The Roundtable Podcast Interview, part deux

Welcome to part two of the Roundtable Podcast interview, the interview so awesome, I had to split it into two parts lest the awesome overload the internet and cause Skynet to become sentient. You’re welcome. Thanks again to my great friends Dave Robison and Brion Humphrey for taking the time to answer some questions and shed some light on not only podcasting, but writing and creativity.

6. a) Dave, you are quite well-known for your alliterative allegations of alchemical awesomeness, and those who have listened are likely mystified by your declarations of demonstrative derring-do. Do you write these down prior to the podcast, or are you just winging it? If you are winging it… That’s some amazing stuff. Where do you come up with it?

b) Brion, your sign-off of the podcast, “Just go write,” is quite possibly one of the best pieces of advice to writers in general and budding writers in particular, due to its imperative simplicity. How long did it take you to come up with it, what inspired it and is it something you use in your classes?

Brion: Oh boy. I don’t know where it came from. I think it was one of those things where I mentioned to Dave, or he mentioned to me, that we needed a signoff catch phrase and that was a spur of the moment thing. But it’s absolutely true and it’s one of the biggest hang ups that I think writers have. We love to find other things to give us the excuse to not write. We organize things, listen to podcasts about writing, answer questions for blog posts…in the end, the only thing that is really going to make us better writers is the act of writing itself. Funny, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually said “Go write” to my students. Now I will.

Dave: It’s all from the internet. I start by sifting through the Host’s website, checking out their bio, the blog, whatever is there. I’m looking for iconic moments, perceptions and philosophies, staunch allies, and anything that expresses who they are. From there I type “Interview [host name]”, and just start reading. Often I’m listening to a podcast interview WHILE I’m reading a text interview (thank god for these “10 questions with…” interviews!). I copy and paste the fragments that illustrate the path from as far back as there’s reliable data to be had to present day.

From there… well, I guess that’s where things get squishy and creative. I look for trends, themes, or patterns in the story I’ve culled from all that internet stuff. Sometimes it’s right there (like with Alethea Kontis) and other times, in spite of a wealth of great info, the framework doesn’t present itself immediately. That’s fine, because there’s ALWAYS a way to package someone’s life… if the details don’t present a clear thematic foundation then step back a little further.

The thing is, I didn’t want us to spend a lot of time dealing with an author’s “origin story” during the interview. We wanted to get down to the brass tacks of talking craft, but background is a big part of that discussion. So initially I just wanted to get all that stuff out there as quickly as possible without it cutting in to our allotted 20 minutes. Eventually, it became a kind of honoring of the guest, an expression of our immense respect and admiration for these individuals. That, and apparently I can’t just “do” something… it’s got to be big and loud. So… there you go.

7. How does someone get their idea entered for consideration for a workshop episode, and what guidelines do you have?

Brion: This is definitely a Dave Question. Heavy lifting = Dave. Coffee break = Brion.

Dave: There’s a link on the Roundtable website at the top right corner of the page that reads “Be a GUEST”. Click that bad boy, fill out the form, click “Submit Your Idea” and you’re on the list.

Seriously… we’ve NEVER turned away any writer who really wanted to be on the show. It’s interesting… We always figured the bigger challenge would be to find guest hosts who would be willing to be on the show. As it turned out guest hosts are easy to find… It was the guest WRITERS who proved to be the challenge. As we wrap up our first year of podcasting, that’s starting to change – we have episodes scheduled as far as four months out with seven or eight writers still waiting to be assigned – but our first year was spent with authors lined up as Guest Hosts and honestly not knowing if we’d have a writer for them.

As for guidelines, our only real criterion is that the writer comes to the table with a story IDEA, not a fully realized and written short story or novel. We discovered early on that it’s easier (and more fun) to workshop an idea that the writer hasn’t written 50,000 words on. Everyone, the hosts included, are more willing to explore new ideas and alternative interpretations of the concept when it’s still just an idea.

Other than that, it’s all good. We’ve workshopped all manner of sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, YA and midgrade, and even erotica. It’s all storytelling and we love exploring that incredibly creative world.

