Category Archives: Narrator Corner

A Q&A with Steve Matchett

Many of you know Steve Matchett the Grand Prix mechanic, T.V. Broadcaster and writer. With the release of his new audiobook, The Mechanic’s Tale, we wanted to take a closer look at Matchett the narrator.

Tantor: Can you tell us the challenges of transitioning from being an F1 mechanic to being a writer, and later, a broadcaster?

Matchett: In both broadcasting and nonfiction writing, the biggest challenge is finding a way to explain a complex issue in a way that will appeal to a wide audience. Not all motor racing enthusiasts are engineers – but all are interested in learning more of the technology, learning more of race strategy et al. Orwell’s lesson is invaluable with this: share your knowledge with your audience, never preach to your audience.

Tantor: Did you always know that you wanted to put your books on audio? What was it like listening to it for the first time?

Matchett: The publishing landscape is changing by the day. Audiobooks are the future of publishing. No question about that. Personally, I’m keen to narrate my own works because my readership is already familiar with my voice from my twenty years of television broadcasting. It seems only natural for that same audience to hear my books narrated in that same voice.

Tantor: Tell us about narrating your own books. Has it been the experience you thought it would be?

Matchett: A very pleasant experience. The main difference twixt television announcing and book narration is one of pacing – audiobook narration allows me to tell the story without any time constraints. Typically, a television feature lasts no more than four minutes. The Mechanic’s Tale audiobook runs for thirteen hours. The pacing of the delivery, the cadence, the rhythms of audiobook narration are entirely different.

Tantor: How did you prep for a day in the booth?

Matchett: I removed my shoes.

Tantor: What would you say is the best part of narrating your own book?

Matchett: No one knows an author’s intent like the author. The memories of the episodes are all firsthand; the emotions revealed in the voice are, therefore, all perfectly genuine. An audience senses this; will always sense this.

Tantor: What do you love about audiobooks?

Matchett: A good audiobook narration envelopes the listener, the whole story, every nuance takes on an intimacy. The voice of the narrator, the inflection and cadence of the voice carries the story along – there is no need to reread a line of printed text to understand the author’s intent – the narration does that automatically, and so the story effortlessly carries itself along from chapter to chapter.

Tantor: What can we expect to see or hear from you in the future?

Matchett: I’ve just published my latest work, These Desired Things, a collection of short stories. The book has been very well received, and this title will be my next audiobook project.

Tantor: When you are not writing or recording your own books, what are your go-to genres and favorite authors?

Matchett: I’m a fan or Orwell, and a Hemingway enthusiast.

Tantor: What book could you read over and over and why?

Matchett:  Nineteen Eight-Four – Orwell. This book introduced me to literature, enthralled by it from the first time I read it in high school. Forty years later I still find time to read it once, twice a year. Entirely gripping. Especially the sections on Newspeak, where Orwell describes a dystopian world where information is constantly being stripped from the English language, making the populace less able to express themselves. Lamentably, I see and hear examples of just this every single day. Over and over, the tragic themes of this unendingly pessimistic novel have proved truly prophetic.


Listen to the audiobook today: 

Interview & Giveaway with the Narrator of the Aegis of Merlin Series, Joe Hempel


With the upcoming release of The Chimera Jar, book 3 in the Aegis of Merlin series written by James E. Wisher, we wanted to get to know its narrator, Joe Hempel. How did he prepare for the role beginning with book one, The Impossible Wizard?

What was it about the book that originally peaked your interest?

The Impossible Wizard and the entire Aegis of Merlin series peaked my interest due to its genre.  I love Urban Fantasy and this seemed to be just a bit different to not be pigeonholed into a typical Urban Fantasy standard. You still had the young sarcastic hero, but it seemed to have a bit of a darker edge surrounding what might be considered typical YA Urban Fantasy fare. That was my initial impression anyway, and I think I was right on that.

How do you prep before recording? Do you research the book/series or just dive in?

I prep the books just simply by reading them to get a feel for the story, how characters develop and also to mark any special character accents.  You don’t want to go in cold and find out on page 200 that your main character had an accent all along!  When it’s a series, and I know I’m doing more than the first book or so, I try to look at the descriptions of the other books in the series to see what’s being set up and see where the “overall” story arc is going.

How do you get into character and create character voices?

When getting into a character I tend not to just go “oh this character voice will work great”.  I don’t tend to think in those terms.  How does the character act, what could the speech patterns be like? Those are more of what I look for.  I mean, if it’s written in the text the guy has a deep foreboding voice, I don’t make him have a soprano voice, that wouldn’t work, but for the most part, I try to only slightly differentiate and “cast” the book based on how they are presented in the titles.

Is there a character that you enjoyed most in the book?

I think I enjoy, oddly enough, Lin Chang, one of the secondary characters, that actually has a bigger part in this particular book than the main character.  I relate a bit more to him I think.  He’s the guy that has zero magical ability that has to work side by side with women who DO and has to figure out how he can contribute, because he, for the first time really has nothing to offer.  So he’s trying to make himself useful in pretty much any way he possibly can.  This comes more into play as you move into books 2 and 3.

