Someone is going to be Lilian, someone else will be The Friar.
For a moment this is exciting, terrifying, inexplicably moving.
Two characters I know better than many people will be given a human voice. How will that be? What if the voices are not what I imagined them to be? Will Lilian and the Friar develop unexpected characteristics? Will they act differently without my hands on the reins?
This must be how authors feel when their books are made into movies. Then again, I tell myself, surely every time someone opens a book and reads, another version of it is created in the reader's head that the author can't control anyway. No two readers will 'hear' Lilian's voice the same way. So a radio version of The Blue is simply another - more public - version which listeners will 'adapt' to suit themselves. (Or that's what I keep telling myself. The thing is I don't often see the other Lilians people have imagined, although sometimes they tell me about them: there is much that is familiar, but there are some surprises too.)
A new audience for the book is marvellous, of course, and should lead to more sales, but hearing Lilian speak outside of the voice in my head is something else altogether. It will be close to miraculous - terribly moving - an ultimate act of the imagination.
To finish, the very funny Anne Enright (a hero of mine whom incidentally I had a chat with outside our hotel at the Auckland Writers' Festival) has been talking about the vulnerability of the writer in the face of the reader. Not someone reading at home in bed, or listening at the kitchen table, but the live reader. The sort who goes to festivals like Going West in Auckland this weekend.
Any of the writers performing up there could usefully read Enright's article for some terrific tips on what to do in this sort of situation ....
Performance is always a gift from the weak to the strong, and it is a transformative gift. Everyone feels better, you think, as the last lift and drop of your voice ekes out a final trembling trochee, as your head drops that humble half inch, as you pause and step back from the clatter of applause, surprised, overwhelmed, murmuring "Thank you. Thank you so much."
And then they turn up the house lights.
"Why are you so bitter?" says the woman in the front row, before they can fumble a mike across to her. She is sitting very straight. She seems to be wearing a hat with flowers and a pheasant in it, but of course she is not - that is just your imagination.