John Gordon Sinclair discusses literary ambitions at RNIB Scotland event

Scots actor and author John Gordon Sinclair will discuss his latest novel, a crime thriller set in Glasgow, at a special event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Sunday.

His new novel, ‘Blood Whispers’, is the latest book to be transcribed into audio by national sight loss charity RNIB.

The story concerns Keira Lynch, a tough female lawyer whose efforts to protect a prostitute client from a Serbian gangster enmeshes them both in a plot with global repercussions.

The 52 year-old actor - famous for roles in films such as ‘World War Z’, ‘That Sinking Feeling’ and ‘Gregory’s Girl’ - will be interviewed live on stage about his literary ambitions by Robert Kirkwood of the charity’s Insight Radio station.

Mr Sinclair has welcomed the transcription of his book. “I am delighted that my new novel is available in audio as well as print,” he said. “I think everyone should be able to read the literature they want, and I very much support RNIB’s campaign to increase the number of books available in formats such as audio and braille.”

Ken Reid, chair of RNIB Scotland who lost his sight in his twenties, will tell the invited audience that while the Edinburgh International Book Festival celebrates the sheer joy of reading, the choice for readers with sight loss still remains limited.

“Advances in technology are making it easier and cheaper for published works to become more accessible to people with sight loss. Accessible e.books can be read on tablets, e.readers and mobile phones, by adjusting font size, and using electronic braille or synthetic voice. And downloadable audio books have brought a welcome increase in unabridged audio books.

“But not everyone can benefit from such technological advances, and not all books are accessible this way,” he will say. “We want to show there is a demand for more books for people with sight loss, and that authors like John want their work to be available to all.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky to have had writers like James Kelman, Janice Galloway, Julia Donaldson and AL Kennedy take part in the past, and for the tremendous support and enthusiasm we’ve had from the Book Festival organisers,” said Mr Reid. “They’ve even invited us to produce braille and audio versions of the Book Festival programme for them each year.”

Among those invited to this evening’s event will be readers who are blind or partially sighted along with guests from the Scottish literary and publishing world.

Daryl Chapman, studio manager for RNIB will also discuss the work of their Talking Book studios, and their efforts to get more books to more people.

“Everyone in the book supply chain has a role to play in making books accessible for people who can’t read standard print,” he said. “There are over two million people across the UK with a significant sight problem and often for them reading is an absolute lifeline, a way of combating isolation and keeping in touch with the outside world.

“We are always delighted to hear from publishers who would like to work with us. Leading publishers use our Talking Book studios for some of their own audio books, and receive a discounted rate if they donate a copy of the recording to our library. We have a track record of working in partnership.” 

Across the UK, RNIB’s own Talking Books library of 21,000 titles has a readership of over 40,000 subscribers.  Last year, it issued 1.53 million books to them.  It takes two to three weeks to record a Talking Book and costs on average £2,500.