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Narrating Justice: Behind the mic with narrator Sara Hannan

I wrote Justice as a prequel to In the Dark one of the Holt Foundation stories. It tells the story of Elizabeth Holt, the founder of the Holt Foundation, and the attack in college that changed the trajectory of her life. I thought it might be fun for my readers to get a peek behind the scenes at what it’s like to be a narrator.

The lovely and talented narrator, Sara Hannan agreed to sit down with me to chat about her career as a narrator and what it was like to narrate the book.

Sara, thank you so much for agreeing to do a Q&A with me and for doing such an amazing job narrating the audiobook.


When I was a kid, the idea of having to read out loud in class terrified me. As an adult, some of that dread has dimmed, but I have to admit that I find the prospect of narrating an audiobook daunting.


What made you want to become a narrator? 

I knew at an early age that I wanted to be an actor. I did all the local plays that I could, even in my tiny hometown in New Hampshire. I went to college for theatre and had a lot of fantastic parts. After college I spent some time in Chicago, did a little theatre out there, then returned to New England to start a family with my college sweetheart. I taught early childhood for many years, but really missed performing.  I sort of stumbled into audiobook narration once my youngest children went off to full-day kindergarten and it was a way to do what I loved and I was able to do it on my own schedule.  


How long ago did you narrate your first audiobook? How many have you narrated?

My first audiobook was released in 2018. Between myself and my two pseudonyms, I have recorded just over 50 audiobooks. Justice for All was actually #50!

Justice for All was a departure for me in some ways - I’ve narrated some romantic suspense/thrillers, but as a reader I had a multiple-year obsession with legal thrillers


What lessons have you learned along the way that have helped you improve your craft?

Great question! I’m always listening to audiobooks, and I learn a lot just by observing how my colleagues work. I love working with different coaches to learn - you’ll never get the exact same notes from two different coaches. Along the way I’ve learned that - as in most things - there’s no single correct way to work. I’ve learned that thinking about the book and planning and prepping the book are vital, but then so is getting out of your head and staying in the moment. I will usually prep a manuscript on my iPad, take notes, highlight and evaluate, then I’ll record from a blank manuscript, trusting that the choices I made are solid.


What genre of books do you typically narrate? As a legal thriller, was Justice for All a departure from you?

I have a romance pseudonym that has about 3x the number of books you’ll find as “Sara Hannan” on Audible - she stays busy! (Though I have a bunch of books in the pipeline as myself, so that’s exciting!) Justice for All was a departure for me in some ways - I’ve narrated some romantic suspense/thrillers, but as a reader I had a multiple-year obsession with legal thrillers - I consumed them like potato chips (but without the calories, so it was even better!) Going into narration, it was what I wanted to do - I saw myself as a Stephanie Plum or Harry Bosch, but, you know, a woman version. So being able to do Justice for All was a dream come true for me, and I find it has released the beast! I want more. They’re the cookie to my monster, so to speak.


How much research do you typically do before narrating a new story? Do you like to delve into the research to learn more about the setting, the characters or the plot before starting a new project, or do you tend to dive right in and experience it fresh?

I have to read the book and prep it before I can begin. There are many reasons for this - as a theatre actor I’ve had multiple dreams where I have to perform without having had any rehearsals and it’s the WORST. I can’t really imagine going into it without having made some important decisions up front. And what if, in chapter 71, someone suddenly observes that one of your primary characters speaks in a lovely southern accent or something like that? That’s a lot of work to go back and fix! More than it’s worth, in my opinion. Plus, if I’m collaborating with another narrator, we have decisions to make together regarding characters. If one of us decides that a character carries their voice and energy high up in the body and the other carries low, for example, it’s going to be jarring for the listener.


Do you ever add your own interpretations or insights to the characters or plot through your narration style?

To me, the job of the narrator is to serve the work of the author. Though I talk about choices I make in my narration, if it doesn’t exist in the text, or it isn’t supported in some way, I’m not likely to throw it in for fun.


How do you convey the emotions of the characters without giving too much away?

You’re really hitting me with the hard balls today! I’m going to give a very actor-y answer and say I just try to stay in the moment, not over-play anything.  There’s such a thing as too little in your performance, but there’s also too much - I try to avoid being too much.


What did you like best about Justice for All?

See? Hardballs. I liked so much. I love Elizabeth’s strength, her feminism, her pursuit of justice. She has pain, she struggles, and she dusts herself off, rolls up her sleeves, and gets to work.


Was there anything about Elizabeth or her story that you found particularly compelling?

Remember that scene near the end where she’s in the place with the guy? And the one lady just left and she’s alone with the guy… Oohhhweeee, that one.


What was the most challenging scene to narrate?

See previous answer. Verbatim. It was also the most fun. (Second most fun was the nurse’s chapter. I loved her.)


Without giving away the ending, how did you feel Elizabeth’s story wrapped up? Were you satisfied with the ending, or did it leave you wanting more?

Is “both” an acceptable answer? I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive concepts. There was a bit of a true-to-life messiness about the ending, and though some might find it dissatisfying, the fact that it was more true than a tidy bow atop a pretty package made it satisfying in its own right. At the same time, I absolutely wanted more. If you wrote more, I’d be totally good with that. I know the original books are out on Audible, and I do have some credits, so…


Have you received any feedback from listeners about how your narration impacted their experience of a story? If so, what stood out to you?

Sometimes it’s good to read a review and it’s about the journey the reader has gone on and how invested they are. Whether or not I’m mentioned in the review specifically, if the listener was brought along for the ride, I feel like my job is done if my voice isn’t what they focused on. Does that make sense?


How do you handle narrating plot twists or surprises? Do you try to mislead the listener with your tone, or do you keep it neutral?

I try to experience the plot twists along with the character. If they feel safe, despite the reader internally screaming “DON’T OPEN THAT BASEMENT DOOR!” I’m going to read it as though I feel safe. I don’t want to give anything away at all. If the author has done their job (and you certainly do!) I don’t have any need to make choices that aren’t given to me in the script.


What advice would you give aspiring narrators? Also, what advice would you give authors who are looking to turn their novels into audiobooks?

Aspiring narrators: Listen to audiobooks. Read out loud. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Get some coaching from a reputable source. Never stop learning.

Authors: There are many avenues to travel here, depending on your resources. You can use, which is an Audible/Amazon company to solicit auditions and match with a narrator. There are also many independent publishers and producers as well. For example, Justice For All was produced by Fireside Audio, an imprint of Pink Flamingo Productions. Authors can find out more at, or they can reach out to me directly at (Yes, I produce, too!)


Tell me, Sara, are you a writer too?

I don’t write professionally, though I enjoy writing here and there. I always recommend journaling for anyone who wants to write but doesn’t know where to start.


Any final thoughts you’d like to share before we wrap up?

 Just to thank you for the honor of telling Elizabeth’s origin story. It was truly a pleasure.

If you’d like to learn more about Sara and her work, visit her website at You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.


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