Guest Post, October Spooky Features

Friday’s Fright: Guest Post: Stories in the Dark “Casting Pods”

fullsizeoutput_42db(1).jpegMeet Garbielle Awe.

Gabrielle grew up buried in books, her way of escaping a very confusing world. Eventually those books helped the world make sense again. Now she writes as a way to give that gift, the gift of escaping through worlds, to other people.

She dreamed of flying the dragons on Pern; saving Merlin from betrayal in the crystal cave; traveling on spaceships and settling far-flung worlds, circling stars more beautiful than ours would ever be.

When she is not reading, working at her amazing (no joke, work is her passion) day job, she also writes novels and short stories; she dabbles with paints and pens and pencils; she makes action figures out of her favorite characters, she tortures her family with character bios that haven’t yet turned into more books, and she collects anything she can get her hands on (especially Funko Pops, she has walls of them!) lately she records her new podcast in her very busy closet.

Gabrielle has a degree in Psychology from UC Davis; she worked in technology, cyber-security, ops leadership, and consulting; she love leadership coaching, public speaking, and generally trying to do all sorts of magical things with words, both spoken and written.

Her podcast is called Stories in the Dark; she is the creator and the voice, and her husband Jeremy is the producer. She also has two YA Fantasy novels she is currently querying to agents.

Favorite quote: “Be who you needed when you were younger.”

Social Media Links:
Twitter.com/sitdpodcast and twitter.com/evilkittygrr
Facebook.com/storiesinthedark and facebook.com/authorgabrielleawe
Instagram: storiesinthedarkpodcast
Web: Storiesinthedark.com
https://www.patreon.com/storiesinthedark

 

The Guest Post

“Casting Pods”

I love telling stories. I dream in plots and characters; I have imaginary conversations in my head. When I watch a movie or read a book I imagine how it would end differently if only this other thing had happened; if the supporting character had made a different choice; or if the main character were a woman. If you talk to me for two minutes I’ll make up a backstory for you; if I talk to you for five, I’ll pull you into my world – my dark, dark world.

I became a podcaster for two reasons, which we’ll explore together. I decided in a day, and then the next day we started making it happen; that’s how I do most things. I think, and then I do, like Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her motto was “Want, take, have”; mine is “imagine, plan, and execute.” Same thing, but usually less stabby.

I’ve always loved a scary story but I don’t go in for jump scares. I like suspense, supernatural, twists that make you love it even more; little girls with creepy smiles and creepier secrets; the inevitable descent into darkness. I love exploring why people go down into the deeps. Most of all, I love hope. There are two things you don’t find in most horror stories, and one of those is hope. Not for me the hopeless victimization of most horror; I want empowered horror. Horror that shows you that dark may be the absence of light but it doesn’t have to be the absence of everything. Someone wins; maybe they’re the villain, but maybe they aren’t.

Have you ever read Slasher Girls and Monster Boys? Please do, if you haven’t; it changed my life. I read the short stories in that collection, written by some of YAs biggest and best names, and I fell in love. The stories are mostly centered on women, which is the second thing you don’t normally find with horror and the things that go bump in the night. Women in horror are often side characters, objects, victims, motivation for a male protagonist or meat in the horror grinder. But THESE stories showed me women as villains; women who might run into trouble but are more than happy to cause some more. Women who, even if they end up dying, aren’t the object, they are the subject.

Those are the stories I write, too. Those are the stories that speak to me; stories that mostly center on women. There’s an old writing adage that says “write what you know,” and I know darkness. I know pain. We are old, old friends. And I also know how to look for the light in the darkest places; how to find a way out. How to find victory when all seems lost; or, sometimes, how to claim power by becoming the villain. Sometimes the world is hard on girls and women; I want to show them being hard instead. Bad things happen to girls in this world, and my girls happen right back. I want my stories to give girls hope, to give women strength, and to show that sometimes, we have our own dark urges. Sometimes, the bad guys get what they deserve, if they run into one of my dark women.

I make all my friends and family read my stories; sometimes they like it, sometimes they learn to like it. I noticed my nephew always had my niece read him my stories; he’s dyslexic and would rather listen than read. She sat next to him and read him story after story, their heads together, getting lost in my world.

My best friend is losing his vision; he’s had multiple eye surgeries and reading is too hard on his eyes. As a reader, he had long ago switched over to audiobooks, and he was having trouble reading the stories I sent him.

I’d never listened to podcasts before I decided to launch one. I was putting my game face on for work one day when I had this aha moment; I could bring my stories to the world, to people who maybe can’t or won’t read. This was really it, the pivotal why, the second reason I started podcasting and found a new passion – there are so many people who would rather listen, and I want to give them something of me to listen to.

For my day job I do a lot of speaking, and I have a “meeting voice” that I use, especially when I want to sound like an adult – my voice sounds significantly younger than I am. What if I took my meeting voice, exaggerated it, and made it my podcaster voice?

I told my husband my idea; he’s my biggest fan, and my biggest cheerleader, and an amazing partner. He immediately jumped on board. I write other stories, besides my creepy stories and dark fairy tales, but I thought about the book I mentioned above and I knew, I knew like I know what’s right, I knew that would be my thing. Dark stories; Stories in the Dark. You can listen in the dark, or my stories will take you there. Either way. I’d found my new center.

