It’s…Audible

I’m pleased to say that my latest audiobook is now on sale:

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Blandford Candy is sent to London, after an illicit affair, and joins the Roundhead army to fight against the King, taking part in the Battle of Edgehill.

A reluctant hero if ever there was one, he becomes a spy for the cause – and, through luck or judgement, uncovers more than one Royalist plot. His love of wine and the fairer sex prove both a curse and a blessing for the agent. Blandford soon earns the enmity of the King’s spy mistress Jane Whorwood, and patronage of the great parliamentarian leader John Hampden.

As well as navigating the politics and perils of the Civil War Blandford must also deal with members of his family, who turn out to be to be far more duplicitous and ruthless than any rival agent.

To survive, Blandford must choose a side.

The Last Roundhead is the first book in the acclaimed series of novels, charting the adventures of Sir Blandford Candy during the English Civil War.

Recommended listening for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Michael Jecks, and George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman books.

The author, Jemahl Evans, has written about his experience using Audible for the first time on his blog – here is a link:

https://jemahlevans.wixsite.com/jemahlevans/single-post/2019/11/29/ACX-Audible-and-The-Last-Roundhead

If you would like to sign up with Audible, please use these links:

US readers : https://www.audible.com/pd/B0821X8QD9/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWU-BK-ACX0-174243&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_174243_pd_us

UK readers: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B0821YM642/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H7-BK-ACX0-174243&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_174243_pd_uk

Happy listening!

 

The Rat in the Cellar

On the 19th December, I will be appearing alongside Miriam Margolyes in a live reading of a radio play, The Rat in the Cellar. The event is in aid of a charity called the Coffin Club (https://coffinclub.co.uk/). Miriam is a veteran British/Australian actor, well-known for playing Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films. She is currently appearing in Sydney and The Old Girl at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London.

Here is link to the event’s website:

http://stmaryinthecastle.co.uk/events/event/?permalink=rat-in-the-cellar

And here is Miriam with the two founders of the Coffin Club in Hastings, Kate Tym and Kate Dyer:

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I play her character’s husband, who she has imprisoned in the cellar of her house and feeds him by way of the coal shute. The story describes their relationship and how they got to be in this situation. There is a very interesting twist at the end, which is both funny and touching. I’m looking forward to it and will post further details and pics of the event in due course.

 

 

Audiobooks – Branching out

So far, I have narrated two parts of the Nature’s Magic series, two parts of the Jack Windrush series and the first part of the Blandford Candy series – YA fantasy and historical fiction – nothing wrong with that, but I am always conscious of being pigeon-holed and will be seeking to branch out into other genres next year.

After seeing Count Arthur Strong last week (see below) I bumped into an old acting friend and we got talking about our current projects. To cut a long story short, he self-published a book earlier this year and, after some discussions, we’ve decided to collaborate on producing it as an audiobook.

It’s called The Vampire Hunter’s Field Manual: A Survivor’s Guide to Narcissistic Abuse, written by Matt Davis. As a title, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but bear with me. Here it is on Amazon:

 

Matt has an academic grounding in psychology and has taught it extensively in schools and FE colleges. He has also had experience of the book’s subject, hence the inspiration to write it. It took him a year but the audiobook should take slightly less than that – I’m hoping to get it out by the end of February 2020.

Narcissistic abuse is not an uncommon experience, for many people. I did not know much about it but I understand this to be an important project and a service to an old acting friend. Matt refers to narcissistic abusers as ‘vampires’ (hence the title – sorry, fans of the blood-sucking kind).

Here’s an extract from the book on its subject matter:

Vampires are incapable of Love, Empathy, Compassion and Reciprocity because they see other people as objects. 

 The capacity for Love, Empathy, Compassion and Reciprocity develop during childhood. Since the Vampire is developmentally arrested, they never developed the capacity for these things. The abuse, trauma and/or neglect they experienced resulted in a developmental arrest during a critical phase in their emotional development. In the normal development of a child, the idea that other people exist in their own right is something that is learned through experience.

