New experience, familiar nerves

A series of readings of The Balance of Guilt have just been aired on the wireless, narrated by the author.  And as usual when something new happens in my writing life, it's left me reflecting upon it.

A strange feeling it was, listening to myself doing the readings.  I'm used to hearing myself on the radio when I've been reporting a story, but this was very different.

I was all nervous and wobbly about it, and had to keep stopping the readings for a few minutes (I listened back on the iplayer) before I was calm enough to carry on.  Even when I actually recorded them, I was nervy. 

And I've sat in a studio countless times, talking to a microphone...

I think the reason must be the stepping over the line thing - going from being objective, impartial, distanced and dispassionate about something, as I am in news mode, to actually being a part of it. 

It's something you've created, and as is usually the case, that means it's something you love.

These books things you write, it's impossible to do so without letting part of yourself seep into them.  It's a kind of exposing of a segment of your soul, and that's scary enough to do in public, let alone with thousands of people listening.

And yet, here's an irony - giving a reading is one of my favourite parts of doing a talk about my books. It's a primeval thing, and deep within us, even from the campfire days; the joy of storytelling and listening.

Choosing the readings was a sizeable dilemma, too.  There are five, over the period of a week, and each lasted for about five minutes.  That's just five short segments from a hundred thousand words or so of the book.

Pick the best bits, I was told.  And of course I answered - it's all the best bits!  I try to do nothing but.

On top of that, you've got to be careful to make sure you give a good taste of the book, but without giving away the endings, naturally.

Oh, the artistic agonising!

Anyway, they are now done and seem to have been well-received.  I was gratified on Friday to meet a fellow gym-sufferer, who remarked she was off home to listen to the final part of the series.

If you want to have a listen, all five readings are still on the BBC iplayer, and will be for a couple more days - 

They begin about one hour and ten minutes into the programme.  Here's hoping you enjoy them, in the same way as I (can now say that, with hindsight, and it all being over) did.