Ruso and Tilla’s followers on Facebook will already know the good news – Simon Vance will be reading the audio version of ‘Caveat Emptor’. Hooray!
Someone mentioned authors narrating their own work, which set me thinking. Simon Brett, Alan Bennet and Gervase Phinn sprang to mind as people who’d made a success of it – but since I’ve been in this game I’ve begun to understand why most audiobooks are the work of actors rather than authors. My own experience from giving ‘author talks’ suggests that, both literally and figuratively, I can’t read my own writing. Well, only selected parts of it. Parts where nobody has much to say.
I hope the Ruso books ‘read’ fairly easily, in that people don’t have to chew over the sentences to pick out the meaning. And I do work pretty hard on making the dialogue sound natural – if it doesn’t ‘sound’ right in my head, it ‘s tweaked until it does. Often many times. But in my case what goes on inside the head and what comes out of the mouth are very different things.
This came as more of a surprise than you might think. After all, my earlier dramatic readings of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ were acknowledged works of genius – consistently greeted with enthusiasm and demands for more. Eeyore (from a mythical place in Yorkshire where everyone speaks in a glum monotone) and Kanga (based on Marge from ‘Neighbours’, obviously) were particularly fine creations. On reflection, though, practically any old rubbish is more appealing to a five-year-old than being told to put the light out and go to sleep.
To read for several hours at a time, making sense of the story while bringing a huge cast of characters convincingly to life, requires skills that few of us have. And the really clever thing is, the best readers make it sound easy.