April 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
In her twelve best-selling novels (Promises to Keep, To Have and to Hold, The Beach House), British-born writer Jane Green has consistently mined the very issues that LHJ readers hold most dear—marriage, motherhood, friendship, home. Green’s latest, Another Piece of My Heart, takes on the subject of blended families. Using alternating points-of-view, Green tells the story of how Andi’s marriage is threatened by the hostility and rebelliousness of her husband’s teenage daughter, Emily. Like Green’s other books, Another Piece of My Heart immediately shot to the top of the bestseller lists and has been released in an audio version. (We at LHJ are big fans of audiobooks! Can you say “multi-tasking”?) But this time, instead of having the book read by a professional actress, Green’s publisher agreed to let the author narrate the audiobook herself. Here’s Green’s account of the experience—and click here to listen to a sample of the result.
Despite my love of performing, I would have made a horrible actress. The last time I thought about acting was at University, where I followed my gang of friends—all actors—to their auditions, and somehow found myself on stage during a student production of Cabaret, doing a rather dismal and painfully self-conscious Sally Bowles.
I laid my acting dreams to rest, but have always indulged my secret desire by throwing myself fully into character when reading my books aloud at events, dreaming of the day I might be allowed to read my own audiobook.
The publishing people in charge smiled indulgently. Every author thinks they can read their own book, they said. Few of them are any good, they said. Eventually, skepticism written all over their faces, they agreed to let me audition, and I gave it my all as I became first Andi, then Emily, switching back to the narrator.
I passed the test, despite having a very British accent, for my very American book, and blocked several days out of my diary to sit in a small cubicle in New York to read the novel I had worked so hard on.
I loved every minute of the recording, but it was an eye-opener. Reading the book out loud threw up every mistake, every repetition, every flat sentence that could have been better. I made changes where I could—I still had two weeks to get final edits in—and vowed to read my books aloud in future before handing them in, if only to catch all those mistakes. Finding unique voices for each character was also hard for me, as a non-actress. Minor characters would appear whom I had completely forgotten about, leaving me with no idea what they were supposed to sound like in order to differentiate them from the others.
The response has been mixed, the biggest criticism being the issue of having an English voice read American characters, which I understand. I’d love to try again, although I recognize now how hard it is—and, perhaps, why novels should be read by actors. They bring a unique dimension to the task. Having said that, let me remind everything that it was my first time. And were I to be invited to read the next book, I would make two changes:
First, I would ensure I have a different voice for each and every character.
And second, at least one of those characters will be English!
Want to listen to Green read her fabulous book? You’re in luck! We’re giving away 10 copies of the Another Piece of My Heart audiobook! Just post a comment below and you’ll automatically be entered to win.