8. Stepping outside the podcast for a moment, what are you two reading these days?

Brion: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore, and Black Order by James Rollins

Dave: “Stepping out of the podcast…” Haha haaah ha ha! That’s great… oh, you’re serious? Well, I have a copy of “On Writing” (by Stephen King) sitting on my desk that I open from time to time to a random page and try to understand how he expresses things so simply and eloquently. I have an iPad FULL of stories and novels that I’ve started but not finished, all by past and future hosts of the show. I’m actually finding it rather difficult to identify what >I< want to read anymore. I’m mostly taking great delight in A) interviewing my literary heroes, and B) discovering NEW literary heroes after I interview them.

9. What are your usual inspirations for writing?

Brion: My wife. She loves to read what I write and is always so enthusiastic about what’s going to come next. Some of my best ideas come from conversations with her. The rest of them come from dreams. I usually have pretty wild dreams and when I’m lucid enough to write them down, they make my better stories.

Dave: Pretty much anything after “wake up in the morning” ends up being an inspiration for writing. Seriously, a piece of artwork, a snippet of dialog, a news article… all of it. I tend to work conceptually, thinking in terms of thematic tone and feel or a collection of scenes before I dive into character and plot. There are usually either iconic moments that I want to string together (OR gut completely and explore the seamy underbelly thereof) or some concept that I want to express (like “Everybody is somebody’s weirdo”). Expressing those hard-to-express perceptions are what drag me to the keyboard time and again. Art and visual structures are a great motivator for me, too… but then those are just concepts given form anyway, so I guess it’s all the same. But I can tell you from experience: a picture is worth a helluva lot more than a thousand words. A really good picture can be worth 95K to 100K!

10. Finally, what have you two got planned for the short and long term, both as far as writing/creating and the Roundtable podcast?

Brion: I just released my first book, Sense Memory, and am finishing my second. The podcast for me is a constant source of inspiration and as long as Dave is willing to do the heavy lifting that he does, I’ll keep showing up to lean on the water cooler.

Dave: For the podcast… honestly, I’m taking the attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. We will continue to send our literary alchemists out to interview authors at conventions, and we’ll keep looking at new ways to engage with the collaborative creative process, but really… I think the format is pretty solid as it is.

Personally, I’m going to be firing up another podcast in April titled “Literary Alchemy” ( that will focus on the UN-Solitary Writer. The digital age has opened up a lot of opportunities for creative collaboration and I think the technology AND the culture has started to embrace the idea that writing doesn’t HAVE to be a solo gig. There are online writing communities, shared worlds and shared universes, writers collaborating on their books, game companies publishing fiction inspired by their campaign settings… so MANY ways for storytellers to explore their story and its telling. That’s what I want to explore with Literary Alchemy.

Why? Because I don’t know enough about it! And – as I’ve found with the RTP – if you want to learn about something, do a podcast about it!


Once again, I want to thank both Dave and Brion for dropping by to give us all a look behind the scenes of a great podcast, and a very valuable resource for budding writers who want to figure out just how to take that burgeoning spark of an idea, fan the flames of creativity, call forth the mighty forces of the id and ego, and shape it into not just a story, but an epic worthy of the term “literary gold”, especially at Dave’s new podcast . You can find them at, where they have articles, links to former episodes and story development, and of course, ways to contact Dave and Brion and request a spot on the show. Their podcast is available on iTunes, and is absolutely worth the time to listen. They are also tweetable with the name @WritersPodcast, and they of course have a Facebook presence at Take a listen, and definitely follow Brion’s words.

Just go write.

Thanks for tuning in, everyone. See you next time.

~ by Walker on March 19, 2013.

2 Responses to “The Roundtable Podcast Interview, part deux”

  1. Great show. Make me want to come up with a consistent exit line. And, Dave, welcome to the reading turmoil of a podcast host. I have such a hard time not jumping onto the latest interviewee’s book when I’m still months into a previous one. Where do all these guests get off thinking they can write 900+ page books, anyway? 😉

    Interesting podcast idea, Dave. I’m looking for a writing community, but as a novelist 3+ years into the novel (5 drafts)., I’m still not ready to show anybody. Is there a community for writers like me?

    Brion, I bought and subscribed to Sense Memory. Looking forward to it.

    Thanks for the interview John.

  2. Reblogged this on KnoGimmicks Social Media & Web Design™.

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