Crime writer Maureen Carter, author of the gritty Bev Morriss police procedural series, tells us what it was like listening to the audio book version of her title “Working Girls”...
1. What is it like hearing someone else interpret your words?
In a word: awesome. In rather more: even though I always read work aloud (many writers do), hearing my words interpreted by an actor whose career I’ve admired for years is absolute magic. Listening to my characters ‘speak’ – especially Bev who’s very close to my heart – was an amazing experience. I found it really moving, in fact.
2. The fabulous Frances Barber narrates. What does she bring to the book?
How long have you got? Seriously, I could listen to Frances Barber’s voice all day! Make that, voices: she gives every character a distinctive speech pattern and accent, making even minor players instantly identifiable the minute they ‘open their mouth’. More than that though – I don’t know about you, but when I hear a voice I create a picture in my head of how that person looks. Now clearly, I had a pretty good idea how I saw my own characters, but Frances’ narration made me think again. And again. And again! Her vocal versatility is remarkable. I remember when I first worked in broadcasting, a news editor told me ‘the voice is a tool’. He was right and I reckon Frances Barber has several toolboxes at her disposal.
3. Was there anything about the narration that surprised you?
I think how emotional I became listening to it; how I found the action really engrossing. And even though I wrote every word of the book – how some lines made me laugh, some passages brought a tear to my eye, others sent shivers down my spine. Frances’ interpretation of the pimp Charlie Hawes, for instance, made the hairs rise on the back of my neck. She also gave particular warmth and colour to the older prostitute, Val. Again, I rethought my entire image of the character. I particularly loved the scenes between Bev and the girls. I found them really moving – and that’s down to the feelings Frances’s narration evokes.
4. How do you think the experience of reading a print (or digital) book differs from listening to an audio book?
I adore reading; I devour around eight titles a month but as a writer – as well as, hopefully, loving the story I’m reading – I tend to concentrate on the words: writing style, word choice even how they look on the page. Listening to an audio book releases me from all that. I can sit back and get lost in the narration, visualise the scenes, picture the characters, let the imagination flow. With the right voice, an audio book has an immediacy that captivates the listener and draws them into a different world from the word, go. And of course, it’s hand-free so I can go pour a glass of wine at the same time! – Maureen Carter