And so we left the House of Heart's Desire on Friday morning to ramble our way down to Liz Hand-- no, wait that's wrong*: In the morning,
we went to the Stonington Farmer's Market, looking for fresh eggs and smoked fish in that delightful fishing town at the end of Deer Isle. And that
is why we got such a late start heading down the coast to Liz Hand
's. Fortunately, we had stopped on Deer Isle to pick up pie at the Pie Lady's on Sunset Road - get past her Bible verses on the lawn outside her trailer, and she makes the hands down best Strawberry-Rhubarb on the Coast, bar none. So we were able to bring a suitable Offering, which the Goddess of Hospitality found acceptable. You do want to appease here, especially when she's cooking you dinner, and letting you sleep in her amazing little cottage on the lake
. We love it there: It reminds us powerfully of the sort of magical space that Terri Windling creates wherever she lives and works. And the conversation with Liz - about books we were all writing - was as filling as the meal.
And so we puttered around the cottage on Saturday morning until it was time to drive down (up? well, south, anyway) the Maine coast for another hour or so to the Audiofile Magazine
Audiobook Narrators' Picnic & Clambake in Boothbay Harbor.
Oh, my friends! It was amazing. A perfect little inlet, where kids frolicked in the surf and found horseshoe crabs in tidal pools, and I got to go out in my very first kayak-on-the-ocean jaunt, thanks to a lovely woman who refused to change out of her swimsuit til she'd taken me out, since she thought I ought to try it. And the lobster (and steamers and corn and sweet potatoes and onions & fresh eggs) were all layered into seaweed and steamed on the beach over a huge wood fire manned by two Maine lobstermen; I got the guy in charge to tell me all about how he'd learned it from "the old guys."
And all around us were some of the great voice talents of the audiobook world - as well as some delightful up-and-comers- eating lobster and drinking beer and talking about life and art..... Some of them were people I already knew from my work with Sue Zizza
on the Swordspoint
and The Privilege of the Sword (TPOTS)
audiobooks for Neil Gaiman Presents
. Which was good, because I was feeling quite shy (and you know that doesn't happen often!). After all, who was I? Not really a professional narrator; I've only done my own books, with lots of help from Sue and her staff - and I discovered that just reading aloud is very different from Performing Audio - which is even very different from performing for Radio, which I certainly have no qualms about. I did get to wear the Gold Sticker of "Earphones Award Winner" on my namebadge, though - that was cool. (It's kind of like getting a starred review in Kirkus, and we got one for Swordspoint
My very dear Barbara Rosenblat
had even brought me some of my favorite esoteric European licorice
, which we both share a taste for - she's my co-narrator on TPOTS, which is supposed to be released tomorrow!**
Robert Fass, our Alec in Swordspoint
, was resplendent in a Hawaiian shirt & straw hat. And Dion Graham
(St Vier in Swordspoint
) was snappy in seersucker - but then, the man defines cool.
After the eating came the reading. Everyone could choose to sign up to read their own selection for up to 5 minutes. (Stefan Rudnicki
began, with a piece by Joe Haldeman! I'm afraid I squeaked; another friend suddenly in the room!) I had determined in advance that I was not going to put myself forward in such august company. But at the "intermission," I realized I really wanted to. I was charmed and delighted by the warmth of the gathering; the non-showiness of the way people read, just to please themselves and each other. . . at the variety of the selections, each of which said so much about the person reading. I went to the signup sheet, and there was a spot left - at the end, right after two of the biggest names in the business, Tavia Gilbert
and Robin Miles
Reader, I begged
. And the blessed Tavia let me cut in, and go between her and Robin. Don't read from something of yours!
Delia hissed at me over her knitting (she does love to listen to people read while she knits), when she heard my mad plan. But, really, what else did I have prepared at a professional level? So I did the opening paragraph of TPOTS, and then the bit where Katherine meets the Mad Duke for the first time. I'm pretty sure I clocked in at <4 minutes, as befitting my station. But, oh, it was a LIVE AUDIENCE! I do love a live audience - so much more than sitting in front of a microphone in a tiny room with grey foam on the walls. And I've read that bit aloud many times. I think it went well. People were very nice about it afteward. And at least I felt that I had had the courtesy to give these wonderful people a little more to go on about this stranger suddenly in their midst.
And then we bade fond farewells to everyone, stuck the extra seaweed-roasted eggs in the car to be made into The World's Best Egg Salad later, and drove about 2 miles up (down?) the road to where one of my best friends from college, Nick Azzaretti,was performing with the Booth Bay Players! No lie. We'd missed the first half, where he sang Tevye's "Do You Love Me?" in honor of his & his wife Kate's 25th anniversary(!!!) - so to my boundless delight, he got his "Golde" to do it with him afterwards, just for us. I'm afraid I cried. It was lovely, and we drove down dark deer-studded country roads til we got to their house and kipped down, as usual, in Chiara's room. She somehow grew up and went off to college, but she left a great bunch of Terry Prachetts on the shelves - as well as any number of books signed by a couple of Virtual Aunties, and all the Dido Twite books - so that was all right.
And the next day we got up and ate blueberry muffins and then drove back up (down?) to the House of Heart's Desire. Where now I sit typing in an upstairs room while the wind blows in more and more sharply from the sea in the dark.
*I think I may be forgiven for my confusion about Friday, as I recall that Thursday night was very exciting, with Neil Gaiman tweeting that he was recording the TPOTS
Introduction prior to its release, on his way to the airport for a few weeks in the UK - he was also recording the intros for three James Branch Cabell audiobooks, which should be out soon - and who but Margaret Atwood
tweeted back to say she loved Cabell, and since I was part of the original tweet I got to join that conversation!
And when we finally got home, I sank into the huge bathtub under the window where the sun was still dappling the trees - and hence the bathwater - and opened one of the many New Yorker's we'd brought with us to Maine to read (you know that one, right?) - and there, in the article on Ben Stiller's life, carreer, and trials making his new Walter Mitty movie, was this:At the end of a casting session, Stiller read with Brian Scott McFadden and Dion Graham . . . [Stiller has them try various things and directs McFadden] To Graham, he said only, "You could maybe do a bit less, because you have a lot of natural charisma."
Dion, who reads Richard St Vier in the "illuminated
" bits of our Swordspoint
audiobook!!! (You can hear him in the 5-minute clip on the webpage.) Stiller is so right about that.**And now, my friends
, I am going to withdraw from the public arena to the Contemplative Life for a few days. I've been online this week in Maine a whole lot more than I'd intended, what with all the excitement of the runup to the TPOTS audiobook launch. Which should be tomorrow!!!!!
But I came up here to rest and to write, and I'm going to try to do that in the days remaining (including Delia's & my anniversary trip to Lowell
). And so I yield the floor to my assistant, Katherine Duckett, who will be keeping you posted.