Friday, March 1, 2013

Rish Performs A Story On Cast Of Wonders

You know that heartwarming myth about how the prettiest girls are also the loneliest ones, since no guys dare approach them?  Yes, a disgusting lie, as Albert Einstein mathematically proved.  But as far as podcasters go, the fact that Big and Rish are rarely asked to narrate on other podcasts anymore, does give us a little pause.

Maybe the other podcasts see us as competition, maybe they don't like that we're a duo, maybe there are tons of newer narrators out there clamoring for work, maybe we have a reputation as slackers or monsters, maybe other podcasts just utilize their friends, maybe the other readers are just friendlier.*

Of course, my theory is, they're intimidated by our talent and marvelous heads of hair.

But Graeme Dunlop over at the Cast of Wonders podcast swallowed down a little liquid courage recently, and asked if I, Rish, would perform a story for his show.  CoW is a fairly new but already prolific show, producing short stories that are, ostensibly, aimed at a YA audience. 

The story I was given, "Cosmetic Procedures" by Desmond Warzel, was so not YA, it's made me question what exactly "YA" means.  But that's a question for another blog.  It's a pretty delightful (if short) tale about a Private Investigator hired by a husband to figure out what has happened to his now-distant, now-unemotional wife.  The P.I. and his team discover that it's due to something banal, that might be a front for something much darker, much more unexplainable.  It's a heck of a story, and highly recommended.

I did wonder why Graeme would ask me, since there are so many prettier girls at this dance, but when I got to one particular line of dialogue, I had to laugh.  If you're a longtime listener to our show, I think you'll know it when you hear it.**

We recently recorded a story for our show (this one waaaaay longer, but more YA in my definition), with a very similar premise.  It's called "Office Visit," written by a certain shaggy-headed lonely boy, and I look forward to comparing the two when/if that story ever runs on the Dunesteef.

But head on over to Cast Of Wonders: The Young Adult Fiction Magazine.  Once my audiobooks start dropping, you'll get sick of hearing me do all the character voices in a story.  But this one may seem quaint.

Rish "Cosmetic Pro Seizure" Outfield

*There's a certain not-to-be-named podcast that we have even asked the producer(s) if we could be on, only to be ignored.

**It's as though a script handed to Steve Martin just happened to include the line, "Well, excuuuuse me!"  Or somebody gave Dane Cook a screenplay requiring him to be an unlikeable, overrated jagoff.


  1. This is a reply to your "maybe (they) see us as competition" assertion above, because that might be part of it. I say this because my own experience as a podcast listener has had this result. I used to listen to a half-dozen podcasts (I won't list them all, but you've mentioned most of them on your shows). At one point, I unsubscribed to all of them, because I "got busy" but since then, I've resubscribed to only a couple of them, because between that and audiobooks that I want to read, there aren't enough hours in my day to listen to any more of them. I guess I could "cherry pick" individual episodes of several podcasts, but that's not really my style. If I'm going to listen to a podcast, I generally will listen to all of the episodes, and in air order (which can be a challenge when you guys do movie reviews for a film I haven't seen yet but plan to see)

    So yes... maybe some of them don't want to risk viewers wandering away from their podcast to spend time on another one, because we viewers are fickle and easily distracted OH LOOK, A BUTTERFLY...

  2. The author here, with my $0.02...

    [But first, hearty thanks for the service you've done my words with your golden tones. Tell those editors I said you could narrate *my* work anytime…]

    I didn't write "Cosmetic Procedures" as a YA story; have never deliberately written YA fiction at all, in fact. And yet there seems to be a definite YA sensibility to a lot of my work, if my 75% acceptance rate with Cast of Wonders is anything to go by. If I had to guess, I'd say that the reason for the seeming disconnect between your conception of YA and what you just found yourself narrating is that Cast of Wonders, deliberately or not, is collecting under a single broad umbrella the stories that really make up two slightly-more-specific categories.

    1) YA-oriented stories, i.e. stories written with a young adult audience in mind, often featuring a YA protagonist. Cast of Wonders has published many fine examples of these, in particular, I recommend Russ Colson's "The Next Joe Jones" (#36) and S. R. Algernon's "The Egg Game" (#66). The Algernon story in particular brings back fond memories of SF stories I might have read in Boys' Life magazine during my Scouting days in the 80s.

    2) YA-appropriate stories, i.e. stories written with an adult audience--or at least a general audience--in mind, but which qualify as "clean" by whatever standards are being employed. Cast of Wonders runs these as well. I'm glad of it; not only because variety is important, but because it broadens the podcast's appeal. It can be hard to know where the line is: see for example my story "Same-Day Delivery" (#15), which I originally submitted to Cast Macabre--they deemed it insufficiently macabre, but ran it on Cast of Wonders, even though it's about a drug-smuggling necromancer. My other piece for them, "The Most Precious of Treasures" (#34-#35) is a straightforward sword-and-sorcery piece, though it does contain the word "fornicate", which was to my surprise retained in the audio version.

    In this latter category (as the editor explained to me), they're looking for stories that evoke a "sense of wonder". That's a pretty wide-open term, but I think stories that reveal some hidden aspect of the world have a particular YA appeal. Teenagers look at the world as it is and say, "this can't possibly be *it*," and gravitate toward fiction that supports this. I certainly did as a lad. Kids know they're not getting the whole truth--that there's more going on than adults will admit to--and good YA SF addresses this (I particularly enjoyed Daniel Pinkwater's novel Lizard Music, and wholeheartedly recommend it). The whole vampires-and-werewolves thing (supernatural creatures who hide in plain sight) is just another facet of this.

    I also liked "Cosmetic Procedures" as a candidate for Cast of Wonders because of its provenance. It's a true story, you see--I attended that exact cosmetic sales meeting, and, out of boredom, got to wondering what would happen if it turned out the brooches were really in charge. It *had* to be written, and while the idea is slight (I don’t think it would pass muster, depth-wise, at any of the pro magazines), and doesn’t really bear expansion (for the life of me, I have no idea how these aliens expect to conquer Earth through cosmetics), the resulting story is a pleasant enough diversion, and more importantly, it's a good example for budding writers who want to know where we get our ideas.

    Thanks again for your fine efforts in bringing my words to life.

    Desmond Warzel