I have recently become engaged with the process of turning my novels into audio books. This has been a fascinating journey and has created a few questions in my mind.
I believe writers and readers have long thought it was almost impossible to make a good adaptation from book to movie. This is not an easy process as I became aware when I went to write a screenplay on my novel Wolfe Trap. You must strip away just about everything and then allow the director to recreate it in their vision.
Thoughts inside the heads of characters disappear. Description of people and places are peeled back to expose the underlying structure but not the flesh and bones of the people nor the richness of the place. The story created by the author is denuded and left to the mercy of the elements in a Maine winter.
I can think of several movies that were as enjoyable, maybe even as the book, but certainly not better. The Shining with Jack Nicholson was pretty darn good, but did it exceed the writing of Stephen King? In mystery books to film you’d have to include Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Big Sleep (1946), and The Maltese Falcon (1941).
Perhaps the best book to flick adaptation was The Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola worked closely with Mario Puzo to create an honest replication of that towering and intense novel. I’d be glad to hear feedback from others on what books to movie adaptations they think were wildly successful.
I recently heard an author saying they didn’t care if the movie made from their book was any good or not (I can’t remember who it was). Their reasoning made perfect sense. Either way, they got paid for the rights. If the movie was a bomb, everybody would say the book was better. If the movie was a success, everybody would say good book, good movie. Win, win.
This brings us to audio books which is much easier to adapt, as everything from the book goes into the audio. But there are other factors to consider. For my Trap books, I have a narrator who is pretty straight forward. Jason Arnold. I like his approach and his voice is a perfect match for Clay Wolfe.
He has only a slight change of inflection, accent, and dialect from character to character, which works well for Maine. I’ve heard male narrators who try to sound like females and vice versa and it is usually a disaster. In a perfect world, you have a male and female narrator, or an entire cast, but that is not my reality.
Wolfe Trap is now available, Mind Trap will be next month, followed by Mouse Trap, and then Cosmic Trap.
And then there is the dreaded mispronunciation. My narrator for Mainely Power did a marvelous job, and nailed toughies like Topsham, but thought that Bowdoin College was pronounced like it is spelled, with an oin on the end. This has hopefully been corrected to the release next month of book two, Mainely Fear.
It turns out the narrator for my At Every Hazard historical about Joshua Chamberlain during the Civil War is a pastor. This worked fine for that particular book, but it raised problems for the sequel, Love in a Time of Hate, as that book has graphic violence, sex, and language. It looks like Emmett Collins’ voice will be changing between books….
My upcoming book, Velma Gone Awry, coming in April, posed another set of difficulties. It is set in the melting pot of Brooklyn in the 1920’s. The protagonist, 8 Ballo, is a second generation American, so his voice is pretty straightforward. But you also have the Irish cop, the Jewish journalist, the Black entrepreneur, as well as a whole host of Italians, Germans, and eccentric characters.
For Velma Gone Awry, a narrator with a wide range of voices was necessary, and I absolutely love the job that Colin Martin is doing. It should be available in the middle of January. His range is wonderful and brings the book to life. I find myself thinking, oh, that’s how so and so sounds. Are there any audio books that do that for you? I’d love to hear.
I am quite excited to announce the paperback release this past week of the fourth book in the Clay Wolfe Trap series, Cosmic Trap. This time, a government task forces hires Clay and Baylee to investigate unexplained aerial phenomena over the skies of Port Essex.
About the Author
Matt Cost was a history major at Trinity College. He owned a mystery bookstore, a video store, and a gym, before serving a ten-year sentence as a junior high school teacher. In 2014 he was released and began writing. And that’s what he does. He writes histories and mysteries.
Cost has published four books in the Mainely Mystery series, with the fifth, Mainely Wicked, due out in August of 2023. He has also published three books in the Clay Wolfe/Port Essex series, with the fourth, Cosmic Trap, due out in December of 2022.
For historical novels, Cost has published At Every Hazard and its sequel, Love in a Time of Hate, as well as I am Cuba. In April of 2023, Cost will combine his love of histories and mysteries into a historical PI mystery set in 1923 Brooklyn, Velma Gone Awry.
Cost now lives in Brunswick, Maine, with his wife, Harper. There are four grown children: Brittany, Pearson, Miranda, and Ryan. A chocolate Lab and a basset hound round out the mix. He now spends his days at the computer, writing.