Earlier in 2018, I recorded my second short story in audiobook format. It’s one of those things that sound easy, right? Hook up a microphone, and read. But you have all the normal challenges of not recording in a soundproofed studio, plus you’re doing it alone, which means having to listen through it all many times.
My first on-mic read-through was monotonously inexpressive. My second one was better – I was dripping with sweat because I was putting so much energy into it, but I blasted through the audio levels. It wasn’t salvageable. Reluctantly, I did it a third time, slightly less energy, but this time with much more understanding of the material. I began to recognise the themes and sub-themes, and then felt compelled to find out more about the story and the author.
I didn’t really “choose” The Fortunate Punishment. I signed up to the non-profit audiobook site Librivox and took the first story that presented itself to me. I wasn’t at all prepared for what I would learn. Not just in terms of vocal delivery and audio recording, but the author’s own story. Written by Henriette-Julie de Murat, and published in 1698 as “L’Heureuse Peine”, Henriette-Julie used the popular form of fairy stories to express her feminism. She was imprisoned, escaped, and died aged just 46. It’s important to understand the context of any communication, and I was intrigued to learn about this period of French history, when even Shakespeare was considered vulgar.