All Tantalising Will (Nearly) End

Firstly, how do you spell ‘tantalising’?  Hum.  Even though wordpress is flagging it as a spelling error, I think I’ve got it right…

So I’ve been talking for a while about topsecretprojects1-3.3, and the soon-to-be-commenced topsecretproject4, and I’m not gonna lie, while it’s been immensely frustrating not actually naming these things, at the very least I have taken some pleasure from teasing at the expense of… well… pretty much everybody else.  But while my capacity for chaos, merriment, misdirection and downright dodges in the absence of hard information is borderline boundless, even this must end, and within a week of this post going live on my blog, all should finally, finally be revealed.

Therefore!  And in a final spirit of one-last-tease, let me take this opportunity to say that the audiobook of topsecretproject1 is totally awesome.  Although… I found myself being a little hypocritical when I first heard about it.

As a lighting designer, I get a little worried when writers enter a technical rehearsal.  The whole point of theatre is that each production brings something new to a text, regardless how old or new the words are, and the combination of different people in a room will always find something new collectively, that as individuals or in a different group, wouldn’t ever have emerged. The words, ‘I’ll drown my books’ from Prospero’s mouth can be regretful, liberating, empowering, reductive, triumphant or self-destructive, depending on the actor who speaks them and the production that encases them.  However you occasionally can get still-living writers sat in a theatre saying, ‘yes, well, you could say it like that, but that’s not what I imagined’ or ‘well, yes, I see that you have interpreted it this way, but I think that’s wrong’.  At which point directors wince, actors quiver and as a lighting designer, I lock my smile into the attack position and hope no one notices I exist.

Fore-armed with this knowledge, I assumed that I would be far too wise to ever suffer from writer-syndrome myself.  Then I heard about the audiobook and while obviously I whooped with glee, because who wouldn’t, I also found myself wondering… what if it sounds wrong?  Whatever the hell ‘wrong’ means?

Even if I wasn’t a lighting designer, my old AS-Level English teacher would probably berate me furiously for the thought, with her rousing cry of, ‘the writer is dead, long live the reader!’  My ‘wrong’ is no more valid than anyone else who ever goes near the text, and if anything my having written the book means my word should be the last thing anyone trusts.  After all, I am shockingly biased.

All of this theory and introspective angst is marvelously hypothetical, however, since I sat down a few days ago and actually had a listen to the audiobook of topsecretproject1 and was wowed.  Actually properly wowed.  Of course it sounded different from my imagination – of course it did.  But don’t mistake ‘different’ for ‘wrong’.  ‘Different’ was totally frickin’ awesome.  ‘Different’ was a whole something I hadn’t even begun to realise was in the book, a whole richness that frankly, as the scribbler, I’d totally missed.  ‘Different’ was entirely additive, not subtractive.  ‘Different’ rocked my world.

Topsecretproject1 has been optioned for film.  I assume, as always, that it’ll never happen.  As always, I have complete faith in the producers, who are frankly fantastic, as well as having an office above a frozen yoghurt shop which can surely only be a good thing.  As always I consider it emotionally and professionally sensible to not tie your hopes to the film industry.  If it does happen I will celebrate hugely, and whatever the film is, regardless of how different it may be from the book – and I think it’ll have to be pretty different, to be honest, just for narrative reasons – if it’s anything like the audiobook, that’ll be fine.  One of the great joys of a book is that when you read it, it is yours, a world that you can imagine and construct in your head, in your own way, picking out the things that matter most to you.  But in the great quest to overcome writer-angst-syndrome, I think the main lesson I’ve taken from listening to topsecretproject1 is that as having someone else interpret these things can also be wonderful, since it adds a whole other way of looking, that simply might not have occurred to you.

6 Comments:

  1. YAAAAAY!!!!!!…I can’t think of anything else to say….I’ve been talking up your books to anyone and everyone I run into…cabbies, people on the bus, politicians eating lunch at the state capital, cops, firefighters, lonely desperate people on the internet, enlightened long winded people on the internet, folks in random chat rooms, other authors that I run into at book signing things, and anyone that happens to ask “what’s your favorite book?” at the bookstore….and even people that don’t ask, I always try to bring it up….sooo…audiobook…groovy…and film, well, you’re kind of right. “Forge of God” by Greg Bear had it’s movie rights picked up by Warner Brothers a while back and nothing ever came of that…even though it’s a surprisingly deep novel. Nonetheless….we need more Doctor Strange, more Constantine, we need another Harry Dresden, sadly we’re not getting another Hellboy movie but you get my point, the movies need more characters like these guys…the movies want something grittier than harry potter…not as complex as lord of the rings..but as relatable as the Ghostbusters…

    …the movies need Matthew Swift…and Sharon too at some point but lets not get ahead of ourselves…man waiting a week for the next blog post is going to suck…*shrugs*…worth it…by the way, when they did the audiobook version of Neverwhere on BBC Radio with all those fantastic people like Anthony Head, blew my mind, just something about someone giving a real voice to a character that….makes them feel more alive and…ok that’s kind of redundant and I’m rambling at this point…awesome stuff, can’t wait for the news, keep up the awesome work!

  2. Woo-hoo, no more teasing! Well, no more teasing about topsecretprojects1-3 anyway. I’m sure that there will be other topsecretprojects you can tantalise us with :-)

  3. It’s a really complicated interrelationship between the reader and the writer, and it’s very hard to say that the writer is dead and that there is only the reader. To quote an old movie “the central message of Nitzche is *not* ‘Every Man for himself’”. To put it in a much more, hopefully clearer, but also horribly American metaphor. American football has a ‘pass’, in which the quarterback, under extreme pressure (usually) throws the ball down field to a receiver. The interesting thing is that if the receiver does not actually catch the ball, or worse if the other side catches the ball, this usually counts *against* the quarterback. And I personally don’t think that’s right, because there’s sufficient room on both sides for errors that affect the entire outcome. If the opposing team’s player happens to simply run faster… then why is it the quarterback’s fault that the ball went to the right place at the right time, and the wrong person was there to catch it?

    Likewise, with reading. The writer has plenty of opportunity to put in a given idea, and has plenty of opportunity to FAIL to do so correctly. But the reader has exactly as much opportunity to FAIL to read the idea. You can write “The dragon ate the maiden”, and I can decide that it’s a post-modern statement about the relationship between seasons, mortality, and the taste of ice cream. And in many many ways, it’s proper to say I’m wrong.

    Also, the really important bit about secret projects is when they are actually available to purchase… Which I hope is *soon*… :-D

    Is tantalizing subject to British/American spelling? Is it properly with an ess in Britain, whilst irrationally with a zed in the US?

  4. NEATO! I’m crossing my fingers for you, over here… :)

  5. All I have to say at this moment is, it’s a week later; WHERE’S THE NEWS!
    Phew, just had to get that off my chest. Seriously, lots of interesting stuff going on, and the bating of breath is going to result in muted little explosions all over the interwebz as over-excited KateG fans, unable to hold it together any longer, just burst. :^)

  6. Lo, and indeed, behold, as I wrote the above, the much anticipated news has broken. Hurrah!

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