Monday 5 August 2019

Five (more) great podcasts for writers - Alex English

Last year, Dan Metcalf gave us his top six podcasts for writery types, so I thought I would brazenly steal his format and give an update with my current favourite listens for children's authors. Here goes:

1. Out on the Wire

Cartoonist Jessica Abel's podcast is about making stories for radio, but is really all about storytelling, and the takeaways are equally useful for people writing non-fiction, graphic novels, or really any form of narrative. The show ran a while ago, but it's still possible to listen to all the episodes and it works best if you listen to them chronologically. I like the clarity of Jessica's delivery (there's no rambling here). The show also has a great format – a factual episode followed by a workshop episode, where listeners send in their work to be critiqued. There are plenty of accompanying bonus goodies like worksheets to be downloaded from Jessica's site too. I liked this podcast so much I bought the graphic novel version.

2. Serial

You may well know about Serial already, but if you don't LISTEN NOW! This is investigative journalism at its finest, utterly gripping and skilfully told. I am currently listening to season three, but I recommend starting where it all began with season one – a true crime story set in Baltimore, where a teenage student goes missing and her boyfriend is arrested.

3. The Pen Addict

Perhaps a bit of a niche one, but I am a huge pen and ink fan and can listen to this podcast about fountain pens all day. You wouldn't think it would be possible to talk about pens and ink (and sometimes notebooks) for regular hour-long episodes, but these guys manage it. It's a rambling chat between friends that's strangely soothing and has helped me pass many a long car-ride round the M25.

4. On the Page

This is a screenwriting podcast, but, like Out on the Wire, it has applications to all forms of storytelling. Host Pilar Alessandra is an incredibly knowledgeable screenwriting tutor who occasionally visits the UK to run workshops, but here you can benefit from her expertise for free. I particularly like her log line competitions where listeners have to pique our interest in their stories in just a couple of sentences. A good discipline for all writers!

5. Everything Under the Sun

And finally, after all that craft and hard-hitting journalism, a bit of fun especially for children's authors. Everything Under the Sun is the creation of Molly Oldfield, author and writer for QI, and addresses the most pressing questions troubling the nation's small children. From 'which animal makes the best daddy?' to more serious questions like 'why do some people not have houses and live on the street?', Molly answers her young listener's questions with wit and clarity. Coming in at around ten minutes, this podcast is perfect for a quick listen and always helps me to get onto a child's wavelength.

I love podcasts in the car, walking to the shops or over lunch. There's a whole universe of shows out there to discover. What are your favourites?

Alex English is a graduate of Bath Spa University's MA Writing for Young People. Her picture books Yuck said the Yak, Pirates Don't Drive Diggers and Mine Mine Mine said the Porcupine are published by Maverick Arts Publishing. More picture books and her first middle-grade novel are forthcoming in 2020/2021/2022.

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