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7 really good podcasts

7 really good podcasts

For someone who has been co-hosting a top-rating podcast for nearly four years now, I have been surprisingly slow at seeking out really good podcasts for myself. It took me ages to work out what worked for me in a podcast, so I tried an eclectic mix of information, pop culture, history… nothing really gelled.

Of course, I listened to Serial when everyone was talking about it, and I loved it. But series two didn’t really grab me and so I put my earbuds away. The truth was that there were so many podcasts out there, I didn’t know where to start to sort the wheat from the chaff.

And then I listened to The Teacher’s Pet (currently unavailable in Australia), because my co-host Valerie Khoo told me I’d love it. I resisted because I had already seen so much about that particular ‘cold case’ and what I knew made me angry. But eventually I caved and then binged every episode. Why? Because I was beginning to get an inkling of the potential of this kind of storytelling.

After that one, I fell down the rabbit hole of true crime podcasts, and you’ll see several stellar examples of that genre on that list.

Then, one day, a few months ago, I got sick of it. I didn’t want to hear another sad story about a sad family looking for answers. So I started looking for something different.

Interestingly, Googling ‘great history podcasts’ took me into an area that combined music, history and, yes, in some cases, crime, and that’s where I seem to have washed up for the time being.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the best podcasts I’ve listened to over the past year or two. In case you’re in a bit of a podcast rut – or you’re looking for a place to start.

8 really good podcasts (according to me)

Click the titles to find out more.

True crime

As discussed, I’ve listened to more hours of these than I should probably ever admit. What makes a good one for me? One where the victim of the crime is never forgotten in the race to tell the story. One where the host doesn’t become the ‘star’ of the show. One where the narrative is both compelling and clever. It goes without saying that all of these come with violence and content warnings.

8 really good podcasts: Bear BrookBear Brook

Aside from the original excellence of Serial, Bear Brook is my number one pick in this genre. A case in which the very last thing discovered is the identity of the victims, and that highlights the first use of technology that changes the face of crime investigation.

From a writer’s perspective, it’s a very cleverly constructed and very surprising narrative. I also liked the fact that, unlike many true crime podcasts, this one has a resolution. Produced by New Hampshire Public Radio.

 

8 really good podcasts: UnravelUnravel True Crime

The first three seasons of this Australian true crime podcast are excellent and compelling storytelling. I haven’t listened to the fourth as yet, due to my jump into music and history. The hosts for all three series I have heard are excellent, and their journalism credentials all top-notch. Produced by ABC Radio.

 

8 really good podcasts: Your Own BackyardYour Own Backyard

A mind-boggling look into the disappearance of Kristin Smart, a student at California Polytechnic State University, in 1996 by Chris Lambert, an indie folk musician by trade who grew up looking at Kristin’s face on a billboard near his home. Lambert never loses sight of Kristin, even as he pokes and prods at the case that has only ever had one suspect.

Music

I love the stories behind songs, singers and songwriters. In some cases here, there’s a fine line between the music category and the ‘true crime’ category.

8 really good podcasts: Strong SongsStrong Songs

This one is all about the music and you’ll need a bit of geek in you to get into it. Each episode, the host, Kirk Hamilton, breaks down a song and looks at why it works. If you’ve ever wondered why you respond to certain songs in certain ways, this is the podcast for you.

 

8 really good podcasts: MogulMogul (Season 1, Chris Lighty)

I’m fascinated by Hip Hop and season one of Mogul, about manager Chris Lighty is all about the rise of hip-hop as much as the story of one man who was part of it. This podcast, by Gimlet Media, comes with language warnings, as well as trigger warnings for domestic violence and suicide. It remains a deeply compelling story.

NB: I listened to a few episodes of season 2 before pausing. About Miami bass, the 2 Live Crew and freedom of speech in language, the language, ironically, wore me down.

8 really good podcasts: Cocaine & RhinestonesCocaine & Rhinestones: The History Of Country Music

You don’t have to like country music to enjoy this podcast, though it does help with a few episodes (Ralph Mooney and his pedal steel guitar being a case in point). Host Tyler Mahan Coe is the son of David Allan Coe, an American singer-songwriter, and he introduces each episode as being one of the stories he’s been ‘listening to his whole life’.

Each episode is dedicated to a song or an artist and they’re a hugely entertaining look behind the scenes of 20th century country music in the US. Mahan Coe sounds really nervous in the first few episodes, but he and his stories get more engaging as he goes along. Hint: check out the show notes, which are thorough and which will allow you to listen to all the songs that you only get a snippet of in the episodes due to licensing.

