by Sarah Painter
Much as I love the act of reading, I also adore listening, and find the burgeoning world of podcasting very exciting indeed.
For starters, audio is so convenient. There are lots of times during my week when reading a blog would be frowned upon (driving springs to mind), but if I have my iPod, lovingly loaded with podcast episodes, then I can still have wordy entertainment.
If you're not familiar with the term, podcasts are basically on-demand internet radio. They are often amateur-made (which is not to say the quality is 'amateur' but just that they are made by independent companies and individuals) and span a wide range of interests.
Some are simple one-person shows on a particular topic or talk shows with guest interviews, and some, like the acclaimed Welcome To Nightvale, are complex fiction serials with talented voice actors.
You can browse for podcasts in iTunes (or one of the many podcast apps such as Stitcher or Podbay) and subscribe so that you automatically get episodes when they are released. I have always enjoyed listening to the radio (I grew up to the sounds of the News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven’t A Clue on Radio Four), but the ability to choose exactly what I want, when I want is brilliant.
Also, there is something endearingly intimate about podcasts. Often, you aren’t listening to a smooth professional presenter or DJ, you are listening to an enthusiast or expert in their field. It's like getting to earwig on people's lives, thoughts and conversations which, for a nosy writer such as myself, is inspiring as well as fun.
For an audiophile, there’s no better time to be alive; technology has enabled an explosion of independent, mostly free content. The choice can be a little overwhelming, however, so here are my top ten recommendations for writers and book enthusiasts:
1. Storywonk – Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens provide a variety of shows from in-depth discussions of film and television (I love their ‘Dusted’ series about Buffy The Vampire Slayer) to short episodes of writing advice.
2. The Creative Penn – Thriller author and entrepreneur Joanna Penn talks writing, publishing, marketing, and business for authors with a wide variety of guests.
3. This Creative Life – YA author Sara Zarr talks to authors and other creative types.
4. Tea And Jeopardy – Join author Emma Newman in her secret lair as she chats with authors, illustrators and other interesting people. Served by the butler Latimer, Emma discusses creativity over tea and cake.
5. The Guardian Books Podcast – Presented by the editor of Guardian Books, Claire Armistead, this show offers book news, author interviews and readings, and book club discussions.
6. For science fiction and fantasy fans, Sword and Laser, is a well-established book club and podcast.
7. Writing In Real Life – A husband and wife team discuss writing, parenting, publishing and marriage.
8. Writing Excuses -–15-minute episodes on the craft of writing.
9. Dear Bitches, Smart Authors – Podcast dedicated to the authors and readers of romance.
10. Stuff You Should Know – Okay, this one is a cheat as it isn't a bookish show. However, it's great for writers (or people who like to find out cool facts). The episodes are fun and informative and give a quick insight into a variety of interesting topics.
And, ahem, an honourable mention to my own (new) podcast: The Worried Writer. It's stuffed with advice on overcoming fear, self-doubt and procrastination and, every month, I interview an author for their top tips on getting the work done.
How about you? Do you already enjoy podcasts or think you might give them a try? We'd love to hear your thoughts or listening recommendations (even if they're not writing related).