From the moment I heard the discordant, harsh, and apt introductory music of this clip, I was hooked like an albatross on a tuna line.
As though having the opportunity to have ‘The Cyclist’ published in a book was not (for me) a victory in itself, hearing my words narrated in such a professional and compelling manner by Pearl Hewitt is an entirely new experience. I have only ever heard my stories in my own voice – out-loud, or in my head – so to have such a striking, third-party interpretation is a revelation. I realise now what an appalling lack of imagination I have when it comes to interpreting my own material.
Without question, Pearl’s voice is the voice of my story, and the voice of sour-faced, pale-lipped Merle. It’s almost ‘posh’ but there’s a hint of northern accent to ground it, and there is a thinness or meagreness to the tone. (Which doesn’t sound either complimentary or listenable, but it is, and it is.) When Chris asked what sort of voice we wanted to read our stories, I plumped for a middle-aged, middle-ish class bloke (because, I guess, he’d sound a bit like me – but a lot more competent – and because the story is in the third-person, so doesn’t need a female voice to match the female character). Luckily, Helen Lloyd who is producing the audio book, suggested a woman reader would be better, to match the voice of the story and so I followed the professional advice. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad that Helen took the time and trouble to ask. The narration and the character of Merle are unified and the whole is satisfyingly complete.
And it’s not only the sound of the voice, of course, it is the way the story is delivered. I imagined the story happening at quite a pace, even before the chase scene, but Pearl takes it slow and easy, and again, that fits Merle, who doesn’t even like to drive at all fast. Furthermore, it will be a good counterpoint for when the action does kick off, and everything speeds up.
Pearl has brought Merle and the story to life in a way I hadn’t imagined/couldn’t imagine. Having listened to it – just a few times, you understand – I wondered if I might have written it differently. I don’t believe so, other than perhaps have Merle say a little more (to herself) because Pearl does surly Merle superbly, and to be a little more attentive to how a phrase differs when read on the page, and when spoken. Certainly, I will do a lot more reading aloud to myself from now on.
Fifty stories, fifty writers, and now fifty different voices. I don’t know if there will be an audio book for Twisted 50 vol. 2 but even if there’s just a chance, then it’s worth entering just for that, never mind the book and the learning opportunities offered by Create 50.
I’ve not even mentioned the potential film…
Give it a go! The competition is still open for submissions.
My thanks to Pearl, Helen, Chris and the team, and to those who commented on this story during the submission phase.
And now, I think another listen is in order…