About Simon

Simon is an actor who found his way into audiobook narrating as a side-gig and seems to have made a success of it. With some training as an actor as a child (just a couple of hours a week, but it stuck) and 15 years working inside the BBC (ending up as one of the presenters/newsreaders on BBC Radio 4 in London) he found the ideal combination for an audiobook narrator. Found his way to California two decades ago and never left.
Author Archive | Simon

Slate.com – March 17th, 2014

Here’s a link to a great article on Slate.com that I worked on with the author of A Burnable Book, Bruce Holsinger.  The book is available for download on Audible.com.

The article is titled The Voice of the Poets: The life and work of an audiobook narrator. Click on that title to bring up the article.

There’s even a recording on the page of Bruce and me giving voice to the article!

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The Zhivago Affair by Peter Finn and Petra Couvée

zhivagoThe Kremlin, the CIA,and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book

Drawing on newly declassified government files, this is the dramatic story of how a forbidden book in the Soviet Union became a secret CIA weapon in the ideological battle between East and West.

In May 1956, an Italian publishing scout took a train to a village just outside Moscow to visit Russia’s greatest living poet, Boris Pasternak. He left carrying the original manuscript of Pasternak’s first and only novel, entrusted to him with these words: “This is Doctor Zhivago. May it make its way around the world.” Pasternak believed his novel was unlikely ever to be published in the Soviet Union, where the authorities regarded it as an irredeemable assault on the 1917 Revolution. But he thought it stood a chance in the West and, indeed, beginning in Italy, Doctor Zhivago was widely published in translation throughout the world.

From there the life of this extraordinary book entered the realm of the spy novel. The CIA, which recognized that the Cold War was above all an ideological battle, published a Russian-language edition of Doctor Zhivago and smuggled it into the Soviet Union. Copies were devoured in Moscow and Leningrad, sold on the black market, and passed surreptitiously from friend to friend. Pasternak’s funeral in 1960 was attended by thousands of admirers who defied their government to bid him farewell. The example he set launched the great tradition of the writer-dissident in the Soviet Union.

In The Zhivago Affair, Peter Finn and Petra Couvée bring us intimately close to this charming, passionate, and complex artist. First to obtain CIA files providing concrete proof of the agency’s involvement, the authors give us a literary thriller that takes us back to a fascinating period of the Cold War—to a time when literature had the power to stir the world.

Here is the Earphone award winning AudioFile magazine review:

This audiobook proves yet again that fact can be as fascinating as fiction, particularly when Simon Vance is the narrator. Although Nobel Prize-winning author Boris Pasternak believed that DOCTOR ZHIVAGO could never be published in his native country, the CIA thought differently, recognizing the book’s importance to the Cold War. In this eye-opening historical work, the authors document how the CIA smuggled the masterpiece into the Soviet Union, where it sold furiously on the black market and had a transformative effect on society. Vance’s adept use of accent and inflection complement the book, which is as exciting as a spy novel. Calling this a page-turner doesn’t do justice, however, to Vance’s elegant and memorable performance. D.J.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Awardred_earphones

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New York Times Sunday Review – Feb 23rd, 2014

AUDIOBOOKS AND THE RETURN OF STORYTELLING

Click on the link above to read this delightful piece and although it doesn’t mention me by name it’s clear that the author has listened to and enjoyed Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel.

 

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Memnoch The Devil by Anne Rice

memnoch_the_devilThe fifth volume of Rice’s Vampire Chronicles is one of her most controversial books. The tale begins in New York, where Lestat, the coolest of Rice’s vampire heroes, is stalking a big-time cocaine dealer and religious-art smuggler–this guy should get it in the neck. Lestat is also growing fascinated with the dealer’s lovely daughter, a TV evangelist who’s not a fraud.

Lestat is also being stalked himself, by some shadowy guy who turns out to be Memnoch, the devil, who spirits him away. From here on, the book might have been called Interview with the Devil (by a Vampire). It’s a rousing story interrupted by a long debate with the devil. Memnoch isn’t the devil as ordinarily conceived: he got the boot from God because he objected to God’s heartless indifference to human misery. Memnoch takes Lestat to heaven, hell, and throughout history.

