An Unusual Proposition

Let Me Read To YouHands up all those writers that would like their story turned into a poorly read audiobook. Come on, hands up high so we can count them. Anyone? No? … But what if I told you the result could be fun?

That was the unusual proposition that Please Let Me Read To You presented to me near the start of July. Let me explain …

Shortly after the release of Vera’s Itch, Please Let Me Read To You wrote to ask if they could read it on their podcast. I knew nothing about these people, so I looked up their website and their Facebook page, which said: “We read books and short stories by independent authors in genres we’re not used to – resulting in poorly read audiobooks. So, let us read to you..”

That really didn’t sound promising. I couldn’t find any external reviews, but the email was polite and friendly, and the request seemed sincere, so I decided the only thing for it was to listen to their show.

The podcast opens with small group of people chatting about their lives for a while before getting to the story. They do a brief introduction of the author and then they start the reading.

The first example I picked was a story I wasn’t likely to choose for myself, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was lots of laughs. Silly exaggerated voices, interruptions, mistakes and deliberately skewed emphasis on parts of the dialogue. I guess the description sounds like it might be a mess, and it sort of is, but that’s part of the fun. I enjoyed it. I laughed a lot and got told a story I would not be likely to read otherwise. It wasn’t perfect. Some parts dragged a bit, it ends up being quite a long show, but overall it was a lot of fun.

As a result, I enthusiastically agreed to let them read one of mine.

 

Entitled - Cover ImageAt first it was going to be Vera’s Itch (the story that first led to contact), but then I sent them a draft of Entitled and after I released it they decided to go with that.

There was some concern that the published ending to Entitled might not be an ideal match for their show. A few ideas occurred to me while I was thinking it over, and I ended up writing an alternate ending just for their show. (They didn’t ask for it, this was just something that occurred to me, and when I liked what I wrote I sent it to them as an option.) I told them this new last scene was intended to be in a strong Australian accent, if they felt up to it.

Time passed. And yes, I was nervous in the lead up. It’s one thing to laugh with the performance of other people’s stories, but I wondered how I would react when it was my own.

Publishing turns out to be something quite isolated and distant. I don’t have to watch anyone reading my stories, and very few readers leave reviews, good or bad. I remain remote from my audience. But now someone wanted to perform one of my stories – “poorly“. What would it be like?

And then the email arrived. My story was up!

I didn’t have to listen. … Yes, I did. I did have to listen. So I did.

I loved it. I don’t think I laughed as much as I had on the earlier podcasts I listened to. I suspect that’s because I’m too familiar with the text. I spent too much time listening for the words I knew should be coming and not enough relaxing and enjoying the show for what it is. But it was still good fun.

I’m Australian, so I’m allowed to be mean about Australian accents. It’s a mongrel accent, bits and pieces from everywhere. The worst bits. In the spirit of our friendly rivalry with New Zealand, I’m tempted to suggest that the only good thing about an Australian accent is that it’s not a New Zealand accent, but my heart’s not really in it.

Anyway, the point is that Please Let Me Read To You tackled Entitled with Australian accents and thereby demonstrated clearly what a mongrel accent it really is. Good job!

 

Summary for readers/listeners:

What Please Let Me Read To You do won’t be for everyone, but you won’t know until you give them a try. Theirs is a casual performance. Mostly it sounds like some friends having a laugh, you just happen to be invited to listen in and laugh along with them.

They use some coarse language, and there may be some sexual references. The particular type of story will obviously have it’s own impact on the language used.

I like what they do, I think they’re worth a listen. You get some laughs while also getting the general gist of a story you may never have picked up to read for yourself.

 

Summary for writers:

Let me try to be clear about this: They don’t make fun of your story, they have fun with your story. They don’t read it as you would for an audience you’re trying to impress with your dignity and eloquence; they perform it for an audience they are trying to amuse. It’s an adaptation of your story, done with your words but their deliberately skewed interpretation. It’s supposed to be fun.

This is a similar to saying that they don’t laugh at you, they laugh with you. Of course, that can only be true if you’re laughing too, which will only happen if you find this sort of thing funny. You need to be prepared to have your story mucked around a little, to be played with. If you can’t do that then this won’t be for you.

Ultimately, I was flattered that they thought my short story was something they could work with. My story was not written as a comedy, although it wasn’t written to be taken too seriously either. That they can take something like this and have fun with it is clever and different. I’m very pleased they asked to do my story.

P.S. They will take a look at submissions if you have something you think they might enjoy playing with.

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