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Hello, fellow listeners!

We are well and truly embedded in the holiday season, which means family, food, and not nearly enough time to listen to podcasts. I hope we all remember to keep some positivity close for when it gets tough, something celebratory for when it gets quiet, and something revelatory or revolutionary for when you need to change someone's mind. (Also, remember to take something interesting to introduce those of your relatives that can be turned to the ways of podcasts.)


Scheduling Note

Because of said holiday season (as well as a sequence of major events in January), I will not be releasing a newsletter on the following days:

December 3rd
December 31st
January 14th

However, there will be a newsletter on January 7th.

Palimpsest, Deirdre (episode 2.6): Palimpsest’s second season has led listeners to discover faerie tales alongside Ellen, from the magical to the macabre, and the most recent episode certainly has leaned into faerie horror. The foundation of Palimpsest is in the weaving of imagery, evocative language delivered with skill and practiced ease as a result of the powerhouse duo of Ridenhour and Heninger. [24:13]

The Far Meridian, Too Heavy to Fly (episode 2.6): Barraza continues to sweep listeners off their feet, out of this world and into another, but bringing their history with them. It’s impossible to not find yourself, or someone you love in The Far Meridian, and to feel the ache in your own heart. This episode contains a long-awaited conversation, and confrontation, and it doesn’t fail in living up to those expectations. [18:22]

She’s in Russia, The Babushka Society (episode 73): This episode of She’s in Russia is a one-episode audio fiction set inside of a nonfiction conversation podcast. Two men, one Russian and one American, get pulled into something of a fairy tale, even though “this is not a fairy tale,” one of them is very sure to say, rejecting the tropes that crop up. This is a super enjoyable romp, with some moments that are highly relatable for everyone (you know when people gasp in horror when you don’t know some ostensibly key piece of pop culture?). [25:23]

Super Ordinary, Sean? (episode 10): Super Ordinary’s finale features Sean and Harrison the Intern with the subjects of their research, the mysterious figure of teenage superpowered Annika and best friend Bailey. This is a story that will get worse before it gets better for Annika and while the finale few moments are a confusing sequence of sounds, possibly too confusing, this is a solid, tense ending to what has been a spectacular first season. [13:35]

Almost Tangible, Macbeth (episodes 1-4): This adaptation is pretty incredible -- this is a binaural and soundscaped 2-hour rendition of Macbeth, which has been recorded on location in Glamis Castle (that’s the castle from the play). It’s astonishing to listen to, especially for those of us that love Shakespeare; it’s really very creepy to hear witches whispering directly into one ear.  There are occasional volume normalization issues and it can be hard to hear some of the lines as they’re delivered by the actors on top of the sounds of battle or swelling music, but for the most part, this has been cleverly designed and recorded. [~30:00]

Everything is Alive, Ayo, A Balloon (episode 9): Ayo’s conversation structure is a lot like the life of a balloon -- the conversation climbs higher into the esoteric and philosophical, and she talks more and more, until suddenly -- it stops. This episode’s design startled me and made me gaze in shock into the distance, which you would think would be responses I would be used to by now for this podcast. [25:52]

The Hidden Frequencies, The Cutting Room (episode 9): I think the horror in this episode is less in the advanced, misused technology, and more in how it’s only a few steps removed from real life. This was expertly crafted from start to finish, to portray the facets of the injustice faced by members of the Black community in the United States, and how the media is often the linchpin in governmental oppression. Also, the sound design for the technology in question is just straight up creepy. [27:33]

Lethal Lit, The Hollow Truth (episode 5): One step away from the finale, the young-adult crime drama Lethal Lit has been pretty much as expected. It’s wonderful to hear marginalized folks voicing protagonists in this kind of fiction, striving for truth and justice instead of a true crime grotesquely lingering on a dead woman’s body. The script doesn’t go anywhere surprising so far, including in the use of a podcast-recording framing device, but it has skilled actors who make the dialogue sound effortless and natural. [28:48]

Buick City 1 AM, Episode 2:  Okay, it’s still a little weird to be listening to this protagonist that is almost, but not quite, my name-twin, just like how Elena Collins’ time-traveling journey to prevent her father's murder in 1984 is almost, but not quite, what she was expecting. It's bleak, a little parodical, and strange, with riveting musical numbers. This episode has one of my favorite songs so far, though I don’t know what it says about me that I love the song that says ‘the future is bleak’. [20:19]