Young children start out by seeing people as objects, no different from their toys. It’s why you don’t leave toddlers and dogs together unattended. As they develop, children gradually come to recognise that people and objects are different, which can take many years to learn fully. People have feelings, just as they do. Objects don’t. The gradual understanding that people and objects are different is part of normal development but the development of the Vampire is massively hindered by abuse, trauma and/or neglect, potentially on an on-going basis. This prevents the development of the understanding that people and objects are different in any meaningful way. pp19-20

It’s a weighty tome – approx 104k words – but extremely well-written, engaging and at times, very funny. I’m really looking forward to getting on with this project and hopefully engaging with a new audience. We’re also aiming it at self-help/counselling groups.

I’ll use this blog as a record of progress and eventual publication – watch this space.

 

Audiobooks – narration technique – part 2

 

I am currently finishing up my fifth and most recent project – The Last Roundhead, by Jemahl Evans – and as ever, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the production process, to identify issues and improve performance.

Here’s a plug for the book:

 

 

I’m hoping that the audiobook will get on sale before Christmas – on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

I have noticed that my voice has changed, compared to my earlier efforts this year. I think this may be due to several things:

  • Microphone technique – having spent (too) many hours in taking out mouth noises and inappropriate breaths in post production, I’ve had to take a serious look at being properly prepared for a recording session and have settled on taking a mug of hot water into the booth with me. This prevents a dry mouth and dry throat producing strange noises that only the mic seems to pick up. Rumbling stomach noises are another matter, however.
  • Rehearsing the script – where possible, I now read the script out loud before recording, to identify tricky emphases and phrases, and mark up the script accordingly. This saves a lot of time during post-production.
  • Being more relaxed – one crazy misapprehension I had when I first started recording was that, once the ‘record’ button is pressed, an imaginary red light went on in my head and I was nervous of disturbing the performance. True, it is a performance but in the booth I am the audience and the performer and I have control – if I need to, I’ll have a drink, burp, cough, clear my throat and carry on.
  • Practice – the production of five books on the trot has been great practice in breathing, relaxing, enunciation and pronunciation, as well as stretching my abilities. With each book, I can only aim to improve.
  • Pauses and pacing – I am more aware of this, having compared my current with my former efforts. This is an aspect that I am still getting used to, but I have to constantly remind myself to listen to the recording from the point of the view of the customer. Is the production pleasant to listen to? is a question that is separate from enjoying the story, in that the narration should not get in the way and should, as far as possible, serve the story and honour the author.

 

I also thought it might be interesting to include a couple of pics of the recording space I currently use (I hesitate to call it a ‘studio’ for obvious reasons). It’s basically an awkwardly-shaped cupboard under the stairs. Here is a ‘before’ pic:

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With a bit of carpeting, acoustic tiling and some decent kit (Rode NT1 condenser mic, if you must know), I now work with this:

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It seems to work fine for me but I’d like to replace the screen at some point. A larger recording space would depend on either moving house or one of the children moving out

I’ll have to think about raising the rent….

Count Arthur Strong rules…

Last night I went to see the actor Steve Delaney perform his character Count Arthur Strong, at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. It has to be one of the greatest comic creations of modern times alongside, in my opinion, Alan Partridge and many of Steve Coogan’s other creations. I managed to meet up with him after the show:

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From a performance point of view, I was impressed by the amount of energy and invention that went into it. OK, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea and many people just don’t get it – an ex-variety hall performer, suffering from some form of dementia, or at least a severe form of malapropism/tourette’s, with a generous helping of Dunning/Kruger effect thrown in. Sounds weird put like that, but I guess you just have to be there.

He just didn’t stop moving, jerking around the stage as if he had an electric coat hanger caught in the back of his jacket. A stream of (well-rehearsed, I should imagine) unconscious word-association based on space-themed confectionery was the high point of the show.

Above all, it was innocent humour – no nastiness and the swearing kept to a very British 1950’s minimum.

As I said, I guess you just had to be there.