“Both of us are writers and we were looking for non-traditional ways to publish our work. A fiction podcast seemed to be a perfect vehicle – a combination of literature and sound.”
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 Tom Newton and Brent Robison, co-creators of the fiction podcast series The Strange Recital.
Give us a written trailer for your show. Why should we listen?
Our aim is to question the nature of reality. We delight in perceptions of the world that warp and fold in unexpected ways.
The literary works we showcase might be odd, humorous, or surreal. They might remind you of Borges, Nabokov, Kafka, Pynchon. Or none of the above.
The format of the show is always a story, then a short musical interlude followed by a discussion. We are not limited by genre, and the listener can expect to hear something different each episode.
Fiction is a beautiful attribute of human consciousness, perhaps even an evolutionary adaptation. It is important not only as entertainment, but because the stories we tell each other shape the world we inhabit.
Why did you decide to start the podcast?
Both of us are writers and we were looking for non-traditional ways to publish our work. A fiction podcast seemed to be a perfect vehicle – a combination of literature and sound.
As the idea took shape we realized we wanted to include other writers.
How did you come up with the idea?
Many Java-fueled conversations led to The Strange Recital. The momentum of the idea aided in its own development.
The title encapsulated the vision. “Strange” because it would express odd and thought-provoking angles on reality, spoken by different voices. “Recital” because it would be a performance that people would listen to. Hence the show image of an orchestra and bull-headed conductor.
The Minotaur conductor is perhaps a nod to Surrealism. We wanted the podcast to have a Dadaist sensibility, a subtle humor, to guard against the peril of taking ourselves too seriously. The shallow and profound, the sacred and profane would mix until they became indistinguishable.
Can you give an insight into your process for writing, recording and producing the show?
Our first concern is quality in every aspect, from the selection of material, to the recording, the choice of music, and the sound effects.
We find suitable stories through our personal networks of writer friends, with the goal of expanding those connections as we grow.
We record each story, read by its author when possible, in our studio using Pro Tools. We then polish the dialogue and introduce some sound effects. We want them to be audible but subtle.
The use of sound effects is integral to our podcast. Using them behind a story is quite different from film, where they tend to emulate or augment reality.
For our purpose they are unchained from normal reality. When you hear a car, we are not trying to make you think you are in a car. They are more like symbols of symbols and serve to make the listening experience more dynamic. They are also a good way to underscore a point or introduce a little humor.
We then add a short musical interlude that demarcates the two sections of an episode. The music can relate to the story or be quite unexpected–another way to bring flavor.
The last section, which we call the Post Recital, is conversational as opposed to narrative. This gives a breath, but we put as much work into it as into the story that precedes it. We try to make it a fun and interesting twist on reality.
The Strange Recital is a collaboration between the two hosts. We work together and also take on certain responsibilities independently. The beauty of a collaboration is that we temper each other’s indulgences and introduce each other to new ideas.
Could you tell us 3 other audio drama or fiction podcasts that you like?
What advice do you have for someone who wants to create a podcast like yours?
Creating a podcast and airing it with consistency is a lot of work. It is ongoing and relentless. So our advice for anyone who wants to create one is: do it for love, because you are driven and enjoy what you do.
Try to make the quality as high as possible, as there is a lot out there to choose from. You have to satisfy an audience if you are to find and retain one.
Finally, where can we find you on the web?
The website for The Strange Recital is (strangely): thestrangerecital.com. There you can find a description of the show, read the episodes as text, see the bios of authors, get links to the music used, and contact us.
To find more great shows like this, check out our other Fiction Podcast of the Week features.