“Be truthful about characters, relationships, conflict, and consequences. Metaphor is extra. When your characters are honest and ground their emotions in reality, your audience will empathize with them.”
We’re big fans of audio drama and fiction podcasts here at The Podcast Host. As listeners we’re always looking for new shows to subscribe to, and as podcasters we’re always looking to help fellow creators grow their audience.
Each week we’ll pick the brains of someone who runs an audio drama or fiction podcast. We’re going to ask them what their show is about, how they go about making it, and what other fiction podcasts they’re currently enjoying.
This week we’re talking to Lindsay Harris Friel, writer/director of the audio drama series Jarnsaxa Rising.
Give us a written trailer for your show. Why should we listen?
Norse deities manipulate human workers in a future energy company to avenge ancient grudges. Jarnsaxa seeks revenge on Odin and Thor, but she and Loki have to go through the human world to make that happen. Corporate misconduct is the new version of Odin’s dirty work, and Jarnsaxa has a lot of dirt to turn over.
I got hooked on podcasts with The Bugle and This American Life. The BBC’s Radio 4 show, Wireless Nights with Jarvis Cocker, dragged me in and showed me how rich and immersive podcasts can be.
At the beginning, this script was an experiment with mythic themes and science fiction in live theatre. Limiting it to audio and breaking it down into episodes gave us freedom to explore the characters and situations in depth.
How did you come up with the idea?
Our director, Carin Bratlie, challenged me to write about an abandoned wind farm in the Baltic, far into the future. Agents investigate some unexplained energy surges. They find that the wind farm is sentient, and hungry. This was her seed of an idea.
I did some research, and became fascinated with The Åland Islands. They’re fiercely independent, and rich with iron. Jarnsaxa is a Jotun giantess involved with wind and sea, but mostly iron- her name literally means “iron axe” or “iron blade.” She felt right to haunt this abandoned wind farm.
Can you give an insight into your process for writing, recording and producing the show?
I wrote it in Philadelphia. Carin had several readings of the play with her theater company, Theatre Pro Rata, in Minneapolis. They loved the story and characters, but the script was not right for a traditional play. Carin, my husband Vince, and I decided that we would produce it as a podcast. Carin found professional actors who were willing to volunteer their time. Vince planned a streamlined mobile recording setup. We flew from Philadelphia to Minneapolis, with an entire recording studio in our carry-on luggage. The TSA were only too happy to wave us through. The company rehearsed for a week in Carin’s living room. I rewrote around rehearsals. Finally, we recorded all of it in about 10 hours over two days in our hotel room.
Could you tell us 3 other audio drama or fiction podcasts that you like?
Narrowing it down to three is impossible. Right now I’m most looking forward to the next episodes of A Scottish Podcast, Hadron Gospel Hour, Small Town Horror, Wooden Overcoats, and The Bright Sessions. I’m hoping more women will write more shows about grounded women in difficult circumstances, so I can listen to them. Synesthesia Theatre’s Cold Reboot is off to a good start.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to create a podcast like yours?
Be truthful about characters, relationships, conflict, and consequences. Metaphor is extra. When your characters are honest and ground their emotions in reality, your audience will empathize with them.
Finally, where can we find you on the web?
RSS feed: http://jarnsaxarising.com/rss
To find more great shows like this, check out our other Fiction Podcast of the Week features.