Q&A with Stephen Puleston
Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
I decided to commission the first two Inspector Drake novels into audiobooks at the end of 2018 as I wanted to offer the books to a wider audience. Audiobooks is one of the fastest growing sectors in publishing at the moment and I was interested to see if my books would prove popular. I had been approached by an American company with an offer to buy my audio rights but I decided that I wanted more control over the process. I knew that I needed a Welsh voice and Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is a thriving artistic centre where a lot of actors are based. I contacted a theatrical agency and I had a shortlist of three names that I knew were experienced voice-over artists. Luckily my first choice was available and he agreed to read the books. I knew from preliminary research that there are specialist sound studios in Cardiff and I was able to agree terms for them to record the Inspector Drake books. The whole process took several weeks.
Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
I wasn’t conscious of a possible audio recording when I was writing the first books in the Inspector Drake series but I am now. The second book Worse Than Dead has a number of tables which makes it very difficult for the listener to visualise the details contained in them. I know now that I will never include tables in a written book again!
How did you select your narrator?
I selected the narrator from a shortlist of three experienced voice-over actors who work in Wales and the United Kingdom. All three were bilingual actors and it was important for me that they were able to pronounce the Welsh place names correctly and understand the background of the novels.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
Before the beginning of each recording I provided the actor with a detailed spreadsheet of each character with my outline of the accent that they should use. I was lucky enough to have sat in on some of the preliminary recording sessions where we were able to polish the various accents so they sounded exactly as I hoped.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
This would be every author’s dream of course. My reply is very easy – it would have to be Matthew Rhys. He is from Cardiff and is a Welsh speaker but he is also an extremely accomplished international actor having starred in The Americans for which he received two Golden Globe award nominations and a prime-time Emmy award. He’s also played Kevin Walker in the series brothers and sisters. He is about the right age to feature as Inspector Drake and I’m sure he would love to do a detective series.
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Keep writing. Even if you finish the first novel and it’s been rejected then start the second. Get your work critiqued regularly it will help you improve.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing the eighth Inspector Drake novel at the moment which should be out in January 2020. And there should be more Inspector Drake audiobooks out towards the end of 2019. After that they will be ninth some time the same year. After that I shall be turning to detective Inspector Marco which is the second series I write.