What can people look forward to in book one of the series?

I think the first thing people should know is that this book actually doesn’t take place around the main character of the series Conryu.  Most of it revolves around Lin Chang and his partner Terra.  Once the story is set up and you find out that Conryu Koda is the first male to have magical ability, everything hits the fan and people who don’t like that are out to kill him, so it follows them in trying to protect him.  You will find out more about Conryu though as the series goes on.

Describe this book [Impossible Wizard] in three words to prospective readers?

Fast, Fun, Sarcastic

How did you get started in narration/know you wanted to narrate?

Before I started, I was a book reviewer, I read and listened voraciously.  Having friends in the podcasting industry, doing podcast novels I always wanted to give this a shot.  It wasn’t until I wrote a review for an audiobook in an unfavorable light, and then got a response from the editor or author or narrator (I don’t really remember), that said “Well if you think you can do better, then you do it”,” that I decided to take the plunge.  I found that it suited me. I really enjoyed it.  And for the next 18 months, I threw myself into the work, getting coaching, going to workshops, getting into the author communities and making connections, etc.  And now, another 18 months later and this is my full-time job and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  I get to work with so many wonderful people and great authors. I get to go not be myself for hours on end.  It’s an acting job, and it’s still kind of a marvel that I can do this for a living, I’m very grateful.

Do you only narrate books that you personally like or have read?

When I started out I would only do books that I liked. I mean, if I was going to do this part time I wanted to “enjoy” the books that I got.  As I moved into my career, I do take books that might not be as entertaining or books that I “personally” don’t connect with, because this is a job.  At the end of the day, you have to use your acting ability to connect with those moments that maybe you personally don’t agree with.  That’s okay!  To be 100% honest though, I haven’t done a book that I haven’t liked by the time I started in the booth and recording.  There is always “something” to connect to, and I think that only helps the listener connect to the material.


And with the release of Book three, we want to give 2 winners a digital copy of book 1 and one grand-0prize winner will receive a digital copy of books 1, 2 and 3.

Send an email to with the word “Wizard” in the subject line. Last day for entries is Friday, March 2nd.

Congratulations to our grand-prize winner Rich Miller, and our book one winner’s Mandy LaMountain and Zib!

10 Tips for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

From a Narrator Who Has Made It through Several.
By Graham Halstead

In no particular order…

  • Find your crew. All good zombie apocalypse survivors have a close-knit crew of two or three battle-hardened companions they can rely on. Find yours and keep them close.
  • Kill it. Kill it dead. In the zombie apocalypse, remember the classic mistake of the supervillain vs. the hero: This is no time for monologuing, taunting, or otherwise carrying on. If you have a kill shot—take it.
  • Secure your homestead. Whether it’s a string fence with cans tied on to make noise, a barbed wire and chain link affair, or even shipping containers laid end to end—make safe the castle. Everyone needs a home base and its security can make or break your struggling community.
  • Don’t trust strangers. Only the living can help you in the fight against the undead hordes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also be your undoing. Never let your guard down, trust your instincts, and keep your weapons handy.
  • There’s always a zombie. You’re exploring a new area for your blossoming community to inhabit; you’re scavenging a warehouse for food and supplies; you’re looking through the library for that last Hunger Games book you never got to read: guess what? There’s always a zombie. Don’t ever think just because it’s quiet, that you may have found the one place that lucked out and missed the zombie takeover. Trust me, you didn’t. Also, look behind you.
  • Never forget what makes us human. Just because it’s the zombie apocalypse and it seems like The Purge may finally be here, never forget your human decency and decorum. It’s what separates us from them, and in the end, acting humanely will go a long way to helping convince your fellow survivors that you too belong in the brave new world you’re fighting to create.
  • Don’t lose your head. You may think this goes without saying, but many a survivor can lose their cool at the most inopportune moment. Yes, it’s the end of the world. Yes, things do not look great. But by golly, you ARE somebody darn it, and you can do it. Keep your calm and use your noggin. It’s the best weapon you have against the brainless.
  • Lighten up. Yeah, okay. Killing zombies all day can get pretty depressing. But life’s short these days, and you might as well make the most of it. Kick back once in awhile and try to blow off some steam. You know what they say: all zombie-killing and no play makes Jack a dull boy…
  • Know thy zombie. Zombies come in all shapes and sizes, speeds and threat levels. Learn how to handle walkers, runners, crawlers, and more, and you’ll be more than prepared for whatever the end of the world has in store.
  • Keep your gun close, and your stabbing tool of choice closer. Guns are a great tool for putting down the undead, but most situations are helped by a little stealth and strategy. Guns are loud and will draw the attention of the dead—and the living.  Plus there’s only so many bullets out there and this ain’t your grandma’s action/adventure film. Keep a knife or pick somewhere close at hand. Heck, get creative! Use a screwdriver or a sharpened stick to get the job done.

