Interview: Jem Matzan, Author and Narrator

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Jem Matzan to the blog today. He’s a narrator of several books in Laurence Shames’s Key West Capers series as well as having written and narrated his own novel, The Hero. Today he has given us an entertaining look behind the curtains of such an artist. Enjoy!

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I was a teenager in the 90s, which I hated because it seemed like everyone was obsessed with being as counter-culture as possible, which meant rejecting everything “old” no matter how good it was. I’d just discovered The Doors and Pink Floyd, though, so it was frustrating that all the popular music was the melodically-challenged slacker chanting of “alternative rock.” So the music was terrible, but the movies were great. I think I would have had more fun in the 1980s, though. When I was a kid it seemed that teenagers had a better time than I did only 6 or 7 years later. So much of American teenage culture got locked down, locked out, and put on rails in the 90s, and it hasn’t stopped getting worse since then.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Sopranos, because it needs to be watched carefully at least three times to get everything. There’s so much more you see the second and third times through — subtle hints at things to come, actors playing more than one role, David Chase cameos, Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s ghost in the mirror at Tony’s house…

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I don’t think most books would make good games. However, back in the early 1990s there was a game called Betrayal at Krondor, which was a unique RPG based on Raymond E. Feist’s “Riftwar” fantasy series. There was nothing bad about it, and there hasn’t been another game like that since (except maybe the pseudo-sequels, which I didn’t play). Ironically, the Riftwar series was based on the D&D world that Feist and his friends built and LARPed with in the late 1970s, so Betrayal at Krondor was actually a game based on books that were based on a game. (I just checked to see if his books are in audio; only a few of the more recent ones are, plus some foreign language versions of the first Riftwar book. Anyway, one of his narrators is Richard Ferrone, who narrated some of Larry Shames’ “Key West Capers” series, which I’ve narrated/produced four of. I didn’t even need Kevin Bacon for that!)

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

Of the ones I’ve narrated, I like Charlie Ponte from the “Key West Capers” series. Partly it’s the voice I did for him, partly it’s that he’s a bad guy, but not truly the villain. He’s also got a lot of great lines that were fun to perform.

Of books I’ve not narrated… I don’t really know, because I haven’t read any fiction recreationally in years. I do so much professional reading that it just seems like more work. I never liked hardcore villains, though, they seem unrealistic. When I was a kid, cartoon villains were always after “power” and that never made sense to me, especially when they were already in charge of a gang or an army. True villains are in search of fun, stimulation, status bestowed by unreachable gatekeepers, a self-image that lives up to some unattainable fantasy.

If you couldn’t be a writer or narrator, what would you chose to do?

I would have been a software engineer. Computer science was the direction I was heading in high school, but back then it was still a niche profession that used archaic languages, mostly for machine control, finance, and other high-end computing stuff. It wasn’t very exciting — nothing like today.

I applied to go to film school in my junior year of high school, but my grades weren’t good enough I guess — I truly hated school and couldn’t wait to get out and be free. At the time that was devastating, but now I’m glad I didn’t waste all that money on something I could more quickly and easily learn for free. I’m amazed film school even exists anymore, now that everyone’s got a good-enough movie camera on their phone, and easy access to decent video and audio editing software.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

Self-promotion isn’t a very successful strategy, I think. My strategy is: be seen and heard as often as possible, interact personally and positively on social media every day, and only talk about my professional work when there are new releases or when something substantial happens. When you spam the world, you have to get increasingly louder and more ridiculous over time. I’d rather tone it down, be human, and just let people know when I’ve got something new to read or listen to. I’m anti-hype; unfortunately, we live in an age of overwhelming hype.

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

I’d rather talk to them one on one or in a smaller group, but… Bert the Shirt from the Key West Capers books, Allan Quatermain, Spock, the Alec Guiness Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Larry Darrell from The Razor’s Edge.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I’ll give you two:

Last year at the Audio Publisher’s Association Conference, I sat down at lunch with a table of people I didn’t know, and got involved in a conversation about crossing over from audiobook narration to other forms of acting. We were all wearing nametags on lanyards, but they often flipped around so you couldn’t see who was who. About 10 minutes into the conversation, this one really tall guy who was being really protective of his voice in the loud room (wish I’d done that, too) mentioned that he was trying to get into TV work and had been in a few shows, but going back and forth to LA was a bit of a hassle. Then someone at the table asked who someone else was, and we all turned our nametags around and introduced ourselves, and I discovered that I’d been talking to Simon Vance. In general I’m not a big fan of any other narrators, but he’s the one exception. The introduction hit me in mid-chew of something I was eating, and with a partially-full mouth I’m all like “zomg, Simon Vance, I love your work! I used your performance in Dracula as a vocal model for characters in a few books.” And he kind of looked down and blushed and seemed surprised, and I realized I’d just acted like a huge dork and made him feel uncomfortable. If you’re reading this, sorry about that, Simon! I only acted like a dork because it caught me by surprise. If I’d recognized him when I sat down, I wouldn’t have blubbered like that.

