Audiobook for the Blind
I was thrilled when someone mentioned the Windsor Talking Newspaper charity in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Their volunteers provide a valuable information service for blind people in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead council area. They distribute a USB memory stick each week to their subscribers with local and national news stories read and recorded by volunteers – what a great idea.
I met with the organisers and they thought it was a good idea to serialise my short stories in Thames Valley Tales, voiced by actor Richard James, onto each weekly issue for an eight week run.
This will start after Easter, and I’m looking forward to the feedback from their 1,000-odd subscribers across the RBWM Council area.
It is hoped that stories located locally that reflect contemporary issues and evoke some of the rich history and legends associated with the river Thames will surely resonate with the audience.
The Merry Women of Windsor is a comic update of Shakespeare’s classic play; Runnymede Rebellion is a human drama that examines the meaning and relevance of the personal freedoms enshrined in Magna Carta; and Maidenhead Thicket sees the ghost of highwayman Dick Turpin surprise a Council surveyor.
Other stories in the collection of nine are set in Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Newbridge, Goring-on-Thames and the Uffington White Horse.
Audiobook fans can find Thames Valley Tales on Amazon Audible and Apple iTunes store. It’s also available from Amazon in paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited via this link:
New Audiobook Launched
After eight years and fifteen book titles, I’ve just published my first audiobook. I chose a set of nine short stories under the title Thames Valley Tales, and hired actor Richard James to narrate and produce it. He’s done a fine job, adding in appropriate music and sound effects, and his variation in accents between different characters has really brought the stories to life. Here’s the blurb:
Thames Valley Tales is a light-hearted yet thought-provoking collection of nine stories by Tim Walker. These tales are based on the author’s experience of living in Thames Valley towns, and combine contemporary themes with the rich history and legends associated with an area stretching from the heart of rural England to London.
The collection includes The Goldfish Bowl, in which an unlikely friendship is struck between a pop star and an arms dealer in Goring-on-Thames; Maidenhead Thicket, where the ghost of legendary highwayman, Dick Turpin surprises a Council surveyor; The White Horse intrigue surrounding the dating of the famous chalk carving on the Berkshire Downs; Murder at Henley Regatta, a beguiling whodunit, and The Colnbrook Caper, a pacey crime thriller.
Thames Valley Tales starts with The Grey Lady, a ghost story from the English Civil War, and features The Merry Women of Windsor in a whimsical updating of Shakespeare’s classic play. The Author’s Note explains the context and reasoning behind each story.
Thames Valley Tales oscillates from light-hearted to dark historical and at times humorous stories ideally suited to bedtime or holiday reading that will amuse, delight and, hopefully, inform the reader about the rich history of the Thames Valley as it winds 215 miles from the Gloucestershire countryside, past many towns and villages to London and out to the North Sea.
The book also has a factual chapter and map of the Thames Valley showing the towns through which the 184-mile Thames Path passes. It’s a walk-through history and the natural beauty of England that will inspire and captivate.
Thames Valley Tales, second edition, is available in audiobook, Kindle e-book and paperback from Amazon worldwide, and can also be found on Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon Kindle, paperback, Audible and Kindle Unlimited
Also in Apple iTunes store.
Thames Valley Tales audiobook is narrated and produced by actor, author and playwright Richard James who has been appearing on stage and screen for over thirty years. Most recently, he played a guest role in Miss Scarlet & The Duke for PBS and Alibi Films and was nominated for ‘Best Supporting Performance’ at the Off West End Awards for his roles in A Sherlock Carol at the Marylebone Theatre.
Richard is on Twitter as @RichardNJames
Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. He grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. After attaining a degree in Communication Studies he moved to London where he worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO, he set up his own marketing and publishing business. He returned to the UK in 2009.
His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2014, as a therapeutic activity whilst recovering from cancer treatment. He began writing an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, inspired by a visit to the site of a former Roman town. The series connects the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend and is inspired by historical source material, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries.
Book one is Abandoned (second edition 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017) and Uther’s Destiny (2018). The last two books in the series, Arthur Dux Bellorum (2019) and Arthur Rex Brittonum (2020) cover the life of an imaged historical King Arthur, and are both Coffee Pot Book Club recommended reads.
In 2021 he published a dual timeline historical novel, Guardians at the Wall. This was inspired by visits to Vindolanda and Corbridge at Hadrian’s Wall, and concerns the efforts of archaeologists to uncover evidence and build a narrative of the life of a Roman centurion in second century Britannia… and find his missing payroll chest.
Tim has also written three books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (second edition 2023), Postcards from London (2017) and Perverse (2020); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); and three children’s books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017), Charly & the Superheroes (2018) and Charly in Space (2020).
He plans to re-work some stories in Postcards from London into London Tales, with the addition of new stories, for publication in 2024 in audiobook, Kindle and paperback.
