There’s a very interesting development coming up soon. One of my Sherlock Holmes stories for the MX Collections, “The Holloway Ghosts” was written not in my usual first-person Watson narrative style, but as an audio play.
Steve Emecz, the publisher behind MX, had been quietly asking for some time for me to make my works available as audiobooks, a field in which MX Publishing has quietly been making significant progress.
Accordingly, the Holloway Ghosts made their way over to MX, where they have been recorded and produced by another Steve (White), and Steve W and I worked out some of the production issues (including some of my stupid errors in the script) by email until we were both happy with it.
Audio is more than just the words
As we processed the script, I discovered that there is much more to making a successful audio drama than merely the right words. It helps to have a little atmosphere in there – a ticking clock and a crackling fire summon up the atmosphere of the rooms in 221B Baker Street. The clip-clop of horses’ hoofs brings us outside into a Victorian street, and a little reverberation added to the effects and dialogue places us with Holmes and Watson in a deserted empty room.
And then there’s the voice in which the accents are spoken. Steve, without going into a ludicrous falsetto, can portray the female characters in my story. However, I had envisaged one of my characters as being much more strident, and probably not a Londoner, than Steve made her. So we changed her to be a Midlander with an attitude, and I think we’re much happier with her now.
Steve surprised me with his Lestrade, who seemed to be from Norfolk. However, once I had got over the surprise, it worked, and made a great foil to the stolid Cockney PCs who play a role in the story.
And we also had fun with Otto Sussbinder – a German character who is not all that he appears.
This is one of the problems I encountered with regard to a voice play – transitions. I could have taken the easy way out, and had Watson do a voice-over.
We left Baker Street and made our way to Holloway by cab. During the journey, Holmes informed Lestrade of his conclusions regarding the recent theft from Westmereland House.
But I felt that was cheating. Accordingly, I wrote these scenes either as dialogue, or as a spoken cue by one of the characters:
Come, let us take a cab to Holloway, and we may usefully pass the time by my informing you, Lestrade, of the conclusions I have reached regarding the Westmereland rubies.
I also found, in scenes where more than one character is present, that I needed to throw in names in order to indicate who is being addressed:
Lestrade, if you would be good enough to call one of your constables, and Watson, follow me to the rear of the house.
All very technical, but necessary to the ultimate success of the production.
So… Keep a lookout for the Holloway Ghosts – appearing soon in a little over 30 minutes of glorious audio. And at least two more of my longer stories are on the stocks, being adapted in the same way – no descriptions – simply dialogue. It’s an exciting venture.
I’ll be writing more later, when these hit the “shelves”.
2 Replies to “Lend me your ears…”
So very exciting, Hugh. I’ve always wondered if gaslights emitted a soft, gentle hiss. Can’t wait to find out.
They do, actually. When we went on caravan holidays, the interior lighting was by gaslight, and they did hiss slightly. And there was a distinctive smell from the gas mantles, which glowed white-hot to provide the light.
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