An unexpected package arrived yesterday, a big block of CDs, the audio book of After America
. I'd forgotten one was coming out. Probably because my author copy of the Without Warning
audio book went missing in the mail
. Anyway, a little curious, I popped the first disc into the player in the Swedish tank this morning as I drove down to get some muffins for the kids.
OMFG. I won't be doing that again. I almost crashed the car twice because I totally fell into the story this guy was reading. It was bizarre. By the time I get to the point of taking my hands off the manuscript, just before it goes to the printer, I can hardly bear to look at the fucking thing any more, let alone read it. My mind actually flinches back from the page because I've been forced to plow through it so many times. I put the disc in purely to see how the narrator, a guy called Kevin Foley, did the dialogue. Having done a bit of public reading I always find the dialogue a challenge. Do you try and assume a new voice for each character or just read it as neutral as possible? I've done both.
It was weird, totally weird, hearing the voices that usually live inside my head (I know, I know) suddenly coming from outside. And a little confronting at first. For instance Foley reads Kipper As much older than I do. But it still works. As I said, it works so well I've decided it's a bit dangerous having it on in the car while I'm supposed to be concentrating on traffic.
I've only listened to a couple of minutes so far, but already it's made me see the book anew. And I mean ‘see’ it. I'll try and explain. By the time you get to the end of your work on a manuscript you no longer see the story. It's a bit like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix; you see the core code, the warp and weave of narrative lines, the topography of the story, the structure of simple sentences and complex thoughts. But you don't really visualise the action anymore. Or at least I don't. I assume most other writers at the same.
But listening to Foley read After America this morning, it was as though I was passing through the story for the first time. Seeing and hearing everything the same way you do when you first crack open the copy you've brought back from the bookstore. Because you would never bit torrent a pirate copy oh no.
It was cool. Cool enough that I think I might save the experience for some long plane flights in the future. Although as I prepare to dive into book 3, Revenger's Reach, I'm also wondering whether it might be useful to devote a couple of days to listening to the audio book all the way through to get myself immersed in the story again.