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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.

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