past Chris from a very early stage and he’s been hugely supportive. There are certainly a couple of changes from the books, which Chris has approved. When changing mediums there are things that can’t be translated or things that work well on the page, but listening to don’t sound natural. This obviously necessitates changes and Chris was aware of that going into the project. For example, each book is from the perspective of one of the characters. In the audio drama you don’t have that narration – the listener hears the story in third person. With that change in place it enabled me to expand on scenes that weren’t in the book and flesh out more emotional scenes through dialogue. If I ever had any questions about the world or characters Chris created he was more than happy to walk me through it. It was wonderful to have Chris as invested as he’s been. Chris has heard the finished audio drama and, thankfully, he loves it.

You can pre-order The Phoenix Files: Man in the Shadows now from iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. From Thursday it will also be available on



Google Play:

Interview by Brian Godfrey

Part Two of my interview with Benjamin Maio Mackay will appear tomorrow, Wednesday 29 Nov 2017



About Author

Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide. South Australia's positive news website, proudly supporting the Arts.

Comments are closed.