Blackout – an interview with Liam Gerrard

16th November 2016

Maxine Lennon chatted to Essential Audiobooks narrator, Liam Gerrard, about his new release, Blackout, a gripping young adult novel by Sam Grenfall.

“I enjoyed narrating Blackout. It’s intense, and energetic – there are no languishing moments; there’s always something going on, but it’s never confusing. You know who everybody is and have a clear sense of the world they’re in.

Teenagers are going to love Blackout’s grittiness and suspense. The author, Sam Grenfall’s ability to build tension, such as when the main character, Sebastian, is in the young offenders’ institute, is fantastic. The other lads gang up on him, and it all comes to a head with a fight, but the scariest part is the build up. It’s always when anger and aggression are contained – that pressure cooker feeling – that it’s most on edge, most scary… Grenfall does that really well.

“It’s suitably dangerous and tense, but at the same time, it’s a story of freedom and escape…”

Liam Gerrard

Liam Gerrard

Sure, it might be bursting with action, but there’s also a very human side to the book. You learn a lot about Sebastian, the protagonist – Grenfall takes the story from a typical macro ‘action’ level, to micro level – it becomes more about Sebastian’s story, his interactions with the other characters and his violent, often scary environment. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect from a young adult novel filled with drugs and crime. Even the main antagonist of the story is surprising. It would have been so easy to make him a two-dimensional ‘baddie’, but that’s boring, isn’t it? He had to be more interesting, more human. He had to have a soft side. I felt the bad guy needed to be likeable in order to be convincing, so I had to use my voice to create layers for a more complex, real character.

Grenfall wrote the book for his teenaged sons and it totally works for young adult readers. When I was growing up, I never found books aimed at 16 year olds – it’s a difficult market to reach, but Blackout does it brilliantly. It’s suitably dangerous and tense, but at the same time, it’s a story of freedom and escape, and more than anything else, it’s a story about somebody with a heart searching for themselves. There’s word of Sam Grenfall doing two more books – I think a Sebastian Cleary trilogy would be great!”

Liam Gerrard is a professional voice artist, audiobook narrator and actor. Blackout is the first young adult novel he has narrated, and his first collaboration with Essential Audiobooks (the first of many, we hope!)

Blackout is available to download, or buy as a deluxe CD now.

Written by Bryony Robertson

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