Author: Alec Birri

Narrator: Jonathan Keeble

Length: 6 hours 32 minutes

Publisher: Essential Music Limited⎮2018

Genre: Medical Thriller

Series: The Condition Trilogy, Book 1

Release date: Jan. 17, 2018

The first in a dystopian trilogy based on the author’s command of a top secret government unit.
What if all brain disorders were treatable? Few would lament the passing of dementia or autism, but what if the twisted mind of a sex offender or murderer could be cured too? Or how about a terrorist or maybe a political extremist? What if we could all be “corrected”?
It’s 1966, and RAF pilot Dan Stewart awakes from a coma following an aircraft accident into a world where nothing seems to make sense anymore. Not being able to recall the crash might be expected, but what about the rest of his life? And what’s stopping him from taking his medication? Is it brain damage that’s causing paranoia about the red pill, or is Dan right to think something sinister is going on?
His horrific injuries don’t make any sense either – a post-crash fire caused him to suffer almost 100% burns. How is it even possible to survive that? Are the hallucinations and strange dreams trying to tell him something? They are, and he’ll soon find out what, but not before his doctor’s sure the shock won’t kill him.

Alec Birri served thirty years with the UK Armed Forces. He commanded an operational unit that experimented in new military capabilities classified at the highest level (Top Secret Strap 3) and it is this that forms the basis of his novels. Although semi-autobiographical, for national security and personal liberty reasons, the events and individuals portrayed have to be fiction but are still nonetheless in keeping with his experiences.

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Narrator Bio

If you regularly enjoy listening to audiobooks then this Shakespearean actor will need no introduction. Winner of a 2016 SOVAS award, Jonathan’s voice is rightly recognized as being one of the best, and his narration of The Condition Trilogy is no exception.

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First off I want to say that this is a really interesting story. It’s confusing as fuck, but it’s really interesting. There are a lot of twists and mind games going on within this story. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is going on. Dan isn’t a really likable character and you feel skeeved out by the nurse and doctors here. Birri has written a story that just gives you one question after another and little answers to these questions. If you don’t like that type of novel I don’t recommend listening or reading this. It’s extremely suspenseful and you’re constantly asking yourself, why? I will say that while I did like this suspense throughout the novel I do wish it could have been more clear in certain areas. Sometimes I got too frustrated with the unknown and that’s why I think that even though it’s very well written and keeps you on the hook the whole way for me it’s only a 4/5.

Keeble has a really nice voice. He does well with both male and female characters. Which can be hard as a male narrator. I liked how he voiced everyone and the tones that he gave to each character. There’s not really anything about his performance that was lacking and the audio quality seems excellent as well. I give his part a 5/5!

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Alec Birri. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Q&A with Author Alec Birri
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • Painful! Just who do these producers/narrators think they are? How dare they suggest changes to my writing to make it ‘sound’ better. The very cheek of it! Don’t they realise the agonies we authors have to go through when giving birth to our creations? Now I know why directors/actors get more kudos than screenwriters – the best elevate everything they touch.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • Don’t laugh, but as artificial intelligence features in my novels, I originally planned on using a virtual assistant like Amazon’s Alexa. It (she?) could do the job, but the staccato style soon irritated. I then moved on to a human ‘enhanced’ by AI – just as annoying. Essential Music got wind of what I was trying to do and brought me to my senses. AI is getting better, though – are robots on the verge of taking over more than just factory jobs? Listen to The Final Correction to find out!
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • I gave Jonathan a summary of the main characters and their traits i.e. male/female, age, personality type, general character arc, etc. but left it up to him as to how that should be interpreted. The trilogy starts in London, but moves on to the US, Argentina, Italy, Germany and even the Middle East – a lot of accents, so I asked him not to bother. To my amazement, he not only slipped into each like a native, but in a chapter featuring four Argentinians, used four separate Spanish accents!
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Yes – me! I’m the first to acknowledge thirty years in the military has affected me psychologically, and to the point where I feel compelled to commit my experiences to paper (albeit through science fiction). I write for cathartic reasons.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Yes – me! I’m the first to acknowledge thirty years in the military has affected me psychologically, and to the point where I feel compelled to commit my experiences to paper (albeit through science fiction). I write for cathartic reasons.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • Not in any one particular part – Jonathan’s narration lifts the work overall in my opinion, and to a whole new level. I’ve not had much respect for actors in the past (too many prima-donnas in my limited experience!) but I now realise what critics mean when they say an actor ‘owns’ a part, and Jonathan does that with each and every one of the trilogy’s characters. Simply superb.
  • In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of writing a stand-alone novel vs. writing a series?
    • I think a series works better than a stand-alone when it comes to the business side of things, as the first can be given away, but that’s not how Condition started out – when it became too big for one novel I split it into two and then, as the words mounted, three books. I’m 25k into my current work, and have no idea if the word count will end up being 40k or even 400k. I write the story and stop when it’s told.
  • Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks?
    • Unless you’ve been praised for your ‘easy listening’ vocals, forget DIY – anything other than a smooth experience for the listener will spell disaster, no matter how good the writing. Be prepared to get your wallet/purse out – the dulcet tones of a professional actor are well worth the cost.
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • Seek out danger. Nothing like a near-death experience for freeing the imagination! Seriously though, get out of your comfort zone. There’s a good reason why the likes of Frederick Forsyth have visited war zones or risked crossing deserts just as hostile. No money to do that? Then hang out with your local ambulance crews, paramedics, police and get the experience second-hand. Anything that brings you into contact with the uncomfortable.
  • What’s next for you?
    • Alt Truths will be out later in the year. Another dystopian novel, but where ‘fake news’ has become so prevalent, democracy is on the brink of collapse (tell us something we don’t know, I hear you say). To combat this, every news agency and social media company is legally obliged to accept an independent ‘moderator’ – a United Nations policeman whose sole purpose is to counter the organisation’s output with opposing viewpoints. Not to get to the truth, but to ensure everyone has access to a different ‘opinion’. Needless to say, that doesn’t go down well, and when one of UNPOL’s officers discovers he’s being used to cover up a genocide…

