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Great News: Joel Clarkson Will Voice The Green Ember Audiobook and It’s Been Added to the Kickstarter!

joelWe’re so delighted to announce that Joel Clarkson will be be performing the audiobook for The Green Ember. After a brief update on how this impacts our Kickstarter, I’ll include some background on Joel and his family, how we got to this point, and why we’re excited about him being on board.


The audiobook will be available after the Kickstarter is finished at the usual places. BUT….

We’re going to go ahead and add the audiobook to everyone who is backing the Kickstarter at the $50 tier (and over).

If you got the $15 version, or the $25 version, you can just stay put and nothing changes. (And thank you!)

But if you want to get the audiobook read by Joel, you can bump up to the $50 tier and get a signed hardcover of The Green Ember (and the ebook and the soft cover of TGE), The Black Star of Kingston ebook, the Poems ebook, the sticker, AND this sure-to-be-outstanding audiobook. That’s 7 books! Some are the same book in different formats, sure, but it’s still a pretty amazing value.

If you haven’t backed the project yet, this tier is loaded. Go here to get in on the fun. 


Now, a little more about how I met Joel and we hatched this plan.

Clay and Sally Clarkson have a wonderful ministry called WholeHeart. They have outstanding resources for families. Sally has an amazing ministry to moms, one my wife has benefited from both in person and in books. But perhaps the best gift they’ve given the world is their kids. At least the ones I know.2014-10-12 14.18.50

I’ve got some history with this Clarkson family. The good kind. I have been good friends with Clay for several years. I love his books and his great sense of humor. His notes are always insightful and frequently hilarious. We did a talk together last year and that was a huge privilege for me. Clay has been a wise guide and a refreshing ally in the things I care most about. Sarah and I have given talks together and been friends for a number of years. We love her books and her. I met Joel at a conference a couple of years ago, but we didn’t get to hang out much until a few weeks back in Nashville. I really enjoyed getting to know Joel a little better. I also got to spend more time with his beautiful mother, Sally. Before we ever talked about an audiobook, Sally was full of encouragement for me about this project, and gave practical, timely, and uplifting advice. Plus, she and my brother Josiah basically became best friends. She is a real treasure. So, the Smiths love the Clarksons. It’s that simple.

2014-10-12 19.21.28

Sitting around a relaxing fire at The Warren, Andrew Peterson’s house, the discussion turned to audiobooks. I had questions. Andrew, Pete Peterson, Clay Clarkson, Joel Clarkson, myself and my brother Josiah, sat around scheming about audiobooks. (That’s 2 Petersons, 2 Clarksons, and 2 Smiths, for all those numerologists out there.) Joel and Andrew were talking about what equipment you need to do audiobooks and I was lamenting the fact that I wanted a great reader and I was afraid I couldn’t do it well, myself.

I had explored the possibility of Andrew (AP) being our reader, but it would have been a long wait and he still had his own most recent book to record. I asked if they knew any other good readers, and Clay said that Joel was always their family’s read-aloud star.  

“Joel is the go-to read-aloud reader in the family, especially for fantasy fiction like Narnia and Tolkien. He has this gift for voicing every character uniquely and dramatically. He’s a one-man reader theatre.” –Clay Clarkson

Then I really noticed how great Joel’s voice was. He has this rich, clear, and musical voice. The wheels were churning.

joel scoring

Joel is a professional musician. He has scored films, arranged, conducted, composed, and recorded. He’s a pro. So he knows how to get a quality recording and he has all he needs to do it.  (His reflective piano records are amazing, by the way.)

We talked about it a little that night, then in the days following I asked him if he would send a demo. He did.

Wow. It was excellent.

I listen to audiobooks all the time. I have grown very attuned to what makes a good or bad performance. I’ve gotten kind of picky.

I loved his demo. Andrew Mackay loved the demo. My wife loved it even more than I did, I think. My kids (also major audiophiles) all loved it. It was clean, warm, and had character. His voices were great and his attitude about the project had been so positive. He was eager to be sure the voices and presentation all suited the story. He was willing to go the extra mile to be sure we loved what he was doing. He was more than a hired performer. He was going to be a partner.

So we very quickly worked out the details. Joel Clarkson was going to be reading The Green Ember for our audiobook.

Not only were we excited to have Joel on the team, he was also eager to be in on the project. He sent this kind quote:

“After being immersed in S. D. Smith’s delightful and compelling fantasy, The Green Ember, I am thrilled to be able to bring these wonderful characters to life in audiobook form. The world Sam has created is chock full of key elements that make up a great tale—striking, multifaceted landscapes in an alluring world, a gripping narrative full of heroism and excitement, and of course, brave, adventurous rabbits! Sam has a distinct gift for old-fashioned storytelling of the finest sort.”

That was very encouraging. I’m so grateful for Joel’s involvement in this project and for his enthusiasm. It’s a part of this book adventure that’s very close to my heart.

I really agree with Orson Scott Card when he says that the audiobook version of a book is in many ways the definitive version. Whatever internal voice you or I read a book with in our minds, it’s highly unlikely to be the same quality as a professional reader. We skip things, mispronounce things, and often miss what the author intends. Not so with a well-voiced audiobook. It is likely the most thorough experience a reader can have with a book.

So, I’m delighted that Joel is doing this. I’m grateful for his friendship and that of his family, and I can’t wait to have this audiobook for myself. Oh, and also to share it with you!


Again, you can get in on this for only 6 more days. Monday, November 3rd at 8pm EST, we are done. I hope you’ll join us. 


  1. I can’t help being just a little bit envious of Joel – if for no other reason than the fact that he’s already gotten to read this book.

    This is going to be good.

  2. So, I’m listening to the Narnia audio books, and it’s such a kick; and the other day I was thinking, I wonder if S.D.S and A.S.M. have considered an audio book and then…woa!

    I just don’t get how I upgrade my kickstarter if they’ve already billed me?

    Aunt Deb

  3. Aunt Deb,

    So glad you’re excited. You haven’t been billed yet. They don’t bill you till the KS is over.

    Not sure how to do it, but your clever nephew probably does! He can likely help you in ten minutes!


  4. Hi! I was just wondering if there’s a preview of the audiobook anywhere so that I can here what it sounds like? I just ordered the paperback for my little brother and I’m thinking he’d love the audio as well but I’m just curious to hear what it sounds like 🙂 Thanks!!

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