Tim Walker’s Social Media Links:
Goodreads Author Page
Amazon Author Page
Anatomy of an Audiobook
To my mind, an audiobook is half way between a good read and an engaging TV drama or film.
By this I mean a good narrator with appropriate sound effects can bring out the visual qualities of a book in the mind of the listener – painting a picture of a scene, if you will.
In my new audiobook, Thames Valley Tales (March 2023 release) I took advice and read my stories aloud, noting how dialogue between characters sounded and made adjustments. I found my writing style was somewhat formal, and changed a lot of ‘could haves’ to ‘could’ve’ and so on.
I also hired an actor, Richard James, to narrate and produce it, and have marvelled at his ability to bring the various characters to life through use of accents and verbal foibles or signatures, making each one stand out. He also introduced appropriate music at the start of each story in the collection for genre orientation and identified appropriate sound effects.
The net result is to bring my stories to life, lifting them off the page to play out scenes in the mind of the listener in a very visual evocation.
I’m excited. It’s my first audiobook and my tactic of selecting nine stories from a pool of fifteen that I feel have the best visual qualities has paid off. Listen and be amazed.
This collection of nine contemporary tales that resonate with the rich history and legends associated with the flowing heart of England must surely be picked up by a film or TV producer looking for the next big hit!
Here’s the trailer I’ve just posted on YouTube… and watch out for the March launch:
I’ve been busy and, whilst the audio was being recorded, have taken down the first edition of Thames Valley Tales e-book and paperback, replacing them with new second editions. The paperback is currently on discount at £4.99 and the Kindle e-book at £1.99.
Here’s an Amazon universal link: http://mybook.to/ThamesValleyTales
A Cracking Christmas!
It was the worst of times – that dead time between people-focussed governments, when the clocks have swung back to a harsh and mean-minded era. Someone in the food bank queue mumbled, ‘ain’t we s’posed to be one of the World’s richest countries?’ A northerly wind blew snow flurries around numb feet as children forgot the cold to build a snow blob.
Potatoes with pimples, carrots greying at the ends, selection boxes past their sell by date, crackers that don’t crack – their jokes not funny anymore.
His ‘shop’ complete, Bob Cratchit lifted Tiny Tim and held him out to a volunteer. ‘Please let him play here in the warmth for a few hours as I’ve got to get back to work.’
‘This is a food bank, love, not a creche,’ replied a ruddy cheeked matron hardened to the effects of poverty, leaning away from the crooked-limbed child. ‘But here’s a toy for the kid.’ She pushed something into his bag.
Worth a try. Cratchit squinted at the sleet and scooped up his son, holding two carrier bags in the other hand. ‘It’s back to granny for you, Tim.’
‘But her house is cold, Dad!’ the lad squealed.
‘Well, clap your hands and whistle God Save the King like I told you.’
A military ambulance rumbled by and a soldier on patrol eyed him with suspicion. Bob’s minimum wage job barely covered the rent, leaving little for food or heating. The threat of dismissal prompted him to hurry, but as he rounded a corner, he slipped on a patch of ice, child and food sent flying. Cratchit lay on his back, blinking snowflakes from his eyes. He tried to move but couldn’t.
The crying of Tiny Tim attracted the attention of the soldier. ‘You’d better move along, Sir, or I’ll have you interred for vagrancy’.
Cratchit found he couldn’t speak, and could only move his eyes.
The soldier stood over him, looking down the barrel of his rifle. ‘Right, I’m calling for back-up’.
A car slowed, its occupants gawping at the two prone figures guarded by a soldier. Terrorists or Communists. Or perhaps Communist Terrorists? Both words were getting a good workout in the media. The car sped away. Peeling-paint doors remained resolutely closed along the terrace of worker cottages.
After thirty bone-freezing minutes, during which the child’s crying had become a whimper, a riot van arrived and Cratchit and Tiny Tim were bundled into the back. Squashed vegetables and a crushed toy the only evidence they had ever been there.
The van drove to the local team’s football stadium. It had been re-purposed as a Re-Education Centre, run by Chinese guards. The People’s Republic of China had been the successful bidder, having demonstrated relevant experience and eerie enthusiasm.
Cratchit and son were carried on stretchers into the stadium to a medical tent where they were gawped at and prodded by white-coated orderlies.
‘At least we’ll get fed and have a roof over our heads’ Cratchit said to his son.
An elderly man in the bed next to him leaned over and whispered, ‘don’t bet on it. They’re assessing us for ability to work. If you’re no use to ’em they’ll send you to Maggie’s Cabin.’
A startled Cratchit recovered enough muscle power to twist his head slightly. With a croak, his voice returned, ‘What in Hell’s name is Maggie’s Cabin?’