Note that there are warnings for some episodes around domestic violence and other crimes, but Mahan Coe is very careful to put the warnings upfront.

8 really good podcasts: DisgracelandDisgraceland

There are 61 episodes of this podcast, which describes itself as being about ‘musicians getting away with murder and behaving very badly’, so you can either choose to listen to stories about your favourites or just start from episode one and go forward. I did the latter and discovered some tales about artists I’d grown up listening to that made my eyes water.

A combination of music, history and true crime, the podcast is narrated by Jake Brennan – and I say narrated because he is an evocative and dramatic storyteller.

Got a recommendation for me? Share it in the comments!

 

7 really good podcastsAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here. Subscribe to So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for author interviews, insider tips and lots of chat about storytelling in its many different forms.

 

Meet ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ the BOOK

Meet ‘So You Want To Be A Writer’ the BOOK

It’s been a big year for the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast team!

Not only have we screamed past the ONE MILLION download mark (you’ll find my 15 favourite interviews here), with a LIVE event at VIVID Sydney (book now!) in the works, but we’re happy to announce that we’ve written a book!

So You Want To Be A Writer book by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo

So You Want To Be A Writer: How To Get Started (While You Still Have A Day Job) by Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo will be on sale from 8 June (be at our event to be the first to own it!)

Here’s the blurb

The ultimate guide to making your writing dreams come true!

Want to write a novel or earn an income as a freelance writer, but not sure how to go about it? Authors Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo – co-hosts of the popular So You Want To Be A Writer podcast – will give you the steps you need to make your dream a reality.

In this book, you’ll discover everything you need to be a successful writer, including how to connect with people who will help your career grow and productivity tips for fitting everything into your already busy life. You’ll also explore how to keep your creative juices flowing and where to find other writers just like you.

This book lays out a blueprint to help you get started and thrive in the world of words. With advice from over 120 writers, you’ll tap into proven wisdom and find the path that will lead YOU to success!

Here’s what five of Australia’s favourite authors have said about the book

‘Practical, grounded and inspiring. When a thousand voices tell you that you can’t, you need a voice to make you believe you can. This book is that voice.’
Candice Fox, #1 New York Times bestselling author

‘So many pro tips in here from working writers. This is like Tim Ferriss’s Tools of Titans but exclusively for writers. I loved it.’
Tristan Bancks, award-winning children’s author

‘Perfect for the person who wants to write but doesn’t have the confidence or the know-how to start.’
Pamela Hart, award-winning historical fiction author

‘Essential reading for any aspiring writer.’
Graeme Simsion, international bestselling author

‘Val and Al were a godsend to me before I was published, offering a guided tour to the world of publishing that was otherwise closed to me. Their advice is highly, highly recommended.’  
Dervla McTiernan, international bestselling author

And here’s a picture of the co-authors on the day (nearly a year ago) we decided to write a book

Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait So You Want To Be A Writer book.

We are thrilled to bring this book to our podcast audience, our writing community and to new and aspiring writers everywhere. It will be available through a range of online booksellers, here and overseas, so stay tuned for more details.

If you’d like to read more about So You Want To Be A Writer the book, or register your details to receive notice as soon as the book is on sale, you’ll find all the details here.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

[news] So You Want To Be A Writer: The EVENT

[news] So You Want To Be A Writer: The EVENT

So You Want To Be A Writer at Vivid Sydney 2019 | allisontait.comSo here’s a thing… Valerie Khoo and I are taking the So You Want To Be A Writer show to Vivid Sydney!

I know! An EVENT!

We would LOVE for you to join us for a (possibly slightly chaotic) live recording of the podcast, with a mix of practical tips and advice about writing and the publishing industry.

We’ll have expert (and amazing) insight from our special guests Candice Fox and Pamela Freeman, and you’ll have the opportunity to meet LOTS of other writers.

As always, our aim is to inspire you to follow your dream to be a writer – and to help you out by providing useful, tangible steps you can follow to get there.

It’s on Saturday, June 8, 11am-1pm at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

Tickets are $38.54 each (inc fees and GST), and numbers are strictly limited, so get in quick!

Please come. We’d love to see you.

You can find out more and buy tickets here.

My 15 favourite podcast interviews from one million downloads

My 15 favourite podcast interviews from one million downloads

Last week, So You Want To Be15 favourite interviews from 1,000,000 downloads | allisontait.com A Writer, the podcast that I co-host with the wonderful Valerie Khoo from the Australian Writers’ Centre, ticked over a new milestone: one million downloads.

One. Million.