The second one was a long time ago, at one of the last Star Trek conventions before they kind of fizzled out for a while in the late 90s. The featured actors were Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips from Star Trek: Voyager, a NASA astronaut who piloted two space shuttles, and Robin Curtis, who played Lt. Saavik in Star Trek 3 and briefly in 4, and a smaller role in a two-part episode of Next Generation. Overall, it was a pretty good show. I have to say that the actual astronaut was the most fascinating of the bunch, but the actors were pretty cool with the exception of Peter Mayhew, who we were told would not speak to anyone in the autograph line and no one should attempt to make eye contact with him. Anyway, Robin Curtis was first or second on stage, and did her speech on life and Star Trek. She shared the obligatory horror story about Rick Berman, trivia about the Saavik character, and finished by saying that she’d recently retired from acting and moved to a small town where she’d enjoy her hobbies and take lovers half her age. Well, the small town she’d moved to was only about an hour away from me, and I don’t know if I was half her age at the time, but she was about 42 and I was in the vicinity of 22… so I had one of those moments of panicked inspiration where I saw an opportunity for something marvelous, but it was such a big risk in front of a crowd of about 1500 people. While I was deciding whether or not to risk it, she said she’d take questions from the audience and without even thinking, I raised my hand and stood up. I was the first person to do that, so she pointed to me and said, “You, right there. Hi!” I said, in my projected theater voice: “About those lovers half your age…” there was a chasm of silence in the auditorium, then after about two seconds, the whole place burst out laughing. I think even Peter Mayhew laughed. When she’d caught her breath, she asked my name, we exchanged small-talk, and then she said I was cute and she’d talk to me after the show, to which the crowd “Oooohed.” Then she moved on to other questions, and the other featured actors. I did talk to her after the show for about 10 minutes, but I guess I wasn’t all that impressive up close, because I didn’t manage to get a date with her. I still have her autograph, though. And Peter Mayhew’s — he’s a nice man, just very shy in front of crowds.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

I’m not really in obstacle course condition right now, so I wouldn’t be very competitive. But if I were to choose a teammate for something like Ninja Warrior, it would be Bruce Lee. He had the perfect body composition and kinesthetic sense for that kind of thing.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

The upcoming project I’m really excited about is titled “Money Talks,” written by Laurence Shames. Back in 2007, Donald Trump’s people approached Larry’s people about ghostwriting a series of novels under Trump’s name. Larry thought about it, met Trump, talked to people who’d worked for him, and said “No thanks.” But then he got to thinking about what might have come of that scenario, and wrote a fictionalized version of it as a murder mystery novel in which the villain is a Trump-like character named Robert Maxx. It’s sort of like a cross between Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and The Great Gatsby (if you switch Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan). Back then it didn’t catch on, but it’s got some new life now that Trump’s in public office, and I’m hoping the audio edition will ride that wave. There are lots of new voices to develop in this project, and I’m really looking forward to starting it.

After that, I’m taking a bit of a break so that I can finish writing at least one of my own books. I have three book projects that have been almost done for several years, and I feel like I need to complete one of them this year.

Places to Stalk Jem Matzan

Website ~ SoundCloud ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Audible ~ GoodReads

Book Blurb for The Hero

The Hero is a work of impressionist adventure fiction set in a desolate, postfeudal civilization. When the charismatic leader of a merchant guard crew is killed in a senseless accident, his designated replacement decides to fulfill a promise to the late captain by quitting the crew and finding his surviving relatives in a remote village. Instead of a quaint valley settlement, the new captain finds a decaying town on the verge of collapse, an old landlord who appears to welcome its decline, and a thriving stronghold of highwaymen fresh from murdering what remained of the merchant guard crew. As the valley’s mysteries unwind and the tension escalates, the captain’s mental condition begins to deteriorate as almost-forgotten memories begin to connect with horrible realities.

