I had a brilliant time yesterday afternoon taking part in the Radio 4 More Than Words "listening festival" in Bristol! I was one of three local writers invited to create "short stories with sound" which we - me, Edson Burton and Paul Mundell (reading Tim X Atack's story) - then read, with sound effects provided by the amazing Radio 4 sound team, at the gorgeous St George's, in front of a live audience, and were recorded for broadcast.
It was a really interesting experience being asked to create words with sounds in mind. I ended up - as is my wont - not writing one 15-minute story by 3 very short stories, each one quite different but all in some way inspired by science (as is my wont), under the heading "Reality Check". I found that thinking about sound effects really added to the writing of the story - I could use the sounds as shorthand, make them really work hard, not just be gratuitous. I hope that what I wrote will work as "just" words on a page, but I really enjoyed having my senses stretched.
Reading them with the sound effects was also wonderful. I have to say, I do love being on stage, especially in such a glorious venue (see above) where we've been to hear a wide range of live music - and Margaret Atwood! Once you get me up there, under the lights, I don't actually want to get offstage. Two of my 3 stories were supposed to be funny, but you never really know until the reading, and the audience giggled in places I hadn't expected. For me, there's almost nothing better than making an audience laugh, I love it.
You'll be able to hear me reading the stories - and, I hope, some of the audience's giggles - on Radio 4's (one remaining weekday) Afternoon Reading programme on Friday 13th April (auspicious??) and on iplayer for a week following that, I imagine. I will give you a link when it's available. I've had several stories on Radio 4 but this is the first time they've allowed me (nay, paid me) to read them myself, and it seemed to go down well so maybe they'll allow me to do it again! Thank you to our fantastic producer, Sara Davies, and to my fellow writers, Edson Burton (whose story, Hood, will be broadcast the Friday after mine) and Tim X Atack, whose story Birdsong Man you can hear the week before mine.