Given my fairly intense day job, I would only be able to write and narrate, so Jeremy agreed to do the audio production. We both work in tech; I’m a former programmer-turned IT Ops Director turned IT & Management Consultant, and he’s done product management and some dev work as well, so we were pretty confident we could pull together what we needed.

I love lists! I started making a list on how to prepare; we did some research, and POOF!

Ok, not exactly poof. But it was roughly two weeks from “hey let’s start a podcast” to “omg our first episode is live”, which mostly involved researching how to actually do a podcast, buying some equipment and setting up our podcast host…and actually recording our episode.

Our first recording:

Well, that was fun. I set up my new mic with my Macbook on the big wooden table in our dining room, practiced my best spooky voice, and recorded our first episode! I proudly handed it to Jeremy, who started work, and I excitedly waited, and waited, and waited.

And waited!

8 hours later, Jeremy told me that he was trying to remove the echo from recording in an open area. Big lesson learned. So I told Jeremy to stand down and I took my setup into my closet and recorded it again – and it came out PERFECT. Fun fact: depending on where your closet is, it’s isolated from most random house noises, and the hanging clothes and carpet really help soften the acoustics, and the small space contains the vocal sound. Long story short: It suddenly sounded perfect.

Jeremy found special sound effects and music and produced our first episode; we tinkered with a few different ways to market & advertise and started building up our listener base! It’s been so much fun for us, our friends & family, and our new listeners. If I could do one thing differently it would have been to build up a pre-launch campaign to build interest and listeners ahead of time, which is what all the guides said to do to launch strongly. But you know? I’m ok with it – I am who I am, and sometimes, I’m an impulsive little creator who just wants to make things GO.

We quickly published multiple episodes so our listeners could get a good feel for us, and I spend every weekend writing more stories (I like to keep a backlog of 10+ stories ready to go), recording, and producing the episodes. We have our website, our Instagram, and a Facebook page; we’re working on ways to get our listeners more engaged and interactive with us. So far, we’ve hit #1 in Literature on iTunes a few times, which feels huge to us, and we’ve been in the top 10 in Arts as well. I have given one of my stories to another podcast (Scare you to Sleep) because it felt like a better fit for Shelby’s podcast than mine, and that has done really well as well. It was fun to connect with another podcaster, especially another woman in the horror space, and I’d love to do more collaborative things in the future as well.

My new favorite episode is Rabbit Rabbit; it was a pretty good story and Jeremy’s audio work really took it to the next level. My previous favorite was The Dead Girls; there’s a line in there that I just love so much. So so much. It’s also one of our top episodes so far, along with Fairy Tales Part 1 (where I have my first guest narrator, a creepy af sounding little girl who happens to be my niece.) But I love everything; our dark fairy tales; our stories about Mr. Veil and the demons he haunts. There’s a story arc there that I can’t wait to get more into. The House that Demons Built is also one of our most popular episodes and that one makes me happy because I literally dreamed it. I dreamed it one night and woke up wrote it out for the podcast.

I have another story on there that I wrote for people who are trying to climb out of their own personal darkness; it’s called The Other Side, and I wrote it for someone who was struggling with some really, really difficult stuff. In the story the girl, in despair, makes a choice to step into another world; her journey will resonate with anyone who has struggled with depression, with hard times, with being dragged under. You’ll want to walk through that world with her and see what she sees. I wrote it as a graphic novella and worried it wouldn’t translate well to a podcast but it kind of did. I can’t wait to eventually publish it in full with the illustrations. Whenever I’ve showed it to anyone (handwritten and drawn in a leather journal), everyone who has read it got it; got it deep in their heart, in their gut, in the places that are tender from their own hard times. That means so much to me; it’s why I write, it’s why I cast my words out into the world. If they help even one person, I’m happy. Because that’s what words should do; help us through things we can’t even explain, can’t even describe. Stories help us process the experiences and emotions that are buried deep down, so that when we hear them, a little part of us heals; a part that is beyond merely just talking. This is the healing that art, either created or consumes, brings to us, to our human experience.

Running the podcast is so much more fun than I expected. Sometimes we do Facebook live videos when our episodes go up (every Sunday night for regular episodes, and every other Wednesday for bonus content!) and I’ve enjoyed making those videos, and the ones for our Patreon, even more than doing the podcast itself! Between the podcast, regular work, and my novel writing I don’t have as much time to branch into videos as I’d like but maybe soon. It will be great when we get more patrons and advertisers; I’m hoping with the Halloween boost (I can’t wait to share my Halloween stories with the world!) we get enough of a boost that we can start attracting advertisers. We have 8 Halloween episodes we are doing in the month of October and my favorite is called The Devil’s House. I can’t say anything about it because spoilers but TRUST ME it’s a good one.

I’d love to get more discussion and feedback from listeners, but for now, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing – exploring stories, writing strong women and girls, and helping people understand why some things go bump in the night.

1 thought on “Friday’s Fright: Guest Post: Stories in the Dark “Casting Pods””

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