Some readers are appalled by the scene in which Lestat sinks his fangs into the throat of Christ on the cross, but the scene is not a mere shock tactic: Jesus is giving Lestat a bloody taste in order to win him over to God’s side, and Rice is dead serious about the battle for his soul. Rice is really doing what she did as a devout young Catholic girl asked to imagine in detail what Christ’s suffering felt like–it’s just that her imagination ran away with her.

If you like straight-ahead fanged adventure, you’ll likely enjoy the first third; if you like Job-like arguments with God, you’ll prefer the Memnoch chapters. –Tim Appelo (Amazon.com review)

From Publishers Weekly

Rice has made a career out of humanizing creatures of supernatural horror, and in this fifth book of her Vampire Chronicles she requests sympathy for the Devil. Having survived his near-fatal reacquaintance with human mortality in The Tale of the Body Thief (1992), the world-weary vampire Lestat is recruited by the biblical Devil, Memnoch, to help fight a cruel and negligent God. The bulk of the novel is a retelling of the Creation story from the point of view of the fallen angel, who blames his damnation on his refusal to accept human suffering as part of God’s divine plan. Rice grapples valiantly with weighty questions regarding the justification of God’s ways to man, but their vast scope overwhelms the novel’s human dimensions. God and the Devil periodically put on the flesh of mortals, and too often end up sounding like arguing philosophy majors. Meanwhile, the ever-fascinating Lestat, whose poignant personal crisis of faith is mirrored in Memnoch’s travails, becomes a passive observer, dragged along on trips to Heaven and Hell before being returned to Earth to relate what he has witnessed. Though Rice boldly probes the significance of death, belief in the afterlife and other spiritual matters, one wishes that she had found a way to address them through the experiences of human and near-human characters, as she has done so brilliantly in the past. One million first printing; BOMC and QPB main selections.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

 

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When Shadows Fall by Paul Reid

when_shadows_fallStill haunted by the British army’s treatment of soldiers during World War I, Lieutenant Adam Bowen returns to Dublin in 1919—and discovers a new war destroying his hometown. When his well-bred family ignores the violence between Irish revolutionaries and the British government, Adam turns his back on Britain and secretly aligns with the Irish Republican Army.

Then Adam meets golden-haired, blue-eyed Tara Reilly, and finds himself drawn to her quiet beauty. Yet Tara works for the British government at Dublin Castle, a job that could expose Adam and his secret IRA activities to the police. But like Adam, Tara harbors secrets. She lost her entire family to the IRA when a vicious operative named Larry Mulligan slaughtered them. And she vows vengeance, no matter the cost.

In this sweeping work of historical fiction about the Irish War of Independence, danger lurks around every corner…and deception hides behind every smile.

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The Keys to the Realms by Roberta Trahan

keys_to_the_realmsIn this sequel to The Well of Tears, the last bastion of magic standing against the dark forces threatening the prophecy of the Ancients has narrowly escaped destruction—wrought by the sorcery of one of its own.

Reeling from loss and betrayal, the Stewardry at Fane Gramarye is in chaos. The young acolyte Glain is called to replace the traitor as Proctor and serve the new Sovereign. It has fallen to Alwen to lead the order and find the remaining Guardians of the Realms and their keys of power. Only then will the king of the prophecy win his throne.

