Concerning Your Hosts

Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese met in 2015 as members of a Facebook group for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien. Over the course of several “Book Weeks” in the group focused on discussing favorite passages from each of Tolkien’s major works, Alan and Shawn realized they shared a common appreciation for close readings of the language of Tolkien’s texts, a deep interest in the life and influences of the Professor himself, and – most of all – an uncanny ability to make countless digressions on the way to making their point.

In early 2016, after a quick exchange of ideas, the Prancing Pony Podcast was born! And though we haven’t quite mastered the art of making our point without digressions, we are at least keeping ourselves on a schedule.

Alan Sisto


Alan has been reading Professor Tolkien’s works regularly since his youth, which now seems as far in the past as the Years of the Lamps. Delighting in all things Tolkien, he particularly enjoys reading the lesser-known works (like “On Fairy-Stories” or “Leaf by Niggle”), as well as books about Tolkien: biographies by Carpenter, Garth and Shippey line his shelves.

If he could live anywhere in Middle-earth, it would indeed be The Shire — a quiet hobbit hole in the hills with a well-stocked library, surrounded by family. And pantries full of good food.

Alan lives with his wife and their two small hobbi — uh, children — in the very un-Shirelike region of Southern California. Alan is a narration and commercial voiceover artist, and you can hear his work at He is also an architectural and product photographer, and you can see his work at

Shawn E. Marchese


A lover of languages and mythology since childhood, Shawn discovered Tolkien’s work during his impressionable teenage years and was amazed to discover a secondary world having more in common with the myths and legends he’d grown up with than with the stacks of sword-and-sorcery novels yellowing on his shelves (and far fewer occurrences of the word “rogue”).

Shawn is most drawn to the sweeping mythology of Middle-earth from Valinor to Beleriand and beyond. And as a tenth-level word nerd, Shawn finds a constant source of linguistic delights in Tolkien’s invented languages.

Pursuing by day a rather Bagginsy professional career in Central Texas, Shawn has indulged his Tookish side by moonlighting as an independent film producer, writer, and blogger when not indulging in nightly readings of The Silmarillion to impress his wife and put his two young children to sleep.