27 04, 2015

National Tell a Story Day

By |2018-01-12T13:02:47+01:00April 27th, 2015|Categories: News|Tags: , |0 Comments

Listen2aBookApril 27th is National “Tell a Story” Day, and audiobook narrators around the world have been teaming together to spread the word about some of their favorite audiobook projects. Twitter users can find some of the latest suggestions using the hashtag #Listen2aBook.

From cave wall paintings to mediaeval mystery plays, from troubadours singing of courtly love to today’s digital media, every culture has used storytelling to entertain, instruct, record, and pass on social values from one generation to the next. Oral storytelling traditions predate the invention of writing itself, and the current popularity of audiobooks brings this age-old tradition full circle.

Today, readers can listen to a book that they’re also enjoying on a Kindle via other electronic medium, even being able to pause the story on one device and pick it up later at the same spot on another. As one listener recently put it, “it’s as though a close friend were sitting close by, reading the story aloud just for you.”

If you have never tried listening to an audiobook, you can take your pick from hundreds of titles and download a free audiobook when you try a free 30-day membership at Audible.

It’s time to #Listen2aBook!

23 04, 2015

SCHREIBER’S SECRET Evokes Long Shadows of the Holocaust

By |2018-01-12T13:02:47+01:00April 23rd, 2015|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Schreiber's SecretTo mark National Tell a Story Day on April 27th, I’ve picked Roger Radford’s excellent thriller Schreiber’s Secret, which I recently narrated.

It may be seventy years since the end of the Second World War and the defeat of Hitler’s genocidal Third Reich, but the terrible events of the Holocaust remain etched into the memories of many survivors still living today.

Publicity surrounding the trial of 93-year-old Oscar Gröning, the so-called “Bookkeeper of Auschwitz” is a reminder that many continue to seek justice for the murder of their relatives and for the countless atrocities in the thousands of transit camps, forced-labor camps, and killing centers set up by the Nazi regime.

In his “masterly written thriller” Schreiber’s Secret, which I was proud to narrate for the audiobook version, Roger Radford lays bare the horror and tragedy of life in the concentration camp of Theresienstadt and its associated “Small Fortress”.

Through the medium of a classic “whodunnit” murder story set in 1990s London, Radford’s novel brings to life the problems of tracking down and identifying perpetrators many years after the war’s end. It raises burning questions of moral guilt like those facing Gröning in today’s courtroom in northern Germany, and explores what it means to be Jewish and live with the legacy of the Shoah in the modern world.

Amongst its many accolades and five-star reviews, readers have the called the novel “unputdownable” and the audiobook “totally absorbing – I didn’t want it to end.”

As the audiobook narrator, I found reading Schreiber’s Secret aloud an engrossing experience, with episodes of high-stakes drama and horrifying barbarity set against a story that ultimately renews faith in the triumph of the human spirit.

Listen to a short extract from Schreiber’s Secret:


If you’d like a free copy of Schreiber’s Secret, click here to start a free 30-day trial membership at Audible.com – or if you would like a reviewer copy, send me a message using the contact form at the bottom of this page.

26 12, 2014

Interview with author David Leadbeater

By |2018-01-12T13:02:48+01:00December 26th, 2014|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , , |0 Comments

David Leadbeater, author of the Matt Drake thriller series, talks about his work and what it’s like to hear his work in audio

david-bonesDavid Leadbeater is an inspirational success from the world of self-publishing: in the space of little more than two years, he has brought out 14 Kindle bestsellers in series ranging between action/adventure, espionage, and the supernatural.

I narrated THE BONES OF ODIN this year (now available at Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes) and I’m looking forward to working on subsequent books in the Matt Drake series in 2015.

David took time out from his busy writing schedule to tell me more about Matt Drake and his other series of books. (Interview continues below…)

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On your blog, you tell readers that you’ve been writing since the age of 15, but that it’s taken you the better part of 30 years to find success. What motivates you to write – and what kept you going in the years before your work found such an enthusiastic readership?

My motivation come from the love of reading and writing. The early stories and novels were written purely for fun and for the joy of getting lost in a story – much the same way as why a reader picks up a book. I really love what I do and actually need no motivation. Every day I look forward to getting involved in the next part of the story I am creating. This is not to say that sometimes the going gets hard – it does, but working through the problem helps give you the experience to make the next tough part that much easier. I need no reason nor motivation to want to write my stories.

