I can’t find an email suggesting it, so I think it must have been a phone call in June of 2008 – almost exactly 2 years ago. Dan Musselman – the ‘man’ at Books on Tape – probably called me and said something like: ‘Hey, Simon, how’re things with you? What’s the weather like where you are…?’ (we always waffle for a while before getting to the point – it’s a habit we have). Then, sometime further on in the conversation, he may have said: ‘Look, I’ve got a book here I think you’d be right for. Have you got any space in the middle of July, say?’
Now, this is where things could have gone so wrong… I was already recording The Terminal Spy for Books on Tape at the time, I had The Black Tower scheduled next for Blackstone Audio, to be followed closely by Great Expectations for Tantor (which went on to win an Audie in 2009). I think I also had the three Kushiel novels by Jacqueline Carey for Tantor lined up for later on. So it wasn’t as if I was desperate for work. But when Dan chooses a narrator for a book he usually knows what he’s doing – so, of course, I said ‘Yes, I’d love to do it. What’s it about?’ And so it began…
Did I know at the time how successful these books were going to be? of course not. I had no idea if I’d even be asked to do the second one. But I was – this was part of the email from Dan in March of ’09.
Hi, Simon. DRAGON TATTOO is certainly getting a lot of attention. I’m so glad it was you who read this for us. There will be another by Mr. Larsson later this Spring. You simply must read it for us, lest I shall perish.
I’m fascinated by those books that have been made about The Beatles recording career in which are listed all the times they were in a recording studio and what songs were recorded when. So, for anyone who plans to make a book of my career 🙂 – here’s a helping hand:
Looking back in my calendar I see I recorded The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo quite intensively on the 14th, 15th, 16th, 22nd and 23rd of July in 2008. The Girl who Played with Fire was recorded much more slowly between the 11th and 20th of May 2009… and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest I recorded between the 9th and 15th of March this year.
I enjoyed it very much! It was extremely well made – painfully well made in places (you’ll know if you see it) – and it made me want to go back and begin recording the books all over again.
But the question is how Hollywood will deal with it. Of necessity there were many plot points and other parts of the book left out of this Swedish version but the essentials were all there. I’m left wondering if Hollywood will allow so much to stand, or will they have to water it down for our delicate (US) sensibilities? Also, although I’m a huge fan of both Daniel Craig and Natalie Portman who, I’ve heard, are in line to play the leads (Natalie kissed me on the cheek, once – did I tell you that?), I really can’t see them doing as good a job encapsulating the characters of Mikael and Lisbeth as the Swedish originals in this movie. They certainly have an uphill struggle. That said, if any actors can do it I think these two can…
My verdict, then, is that if you have already read the novels, or have no intention of ever reading the novels (there must be some), then see this Swedish version (and I believe it’s due out on DVD fairly soon). If you haven’t finished the series then wait until you’ve read the lot – as it may spoil your enjoyment of the later books. As it stands I think it’s a great compliment to the original dish as served up by Larsson. Bon Appetit!