Continue reading 10 Tips for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

An Interview with Narrator Karen White

By the fans of Ellery Adams

Writing All Wrongs Cover
Writing All Wrongs. Audiobook available now!

Last week we brought you an exclusive interview between narrator Karen White and author Ellery Adams. This week we bring you a twist on the interview with the fans of Ellery Adams asking Karen White some questions!

Ellery did a Facebook post asking her fans for questions about audiobooks.  Several people asked similar questions, so we grouped those together in the post.

Laura, Terry and Donna all had questions about how Karen got started as an audiobook narrator:
When and how did you decide that narration work would be something you wanted to do? How did you get started?
Do you consider yourself to be a performer or actor and did you “plan” to be a narrator? I think this interview will be fun!
How did you get into this business?

Continue reading An Interview with Narrator Karen White

Ellery Adams and Karen White Discuss the Books by the Bay Mystery series


By Karen White

Karen White, narrator of Ellery Adams Books by the Bay series, recently had a few questions for the author. Read on to find out some interesting facts about the author, her processes, the series, and even her take on audiobooks!

Author Ellery Adams
Author Ellery Adams

Dixie! What a character!  Is she completely sprung from your imagination or was there a human inspiration?  You describe her movements so clearly it makes me feel like you must have seen someone of her stature skate around inside a diner somewhere!  (And I was kind of sad she was not around for most of this book – though I made her voice a little bit difficult to do, so I was also kind of relieved.)

Dixie is totally fictitious (though there are times she seems so real to me that I can imagine her skating around my kitchen). I was a big fan of the movie Xanadu when I was a kid and later, of the play, Starlight Express. Dixie brings all the flair and color of those stories—and on roller skates!

You mix some real life events into these books. For instance (p.11) a crewman on the ferry to Palmetto Island tells Olivia about the lady that was killed in a boating accident at the Quarantine Pad. I remember when this happened a couple years ago, since I live quite close by.  How do news events like this work their way into your stories? And might there be some shark attacks coming in future books since they were the big news in coastal NC this past summer?!

Continue reading Ellery Adams and Karen White Discuss the Books by the Bay Mystery series

Interview with Narrator C.S.E. Cooney

By Sarah Barning

I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing C.S.E. Cooney. Ms. Cooney is an in house narrator at Tantor and her smile and personality lights up the place. It is always a great day when she is here recording. She is very talented, and I am thrilled to share her interview with everyone.

Narrator Photo
C.S.E Cooney

How did you get into narrating?

This is a question that people have been asking since I landed my job at Tantor back in April! I find it tricky, because there is no short answer. Some of it was luck: right place, right time, right email address. But to get to that time and place and email address, I spent two years stopping everyone I met who had any connection whatsoever with the audiobook industry to say, “I want to do this; how do I do this?” Some of it is my BA in Fiction Writing with an Acting minor from Columbia College Chicago (a peculiar combination of education that makes this job peculiarly ideal). I began by narrating for such short-form fantasy podcasts such as Uncanny Magazine, Podcastle, Tales to Terrify, and Goblin Fruit.

Mostly though, after looking into a job as a proofer for Tantor, I heard from a friend—at the time employed in that same position—that the company was also looking for narrators. I sent in an email with an audition reel, made an appointment to audition, and landed a trial run with two cozy mysteries (later mentioned). After that, I got a 13-week contract, and found myself booked through the summer and early fall doing the Best Job Ever. It was the most glorious, double lightning strike of luck and work.

What was your favorite audiobook to narrate?

Well… I think that’s a toss-up between Combat Ready Kitchen and Tales from the Back Row. This surprised even me, for I read and write fiction primarily, and these were two of only three non-fiction books I narrated. I felt like I was learning loads of interesting things in the process—not just about narrating, but about cheese bacteria, and New York City Fashion week—and on a very basic sentence level, I found the sentences conversational and cathedral-like. Sometimes in fiction a sentence can get very basic, making way for a forward-driven plot, snappy dialogue, and colorful characters. With these two memoirs/histories, the focus was on conveying new and often useful information with clarity and beauty and wit; I found it extraordinary.

Continue reading Interview with Narrator C.S.E. Cooney

Full Circle: The Story Behind My Narration of Divorce Poison

By Daniel Penz

There are a few, precious times in one’s life when one can give back, specifically, to one who has done… much for… uh… one….

Narrator Photo
Narrator Daniel Penz

Oh heck… That’s way too many ‘one’s.

But now is… ummm… one… of those times.

Back when I was going through some of the most difficult times of my adolescence, my father (with the wrong kind of PhD to help him really understand his kids) reached out to the RIGHT kind of PhD, one with the sort of training who COULD help me figure out my path.

That man was Dr. Richard A. Warshak, and it’s no great stretch of the imagination to say he probably saved my life. (No, I was never THAT bad, but there were times…)

Continue reading Full Circle: The Story Behind My Narration of Divorce Poison