For reviews, endorsements and blogs go to my blog Reactions to Brushstrokes in Time but Brushstrokes in Time is getting particularly emotional reactions from young people of Chinese ancestry living in the West. Caroline Mc Laughlin who has recorded the book identifies with it personally because Caroline is of Chinese ancestry. Once in the West, my heroine Little Winter calls herself Winnie and names her daughter Sara. Caroline’s voice is perfect to narrate it. The production qualities are outstanding: they commissioned original music from Alistair Roberts. Below the pics, I have copied the parts of a US interview with Caroline which describe her reaction to my novel. If you want to hear more you can buy it from this link.
3 minute sound clip.
Essential Interview Tuesday 11th October 2016
Meeting Catherine was one of those things that was just meant to be. Catherine knows what she’s doing, good fortune for me that I met her! She’s good at spotting talented people, which is a sign of a great CEO. We met at an APAC (Audio Publisher’s Association) Conference. I was at a workshop with Johnny Heller and literally in the last 5 or 10 mins of that workshop, as we were all leaving, Catherine came up to me. She handed me something about Essential Audiobooks and said that she might have something for me, so, I was hopeful, but didn’t think anything of it. A day after I came home she sent me an email and said ‘I have got this project for you’ and I said ‘okay let me take a look at it’. She sent me a part of the script and I loved it, ‘Brushstrokes’ by Sylvia Vetta. Perfect for my voice. I immediately connected with Brushstrokes. Catherine was looking beyond my ability to speak Chinese. She needed someone who could understand the story. I connected with the character as soon as I read the first line. That doesn’t always happen, sometimes I can’t connect to the character until I’ve read the whole book and then I connect. I read the first line of Brushstrokes and I thought ‘I know this person’ or I have an idea who she is. I’ve known people like her. This book spoke to me on a level that no other book has.
This is my first book with Essential. I work with other publishers as well. Catherine is wonderful to work with, I think she is the nicest woman in the business! She was very good about telling me that this is what she needed and when she needed it. I worked with Essential editor, Sean Toole. He was marvelous. We worked within the time frame and got it to Catherine by the deadline. The music is beautiful and the cover is great
BRUSHSTROKES IN TIME
Little Winter, the main character in Brushstrokes in Time, grew up in a particular time in China, during the Mao regime. She didn’t really know anything else. As she got older she started to question her life. There was a certain amount of bravery in that.
My parents left China before the Mao era, they immigrated with my grandparents to Taiwan, but we have aunts and cousins and other friends who remained. In China at that time, you did what you were told, and you did not speak about certain things.
In the beginning Little Winter was very naïve, she loved her parents, she did what she was told and then she started to question things. I love characters who start to question their lives. She joined a group of revolutionists. They knew they could be imprisoned, they knew they could face execution. Little Winter protested against the regime through art, and that’s so beautiful, she wasn’t the normal revolutionist, she did it in a very beautiful subtle way.
Little Winter is a character who will stay with me for a long time.
NARRATING BRUSHSTROKES IN TIME
Brushstrokes is a diamond in the rough. There’s not a lot of flowery language, a couple of lines of description, always, for me, the sign of a good writer, to the point. Sometimes narrators have to craft the story to make it work, but with Sylvia’s book she laid the path out for me and I voiced it. Sylvia’s not Chinese, she did a great deal of research and got her facts straight. I believe she met one of the revolutionary artists and got lots of information from him, someone who actually lived through that time in China. Of course, there were many Chinese names and terms, I speak conversational Chinese, so I didn’t have as much trouble with the pronunciations as others might.
I told Catherine that I had to stop my recording several times because this book had me in tears. As a narrator you have to be careful of your own emotions, you have to get out of your way and tell the story. I’m telling the story, I’m not living the story, however, I have to admit, that the way Brushstrokes is written, you do live through it.
There was one part where Little Winter is writing about the death of her child. It’s a young child, a three year old little boy. She’s in shock and she says, ‘I’m looking at his grave, his very, very tiny, little grave’. That broke my heart. I said to my editor, Sean, ‘I was tearing up there and my voice is probably cracking, if you think it sounds like I’m taking the listener out of the story, tell me and I’ll re-record it, but I left it in because I felt as if that it was a very genuine feeling and that that was how she would feel’, and he said, ‘no, no, keep it in, it was great’. That was probably the only time in a book that it’s ‘me’ talking through the character. It was so sad. I cried several times during Brushstrokes, it’s so moving.
The story relates to my own past. I’m interested in it, but I haven’t researched the Mao years. When I read this story, it was so fascinating. There are so many things about Maoist China in Brushstrokes that I didn’t know. I was living that era through Little Winter. It was mind blowing some of the things they had to live through. I found this book to be one of the most fascinating books that I’ve read, one that I might not have picked up from the bookshelf. I tell people ‘read this book’, you won’t put it down.