A thing that I never do is read my books after they’ve been published. Why? A few reasons: I know I’ll end up finding things I could have done differently and it’ll frustrate me; even worse, I might find mistakes/typos; and also because once it’s published, it’s out of my hands for good and I need to let it go, essentially, and let it belong to the readers. However, I did make an exception with my most recent release, The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel, in that I did listen to the audiobook version of the novel. How could I not, after all? It’s my very first audiobook, and I was DYING to hear how the narrator, Barrie Kreinik, had performed my story and my characters.
In that regard I was not disappointed in the least. Kreinik gives an INCREDIBLE performance; she uses just the right tone and voice and inflections and accents for my characters. I love how she gave Charlotte a low, smooth voice, Nancy a southern accent, and Mevrouw Douw a creaky old lady voice, just as I had heard her in my head. And the emotion she brought to the performance was just incredible. Oh, and I should mention that there is SPOOKY MUSIC at the beginning and end of the audiobook, which absolutely delighted me. Overall, the entire production was beyond anything I had dreamed of.
Beyond that, though, I was a little surprised at some of my own reactions to listening to a book that I had written. There were moments when I couldn’t stop myself from revising in my head – I don’t think I can help it – but for the most part, actually, I was able to put that aside. In fact, for a great deal of the time I sort of forgot that I had written it, if that makes any sense, and just let myself get caught up in the story. There were moments when I’d be worried for Katrina and Ichabod, or annoyed when Brom would show up, and then I’d remember, “Oh, yeah, I wrote this. I made it happen this way.” And then I would sort of laugh at myself and get back into the story.
I don’t know if that’s a testament to my skills as a writer so much as it is a sign of how deeply I love the characters, the story, the world. It was wonderful to visit them all again, in a completely new format. In a way I got to relive my experience of the story, which is something I’ve never really done before. When I’m reading it for pass pages and copyedits I still have that critical, writerly eye turned towards it; I’m still looking for mistakes and typos and things that need to be changed. This was really and truly the first time I got to experience my own work – at least somewhat – as a reader would. It was cool and weird and basically gave me ALL THE FEELS.
I did in fact cry at one point – there’s a scene near the very end that ALWAYS got me, every time through, and never more powerfully than when I listened to it. Again, I don’t know as this speaks to me being a great writer or anything like that, it was just…an emotional moment. I love this story and in many ways it feels like I lived it with the characters. In many ways I did. And this was my opportunity to sit back and marvel at something I’d created, this little piece of my heart that’s now out in the world for others to experience as well. This book is so special to me, and so it was particularly meaningful to revisit it, to sit with it and know that I’d accomplished something, that I’d made this book real for myself and for others, too.
Now, am I going to go back and read my previous two books? I don’t think so. I think I’ll always listen to any subsequent audio editions of my books, just because I so love to hear the narrator’s choices and performance and interpretation. It’s so interesting to hear my work in a different medium. And if there are future audiobooks, will they hit me quite like this one did?
I don’t know. I suppose I can’t say, although each book feels different to write; I know that to be very, very true. I suppose each book would feel different for me to encounter as a reader, as well.