Tanya Eby’s work life seems impressively diverse: She’s narrated more than 650 audiobooks, she’s a novelist and an active blogger, and about two years ago she created her own company, Blunder Woman Productions. But she experiences these roles as part of a single mission.
“It’s funny. People perceive that I have a multifaceted life--that I’m doing all these different projects. But for me, it’s one life, one project. Narrating, writing, producing, blogging-- all the things I do--are actually one thing. And that’s telling stories.”
Eby says her story begins with a lifelong love of writing. “That was the first thing. I was a writer who didn’t make any money. I was a writer in spirit.” An English and theater double major in college, she began narrating for Brilliance Audio--an hour away from her campus in Michigan, which, after some adventuring years, she again calls home. She kept writing and narrating, eventually publishing novels--“quirky characters in strange situations”--which she produced herself as audiobooks. “My books offered me the first taste of production. Trying to get them out there on my own.”
She laughs, fumbling a bit, as she tries to recall the name of her first novel. “What’s the one with the sock on the cover? FOODIES RUSH IN? No, EASY DOES IT? She sounds certain, though, when recognizing that writing BLUNDER WOMAN was a turning point in her life. “I’m very socially awkward. I kind of attract chaos sometimes. I was always fighting against that and feeling low about it, but there’s also great humor in it. Writing BLUNDER WOMAN was my process in owning that awkwardness and all of those things that make me who I am. It’s got romance, but it’s ultimately the story of a woman owning herself.” Calling her company Blunder Woman Productions seemed natural. “It’s who I am on Twitter. It’s just become my brand.”
As a producer and publisher of audiobooks, Eby has begun to identify the ingredients of an excellent production. “All the stars have to align! It takes a great story told by passionate performers. I don’t know if that’s the key to it, but that’s how I’m working things.” Blunder Woman Productions has already garnered many industry accolades: THE BRINK won the 2017 Audie Award for Best Short Story/ Collection, and NEVERTHELESS WE PERSISTED was an Audie Award finalist for Best Original Work in 2018.
As editor and publisher of that collection, Eby marvels a little while explaining its inception. “I just was feeling kind of low, and I was looking for inspiration on what people get through, how they do it. I put out a call and thought maybe five or six people would respond. And we’d do this small thing. But I got over 100 submissions from all over the world! I put out a call out to my narrator friends--“Would you help me with this project”--and then I posted the stories. Thirty-five instead of the five I’d imagined responded. And I asked narrators to choose ones that they connected to. I cast it from that, not according to how I thought they matched vocally, but from pieces they clicked with. What was interesting was that no story was left unclaimed. It was a really beautiful process.”
Currently, Eby is collaborating on a popular new romantic comedy series with author Sarina Bowen. The MAN HANDS and MAN CARD novels are sexy new romantic comedies with an enthusiastic following.
As one listens to Eby, it’s clear she brings the same disciplined work ethic to everything she does. There may be a few superstar “A-list” writers or narrators who glow as they create effortlessly. But not her. She sweats. “But I feel--and this is not a bad thing--like a workhorse. I’m strong, and I plow forward in my work, and I do that with everything. I’m really structured about it and committed to it. That allows me to accomplish a lot of different things.”
That message, which is likely to resonate especially with increasing numbers of devoted listeners, is at the heart of all she does and animates her work at Blunder Woman Productions, where part of her mission is telling stories that are both by and for women. “I want it to be very clear that this is a woman-owned company--strong and funny and intelligent. I’m hoping to work with as many women as I can, trying to bring our stories to the forefront and publish them. I’m hoping we will find an audience.”--Jessie C. Grearson
©AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
Photo by Jordan Matter
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