Sergio De La Pava & The Lost Empress
Sergio De La Pava on Audio Making a Comeback

Who says the radio play is dead? What’s that…everyone? Okay, but hear me out. In their day, radio plays were definitely a thing. But were they good? Hell yeah they were good. Why else would I bring them up? And popular. By the 1940s, 93 to 94 percent of people loved radio plays. Okay, I made that stat up, but can you prove it ain’t true? You probably weren’t even born yet.

So what happened? Television happened, that’s what, and suddenly people were all, “Hey, I want to see things!” But radio plays, even in death, were still cool. Why am I still on about radio plays, you’re asking? Because the radio play is back, and it’s going from victim to victimizer. That’s right, it will kill television, the internet, and any other entertainment entity that stands in its way, save the novel.

First, let me defend the claim that radio drama is re-ascendant. Because while last year saw the production of exactly zero radio plays (I’m guessing), the audiobook has never been bigger. Wait, am I saying that audiobooks are the new radio plays? No, all this preamble has been about nothing. Of course that’s what I’m saying!

And viewed that way, the auditory reception of literary narrative is now at peak evolution. You’re welcome. Because this isn’t some writer who hasn’t engaged in human interplay in three years tepidly reciting his book to you in a deadening drone. No, this is a producer and a director holding auditions then violently culling the weak to provide the listener with brilliant actor after brilliant actor motivated mainly by their desire to make words dance. It’s like movies. If movies were ten times longer and featured good writing. So movies if movies were good. Movies for smart people. Let’s see, how else can I insult this crucial demographic?

Sergio De La Pava in the studio

What does this mean for Lost Empress? Did I write this audiobook? Does listening to it count as reading? Have I relied too much on the interrogatory form for this piece?

Questions, in general, should go unanswered. Certitude means stasis means death. I just know that sitting in that soundproof booth (maybe just sound-resistant) watching the intense director coax, cajole, and coordinate while holding her giant annotated manuscript and listening to the brilliant Carol Monda as Nina Gill addressing a room full of football players with maximal intimidation, I absorbed this strange but elevated experience of the work and kind of wished I could hire a full-time narrator for my life.

I don’t know, leave me out of it.

Listen to a clip of LOST EMPRESS by Sergio De La Pava:

Lost Empress

From Paterson, New Jersey, to Rikers Island to the streets of New York City, Sergio de la Pava’s Lost Empress introduces readers to a cast of characters unlike any other in modern fiction: dreamers and exiles, immigrants and night-shift workers, a lonely pastor and others on the fringes of society—each with their own impact on the fragile universe they navigate.LOST EMPRESS

Sergio De La Pava
Photo © Sharon Daniels