66 Comments
Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

omg, you're right, that's why I'm so miserable, because I remember everything ("deftly unhinged", my new life goal)

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It's such a curse!

You're through the U-bend, Bev -- deftly unhinged is the only path forward. Thanks for listening!

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Thanks so much for listening, Bev!

Total Memory Retention is the superpower card no one wants to draw. Along with Unflinching Self-Sabotage. I majored in both. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Meg and Amran! How fun. Can’t wait to listen.

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Thanks, Maegan! I hope you find it fun and insightful. Please circle back with comments, questions, and excoriations once you're finished!

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And Maegen makes three! Thank you in advance for indulging us. Your auditory nerve responses are very much appreciated. 💜👂🏼⚡

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This is a dream come true, Meg -- I get to listen to myself talk for an entire Sunday!

I'm very pleased with how the conversation turned out! Hopefully listeners will come away with a nugget or two of wisdom they can apply to their own story production and/or consumption process.

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Apr 28·edited Apr 28Author

Wow. That first compliment landed like a well-turned ankle in the end zone. 😂 Classic.

Makes my dream of talking to you for 90 minutes seem paltry by comparison.

I'm kidding. But not. Because am I ever really kidding?

There is always value in listening while other people are talking to each other. Which is why this podcasting experiment has been so educational for me. I extract more wisdom from listening to the conversations I have with people than I do from the actual conversation. And I'm certain others will, too.

Kudos to US for pulling this off. May it haunt our god-forsaken memories in only the best of ways. 💛🥂

Agents & Books, man.

Yeah. 😉

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The A&B distillation of all 80 minutes: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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¯\(°_o)/¯

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Jun 2Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Glad I got to finally come back and listen to this. Amran, who’s your favorite comic book author for voice? Meg, I find your concern for your created characters fascinating!

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Jun 2Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Remember, you *could* kill one of your favorites and still write prequel stories!

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The best "death I actually cared about" scene was the opening in the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie. When Kirk's dad goes down with the ship. The lead up to that was seconds of screen time, but it was sooooo effective in building his character and his sacrifice and all that beautiful shit, so it literally floors you when he bites it. And bonus ... now you have a reason to care about Jim. Before his story even starts. Damn, I love that scene.

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That’s the orphan trick! See also, every Disney movie. Most superheroes.

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Maybe it’s every superhero, most Disney movies.

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Don't get me started on Disney movies. There are no mothers in them that aren't dead or evil second wives. [feminist rant redacted].

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So many great ones, but I really like Ed Brubaker. His Daredevil run was legendary, and I love the Winter Soldier run and concept.

Among newer writers, I really dig Saladin Ahmed. He created an awesome series with Miles Morales.

Finally, while not a pure comic writer, Tanehisi Coates' Captain America arc was a delight.

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I do have concern for them! But that doesn't mean I let them off easy. There's plenty of grief and loss and trauma and ugliness in the lives of my characters. Because real people have all of those things twisted up inside of them all the time. And usually, its hidden behind whatever defense mechanism they've developed for dealing with it. That's what makes them people and that's what makes me care about them - even the dick ones. I've written a bunch of books and every one of them deals with death in some way, but in only one of them do I actually kill off a central character - yes, I've done it! In that book the death was 100% necessary to the journey of my protagonist. Killing characters for dramatic effect or shock value or killing them because it turns pages doesn't do it for me. I've read books where a key character dies horribly or unexpectedly, and I don't care. Because the author thought the death would be enough to make me care, but it didn't. They needed to do the work ahead of the death to make the death matter. You know all this stuff already, but you got me thinking about it. 😂 In the SEQEUL to See Dot Smile, Bud's dad is recently dead, and Joshua's mother is dying. I never wrote a scene between the two of them dealing with this because I wrote myself into the first person POV corner of having Dot narrate the book. But something tells me it would be a really compelling exchange. I should write it anyway.

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Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

I listened from start to finish.... captivated by Amran's actual voice as well as his emphasis on voice ..... I think he missed his calling as a narrator for audiobooks.

Great job both of you!

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Thanks for listening, Ma!

