Author Jill Santopolo on how recording the audiobook of THE LIGHT WE LOST “showed me the power of story.”

Check out this guest post by THE LIGHT WE LOST author Jill Santopolo.

By Jill Santopolo

The Light We Lost When I started writing THE LIGHT WE LOST, I never considered that someone would ever turn it into an audiobook, much less that I would narrate that audiobook, but it ended up being one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had. And it showed me the power of story.

Picture this: I’m in a tiny little room, just big enough to fit a table, a chair, a huge microphone and an ipad with my book loaded on it. I’ve got a bottle of water next to me, a box of tissues further back on the table, and an array of snacks in a pile next to the microphone. On the other side of a wall of sound-proof glass are sitting an audiobook director and a sound engineer. I clear my throat a few times, a bit nervously, the sound engineer tests the levels of my voice, and then I start reading. Scott Sherratt, the wonderful director, has me record the beginning a few times, until I’m comfortable, and he’s comfortable…and then something happens.

I’m no longer me. I’m Lucy, my main character, narrating this story in the first person. I’m telling it like it’s mine, like it’s something I experienced, not something I created.
For two days, for sixteen hours, I’m Lucy. And even though Scott stops me from time to time—to read something differently or fix a dropped word or enunciate a swallowed sound—in that tiny room, I’m still Lucy, I’m still telling her story as if it’s mine.

Then, as the end draws near, as I get to the second-to-last vignette of the story, when emotions are high, I find myself choked up, battling back tears in reality just as Lucy is doing as she narrates the novel. Scott doesn’t stop me as I fight to keep my voice strong and clear. I get to the end of that section, and am back in reality now, feeling a bit embarrassed that I’ve made myself cry—like I’m one of those people who laughs at her own jokes, making everyone around her cringe. But when I look out through the glass, I see Scott with crumpled up tissues on the table in front of him, and Katherine Cook, the sound engineer, with tissues next to her computer. I pull a tissue from the box on the table and wipe my eyes.

And in the moment, in that tiny room with the ipad and the huge microphone and the bottle of water and pile of snacks, I felt the true power of story. I saw what it did, not just to me, but to others who were listening. As a writer, I often hear reports from readers about how my book made them feel. But just then: I saw it. I witnessed it.

When we connect with characters, we can be moved to tears—and in narrating the audiobook of THE LIGHT WE LOST, I had the unique experience of watching that happen to other people as it was happening to me. The response became communal, even more moving because it was shared.

Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook: THE LIGHT WE LOST

“A beautiful and devastating story that will captivate readers.”—Kirkus, starred review

THE LIGHT WE LOST is available in CD and audio download, as well as large print. Hardcover available from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. On Sale May 9, 2017.