The audiobook for The Killbug Eulogies is finally available! A taut 6 hrs. 20 min. of deliciously dark humor about brave men being heinously mutilated by giant insects in a remote corner of the galaxy. Recorded using the entire spectrum of visible light, including a few colors only bugs can see. Like corsheen, aberjon, and margarillo.
I’ve been told since I was a teenager that I was good at reading. Aloud, I mean. I made it to the state championship in reading. (Why is that a thing? That’s really a thing.) Years later, when I first started bringing my pages to writers’ groups, some people would have no patience for my stories. They would look at me with pity, but then concede “Well, at least you read it well.”
Anyways, I recorded this audiobook myself.
A Long Time In The Making
Back in the early 90s when .wav files started circulating like audio memes, I got a toy microphone and some software so I could experiment with the kinds of sounds my voice could produce. Some were dramatic, some were dumb. I played with effects and made all the unholy noises. I cut and pasted and mixed. I spliced in Muppets and Freddy Mercury and Frank Sinatra. Playing with sound was fun.
Sometime during the next twenty years, I made an ill-advised pass at being a singer/songwriter. But this gave me the groundwork to produce my own recording, so long as no guitars were involved. I acquired passably professional equipment and set to work.
You know what? Recording an audiobook is hard. Obviously, if you just want to get the track down, there’s not much to it. But for something pleasant to listen to, you need skills and technical knowledge and a fair bit of experience.
Desks and chairs creak. I don’t know if you noticed this, but your skull makes noises. Saliva bubbles pop when you speak. Your throat contracts when you consume dairy, and it can change the quality of your voice for more than half an hour.
That’s the easy stuff. To get a nice tempo, you want to speak your words slowly but your sentences quickly. Whether you scream or whisper, everything should be about the same volume. Never inhale.
Time and the blood of innocents were lost.
But I’m glad I did it for a few reasons.
Subtext Says What?
There’s an old wisdom that human speech is living and written words are dead. You can work and rework a sentence, even read it aloud a few times, but in a sense, you never really experience the meaning until you hear it spoken by a voice that means it. Many drafts of The Killbug Eulogies exist, but it wasn’t until I encountered it as an oral presentation did I really understand what I had been up to. I started seeing the pieces of myself in this totally outlandish story.
Sometimes while you write, you think “Here comes the funny part” or “here comes the sad part,” only to find when you read them back they are not especially funny or sad. But other sections of the book, which you thought nothing about, which you maybe even considered filler, suddenly strike you very funny or very sad.
Sound and Fury
The best reason to check out the audiobook, however, is I really wrote this story for sound. I care about rhythms, the repetition, and combinations of vowels and consonants. I weigh the pauses. If you are just reading the book, you may ask yourself, “Why the hell is he listing made up words?” Try them out with your mouth hole. You’ll hear what they are there for!
When I was a kid, I liked old stories because they were full of strange words I wasn’t likely to hear elsewhere. I found the sound of them magical, I liked the way they were full of secrets and insinuation. Somewhere along the line, I learned that much of what we think as narrative content is conveyed more by tone than substance. “The Jabberwocky” can convey suspense and resolution even while being mostly gibberish, because your brain takes cues to fill in the narrative shapes.
Inside a scene, it should be clear what’s happening. But a novel has thornier, less tangible parts, and I believe when you have an audience that doesn’t quite understand but they still get it, you’ve given them something special, because you are allowing them to flush out the narrative space with their own feelings and experiences. That way, whoever they are, whatever they’ve been through, they will encounter something that strikes them as true or beautiful.
And I think I can accomplish that best through the sounds and rhythms of words.
Put The Killbug Eulogies Audiobook In Your Ear Holes
Anyways, I think you’ll really like this audiobook.