I am shameless, absolutely shameless…

Oh, not at first, of course, you’ll have to read to the bottom to find out how shameless I can be – I get nothing extra for promoting the following:

The thing is, Audible.com have finally released the four volumes in the series by Anthony Powell:  ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’.  Each of these volumes (or ‘seasons’ as they are termed) is about 20 hours long as they each contain three of the original twelve novels that make up this ‘universally acclaimed epic… of twentieth century London’ (from the publisher).

I recorded the series last August/September/October and have been waiting since then to see how it is received.  I, personally, loved it… to give you a brief idea of the time period covered in each volume here are a couple of lines from the publisher:

A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art.  In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books “provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars” (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.).  The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses.

I’ll be honest here and say that some might find the story boring, it certainly doesn’t pretend to be any kind of a thriller, more of a vintage soap opera – but the writing is beautiful, the characters engaging and the feeling of being immersed in another time and place all-engrossing.

I’m happy to note also that all three novels in the Millennium series are still in the audible.com top five downloads list!  Which makes me think that if I had been able to negotiate residuals I’d be able to retire about now (or at least take a little more time off).

I don’t know if you’re aware but the vast majority of audiobooks are recorded as a work for hire agreement: we’re paid a flat rate (which is negotiable) usually based on the duration, but we don’t make any extra if the book is a success (and we don’t lose anything if the book is a failure).  Nothing to get too upset about as it’s the way the business has operated for a very long time.

Here comes the really shameless part:

However… if, at audible.com, you search for the narrator ‘Simon Vance’ (er…that’s me) on the latest releases page below the A Dance to the Music of Time novels you’ll see two books: Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals and The Big Questions in Science and Religion. Now for these two I have entered into a rather unique arrangement with University Press Audiobooks.  I recorded these two books for no advance payment whatsoever…  but, in return, I will see residuals!

Will this (in essence, working for nothing) be worth it?

Well, that’s entirely up to you.  If you choose to buy either, or both, of these books you will be enabling me to clothe my children (oh, okay… you’ll be enabling me to start saving to buy an iPad or some such gadget) and you’ll make me very happy.

To be honest they are quite intellectual books (they call them scholarly) that require you to do some thinking in order to follow the arguments, but even I like thinking from time to time.  And if you do buy one (or two :)) you’ll have that feel good sensation knowing you’ve rewarded me in the process.

I said I was shameless…

Take Care

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.

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17 Responses to I am shameless, absolutely shameless…

  1. spudpop March 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    I googled you because I am listening to you read the Dance to the Music of Time series. I’m on part 4 and I’m so addicted! I am reluctant to finish…
    I will definitely seek out other recordings by you. Thank you for your lovely treatment of this material. I have the Millenium series cued up next. I read them myself and watched the movies, but I can’t wait for YOU to read them to me! 🙂

    • Simon March 8, 2011 at 9:09 am #

      Thanks for your comments.
      DTTMOT is quite a commitment and I’m pleased you’ve found it enough of a pleasurable experience to make it through to the end and take the time to leave this message. 🙂
      While the movies of the Millennium series are very good the books contain so much more… I think you’ll enjoy those also!
      – S.

  2. Stacey Arnold January 13, 2011 at 2:46 am #


    I have to follow many others and tell you I have listened to the Millennium Trilogy, finishing it only a week or so ago. I wanted to tell you that being new to audio books, your voice amazed me. I honestly don’t think I could have read the books and enjoyed them as much. I almost cried truthfully when I reached my third book and discovered it wasn’t you. I refused to listen until my boyfriend got me the version read by you. Explaining that you had created a mental image of the characters and I just couldn’t enjoy it by anyone else. Thank you for making the books so enjoyable and for having a wonderful voice.


    • Simon January 13, 2011 at 8:21 am #

      Thanks, Stacey. Always good to hear from people who enjoy the books (not to mention the narration). I understand the difficulty when the narrator’s voice changes – glad it went in my favour. I hope you continue to enjoy audiobooks – and especially mine! All the very best – S.

  3. Cherrill January 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Hello Simon
    I have been listening to the Millenium Series and I am quite taken with your ability to develope each character (and there are lots of them in this series!) It’s quite amazing how you change your voice and keep the story going so seamlessly. My question is …where were you raised. I seem to feel there is a bit of Welsh in your accent …not the valleys of course but perhaps South East Wales. The Welsh have lovely big round voices and that is you….please satisfy my curiosity. Thankyou. Cherrill

    • Simon January 4, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      Wales? Ah! I love Wales… I would love to be from Wales. But, alas, nothing so glorious in my background – I was born and brought up in Brighton on the south coast. A great town in its own right, but not as romantic as Wales. Thanks for the compliment, Cherrill.

