Staying in character
I'll save you from some heartfelt but superfluous words about the current COVID-19 crisis. We're all in the same boat, and we're all dealing with it the best we can. I've been working from home for some months, so this is nothing new except for one key thing.
I now have three boys off school tumbling around the house which means that my pure work time is limited. It has taken some getting used to, but three weeks in , things are beginning to settle down. Mornings are largely my own, with two of the boys unlikely to surface much before 1 pm. I can't deny that's been a mercy, and eases the sense that we're living on top of each other. Add in a judicious country walk each afternoon, and the pressure valve is released just enough to prevent too much domestic strife.
I've been fortunate in that I entered this lock down period with plenty of audio projects on the slate. I don't detect a fall off of interest from authors in developing their audio presence, and in a wider publishing sense, there appears to have been a rise in the sale of electronic content - particularly ebooks and audiobooks, given the access to libraries and physical bookshops has been curtailed. I'm not suggesting that this is some sort of silver lining - it's merely an observation that the current limitations on life have prompted people to try to find entertainment in new formats.
I've been exploring a new format of my own, in partnership with one of my regular clients, multi-million bestselling author Adam Croft. I narrate his Knight and Culverhouse crime series, with DCI Jack Culverhouse at the centre of the stories. Jack is a gruff, old-school, no nonsense detective, who has very little respect for authority, or any form of filter when he's unhappy about something. In other words, Culverhouse is refreshingly un-PC, and I love to slip into his gruff tones - there's something almost poetic when he descends into profanity-laden anger at the state of the world around him.
The first offering was semi-improvised on my phone, stood in my garden as the spring chorus provided a melodious background, something that Culverhouse couldn't resist commenting on. Reaction on Adam's Facebook Reader page was overwhelmingly positive, and five more updates have followed, each becoming more complex and sophisticated. It's been great fun creating these scenes, tying in the current crisis and widening the world of Adam's characters, referring to stories in the news and breathing wider life into the world of Mildenheath Police.
It's also shown me how, after narrating three full novels and a novella in the Knight and Culverhouse world, I've become totally in tune with the character. I slip into the voice and actually begin to think like Jack Culverhouse. It's as if I've performed a Vulcan mind meld in some way. Perhaps there's more of Jack in me than I'd like to admit - I'm approaching 50, have issues understanding the new generation in the workplace, and have a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I also admire Jack's approach to life. If he's unhappy with something he says so. Too often the modern British way is to keep quiet for fear of causing wider offence. So it's been creatively challenging and personally rewarding to delve into the world of Adam's characters.
Will there be more? Without a doubt. After all - this crisis isn't going anywhere soon. 1