This week, Sheila Mitchell has been recording the full-length audio book version of Gallows Court. I was thrilled when she proposed this to my publishers, and so were they. Over the years, I've been lucky in the actors who have recorded my books for audio. Gordon Griffin in particular has done sterling work, and last month I had the pleasure of meeting Julia Franklin, who recorded The Cipher Garden some years back. But this is the first time Sheila has been involved with any of my books.
Sheila has been (as was her late husband Harry Keating, formerly a distinguished President of the Detection Club) a friend for many years. I've learned a great deal from her about such things as voice projection - not that I'm much good at it, even now, though she's done her best to train me! Harry, I gather, recorded one of his own novels, before concluding it was best left to the professionals. I very much agree, and I can't see myself ever wanting to record a novel of my own, even though I did once record a short story, "No Flowers", for an Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine podcast.
Done well (as it needs to be), audio recording is a demanding job. Sheila has recorded countless audio books over the years, and her preparation continues to be absolutely meticulous. During recent conversations, I was interested to find out how she goes about it, and it's become clear to me that an in-depth understanding of the characters and incidents, as well as oddities of pronunciation, is invaluable for someone about to embark on a marathon of reading aloud.
I was greatly impressed by the list of questions she fired at me after her second reading of the text; thankfully, I managed to figure out the answers. Her incisive analysis of the tricky bits will, I feel sure, be a real benefit. She spent the first three days of this week full-time (about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) in the studio, recording Gallows Court. That she's been willing to do this is something I regard as an honour and I very much look forward to listening to the result.