The Life of Death by Lucy Booth

First diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, Lucy Booth wrote about her experiences in a blog. When the cancer returned in 2014, she turned her hand to a novel, The Life of Death, which has since been published posthumously and we're thrilled to be bringing to audio. Her family have been involved with getting the book through to publication, and we spoke to them about the book and the experience of watching the audio recording.

The Booth Family with reader Cathleen McCarron

Could you tell us about the roots behind The Life of Death?
Of necessity our answers are second hand but, after Lucy had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had undergone Chemo and Radiotherapy, she decided to go on a creative writing course. Whether this triggered the ideas behind The Life of Death or whether she had the ideas first we really don't know but we think Lucy was already thinking of leaving a legacy.

Introduce us to Elizabeth Murray. What’s facing her at the start of the book?
At the start of the book, Elizabeth is facing the prospect of being burnt as a witch. Whether she is a witch or just a wise woman, a healer, who knows her way around natural healing is left in the air, but that's how we look at her mother and some of the other old ladies of Tranent. Being faced with this prospect, she is visited by a handsome stranger (the Devil) who offers her eternal life in return for being Death itself; that is the person you want by your side in the very last moment of life.

What’s your favourite quality about her?
Despite her gruesome role, Elizabeth is a sensitive, caring soul whose aim is to make each passing as easy as possible. This she does with compassion and empathy.

Could you briefly tell us about the path to publication?
Lucy set the ball rolling herself; she allowed some of her friends to read The Life of Death and that encouraged her to discuss it with Rachel Mills (her agent), who decided that the best way forward would be to crowdfund the book. This was quite daunting as we needed to raise in excess of £12,000 but, with tremendous help from Lucy's friends who have helped throughout the crowdfunding process, we were able to put together a video trailer and raise the money in less than a month. The great advantage of this is that we, as a family, have been involved in every aspect of publication from helping with the proofreading to agreeing the design of the cover.

What are you looking forward to most about The Life of Death being published as an audiobook?
We hadn't really considered The Life of Death as an audiobook so when we heard this was happening we were absolutely excited and delighted. Our first great hope is that it reaches people who otherwise wouldn't read the book. Then, having big ideas for the book, we hoped it could become Audiobook of the Week or even be read on Radio Four.

Is there anything that surprised you when hearing Cathleen McCarron? Did she bring anything to the book that you didn’t expect?
Having heard The Life of Death being read by Cathleen McCarron, it has made us realise  that, when read by a professional, the book reaches another level. Cathleen really seemed to understand the book; she brought out the alliteration and the contacts between Elizabeth and the other characters in the book with real empathy. We were blown away by her interpretation; the book could have been written for her.

How did listening to the book compare to reading it?
We felt that the audiobook really made us focus on Lucy's words. In reading you can easily skip bits but with the audiobook we seemed to be more concentrated and, of course, this was helped by Cathleen's interpretation.

You can read more about Lucy and The Life of Death over on the Unbound website. The book is out on 1st May, including the audiobook, read by Cathleen McCarron, which is now available to pre-order on Audible. The audiobook will follow in a physical format on CD and MP3, and in libraries, on 1st July.  


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