Book of the Week – some thoughts

When (in times to come) I try to remember the excitement of having a book published, I think I’ll fix my mind on that brief moment yesterday morning at 9.45: when the sun was tunnelling in through the windows for the first time in a fortnight, and my murder scene was read out on Radio 4.

It’s an enormous privilege for any writer to have their work selected to be read on Book of the Week but, equally, yesterday felt quite symbolic – as if it was a kind of public externalising of a story that for so long had lived inside me. For the first time since I started I had no control over who had been chosen to read my words or which sections had been chopped and which had not. As a writer, at this point, you’re a little like the archetypal American Dad, who’s built a soapbox in the garage, hauled it up the hill and given it a hopeful push. But someone else is behind the wheel as it careers off down the road.

AL Kennedy wrote an excellent punchy piece in the Guardian on the book launch and the days that follow it. She disliked the time because as soon as publication came your work was suddenly wrested away to become ‘just another volume on a shelf in a bookshop, much the same as all the others [and belonging] to everyone but you.’

I liked that article and there’s truth in it. But listening to Radio 4 over the past two mornings has not only been a little odd and exciting, but it has also presented me with a new perspective of the story. There’s the pastoral music, the flecks of birdsong and, most of all, Alex Jennings’ beautiful delivery which has quite different rhythms, stresses and pronunciations to those that I’ve repeated in my head. It’s freshening experience and makes the story, which in my mind had gradually been smoothed over like a river stone, immediate in the way that it was when I started off a few years ago.

If you want to have a listen to the Radio 4 production then the first two episodes are up on iPlayer for the next week or so, and a subsequent programmes can be found at this link.

Image credit: Bethan

4 Comments

  • Quite fantastic! I can’t wait to hear Episode 5 tomorrow. I have some inkling of how you feel, having had a carol published and broadcast at the famous King’s Carols on Christmas Eve, many moons ago. My piece, in someone else’s very expert hands, going round the world. I shall go and buy the book this week. All strength to your elbow. Your descriptive gift is our blessing.

    Andrew Carter
    Composer
    York

  • Peter Moore says:

    Hi Andrew – thank you for the lovely comment, it’s good to hear you’re enjoying the programmes. I’m intrigued to see how they abridge the remaining eight chapters into a 15 minute section tomorrow but I’m sure they’ll manage it – they’ve found a way so far.

    Interesting to hear about your carol and it being performed around the world. Much the same thing as I was trying to say in this blog post: the excitement of someone else’s talents giving you a fresh perspective of your own work. A great thing.

  • Ewen says:

    Enjoyed listening to the audio version of your book on Radio 4 this week. Announcer mentioned you have done an audio blog and its on the R4 website – any idea where?

    Thanks
    Ewen

  • Peter Moore says:

    Hi Ewen, Glad you enjoyed the reading. Not sure exactly where my interview is – I’ve got a version that I’ll put up on this site next week though (when I get back from travelling about).

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