Listening to writers discuss their craft has played an important role in my development as a writer. The links below lead to podcasts and MP3 recordings of interviews with some of the finest in the field.
The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy is a stellar podcast run by short story writer David Barr Kirtley and Lightspeed Magazine‘s editor-in-chief, John Joseph Adams. The show features interviews with legends and rock stars of the Science Fiction ad Fantasy community such as Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, Philip Pullman, William Gibson, George R.R. Martin, and rising (if not risen) stars–Karen Russell, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Lauren Beukes, and Charles Yu to name a few. Each interview is followed up with a discussion of a topic relevant to the realm of sci-fi, fantasy,or miscellaneous geekdom.
Wired for Books with Don Swaim
John Irving, Edward Abbey, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Anne Rice, Tobias Wolff, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Ludlum, Douglas Adams, Margaret Atwood. There aren’t many late 20th century authors that Don Swaim hasn’t interviewed. Over the course of his career he’s discussed craft, characters, and the writing life with literally hundreds of authors. Download and listen to interviews (most of them MP3s) ranging from 20 to 40 minutes with one of the best readers in America.
The Odyssey Writing Workshop is held annually in Manchester, NH for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Their website hosts easily downloadable podcasts featuring samples from their guest lecturers, award winning authors and editors such as Nancy Kress, Shawna McCarthy, Terry Bisson, and Robert J. Sawyer.
The lectures cover a broad range of topics useful to writers of all genres: characterization, developing setting, consistent point-of-review, revision, selling to magazines, writing cover letters. With 73 podcasts, and more on the horizon, their site is definitely worth a visit for any writer looking to hone their skills and expand their knowledge base.
Writing Excuses is a series of 15-20 minute podcasts featuring panel-style discussions featuring fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson, horror novelist Dan Wells, SFWA Vice President and novelist Mary Kowal, and web cartoonist Howard Taylor. This is a must-listen podcast for aspiring writers, covering aspects of craft and business elements of the writing career. Some of the subjects broached to date have been: creating suspense, writing query letters, juggling multiple perspectives, publishing advice, drawing a character arc, how to make reluctant characters interesting, and more. The four will often invite writers, agents, and editors on the show to give their input. What I like most about this podcast is how much fun Brandon, Mary, Howard, and Dan seem to have together and I promise you’ll laugh more than once while you’re picking up tips on the writing craft.
This bi-weekly podcast made it’s debut in December 2014. In the Margins is hosted by the inquisitive Abigail Browning and produced by tatestreet.org. Though a relative newcomer compared to the others on this list, the podcast’s inaugural episodes have had fantastic guests such as Kevin Larimer (Poets & Writers), Jeff Shotts (Graywolf Press), Crystal Simone Smith (Backbone Press).
Speculate! is a podcast run by speculative fiction authors Gregory A. Wilson and Bradly P. Beaulieu. Their podcast is unique in that the pair will not only interview authors like Ann Leckie (Ancillary Justice), Lauren Beukes (The Shining Girls), Chuck Wendig (Under the Empyrean Sky) and Scott Lynch (The Lies of Lock Lamora) but will usually accompany these interviews with separate podcasts, one where they review the author’s work (sans author) and another where they discuss the literary techniques the authors use in their work.
Bookworm with Michael Silverblatt
KCRW’s Bookworm podcast features the amazing Michael Silverblatt, an unparalleled interviewer. I can’t say it any better than the KCRW website: “Michael Silverblatt is the guy authors go to when they want a serious literary conversation about their writing, because Michael reads everything they’ve ever written, often surprising the authors with insights about their work that they themselves hadn’t realized.” With thousands of MP3 interviews from 1990 to the present day, Michael interviews up to a thousand contemporary and old school writers. You’re sure to find your favorites among the archives.
The Tor.com site–not to be confused with Tor Books–is a community site focused on the science fiction and fantasy genres. In addition to publishing original speculative fiction short stories, commentaries, and artwork the site hosts various audio podcasts including Rocket Talk, which features a combination of “discussion style talk-radio with audio narrations of Tor.com’s award winning short fiction.”
Midnight in Karachi is another Tor.com podcast, hosted by book critic and Pakistan native, Mahvesh Murad. The podcast is geared toward discussions “about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create.” Though Midnight in Karachi is relatively new to the scene, Mahvesh has scored interviews with top-tier contemporary writers including Paolo Bacigalupi, Nnedi Okorafor, Kelly Link, Emily St. Mandel, Naomi Novik, and others.
Strange Horizons publishes speculative fiction, poetry, related nonfiction, and reviews. Their archive section stands out among most literary magazines because they include audio podcasts of fiction short stories. For anyone who needs a little genre-on-the-go, browse through the Strange Horizons archive and download their MP3s for aural adventures into the unknown.
Writers & Company is an award-winning CBC Radio One program that’s been on the air since 1990 and it’s adroit host, Canadian writer and broadcaster, Eleanor Wachtel, has sat down and discussed fiction with many of the greats. Her guests have included Michael Ondaatje, Alice McDermott, Hillary Mantel, Edwidge Danticat, Toni Morrison, and (say it with me now) many more.
David Robinson and Brian Humphrey run a unique podcast that earns its tagline: “Literary Alchemy, one podcast at a time.” In additional to interviewing authors on their careers, personal lives, and approaches to the craft, Robinson and Humphrey host workshops where an fledgling writer is given an opportunity to brainstorm and workshop their story ideas with that weeks guest writer. If you’re in the process of cultivating your own story ideas and want a demonstration of how to generate plot and characters, or troubleshoot issues that might arise before you put pen to paper, these episodes are worth a listen.
Jonathan Strahan is an Australian science fiction editor with eight Hugo-nominations under his belt. Gary K. Wolfe is an American professor and reviewer, widely hailed as an expert in the study of science fiction. Together, these two men host this weekly podcast dedicated to discussions on science fiction and fantasy. While many of the episodes revolve around interviewing authors about their work, many venture into deeper waters such as the purpose of science fiction, how awards influence the community, and what the future might hold for the genre. A recent (admittedly unintended) series of podcasts collected authors from various nationalities and discussed the state of science fiction in Australia, China, Canada, and Great Britain.
The Functional Nerds podcast is hosted by author/blogger Patrick Hester and musician/blogger John Anealio. The pair have hosted discussions with heavy-hitters writers and editors in the speculative field such as Saladin Ahmed, Tobias Buckell, Lou Anders, Chuck Wendig, and Ann Leckie. But these two are men of many passions and it’s not uncommon for their discussions to venture into graphic novels, video games, television, technology, and various other nerd-friendly topics.
Barbara DeMarco-Barrett is a best-selling Californian author, a writing instructor, and the host of KUCI-FM’s weekly radio program, Writers on Writing. Along with her co-hosts, Marrie Stone and Nicole Nelson, Barbara speaks with fiction writers, poets, and literary agents to get their perspective on their works, the writing craft, and the industry at large. Her guest have included writers like Piper Kerman (Orange is the New Black), Jody Picoult (The Storyteller), Jenny Offill (Dept. of Speculation), George Saunders (Tenth of December), Claire Vaye Watkins (Battleborn), Jonathan Lethem (Chronic City) along with literary professionals such as Jane Dystel (of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management), Kelly Sonnack (of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency), and Mark Fowler (literary attorney).