Monday, October 03, 2016

Do You Like What You Hear?

Are you happy with your audio book? Does the reader give the right voices to the characters you have so lovingly created and lived with for months and months until you know them as well as your own family? Are you consulted about the actor/actress who will be reading? Do you listen to it with pleasure, even surprise as the reader sees an angle on your story that you hadn't realised was there? Or do you wince as the characters who emerge from the speaker are monsters you simply don't recognise as yours?

I've had both experiences. There was one who so perfectly had my Marjory Fleming's voice that I asked the producer if she could always be used in future, but as is the way of these things the actress was tied up with another production at the time when the company wanted to make the tape – I hadn't thought of that. The actress who read another book was so bad that I couldn't listen to it right through. I did manage to put a veto on ever using her again, but of course I realise that I'm not familiar enough with the talent available to make suggestions.

It must be an even bigger problem when a book is to be filmed, though I'd be prepared to live with it – chance would be a fine thing! But if you have a clear idea of your own character in appearance it could be very hard to have to accept a portrayal that just didn't conform to that. On the other hand, Ruth Rendell admitted that she was so pleased with George Baker as Wexford that as the series went on, she wrote the books with him in mind. Colin Dexter was another satisfied customer, with John Thaw as Morse.

But PD James, though she was as always diplomatic, never found 'her' Dalgleish – though personally I thought Roy Marsden came close. And when I asked her what she thought of the film of Death at Pemberly, she just said, 'Well, dear, my agent said to me "When it's sold, it's sold." 'The only way to take it!

I had a young friend who was blind and I thought she would have found the discs a great boon, but she said she greatly preferred reading the books in Braille: 'I don't want someone else to tell me what the people in the book are like.I want to decide for myself.' I liked that: it's sad to think that people who listen to, rather than read the books, will only have someone else's impression of what I've written.

It is, I suppose, rather like writing a play and being dependent on the actors and producer to deliver it, inevitably with their own interpretation.I've never felt tempted to try – I suspect that reveals control-freak tendencies. I'd love to know how other people feel about this.


Mary Jane Hopper said...

I have not fully embraced audiobooks yet. I've listened to a couple of them and find that, so far, I much prefer to read and interpret the characters myself. Maybe in time I'll accept them but I doubt it.

Aline Templeton said...

I do agree, Mary Jane. To be honest I haven't actually found time to listen to all of mine right through.

Charlotte Hinger said...

I like audiobooks a lot. They are the spoonful of sugar that makes cleaning bearable. However, I haven't had the nerve to listen to fine.