Yes, I appreciate Amran's vocal timbre as well. It serves to make mine sound less masculine. Now I just need to find a guest who'll disguise my nasal twang and I'll be in business.

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Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Will not dignify that silly self-deprecation with a response, except to thank you for making me learn how to spell self-deprecating.

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Seconded.

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I misspoke.

My "dream" is to have my adult friends and my mother tandem-shame me in my comment section.

Dreams do come true. 🌈☀️🦄💘🤩

P.S. One of you once told me I'd have to get rid of my "nasal twang" if I ever wanted to do voiceover work. And I have the journal entry to prove it!!!! 😂😂😂

P.P.S. I have to spell check self-deprecating every time. Because I always want to write self-depreciating. Which I also am sometimes. #embracetheshame

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Thank you! So glad you enjoyed the discussion. Meg did a great job guiding the conversation and keeping things lively.

Also, I'm going to submit this comment as my audition to read the audiobook version of LEVERAGE.

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Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

I hope you're not kidding.... I wasn't.

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Definitely not! You're the second person who mentioned I had a pleasant-sounding voice. That's news to me, since my wife and kids are always complaining about me!

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Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Hello Amran… loved your takes. For clarity, does “pants” mean writing spontaneously, like from the seat of your pants?

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Thanks, Conrad! Yes, "pantsing" means writing a novel while flying by the seat of your pants. The opposite extreme is "plotting" every scene and every twist and every chapter and then essentially filling in the blanks.

People in each camp will evangelize for their approach, but like everything creativity-related, do what works for you!

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Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Loved the Amran interview… ‘learned a lot. I think a bunch of us would be interested in another with a noted short story writer… getting past the first readers, word count issues, what’s the market like in terms of trends for specific genre like science fiction (my thing)… Thanks, again.,. Good stuff👍

Conrad

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Thank you so much for listening, Conrad.

As a novice podcaster, I've thus far relied heavily on the kindness of guest writers who I already have a connection with. It's helped build my confidence in terms of planning and executing the interviews, and it's allowed me a bit of grace while I work on improving my technical skills behind the scenes. I do hope the show gains enough of a following that I can branch out a bit and take on what I would consider more challenging guests. Challenging because we'd be relative strangers and that is (I imagine) a whole different ball game. But it's one I'm interested in learning how to play!

As to you question about market trends, it's a tough world to accurately snapshot, because it's always moving and changing. And as Amran highlighted in our chat, there is no formula. I do have a guest in the bullpen who is a book marketing whiz. Her approach is less about bending your work to the market, and more about narrowing your search to the very specific segment of the market that wants to read and buy your book! Because there's an audience out there for pretty much ANYTHING. The trick is learning who they are, where the hangout, and how best to reach them.

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The market is always changing, but my understanding is short story collections are not much in demand right from the big publishing houses. The demise of literary magazines isn't helping on this front.

But, as discussed, we have to wear separate hats for the art side and the business side. Once your short story collection is completed the market may have done a 180.

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Apr 28Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

I mowed, I listened, I liked. Congrats Amran on the book.

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Thanks for listening, Tom!

We (you and I) crossed virtual paths about the same time Amran and I did, and my experience on Substack would not have been as interesting if not for your respective influences.

Wordle in 3 today, BTW.

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Thanks, Tom. A proper approach to multitasking!

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

This was such a fun conversation to listen in on. You both have such a different perspective and you approach writing with distinctly different goals in mind. The intersection of these ideas was fascinating.

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Cheers, Ben! 💜

All the more reason for people with different perspectives and divergent goals to talk to each other more often. Such fruitful discourse, amirite?? 🙂

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Great to hear, Ben! Hopefully you can apply something we discussed to your own writing practice!

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

What a fab conversation. Congrats to Amran. I would love to know if his agent is expecting him to focus on the same genre with future books or pressing for a book series.

I love how you insert your own personality and experience into the conversation, Meg.

I listened on my way to a Seattle Substack meet up and Tom P said he listened in the car as well! 🥰

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Thanks, CK! So glad to hear you enjoyed the discussion.

Given the nature of the novel neither my agent nor the acquisition editor asked about the potential for a series. It's truly a standalone story.

