Back when the snow was falling (or rather, when it should have been falling. It was February, and the image is so much prettier with flakes of the white stuff tipping silently past the window pane, than the truth of the grey warmth fostering daffodils which, in a world without global warming, would have had at least another month's hibernation) I received an email. It was a secret. Glass Houses was the first of Urbane Publications titles to be chosen to be produced as an Audible book.
It was very exciting because Amazon would whisk away the novel, place it in the hands of the perfect voice for narration, return it to its sales stands and advertise it royally, whilst holding my hand as I tiptoed into this new venture, automatically part of Audible's Author Care initiative. I whooped and danced and drank bubbly and wondered about the chosen voice. I'd told only the hubbie, my mum and my sisters, and then I put the secret away.
I'm very good at keeping secrets. Always have been. It isn't because I'm some superior being. It's simply that if someone tells me a secret it is immediately shelved in the official secrets compartment in my brain and then I forget about it. It's buried, isn't there knocking at the door, begging to come out, crawling along to the end of my tongue, pushing against my teeth to find a way out. No, it disappears and I get on with whatever I was doing before the secret was given.
Roll forward three months when I'd almost forgotten about the Audible version and I happened upon a tweet alongside the cover of Glass Houses. My wonderful publisher was announcing that Glass Houses now had its voice: Lisa Coleman.
Now, I've listened to a few Audible books and I'll be honest, the tone of voice is intrinsic to my enjoyment. I once listened to the first few hours of an incredibly successful American author's novel until I could listen no more; the scratchy, squeaky narration irritating me just too much. I picked up the book instead which I really enjoyed. But I've listened to other Audible books where the reverse is true and the voice of the actor has been every bit as captivating as the words themselves. So, fizzing with excitement, but also a little trepidation, I took a wander around the net to find a sample of Lisa Coleman's voice. It would seem that Lisa isn't very active on social media but she is certainly prolific in her work. I listened to a sample and breathed out. Her voice was sumptuous, silky, soft but educated, enthusiastic and sassy and I thought that would suit Glass Houses just fine.
Assuming the Audible book would 'go live' along with the official publication of Glass Houses the paperback, I settled back to wait for the 7th July. The second the link was available, I'd sit with my face behind my hands, praying the narration was as wonderful as I'd dared to hope.
Time for an admission. I spend more time than is healthy flitting around Amazon between the Glass Houses and Tea & Chemo pages - paperback, eBook and latterly, the Audible version - seeing if I can catch their Amazon rating at its daily high point. I like to play guess-how-many-copies-have-sold that day when the ranking goes up and console myself that it simply means that lots of new books have been released when the ranking goes down. The ranking is linked to pre-orders and so I can play the game equally well with Glass Houses these days. It reached the dizzy heights of 4,000 a few days ago. Granted, it's not vying for the top spot just yet (!) but when it started life with six noughts after it, you can imagine I was pretty happy to see that figure.
Too much flitting, and the stats whisper that I should get a life, but I can always move to the reviews. There are few things in life more satisfying than clicking on your book's page to find another review. We all love great reviews of course, but in the case of Tea & Chemo, just reading that the book has been useful is enough to make me well-up and the idea alone that somebody would take time out of their busy day to post a review about any words I've written, well, that is very humbling.
So, imagine my surprise in a stats scrolling moment last week when I see a link telling me to, 'Go to my Audible Library.' Yep, it's there, Glass Houses, the whole Audible book, not just the sample. It was the first I knew of it. It seems Audible is good at keeping secrets, too.
I braced myself, then listened to it all.
I wish I knew Lisa personally so I could give her a hug. Not only is her voice easy to listen to, her pacing perfect and the tone as I'd intended but very best of all, she has absolutely 'got' my characters – showing exuberance for some and measured calmness for others. She's even given Doug his soft Geordie accent and Gerald his brash Wiltshire speak.
The secret is officially dribbling out. The Audible version is ready and waiting. If you're someone who likes to listen to a book as they drive, clean, decorate, garden, or even run (it doesn't jump) you can find it here. If you'd prefer the paperback, Glass Houses will be published on, or before, 7 July and can be pre-ordered here.
I think it's fair to say that my writing life is pretty exciting at the moment. Thank you for all the massive enthusiasm and support and for joining me on the ride, I really do appreciate it. Details of my launch party coming up next…