I had great fun narrating THE BONES OF ODIN, the first book in the series of Matt Drake novels which came out in audio a few weeks ago. There’s a very colorful cast of characters, including a megalomaniac fashion designer, a New York cop on forced leave, and a troop of Swedish Special Forces soldiers, all on the hunt for the greatest archaeological treasure the world has ever known – and at the center of them all, the hero Matt Drake. What would you like tell new readers to the series about him – and how did you come up with the character?

Matt Drake is an ex-SAS soldier, once a member of the “best of the best” squadron within the regiment, retired from the army when the oppression of command and the tragedies of personal life caught up with him. A born soldier, he has fought hard to accept a new civilian life but in reality has drifted from job to job until finding one that has finally struck the right chord in him. Since leaving the army he has become a loner; all the friends he has ever known as an adult are soldiers.

I came up with the character by using a process of elimination. I knew very well all the dangerous and demanding trials he would have to overcome, not just in the first book but in the rest of the planned series. I also wanted him to be a Yorkshireman like me; it’s easier to write about what you know and helps pin down the character when occasionally he reverts to the Northern slang. I also wanted him to have heart, and a great sense of friendship, as again I knew a large team would flourish around him – a team that would eventually become a family.

You must get a lot of feedback from your fans – does that help to shape the direction of a story arc across a series? Do you plot everything meticulously before you start to write, or does inspiration sometimes lead you down an unexpected route?

I make a point of asking for feedback from fans, both at the end of the book and on my website. The feedback has been excellent so far, even the negative comments. Everything works towards making the ongoing series that much better. Typos and mis-naming have been spotted and corrected quickly through emails from fans. So far, I have shaped the story arc myself but with a few extra scenes added that fans have requested. If it’s possible and works with the story, chances are I will write your scene.

I am a plotter, yes. It’s one of the ways I avoid “author’s block.” If I come up against that wall I just check to see what’s the next plot point. Always works! That said, I do wander quite regularly but only for a short while as my books need to be pretty well structured to strike the right balance between action, dialogue and characterisation.

Now that THE BONES OF ODIN has been released as an audiobook, what’s it like for you as the author to hear your work in audio? Are there elements of the story that strike you differently from the way you imagined them?

The audiobook is fantastic and something I was considering even before Amazon contacted me. I love the translation of words into audio and in particular the local accents of my characters. It did feel a little odd to me at first, not having listened to an audiobook before, but I found that if you just carry on listening you soon become as lost in the story as you would reading on your Kindle. I thought my main villain, Abel Frey, came across as a much more intense character over the audio, and that’s down to you, Nigel. Maybe you associated with the villains more than the heroes!

It was certainly a lot of fun to voice a cast of characters with such different backgrounds and accents. I love playing villains, and Frey is so deliciously twisted – it helps raise the stakes!

I’m looking forward to narrating more books in the Matt Drake series in 2015, but of course it’s not the only story line you have been developing recently. What would you like to tell readers and listeners who are ready to explore some of your other work?

The Matt Drake series will continue and I have part 9 three-quarters written for a release date of March 2nd. It’s what I call a “crossover” book as it draws together three of my main series in one huge adventure. It’s fantastic fun to write, though the logistics can be mind-boggling where three teams are involved, and a much longer story than I have written before. After that it’s straight into the next Drake and following the continuing storyline. I have also recently written a spin-off to the Drake series starring one of its most popular, feisty characters – Alicia Myles. This book has been very well received and if I hadn’t already planned for a second part I certainly would now! In addition I must also finished the Chosen trilogy (a supernatural thriller series) in 2015, so a very busy but productive year ahead.

Here’s a short extract from THE BONES OF ODIN:


Visit David Leadbeater’s website to find out more about the Matt Drake series and his other novels.

4 06, 2013

Theatre Dreams

By |2018-01-12T13:02:49+01:00June 4th, 2013|Categories: News, Theatre|0 Comments

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

As I get ready to work on a new show, it’s not unusual for me to start having quite intense dreams that mix up ideas and images that I’m pondering and mulling and processing – some of them consciously, others in the back brain (where I reckon most of the work gets done.) (more…)

28 04, 2013

The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond

By |2015-07-24T08:37:09+01:00April 28th, 2013|Categories: News, Theatre|0 Comments

In the spring of 1977, a bunch of Oxford undergraduates made their way to Richmond in North Yorkshire, bringing a week of theatrical mayhem to a medieval market town.

