Writing

A few more words about Hamlet

Hamlet-Prince-of-Denmark-A-Novel-NookI’m still a little shellshocked by yesterday’s discovery that A.J. Hartley, Richard Armitage and I are responsible for Audible’s Audiobook of the Year with Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel.  I really had no idea any of this was on the cards. The first I knew was when people started congratulating us.

Reflecting on it now though I think a few more words are in order. I know people thank everyone on these occasions. But thanks really are in order. I couldn’t have even contemplated this project without the hard work and deep intellectual insight of my fellow author, Andrew (sorry — I know it’s initials when it comes to the author name but he’s always Andrew to me). I write from ignorance. Andrew writes from knowledge. I suspect that’s one of the things that made us a good pair since I asked the questions that elicited the right answers from him.

More to the point are the people who don’t often get thanked, especially the production team behind the task. Let me make no bones about it: taking Shakespeare and turning these classics into different dramatic forms, ruthlessly and with no fear of rewriting the original, takes guts. Audible went out on a limb when it commissioned our first Shakespeare adaptation, Macbeth. It took an even bigger risk with Hamlet, a project that goes much further in playing with the original, inventing new characters and reimagining existing ones in ways no one has ever tried before.

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Richard Armitage at work in the Audible studios

It was incredibly brave of Steve Feldberg, our guide in the creative team at Audible, to put such trust in us. Just as important when it came to finding the vital deliverer of the book — the narrator — Steve took a careful and painstaking approach over many months looking for the right person for the job. As we now know that person was Richard Armitage, who now possesses the book so confidently I simply cannot imagine how anyone else could have managed it.

We deliberately tried to push the envelope with this project and Audible stuck with us every inch of the way. This isn’t common in the media. Hamlet doesn’t fit into any obvious genre or marketing category, which may be why, even though listeners clearly adore the work, no publisher has shown any interest in turning it into a book. You can, of course, get our self-published ebook of the original now through all the usual sources.

So when I say thanks to Steve’s team… truly, I mean it. Without Audible’s courage we couldn’t have pushed the boundaries the way we did. Now all we need is a visionary TV company to come along and turn it into a six-part series. I have the perfect title by the way: Yorick. And kindly cast Peter Dinklage in the lead part.