The podcast of my short story Bad Debt
went live this week on Seth Harwood’s
excellent crime fiction podcasting site, Crimewav.com
. Very interesting experience.
This is my second short-story-podcasting experience; my story Grounders
was podcast on www.variantfrequencies.com
earlier in the year. But this was the first time I read the story myself.
Now, I am not one of those writers who hates the sound of their own voice. (I’m more like the talking donkey in Shrek; the trick is getting me to shut up). I kind of enjoy reading in public, and while I’m doing it, I think I’m doing a good job. But as it turns out, listening to a recording of it is torture.
It also turns out, the recording process can be a little more torturous than it might appear, as well.
Seth was great, sending lots of encouragement, along with the recording equipment and tips on how to use it, like putting up blankets to deaden the room, reading just slower than you think sounds natural, and printing the story single-spaced with tiny margins, to minimize page-turning sounds.
I set aside two days when I would have the house to myself for much of the day.
I put up the blankets, like Seth suggested, but I figured I could eliminate the page-turning noises completely by just reading from my computer screen and scrolling down with my touch pad.
Before I started recording, I read through the story from start to finish, all thirty pages, and it went perfectly. Of course it did.
Then I pressed record.
The first take was way too fast. The second take was interrupted by a loud request for puppy attention (the puppy accepted a bribe of a nice chewy pig ear). The third take, and the rest of the day, were occupied with a massive line of deafening thunderstorms.
Oh, well, that’s why there’s another day.
Day two began perfectly. Sent the boy to school, gave the puppy another dried body-part to chew, and off I went. In the middle of the first take -- three pages after the part of the story that contained sirens -- came the actual sirens, all sorts of them. (Apparently, one of my neighbors was experiencing some horrible tragedy involving police, fire, and ambulance – why, I asked, do these things always happen to me?).
Finally, just before I had to go meet my son off the school bus, I got through a great take – perfect tempo, very expressive, just a few flubs, no interruptions. If only the memory card hadn’t run out of room three pages into it.
The next afternoon, I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours for two more takes, and they seemed fine ...until I played them back and realized that the reason you can’t read off your computer screen is that the fan sounds like a 727 taxiing on the runway.
So, I met my son off the school bus and made a deal with him: "Yes, you can have a friend over, but you have to play in the basement or in the back yard, and you cannot disturb me unless it’s an emergency."
Well, I got off two complete takes, maybe a little slow, definitely a little tired, a few more flubs than I would have liked, but finished and without interruption. Only later did I find out there had indeed been an emergency: a potato chip emergency, as in, my son came up to the third floor while I was recording to ask if he could have some potato chips.
I’m not sure if it was the F-bombs falling like rain or the growled threats of physical violence, but he heard me reading something that made him rethink the whole potato chip question. He ran back downstairs and didn’t say a word about it, at least not to me. I heard about it after he told my wife. At least that explained why he was looking at me so weird.
Anyway, if you get a chance to listen to Bad Debt
, I hope you enjoy it, and as for the quality of the reading, well, you should have heard the one that got away.