When we went "on submission" -- i.e., we were trying to sell the dang book -- my agent wisely cautioned me against discussing any similar book ideas for fear of pigeonholing myself. That said, while my next project won't be set inside a hedge fund, my interests are contemporary, and I enjoy analyzing and chronicling the intersection between present-day capitalism, culture, and politics.

One of the things I'm considering for my next project is introducing a recurring character (or two). Nobody's pushed me to do that, but it's a smart business decision. If LEVERAGE finds even modest commercial success, I'll be positioned to sell multiple books over my lifetime, and a series or recurring character can make that easier.

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Thank you for being such a loyal listener, C.K. 💜🤗

My personality and I are a package deal. I can't leave home without it. And believe me, I've tried. 🤪

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Have you ever posted these conversations on Apple Podcasts?

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YES! The show should be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and elsewhere. It's possible I have enough ratings now to actually appear when you search for Talk Fiction. In the beginning, you couldn't find me. Thanks, algorithm. 🙄

Give it a whirl on AP and feel free to leave a review!!! 💜💜💜💜

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

That’s fantastic!

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I know, right? I'm legit searchable. 🙂

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Just searched an it didn’t come up.

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

I don't think I've ever "officially" said congratulations, Amran, so congratulations! I'm planning to listen today, so I can get all of the juicy details regarding your 7 figure advance, and your new life plans after you hit bestseller status.

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Hi Brian. 😏

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Oh, um, Meg, yes, uh, good job on putting the podcast together... you know, I was just waiting until I actually heard it to mention how awesome you are. Yeah, that's it, that sounds about right. You believe me, right?

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HA! I was really just saying hi.

I'm lying, I was guilt tripping you. Not surprising that after 2 years of fake internet marriage we're still getting each other's goats.

My goat is named Daisy, btw. And she's had too much coffee this morning. 😂

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

Hey, don't you have some flowers to arrange or writing to do? Stop procrastinating!!!

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Yes, dear.

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Ha -- thanks, Brian! Just reaching this stage is surreal enough, and the funnel gets narrower and narrower. If I reach midlist status I'll be elated. God forbid I become a "bestseller." Who knows how much of a condescending jerk I'll become then.

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Apr 29Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

We can only hope the heights of your status are so great that your condescension isn't even capable of reaching down to us. That would be the dream. 🤣

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Now that's a lofty goal. I'm in.

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May 12Liked by Meg Oolders, Amran Gowani

I'm not into podcasts but I really enjoyed this one, I think you have a talent Meg. Really great having a strong lady leading the discussion. I also enjoyed learning more about the journey with your first book (though I was familiar with it from your newsletter). Cool stuff!

Amran, great advice, I admired how you started on this journey on your own and studied the craft independently. When I had my idea for a book I enrolled in a screenwriting MA to learn how to develop my story. I'm happy I did because I learned all those things that you discovered on your own and got a lot feedback. But it still took building an iron will to get myself to actually write anything and like you mentioned, I got serious about my writing only when I felt like I either write this or I'll die. Now I'm in the middle of writing my first book and I don't mind the struggle and hard work. Unlike the two of you, I'm BIG on worldbuilding so this is my main inspiration for writing. Good luck with your second book!

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Thank you so much for listening, Claudia. You're not the first person to say, "I'm not into podcasts, BUT..." and that just warms my creator heart to its quirky core. And it's funny because I also am "not into podcasts" so I suppose this is another iteration of me creating the thing I want to experience for myself and then hoping it entertains other people at the same time. 😉

Amran was a stellar guest, and I knew he'd have a ton of insight to share on the chosen topic. I suspect he will be back, like the good, tenacious, lucky penny he is to me. In the meantime, I have more guests lined up that I hope you'll find equally engaging. My next guest is a screenwriter, and a fellow "strong lady."

Best to you on your novel project. I'm still grinding my heels in the dirt at the starting line for my next one, but it's coming. Just gathering fuel for the fire. 🔥

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You've already internalized the most important lesson: be dumb enough and stubborn enough to write! Good luck with your project and make sure to enjoy the process.

Thanks for listening!

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