Top 10 List

Ten things I’d rather my readers didn’t know about me by Alec Birri
  1. I write in my downstairs toilet. No windows, no distractions – perfect for concentrating the mind. The location is convenient for other things too.
  2. I rise at 7am each day and start writing immediately. Well, almost immediately. Seriously – everything else comes after I’ve written at least a thousand words and that can be as late as 5pm.
  3. Which means by around 6pm I’m ready to face the world. My writing habits may seem strange to some, but a wide and varied social life compensates – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it.
  4. Not that I’m not a complete hermit. I have been outside my flat – once. As a writer of ‘end of world’ dystopias, I felt obligated to make sure it was still there. Sadly, pain between the eyes caused by a big bright yellow thing in the sky forced me back inside, so I still don’t know. Typical.
  5. I did catch a glimpse of a dog. Maybe pets have taken over the world? Grateful if someone could tell me.
  6. On second thoughts, don’t. Writing or tweeting about people is one thing, but engaging with them directly? I’m not sure about that. One never knows where it might lead. Something called ‘normal behaviour’ apparently. Now there’s a title for a dystopian novel if ever I saw one.
  7. And while we’re on the subject, I don’t do ‘happiness’ either – that’s the last thing someone needs to read in a dystopian novel and anyway, there’s far too much of it going around the real world in my opinion. Nothing better than a good moan. Grumpy Cat is my hero!
  8. Don’t get me wrong – I can let my hair down if I want to. Way past eight o’clock by the time I got to bed the other night.
  9. Of course, by “bed” I mean my downstairs toilet.
  10. So, there you have it. Ten things about me I’d rather you didn’t know. What? Only nine? Okay – I’ve been told my sense of humour is best described as ‘weird’.

Giveaway

The Condition Trilogy Giveaway: $100 Amazon Gift Card

Book One

Mar. 6th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Mar. 7th:

Hall Ways Blog

Mar. 8th:

AudioSpy

Mar. 9th:

The Writing Train

eBook Addicts

Mar. 10th:

Lomeraniel

Blätterflüstern

Mar. 11th:

Bound 4 Escape

Buried Under Books

Mar. 12th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Bookworms Corner Blog Spot

Carolyn M. Walker, Fiction Author

Book Two

Mar. 13th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Mar. 14th:

AudioSpy

Mar. 15th:

The Writing Train

Blätterflüstern

Mar. 16th:

Lomeraniel

Mar. 17th:

Hall Ways Blog

Mar. 18th:

Bound 4 Escape

Jazzy Book Reviews

Mar. 19th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Buried Under Books

Bookworms Corner Blog Spot

eBook Addicts

Carolyn M. Walker, Fiction Author

Book Three

Mar. 20th:

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Mar. 21st:

Blätterflüstern

Mar. 22nd:

Hall Ways Blog

Mar. 23rd:

Lomeraniel

Mar. 24th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Carolyn M. Walker, Fiction Author

Mar. 25th:

Bound 4 Escape

Buried Under Books

Mar. 26th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Bookworms Corner Blog Spot

eBook Addicts

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