Monday, 13 August 2012

Auditory Self-Indulgence

I just finished listening to my first ever audiobook.  Well, unless you count the bonkers seventies BBC radio adaptation of The Hobbit I won at a British Fantasy Society event years ago, but I think that was more in the way of a dramatic interpretation.  I mean, it had sound effects and a cast and painfully long musical interludes and everything.  So let's just say for the purposes of argument that this one was my first audiobook.

By non-too-massive coincidence, it was in fact my first audibook.

Which is to say, it was Brilliance Audio's interpretation of Giant Thief, as directed by Lisa Cahn and as read by the mighty and award-winning James Langton. This wasn't quite the act of vanity or self-indulgence it might seem, (although it's probably fair to say that there was a little bit of both kicking about!)  With the first draft of Prince Thief coming to a close and taking the whole damn Tales of Damasco trilogy along with it, I thought I was overdue a revisit of Giant Thief, to try and weed out any niggling continuity errors and pick up any last plot threads I might have left dangling.  It may only have been released six months ago, I may only have put the final touches to it late last year, but what with finishing a sequel and drafting a second sequel in the meantime, that all seems a very long time ago, and I was shocked to realise I was getting a little hazy on the details.

So it was research, right?  That's okay.  The fact that I'd been itching to listen it ever since I heard that Giant Thief would be out in audiobook had nothing to do with anything.  There's nothing at all weird about wanting to listen to a complete stranger read out your own book to you. Ideally in bed, while you're drinking wine and eating mango sorbet.

Anyway, as it turned out, such luxuries weren't to be.  But despite only finding time to listen to it while on the tube and wandering the mean streets of London, I have finally managed to get to the end of the Giant Thief in audio.  And it was fun!  James Langton does a great job of breathing life into the text, making the jokes funnier and the action bits more actiony and the characters more textured than I think they ever read on the page.  Although he sounds nothing like the Easie Damasco in my head, James crafts his own version of the character that's every bit as good.  And the same goes for the rest of the cast: his Moaradrid is both more thuggish and more wily than mine; his Estrada is a little softer and a little more likeable, but downright scary when she needs to be.

Which, I guess, was the point for me.  I remember saying in a guest post a while back that once your book's published, it sort of stops being yours.  More than with most creative types, writers are shut out of the process of other people actually experiencing and interpreting our work.  Maybe that suits some people, but personally I like to peek over the reader's shoulder whenever I get the chance - and I really like it when talented people take something I've done and make it into something better and different that I don't entirely recognise.

So cheers to Brilliance for giving me the chance to listen to Lisa Cahn and James Langton's Giant Thief.  It made a lot of my recent journeys a whole heck of a lot more fun.

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