Mur Lafferty has been called the ‘‘Podcast SF doyenne’’ and is the host of I Should Be Writing and editor of Escape Pod, podcasting’s first SF magazine. Her first book, Playing for Keeps, was released in 2008, and currently her novella ‘‘Marco and the Red Granny’’ is being serialized in audio at Hub Magazine. She has won the Parsec Award and the Podcast Peer Award. She’s a freelance writer, author, and podcast producer, and lives in Durham, NC with her husband and daughter.
Tell us about your podcast, I Should Be Writing.
When I created ISBW in 2005, there was only one other podcast (that I knew of) for writers, and that was Mike Stackpole’s show, The Secrets. Since that was a show focusing on the craft from a pro’s point of view, I figured I’d do a show focusing on it from the POV of someone who’s still learning, still trying to get published. After college I had taken some discouraged years off writing, and was starting to get back into it, learning about ‘‘good’’ rejections and that the publishing industry really wasn’t out to get new authors. Since I was still very much a new writer, I incorporated my thoughts on being a ‘‘wanna-be’’ writer with interviews with pro writers on the show. Although it is not specifically an SF show, since that’s what I write, it skewed that way regardless.
What made you decide to take over Escape Pod? Aren’t you busy enough?
When they asked me about it, I thought they were joking (because I do have several projects ongoing). But after talking to Ben Phillips (publisher of Escape Artists magazines) and Steve Eley (founder of EA and original editor of Escape Pod), I realized it would be a fantastic venture. And I’m a freelancer; I’m programmed to take jobs, especially if they’re interesting. And taking the helm of Escape Pod was definitely interesting. They also had an excellent team of readers available, a producer, and Norm Sherman of the Drabblecast agreed to help me with hosting duties twice a month, so it’s not the one-person-show Steve started five years ago. It’s much easier to work with a team. And I’ve almost got the workflow under control!
What’s surprised you most about the experience of running Escape Pod so far?
I was honestly shocked at how well I’ve been accepted as the new editor. Audio is interesting; people hear your voice and feel closer to you than when they read your words. And Steve Eley had been hosting for nearly five years, interjecting snippets of his life into the intros and outtros. People were not just fans of the show, they loved him. And when he stepped down, many people were understandably upset. But enough of the fans were listeners of mine, or had heard my stories and narrations on Escape Pod, that they were happy with his choice. Most of what I read on the forums and in emails was, ‘‘Whew, if Mur’s taking over, it’s in good hands.’’ Faith like that is humbling.
How does choosing a story for audio publication differ from choosing a story for print publication?
Reading is a focused activity. You can’t do much else when you read. But with audio, most people do it while driving cars, or exercising, or cleaning. You’re already fighting for the mind’s focus. We know stories need a good hook, and shouldn’t drag to lose the reader, but in audio those rules are even more important. Stories have to be interesting immediately, have to grab the listener and hold on. Otherwise, the listener’s mind will wander and they’ll start to tune out and think about what they’re scrubbing or how many more minutes till they get home and can get some real entertainment. I’ve had to reject wonderful – even award-winning – stories that simply took too long to grab me because I know the audience would lose interest.
Are there any particular episodes of Escape Pod or ISBW that you’re especially proud of, and want our readers to seek out?
Steve started a fantastic tradition of buying the audio rights to the Hugo nominees, mainly for the Hugo voters, so that’s always a popular summer series. But one thing I love about this job is when I manage to pair the right voice with the right story. Since I’ve taken over, one of my favorites has been ‘‘Eugene’’ by Jacob Sager Weinstein, about a police dog in a man’s body, which I paired with the enthusiastic voice of Shoebox from the comedy band Worm Quartet. As for ISBW, I’m a huge geek and fangirl, and so my favorite interviews have been with my favorite authors. I’ve had both Neil Gaiman and Connie Willis on the show twice. I try to get my geeking out over with before I record, but I don’t always succeed. I also love it when I get to feature a listener of the show because he or she has sold their first book, which I got to do with Blake Charlton (Spellwright) or Gail Carriger (Soulless, Changeless, Blameless).
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your work?
My superhero fiction, afterlife fiction, zombie audiodrama, and all of the other plates I spin can be found at Murverse.com. At cons I can be found at the bar quizzing the bartender about available gins.