Saturday, 23 August 2014


Although it was very exciting, it was also very strange to listen to A Song for Issy Bradley on BBC Radio 4. When I found out that the novel had been selected for Book at Bedtime I was delighted and curious about how it would be condensed. It must be tremendously difficult to abridge 105,000 words into 10, fifteen minute segments, and I'm very glad I didn't have to do it because a) it would have taken me ages and b) it would have driven me slightly batty.

There were lots of lovely things about the production. Emma Fielding has a beautiful voice and I loved the music, particularly the guitar melodies that separated segments. (I especially liked these during the second week, when they were slightly more cheerful, and reminded me of The Princess Bride).

[*Spoiler alert for this paragraph*]
Listening to such a small snapshot of the novel was almost like listening to a synopsis, but the story didn't open in the same place as it does in the novel, and things happened in a different order at the end. Claire's journey to the beach wasn't included (she was just suddenly there) and the dangers of the environment (the fact that she'd been cut off by the tide) passed without mention. This made the ending a little mystifying: Claire went out for a walk, the children and Ian followed, they called to her and she turned around, The End. I'm not sure that the final scene works without an element of peril; the drama comes from Claire's hesitation as she makes the choice to either stay in this world or allow the racing tide to drag her into the next. 
[*Spoiler alert for this paragraph*]

Embedded image permalinkLast week I also received three copies of the audio book (unabridged). One of the children pinched a copy, along with the only CD player in the house, and disappeared up to his room. I followed, and we listened to the first CD together. Then we took the box out to the car and listened to the rest of the book as we drove to holiday clubs and the supermarket.

Emma Gregory reads beautifully and she does fantastic accents. Again, it was both strange and exciting to listen to someone else's version of the novel. One of the peripheral characters had an Irish accent (which wasn't at all problematic, just unexpected) and there were times when expression and interpretation led to some scenes being softer and others more challenging than I'd intended, which makes me wonder about voice and dialogue in my new novel - are there already different ways of reading the (admittedly rough) first few chapters? I expect so. And is it possible for me to be more aware of this than I was when writing A Song for Issy Bradley? Perhaps, although I'm not really sure.

Talking of interpretations and adaptations, this week I wrote a blog post for My Book, The Movie. As suggested by the title, the blog is one in which writers discuss imaginary film adaptations of their novels. You can read about mine here

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