The podcast puzzle of Our House by Louise Candlish
Welcome to ‘The Victim’, the acclaimed crime podcast and winner of a National Documentary Podcast Listeners’ Award…
In Our House, one of the two narrators, Fi Lawson, tells her story in the form of a crime podcast interview. The podcast is called ‘The Victim’ and she has been an avid listener to Season 1, never imagining she would find herself the subject of one of the episodes in Season 2.
So why present Fi’s viewpoint in this unusual way?
Well, for one thing, I wanted to do something new and different with Our House and yet I didn’t want to do something new and different just for the sake of it. I wanted a way of structuring the story that had an impact on the plot itself (that’s all I’ll say on that…). I wanted to create a puzzle for readers – one you can solve, I promise!
Also, I’d come fresh from a ‘Serial’ obsession and was starting to get into ‘You Must Remember This’, Karina Longworth’s gorgeously noir podcast about Old Hollywood. Awake at night mulling my own plot, I would often listen to podcasts on Radio 4 Extra to relax. So since podcasts were big in my life, it felt natural to present some of Our House as a transcript of one.
Of course the concept is always the easy bit, and executing it was more complicated than I expected. How long could this interview realistically be? Fi has an awful lot to get off her chest! Plus, her story is interwoven with that of her husband Bram and so is broken into fragments of just a few ‘minutes’ each. To help readers, I decided to show the duration of each individual segment, but wasn’t sure how to get this right. When in doubt, delegate, and so I asked my husband, off work for a week, to figure out how long each section was and make a list of the stop/start times. He timed the first few by reading the text aloud in his own voice, before realising the magnitude of the task and sourcing an app that would do it for him.
Bear in mind that this was pre-final edit, so every time one of Fi’s passages had a new cut or addition, we had to adjust the timings throughout. Completely crazy, but I’m glad we did it, because I think it gives such an authentic sense of a recorded interview.
Fastforward to the present and now there’s a website for ‘The Victim’ (ourhousethebook.com), using the introductory text from the novel and featuring a snippet of Fi’s interview recorded by Deni Francis for Simon & Schuster’s brilliant books podcast ‘The Words’ (thewordspodcast.com). As we speak, Deni is recording the full audio book of Our House as Fi, with Paul Panting playing Bram.
So, to recap: text I wrote as transcribed audio for a novel is on a fictitious podcast website with a recording made by an actor for a real podcast, who was then hired by the audiobook publisher to record the full work – which I’m mentioning now in a feature on the website of the publisher of the novel in print and ebook form.
Confused? Well, I said I wanted a puzzle, and now we’ve got one!