Thanks for taking the time to read our story. I’m Michael Barakiva, the Founder and Creative Director of Novel Readings. Our company is dedicated to the belief that the spoken word is the simplest and most profound experience that human beings can share.
I’ll start with my a-ha! moment and take it from there.
I spent a week in January of 2021 workshopping a new play during the day while working on my third novel at night. Rehearsals for the play were a creative multi-ball of ideas bouncing back and forth between me, the cast and the director, inspiring rewrites that poured out of my fingers and into the keyboard. The play, The Nature of Things, was a Sloan Science Project
commission inspired by Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura, an epic ode to science. The collaborators made me delirious with imaginative possibilities.
Working on my novel, however, was like hitting my head against a brick wall and waiting for one of them to break. I had the support and advice of my extraordinary editor at MacMillan FSG; I had friends to call and consult/complain to. But I wasn’t making any progress.
Michael, I thought to myself, how glorious would it be to apply new play development tools to the process of writing a novel?
The answer, it turns out, is very glorious. In the spirit of experimentation, I gave it a whirl. In short order, I corralled a bunch of my friends to work on that cursed final scene. They read sections of the text to me. We roleplayed the final action sequence. Just the exercise of catching them up to speed revealed the holes in the narrative. After our session, I couldn’t wait to get back to my computer and write write write.
When we hear text, we experience it differently than when we read it.
So much started making sense to me. When I recorded the audio version of my second book, Hold My Hand, I found myself taking notes and begging my publisher to make some last-minute changes. I had gone over the text word-by-word on the page. But hearing it out loud allowed me to take the book to the next level. As Hugo-Award winning author Mary Robinette Kowal mentions repeatedly during the Writing Excuses podcast, reading ones work out loud, to oneself, is a time-honored tool in the novelists’ box. Many writers even use text-to-speech software.
At Novel Readings, we take it one step further. After a consultation with one of our directors, we pair you and your material with extraordinary actors who will read your work to you. You not only benefit from the aural experience of getting to hear your words, but our actors will reveal your characters to you. They will tell you what scenarios would be most delicious for them, what dilemmas most excruciating, what experiences most genuine. In short, all the things that will take your work to the next level. We work with writers live or virtually, in one-on-one sessions or in retreat/workshop/program scenarios.
We don't just serve writers. We serve companies, too.
For corporations, we produce individually tailored events to further social issues and maximize impact investments. We specialize in partnering with not-for-profit charities, using a recommended-donation model for events that eliminate barriers to attendance and provide tangible, measurable results. Novel Readings creates events of substance infinitely more engaging and entertaining than another lecture or speaker.
Since we sat around fires telling stories, human beings have luxuriated in the experience of sharing the spoken word.