Listening v. reading
Some of you will already know that my Lavender Road novels are now available as audio books too. In the USA you can find them on Audible, and from Ulverscroft. In the UK you can get them from ISIS Soundings, and from public libraries in both countries.
Having my books produced in audio form is an interesting experience. I haven’t listened to them all the way through yet, but I have heard enough to know that actress Annie Aldington has done a great job reading them. I am very fussy about audio book readers, sometimes a narrator’s voice will get on my nerves right from the start. Other times I can listen to a boring book just because the reader has such a lovely voice. Hugh Quarshie is one of those, I could listen to his voice all day (and all night)! I think Annie brings a nice combination of warmth and humour to her reading, with a little bit of South London thrown in for good measure.
Listening to a book being read is a completely different experience from reading it yourself. In some ways it is more passive, but in others it requires more concentration because it’s not so easy to flick back to check a detail or to catch up after a break. There is also the issue of where you are when you are listening. It’s much easier to keep track of the story when you are spending the afternoon lazing on the sofa than when you are clinging to a strap in a crowded underground train, driving, or snatching a few moments on your phone between meetings, or indeed if the reader is not speaking in a familiar accent!
It would be fascinating to know if people remember the content of audio books more or less clearly than if they read them themselves. I know, for example, that people find it much harder to remember the names of books they’ve read on Kindle. But that is perhaps more to do with the fact that we don’t see the cover and title every time we pick up and start reading as we do with a physical book.
I didn’t write the Lavender Road books with audio in mind. I had no idea when I began that these wartime stories would become so popular world wide. But I’m hoping that the fact that I spent a lot of time working on my plots, making sure that my characters were suitably memorable and (hopefully!) engaging, and the historical detail as interesting as possible will keep my new listeners as involved as my readers seem to have been.
What has already happened is that having been clamouring for audio versions for the last year or so, now people are beginning to ask if there’s any chance of a TV version! Well, not so far, but it would be nice, wouldn’t it? I just need someone to tip off a suitable producer!!
US editions of the Helen’s audio books:
UK editions of Helen’s audio books:
Helen’s next lavender Road novel, VICTORY GIRLS, will be published on 18 April 2018.