Fiction Podcast Weekly

An interview with Sarah Golding.

Fiction Podcast Weekly is an email newsletter, bringing you the latest from the world of audio fiction, audio drama, and sound storytelling, produced by Lindsay Harris-Friel and Sarah Golding.

TO1%: How did Fiction Podcast weekly start?
S.G. In the hazy daze of the unexpectedly missed freedoms of May 2019, Matthew McLean of The Podcast host contacted me (Sarah Golding) to see if I’d like to help compile an audio fiction based newsletter much like the hot news does for podcasting. It was meant to bring together important events and happenings and celebrate the cast audio gold being produced in indie climes.

 It started out gently – and, being honest, alongside all my other commitments as a VA, producer, live event organiser, hub virtual pub sorter, new writing comp organiser and a VA for as much as poss, I found it quite hard to keep up with research and the writing (and was a bit too…Sarah-y for some) and so, the brilliant Lindsay Harris-Friel (who was working with The lovely Podcast Host team) was brought onboard with – quite frankly – much better writing and editing and concise compiling skill than I, and the teaming hasn’t changed since.  I have to say that Lindsay does all the hard work – I just throw groovy links at her. 

TO1%: Why did you start it?
S.G. It seemed there was a need for an audio fiction specific newsletter to tie up alllll of the various news articles, events, jobs, milestones and auditions happening specifically for the growing indie audio fiction medium. I was already entrenched in (for reasons I cannot explain) finding and sharing fun and useful articles to the audio drama hub on Facebook and Twitter so, in a way, I just had a better more efficient and focused place to collate more of those. 

The brief was that it had to be easily scannable so it didn’t take up too much of folks time, to have weekly relevant info and celebrate all the amazing work done in and around the indie audio fiction scene. 

With places like Discord and Slack, Tumblr, Instagram, And of course Twitter being so many sources to keep an eye on, we try to keep on top of things, and events,  and can but hope that the Fiction podcast news weekly is a concise and easy, highly accessible (and oft fun) way to fathom the audio fiction news of the week. 

We – Sarah and Lindsay – hunt high and low for news and articles and all of the above but! Would LOVE folks to send us their news or even sponsor an issue too – we are so close to 1000 subscribers and hope to gain more! If you have any relevant articles, milestones, jobs or event listings and anything AF newsworthy, please click this link and ping us!

Or read the latest newsletter or any back issues of audio joy here!

And you can also sponsor the latest issues too for a very reasonable fee!

TO1%: What types of audio drama do you like?
S.G. Well. Now that’s a truly tough question. In more recent years the sea of audio awesome has been too vast to keep up with! That said, The Truth Fiction has been a favourite for a long time, and is one I would LOVE to be in one day. When I grow up. And I have had the pleasure of briefly appearing with Fiona Thraille in the brilliantly produced and forever sublime AmeliaProject – another favourite of mine. I think I prefer comedies – or things with a quirky sense of humour – Obviously Wooden Overcoats is one of the best things to come out of indie Britain along with Victoriocity, The Orphans, We fix space junk, Anything from Tin Can audio,  and new material from Dashing Onions. 

I’ve loved the more recent storytelling in the hope punk vein, and on a different note, Mockery Manor, and Alt Fiction are great fun. I know they’re not British shows but i have to also mention the great joy of being a current recurring character in the bonkers fun Oz9 podcast penned by the wonderful Shannon K Perry – I was a fan before I was in it which like many others makes it even more exciting. There’s a live show in a few weeks with Oz9, Witchever path, Girl in space, Relativity, Ninth world journal and Moonbase theta, and I’d love to see British shows showcasing their awesome in live shows too! It’s doable! So…doit!

I’m a big horror fan too – Shadows at the door and No sleep and Sci Fi Horror SCP Archives being faves there with many brits involved in all.  I got hooked on the earlier ‘modern’ audio fiction US based shows of Wolf 359 and Bright Sessions at the start of my own voice acting career, and have a soft spot for Radiation World (which was quite bonkers), Ars Paradoxica and Lindsay’s Jarnsaxa Rising, before and after our chat on the ole Audio Drama Production Podcast (which new AF podcasters should still check out to be honest for useful how-to eps!). 

On my listening queue right now is some Sidequesting, Y2K, Arden, Harlem Queen, Carlotta Beautox, The Truth, Carlotta Beaitox, Alt fiction, Primordial Deep, White Vault, Dark Dice, Civilized…well, to be honest, a lot of the fable and folly network shows…and I also love non fiction but kinda linked shows – the Sitcom Geeks, Write Now podcast, Short cuts, Heyer Today, Crowley Time, Quid pro Euro, and sometimes some BBC comedy of the week. Just. Sometimes. 

TO1%: How do you see audio drama in the UK at the moment?
S.G. Woah. So many thoughts here! 

