Between The Sheets With Tanya Eby
Romance Narrators: MAN HANDS, the hilarious book you co-narrated with Sarina Bowen, just received an Earphones Award! Congrats! What was the process of co-writing this book like for you?
This was my first time co-writing! And, man, what a cool experience. I had about 75 pages of a book written and I just hit The Wall. The big Wall. Bigger than the one in Game of Thrones, and with more ice. Sheesh.
Sarina Bowen and I had worked together on a couple of audiobooks and she had once given me a piece of advice that my romcoms were hysterical but they needed more sexytimes. So last spring, in a fit of, Oh-screw-it, I called her up and asked her if she’d co-write MAN HANDS with me. She didn’t say no. I think she said, “Hmm. Send it to me and I’ll think about it.” THEN she said yes.
Working with her has helped me give up a little control and really listen to other ideas. And the process has made me a better writer. As an added benefit, it’s really nice to write a series that is making people laugh, and with more sexy time scenes to titillate too. We take turns writing and tweak each other’s sections, and plot everything out beforehand. It’s a really fun process.
(Also, people should check out the audio of MAN CARD too.)
Romance Narrators: You seem to be a bit of a foodie. That an accurate assessment? Not only do you grace social media with the tasty treats you are whipping up (meringues! clown cakes?!), but the foodie influence colors your work as a writer: Brynn in MAN HANDSis a food blogger, you have books titled FOODIES RUSH INand PEPPER WELLINGTON AND THE CASE OF THE MISSING SAUSAGE. Go on, make us salivate and give us the scoop.
Ha! You noticed! I am definitely a foodie. I find cooking to be really relaxing, and food to be kind of magical. Maybe too magical. I really need to, ehm, trim the old waistline.
I was sort of raised on casseroles and frozen dinners. I’m from the Midwest so maybe that’s why. Also, my family didn’t have a lot of money so there was a lot of Hamburger Helper or hot dogs or whatever was cheap and would make a lot of food. Chipped beef over toast was one of my favorites. My special treat was a Banquet Chicken Dinner with Mashed Potatoes, Corn and a Brownie.
When I got to college, I tried sour dough bread for the first time. I was actually angry at my roommate because why would she have me eat something that was sour, on purpose? But that was just because my palate was freaking out over the flavor. Then I started waitressing and we’d have food tasting and wine classes…and suddenly my palate started getting used to the taste of fresh foods, and a whole world unfurled before me. I’m a self-taught cook, but I can now make pasta from scratch, bread, I had a dip blog for a while, I’m obsessed with the Instant Pot and soups in general, and my love of food has definitely become part of my worldview and writing.
Every once in a while I get to narrate a foodie book, and it’s like all my worlds collide. AN AMERICAN PLATE by Libby H. O’Connell is an example of that…and it won an Earphones!
Romance Narrators: You have narrated well over 600 audiobooks. Good lord, that’s a lot of books.! Can we have an exact total? When did you start? Do you ever leave the booth, woman?
I never leave the booth. NNNEVVVVVER. Ha! No, that’s not true. I’ve just been doing this for a long time. Over ten years now. Maybe fifteen? I started with just a book here and there and went full time about six years ago.
The exact count is tricky. Some of my earlier titles have disappeared since audio rights expire after about 7 years. But looking on Audible today, if you add Tatiana Sokolov titles with Tanya Eby titles…there are 647. I’m tremendously proud of that.
As an added bonus, with all those hours of recording, I’m sure someone could create a whole Robot Tanya using all the words I’ve said. And I love Robot Tanya. She’s zany.
Romance Narrators: Alright someone create Robot Tanya stat! Talk to us about your collaboration with Author Susan Mallery. You’ve narrated over 40 of her books and counting. Do you feel like you live inside her brain at this point?
I love her so much! I was cast to narrate a book that was a new series called Fool’s Gold. Every year she’d publish about 6 titles and I was lucky enough that she liked my work, so they kept casting me. Her books are funny, warm, and a little sexy. One of the things I love about them, besides the romance, is the importance of friendship. I just love that. I’ve read enough of her work now that it’s like chatting with a good friend. Sometimes when you narrate, you can get tripped up a lot until you learn the rhythm of that writer’s work. With Susan’s books, I never had that feeling. It just flows for me. An instant click. Her writing is very natural, and I can just slip inside it. It’s lovely.
Romance Narrators: You are one of the driving energies behind RomanceNarrators.com. What inspired you to round up this crew of sweet talkers to join forces?
Narrating can be really lonely. Andi Arndt had invited me to attend RT with her so we could reach out to authors and let them know about audiobooks. Then we invited other narrators to join us. Romance Narrators grew out of that. It just seemed to make sense to have a team to promote each other and also a site where authors could find narrators that specialize in romance and erotica.
So I just decided to do it. I tend to do that a lot now. I stopped asking for permission, or begging to be invited to things. If there’s something I want to happen, I do what I can to make it so. (I learned to “Make It So” from Star Trek. Thank you Captain Picard.)
Amy Landon helped me set up the site and we cast a crew of talented narrators who are supportive of each other, know the industry, and help each other find work. Narrating can be a bit of a hustle and I’m very grateful that this team has helped me feel less alone and more connected. They also drink a lot when we get together and that’s super entertaining.
Romance Narrators: Speaking of making things happen, the whole world needs to know about Blunder Woman Productions. What is the company’s focus? Are you said “Blunder Woman?”
