Monthly Archives: April 2016

Through the Portal Door

Hello, friends! Here’s a secret I’ve been keeping a while: my last host spot as co-editor of PodCastle has just gone live. I hope you’ll give it a listen, because Merc Rustad’s “This Is Not A Wardrobe Door” captures my feelings so perfectly of what PodCastle has meant to me, and what I hope it will continue to be in the future.

Fiction always says it so much more perfectly than a blog post, but this is one of those times where a blog post is probably necessary too.

I got involved with Escape Artists almost by accident. PodCastle was my first podcast ever, downloaded on a whim one Christmas afternoon after I got my first iPod. One of my favorite stories from those early days was Tim Pratt’s “Hart and Boot”, which I loved so much I immediately played it again.

Years later, I started dabbling in fiction-writing myself, inspired by all the stories I’d heard. I made a forum account to participate in PodCastle’s flash fiction contest, and for the first time I got to chat directly with the Escape Artists staffers, people whose names and voices had long been familiar to me. Eventually, I started volunteering too, first for Escape Pod as slusher and submissions editor, and last year for PodCastle as the co-editor. It’s a strange feeling, to go from admiring an organization for years to becoming one of the people who run it. It’s an even stranger thing, considering how PodCastle so directly influenced my exposure to the world of speculative short fiction.

Last April, when Graeme and I began our editorial reign of terror after Dave Thompson and Anna Schwind’s tenure, we knew there was a strong chance I wouldn’t be able to stay in the position for more than a few months. I was just about to enter an intensive clinical graduate school program, the sort of thing where they tell you up front that you probably shouldn’t try to work part-time. And since I had my own writing career to tend to, the odds were good that editing a pro podcast might be an over-commitment, to put it mildly.

In the end, I stayed much longer than I ever anticipated, because I discovered that I absolutely loved the work. From the outside, I always thought it would be fun to be an editor because you got to pick which stories to buy, but the truth is, the real fun is all about the people. I loved working with my co-editor Graeme. I loved learning from our audio producer, Peter Wood. I loved working with our slush team: Arun, Sarah, Troy, Cristi, Setsu, and Aidan. And I adored teaming up with our assistant editors, Khaalidah and Jen.  Not to mention Wilson Fowlie, MK Hobson, Talia, Ocicat, and all the folks at our sister ‘casts.

I’m very happy I helped bring our listeners a full year of audio magic, and that I got to continue the legacy of a podcast that was so personally meaningful to me. And it was such a full year! We raised PodCastle’s pay rates for authors, and we’re now counting down to becoming a SFWA qualifying market. We’ve begun paying our narrators. We’ve brought new names and old ones to the podcast, carried on some long-running traditions and begun some new ones, and most importantly, we’ve kept it a place where diversity matters, where marginalized voices are heard and celebrated.

So what comes next? Well, Jen Albert is succeeding me as Graeme’s co-editor. She’s been training under us since February, and knows the job inside out. Also, she’s a pretty awesome person, and loves PodCastle at least as much as I do. I already know she’s going to be one hell of a fine editor. (Also, I have a theory that she might actually be a secret unicorn, but that’s a story for another day…)

I’ll be at PodCastle through the end of May, helping wrap up the stories submitted under my tenure, and finishing a few other projects behind the scenes before my time here completely ends. After that, I’m sure I’ll still show up at Escape Artists via the occasional narration or guest host spot. Perhaps you’ll even see me involved in a few special things later this year. I’ll be putting a lot more time into my own writing–maybe even finally tackling that novel I keep promising my fans.

My time at PodCastle was an unexpected, wonderful, and unforgettable gift, an actual dream come true for a superfan like me. It’s brought me lifelong friendships. It’s challenged me to be a better person. It’s pushed me to do difficult things and expand my skill set, and find I even enjoyed them. I’ve had the privilege to work with so many talented authors and narrators, and I’ve (mostly) managed not to gush, at least to their faces.

Thank you to all of you who made my time at PodCastle so wonderful. Thank you to the staffers, the authors, the narrators, and the listeners. Our doors don’t have locks around this flying castle, not on either side of these portal doors. Stop on by anytime. I’m always just a portal door away.

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