When assassins breach the protective veil surrounding the Fane, an unexpected evil is revealed. The renegade mage Machreth has garnered new allies and his agents might already have infiltrated the ranks of the order. Glain must discover where the treachery lies before Machreth bends destiny to his will, but the truth is shrouded by secrets. Though her visionary powers are strong, there are things Glain can’t foresee. Can she still trust those she calls her friends—or her own heart? For even Glain has something to hide…

 

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The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg

Hidden_ChildThe brilliant new psychological thriller from worldwide bestseller Camilla Läckberg—the chilling struggle of a young woman facing the darkest chapter of Europe’s past.
Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family’s past and finally uncover the reasons why. Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death. Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? Reluctantly Erica must read her mother’s wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica’s past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be…red_earphones

Here is the Earphone award winning AudioFile magazine review:

Lesser narrators might be challenged by meshing two eras and an enormous cast of characters. However, Simon Vance’s transitions are smooth, and his narration fluid despite myriad emotions and the author’s complicated plot. Vance’s accurate pronunciations make listeners comfortable in the Swedish setting, allowing easy entry into the fifth gripping mystery in Läckberg’s series. Present-day crime writer Erica Falck is puzzled when she finds a Nazi war medal in her mother’s possessions. Erica and her husband, police detective Patrik Hedstrom, juggle parenting a toddler and their investigations. Vance enhances the story’s comic relief, parenting struggles, and culture clashes through outstanding characterizations, all the while reflecting the building tension. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

 

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The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay

The_Other_StoryVacationing at a luxurious Tuscan island resort, Nicolas Duhamel is hopeful that the ghosts of his past have finally been put to rest… Now a bestselling author, when he was twenty-four years old, he stumbled upon a troubling secret about his family – a secret that was carefully concealed. In shock, Nicholas embarked on a journey to uncover the truth that took him from the Basque coast to St. Petersburg – but the answers wouldn’t come easily.

In the process of digging into his past, something else happened. Nicolas began writing a novel that was met with phenomenal success, skyrocketing him to literary fame whether he was ready for it or not – and convincing him that he had put his family’s history firmly behind him. But now, years later, Nicolas must reexamine everything he thought he knew, as he learns that, however deeply buried, the secrets of the past always find a way out.

Page-turning, layered and beautifully written, Tatiana de Rosnay’s THE OTHER STORY is a reflection on identity, the process of being a writer and the repercussions of generations-old decisions as they echo into the present and shape the future.

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The Story of Music by Howard Goodall

The_Story_of_MusicMusic is an intrinsic part of everyday life, and yet the history of its development from single notes to multi-layered orchestration can seem bewilderingly complex.
In his dynamic tour through 40,000 years of music, from prehistoric instruments to modern-day pop, Howard Goodall leads us through the story of music as it happened, idea by idea, so that each musical innovation—harmony, notation, sung theater, the orchestra, dance music, recording—strikes us with its original force. Along the way, he also gives refreshingly clear descriptions of what music is and how it works: what scales are all about, why some chords sound discordant, and what all post-war pop songs have in common.
The story of music is the story of our urge to invent, connect, rebel—and entertain. Goodall’s beautifully clear and compelling account is both a hymn to human endeavor and a groundbreaking map of our musical journey.

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The High Druid’s Blade by Terry Brooks

The_High_Druid's_BladeLegend has it that Paxon Leah is descended from the royals and warriors who once ruled the Highlands and waged war with magical weapons. But those kings, queens, and heroes are long gone, and there is nothing enchanted about the antique sword that hangs above Paxon’s fireplace. Running his family’s modest shipping business, Paxon leads a quiet life—until extraordinary circumstances overturn his simple world . . . and rewrite his destiny.

When his brash young sister is abducted by a menacing stranger, Paxon races to her rescue with the only weapon he can find. And in a harrowing duel, he is stunned to discover powerful magic unleashed within him—and within his ancestors’ ancient blade. But his formidable new ability is dangerous in untrained hands, and Paxon must master it quickly because his nearly fatal clash with the dark sorcerer Arcannen won’t be his last. Leaving behind home and hearth, he journeys to the keep of the fabled Druid order to learn the secrets of magic and earn the right to become their sworn protector.

But treachery is afoot deep in the Druids’ ranks. And the blackest of sorcery is twisting a helpless innocent into a murderous agent of evil. To halt an insidious plot that threatens not only the Druid order but all the Four Lands, Paxon Leah must summon the profound magic in his blood and the legendary mettle of his elders in the battle fate has chosen him to fight.

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