Tolkien Experience Podcast

The Tolkien Experience Podcast (TEP) is an attempt to bring the fan and scholarly communities together around our shared passion: the works of J.R.R. Tolkien! Each episode features a notable scholar or member of the fan community sharing their responses to the original Tolkien Experience Project questions.

Since 2018, my Tolkien Experience Project has been collecting stories from scholars and fans. Now, I have partnered with The Prancing Pony Podcast and Dr. Sara Brown to create the TEP!

The podcast is available from all of your favorite streaming services, including Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play! Please subscribe and leave us feedback on your streaming service to help others find the podcast!

We also have an RSS Feed available, if you would like to use your own podcast player!

We are also on social media! You can find our official podcast accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and also follow the hosts on Twitter: Sara Brown and Luke Shelton.

The Questions:

Each guest on the podcast is asked six different questions, with some follow-ups and discussion to add depth and keep things conversational. The six basic questions are:

  1. How were you introduced to Tolkien’s work?
  2. What is your favorite part of Tolkien’s work?
  3. What is your fondest experience of Tolkien’s work?
  4. Has the way you approach Tolkien’s work changed over time?
  5. Would you ever recommend Tolkien’s work? Why/Why not?
  6. What Tolkien work, project, or community are you currently working on that we should know about?

The Hosts:

Sara Brown

bio-sara_brown-263x263Sara has been a Lecturer and Preceptor at Signum University within the Language and Literature faculty since 2012. She also served as interim Department Chair for the Fall 2018 semester and as the Elected Faculty Member on the Signum University Board in the past. Her PhD thesis, entitled From Abjection to Alchemy in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth Legendarium, explores the way in which Tolkien was responding to the anxieties of the post-war world in the mid twentieth century.

Besides her BA (Hons) in English and History, Sara has a Masters degree in International History from the London School of Economics, for which she wrote a thesis on The Problem of the Gold Standard in International Politics and Economics in the Nineteenth Century. She completed her Ph.D. in Literature at Salford University in 2013. Entitled From Abjection to Alchemy in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth Legendarium, the thesis explores the way in which Tolkien was responding to the anxieties of the post-war world in the mid twentieth century, drawing on (amongst others) the theories of Julia Kristeva and Donna Haraway. She believes it’s a real page-turner. Sara has given a number of lectures at various conferences on the topics of Tolkien, fantasy fiction, and fandom, the latter being one of her guilty pleasures.

Sara Brown has been a High School teacher for twenty-five years and currently works full time in Rydal Penrhos School in North Wales, where she teaches English to ungrateful teenagers. She is the co-ordinator there for the International Baccalaureate English Language & Literature and Theory of Knowledge courses. Sara also acts as Teaching and Learning mentor in school, promoting and guiding the advancement of skills and continuing professional development in each of the teaching faculties. In addition to her teaching duties, she and her husband run one of the school boarding houses, which holds up to twenty-two teenage boys. Sleep is definitely for the weak.

Luke Shelton


Luke is currently a PhD student in the School of Critical Studies at the University of Glasgow, where his PhD research focuses on the reception of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings by young readers. The Principal Supervisor of his research is Dr. Dimitra Fimi.


In addition to his role at University of Glasgow, he is an adjunct professor in the Department of Literature and Language at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). He also currently serve as the Assistant to the Technical Editor for Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies.

He received my Master of Arts (M.A.) from ETSU in 2017, also receiving ETSU’s John D. Allen Award for Outstanding Graduate Student in English at that time. During his time in the M.A. program, he served as a Graduate Assistant and taught several sections of composition. 

As an M.A. student, he completed a thesis entitled “Celtic Water Hags, Violent Children, and Wild Men: Reexamining the Syncretic Nature of Beowulf” under the direction of Thomas H. Crofts. In addition to completing the M.A. requirements with distinction, he also presented research at eight conferences, and organized several campus activities.

Before attending ETSU for graduate studies, he worked as a high school English teacher for two years. He taught classes on American Literature, World Literature, and Communication. In this capacity, he learned much more than the content for the courses. He became a more effective communicator with students and learned how to manage a classroom and create engaging lessons that encourage students to be responsible for their own learning beyond school walls.

Recent Episodes:

As episodes are posted, the links to individual posts for episode show notes will appear in the list below (most recent first):

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #19 – Elvella - For this episode, I had the opportunity to talk with Elvella. She is a passionate fan who has some great insights! In this episode we talk about audio adaptations, fanfiction, and whiteness in fandom. Elvella is a college senior with majors in religion and classical piano. As she starts her senior year, join us in …

    Continue reading TEP #19 – Elvella

  • TEP #18 – Maria Alberto - For this week’s episode, we are so happy to have a scholar and fan who investigates the Tolkien fan community: Maria Alberto! Maria is a fourth year PhD student at the University of Utah. Her research focuses on adaptation and fan studies. We want to encourage any our listeners who have read or written fanfiction …

    Continue reading TEP #18 – Maria Alberto

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #17 – Myla Malinalda - For this week’s episode, we are joined by a long-time supporter of the Tolkien fan community: Myla Malinalda! Myla Malinalda has worked as a part-time reporter for Middle-earth news, and a long time Tolkien fan and collector. She is also a graphic designer and she loves incorporating inspiration from her favorite literature into her work! …

    Continue reading TEP #17 – Myla Malinalda

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #16 – William Fliss - For this week’s episode, I was able to interview an archivist who works with Tolkien’s manuscripts as part of his day job: William Fliss! William (Bill) Fliss is an archivist in the Special Collections and University Archives of the Raynor Memorial Libraries of Marquette University in Milwaukee Wisconsin. Bill is in charge of Tolkien’s manuscripts …

