For those playing the game, you may have been expecting ‘Journal – Week 6’. However with a mid semester break, I have done exactly no journaling since my previous post. Sorry.
What I have been doing is catching up on a bunch of podcasts (and learning how to cast resin for DnD dice, but thats a blog post for another day). One thing that stood out was a special episode of Pratchat in which the hosts, Elizabeth Flux (follow her pun-tastic twitter here) and Ben McKenzie, were answering questions about the podcast, the Discworld, and all things Pratchett rather than any specific book.
Towards the end Ben read a message they had received thanking them for the podcast and telling Ben and Liz how much it meant to them to hear it every month.
Its not really something I’ve thought about – I assume every podcaster knows how much us listeners hang on their every word – but Ben went on to explain how much messages like that mean to them, as they’re just sitting in a studio talking into the void. He encouraged listeners to reach out and tell other podcasts as well, which is why during this break, it seems an apt time to gush over my favourites starting with (in no particular order). . .
Look, Its not a secret how much I love Sir (P)Terry’s books. There were many occasions in which my spare time was spent in the library searching out a new Discworld story, or ringing around bookstores seeing who had a copy of the latest. One of my prized possessions is still a ‘Legends’ book that has a short story on Granny Weatherwax (on par with Vimes for my absolute favourite).
Reading along with Ben and Liz takes me back to when I first discovered the Disc (and other books) and hearing their enthusiasm and love of Pratchett truly does make you feel like you’re just having a conversation. They seem to find enthusiasts everywhere (including a former work colleague of mine that I NEVER KNEW LOVED PRATCHETT AS WELL FOR SHAME) as guests, and despite their love of his work, they give an honest, critical, and open view of the story.
The message Ben read out mentioned the listener jumping in the conversation because its easy to forget we’re just listening. I 100% do the same. It feels like I’m there with them, four Pratchett nerds geeking out over a shared love of the subject matter. So thanks Ben and Liz, every episode is a pleasure.
Again, I’ve never hidden how much of a Brandon Sanderson fan I am. Funnily enough, while I came to this podcast out of fandom, I’ve stayed with it due to the fantastic insights and technical tips of the rest of the team as well. Dan Wells, Howard Taylor and Mary Robinette Kowald bring a wealth of knowledge and seem to have every contact to get every guest possible on the show. Agents such and DongWon Song, editors such as Navah Wolfe and myriad of diverse guests help them tackle difficult topics as well as expanding perspectives on how to achieve distinct outcomes.
With each season following a particular theme, it really does feel like a masterclass in writing, complete with homework at the end of each episode and the absolute professors of the industry running the show. Highly recommended for anyone in the speculative field, but to be honest, the advice is just as useful to other genres as well. Plus there are fifteen seasons so far, so you won’t run out of episodes.
Words and Nerds!
I was a bit hesitant when I first listened to Words and Nerds at episode fourteen, as it covers a lot of areas that I wouldn’t normally be interested in. At episode 159, I can’t bear to miss it now! Dani Vee is as enthusiastic about books as she is about how they interact with and impact worldviews. I love how the interviews constantly go into political and social issues, and even more how Dani has leant into this. The intro talks about how books can change the world, and I genuinely believe the same thing. Books have always helped me understand the world and question my own views in ways that my lived experience never could. This podcast takes the conversation of ‘What is this book about’, and re-moulds it as ‘What does this book mean, and how does it reflect or challenge the world we live in?’.
I don’t think I can praise Dani highly enough for how she runs the interviews, but what I CAN do is recommend the latest episode with Candice Fox. Candice is always great to listen to, but as she always does, Dani really brings out best conversations for a highly entertaining listen (plus, I really get the Midshipman issues. Its a thing).
So You Want To Be A Writer!
Where Writing Excuses has great technical advice and Words and Nerds has great interviews, So You Want To Be A Writer has the best of both worlds. It was my first podcast, and now Val and Al have me taking notes every episode. Industry news, excellent links to various resources, a fantastic range of author interviews, and the fantabuous Word of the Week. Its hard to see what this podcast doesn’t have (except maybe a pronounceable acronym).
The best part though is the community that goes with it. Val and Al are more than voices from the car speaker, keeping me company on the way to work. The co-authored book by the same name is a great resource that I’ve read from cover to cover several times and has helped me out of several holes. More than that though, the podcast community that Val and Al have cultivated is the collective brains trust and cheer squad every writer needs. Its been an absolute necessity for me as guaranteed if there is a questions, about writing, they have the person or people that have the knowledge and desire to help.
The best best part though? The sub-group that a small group of us formed from there, specifically for speculative fiction (though I think it’s pretty much turned out to just be fantasy writers . . .which I’m totally okay with). We met in this community, and these are now my go-to people for writing support. You know who you are. Thanks team, you’re awesome.
Dungeons and Daddies*!
*not a BDSM podcast
I feel like this should be a guilty pleasure, except I feel absolutely no guilt in loving it. Its a story of four dads flung into the Forgotten Realms of Dungeons and Dragons searching for their kids. What is not only the unique energy brought to each of the characters (looking at you Beth May) but also how this is exactly my kind of story. It’s random, its crazy, and it’s being written on the fly as its being recorded. Don’t get me wrong, there is clearly a lot of effort in the world building and the meta-narrative – but as any DM will know, you can’t predict where the characters will take the story. The players are fully invested in their characters and its absolutely hilarious.
One thing I love about it is that at the start of every episode is a ‘Dad Fact’. Its a seemingly irrelevant minor fact about each major character, but aside from being entertaining, its that building of a backstory that is so critical to character. We might come across a scene in which its relevant, or we might not, but that concept of the details giving the impression of a bigger construct is perfectly demonstrated. Knowing Henry’s favourite TV show is the sunrise tells us so much about him even if it has no effect on the story.
Its a fantastic series with a great ‘Mountains of Dadness’ spinoff, and honestly I don’t think there is any other series that can make a listener so invested in pants.
So there you have it. My five favourites. Not all are writing related, but all influence my writing in various ways. More importantly though, they’re all things I look forward to every month, fortnight, or week. So as a collective to all involved, thanks for all your hard work that goes into making these podcasts. They are loved and appreciated, and honestly, probably helping me hold onto the last semblance of my sanity right now.