Writing an audio novel, part 2

I’m now three chapters into the writing of A Turn off the Path, and already I’ve noticed I’m handling the writing of it a little differently to when I write a novel intended to go to print. For a start, I am reading each chapter aloud as I finish writing it, and go back over it, reading it aloud again to check if the sentences sound right when they are spoken. Don’t get me wrong; I always ‘hear’ the sentences in my head when I write a novel, and very often I’ve read passages aloud to know exactly where the rhythm of a sentence is faltering. But this is much more marked, in this one.

I’m not finding that I’m writing shorter sentences, as I’d half-imagined when I started. There’s a mix, as usual, of short and long sentences, and I’ve always used punctuation, including the dreaded semi-colon(which I think is very much unfairly traduced!) to mark natural pauses in the soundtrack in my head that gets translated into words on the page, or rather screen, at this point. I’ve also always treated each chapter as a mini-story but with a twist, small or otherwise, that carries you onto the next. That’s the same, in this one. And I’ve often used different forms of narrative to carry a story forward and to express different points of view. That’s similar too, A Turn off the Path–the main narrative is from the point of view of Helen, who gets left behind in Saint Jean while her sister Alex keeps to the plan and the Camino, but you also hear Alex’s voice through the blog posts she writes to update family and friends about the walk. It’s working well, so far. I’m also very much a visual writer, and love to paint word-pictures of places and people and atmospheres; but in this novel, I’m also very focussed on sound, not just the way that the sentences sound, but also other things. For example, I’m putting in small references to Basque words in the novel: but I’m very much aware that it’s one thing to think of what you can put on the page, in an audio version you also have to consider how the narrator might pronounce such words, and give extra clues to it. There’s also other sound elements to flag, like saying that someone has a slight accent you can’t quite place, and the sound of bells over the town. It’s not that I wouldn’t include those things in a novel normally, because I do; it’s just that I’m more conscious of it in this one, and more conscious too of how it might sound coming through your earphones.

Listening to Saint Jean: photo by Sophie Masson

Podcast interview about French Fairy Tales

Delighted to announce the release of my interview with Claudine Tinellis’ fabulous podcast, Talking Aussie Books, which has gone live today. It’s very much a discussion focussed around French Fairy Tales and the stories I retold within it. I really enjoyed chatting with Claudine about it all! Also talked about some of my other 2020 books later in the interview.

You can listen to the full podcast interview here.

Honoured to be featured as first story on striking new podcast series

I am honoured to have an interview with me featured as the very first episode of the brand-new Catastrophic podcast series, a project inspired by the recent–and current!–catastrophic bushfires in Australia and the challenges for the future. Created by the fabulous Kel Butler, the hard-hitting series focusses on a different person’s story in each episode. In my case, it was really the first time I have spoken in such a complete way about our recent stressful experiences in our region of not only constant fire threat over several months but really bad drought over more than a year–the recounting of it all drawn out by Kel’s great interviewing skills. And now that the wonderful rains in our region have brought about a relaxing of the extreme anxiety, I found I was able to reflect on it more…

You can find the complete episode with my interview here (10 minutes long).

I hope listeners find it interesting–and do listen out for other episodes of the series!

The Catastrophic podcast series website is here, (you can subscribe to the series there) and the Facebook page is here: Like it to keep up with news of new episodes and other updates.