Do you know the way to San Jose?

Fortunately I had my GPS with me so I had no trouble at all… I was heading south (I live inland from San Francisco) because I had been invited to make an appearance at All Ears Audiobooks on Saturday last for an event they termed ‘An Evening with Simon Vance’ (though, in keeping with my theme of complete honesty on this site I should say it was more like an hour and a half). The excuse was the launch just over a week before of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

There was a time when I would have been extremely uncomfortable with something like this. But maybe I’ve changed, because I was certainly more at ease than I expected to be – when asked by Julie if I was interested in making an appearance I did not have to be dragged kicking and screaming. Perhaps I feel a responsibility to give something back (does that sound a bit corny?…it does to my ears), especially after the many great emails I’ve been receiving in recent years. Perhaps it’s that I can no longer retreat into my studio and ignore the requests to talk about myself and what I do. Let’s face it, that’s what I’m doing here with this website and I seem to have no trouble with that!

I also know that I want to bring more awareness to audiobooks in general. That sounds a bit altruistic, but by being ‘out there’ I’m hoping to get more people to pay attention to audiobooks, bring in more customers and thereby improve the standing of the industry – I think audiobooks deserve the biggest audience they can get. Of course, at the same time, it probably won’t hurt the amount of work going around for us narrators.

Though I should be clear here: In the current format all narrators get paid a flat rate for their work – there are no residuals for narrators in the audiobook world (there may be occasions where a narrator has been able to negotiate one – but I’m not personally aware of any). If there were residuals (payments based on sales) I could probably retire early on the proceeds from the Dragon Tattoo books! So if I make any appearances it’s not going to increase my income through extra sales of books already recorded (unlike an author’s book tour, for example). That may change, especially as it becomes clearer that people buy audiobooks based as much on the narrator as on the book itself – who knows what the future may bring?

But back to last Saturday: My thanks to Julie and the staff at All Ears for putting on the evening and making me so comfortable. I enjoyed talking, demonstrating and working through the Q and As. They’d put together a display in advance of the event with many of the books that I had recorded (that’s me beside part the display in the photo above) – it was good to be reacquainted with so many earlier projects (it’s amazing how quickly I forget what I’ve recorded). It was a fun evening and, I hope, not the last time I get to enjoy something like that.

Now, enough of the bright lights – I’m retreating, for now, to the dark recesses of my studio to record…

Listen to the audio here!

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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7 Responses to Do you know the way to San Jose?

  1. Sharon June 10, 2010 at 10:05 pm #

    Just taking an opportunity to thank you for bringing the Stieg Larsson characters to life. It is not every audiobook where you absolutely know who’s speaking whether or not the name is given. Just finished Hornet’s Nest–a marvelous performance. I’ll be hunting down more of your narrations.

  2. Julie at All Ears June 8, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Hi Simon,

    Thank you so much for visiting us at All Ears last Saturday (or as you say, Saturday last). You completely entertained and charmed everyone! We loved your spontaneous readings and your amazing repertoire of accents was incredible. We have heard rave reviews from everyone who was there and already have received inquiries about when you are coming again – any openings in your calendar!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! You are the best!

    Take care,


  3. Elizabeth June 8, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    David Fincher is casting for the U.S. version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Word has it that Daniel Craig and Natalie Portman are cast to play Blomkvist and Salander. Please nag your agent. We’d love to see you in the movie!

    • Simon June 8, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

      Natalie Portman kissed me on the cheek once!

      • Elizabeth June 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

        Great. Then have Natalie Portman nag your agent too!

  4. Aquilla Balthazar June 8, 2010 at 6:32 am #

    I was at “An Evening with Simon Vance” at All Ears Audiobooks. What a wonderful night. Thank you. We all enjoyed the Q&A, humor, forthrightness, and honesty. The personal reading was also a real treat. And it was truly amazing to watch you seamlessly move among different voices, characters, and emotions. Ah, the life of an actor, so different from all others. How marvelous it must be to possess such talent.

  5. Mike Bakhshi June 7, 2010 at 11:49 pm #


    At last, I was able to meet the gentleman whose voice I’d heard listening to “China Road”. It was such a pleasure to meet you and see you perform at All Ears last Saturday night. It was a fun evening and I truly enjoyed it! Looking forward to listen to more of your performances!

    Take care,
    Mike 🙂

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