Again with the gingham

December 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

They say when you write, you should read your stories out to hear how they flow.

On a few occasions I’ve had the pleasure of doing readings of my work at book launches, and I’ve practised on friends, pets and once, a plum tree in the Collingwood Convent.

I think it was well received, but it was hard to tell.

Photograph by Dylan Mills

How stories sound is something I haven’t always paid attention to. A literary magazine in the US has just asked to adapt one of my stories for performance on American radio, and I found myself reading it aloud to see how the words grabbed hands.

Last week, bent over my computer researching spontaneous combustion in Romania  (trust me, there was a reason), I got a phone call from a producer at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, accepting two of my stories for potential broadcast on Radio National.

Two years ago they adapted one of my stories, Street of the Candlesticks, and listening to the CD of actors reciting my lines, to a soundtrack of thunder, kittens miaowing and for the sex scene, Velvet Underground crooning, remains one of my proudest writing moments.


In Rue des Chandeliers, Brussels (Street of the Candlesticks)

Last Friday I flew from Melbourne to Sydney, and headed to the ABC studios. Mike made me feel instantly at ease, and set me up in a studio with a microphone and steady supply of warmth, wit and water for my husky voice. We spent an hour and a half editing my two stories, and that was an experience in itself. I’ve been edited many times, but never right in front of me, and it was so rewarding. It brought home to me how often I use certain syntactic patterns – overuse them, in fact – and what words are suited to ears, as compared to eyes.

Then it was time to record them. That was great, Rijn – but again. Lovely! But once more. Could you make this a touch more seductive, this word less energetic. Stress the cloudberries but don’t stress the gingham. Again, and again, and again. And lord, was it such an interesting experience, and gave me a different perspective on the whole writing process.

It’s also taught me that as a linguist, I really can’t do a Finnish accent.

From now on I’ll read my stories out, and listen to the way the words sound to really appreciate the impression they make.

After all, I do have a particularly receptive aloe vera plant on my windowsill …



  1. Jessica said,

    hehe x

    • inkymouth said,

      I know you understand the talking-to-wild-things part X

  2. loopsta said,

    Wow my girl!!! So wonderful for you! So exciting. I’m beaming with pride.

    • inkymouth said,

      Thanks, my lovely woman! The story on US radio will be broadcast in upstate New York, so will pass you by, I’m afraid. Will certainly let you know about the podcast though, of all three stories…miss you!! X x

  3. Michael said,

    Sounds perfect.

    I do have a habit of reading pieces in the voice of writers I know. Especially yours so I’ve just assumed your Finnish tone was perfect.

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