To mark the occasion, I thought I’d share my favourite author interviews since we began recording the podcast.

To be clear, I’ve enjoyed every single interview that I’ve recorded for the podcast. I have learnt something from every one, and have been astounded by the generosity of the authors to whom I’ve spoken.

But these are the ones that I remember the most, for a whole range of reasons. They’ve given me ‘aha’ moments. They’ve made me laugh. They’ve stayed with me.

If you haven’t discovered So You Want To Be A Writer, I hope you’ll begin your journey with these interviews.

If you’re a longtime fan, thank you so much for listening and helping us to reach such an extraordinary milestone. And I hope that perhaps you’ll have a second listen to these episodes, to see why I love them so much.

Click the author name and episode to listen/read the interview transcript.

Adrian McKinty, episode 97

I confess that I dragged Adrian on to the podcast simply because I am such a fan of his Sean Duffy crime novels, and I laughed so much during this engaging, rambling interview that I ended up an even bigger fan.

Andrew Faulkner, episode 101

This was a classic example of an interview ending up WAY more interesting than I ever expected. Andrew is a journalist and biographer and our discussion about his military biography ‘Stone Cold’ ranged far and wide.

Andy Griffiths, episode 67

How could I not include the most serious conversation about ‘bums’ I’ve ever had? Children’s author Andy Griffiths gave a masterclass on writing craft.

Anna Spargo-Ryan, episode 110

Anna is a dear friend and our discussion was part interview, part catch up. She continues to write some of the most beautiful sentences I’ve ever read.

Dervla McTiernan, episode 271

Our most recent episode and a thoughtful and incredibly engaging interview about crime novels and the double-sided nature of fortune.

Fiona Mcintosh, episode 264

“Nobody cares about your book,” says this bestselling author and that, along with some other blunt advice about the writing industry, is why this interview is a favourite.

Garry Disher, episode 196

Considered and articulate writing tips delivered in a very, very soothing voice.

Jackie French, episode 214

I think what I loved most about all the writing tips and advice in this interview was how unexpected they were. Jackie takes ‘read lots, write lots’ to a whole different level.

Karen Foxlee, episode 257

This children’s author and her ‘puddle of words’ writing process (so very different to my own) will stay with me for a long time. One of the episodes that reminded me to always stay open to other ways.

Marisa Pintado, episode 182

A really insightful look at the publishing process and the role of a publisher and editor in children’s and YA fiction.

Michael Robotham, episode 26

I’m not sure what it is about crime authors, but they really are the most personable and generous people. Michael says he looks like, and I quote, ‘a kitten killer’, but he takes us inside the daily routine and writing process of an international-bestselling author.

Nick Earls, episode 28

My overwhelming memory of this interview is that it could have gone on for days. Looking at the transcription, it was definitely one of the longer ones, but that’s because I was finding it all so damn interesting!

R.A Spratt, episode 268

Again, honesty is at the heart of this interview with bestselling children’s author Rachel (R.A) Spratt. She gives a very straight-forward insight into the business of writing for children.

Sarah Keenihan, episode 125

Science writer Sarah gave us great insight into the art and craft of blending scientific knowledge and words.

Sophie Green, episode 194

In a former life, Sophie was my literary agent, and nobody was more thrilled than I was when her debut novel went gangbusters. Our interview ranged across many topics, from the writing process to how to get published.

 

Enjoy!

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

 Subscribe to So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for more amazing writing tips.

Want to write for children or YA? Don’t miss this pop-up podcast

Want to write for children or YA? Don’t miss this pop-up podcast

New: Magic & Mayhem podcast series, all about writing for children and YA | allisontait.comAs the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast nears its 270th episode (and it’s one millionth download – stand by!), it has become an incredibly deep and rich resource of interviews, stories, anecdotes and information from published authors of all kinds from Australia and around the world.

Which gives us a LOT of great advice to play with.

Today, the amazing team at the Australian Writers’ Centre released a wonderful curated ‘pop up’ podcast series called Magic & Mayhem.

Featuring 40 incredible interviews with authors such as Andy Griffiths, Jacqueline Harvey, Tristan Bancks, Lauren Child, Wendy Orr and more, it’s a fantastic exploration of the world of children’s and YA fiction, from picture books through chapter books and middle-grade and right up to teens.

But wait, there’s more.

The AWC team has also created a fantastic FREE companion ebook that brings together the very best of the advice that each episode offers.

Oh. My.

You’ll find all the details about the podcast and how to claim your free book here.

Or you can just start listening right now here, or on iTunes here.

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