    Continue reading TEP #16 – William Fliss

  • TEP #15 – Mary Clay Watt - We are very excited to have the chance to speak with Mary Clay Watt for this week’s episode! Mary Clay is the creator and host of the Podcast That’s What I’m Tolkien About, where she is reading her way through Tolkien’s works. She has finally made it to Mount Doom as of our recording, so …

    Continue reading TEP #15 – Mary Clay Watt

  • TEP #14 – Jeremy Edmonds - For this week’s episode, we are very excited to have Jeremy Edmonds, the creator of! The hosts of the podcast met Jeremy at Tolkien2019, and became fast friends with many shared interests, especially a love of Tolkien’s work. His phenomenal website has been going for more than a decade and a half! There you …

    Continue reading TEP #14 – Jeremy Edmonds

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #13 – Clifford Broadway - For this week’s episode, we welcome someone who has been influential in Tolkien film fandom from a very early point: Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway! As one of several volunteers who helps contribute to the online fan community located at, Clifford hosts a live podcast each Tuesday. He also co-produced a documentary entitled Ringers, which chronicles …

    Continue reading TEP #13 – Clifford Broadway

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #12 – John Garth - We are elated to have with us on this episode a superstar of Tolkien scholarship, John Garth! John is a writer who is best known to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien for his autobiographical work about the author, entitled Tolkien and the Great War. He has also written numerous articles and other works about the author, …

    Continue reading TEP #12 – John Garth

  • TEP #11 – Margaret Killjoy - For this episode, we are stepping away from academia and diving into the exciting worlds of writing and music with Margaret Killjoy! Margaret is a writer of book-length fiction, short fiction, and non fiction. Perhaps our listeners will be most interested in her short story “The Free Orcs of Cascadia” published in The Magazine of …

    Continue reading TEP #11 – Margaret Killjoy

  • TEP #10 – Una McCormack - It is our absolute privilege to welcome to the podcast a very notable writer and Tolkien scholar: Una McCormack! A quick glance at Dr. McCormack’s website and you quickly learn that she is a New York Times bestselling author and a prolific writer of tie-in novels and short and long fiction. She is an ex-academic …

    Continue reading TEP #10 – Una McCormack

  • TEP #9 – Dawn Walls-Thuma - This week we journey into the realm of fan studies and fanfiction! Our guest this week created a website dedicated to stories fanfiction inspired by The Silmarillion, and has also completed excellent scholarship on fandom: Dawn Walls-Thumma! Walls-Thumma’s website The Silmarillion Writer’s Guild is a place where writers of fanfiction that were inspired by Tolkien’s …

    Continue reading TEP #9 – Dawn Walls-Thuma

  • TEP #8 – Mina Lukic - We are so happy to share with you our interview with an up-coming Tolkien researcher, Mina Lukic! Mina is currently a PhD student at the University of Belgrade, Serbia. Her current research includes looking into how people engage with Tolkien’s work using the lenses of participatory culture and cultural heritage. You can find out more …

    Continue reading TEP #8 – Mina Lukic

  • TEP #7 – Corey Olsen (Part 2) - This month, we have a special two-part interview for you! We are elated to have as our guest the Tolkien Professor himself: Corey Olsen! This is the second part of our interview, so please make sure to go back and listen to part one to make sure you don’t miss anything! Dr. Olsen is perhaps …

    Continue reading TEP #7 – Corey Olsen (Part 2)

  • TEP #6 – Corey Olsen (Part 1) - This month, we have a special two-part interview for you! We are elated to have as our guest the Tolkien Professor himself: Corey Olsen! Dr. Olsen is perhaps the most prolific and popular Tolkien podcaster in the world. His series like Exploring The Lord of the Rings, The Mythgard Academy, and The Silmarillion Film Project …

    Continue reading TEP #6 – Corey Olsen (Part 1)

  • TEP #5 – Shaun Gunner - Our next guest on the Tolkien Experience Podcast has been the chair of the Tolkien Society since 2013.   According to the society’s website, Shaun “regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien’s works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences.” We are so happy he could make time to talk with …

    Continue reading TEP #5 – Shaun Gunner

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #4 – James Tauber - Our next guest on the Tolkien Experience Podcast wears many, dare we say geeky, hats. He is the founder and CEO of Eldarion, he helps develop tools for the digital humanities, he loves ancient languages, and he is the creator of James Tauber! All of James’s projects are impressive, but perhaps the one that …

    Continue reading TEP #4 – James Tauber

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #3-Andrew Higgins - Our next guest on the Tolkien Experience Podcast is a Tolkien scholar and linguist who has very quickly become influential in the field of Tolkien Studies: Dr. Andrew Higgins! Dr. Higgins completed his PhD on the evolution of J.R.R. Tolkien’s mythology in 2015. His doctoral research was a holistic examination of Tolkien’s earliest works in …

    Continue reading TEP #3-Andrew Higgins

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #2-Janet Brennan Croft - Our second guest on the Tolkien Experience Podcast is an editor, scholar, and librarian who has been a prolific contributor to the field of Tolkien studies: Janet Brennan Croft! Janet Brennan Croft is the editor of Mythlore, one of the most well-respected English-language peer-reviewed journals in the world that focuses on Tolkien and other mythopoeic …

    Continue reading TEP #2-Janet Brennan Croft

  • Banner with Tolkien Experience Logo TEP #1-Dimitra Fimi - Our first guest on the Tolkien Experience Podcast is a longtime mentor, colleague, and friend to our hosts: Dr. Dimitra Fimi. Dr. Fimi is known around the world as a preeminent scholar in Tolkien studies and an influential scholar in wider fields. She is perhaps best known for her book Tolkien, Race and Cultural History, …

    Continue reading TEP #1-Dimitra Fimi