With a temerity only excusable in the very young (or the very talented) they took a university production to the Georgian Theatre Royal, one of Britain’s oldest theaters, where they followed a poetry recital given by Judi Dench and Michael Williams to present two one-act plays: Sophocles’ Oedipus and Sheridan’s The Critic.

This apparently bizarre pairing was inspired in part by the hugely successful double-bill mounted in the 1940s at the Old Vic and subsquently on Broadway, where Olivier himself took the leading roles of Oedipus and Mr Puff in the two plays – or Oedipuff, as they became jointly to be known.

The undergraduate troupe that attempted to emulate some smidgin of this success were not apparently constrained by lack of ambition, self-consciousness or budgetary concerns (although history does not relate how the production was funded.) The season’s productions had already included Charley’s Aunt (set in the desert, complete with artificial pine trees imported from Pinewood,) The Importance of Being Earnest (with Lady Bracknell played in full drag,) The Crucible, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Participants in this audacious enterprise have long gone their separate ways. A couple remained actors (Philip Denyer and I), and others among our number include at least two future QCs, an archbishop, and a university vice-chancellor. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the element of performance remains a common thread.

The stimulus for this apparently casual anecdote is the news that Richmond’s Georgian Theatre is now at risk of closure, as levels of funding have dropped and ticket sales and bar profits are insufficient to cover costs on their own.

An appeal is to be launched on May 1st to save this Grade 1 listed building, whose interior has not been remodeled since it opened in 1788. Let’s get the word out to help rescue this wonderful piece of British theatrical heritage.

14 04, 2013

“How Do You Learn All Those Lines?”

By |2015-07-24T08:37:17+01:00April 14th, 2013|Categories: News, Theatre|0 Comments

Just now, my brain feels as if it’s trying to be like the Tardis (you know, bigger on the inside …)

This question about learning lines – beloved of audiences at talk-backs – poses itself afresh every time a new production looms on the actor’s horizon. And I can’t help feeling that by now I ought to have the answer to making the learning process easier.

But I don’t.

What I have come to recognize as I get older is that there is a more distinct difference between my short-term and long-term memory. I don’t mean that I can’t remember the name of the Prime Minister or what I had for breakfast (although I have been known recently to put my cell phone in the refrigerator.) But I have become acutely aware that these two mental muscles work in very different ways – at least in my case.

Some people maintain that one’s memory improves with practice. I’m not sure that that’s true – but I do think that one acquires a variety of tricks to help with the torturous process of learning a script, not least because it’s usually a test of endurance.

When I was 10 or 11 years old, I remember mugging up for exams by learning my notes by heart – literally taking them to bed, reading and re-reading them before going to sleep, and then regurgitating them the next day in the exact form I had learned them. It wasn’t a process that made for insightful analysis of material – but what the hell, when you’re comparing the site, situation, and functions of the ports of Liverpool and San Francisco, you look for the easy way out.

Intensely boring though they may have been, childhood experiences like these made me adept at absorbing large quantities of material for short-term use and then scraping the palimpsest clean, ready to be written over for the next assignment. And later on it’s a great skill to have if your agent sends you twelve pages of copy to be learned for a session the following day – but don’t expect a word of that stuff to be there next week.

I once watched a fascinating documentary about the Danish recorder player, Michala Petri. A dazzling virtuoso, I saw her play florid passages of Baroque music at great speed and with complete technical assurance, and I remember her saying that the only way she was able to master such pieces was not to have to think once about what her fingers were doing. By committing the notes and the fingering to a deeper, more instinctive muscle memory, she was then able to focus on her interpretation of the music.

Musical virtuosity relies on far more than the player’s confidence that she knows the notes, of course – and I can hardly imagine what it is like to be a prodigy, infant or otherwise! But I’m intrigued by the question of how one transfers the retention – or rather, the recall – of a script from the short-term mental filing system to a more deeply ingrained memory that allows freedom and spontaneity in performance.

If I find the solution, I’ll post it here – and I’ll probably have fewer pre-show nightmares like the one where I discover that I’ve missed four pages of my script that were stuck together and we go up in ten minutes. But meanwhile, as I try to assimilate the text of Rory Fellowes’ luminous play A Victorian Eye, I’ll have to adopt the method of every other actor faced with “learning all those lines.”

Learn them one by one.

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