Amazon ~ Audible

Book Blurb for Tropical Depression:

When Murray Zemelman, a.k.a. The Bra King, pops another Prozac and heads to the Keys, he has nothing much in mind beyond a quixotic hope of winning back his first wife, Franny, whom he dumped years before. But when he forms an unlikely friendship with Tommy Tarpon, the last remaining member of an obscure Indian tribe, another plan also starts shaping up in his fevered brain. Why not open up Key West’s first casino?

Why not? Well, how about because the Mafia, in league with some of the nastiest politicians you will ever meet, is determined to kill anyone who tries? Somehow, Murray, Tommy, and Franny didn’t think of that until they were in way too deep. Laugh along as they improvise a manic and ever more desperate campaign to keep their casino dreams – and themselves – alive.

Amazon ~ Audible

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: Christine Padovan, Narrator of Slade: Team Greywolf

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Christine Padovan. She kindly let me pick her brain with questions and is also offering up Audible.com/UK audiobook copies of Slade: Team Greywolf or Kyrathaba Rising (winner’s choice). Scroll to the end of the post to check out that giveaway!

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Wow, can it be a fictional character instead? I know for sure I would want former CIA agent, John Reese from ‘Person of Interest’ to save me, because he seems to be able to get himself out from certain death anytime it faces him! Or his colleague, former Army Intelligence Support Activity operative, Sameen Shaw. Either one would do nicely 🙂

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The Forever War by American author Joe Haldeman, telling the contemplative story of soldiers fighting an interstellar war between humans and the Taurans. It’s a fascinating story, spanning years via time travel through space, and showing the social changes that occur to mankind on Earth and where it takes them over time. So well written and great humor too, I’d love to read it again someday.

Another amazing story that really grabbed and stayed with me since I was a kid is A Wrinkle in Time by American writer Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1963. I loved that the main character was a girl like me 🙂 – just loved the whole story.

Note that both stories have happy endings. I’m a positive person and truly believe in good overcoming bad 🙂 and that goodness will always prevail 🙂

What makes you fall in love with a story?

Something about the storyline has to really connect with me in some way. If the idea behind the story doesn’t grab my attention – like with Eva Gordon’s writing with her paranormal suspense stories, where there is personal development between the characters as well as action and drama happening around them, then I’m probably going to stop reading the story.

The writings of Ayn Rand are examples of stories that make me think – a story that takes a hard look at social conventions and makes you think more about your own beliefs from your heritage and upbringing, and gives you a different perspective from someone else’s viewpoint.

Back in 2011, you were part of a Star Wars fan web series. What attracted you to this project? What were some of the highlights for you?

The attraction was I’m a sci-fi geek – I also did on-camera and voice work for ‘Dark Frontier’, an online web series for Triple-FictionProductions.net, a Star Trek fan series that films out of Florida. I was a lesbian Captain, Alexia Mandell killed off in the beginning of the pilot episode, but was also a Ferengi bar owner named Madam Mirak. I briefly played a Vulcan captain, Captain Searon on another webisode. Voice – was show announcer and did some ‘engineer emergency announcements’ over the intercom 🙂 Folks can check out the live streaming webisodes at http://triple-fictionproductions.net/DarkFrontier.html .

‘Rise of the Rebellion’, the Star Wars fan series was very fun. I was approached at the time in 2011 through Voice123.com by Can Akdag who is in Turkey, to provide the voice dubbing for the actress playing Flora Milon on webisode 4, ‘Jefi Business’ of the show.

Your readers can catch the webisode here: https://vimeo.com/channels/456071/21038731

I’m the show announcer saying ‘previously, on ‘Rise of the Rebellion’ and Flora’s one line around
the 2:15 timemark.

What was challenging is the actress said her line extremely fast and I had to watch the clip Can sent me
over and over, and I practiced timing the voicing of her line to fit her mouth movements. It was hard to do,
but it did work out with the takes I emailed back to Can.

The highlight was getting this as a credit to my IMDb profile. The only disappointment is Can did this out of his love for Star Wars and not to make money, so before he used my dubbing lines for webisode 5 – where I had a few more lines than just one – he actually didn’t dub webisode 5 and ended up going on to other projects that he could make a living at.

If you couldn’t be a voice actor, what would you chose to do?