There is more going on in the uk, which of course is groovy, and the successes of Rusty Quill and Wooden Overcoats across the world is very exciting, but….there’s room for so many more British storytellers to work in indie audio, to build teams and to help the medium grow over here. And now we have the world pandemic, perhaps those with storytelling skills usually based in other mediums, could turn their attention to joining us and helping build the British presence on the scene? I’d love to see more people of colour writing producing directing, and folks of all genders telling their stories, and diverse teams of folks flooding our ears with amazing stories. The US folks seem to be more prevalent in their support of nurturing and building up of creatives from marginalised communities, and there is no reason why we shouldn’t also be able to nurture, encourage and entrench this diversity in our own teams. I guess some of it is knowing where to look for team members, and also creative folks knowing how to connect! Folks can always post on the audio drama hub to find team members,actors, editors, composers and more.  

I think the whole European movement – not just the U.K. – needs to cloy together a little more….truly…there are so many people all over Europe, doing brilliant audio storytelling who I guess just don’t have the time or energy to reach out to other likeminded groups, or feel a little out on a limb with no other teams to connect with. Storytellers are everywhere. We should try snd connect and work with for and alongside them….what Lori Martinez is doing with Ochenta podcasts and Mina is wonderful, and folks like Y2K and Amelia Project are truly trying to encourage creative team diversity…more please!

There’s also a lot of solo producers doing such a lot and perhaps burning out. It’s great to see things like the PodUk events and PodsupNorth being more proactive – Pod U.K. and Jess Anson, Eden and Chris being particularly supportive Of U.K. indie AF, and there’s a burgeoning Scottish enclave of audio gold being produced. It would be wonderful to see more events online and off to share work, ideas, workshop skills and showcase, and for folks to naval gaze a little less, and also, show support for other folks works – sharing of episodes and milestones and events should become more prevalent for sure. I think that helps for discoverability and for us all to grow….the tech is there….we need the organisers to step up so we can showcase more and help nurture community too. 

I have tried to run what I thought were highly useful (free) audio drama hub virtual pubs for the last 3 years but to be honest uptake hasn’t been that great, (though content has been stellar!) considering I’ve had some of theeee best current creative minds of audio fiction on there – folks such as Lauren Shippen, KC Wayland, Fred Greenhalgh, Lindsay Graham, Hedley Knights and Sarah Buchynski, Beth Crane, Lance Dann, Gabriel Urbina, Lindsay Harris-Friel! And more!

So. Embracing and supporting community with a little more rigour / vim would be groovy but, I am fully aware, and know from experience, that social media can be overwhelming (I used to run 6 Twitter accounts, 3 FB pages and insta, slack, tumblr and YouTube – only 5 Twitter accounts now though)

With so many places to be, read about, find stimuli, help and decipher and ingest reading matter, as well as making your own thing(s) sometimes, it can be truly overwhelming when you make things without a full team, so it helps to network and help share others so the pay it forward cycles begin! (I make MADIVA, ANYINE F’COFFEE, BOGEYS AND GHOULIES, MADCAP, and the upcoming QUARALOGUES). 

The medium is getting more and more flooded with new blood by the day, which is great, but…we also need to lift the leading light uk storytellers a little more fervently, make a splash in our own medium and zip outside it too – encourage other listeners of true crime or nature or politics or history etc, to dip their toes in fiction, horror and sci fi.

 I find it astoundingly exciting that the audio producer equivalents of Spielberg and Coppola (Sophie), the …Dirk Maggs’ and more, regularly hang and add to chats and share resources and advice to folks of all experience to ADHUB forums and discussions. I love that. I hope that continues! There’s also some wonderful tidal waves of appreciation with well regarded releases – haven’t had any huge HUGE splashes of late but I am certain there’s some being made right now! .

Discoverability is key, obviously, and I know for certain that a gelling of ideas to approach local and national press is way overdue. Folks should be proactively contacting their local radio stations and jumping on their BBC Upload showcase opportunities, and perhaps getting local press stories about their storytelling prowess known….I feel Indie audiofiction has been unashamedly overlooked by bigger press for so long – too long – and shows with the production values and storytelling prowess of The Other 1%, The Orphans, Mockery Manor, Victoriocity etc, for some reason have not had the press coverage and boosts they so deserve. Accessibility is not the issue – anyone with a phone or internet connection can hear a podcast. So how can we get folks to listen? Tell them that listening is good for them via different media? Plus, ‘Low bar of entry’ is the term many bandy around. So no excuse for new voices writers, producers, designers, composers, and artists not to jump in! 

Essentially,  I think we need to do less navel gazing and marketing to our own selves as a community, and start to connect better with other podcasters of different topics and areas, the press and make events happen ourselves. Meeting and promoting and working with other podcast styles and non fiction too may gain groovy audience who will be truly blown away by the amazing array of content in audio fiction.

In my head, podcasters creating supportive networks is the way forward. But they need proactive positive energetic friendly people to help spearhead them, who are *not* also making the podcasts in perpetuity. We need folks hot on social media to showcase the true brilliance of audio fiction being written with low or next to no budget but, with love and care, attention, skill and some half decent marketing would give the bigger networks a run for their money. 

