A studio to call my own
It's been 18 months since I left the hallowed but often shadowy world of the BBC, and set up Hobeck Books with my partner Rebecca. It's not a decision I have regretted for a moment, although I do miss some of the buzz of live broadcasting and that frisson I felt when I sat in front of a microphone ready to broadcast.
That sensation has in large part been replicated through my audiobook narration, and also our weekly podcast, The Hobcast Book Show, which after 35 episodes so far has established itself as one of the go to podcasts on independent publishing in the UK.
However, there's been one key frustration for me - a purely technical one - the lack of a fully sound-proofed studio. For the past three years I've had to find pockets of time when the house was quiet, the neighbouring builders on a tea-break, and the cat asleep on the bed for me to record my audiobooks. During lockdown, I had the added issue of three boys off school and clattering around the house. As you can imagine, the challenge has been immense, and there have been times when I've resorted to recording at 0300 in the search for sufficient quiet.
All that has changed with the installation of my new bespoke studio, built by the brilliant team at Kube in Ripon, North Yorkshire. Eight weeks from design and commissioning, their team arrived to install the booth in our living room at "Hobeck Towers". It's a thing of wonder: solidly built, with great sound-proofing, and a silent fan to keep the air fresh and the environment cool.
Put simply, this is the fulfillment of a dream I've held since I narrated my first audiobook, a biography of the former England rugby head coach, Clive Woodward. I can now work without interruption. There's no more swearing at the cat, or kicking the boys off the X Box, or moaning when the washing machine hits the spin cycle. I have a perfect environment to perform in, and as a result my audio productivity is off the previously laggardly scale. I'm juggling several audiobook projects at once. There's something refreshing about moving from recording one novel set in Cambridge to another set on the mean streets of Liverpool, and then recording a romance too.
This has been a big investment for us at Hobeck Books, but we're sure the new studio will be an asset that will quickly provide a return on that investment. Audio is a key area of our growth, and strengthens our offer to potential authors too. Speaking personally, it's also gratifying that 18 months after leaving the studios of the BBC, I now have one of my own to match the technical standards they instilled in me.