  4. Robin December 25, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Hi Simon – Merry Christmas. I must say I am more inclined to purchase the “Dance” over the “Big Question” as I have never been good with non fiction – even speculative non-fiction. I do enjoy historical fiction though but I admit that I had to put down Wolf Hall when it was clear that I and apparently several other struggling readers had no idea who was talking. I did wonder whether if you were narrating I might have a better time but then I decided you had more sense. But there is so much on my iPhone that I don’t know where to go next. Titus Alone, a Trollope, and even a few here and there that others narrated. I very much enjoyed Cloud Atlas and confess that John Lee may be my second favorite. Are you two friends?

    Hoping you have a good holiday and a great new year.

    With continued admiration,

  5. Susan December 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    Hi Simon!

    I am yet another devoted fan who has just finished listening to you narrate THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. I have to say–I have fallen hopelessly in love with your voice. You’ve actually created a real problem for me. I don’t believe reading a book on my own will ever be the same!

    Thank you for making these great books even greater and I look forward to many more of your audiobooks.

    • Simon December 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

      Thanks Susan – Sorry if I’ve made you’re life just a little bit difficult! Hope you can find a suitable balance, nevertheless. 🙂

  6. Sheila November 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm #


    I just finished listening to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I just HAD to Google you because the narration was so fantastic. Throughout the entire book, I felt elated with your ability to accurately switch voices as well as with your Swedish pronunciations. I’m about to buy a new computer so I’ll download some of the other recommended books then; I also like CD’s because I listen to them in my car. Most radio bores me.

    Anyway, that’s it. Cheerio from Washington State, U.S.

    • Simon November 29, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

      Thanks Sheila for letting me know how much you enjoyed my narration. This just might inspire me to do more work in my website – I’ve been very lax and I need to keep in touch with people beyond the four walls of my studio. Sometimes I can get too insular!

  7. Keith Marshall August 11, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Simon … I’m delighted you enjoyed doing the readings of Anthony Powell’s Dance which I think is excellent and which I’m much enjoying. In fact I’m just writing a review of the recordings for the Anthony Powell Society quarterly Newsletter. It would be great if Audible will release a CD version as well as the downloadable version. If you care to email me (secretary@anthonypowell.org) a mailing address I’ll make sure you get a couple of copies of the Newsletter containing the review (should be out early September). Many thanks !!!
    Keith Marshall
    Hon. Sec., Anthony Powell Society

  8. Deb B July 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Oh, be as shameless as you like. Some of us just love listening to you — and we certainly want you to clothe your children (or buy an iPad — whichever takes priority). I’ve discovered your audio books only recently (both The Black Tower and The Portrait were brilliant) — and for someone who doesn’t like to drive, I now envy those with long commutes! Guess I’ll be checking out those Powell books…

  9. Xe Sands July 29, 2010 at 10:51 am #

    Oh come now…you are not *that* shameless. Far more shameless narrators out there 😉 And I enjoy knowing what other things you’ve done that you’d like others to hear (because of course, we don’t always want to promote everything we record…).

    Oh – and before I forget yet again to mention it…I’ll mention it here so everyone will be aware of it, I have absolutely loved “The Lost Books of the Odyssey.” Downloaded it during an Audible promo and have been entranced. So to all reading Simon’s blog, let me say: get it. You will enjoy it even if you think the Odyssey is boring as toast. The writing is superb and the narration is simply perfect.

  10. Beth F July 28, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    Oh I’m so excited that Audible has released Dance to the Music of Time and even happier that you narrated them. Loved the books when I read them (mumble) years ago. Audio is perfect way to revisit them.

  11. Jennifer July 26, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    G’day from Melbourne, Thanks for keeping me company on the 15-hour flight from LAX. I am listening to Stone’s Fall.

    And no need to apologize for touting your own work. As a voice actor, you should have every right to residuals. This is no different from TV, film, video, or other voiceover work. I’d like to see narrators included in ASCAP – this would give you more negotiating clout.

    I also wish you got residuals for the fantastic Millennium series. Word on the street is that Larsson’s heirs are fighting over the rights to a partially-written fourth book discovered on his laptop. Who knows?

  12. Larry DWYER July 25, 2010 at 10:42 am #


    I can’t wait to hear your wonderful voice saying “Craddock alias Thorne”. I loved these books for nearly 30 years.

    Wild Justice will be in my shopping cart shortly…


    P.S. I just finished a Ruth Rendell novel that you did – well done, and well-matched are you and Ruth and Wexford.

    Thanks again for so many hours of enjoyment.

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