We also need more reviewers. I’m not the right person to do a review show because I’m in things I’d love to review! (Though I can’t say I haven’t thought about it!) We need folks to comment more on and from within and without the medium, to give it credence on the landscape, and draw in an audience from those who don’t make it themselves. So if that’s you….start that blog, that newsletter, that audio review show do! 

TO1%. Podcast up until now has been very much like Independent film – people telling their own stories on limited budgets.  Do you think that this independence is threatened by the like of Audible and BBC Sounds where the budgets especially in marketing can sometimes be unlimited?
S.G. I don’t feel they are truly threatened because as I said, accessibility to make and distribute is getting easier and easier. But we need better ways of getting discovered. I think platforms like Podchaser are superb for audiofiction…if more folks got on there and reviewed other shows too, and shared their own audio fiction lists, that could hell raise awareness of more shows and creatives, and we need more reviewers from all walks of life and all parts of the world sharing their finds and making things known. We need more consistent press advocacy of the brilliant of the indie space – for a while now I feel the bigger networks have been scrambling to keep their status as indie fiction podcasts often surpass them in quality and serialisation. 

Look at what Rusty Quill are doing – great business model there, and growing audience and shows, and Big Finish have done alright n’all huh? I think what Mariele Runacre-Temple is doing with audible is exciting, and they do listen and work with and recruit some of the best indie talent! (And as folks make things, their skills grow and improve and they train others, and this can only be a good thing, as resources and tech improves to help us learn too). But also, I was kind of sad that one year, there was one groovy event for audiofiction that was overtaken with bigger budget showcases the next year, but full of a mix of established ‘establishment’ and indie folks attending; it was sponsored by Audible and yes, I kind of felt the indie grass roots punk grooviness of indie AF was pushed out – gently nudged for showcasing the established published money fed folks – and I feel the students that were there and those there to improve and learn yes, need to make connections with the big guns, but also know and remember that many brilliant things that talented, skilled, audio fiction indie folks are making are sublime, they are paying their actors via Patreon, kickstart and funding support, and teams are growing, and gently making some half decent pay, and producing some stunningly fabulous works.  

TO1%: What do you think makes a good podcast (audio drama)?
S.G. The plays the thing huh? Of course it’s always about A truly good story – well paced, (sometimes witty, or gritty)  verbally groovy, surprising, risky…and a great cast of easy discernible well rounded character voices, and depth of sound immersion is welcomed. You KNOW when the sound designer is talented in a show…anything by Mischa Stanton or Lindsay Graham, Lance Dann, Travis Vengrof, Eli McIlveen or K.C Wayland is wonderful. Listen to the differences! 

Something accessible beyond the show too is wonderful – like the Amelia Project have their files on cases for PATREONS, or Automnicon for WFSJ, the music from The Tower, or the whole multimedia web and text fun on Lance Dann’s Blood Culture. Love love all that. More of this please!

Also love binaural audio (also on location did you hear Almost Tangible’s Macbeth? Awesome) but there is still not a lot of it about. It works superbly for horror – so….get practicing you creatives you! 

Music is far too often overlooked and folks like Freddie Baden of Amelia Project, Tom Parsons and Dany Leonardson, Avi Ziv, Katie Seaton can turn something good into something superb. So pay attention to that part of your sound too! 

Don’t be too het up and precious about recording in a studio either, espeixlly right now. Some of the best audio fiction I love has been made remotely. It can be done, and it is and will be done, and some of the work is amongst the best out there at the moment. Contact me if you don’t know where to start! 

I think it important for folks to have a website where you can find the cast. EspECIALLY if that cast has worked for you for very little (or less) the least you can do is have a page for their social media and biog so folks can find and support them and their works. Same for your core team – CELEBRATE THEM! This. To me, is HUGELY important. 

Re timing of pods, folks often moot should it be 20, 40, 3, 5, 90 minutes? I don’t care how long it is, as if it’s long,  I’ll do an ep at a time and if it’s ten or twenty mins or less, I’ll binge five or six eps at a time. 

TO1%: What is your advice for anyone wanting to get into audio drama?
S.G. Do it. Do it do it do it do it do it. 

Honestly. You got a story to tell? Listen to how others tell theirs…study and read up on storytelling and audio creation skills, attend workshops and webinars and learn by yourself… and audition the best fun voice actors and have the time of your life gettin that story out there. Do something that’s…got legs! Can have some perpetual itch some sustainability to it, or do anthology shows….choose your path, and get really really good at it. I’m not saying stay in one niche by any means (lawks knows I don’t!) but make sure you spend time on improving, rather than making the same thing over and over again!  Do courses on acting and editing and writing and all things creative. Perfect your craft. Nurture your listener community. Make connections. But above all, Enjoy yourself. 

Ah gwan. 

Whatever happens, make it for you. Tell the story / stories you want to tell, find out how to share them at top quality, and to all social media platforms, and try and nurture your own mini community, and who knows who will fall in love with your tales of audio joy! That’s what I love. I have a loyal audience for my pods. It would fill a small theatre, and that makes me feel warm and happy. And one day. If we actually get into a theatre again for a live show to share it, that would make me happy too, so that I could say to their faces…thank you for listening.

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