Em's place

Writing, anxiety-wrangling, tea.

The joy of podcasts

By Emma on October 8, 2012

Well the last four weeks have been, to put it plainly, rubbish. A chest infection post-Worldcon then a minor family disaster have led to me missing Fantasycon and getting in a tizz work-wise and generally feeling a bit pants.

It’s also stolen any desire to blog out of me and I was aware that I needed to write about something but didn’t feel inspired. I could give you all a Split Worlds update or blather about something else, but nothing emerged. Then I realised there was something I wanted to talk about.


Several years after the rest of the world started following podcasts properly I suddenly realised I could use technology to listen to podcasts when not at my computer, and furthermore, could subscribe to ones I enjoy. Well duh! I have no idea why this passed me by for so long, but I’m happy to say that they’ve saved me from going quietly mad whilst doing lots of cooking lately.

Before I go any further I should add that I hate cooking. Sometimes I feel an urge to bake – about once or twice a year – but that’s it. However, due to the minor disaster I mentioned earlier I have had to cook a lot over the past three weeks. I’m not a foodie and cooking makes me thoroughly miserable. Here are the podcasts which have stopped me from throwing a saucepan through the window:

The Roundtable Podcast

I simply love the concept behind this show. Basically a very brave guest presents an idea for a story as a pitch and another guest, who is an experienced writer, helps them to make it better by asking questions. It opens out to a discussion with the regular show hosts and they stir it all up in the pot until something even better comes out. They also have 20 minute interviews with the guest writers alternated with the story podcasts. It’s fascinating and the regular hosts are very enjoyable to listen to as they are so enthusiastic and positive.

SF Signal

This is wonderfully varied and the people who run it are very lovely in real life too. This week they had a discussion about alternative history books which got me through cooking bolognaise.

Sword and Laser

Very slick show and there’s a video version which I need to check out too. There are regular parts of the podcast including news and a calendar for upcoming book releases and notable events, both of which make me feel all clued up about what’s going on in the genres I love.

Writing Excuses

I love this one; each episode is fifteen minutes long and focuses on a different aspect of writing, from different kinds of plots to writing for different audiences / niches or in-depth discussions of an author’s book. The authors know their stuff (and Mary Robinette Kowal has a voice I could listen to all day). Why, only this morning I was learning about writing sex scenes (blimey!) whilst making breakfast. It’s a great show. I heartily recommend it.

SF Squeecast

The premise behind this podcast is simply gorgeous; sci-fi and fantasy writers taking turns to talk about something they’ve read and loved. It’s very positive, interesting and lovely to hear people talking passionately about something they’ve enjoyed. One of the regulars is the very splendid Paul Cornell by the way, who is one of the loveliest chaps I know. It won the Hugo at Worldcon too, which made me very happy.

Others on my list

Adventures in Sci-Fi publishing
I’ve only listened to a couple of interviews lately which were excellent but I plan to listen to a lot more. I’ve also downloaded some Functional Nerds episodes but haven’t listened to any yet.

Oh, may I add in a rather cheeky and awkwardly self-promotional manner that the audio versions of the weekly Split Worlds stories are available as a podcast on iTunes?

Got any recommendations?

I’d love to hear them!

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{ 12 comments... read them below, or add one }

  1. Well, Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing, for a start. Essential, no matter what stage of your career you are at. Her site is http://www.murverse.com, although it is currently down for maintenance.

    I tend to listen to more non-writing podcasts these days, which are an endless source of story material – a particular favourite is the Bowery Boys New York History podcast (http://theboweryboys.blogspot.co.uk), although I know that is a particular niche interest of mine! All Things Considered from NPR (http://www.npr.org/programs/all-things-considered/) is another good one.

    • Emma says:

      Oh that’s a great idea, it didn’t occur to me that there might be ones useful for research too. Oh brave new world!

  2. Sticking to genre podcasts (as you seem to be doing here):

    Speculate! (Done by authors Bradley Beaulieu and Gregory A Wilson)
    The Coode Street Podcast (done by Gary K Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan).
    The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy

  3. Mieneke says:

    Apart from some of those Paul mentioned and the ones you’ve got up, I also listen to the Once and Future Podcast by Anton Strout. That’s often a fun one as well.