I proudly claim the title Blunder Woman. It was one of the first books I wrote, but more than that, it’s a way for me to be who I am. I’m pretty awkward, weird and funny things happen to me. I’m also highly anxious and neurotic. So Blunder Woman was a book, my identity, and now my production company.
I just want to produce great listens casting talented storytellers. We don’t publish just one genre; we publish great stories in any genre. For me, books are like music. There’s the perfect time and place and mood for a certain story. Sometimes you want romance. Sometimes you want drama. Sometimes you want wine and cheese and Chet Baker. Actually, I want that all the time.
Anyway, Blunder Woman Productions is a way for me to give back to the industry. Give new narrators a chance. Publish works by writers that haven’t been heard. And one day, I dream of it being profitable enough, so that I can do more passion projects.
Right now, authors can hire us to produce their books. I also purchase rights and produce under the Blunder Woman Productions umbrella.
Romance Narrators: You certainly wear a lot of hats in our business! Talk to us about how your work as an author informs your narration work (and vice versa).
Being a writer helps me understand where an author is going. It informs my narration because I have a good sense of story structure and build.
Being a narrator helps me write cleaner. Crisper. More economically.
Also, I started out writing poetry and plays. I think playwriting, in particular, helped me write believable dialogue. And reading poetry out loud, or performing in plays, helped me be a better narrator. I’m not a trained actor or anything, but all of this stuff just seemed to work together.
Romance Narrators: Kismet! Ok, time to give you some props. Congratulations on the Audie Nomination for Original Work! NEVERTHELESS WE PERSISTED is your beautiful brainchild. How did this glorious compilation come to be? And while you’re at it, tell us about I AM NOT LOLITA and I LOVE YOU LESS, the pieces you penned.
Woot! Woot! Yeah! So, an Audie is the audiobook industry's higher industry. It's amazing that we're nominated. So could everyone just please listen to this collection? It’s so moving and beautiful and a little bit flawed. So, in other words, it’s deeply human.
It’s not a political book, but I decided to do it because I was depressed about the environment we’re living in. And I felt isolated. I just wanted to talk to people. Connect. I thought that people sharing their stories, essays, poems, would be a way to do that. I wanted to do it in audio first, because there’s something spiritual about hearing stories told to you.
I AM NOT LOLITAis interesting because I wrote that before the #MeToo movement. LOLITA by Nabokov is a beautiful book by deeply disturbing. I’d listened to the audio version a number of times. But there was something that just rubbed me the wrong way, and it was the silence of Lolita. What’s her story? What’s her perspective? The story gives her a voice and the power to take back her real name. I’m so proud of it and Amy Landon did an amazing job. (And I’m really sorry I broke her by making her read it. See her earlier interview.)
The other piece I have in the collection is called I LOVE YOU LESS performed by Julie McKay. That one is a love story, really, but told in an unexpected way. It’s about loving and letting go. Or, really, it’s the reverse. It’s about letting go and loving. Julie really brought out the humor and the perfect bittersweet note.
Romance Narrators: Your next passion project involves vintage love stories, yes? What are you cooking up for us now?
Honestly, I don’t know. I just wanted to read some love stories set before social media and cell phones. I wanted something with a little more connection. We’ll see what kind of submissions we get. It’s a bit of a leap of faith that people want to write what I’m hoping to produce. Fingers crossed!
Romance Narrators: Word on the street is you’ll be attending Apollycon next year as an author. How cool is that? Have you attended before? Will you have a fancy booth where your fans can meet you and have you sign their books?
I’m going as Sarina Bowen’s co-author for the MAN HANDS series. I offered to sit under her table and just kind of lurk there, maybe grab some ankles, but she’s actually letting me sit at the table. Like, next to her! I’m so excited. I haven’t attended this conference. It’s new, but I’ve heard terrific things. And it’s such an honor to go to a conference as a published writer, and not just an aspiring one. I feel like I’ve finally reached that goal of writing a book people are reading. By next year, we’ll have three books in the series.
Romance Narrators: What exciting projects do you have coming up?
Lots! Recently released WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT by G. Benson. This is a slow burn romance with LGBTQ characters, and I just loved it.
I just wrapped on BETWEEN YOU AND ME by Susan Wiggs. Adam Verner co-narrated by performing the prologue and epilogue. It’s such a terrific romance between an Amish man and a woman who’s a doctor. Their worlds intersect in a really interesting way. I loved the characters and the build of their relationship.
I’m thrilled I get to narrate Susan Mallery’s new book WHEN WE FOUND HOME. I wasn’t sure but then I saw it on Audible, so I think I can announce that.
And Tatiana Sokolov has two hot novels with strong men and women leads in SHOT ON GOLD by Jaci Burton, and Shannon Stacey’s HOT RESPONSE, with some sexy firemen. Gosh, I love sexy firemen. Also motorcycle romances. And cops.
I’ve just realized that I haven’t voiced any cop romances or historicals, so if anyone needs me for that, I’m here. Waving at you. And then I’m pointing at you, and it’s all getting a little awkward and uncomfortable, so now, I’m just stepping away. Slowly. While apologizing.
Romance Narrators: Where can we keep up with you on social media?
To contact Tanya and talk to her about narrating directly for you, or producing your book under Blunder Woman Productions, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .