TIH 499: Fiction Podcast and Nonfiction Podcast of the Year, This Is Horror Awards 2021

TIH 499 Fiction Podcast and Nonfiction Podcast of the Year, This Is Horror Awards 2021

In this podcast, we announce and speak with the winners of the Fiction Podcast and Nonfiction Podcast of the Year in the This Is Horror Awards 2021.

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Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson. And every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We count with the world's best writers and creatives about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today is the final in our awards episodes in which we announced the winners of the This Is Horror awards. And these final two categories are very special to me as they are for the fiction and nonfiction podcast of the year. But before we jump into all of that, it is time for a quick advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 2:14

Okay, well, without further ado, it's time to find out who the winner of the This Is Horror fiction podcast of the year is. And the nominees are. Bridgewater by grim and mild, old gods of Appalachia. The silt versus no wicked library. And we're not meant to know. Well, we're not sad. Let's go over to the winner of the This Is Horror fiction podcast of the year. And the winner of the fiction podcast of the year is old gods of Appalachia. And we have Steve shell and Cam Collins with us. Congratulations.

Cam Collins 3:09

Thank you.

Steve Shell 3:10

Yeah, thank you for listening. And thank you for checking out old gods of Appalachia. And yeah, I mean, it's always it's always it's always an honor. Nice to be recognized.

Cam Collins 3:19

Yeah, thank you so much.

Michael David Wilson 3:21

So I wondered to begin with, as to people who grew up in Appalachia, I'm wondering what was some of the early life lessons that you learned there?

Steve Shell 3:35

Get out. Escape? Well, you know, we love we love Appalachia and we love our we love our home place. But when you grew up in a town of 2000 people and you're like the only two punk rock kids for as far as you can fire a missile. You do what you can't I mean, honestly, that's, that's become the motif is you get your education, you do whatever, there are no jobs, you go somewhere else. And there's a movement now to kind of like, you know, make Appalachia cool in and you know, or to revitalize the region. And it's been a struggle for however long but for me, it was you get your education and you you get a better job than I had I being my dad in that in that situation.

Michael David Wilson 4:18

Can you are you are you in agreement with that?

Cam Collins 4:21

Pretty much. Yeah. Yeah. Like I was out as soon as I could be. Yeah, I didn't go that far. I came. I came back, but not to a town of 2000 people. A little bit bigger. Yeah.

Steve Shell 4:38

How many people are in Bristol? A bit? How big is Bristol?

Cam Collins 4:41

That's like 46,000.

Steve Shell 4:43

Okay, yeah. Asheville. Where I am is, if you count tourists are over 100,000 If you don't count Taurus were around 80 Something probably. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 4:53

And so in terms of the podcast, what was the genesis of Old Gods of Appalachia and what was the kind of impetus in putting it together?

Cam Collins 5:07

Roll with it Steve tell the story.

Steve Shell 5:13

The man the quick version of this, we've told this we've said this a few times. But yeah. The idea idea that kind of the the birth of the concept that became eventually became the show like two years later, for me happened. I was a mainstage. performer for the moth. You're familiar with the moth storytelling show on NPR and Public Radio International. I think maybe it's there, I'm not sure or radio to I don't, I don't know who their distributors but the more they're famous. They're a storytelling group. I was a host of a host city here in Nashville, and I'd been hired to do an Appalachian event in Whitesburg, Kentucky where Tim and I spent much time and a punk rock shows and warehouses and old chair factories and places where you could set up a PA and have bands play. But I went back there to perform. And I hadn't driven through coal country in a long time because going home is emotionally hard sometimes for me. And I was driving through all these switchbacks and in some parts of coal country, you'll drive around one corner and everything is overgrown, and lush and like aggressively green. And then the next corner it comes from a section of the mountain that's been mined. So everything's dead, or in the process of being reclaimed, meaning planting pine trees until they kill everything else. And I just as a kid, I always hated kind of being somewhere where there was no mythology outside of like Jack tails and like the Bible. So I always wanted there to be like an Appalachian pantheon of gods and goddesses, which that's not really the concept of the show. But I'm like, what if there were two queens, one responsible for the lush overgrown snakebite Venom poisoned sticky poison ivy, and one responsible for the dead places. And as I drove, I just kind of kicked these ideas around and two concepts of the witch Queen and the dead queen, which are two big parts of season one and two of Old Gods kind of came to me. And then I got the idea of like, well, what if there's a reason Appalachia is the way it is? What if there's a reason that in the aarC, the Appalachian Regional Commission done by the government, that the biggest city is like 60,000 people? Why is this a region so afraid of outsiders? Why is this region where our fair families sign up for industries that literally kill us? Generation after generation? Why do we keep going back? Why are we so susceptible to addiction? Why Why What is this place was cursed? What if there was something under the mountain? And its presence was the answer to why are we like this? And so I started kicking around the idea of what that would be. And I originally the show was going to be a team of like, if you listen to the old old episode zero, I talked about, we're a team of writers. And there was originally like five or six of us and that eventually dropped down to like cam and myself. And that intro misled many many people in pissed off cam a lot with people being like Dear Steve and team, like that's Team B team. Team, me team. And yeah, we were eventually we're we're just going to do like bait stories specifically based around disasters. And season one is based around an amalgamation of a lot of disasters, including play Kentucky, the hurricane, Hurricane Creek Mine disaster, Cam came back to the project after dealing with life. And I was like, I don't know where we're, we did what we need for this ultimate need for the story. And she's like, Well, you said there's a church, right? And I'm like, yeah, it's the set dressing. It's just the building. It's part of she's like, somebody has to bury the parties. And then she wrote this amazing arc involving a Pentecostal church and perversion of worship into necromancy. And, and it became what in my opinion is, is the the black heart of season one. Like the little girl running for monsters is the is the inspirational pull for it story and camera at the black rotting heart of see. See what this gets you. And I love it so much. It's one of my favorite things to be in the show period. So yeah, so we did that. And we thought it would be this cute little project. And I'm like, Hey, let's start a Patreon. And kids like, oh, we can make like, which jars and send gifts to our patrons. And

Cam Collins 9:17

we are all about doing some crafts for the patrons.

Steve Shell 9:22

I wanted to make goat heads out of Children's Bible pages or something like something really offensive. You know, at the time. We thought that was cool, but and then all of a sudden there were way more patrons and we could ever mail in we could

Cam Collins 9:31

ever have done anything like Oh no, what have we done?

Steve Shell 9:36

Yeah, we we suspect that one of our friends who owns a very influential perfume company may have been one of the first people to be amongst the witchy folk to kind of push this out to their followers. And all I know is we had an 11 minute intro up. And at the time, the only stats we could see was on Apple podcasts, how many minutes the podcast had been played in total, and we've come a long way that was 2019 So it's not that long ago. Are we didn't know how to look or how to do whatever. But we came back after the first like two or three days. And it had been played 48 hours worth of time that 11 minutes had been played enough time to generate 40. And all of a sudden there were articles and all of a sudden they were there all sudden, we had an agent, thanks to a friend of ours all sudden, there was a companies wanting to buy us wanting to do things with us. And we were courted, and wined and dined. And ultimately, we said no to a bunch of people and did it ourselves. And that's we've made we've made deep nerd media and actual company, and not just something cool, we would say, that sounded real neat. And for the record, I gave him the option to rename the company because deep nerd media was just my butt. It just stuck. And it's the name of that. Yeah. Yeah, and yeah, so the show was just kind of born out of us wanting to do something that was a love letter to home, but in our goth kid, punk rock kid kind of way, you know, and we had no, and I've always been

Cam Collins 11:03

a way that didn't, that doesn't look at it, like with rose colored glasses. Yeah, there was that acknowledges the problems that we have, but also not in not in the way that it's often portrayed in popular media, which is, you know, in a very mocking sort of way, like we've said many times, Steve said many times like this the last place you can still make fun of

Steve Shell 11:29

the last places, regardless of of, of who you are, if you live here, you always said there's a big difference in saying that, you know, oh, I'm from, I'm from Manchester, Kentucky, versus I'm from Manchester, Vermont. You know, there's a very different stigma just to the place where you're from, and the state much less and what's really funny is people think Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina. My accent drawls are a little bit. All those states, only a fraction of them are in Appalachia. I mean, I live in North Carolina, most of like the Research Triangle in North Carolina and Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill Carrboro. That area, if you look at there have been a million studies linguistically it's one of the most neutral and diverse places in the world in terms of accent because of so many people come there for science and stuff. You know, Tennessee once you hit live in Tennessee is Southern. But I mean, West, you know what, like western Tennessee, Memphis and Nashville, very different than Eastern,

Cam Collins 12:26

very, very different. Actually in the once you pass, once you pass Knoxville, you, you head out to the plateau. And it's not it's not saying

Steve Shell 12:35

and Virginia, southwestern Virginia, that's the part of the state that gets blamed for all the bad political decisions. Not inaccurately. But the rest of Virginia is like some of the richest places in the in the country around Washington, DC. Because our greedy politicians live there. Yeah. And but then some of the poorest is right down here where Tennessee and Kentucky and Virginia are all making out in a weird like mashed up. situation down there. But yeah, so we I there was this push, and I say this as a leftist. There was this liberal push of like, oh, look, Appalachia is not just white Trump supporters. We have black people and brown people and trans people and queer people. Look, we're and my answer is always yes, we do. And how have we treated them for the past couple of 100 years? You know, why have they stayed? Why have we stayed? You know, like, so we wanted to look at like, yeah, queer Appalachians have been here since the beginning. And we wanted to write characters that were not, that wasn't all they were. They were that wasn't the stereotype that wasn't the trope. Appalachia is built on the backs of so many women. And you can't tell me they're all straight, because they weren't because most of the some of them are in my family. So there's that element of we wanted to present ourselves and, and parts of Appalachia that don't get seen, while at the same time presenting them as this is also Appalachia. It's not some weird variant. It's the people who are here. So it started out as a fun project between some of this, this woman is one of my oldest friends, like we've known each other since the mid 90s. And there's been very few times we've not been in each other's lives in one shape or form very few times. So this was a project between two variable friends who knew where we came from and knew the story we wanted to tell. That was just supposed to be for fun. If we thought we could make a couple 100 bucks on Patreon a month that would be great. And now we have like usually depending on annual purchases 1000 plus subscribers, usually most $10 in order to get to the the behind the paywall stories that are there. So it's become our jobs. I mean, between this that and sponsorships and other things that have come like old gods is what we do for a living. I taught high school for 16 years. Ken was a software developer and public you know, like, marketing advertising guru, genius, coder, you name it, she can do it. You know, we have very different lives very scrape hand to mouth, pay the bills and living like we both recently were able to move into houses For the first time and for me in 20 plus years, you know, yeah, so it's been very good to as our fandom is our family, we don't call them a fandom, our family has been very loyal, very kind and, and just,

Cam Collins 15:16

they are just the kindest, best people.

Steve Shell 15:20

They're also a cult. But that's a little bit a little bit

Cam Collins 15:23

a little bit of a cult, we didn't set out to start a call. It just sort of happened.

Steve Shell 15:28

We totally started the cult. But yeah, it's just it's Yeah, so it was it was meant to be a fun little project. And now like we've set the top 15 to occasionally number one on the Apple fiction charts, not just sci fi, like us Night Vale. And whoever's number three have been on the top of the Sci Fi charts for the past two years. If you told me that, if you told me that. One day, I would be lunch buddies with Cecil Baldwin, because he lives in my city, you know, or like, or that we would get or that we would get compliments from from, from Paul Bayh who wrote who wrote the Black Tapes, you know, like people who know Mac Miller, or Mike Rogers sorry, Mike Rogers, who wrote live who don't live down, but still the stars and the message, and the podcasts that we list that made me be like, Oh, wait, on your fiction, something we can you can do it, you can still do it? Well, because that was the beauty for us. And I'm gonna stop rambling. For me. I've been in punk and hardcore bands, most of my adult life. And the beauty of punk and hardcore is that anybody can do it. You got an instrument in a garage, you could put 2535 You know, 120 kids in your garage for $5 ahead and have bands around the country come play your your eyes, there's no barrier to entry. And unfortunately, there's no barrier to entry. Not unfortunately, sometimes, unfortunately, everybody has a podcast, you know. But for us, it was like we didn't have to wait to get signed or get a book deal. Or wait for audible to ask us to do an original we threw something in the water and it taught and that doesn't happen for everybody. We recognize that. But we you know, we we got Lightning in a Bottle. And we were we are talented. We are skilled we can. My therapist has made me acknowledge that. But we were also really

Cam Collins 17:05

also just lucky. Yeah, right. Right. Time flies. Right story.

Steve Shell 17:10

Yep. And also we went, we went and we became a company that this full time, right as the pandemic started, we actually turned down a big a bigger company we won't name simply because we weren't sure if nobody knew what the pandemic was going to bring. If we assigned our rights over to them. They could decide like, oh, sorry, we're shuttering the podcast, the wing of the company. And here's your paycheck. But you don't get to do your show. You know, and we have we have a great lawyer named Joe van de Klerk. vandersloot, who is a magnificent man with a magnificent beard. And he talked us out of that deal and been a great shepherd for us ever since. And yeah, so we had we had no idea that one day I would we would be telling, you know, there was a meme A while back, describe what you do for a living very badly. My answer is always I make monster noises in the guest room. Yeah, that's, that's, that's pretty well, you're

Cam Collins 18:01

not in the guest room anymore. Now.

Steve Shell 18:03

Yeah, this room is officially a studio, it could be a guest room. But there's no bed. There's no other furniture and it's not anymore. Got to get more sound panels on the walls. Got to get a few more. Yeah, I'll be and I get my I get our engineer Chris in here to fine tune everything to sound the way I want it to sound. And I'll stop losing my mind. So there's your very long answer.

Michael David Wilson 18:26

Now, there's so much to jump off from and I mean, it's certainly good that you didn't decide to send out individual jars of witchy stuff to every single patron cuz he'd still be putting them together now with the

Steve Shell 18:44

Kevin M and her husband, Brian still send out care packages to certain tiers monthly, but that's manageable. And those are like buttons and pins and an occasional beard. That kind of thing. You know, it's not like we're not like hand making nails in a jar with you know,

Cam Collins 19:01

yeah, like we order some things. They ship them to our house. We put them in an envelope. It's fine. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 19:09

Yeah, that's a little bit more scalable and manageable. Manageable. Yeah. Yeah. But I mean, to kind of fast forward from putting this together and saying, Okay, we're looking to just kind of maybe get like a few 100 bucks. And now you're embarking on the price of progress, live theatrical experience tour. So what can you tell us about that? And what can people expect?

Cam Collins 19:43

Steve? If you spoiler this, I'll murder you.

Steve Shell 19:47

Not saying a dang word about the story. We did a series a little mini tour for live shows two shows here in my hometown of ash, my adopted hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, one at Radford University in Virginia and then one in our home. county of Wise County, Virginia up in up in southwestern Virginia. And we sold them all out just like slam slam slam just like two 300 seat nights in Nashville a 700 seat night in rural Virginia 25 states three foreign countries. So we in the live show is structured kind of like an old timey radio program. We have live commercials that are kind of themed from our sponsors that have characters in them. We have wonderful musicians. And the show I'm not sure if you're familiar with the with the 70s 80s sensation II Hall, which was like a country music variety show where you have like a little skit that a music plays a song that another couple skits and make plays a song. I always say the old gods live show was sort of like a really gothy Hall.

Cam Collins 20:48

Basically, yes.

Steve Shell 20:50

So you have a but you have like I call it the opening malediction which is my welcome. It's kind of like the opening of an episode of Old Gods and if Landon is with us, land and blood plays the theme song If not, it's a sound for you. And then we have a couple of commercials and commercials, then we might have a bit at the live shows. And in the last tour, we had a bit where Miss Polly Barrow was interviewing judge Jerry Brotherton for a job in the missing years and judge Jerry's life where she knew all the things he had done from childhood on. And we had a we had an ad where one character confronted their nemesis, they were kind of promoting two different products and it was kind of silly and fun, but still scary. And then after we do those and we have a couple of musical performances, we have the main story which I will not say a word about for the price of progress. But it involves like usually a full cast for three to four actors. The what I can say the West Coast tour will feature Cecil Baldwin and Welcome to Night Vale and will feature Yuri Lowenthal aka SOS que from Naruto aka Spider Man, aka everybody who's ever been in any animated anything ever. But for us, most importantly, he is the railroad man. The bit one of the best villains I think on the planet, one of the ones I'm proud of stuff. We will have it that'll be a different story. But the rest of it as we rotate in actors, some skits and stuff will change. But it's all us looking snazzy on nights, you some of us on book, whatever, but it's presented very much like an old timey radio show. And it's a good variety show. And it's a good time. And it's it is you don't have to be caught up. We don't like pickup store we don't pick up like the story of where we are now. On the show now we

Cam Collins 22:27

we work really hard to make sure that the the story you hear in the live show is a standalone sort of story so that you don't have to be caught up. It's not part of the regular season, you can just dive in and still enjoy the story even if you're someone who's been dragged to the show by your friends, or something like that, because we know those people are coming to so we want to make sure everyone can have a good time.

Steve Shell 22:54

But also, you know, if you are caught up with the show, if you are a loyal member of the family, and you pledge on Patreon, then there are easter eggs buried everywhere for you. And there are moments when you see characters walking on stage like it's done what has never heard build mama coffin, which was our first ever Patreon storyline. And they don't know who granny White is. And granny White comes out and does a commercial for white family produce her she pontificates on hunger and what it means to be truly hungry. It's going to creep you out. And it's going to be a really scary grandma like ruminating about the void and such things. But the second you say her name, the people who know you see the shiver, run through them in the audience. And the first time voters have Betsy Puckett who plays granny white draws one of those little breaths, you could just see the bow, you can identify the Patreon patrons, because they're all like, oh, just make her leave. Yeah, so So but you if you're, if you're the husband, or the partner of somebody who's been dragged to the show, then you'll meet this creepy lady who's gonna really creep you out. If you know who she is, then you've amplified your enjoyment by about 25 times, you know, and so yeah, so that's, that's the shows are very fan surfacey. But they're built and structured narratively to where you might walk away being like, Hmm, I want to know more about Indiana Boggs. I better what, where is he? Where does he come from the narrative. And he may just be like, This brave and noble soul in this story. But if you get into his story, you know, where it came from, and what he's been through and why. And then you're like, Oh, my God, and he had to and then like you, everything just kind of goes the way it should. So we try to make it all inclusive for everybody who can, but we also reward the people who have been with us and especially if they've tagged and and pledged to the Patreon we make it we definitely that's our big because these are our jobs and Patreon is a huge part of our most of our income. So we whenever people ask us like, Well, how do I get my podcast to do what yours did? And I can't tell you how to write like us or to write I don't want you to Write like us, I want you to write like you. But in terms of Patreon, our advice is always make your Patreon, if that's what you're gonna make it worth it, make it worth it. Because there are people who are gonna sign up and give you money every month that they just want to support you. But they're also people, if you give them a reason to give you that extra couple bucks more, or to go to the $15 Tier or the $10 tier, and you make it worth it and you put the effort in, then that's that, for us. That's where our Patreon retention comes from. People want to hold on to those stories. And we tell people, if you can't afford to pay 10 bucks for a month, come listen to all the stuff and then come back and pledge again later if you want to, or save up 100 bucks or 100, whatever it is $108 because you get a discount and pledge a whole year. And you can come and you get everything that happens that year, you go back to all the other stuff. And you know, we do our best to make the money part of what we do what you would give us money for absolutely worth it in terms of content, and what's there.

Michael David Wilson 25:57

Yeah, I mean, I think that is the secret to Patreon, really. And of course, I mean, people just starting out who maybe aren't so familiar with it, they have this misconception that it's like, well, we put the Patreon page there, and then the money will come No, no, it's bloody hard. And I mean, you know, that the way that I tried to do anything is like, well, let's try and under price and over deliver. I mean, don't under price too much. But you know, try and price point where you're like, Well, if I was the fan, if I was the listener, then I would pay just a little bit more than that. And I mean, the proof for you is clearly in the results. You know, you said what over? What did you say over 8000? patrons? Is that right?

Steve Shell 26:47

On average? Because you could buy average around eight? Yeah, would you buy a yearly subscription? That's Trevor only counts for the month they sign up, and then they don't count do your totals anymore? Right. So yeah, so sustaining, it's usually at the sevens, but with annual purchases, and people, you know, coming in for whatever that's it's usually around around eight, I think. I think we had as many as close at 501 time, which that was, that was nice, but close to 80.

Cam Collins 27:15

I think that I think that was around the time we launched black mouth dog. So it always bumps up when we've when we're actually in the midst of one of our Patreon exclusive storylines, which we will be launching this spring, once we get this tour on the road, gotta get this car on the road first. But that will be coming really soon. We have a fun, real fun. Little little series of stories planned out for this year,

Steve Shell 27:43

people aren't gonna see this one coming. It's no, they're not yet. Yeah, it's, it's, it's gonna have scary stuff in it. But it's also going to be one of them. One of the things that people love about us is Yeah, we could be freaking terrifying. But we make you feel things. You know, we write a lot about family, we read a lot about home, we read a lot about, you know, redemption, and we read a lot about just the emptiness of stuff sometimes. So there are times when we're like, okay, yeah, let's find something where the heart sits first. And then we can build the darkness around it. And the stories that are coming for this next Patreon project are I'm super excited about them. Were we already I said on Instagram on Instagram Live that we already have the artwork for it. So as soon as we had the idea, we're like, it's this, this, this and this. And we went to sinteres, who did save the dog shirt for is that a bunch of other art for us. And I'm like, Ah, this is who I want to do this art. And I did it. And then we did some tweaks. And we collaborated with them. And I wish I could say more about it. But it's it's we can't soon. Very soon. The Midwest leg of the tour is done probably will. Maybe we'll announce that. But that'll be the time to announce it. And then we'll, after the maileg will decide when it rolls out. And how often it rolls out because these are going to be very closely. It's going to be I can't say anything. I'm sorry. That's

Cam Collins 29:04

just can't. But it'll be it'll be structured a little bit differently than before. Yeah,

Steve Shell 29:12

we can say that. Absolutely. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 29:14

And then in terms of the logistics of doing the tour, and obviously having the podcast running simultaneously, does that mean that there's had to be like a kind of a lot of planning and recording and prepping episodes three tour, or is it something

Cam Collins 29:31

new we're on? We're on hiatus. We're in between seasons right now.

Steve Shell 29:34

So yeah, it's,

Cam Collins 29:36

we did that last fall. We did those few dates in the middle of the season, and we decided we would never do that again. Because that was terrible.

Steve Shell 29:47

If we do we do bring season four when we are thinking about breeding season four.

Cam Collins 29:53

There's those episodes ready to go.

Steve Shell 29:56

There'll be a little bit of there could be a little bit of overlap somewhere but why can't We don't concrete yet. But uh yeah so we're super excited because it's a new studio space so I'm going to yeah have had new toys and a bunch of new sound design toys yeah I feel like I just yeah there's there's there's a lot of exciting things that we literally can't talk about talk about yet that'll be that'll be coming out probably in the next couple of months as well for on tour. So

Cam Collins 30:27

the games coming out real soon I mean there's that we can everybody knows the role playing game comes out this spring. Summer Summer, summer, summer It's summer now

Steve Shell 30:37

It's summer now

Cam Collins 30:39

I knew I was a little behind

Steve Shell 30:40

yeah the money who gave us a great great folks they I think they they are there was a significant much more actual historical research that had to go into our game compared

Cam Collins 30:55

and also they I think they said that they basically just all of the supply chain stuff has finally caught up to them. Like for a while there they were really they got really lucky and like their last game they didn't have too many problems with that but now with with with this one. Yeah, there that supply chain delays appeared. And so there things are a little bit behind, but not too much. So maybe.

Steve Shell 31:24

Yeah, we're excited about that. And yeah, so that was you know, that was a huge amount of exposure for us via the Kickstarter blowing up the way it did. And we were the first the first Kickstarter for Monte cook games to break a million dollars. So we topped out at 2.1 which that money did not go into our pocket but we were

Cam Collins 31:46

handling did not the vast majority of that is for producing the

Steve Shell 31:49

game. Yeah, we were very we Monte Cook was very we gotta we, we did very good business with them. That's all they're very kind and generous. But yeah, so we're excited about that existing and being a thing and yeah, so that's, that's I'm not Kansa gamer, I'm not so much a gamer anymore. I haven't been for probably 20 years. Anxiety is a weird thing. And we're super excited to have that out there for the family and for people to get some great artwork get at Cal Scarborough. The cover art did a bunch of art friends. He has tattooed many famous pro wrestlers. He does merchandise for Malikai black and the House of Black which there's a there's a house a black shirt that has a three headed thing with horns and it says Worship the old gods. So I took a picture of myself wearing and I'm like I'm like the Eldridge podcast pro wrestling crossover. You didn't know you needed and Malikai black free tweeted that so Malikai blight knows what I look like just terrifying. I love Tommy into the fantastic wrestler. Yeah. And the House of Black are probably my probably the house of black elite feud is happening and aw right now is may or may not be the best thing in my life possibly which says a lot about my life. But there you go.

Michael David Wilson 33:01

It's a very good feud. So yeah, you

Steve Shell 33:05

see the three way match? Did you see the three way match on dynamite last night?

Michael David Wilson 33:09

Yes, yes, I did. Holy shit.

Steve Shell 33:13

Yeah, so so so I think the ending got rushed. I think they had to go home quick does a TV times that's got to come out of nowhere. But I am all day for Brody King just throwing people out there hit I I never knew I needed that in my life. But I do. Like on a deep medical level. I need Brody King, Gonzo bombing people into oblivion. Get Chris Jericho, the gentlest console bomb. He just because the man's old just said. But anyway, sorry, I can talk about wrestling all day. We're Aw, fed champs more of a WWE fan. So like well,

Cam Collins 33:51

Oh, yeah. And I keep meaning and forgetting when AWS on to catch all that. But and the last one I was getting. Last night. I was getting caught up on on the last few episodes of The Last of Us. So I was busy.

Michael David Wilson 34:03

Right? Yeah.

Steve Shell 34:05

I still have a watch Last of Us. I gotta be there. I love it. I will I will I got there. My favorite horror thing I've watched if I'm ruining questions here. I love separate. I thought severance was one of the most brilliant things that's been produced in for television in a long time. Did you watch that one? Damn, did you?

Cam Collins 34:28

Did you say Oh, I have

Steve Shell 34:30

to. It's so good and weird. It's got Christopher Walken. tuturro It's on Apple TV.

Cam Collins 34:36

I you had you had you had me Christopher Walken.

Steve Shell 34:39

Yeah, no, it's it's one of it is it is it's, I think when you watch it, you're gonna think our same friend whose name I'm not gonna drop. You're gonna think our same friend wrote it because it looks like his work. Okay, this static design belongs to Ed belongs. Yeah, you know who I'm talking about? Yeah. Now you just watch it. It's it's so so stupid good. I love a lot. But Last of Us is definitely on the list. What we do on the shadows is up there one other good horror TV has there been y'all This Is Horror. What else should we be watching?

Michael David Wilson 35:17

Oh, I was quite impressed with seven and 909 Merlin. Yeah.

Steve Shell 35:26

Yeah, our the guy who got us our agent. My wife is friends with his wife, Gary Whitta, who wrote Book of Eli, Gary's a great guy. And he we we, we basically had somebody asking about TV rights and film rights and I'm like, Hey, our wives or friends do you? Actually I reached out to his wife about this Gary have tried to talk to me. No, he does not. So she's if you're gonna email me and I'll pass everything along Gary pass this along to his agent. And his agent happened to love this style of horror, and became a fan and a friend. And then he took us to LA to meet with this company that did not go through and then asked to be our agent while we were there. And Charlie Ferraro at UTA is a great great dude. Great dude. utterly useless in a lot of ways, but a fantastic. I said to my troll, you've never forget that now. I

Cam Collins 36:16

can't say yeah, you've said you've said that probably to his face.

Steve Shell 36:19

I have said that to his face. I can't. Yeah, I shouldn't say that anymore. Because you can't you can't. We can't talk about that. But we can't say that anymore. But uh, yeah, so it's yeah, it's weird. It's there's there's a lot of good horror out there of service that was on my list. There's other podcasts that are out. What do you guys think archive 81.

Michael David Wilson 36:43

Loved it. You mean the TV savers? So do you mean the podcast? The TV series? I mean, it was very good. I'm just so disappointed that it hasn't been renewed. Because then it's just, they just ended with no conclusion. It's like, that's not a story arc. Yeah.

Steve Shell 37:03

The other guy the guy who adapted that for Netflix is a is a friend of ours. Yeah. And he really wanted to work with us and it didn't quite come to pass but I enjoyed it. I it was one of the few times I hadn't listened to the podcast in so long that I was able to let go and kind of I'm bad for that. Like I'm, if I'm, you know, like, I have a hard time of like, not nitpicking everything. Now that I want slavish adaptations, but I want slavish adaptations of what's in my head. Yeah, but I enjoyed that. There's it's a good time. It was better than Lyme town. Which I'm sorry that ever happened. To me. That was a great podcast. I love longtown So yeah,

Cam Collins 37:45

they actually implemented the the TV show or watch

Steve Shell 37:51

it streaming. You know where they made it? You know where they made it. Facebook watch? Yeah,

Cam Collins 37:58

yeah. No, yeah, I read that's why I haven't watched it. Like that's why there have been there was there's I haven't checked on archive at one though, either because like, I'm like, I listened to the podcast, and I enjoyed that. And I'm, I'm good, I'm good. But a lot of times it's like I liked the book. I don't need to see the movie. The book was great. I'm good.

Steve Shell 38:18

It's a different it's definitely a different take on and it feels completely different than the show not to the same extent but the other it's been a horror TV that I love Castle Rock was

Cam Collins 38:32

great. That was really good.

Steve Shell 38:35

But like yeah, season two took misery and Salem's Lot and disassemble them like two bicycles and then put them back together into something with a book Stephen King never wrote that he should have written and reassembled into something else the archive at one show almost does that because it brings in points of view of characters who don't really get points of view and they mess up a couple of characters in my opinion. They did a little little straight washing but but but it's it's it's yeah there's no season to for it but it's totally worth also watched the bastard son of the devil himself the half bad it's a which quite different which clans warring against each other in the UK. And it started out so strong and then slowly it's based on a YA series apparently, but it doesn't didn't feel like way when it started at all. But it started cloaking against itself and then by the end they got really solid decent reviews of okay, this season two will be really good. And then Netflix canceled it. So but that's a fun one. That's a fun one. The bastard son of the devil himself if you like witches and we like witches so it's fun.

Michael David Wilson 39:44

Yeah yeah happens far too much. They you know they can't so these fantastic series I just feel particularly as horror fans and fans of like dark fiction like it just seems To constantly happen, and you know, good, storytelling is not always like the priority because of course, like, money and financial things like that come into effect. So it's, it's just very frustrating

Bob Pastorella 40:20

listening to the podcast, it's like this, this history that I didn't even know existed and it feels so real. It's like, I'm tempted to like pull up Wikipedia and start looking up stuff. And I, and to me, that is so immersive. And so, you know, in as a writer, I'm kind of like, you know, we always want to build up these histories. And we're going to maybe use like, can we build up a history about a town, or people within a town, we only maybe use maybe 10% of that. But I feel like that this history is like you're using, you're using more than that you're using, like, 5060. So it's like the I guess the question begs, is there even like a deeper history than that, that we're not even seeing? And is any of this based on anything that's real.

Cam Collins 41:18

Some of it's based on things that are real. Like Steve mentioned, we incorporated elements of like, actual historical disasters and to inspire season one. And, yeah, there there are a lot of things that, for example, we got some flack for bringing it up. But in season two, the incident that we mentioned that happened in Wytheville Virginia, that's real, we did not make that up. That's not for the benefit of the story. That's like little actual whitfill history, that, you know, we deals with, you know, some of the racism of, you know, the I mean, I'm not, I'm not gonna say of the past, because obviously still present. But, you know, in particular, you know, during the Jim Crow era, things that black characters, you know, we're dealing with, and so when we had our our characters, like, going through that town, like we really felt like we couldn't just pretend it never happened and not acknowledge it, because it was an important historical event. So

Steve Shell 42:28

the only reason the only reason is history, is there happen to be a group of reporters in Wytheville covering a government thing. And there was a lynching it was the last legal lynching in the state of Virginia, I think. And they covered it and it went national. And it eventually created the the the anti lynching laws or you know, the and it was just because it was such a PR nightmare for you know, because with full whitfill is rural but it's like right there in the middle of the state and the governor was in town there was its look up with the lynching and you'll see, but yeah, season one is based on on a on a real life disaster with serious race implications. The clay, Kentucky disaster to where there were 100 dead white miners on strike, they brought in scab workers from Cincinnati, who were primarily black, they did not tell these workers, they were scabs. They just told them they had jobs. And they brought them in, they gave limited training, very little safety, if anything, it's also coal mining in 1917. So retro, there. So there's a methane explosion. And when they pulled the bodies out, the white men they can recognize by their unique other non uniform or whatever they would call the family, there would be a burial there would be a preacher, the black bodies, they would toss five and six in a crate and bury them outside of town with with no letter to the family, no notice. And of course, if you've listened to season one, you know in our world, if you dig that deep, make that kind of noise, and then offer disrespected and desecrated flesh back into the earth. Something is going to answer you. And there will be repercussions. It's not because the thing is over the mountain nerd anti racist. They're just hungry. And we enjoy karma. Yeah, so I mean, like there are there are actual historical basis and a lot of the places you hear like Esau county is based on Wise County, Virginia, where we're from, and II saw the vets. We changed the name of places so we didn't want a Forks, Washington anybody. I Twilight had the awful books had people to Sydney on that poor little town in Washington and wherever it was, so we would change the name of the county. When I was little kid and I was learning to be learning to write and write and writing stories. I was mad about stuff that in our family knows I'm gonna write a book when I grew up. It's gonna be all the truth about all the messed up stuff and, and I'm gonna set it YSU Virginia, which is why it's spelled backwards. I thought that was clever. And we were joking about that. And I realized, well, it kind of sounds like Esau from the Bible. So we decided there would be Jacob County, Kentucky, which would be kind of religious place where there's been a lot of religious settlements and whatever And Esau County, Virginia. And I said this to a friend of mine who was actually one of the inspirations for the witch coins mother's. And she's like, she's looked me dead in the face and she was little drunk baby. But she looks me dead in the face and goes, and God hated Esau. Ah, okay, yeah, you just confirm the choice. There we go. That's the name of the like Blade work in Virginia. There's a that's the original name of the coal camp that eventually became wise, Virginia. Mineral city, which I believe gets referenced. In one of those specials is big stuff. Yet Virginia mineral city was one of its early names before it was officially incorporated. We're big fans of finding old names, the places that changed paradise, Virginia is when a campus master strokes, Bristol, Virginia, there was a vote when they renamed the town from what was it Campbell was the OG name. Good Seville, Goodson Ville, it was either going to be Bristol or paradise. And there was a vote in our world paradise one. So we get to take that little,

Cam Collins 46:00

but a lot of the geography, some of the buildings and places that are very accurate to the place, and it's actually one of the things that you know, when we're going back and forth with the game people I'm like, you know, going through, no, this is this. You've got your directions wrong. You've mixed up north and south, like, you know, very carefully just going they're like, no, no, no, no, because this is my town and you have to get it right.

Steve Shell 46:26

I just wrote, without giving away any story points. I just wrote something for the live show today. That fixates on a certain County Courthouse. That is very remarkable, because it's built in a style from 1860 for a renaissance Revival style, that it looks like a palace that fell from the sky to the middle of this little podunk town. And I have a whole sequence to where a character is like, fixated on like all the details that he's putting on all these things to his friend. And it's a really cool little bonding moment. But I went in and I pulled details from this building's application to become a State Historic Site. Like here are all the details, this this type of portico, this type of whatever, and I'm like, Oh, those are all alliterative, those fit into our little poetry world very well, we will put those in. So we try to, there's a lot of actual history in there. There's a lot of actual places. There's not an analog, a direct analog for every place. I found that one time that came and I had two very different understanding of where Baker's gap Tennessee is doesn't matter. To me, it was one town and for her, it was another town of my Oh, that's why we think this one place is farther away than Oh, remembering to entirely different places in the real world. But not that that matters in the old gods world. So yeah, so there's a lot of actual history and a lot of actual, we have killed so many of our cousins. Because I'm very insistent that we

Cam Collins 47:46

mean at this point, we just don't have that. I mean, we're gonna start killing off other people's family members because ours are about gone. Yeah.

Steve Shell 47:54

I refuse to like we're gonna write rural. Well, everybody's a Hatfield or Mokoia Jessup era. Like no, we're gonna use the triplets. The cones, the Jordans, the Hubbard's the Bledsoe is the amburgey he's, you know, the apertures. All these names, the Messrs that we grew up with Sarah Avery. Sarah's original name was crystal Avery, so I thought that was the most Eastern Kentucky name I could give her. But then I found out crystal wasn't a popularized name until the 1940s. So Sarah, a lot of biblical names rotate through there, not everybody is Jedediah or Zedekiah because those people were there. Don't get me wrong. You got your Zeke's and your kids. If you listen to black mouth, dog and Patreon batch Boggs character that I played is based on Alison melons who plays glory and her unquote great uncle batch. It wasn't short for anything. His name was batch. So there are this batch. So those hillbilly names are out there. You know. Paul's brother was vestre The STE r vestre. Isaac at JT are the three fields brothers, Mr. Mr. JT fields of Dorchester. My grandfather's birth name is JT the letter J the letter T, but as Brent is all called him, Jack. So my late grandfather is sort of not quite Jack, bit closer. And then of course Jack is Jack of the tails. You know, he is the Giants. He is the giant killer. He is the he's he's the jack tail Jack. He's also jack of the wood jack of the green. He's also every jack that has ever been jack. So he is a special. He's a special boy. We both love it very much.

Michael David Wilson 49:32

All right. Well, we are almost out of time. And by that I mean we have massively exceeded the time so apologies.

Cam Collins 49:42

No worries.

Michael David Wilson 49:44

I I do wonder, I mean, what plans and aspirations for the future? Do you have old gods particularly things that you really want to achieve that you haven't quite set in motion yet?

Steve Shell 50:00

What can we talk about? We want to write books. We want there to be some old gods novels out there. We would want they like there to be comic books. And anything beyond that is up to the gods. And yeah, yeah. So

Cam Collins 50:16

people ask for, like, a TV show or movie all the time. When when's this going to be made? It's like, not Basspro we don't have millions of dollars to produce a TV pilot. So yeah. Yeah, so like, you know, when the fates allow or not, you know, may not may never happen, we'll see.

Steve Shell 50:37

Yeah, like, yeah, we can, it's there. It's really strange, because people like, Oh, you're living your dream, and a dream to be in a freakin podcaster. I was a high school teacher, I thought I was going to work a half day, the day at my funeral. You know, if I had the PTO to take it off, you know, like I was. I became a, I became a teacher at 29. After working in sales and stuff, I was dedicated to my kids. And just but the state of North Carolina insisted on insulting us and risking our lives and placing us in danger. And when the door opened at the end of the first COVID school year, I was, it was easy. We looked at Patreon money, I'm like, Okay, you need a paycheck. My wife quit her job, which was a really traumatic, horrible, had become a really toxic school. And we're like, okay, we're doing this, I had no idea of this would be a thing. So like, I would like, I would love to see things made of our work that are accurate to it, that represent it well, that make it better. And I would also like it, if I'm very bluntly honest, I would like it to open doors for both of us. So we could make other stuff. It's just as cool in different directions. You know, I would like I would like this to create a place of security, not just for us, but for Appalachian narrative for people. So that our people back home can be like, just like I was talking with, with a with a with a producer who works for somebody who is also from from Tennessee. And we're like, we don't see ourselves on TV. Let's we're buying math, selling math, eating people. Be zombies, you know, or being really racist, or you don't see Appalachia people just be an Appalachian people. You know, JD Vance could get hit by wolves that hill, you know, like I basically, yes, that trash is not even us. That's not even. Even like, anyway, no, oh, so if we can open a door to where, hey, we get to make a smart, spooky, pretty clear Appalachian horror show. And it does well, and it wins awards. And that means it's really funny. So I was also talking to about like, we would love to work. But oh, if he just did a movie, would you want to work with an Appalachian director? And I'm like, Yeah, I love that. Find me one. Find me, one who has the credibility and the standing and the has had the opportunity to open that door for us. They don't, they don't exist, not ones who are in touch with that I know of that can be out there hiding from me, for all I know, unless they've been in California for for 40 years that have gone completely native and, you know, go home every five years for Christmas, no criticism, if that's the case, I go home every five years for Christmas. And I'm still in Appalachia, just three hours away from the holler. You know? But, you know, it's just like, if we can open those doors to where, in 1520 years, somebody else writes a Appalachian werewolf story. And they're like, hell yeah, hold God's won a million awards, and it elicits that this is kind of be a callback to that. That'd be great. We'd open that door that hey, I think you know, can't call us about your work and she could produce that for you, you know, and then we're out here. You know, or we could be living in cabins like hermits and telling people to get out of our yard. You never know. It's just it's one of those things. You never know.

Michael David Wilson 53:54

Wow. Congratulations again on winning fiction podcast of the year. Thank you guys

Steve Shell 54:01

for thank you guys for the award

Cam Collins 54:02

do Thank you. Like thank you so much. Do we get like a championship belt?

Michael David Wilson 54:08

As No, or certificate? Or

Cam Collins 54:10

sooner or later somebody's got to give us a championship belt? Yeah,

Steve Shell 54:14

I will buy a championship

Michael David Wilson 54:15

that there there is. There is a certificate it's like I wish that there would be a championship belt. So we we will send the certificate out to us so we're getting those designed at the moment so I will ask for your postal address for that. I wish that we could get a championship belt we we need to get no patrons so we can put that together and you know, get like someone from yeah get whoever's doing the artwork for a house or black obviously to create

Cam Collins 54:53

so much

Steve Shell 54:54

I want a different ship that I want Tag Team belts for us that the front yet is the circle logo with it. Pinnacle's world Eldridge Tag Team Champions or underworld Heldrich Tag Team Champions, or just the underworld Tag Team Champions, that would be pretty badass that it's. So I ruined Christmas for next year just by saying that but yeah, I will thank you all for having us. We appreciate you. Thank you so much coming up early, and all those good things Lovely to meet you both stay in touch. And yeah, have a great night. Well, a great day, whatever it is where you are.

Michael David Wilson 55:31

Thank you. And congratulations, once again to Steve Shell and Cam Collins for Old Gods of Appalachia, the This Is Horror fiction podcast of the year. And if you haven't checked it out, you absolutely should. Because Believe you me that show just keeps getting better and better. Well, it is now time for the category that is perhaps closest to me, given what it is we do here at This Is Horror. It is time for the nonfiction podcast of the year. And the nominees are against everyone with Conner Habib, cursed morsels, dead headspace, talking scared and the Kingcast. And now to find out who the winner of the This Is Horror nonfiction podcast of the year is, here we go. And now we have the nonfiction podcast of the year. And the winner is talking scared. And I'm joined now by Neil McRobert. Neil, how are you doing?

Neil McRobert 56:48

I'm very well, thank you. This is a delightful thing to be doing. Yeah, no, I'm great. How are you guys?

Michael David Wilson 56:54

Yeah. Oh, good. And congratulations on winning the nonfiction podcast of the year. And we've been in correspondence now for a number of months. And I've been saying to you that I wanted to tell you what I like about working scared. And I delayed and delayed and delayed. But I don't want a moment. You know, to do it on this awards podcast. And I mean, the thing that I like most I would say, is just your precision, for detail. And the thought that goes into every single interview. And every single critique of the offers work. I mean, you do sometimes have podcasts where it is clear, however, they have not read the book that they're discussing, or they have already on a bit of a surface level. But you are clearly someone who takes meticulous notes. You really think about what it is you're doing, and the questions and the topics that you have for your guests. I mean, that's a really analogy that's thought, as love everything that you're doing. And if I had a kind of take list of things to do, and it will pretty much be everything you're doing with your podcast.

Neil McRobert 58:28

Well, thanks very much. I mean, this is like, I've come into this from a weekend away with my friends, my old university friends, where we've just been abusing each other for sort of 48 hours, which is quite the switch to go to that from that to kind of a few Civ praise. So yeah, I'm getting very British about this. But no, thanks. Thanks so much. I do apologize. I'm kind of doing this blind. I just set this podcast up with no. I mean, I used to listen to a lot of podcasts. So I had an idea of an interview format, but I had no guide rails or real sense of how to do it. And it's just kind of worked. And I do try, I make sure that I read every book and on the very few occasions that I've not read the book, I've told people that I've not read the book. Because I also I read a lot of journalism with people because you haven't read the book i i listened to a few podcasts, often often big mainstream book podcasts where you can tell like a Rama has read the book or the producers assistant has read the book or the host has not. And I just think it's incredibly disrespectful to the guest and to the audience. And I like reading so it's not exactly it's done. I moan a lot. I complain a lot about my reading list, but it's not exactly a hardship. I mean, there are people working down uranium mines. I can't really complain about reading good books, you know.

Michael David Wilson 59:45

Right. Yeah. And I mean, I want to talk about the origin story of talk in scared so me my understanding is that if any offers were to blame for tokens Get existing. They will be Paul Tremblay and John Langan.

Neil McRobert 1:00:04

Well, I find it's a safe bet to blame them for most things in life. But

Michael David Wilson 1:00:08

I don't. Yeah,

Neil McRobert 1:00:12

yeah. Paul Tremblay, I basically I managed to kind of invade all my way into Paul's circle by interviewing him. When, what I can and what book it was now, I think it was the growing things, the collection came out and I managed to get the Titan, the UK publisher, send me a copy. And I got in touch. And I'd never interviewed an author in my life before I had no idea about any of it. And I interviewed him for a magazine, tiny magazine. And then I just I had his email address and then in lockdown when, when I became a complete, you know, white sis male cliche and started a podcast, I reached out to Paul thinking, if I could get him to say yes, then it may kind of learn at some dominoes. And he gave me John's email address. And then when you start writing to Paul Bucha, saying, I've got Paul Tremblay and John Langdon already on the roster. It's much easier for people to say yes, and it's just it's just snowballed from there. But But Paul has been the most gracious, sort of interviewee, like, just just he's the nicest guy considering how much his star has risen in the last five years, like the humility as in the generosity as and the same for John. I mean, John, John retweets, every single one of my episodes, and I know he listens every week, and I'm desperate to get him back on the show to talk about cops mouth, but the schedule didn't quite align last year. And there are many, many more people, some of whom I will no doubt mentioned, as we continue talking here. But yeah, authors have been incredibly gracious and generous with the time it's still astounds me.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:46

Yeah, I mean, in many ways, this is kind of the curse of the podcaster. And again, much like you were saying before, to complain, like all this is a curse, but there are literally too many brilliant offers, there are too many good books that it is literally impossible to interview and to talk with everyone at the rate that they are being produced. And Bob and I often say that we are living in a golden age of horror fiction, and I certainly stand by it. I don't know if this is something that you agree with to in fact, Neil,

Neil McRobert 1:02:25

I agree massively. So I mean, I've always been kind of Stephen King note, you know, so he's always been kind of the North Star that's perennially present. But it's only really I think, since 2010. Perhaps that horror is really, you know, I won't say hit the mainstream in the way that it did in the 80s and 90s. With King and Coons and people like that. I don't think it is that I think it's much more of an inclusive, kind of not underground, but but more kind of specialized field now where you've got this community of people who are just making great art that has variety within itself, but it doesn't feel like it's pandering to market forces at all, like horror did perhaps in the 80s, or 90s, it feels like it is kind of plowing its own Thoreau, in all kinds of directions. And yet it feels rich and varied and, and weirdly scarier than ever, I think horror is less safe than it's been at any point in its history, it's more can be more extreme, or it can be more harrowing, or it can be more satirical, but I think it's doing all these different things, and you don't necessarily know what you're getting. Whereas, you know, when you pick up a sort of 90s, best seller, itis Dean Koontz novel, I think you've often got a fair idea of what you're going to read even King back in those days, there's a sense of, you know, what the safety net is, it was these days. I mean, go back to Paul Tremblay, it was wound you and, like, malaman with something like DAFNI, which is scarier than anything he's written before, you know, and, and can't ward with needless Street, it just feels like much riskier fiction. And I think that's got to be applauded.

Michael David Wilson 1:04:05

Yeah, I wonder what it is that we can attribute to this. And I mean, I'm sure we could speculate all day. One thing that I do wonder is if the rise of the independent press is something that is that could could be contributing to this diverse range of horror, and more unpredictable storylines, because not only do you have the small outfits that are prepared to take a chance rather than purely go for something for a commercial decision, but because you've got that going on. You're almost forcing the bigger publishers to then up their game as well. So it is a case of everyone rising and everyone bringing their A game but you I know you, you might have a different reading on the situation.

Neil McRobert 1:05:04

No, I do think it's that I think we've got a kind of knob. Normally we use words like fragmented and splintered as kind of negative terms. But I think, you know, they're not in this case, I think in horror, particularly in genre fiction, you know, I only really know about horror with the kind of the stranglehold of the Big Five has been, has been smashed. And now you've got independent presses and small presses setting the agenda. So to demonstrate that you got to look at some of the career of somebody like Stephen Graham Jones, you know, who it was got, like a sort of mainstream Trad publishing deal. Nabal comes from the Indian small press world, and clearly talent as, as driven that, you know, and his popularity has exploded, but he's never had to, he's never had to compromise on his own vision. And I think that's it, I think you're starting to see, we're seeming to get authors now who are able to take their uncompromising vision that they can hone and refine in a small press, and that they're getting the chance to carry that to a broader mainstream market. And I think that's, that's obviously a good thing. Because the, you know, the less formula we can get in horror, the better, I think, but even in the big presses somebody like Grady Hendrix, who ran, I think it was as kind of a big name, you know, almost glossy, horror author is doing really experimental things with his fiction. And it just feels like we're in a, as you say, like, it's sounds a bit trite, but a genuinely golden age where I cannot fit anywhere, I can't fit a third of the of the, of the authors I want on my show in a year, you know, and, and it's a weird thing, because I, I still feel like I'm on the backfoot. And I still feel like I'm going with the begging bowl saying, please go on my show, when in fact, I've got people wanting to come on the show, and having to say no, in some instances, and it makes it really awkward, because, you know, who am I to say no, and all that I can't, you know, and one of the big things that I've tried to do, increasingly is, is feature more, more small press and indie authors, because now I've traded on the names of the tremble A's and people like that I've got a little bit more scope, to use whatever tiny platform I've got to promote other people. And the success story in that is somebody like Tiger Jones would burn the plans, which made my top my second on my list of top 10 books last year was was number two, because I thought it was just incredible. And that's somebody who's kind of, you know, way outside at that point, the track publishing route, and he's writing some of the best stuff I've read in years. So yeah, it like you say it's the curse of having too much, too much we could do as podcasters

Michael David Wilson 1:07:46

Tyler Jones as someone who, like Haruki Murakami, sometimes when I read his fiction, and I read the way that he can craft sentences, I just think, what on earth is the point of me trying to write you know, when people are doing that, but I do have to remind myself, it's like, Look, I'm not trying to, nor should I try to emulate Tyler Jones or Haruki Murakami, if you go in a literary fight with them, you ain't gonna win. So we all just have to be a unique version of ourself. We can't compare ourselves to other people. Because when we do as well, you know, the way that we're put together, whenever comparing ourselves to the worst people, you know, it's not like a little ego boost. It's like, let's compare ourselves to the people at the absolute top of their game. And I mean, that could be, you know, what, why there are so many kinds of issues, all kinds of mental health issues and depression within the creative community. Because we can often compare, let's say, our first draft, with the final product, the final piece of art, I should say, of writers at the top of their game, that isn't a healthy thing to do.

Neil McRobert 1:09:22

No, no, I thought, not at all. I am, because I mean, so people know this story. But I set this podcast up as a, as a sort of a side, an addendum to my own writing career because I quit my job to try and write a novel and thought, well, a podcast will be a good way to give myself sort of finite goals. You know, every week I go, Look, I've done that and look at the analytics and whereas writing a book, you know, how long is a piece of string? How do you ever get the validation you may need in the day to day but weirdly, the podcast has gotten over the it's taken over the my life to the point where I'm done. early writing because of it, and then you couple that with the fact that I'm reading some of the best horror authors out there. And I'm just like, Oh, God, where do I even start? Now? You know, I even compete with this. So yeah, it is, it is something I think about all the time.

Michael David Wilson 1:10:14

So if you think about what it is that you want to do, and we're gonna go pretty deep here. But would you ultimately want to be remembered? As a podcaster? As somebody who interviews people? Or do you want to be remembered as a writer? Or perhaps you want to be remembered as something else? What is it that you're looking to be your legacy?

Neil McRobert 1:10:43

That's a very deep question to say it's 5am. In Texas. I, yeah, I think I'd like, obviously, I'd like to be, you know, a published author. I'd like to be out there with the community with my own work. But this is a very caveat in answer. I'm kind of, you know, skirting the, I suppose a binary answer. But yeah, I'd like to have written the book that's, you know, at the end of the day, I want to, I want my name on the cover, and I want people to read my work, like I read other people's work bought, without, without sounding too obsequious. Quite literally, the greatest gift of doing this show, forget any kind of notoriety or acclaim, it's been meeting people in the community. That's what it's been because I haven't met a single one of my guests in the flesh. But I feel like I have an actual, genuine friendship. And I used to be really snooty about social media. I used them like, yeah, you've got, you know, 1000 followers, they're not your real friends. I don't know. They're not real. It's nothing real about it. Whereas now, through the show, and through Twitter for all its ills, I do feel like I've got like a whole hundreds of friends in America, you know, that I'm going to see at stokercon this year when I go, and I'm so excited. So as much as Yeah, I want to write and my long term kind of creative focus needs to be on that. I cannot in any way overstate the legacy of like friendship I've got through the show, you know, that that sounds so cringy thing to say. But I genuinely mean it. You know, incident to name some people just just to just to throw some names. I'd like people like Taylor Jones, people like Nat Cassidy, people like Brian McCauley around the UK called Beth cliff, Tina Baker, Josh Malerman, Rachel Harrison, you know, that is just the absolute the first names that come to mind from this, this set of people I know, know, that are just so lovely, and so supportive. And, and two years ago, were kind of like these, these these iconic figures that lived in a different realm to me, and now they're people I can email and have conversations with. It's just, yeah, that's, that's the real legacy of all this.

Michael David Wilson 1:12:56

Yeah. And the interesting thing about podcasting, there are some people, Josh Malerman, who is one who you can almost feel like your friendship is established within the first five minutes. And I know that that almost sounds like an absolutely baffling thing to say. But the connection can be that instantaneous if you hit it off if the chemistry is there. And this isn't meant to now become a Josh Malerman appreciation show. But it is remarkable. The amount of people that say exactly the same thing about Josh and love Josh and see that energy. This is a guy putting so much positivity into the world. And he's doing it consistently. Just remarkable and, and he's a bloody good writer, a musician. I mean, if the guy wasn't so nice, you'd almost hate him for being so damn talented.

Neil McRobert 1:14:04

Yeah, no, It's sickening. It's really a sickening. Yeah, it's, but no, no, it's a wonderful community of the nicest people, despite the fact they write about depraved things, that the old adage about the horror of horror people are the nicest people. It is true. I've got friends who don't understand the world, and they think we all kind of work out and sacrifice babies, you know, but I try and get across the fact that these are very, very, very nice people who made maybe we all purge our demons through reading and writing horror, maybe we've got nothing left to actually be nasty about maybe that's the thing.

Michael David Wilson 1:14:38

This is the theory that I often put forward. I mean, I think that people within horror, and also people within the heavy metal community are some of the nicest people that I have ever met. And I feel that it's we get all the negativity and the violence and the anger and the rage even out On the page, or via filmmaking, or via music, so then when it comes down until what's left? Well, you've only got the happiness and the positivity. So hence, horror people are amongst the nicest people you will meet.

Neil McRobert 1:15:20

Yeah. So it seems that way. Well,

Michael David Wilson 1:15:23

I'm wondering, you've said you're working on a novel, you're working on two novels. In fact, although the Die Hard on an island may be on hiatus, you got the podcast, you do a number of nonfiction pieces for some very established magazines and periodicals. So I'm wondering, what does a typical day or a typical week look like for you? What other creative pursuits Have you got that you're hiding that you haven't mentioned? And, you know, what percentage? are you dividing to each of these pursuits?

Neil McRobert 1:16:09

So that's a good question. And I think my wife would give very different answers to me because I think I'm on top of all of this, right. And she thinks I'm just an absolute stress mess. And so my, this is all kind of secondary to my I suppose day job because I try and like pay the mortgage. I'm a freelance copywriter, you know, write for anybody and everybody, you know, like, sometimes you got to get in embed with some some devils in that world. And it's a bit disappointing sometimes. So I spend my day job doing a lot of that. And then I spend probably 20 hours a week, you know, reading books, obviously, writing questions, recording, interviews, editing interviews, it's probably 20 to 25 hours a week during the show, which, which is great. And there's only occasionally it starts to kind of become a bit too much you need a break. You know, I do a show every week, which is why there's a bit of a quiet thing over Christmas, where I did less interviews and more sort of whimsical asides, but generally, it's fine. And then I'm obviously I write for The Guardian. sporadically, I write for Esquire more frequently. I've got, I don't know, I've got a piece going out today actually an interview with Grady Hendrix. Back and you know, that the time travel of this kind of thing means that that will be days or weeks ago, by the time people hear this. And but yeah, so so that I've kind of got sort of two day jobs, really. So I don't get much time for other creative things. The rest of time, I'm kind of on, on standby, either walk in the dog for like an hour and a half a day, or I play a lot of video games. But it tends to be a little high octane, right, sit on my desk, work, work, work, work, and then do nothing that uses my brain. So I probably need to kind of create a little third space where I can do a bit more of my own my own stuff, somehow. Who knows how,

Michael David Wilson 1:18:03

yeah, yeah. So I mean, like you when I started, the This Is Horror Podcast. I, too, was working on some of my fiction, and I guess, I would say the fiction, and writing has always been my passion. So like, the perpetual procrastinator that most of us are idle? Well, I'll start a podcast, it's kind of writing adjacent. You know, we do all these writing adjacent things that aren't actually writing to make us feel like we might be making progress in some way with our writing. Now, obviously, you've mentioned a lot of benefits to podcasting, which I certainly agree with. But I found that for a number of years, because I built up This Is Horror quite quickly. I it actually temporarily made writing even harder, because the type of stuff that I write, and I don't know if you're familiar with it, I don't expect you to be but it's very kind of dialogue heavy, dark horror with comedic undertones. This is not this is not intelligent, or literary horror. And then I was interviewing people like Adam Neville, and Ramsey Campbell. And I did have these terrifying moments where I know I've absolutely fucked myself here because I'm interviewing these masters of horror. And I'm writing this song as Tim and Eric Adult Swim, bizarre kind of stuff. Is like I felt almost like what I was doing that my art was not me. love it and it just made it daunting. It's like when you interview the best people in the business, there's no way that what you're doing can measure up to it. So it took an awful it took an awful long time for me to realize that, you know, this is however in what I'm putting out as Michael David Wilson, they can be different and distinct and, and me writing something a little different isn't going to detract from This Is Horror Podcast and what I'm doing, and equally

Neil McRobert 1:20:33

not? Well, this is this, isn't it? Like, you know, we can't all be able to never I mean, Adam Neville writes the most bone showing stuff. And most people I think he scared me more than any other author. But I wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't read exclusively what Adam Neville raised, that'd be a very bleak existence, you know, you need you need highs and lows need a black and white, you know, you need the you need shades of grey in between. So, yeah, I've kind of learned a little bit not to worry about the tone of my work or the, you know, the even the content. I think the thing for me is the, the rigor of my writing as improved because of the immersive reading and do you know, because I think, I mean, I'm sort of paraphrasing Stephen King here, but you know, you can write without reading, so the logic would dictate, the more you read, the better, right you are. So I think it's about finding time. I think we're all okay, we just need to find time. Rather than Don't, don't be daunted by the, by the quality of other people's writing, be daunted by the fact that they somehow find the time to do this stuff. And I don't Yes, what I find impressive is the, the way that people stick at it, and the rigor and the discipline. That's, that's what really impresses me.

