Last week I was up in Newcastle and then Norwich, giving some library talks, and visiting bookshop, promoting both ‘Death Force’, and the sequel Fire Force’.
As well as talking about where the books come from, one thing I do is read out loud a chapter from both books. And it struck me there is something really interesting about reading something you’ve written to an audience. You get a very real and immediate sense of what sentences work and which don’t. I’m not a skilled enough reader to really look at people closely when I’m reading – I’m looking down at the page – but it doesn’t make much difference. You can just tell from the vibe in the room when you have people’s attention and when you’ve lost it. And you have an immediate sense of how the rhythms of the sentences work, something which is hard to figure out when you are juts looking at words on a page.
If I could find a willing audience, I wouldn’t mind reading a whole book out loud.
After all, it is the most elemental form of story-telling – something like sitting around a fire in a cave, telling a tale. It would be similar to bands playing their songs live for six months before they go into the studio to record them. And I suspect the book would be a lot better for it.