26 Fruits


I hear you

Thanks to all those who asked to continue receiving my somewhat irregular blog. Those GDPR rules pushed me to clean up the mailing list and that was no bad thing. And I was touched by your support.

The last month has been much to do with the spoken rather than the written word. First, the audio version of the Dark Angels book Established became available on Audible, following print publication by Unbound. This is the first time any of my work has been published in audio form.

The audio book is narrated by an actor, Malk Williams. As you’d expect, he reads the book beautifully. There is an unusual technical challenge: the book has twelve different authors, with twelve different writing voices, but only one actor performs the work. Perhaps this creates a Dark Angels tone of voice…my lifelong admiration for actors was further reinforced as Malk Williams brings out the writers’ meaning and nuances through his reading.

It’s a slightly strange experience to hear my own words – and those of writers I know well – spoken by another voice. But it connects with the advice I’ve always given to writers to read your work aloud as a way of testing and editing it. Although I would, for example, have preferred to listen to the American voice of Richard Pelletier and the Dublin lilt of Mike Gogan, all the work passes that ‘read it aloud to make sure it’s good’ test. So I offer that again to everyone, with every piece you write, read it aloud.

The other audio experiences involved being on two radio programmes to talk about Spanish Crossings. The novel’s paperback publication led to a little flurry of publicity. First I was on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Saturday Live’ interviewed by the Reverend Richard Coles about the family story behind the novel. There’s a real skill in producing a radio programme and it was interesting to experience it firsthand. You can hear it here (41 minutes in). https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09y6zmr

It reminded me, as did the second programme on BBC Radio London with Robert Elms, that interviewing is a great skill. It’s also a skill in which all writers need to become expert. Robert Elms – “my big interests are London and Spain” – showed how an interviewer/writer can follow his own interests to get more out of an interviewee. You can listen here (39 minutes in).  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p062cnmy

For me this is a part of interviewing I always enjoy – for example, on a brand research programme – when I can make a real connection with the person I’m talking to by linking shared knowledge. That connection can be an electric moment. As always, only connect.

One Response

  1. Gillian says:

    A lovely blog today, John. It certainly connected with me on many levels. In my experience listening feels like the middle child of communication skills – often overlooked but always worthy of attention. I have to actively work on it all the time, but it was at Highgreen on my first ever Dark Angels writing course, with you and Stuart, that I really understood how listening makes such a positive (and productive) influence on what I write. Interesting too that storytelling began as an auditory activity.

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