The curtain rises on Romeo and Juliet: A Novel

Here we are at last. Almost two years after we first embarked on this project Romeo and Juliet: A Novel is going live on Audible sites around the world as this post appears. This isn’t the end of the story. Over the coming weeks we’ll be providing further background for those of you who want to find out more about the historical and cultural references behind the story.

For now let me just say thanks. To Richard Armitage for bringing his immense talents to the project. I cannot imagine how this story could have been told by anyone else. As a scriptwriter I am simply an architect sketching out blueprints. It remains to the actor to breathe life into the characters, the world and the story I describe in nothing more than words. Richard’s ability to do that is quite extraordinary. He brings a vast theatrical experience to the performance without ever appearing theatrical. His subtle uses of voices and accents makes the story real. I don’t know how he manages it, or how he appears to make it so easy — which it isn’t. I’m just grateful he does what he does.

romeoBut the two of us aren’t everything. There’s an Audible army behind us too, commissioning editors, directors, sound engineers, musicians, support people… an unseen band of heroes without whom none of this could have been possible.

One of the things I love about working in this extraordinary medium is the courage Audible shows in commissioning material outside the norm — such as wholescale reworkings of stories that have been loved and revered for centuries. That takes guts and vision. There’s a thirst for innovation around this place that you don’t find in many conventional publishing houses where the safe and predictable option is always the easy one to take.

For me Audible first showed their true colours six years ago when, in an outburst of brave insanity, they commissioned my good mate  AJ Hartley and me to write Macbeth: A Novel. Not long after we had Alan Cumming, a magical piece of work, and two Audie nominations. Then they did the same with Hamlet and found Richard for us too and more Audie glitter as well. This kind of courage is rare in publishing these days, and matched by a focus on quality, on getting it right rather than getting out quick, that’s just as exceptional too. The encouragement, support and enthusiasm we’ve had throughout from everyone at Audible from beginning to end has been incredible. I can’t thank you all enough.

And finally the audience, the fans and followers who’ve been with us since this project was announced, with your support, encouragement and boundless enthusiasm. You’re the reason we’re doing this and you matter. When, on occasion, I faltered with doubts while writing R&J — as all writers do mid-project — I only had to tune into the enthusiastic and informed comments from listeners to Hamlet and Macbeth on the Audible sites to give me the spirit to get back into the fray. Without your very vocal support we wouldn’t be here.

Now, as the curtain finally rises, I hope we’ve made the wait worthwhile.

Oh… and this (shields eyes) is me rambling on too. Richard does it so much better.

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