I have a degree in Psychology and used to do some clinical social work and neuro-psychology research, but I would really enjoy being a police detective or an FBI agent. I’m fascinated with what makes people commit crimes such as murders, and I love the ability to look at all the details and put the puzzle pieces together, to solve the crime (like Sherlock Holmes). I’m very much a person who is into details, and when I watch television or meet people in real life, I look closely at them and can usually figure out if they are ill, or been ill, etc. or see through them with whatever quirks they possess. I really like understanding what makes people tick!

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you going into book narration?

Ha! I don’t think any voice actor out there ever thought they would be a book narrator or voice actor of any sort, unless they had a dream of being a radio dj or show personality :-). I was a tomboy as a kid – loved being a jumping bean since I could walk. Anything to do with being active and being outdoors, that was me!

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Well, one would be Sherlock Holmes (either the modern day version like Jonny Lee Miller’s character on ‘Elementary’ or the Granada series with the late Jeremy Brett). However, Sherlock Holmes probably wouldn’t give me the time of day! I’d be too uninteresting to him and he would probably sit there, quietly analyzing everyone else. (Or he would see I’m too much like him and he wouldn’t want to waste time talking to me!)

The others would be Spock, Ben-Hur (played famously by the late Charlton Heston in 1959), Claire Randall from Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series, and 13 year old, Meg Murry from ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. Wouldn’t that be an interesting little tea/wine party 😉

What is the first book you remember reading out loud to someone else?

‘The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant’ by Jean de Brunhoff to a class of kindergarteners when I was in 4th grade 🙂

Guess my narrating to listeners did start at a young age, but I didn’t know then that it would be a real career now!

Thanks for asking me all these great questions – I’ve really enjoyed this interview 🙂

 

About Narrator Christine Padovan:

Christine Padovan is a popular narrator with a warm, distinctive voice, who can make non-fiction stories sound compelling and interesting, with versatility in bringing characters to life in the world of fiction. Specializing in Romance, Self Development, and Sci-fi/Fantasy genres. Audible Editor Review of David Poole’s bio/memoir of NASCAR’s Tim Richmond: “…Christine Padovan’s captivating, lively delivery perfectly encapsulates Richmond’s freewheeling spirit and the kinetic energy of Poole’s prose. Her skillful performance makes this experience as bracing and compelling as a NASCAR race, making it difficult to pause after pressing play.” Winner, 2013 Best Audiobook for BADWATER by Toni Dwiggins –Goodreads.com/eFestivalofWords.com

 

Places to Stalk Christine Padovan

website ~ AudioFilefacebook ~ twitter ~ Audible ~ linkedin

Book Blurb for Slade: Team Greywolf

Runt, Cricket, is an honorary beta of Team Greywolf, an elite special ops branch of the Lycan Intelligence Agency. As a member, she poses as a human and collects forensic evidence. Because of her low rank, she is assigned in the rehabilitation of Prince Slade suffering from morphogenesis after his entire pack is murdered, and then his indoctrination as a member of their team. Babysit a psycho, domineering alpha? Not on her watch. To complicate matters, she lusts for Slade. Foolish. A runt can never take an alpha as a mate.

Slade has two choices. Honor his murdered kin and serve Team Greywolf, or once healed, obey King Conan and return to his territory with an alpha mate. Complicating his decision is his relentless desire for the hot sexy little she-wolf, Cricket.

Early into his recovery, Slade and Cricket are sent to investigate missing werewolves. An unstable werewolf seems hardly a match for a former Nazi werewolf bent on bringing on Ragnarok, the destruction of mankind.

Can they stop this evil regime, while conforming to pack law that forbids any chance of them fulfilling their desire for each other?

Amazon ~ Audible

Book Blurb for Kyrathaba Rising:

One hundred and seventy years from now, aliens decimate Earth. A relative handful of humans survive, hidden in deep subterranean enclaves that offer some protection from surface radiation. Although the main attack is now seven years in the past, one alien ship remains in orbit, and the conquerors are not content merely to let humanity lick its wounds…

Amazon ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

Christine is graciously offering up 3 copies of Slade, winner’s choice of Audible.com or Audible UK. Also, if paranormal shifter romance isn’t quite your cup of tea or if you already own this audiobook, each winner can request an Audible.com/UK copy of Kyrathaba Rising instead. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Have you ever watched a fan-made movie or series? 2) Which are you interested in more – Slade or Kyrathaba Rising? Giveaway ends May 5th, 2017, midnight.

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