Michael David Wilson 1:21:44

Yeah, yeah. So it sounds like Fortunately, you have not had a similar experience, you know, as a result of your podcasting.

Neil McRobert 1:21:54

I think the thing that saved me in terms of, you know, my, my sort of ego around writing, is that I've had a lot of people say nice complimentary things about the right that the nonfiction writing I've done for magazines and stuff like that. I know, there are quite a few people have suggested I put out a this is sorry, this is that I put out a talking scared book, you know, of nonfiction essays, by myself and with perhaps, you know, involvement from other people. And it is something I'm thinking about, and I think it could work, you know, some kind of Compendium, but people have been very complimentary about my writing in a nonfiction space. And when you get people like, weirdly, you know, Tyler Jones saying that or Josh, saying that, that that does keep your, your spirit of flow a little bit. Whereas sitting in isolation, I think, yeah, perhaps I would start to have a bit more self doubt. I mean, dog run and been plagued by self doubt, but it could be worse.

Michael David Wilson 1:22:55

Yeah. Yeah. Well, I certainly want to see you put your fiction out into the world and I'm sure a lot of talk in scared listeners do Bob is not in their lungs, so he does as well. So Oh, yeah, I mean, I would love it for for 2020 free for you to maybe like I shouldn't really say start a daily writing practice maybe every other day, though. Even if it's just for 20 or 30 minutes and you'll probably think yeah, bloody hell. I know. I was coming on here to accept an award but actually you're just trying to give me more work to do I don't like this is taking

Neil McRobert 1:23:39

it needs someone to do this. I need a rocket all the our Start is all helpful. You were my dad at the people saying this to be basically so? Yeah, I'll take it on board.

Michael David Wilson 1:23:49

Yeah, yeah. It took me an awful lot of time for me to kind of take that own lesson for myself, but I would say it was 2016 when I did the world, this is insane. But like I I really do go all in with things. And so in 2016, after not writing that frequently, for like, over 10 years, despite having a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, I then decided right, I am going to do the one story per week challenge because Ray Bradbury said, it is not possible for you to write 52 stories in a row and for you to for them to not be a single good one. And I thought, well, Eva, I'm gonna write a good story. Or I'm gonna prove Ray Bradbury rung. So I think this is a challenge I've taken and yeah, that since then, I've pretty much got a daily writing practice and good things have happened. So I'm not suggesting that that is the route that you now write one story per week as well as like, I, I think, you know, you might burn out or worse if you're to do that knowing what else you have on. But goodness, like getting that consistent routine, really was that fuel that that I needed? And I think I mean, often we underestimate what it is we can do in the long term, whereas we overestimate what it is we'll do in the short term. And that's why people get this spirited, but if you just do a little bit every day, and I'm going to just keep throwing all manner of cliches at you like oh, it's a marathon, not a sprint, but it's so true. This is kind of what it's about. And it is a lifelong pursuit. And as I'm saying all this, it's like, okay, you've now again, turned this into just getting Neil to write this was not, why are you? Nice to

Neil McRobert 1:26:13

my one nice to make me do. It's fine. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 1:26:17

But like, but like I sense from talking to you here. And from hearing bits on talk and scared and particularly the conversation with Josh and weave rate Hill, I know that this is what you want to do. So if I can give you an award, and then give you the gift of making you bloody well getting that chair and right then God dammit, that is what I will do.

Neil McRobert 1:26:39

Yeah, yeah. But I don't want it to sound like I'm always complaining, because I absolutely love making this show. And the show was a very lovely steadying and exciting thing during the lockdown. Because, you know, that was a whole mess, wasn't it? And and I got to travel the world, you know, from this computer. I mean, you're in you're in Japan, right now, you know, Bob's in Texas, we were doing this. And I got to do that every week with people who were my absolute idols. So I talk a lot about the time it consumes and the rain I'd like to do. But the last thing I want is, like listeners and guests and future guests to think that this is anything but an absolute privilege, because it really is I just get to talk about cool books with the people who wrote Yeah, what's, what's not to like, you know?

Michael David Wilson 1:27:28

Yeah, yeah. Well, I know that for this year, you have some changes in terms of the format of token scan, and I know that you're amusing upon a few different ideas. So I'd love it if you could talk listeners through what some of the changes will be in terms of the format and then leading on for that, what wider aims and goals do you have for the podcast? I mean, is there a kind of end goal? Or like, if I reach this that is peak talking scared? What are you looking to do here?

Neil McRobert 1:28:06

Well, let's get right. If I get Stephen King on this podcast, I shall simply thankfully and quietly go into the West after that, because that I don't even know what I'd say, like the man is, I care about Stephen King more than a great number of my own relatives. So if I got him on the show, and that would be close to kind of, you know, the ultimate, like, you know, the video game has been finished, you know, I wouldn't stop the show at all, and carry on going with a renewed sense of variable. But that would be the, the absolute pinnacle that I could think of, but in terms of this year, nothing is set in stone. So I don't want listeners to get too excited or too, too upset, but basically are a I can I think I'm going to struggle to go through another year, certainly another two years of reading purely within one genre at the rate that I do, because I probably read. I wouldn't say I wouldn't say two books every week, but we probably talk in about, you know, six or seven books a month. And I've read them as you mentioned, quite immerse immersively and being in detail, I don't currently skim stuff. And having read nothing but horror for for this long. I'll be honest with you at times, it kind of upsets the applecart with my mental health a little bit because if I'm just in the wrong mood, I could really do without reading about a certain thing it can be quite difficult with with only a week's kind of timescale. You don't have much flexibility to go I'll put that down for a week and wait till I feel better, you know, so it can be a bit merciless. So I don't think I can perpetuate an episode a week with a different book. I can do it I probably for I don't know what, 40 weeks a year, something like that. But I'm thinking I might intersperse So, some of those standard author interview episodes with something like, for instance, my favorite book is Stephen King's It. And I thought it might be quite cool in say, June to, it's a big thick book to take, who knows three weeks and get split the book into three, get a different author on for, you know, each of the three weeks to talk about the first second and third sections of it, for example, a bit of a sudden, you know, man and author talk about somebody else's work, I've had some, some authors already sign up for that if I if I want to do it slightly, perhaps more stuff where we talk about horror in general in a round table, maybe you know, just to give me a slight bit of flexibility and laxity in the in the reading schedule. So that's one idea. The other thing that I am considering doing is this, right, this sounds bad, having the number of talking scared episodes, perhaps no one panic, but doing say one every two weeks, and setting up a sister podcast in which I interview authors from every walk of you know, every genre, and then doing alternate weeks as a way of having a break from, you know, all the darkness all the time. And what inspired that is that I'm in talks to get Margaret Atwood on talking scared. And essentially, I am crowbar in Margaret Atwood into a horror podcast because who doesn't want to talk to Margaret Atwood? You know, I mean, it's Margaret Atwood, of course, I'm going to talk to her. But it would be nice to not have to do that shoehorning sometimes to just get somebody on because the book is interesting talk to them, and not have to contort it into a nominally horror centric podcast. So I may end up doing a kind of half and half version with a different show which for argument's sake, we'll call Talking Word. But I would hope, I would hope if I did that, that a number of listeners would come with me, because it in the end, when we're doing talking scared, we probably only talk about horror, a sort of few minutes every week, often we get into kind of social issues or politics or history or biography, you know, and quite often we aren't, I'm not asking someone what their favorite horror movie is. I'm not saying like, how did you make this scene scary? Often the horror is just a hook to start the conversation, then we're away into other things. So I don't think it would change that much. I will speak to someone from a different part of the library. But yeah, none of that is set in stone. And I'm a great one for kind of coming up with that these ideas and then sort of mulling them over for for six months before I do anything about them. So it is a case of Watch this space, what I will say is between now and the summer, it will be talking scared as people recognize and will readdress them and see where we go from there. But there will always be a talking scare that's it's never gonna go away. Certainly not in the in the, in the short and mid to long term future.

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