A podcast by three fantasy authors who love to overcomplicate things for themselves.
Episode 59: Ooooh, Shiny! Crafting a World from Shiny Ideas
Worldbuilding can lead an author to generate a lot of fun ideas. But how do you figure out which of those ideas can actually be integrated into your story?
Episode 58: L’Etat, C’est… Quoi? ft. C.L. POLK
What, exactly is a state? And how does it come to be? C.L. Polk joins us to discuss the making and breaking of nations within your fantasy worlds.
Episode 57: Ask a Necromancer ft. AMANDA DOWNUM
How do people in your world handle death? Spiritually, financially, emotionally -- and, as may be relevant to your plot, how do they deal with actual dead bodies? Amanda Downum joins us to discuss the details of the deceased -- and she's both a writer and a licensed mortician, so she can answer some of the questions you've been afraid to Google, lest you end up on a government watchlist!
Transcript for Episode 57 (thanks to our scribes!)
Amanda was born in Virginia, and has since then spent time in Indonesia, Micronesia, Missouri, and Arizona, with brief layovers in California and Colorado. In 1990 she was sucked into the gravity well of Texas, and hasn't managed to escape. Yet.
She lives in Austin with her partner and their snake, and can be found haunting absinthe bars, goth clubs, and other liminal spaces. Her hobbies used to include cooking hearts and rock climbing, but now most of her time is devoted to studying Mortuary Science. Her day job sometimes lets her dress as a giant worm. She can be summoned at a crossroads on the new moon, or through Facebook, Twitter, or Patreon.
Episode 56: Word Building ft. SARAH BETH DURST
How much can your literal language -- the individual words you use, the cadence of your sentences, a conlang, a poetic tradition -- help convey your worldbuilding? Sarah Beth Durst joins us to talk about the fine tool of wordcraft in your prose and dialogue.
Episode 55: Epic GrimDarkPunk Romance
The fantasy genre comes in many flavors -- but how do we tease those apart? In this episode, we explore the structural conventions, aesthetic flourishes, and reader expectations the define the many glorious subgenres of speculative fiction.
Episode 54: Cyberpunk Worldbuilding ft. PJ MANNEY
When you're building for the near future, how far can you go? Is technology going to doom us, save us, or a bit of both? How does a society make that determination -- and how can your worldbuilding show those choices in action?
In this episode with guest PJ Manney, we explore cyberpunk, technothrillers, and other alternate-near-future fiction. We also spend some time teasing apart the ideas of genre, aesthetic, and plot device, and where they overlap.
Our Guest: PJ Manney is the author of the bestselling and Philip K. Dick Award nominated science fiction technothriller, (R)EVOLUTION (2015), published by 47North in the Phoenix Horizon trilogy with, (ID)ENTITY (2017), and (CON)SCIENCE, (2021). Set as alternate, future American histories, the novels chart the influence of world-changing technologies on power and nations.
A former chairperson of Humanity Plus, she helped rebrand the organization, launch H+ Magazine and organize the first multi-org conference on futurist topics, Convergence ’08. She authored "Yucky Gets Yummy: How Speculative Fiction Creates Society" and "Empathy in the Time of Technology: How Storytelling is the Key to Empathy," foundational works on the neuropsychology of empathy and media.
Manney presented her ideas to National Geographic, the Producers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, NASA-JPL, M.I.T., Huffington Post, The H+ Summit, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a frequent guest on podcasts/webshows including StarTalk, The World Transformed, Singularity 1on1 and Amazing Mind, and has published in BoingBoing, Live Science and Tor.com. She is also the first person to create and transfer a digital autograph for a novel verified by the blockchain. Manney consults for varied organizations about the future of humanity and technology, including artificial intelligence, robotics, cyborgs, nanotechnology, biotechnology, brain-computer interfaces, space, blockchains and cryptocurrencies.
Manney graduated from Wesleyan University double majoring in Film and American Studies. She worked for over 25 years in film/TV: motion picture PR at Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures; story development for independent film production companies; and writing as Patricia Manney for the critically acclaimed hit TV shows Hercules — The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. She also co-founded Uncharted Entertainment, writing and/or creating many pilot scripts for television networks, including CBS, Fox, UPN, Discovery, ABC Family and Comedy Central.
Manney lives with her husband in Southern California and is a dual citizen of the US and New Zealand. She is a member of the WGA, SFWA, ITW and PEN America.
Transcript for Episode 54 (with thanks to our scribes!)
I find myself listening to this whenever I need a little extra motivation to write. It helps to build my excitement for writing and sparks creativity. Plus the hosts are fantastic!
A great way to dive into a really important piece of writing. The hosts are fabulous!
Love this podcast as a fresh way to look at writing. They have great chemistry and lots of great ideas!