January 31st, 2017

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Listening to Stories

I guess I wore myself out with my deadline push because I was utterly useless yesterday. Well, maybe not entirely. I searched some stock photo sites for potential cover images, did some reading from a book on writing craft, took care of some business things, and did some minor housework. Today I need to get back in the grind and accomplish the to-do list that piled up while I was frantically writing. It’s funny, for the past week, I’ve desperately wanted to clean house, but had to put it on hold to write. Now I really need to clean house, and all I want to do is write.

A lot of my recent “reading” has been on audio, but not regular audio books. After I listened to the audio drama of Stardust, I found the other things they had online to listen to. I got through Northanger Abbey, then discovered Persuasion, and that was where I realized that a regular audio book just doesn’t work for me. It has to be a full-cast drama with sound effects, music, etc. Persuasion was done as part of the BBC’s “Book at Bedtime” series, which is just a narrator reading a book. This was a book I like, read by an actress I like, and I kept zoning out and couldn’t follow it. So it was back to the dramas. There was one from a novel by Julian Fellowes, the writer of Downton Abbey (and including some of the DA cast). And then there was Madame Bovary, narrated by John Hurt (RIP) and with a cast of familiar voices.

Last night, I found a production of Les Miserables in their archives (it seems to be from about 2001). It’s a dramatization of the novel, not related to the musical … except there’s one bit of cast crossover. Roger Allam is playing Jean Valjean, and he played Inspector Javert in the original London cast of the musical. That’s one of the recordings I have, and he does the best version of the “Confrontation” scene. There was a bit of cognitive dissonance during the opening scene of the audio drama, which was a scene between Valjean and Javert, and the voice I associate with Javert was Valjean, so it took me a while to be able to keep the characters straight.

Playing “who’s that voice?” is part of the fun of these. In some cases, they list a full cast on the web site or the announcer gives the credit at the end. In some cases, there’s no cast list, or they just list a few key names for each episode. So many of these actors are people who are familiar from various British TV shows, Masterpiece Theatre, etc.

I’m finding that these work pretty well as a way to wind down and get to sleep, a transition between reading and sleeping. I read for about half an hour, then put the book down, put on my headphones, turn out the light, and lie still while listening to a 15-minute drama episode. Usually, I can then slip off the headphones, put the tablet down, and go to sleep pretty quickly.

Though with British voices running through my head as I fall asleep, how long will it be before I pick up a British accent?