I plan to start blogging a bit about good places to find quality fiction. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but keep not getting around to it. Today I sold a story to one of my favourite podcasts, so that triggered me to get started. With the net and all associated digital content, new ways to receive stories are popping up all the time. I plan to blog about some of the best online fiction magazines in a future post, but thought I’d start with podcasts.
You probably know that I do a podcast myself, with David Wood, called ThrillerCast. We talk about thrillers and all kinds of genre fiction, about writing and publishing and so on. There are loads of good podcasts like ours out there with people chatting about stuff. But there are also some brilliant podcasts that deliver fiction. There’s something primal and heartfelt about having a story read to you. I love to read, I love to immerse myself in a book and have that time to myself, living a story as the author delivers it directly to my imagination. But I also love to be told a story. Since time immemorial people have shared stories by voice. Sitting around a campfire, being transported by a good story, is one of the simplest and most profound pleasures in life. The podcast gives us the opportunity to recreate that in the digital age.
I often drive to Sydney and back, which is about an hour and a half each way. When I make that drive, I’ll listen to stories all the way there and back. I subscribe to quite a few story podcasts through iTunes, which means that whenever I sync up my iPhone any new podcasts are automatically downloaded to it. When I get in the car I plug it in and see what new stories are waiting for me. These are great audio magazines and I can’t get enough of them.
Here are some of my favourite podcasts:
Pseudopod – I’ll start with this one because I’m currently Snoopy dancing about the fact that they’ve just bought one of my stories. Pseudopod, PodCastle and Escape Pod are three projects run by Escape Artists, with Pseudopod being the horror arm of the trifecta. They have great stories, which is why I’m so happy to have one of mine appearing there soon. Also, from a writer’s perspective, they pay well, which is always a bonus, and accept “reprints”. Pseudopod publishes quality dark fiction, rarely for the faint-hearted, but never the kind of mindless splattergore so often associated with horror. When I say this is one of my favourite podcasts I might be lying. It’s possibly my absolute favourite. If you like dark fiction and don’t listen to anything else, at least listen to this one.
Escape Pod – This is the Sci-Fi podcast of the three mentioned above. The quality of sci-fi here is comparable to the quality of horror at Pseudopod and well worth your time. Also, from a writer’s perspective, they pay pro rates of 5c a word and accept reprints.
PodCastle – This one makes the final third of the Escape Artist podcasts, being the fantasy arm. Again, the quality is invariably high, the pay rate, like Escape Pod, is a pro 5c a word, they accept reprints and the reading in all these podcasts is top notch. In fact, the majority of stories in all three of these podcasts are things that have originally appeared in print somewhere first.
Everything about the Escape Artists podcasts is brilliantly done and I always enjoy what they have to offer. They’re definitely my top three fiction podcasts. Have a listen, subscribe and, if you like them, think about donating something via the buttons on the websites so they can continue to pay well for great stories.
Wily Writers – This bunch were my first experience of podcast stories. My story, Stand Off, was published by them in text on the site and as a podcast. It was the first time I’d heard someone else read my work and hearing a professional American voice actor delivering my story was quite bizarre. It was also excellent. Wily Writers are releasing an anthology soon, collecting the best stories they’ve podcast so far, and Stand Off is going to be included, so I’ve got a lot to thank them for. I’ll let you know when that book is available. In the meantime, subscribe to the podcast as they always put out good stories that are always very well read.
Terra Incognita – “The best Australian Speculative Fiction read by the authors who created it” is the tagline of Terra Incognita Australia Speculative Fiction Podcast, or TISF, and it says it all really. It’s run by Keith Stevenson as part of cour de lion publishing and Keith gets the best of Aussie spec fic and gets the authors to read it, simple as that. It’s always good as Keith is a great editor and has an eye/ear for a good story.
Dark Fiction Magazine – This one is out of the UK and another example of quality dark fiction, again shattering the preconceptions of horror. Top stories, top readers and regular episodes.
Outlandish Voices – This one is a bit like TISF, but they focus on local voices. They’ve had some great stories read by their authors, all of whom are in the Wollongong area of New South Wales, in Australia. Included among these is me, reading my story Crossfire. They haven’t done much in the last six months, but it’s worth subscribing to catch anything new they do put out.
So that’s my pick of the fiction podcasts for now. Most of these are just like audio magazines in that they include news and reviews as well as the stories and often read out and discuss feedback from previous episodes at the end. If you haven’t tried podcast fiction, give some of these a go. But I warn you – it’s addictive.
What about you? Do you like podcast fiction? What are your favourites? If you have any good tips, please leave a comment.