Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Voices in the Moonlight

This year is proving crazily busy, and that's the sole excuse I can offer for not having listened to the audiobook adaptation of my own short story collection until now.  It certainly wasn't through a lack of wanting to!  But what I needed was the perfect opportunity, and an immensely long drive down the length of the country for a weekend of kayaking in the gorgeous Wye valley provided just that: what better way to make four hours in a car on a boiling hot day more bearable than listening to your own short stories being read to you?

Okay, not to everyone's tastes maybe, but for me it turned what could have been an afternoon of horror into - well, still an afternoon of horror, but in a good way rather than a bad way.  The point is that I now know for certain what I'd only been assuming based on the odds and ends I'd heard: that Circle of Spears did a stunning job in adapting The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories into an audiobook.  Or more specifically, Sam Burns and Tracey Norman, who handled the male and female narrators respectively, did a stunning job.

It feels a bit mean, not to mention a bit silly, to have picked favourites from the audiobook adaptation of my own short story collection.  But I did it anyway, and here they are...

The War of the Rats
What could be better suited to the audio treatment than an epistolary narrative?  Really, the fact that so many of these tales involve the narrators speaking directly to the reader in one form or another is the main reason I had my heart set on making an audiobook of the collection happen.  But nowhere does that work better than here, and nowhere is Sam's voice a more perfect fit: the story's protagonist is, after all, an amateur playwright, and though I don't think it's ever mentioned, he was always also an actor in my head.  So it's absolutely right that he should deliver his tale with a little drama and bombast, and Sam nails both, without missing the sadness and tragedy at its heart.
Caretaker in the Garden of Dreams
I don't know that I really took this into account when I first started considering Circle of Spears for the Sign in the Moonlight audiobook, but there's a big difference between actors and narrators, and if you can get people who can do a terrific job of both then you ought to consider yourself properly lucky.  Caretaker in the Garden of Dreams was one of the stories that brought that home to me, in that there's a point in the second half that requires a bit of genuine acting and Sam completely runs away with it.  In fact, it was disconcerting to hear a character I'd always thought of as pretty much a plot device suddenly coming to life.  Now I almost wish I'd treated them better!
A Study in Red and White
By the same measure, it never struck me until I listened to the audiobook quite how creepy and weird the dialogue I'd given to A Study in Red and White's monster was.  So I got a shiver down my spine when I heard how Sam had given voice to the antediluvian nightmare that is the Santa Thing.  The words "Happy Christmas" have never sounded so sick and wrong!
My Friend Fishfinger, by Daisy Aged 7
With no disrespect to Sam's brilliant efforts, this one is my favourite of the lot.  Tracey absolutely nails the balance between humour and horror, while all the while pulling off what, to my ears, is a perfect impression of a seven-year-old American girl.  The result is so much better than the story has ever sounded in my head, sweet and charming until it's suddenly all dark and horrible.  It's a piece that relies entirely on the dissonance between what the character knows and what the reader suspects, and that works even better when we're listening instead - but only because Tracey sells it so completely.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, David - we are all so glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks too for your lovely comments. It was a pleasure to work on. Daisy remains one of my favourite characters to voice!