Bloodshot eyes and a pause were unsettling. The old man leant towards him. ‘It’s the away team changing room. Trouble makers, the old, sick and injured are taken there, and no one ever comes out.’
Cratchit gulped and glanced at his son. ‘Well, we’d better do what we can to make the home team, eh son?’ His reassuring grin did little to lift the spirits of the permanently disappointed boy.
Soon after, they were transferred to trollies and wheeled out through a side exit.
‘Be strong and play well!’ the man shouted, earning a slap from an orderly.
A thin veil of snow shrouded the rejects as their trolley wheels squeaked along a rubber mat that led to… the away team changing rooms.
‘In a curious, disconnected way, I’m ready; and it’ll be a release for Tim from his miserable existence.’ All is calm. Cratchit smiled at the upside-down, narrow eyes above him and hummed the tune that was in his head – Silent Night…
Tall Tim awoke from his dream, quickly dressed in the cold room and shuffled to his kitchen. An army truck pulled up in the snow-mush car park and six squaddies in wrong-scenery camouflage gear jumped out, grabbing the communal Christmas tree and shoving it into the truck.
‘There’s something you don’t see every morning,’ Tim muttered as he stroked his cat, Trotsky, to a purr. One of them returned and planted a sign. Tim moved to another window so that he could read it. ‘CHRISTMAS CANCELLED FOR UNIVERSAL CREDIT SCROUNGERS’ it read, in a menacing script, accompanied by the regime’s iron fist logo.
‘Our government, dropping all pretence of human decency, has spoken.’ Trotsky purred his indifference. Tim shuffled to the front door and picked up a leaflet that had been posted overnight.
‘Join the Resistance and let’s reclaim our country from the fascists!‘ the headline bawled.
He sat at his table, sipping tea and spreading marmalade on his toast. ‘Might be worth a look, Trotters, but only after the snow and ice have melted.’
The Human Chameleon
To mark the latest low in British politics, I intend to re-watch Woody Allen’s charming 1983 mockumentary film, Zelig.
Britain’s version of Zelig is our new Grime Minister, Liz Truss, a faithless human chameleon who has shape shifted from pseudo-liberal anti-Monarchist to head of a ruthless right wing crime organisation in a seamless slither of clawing ambition.
She has wasted little time in surrounding herself with her mates in a Cabinet of dangerous sub-fascist narcissists who are fully aware of their mission. First order of business: the interests of the energy companies who fund their party, and other beneficiaries of privatisation, must be protected at all costs. Posting record profits whilst quadrupling bills deserves high-fives around the table. Item two: a party to celebrate their good fortune, with toasts and rousing cheers to mock the little people whose growing poverty is a major marker of their policy success. Hurrah! 🍻
Zelig is a 1983 American mockumentary film written and directed by Woody Allen and starring Allen and Mia Farrow. Allen plays Leonard Zelig, a nondescript enigma, who, apparently out of his desire to fit in and be liked, unwittingly takes on the characteristics of strong personalities around him. The film, presented as a documentary, recounts his period of intense celebrity in the 1920s, including analyses by contemporary intellectuals.
The film was well received by critics and was nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Costume Design.
Dribble Drabble #04
Billy picked up the letter and kicked the door shut. He edged along the left side of the worn carpet to avoid a creaking floorboard. “Grandad!”
“In here son.”
“There’s a letter.” He handed over the brown envelope and dropped to his knees, stroking the cat to a purr.
The old man’s rheumy eyes read the contents, then searched the peeling wallpaper for meaning.
Billy read the bold header in his grandad’s lap, slowly enunciating the first three syllables. “‘Eve-ick-shun’. What does it mean?”
The old man smiled. “Do you think your mum’s offer of the spare room still stands?”
Dribble Drabble #03
Arthur transitioned seamlessly from the dull and dusty world of accounts to the quiet of home retirement. Prudence the cat purred her approval, but Maggie was determined to fill his time with trivial domestic tasks that had until then remained happily undone.
“Enter a competition,” she had suggested, and so he did.
That was weeks ago, and now he marched steadily behind his Jaguar XV-5 mower. His inch-perfect lines and symmetrical shading would surely deliver the winning points.
Mopping his brow at the finish, Arthur glanced back; then froze at the sight of a solitary blade, waving his defeat.
Dribble Drabble #02
“Did the Roman Empire fall because of the selfishness and cruelty of a male European elite who lost the support of the masses?”
His eagle’s stare swept over the downturned eyes before him. No one ventured an answer.
“If the glass towers of capitalism are the modern equivalent of temples and victory arches, is history doomed to repeat itself?”
The door to the auditorium opened and a female figure stood in a shaft of light. “Professor White? I’m Lydia Hardy, your new Head of Department. Meet me in my office after this class for a long overdue staff and syllabus review.”
A drabble is a very short story, of up to 100 words.