It's always a trip hearing your written work read by a voice artist. Sometimes it's a complete hit, and a revelation, as an actor can bring out a nuance or detail you didn't really focus on or know existed when writing the story. Sometimes, it can fall flat, with the reader either missing a certain emphasis or rhythm, or the work itself not properly setting it up on the page to be translated by the reader. Either way, it's always very interesting to hear a stranger read one's work.
My story "In the Cave, She Sang" (originally published in the ill-fated Aklonomicon) is featured in the current, March 2014 edition (#114) of the Horror Fiction podcast Tales To Terrify (part of the District of Wonders podcast network), which has one of the best logos this side of Strange Aeons. My story leads off the podcast, followed by a reading of India Drummond's tale "The Reaver."
I hooked up the the TtT crew last May when host, creator, and silky smooth voiceman Lawrence Santoro asked me to send him a story to be read on the show. Looking over my stories already published, I figured "In the Cave, She Sang" - a Charlie Manson meets Cosmic Horror in Death Valley on New Year's Eve 1968 sort of joint - might work best, as it was written as an ode to the protagonist, the era, and all those beautiful Beats who set the world on fire a decade before The Family tried to do the same, albeit using different matches. This might have been the second or third short story I had ever written, but the few reviews it had received in the past had all been positive (including one relayed to me from a certain Northampton writer/shaman/eternal winner of Beard Wars). So, I sent it off, and - because my brain is composed mostly of Swiss cheese - had honestly forgotten about it over the last 10 months, until Lawrence PM'd me last week, letting me know that it would go live on Friday.
Such an unexpected surprise!, made all the more wonderful when I actually heard the reading by Stephen Kilpatrick, who laid out the prose in a fantastic voice - all low register and musical deadpan. Depending on the story (and the genre), my writing can sometimes be a bit, ah... "verbally vigorous," especially the older stuff and especially when read aloud. But Stephen killed it. I'm very thankful to him for his time and talents, and to Lawrence for taking on this tale that is pretty graphic in its salty language and sexual imagery (pretty rare for my stories, especially the latter). Indeed, Lawrence describes "In the Cave, She Sang" in his entertaining intro as "using explicit language and sharply disturbing ultra, graphic human/goddess sexual congress imagery"; while Stephen wrote the following in his blog posting about his work in the March issue of Tales To Terrify:
This week’s show features two stories that I narrated as part of my introduction as editor for the podcast, it includes T. E. Grau’s “In The Cave, She Sang”, which contains several quite grown up passages. So, if you’re not a fan of rated R content, you might want to skip this one. Some of the passages are fantastically gritty: "Like an orphan sold for a pitcher of beer."
Listening back through the narrative without having the roadmap of familiar words arranged in a familiar way on the page to guide me, I am reminded of how my writing has changed over the last four years, moving from a more dense style to something more lean and hopefully no less mean. I feel there are some decent lines in the piece, but sometimes - even with the purposely stylized way the story was told - the language founders in a bit too much muck. But overall, I like the tale, and love the reading, and am very happy and honored to be featured in Tales To Terrify, who also have a really kick ass print anthology that you need to pick up right... about... HERE.