  4. Eddie Cochrane says:

    One of the best podcasts about writing I’ve heard is The Nerdist Writer’s Panel, http://www.nerdist.com/podcast/nerdist-writers-panel/
    It is specifically about writing for television, and very much from the US TV market point of view, but despite not having any plans of taking up writing myself, for TV or otherwise, it has given me a fascinating insight to the process. Many of the guest writers are from genre shows, Lost, BSG, Supernatural, many Buffy alums, etc. They do occasionally branch out from TV, they had a recent interview with comic writer Ed Brubaker (Fatale, Criminal, Captain America).
    On the comic front, Kieron Gillen’s Decompressed is excellent,
    http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/category/decompressed/ It focuses on a single issue of a comic with its writer and artist and looks at how it was created in very insightful detail. The accompanying blog carries examples of some of the art being discussed. It’s like having a DVD commentary track for a comic.

  5. John Wiswell says:

    I enjoy Sword & Laser’s round-up of events and neat links. They get to a lot of places I don’t look, and it’s helpful. Glad they made your cut, Emma. Them, Adventures in SF Publishing and SF Signal make up a lot of my writing-podcasts. The only addition is the NY Times Book Review podcast, which has a lot of interesting industry talk as well as very smart looks at fiction (whenever they deign to discuss fiction), history (what most of the non-fiction reviews are about, good research), and breakdowns of what’s new that sells (though perhaps more appealing to someone in the U.S.?). http://www.nytimes.com/pages/podcasts/index.html

    But most of my podcast-hours actually go to non-writing topics. My favorite podcast is Idle Thumbs, a videogame podcast that’s been hosted by a few industry professionals – folks who had hands in making Skyrim, Bioshock, Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and Sam & Max. The crew has a unique blend if intellectual expertise and absurdist humor, so they both always charm me and take their conversations of craft much deeper than I’ve heard anywhere else. They just started up a Book Podcast, too, though I haven’t tried it out yet. http://www.idlethumbs.net/

    Last shout-out is for This American Life. It is an hour-long weekly podcast that originates on public radio, and chronicles stories from various lives, usually figuring out angles I’d never imagined. My all-time favorite episode was House on Loon Lake, in which they devoted the hour to investigative journalism over why a house on valuable property was abandoned with so many furnishings but no trace of the occupants, and why they never returned. It started in urban legends about the place and grew outward toward facts. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/

  6. Dave Robison says:

    I’ve always felt that one of the best ways to get to know a person is to look at their movie, CD, and book collections. Now, I think I need to add “podcasts” to the list.

    Thanks for this, Emma… it not only expands awareness of some exceptional podcasts but also gives us some intriguing insights into your own view of life (from a podosphere perspective, anyway). ๐Ÿ™‚

    This article read like the play list in my podcatcher… except for SF Squeecast. I’ll be adding that to my roster (thanks for that). And thanks to Paul and Mieneke for their suggestions (my podcast time debt is so large now that I need a Tardis to get caught up on all of them).

    My only suggested addition would be the Dead Robots’ Society podcast (http://www.deadrobotssociety.com). Three published authors leading discussions (among themselves or numerous guests) on every aspect of writing and publishing. They were a significant inspiration for the Roundtable Podcast and their honest and personable approach to their craft and the business has always appealed to me. Definitely worth a listen.

  7. Griffin says:

    I can’t think of any podcasts that focus on writing besides ones already mentioned. I’ll have to add some of these to my mp3 player queue after I finish typing.

    If you want to enjoy some excellent music though, I highly recommend El Diabolik’s World of Psychotronic Soundtracks.
    Each episode is roughly 2 hours long and features film scores from all over the world.

  8. Peter says:

    Hi Em

    I know these aren’t writing ‘advice’ podcasts, but if you haven’t already found them you should really, really, check out Escape Pod and the Drabble Cast – in iTunes and both at their .org domains.


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