Boom, Begin the Begin (episode 24): Boom has solidly been the one podcast that has never strayed from making me want to scream out my tension. Thriller is putting it mildly; this is a heart-rending, stomach-twisting roller coaster, thanks to both writing and acting. Keeping episodes at 15 minutes or less is what makes Boom a star in pacing, what helps make everything feel like it’s going at a breakneck speed or at a slow and healing walk. It feels like we’re crawling, excruciatingly, up a particularly big hill in the ride at this point, and I’m already terrified for the drop. [14:52]


We’re all aware, possibly painfully so, of that podcast-to-TV adaptation pipeline and the possibility of podcasts being made solely so that they can be picked up by a movie and TV studio for development. We absolutely have to be wary of podcasting becoming an IP testing ground, especially in audio fiction. But I think there’s another area where we need to tread carefully: the book-to-podcast adaptation line.

Just as how visual mediums have co-opted written works for adaptation, ripe for movie-going and streaming audiences, podcasts have been identified, if still in a comparatively low-key fashion, as a possible medium adaptation for written works. Unlike with the visual medium, it’s a lot cheaper and it doesn’t need to go through studio development deal and contract hell before being greenlit. And podcasting provides a useful tool for authors to disseminate their work in multiple accessible ways, and in an engaging fashion for people who might be more pulled in by audio works than written.

I love adaptations of written works to audio, and I think the process of doing so successfully is difficult and time-consuming, but worthwhile. Almost Tangible’s Macbeth has done a great job, and so have The Phenomenon and The Enoch Saga, to name a few. They’ve all edited the work to fit the audio medium, to be easier listening, to have a soundscape to bring what was previously written down to life, and to be voiced by a full cast of actors. In The Phenomenon, they’ve edited out a narrator entirely, and The Enoch Saga has kept some of the prose narration where it’s important to focus on the action or the protagonist’s inner thoughts. It’s also important to note audio like LeVar Burton Reads, with one single narrator and lush sound design and scoring (something that I think is underutilized in narrated audio fiction).

But tread carefully; podcasting is also not an audience hunting ground for written works. Like any other time I talk about adaptations and working in podcasting, it’s necessary to treat the medium with respect. Adapt conscientiously; you’re transmitting information with only sound and, if you decide to cut the narrator and use sound design, that’s going to take some judicious editing and examining of what’s important, and what isn’t. Not everything that works on the page works for the ear, and long passages of text, and it’s possible that you’ll have to cut something otherwise dear to your heart.

Which written work adaptations to podcasts do you love? Which podcasts surprised you when you found out they were adapted from a book? Many podcasters I’ve spoken to have told me about how their podcast was originally a novel, which they then spliced and edited and modified to become a podcast instead, another form of adaptation even if the original work didn’t see publication previously. What’s the hardest part about adapting a work for you?

Homecoming with Wil Williams: Recap and Lots of Questions
October fiction debuts for everyone (yes, even if you hate the spooky)
If you want to see more reviews, interviews, and other articles from me, you can support me over at my ko-fi account! 
Ko-Fi Support
The Discover Pod finalists have been announced. It's time to go vote!
The Audio Verse Awards finalists have also been announced! Make some time to vote, it's definitely that season.
Applications for the Google/PRX podcast creator training are still open until 11:59 PM December 2nd.
Applications for Tuned In Dialed Up's From the Sound Up competition are open until November 30th. Submit a released podcast episode, or an unreleased pilot or new episode, for critique from Gavin Gaddis and Wil Williams, two experienced podcast critics.
I'm seeing a lot of independent live shows being put on or designed for fiction podcasts and that's a great thing! Here's a helpful article on DIY live shows from Eric Silver, host of Join the Party and member of Multitude Productions.

You and me and everyone out there has probably heard the name of Kevin MacLeod -- you know, the brain behind Incompetech and a lot of free music compositions used in podcasts (and other forms of media, too!). You can read Wil Williams' stellar interview with him.

A bit of a shorter Casting Light today while I gear up for a pretty busy holiday season. I'll be reminding everyone of my schedule online, and if you really need podcast recommendations in the several weeks you won't be seeing me, keep an eye on social media and my website.

If you'd like to ask me questions or comments, you can reply to this newsletter (it goes directly to my email!) or reach out to me on Twitter.

Happy listening and happy holidays,
Logo, of a pair of headphones with a pen laying across them.
Copyright © 2018 Audio Dramatic, All rights reserved.

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