(This is the second post in a three-post series featuring interviews with the hosts of literary podcasts. Check out the first post here.)
This week I got to interview Bob, Tonya, and Derek of the Books, Beards, Booze podcast. Here’s what they had to say about their show:
Rhonda: What’s your show called and what’s it all about? Where can we find it and when can we find new episodes?
Bob: We are Books, Beards, Booze! We are a trio of friends from Montgomery Alabama who drink booze, have beards and talk books! Except for Tonya of course, but we got her a really nice clip-on mustache.
Tonya: You can find us on your streaming platform of choice, including (but not limited to) Apple Podcasts, iHeart, Spotify, RadioPublic, and Google Podcasts. New episodes release on Sunday and Wednesday. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on YouTube only, just look for Tales By Bob.
Derek: The show is called Books, Beards, Booze and we discuss genre fiction, alcohol, and facial hair.
R: Why did you choose the podcast medium? Do you listen to podcasts?
B: Initially I think it came out of a sense of naivete from Derek and I that it would be easier to do than it is. We’d tinkered with some YouTube-type related content in the past, so this seemed the next logical move. I listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly either True Crime or Book related. Terrible Book Club, Don’t Call It A Book Club, Pop DNA, Drunk Guys Book Club [Rhonda’s note: these four are all part of the Literary Podcasters group], Up and Vanished, Serial, Dr. Death, The Shrink Next Door, S— Town, Atlanta Monster, and To Live and Die in LA.
T: I had never listened to a podcast before getting involved with BBB. I mostly listen to audiobooks, but when I get on a podcast kick, I enjoy an assortment of true crime shows and “Hello From the Magic Tavern.”
D: I wanted to do a podcast because it seemed like a natural fit for the course many of our conversations naturally go down. They just kind of degenerate into joking and teasing and hanging out anyways, so might as well just record it. A lot of my favorite podcasts are carried purely by the fact that I want to hang out with the people I’m listening to. I spent years working on night shifts alone in my office, so practically all the interaction I would get was through listening to podcasts. It acted like a surrogate friend group that just so happened to also talk about video games or sports or wrestling. I honestly cannot list all the podcasts I’ve listened to over the years, but even though I’ve scaled back I still listen to a lot of Joe Rogan, a lot of Bill Simmons, and a lot of Ryen Russillo.
R: What has been the biggest surprise, about podcasting in general or your podcast in particular? What has been the most difficult thing? What has been the most rewarding thing?
B: The biggest surprise is how many other great related podcasts there are out there. We didn’t really look into it beforehand, so it’s been rad finding other podcasts in our wheelhouse. The most difficult thing has been dealing with technology. It hates me. And the most rewarding part has been all the connections I’ve been able to make, other podcasts I have gotten to be on, that sort of stuff!
T: I’m surprised at just how difficult the whole social media aspect is. I thought it would be the easiest part, but it’s SO difficult to be engaged on so many platforms at all times. Aside from having an excuse to hang with two of my friends every week, I love that this podcast has pushed me to read a ton of books.
D: The biggest surprise was that anyone would be willing to listen to us. I know I would like to hear a show like ours, but I’m weird. The most difficult thing is just feeling like I deserve to have an opinion on what I’m talking about, its something I struggle with. The most rewarding thing is just that I’ve somehow backdoored my way into getting to hang out with a couple of my friends at least once a week and run my mouth. When we started, all I wanted was an excuse to get to talk about things I like with people I enjoy.
R: What is your favorite episode you’ve done? And/or which one would you recommend if someone was only going to listen to one episode?
B: My personal favorite is probably our ‘Books that changed our lives’ episode, which is also our most popular as it turns out. I think it’s a great place to start because it gives you a feel for us as a podcast, but also us people.
T: The birthday episodes are my favorite. We did one in Season 1 that’s now only on YouTube, but I love it. So much fun to just ask each other random questions and get drunk on-air. No pressure, no homework. Just pure fun.
D: I always enjoy the longer episodes. I don’t like listening to shorter shows as a listener and I almost never even feel comfortable talking until about 30 minutes in, which is when we tend to close the show. I think my favorite episodes are the ones where we talk about an entire book, because we make those longer and I finally feel like I have room to analyse things a little bit. Also the episode about “Kondo? Emotion?” because we got to discuss emotional scenes from books and why they meant something to us.
R: What do you hope listeners get out of your show?
B: I hope they learn something. It might not sound like it at times, but a fair bit of research and thought goes into most episodes. I’ve learned a lot, and I hope I am able to pass that on to our listeners.
T: I hope that our banter is enjoyable and that we inspire our listeners to read some of these amazing books that we all love so much.
D: I just hope people get interested in the things we talk about and go try them out. Read the books. Drink the booze. Have the beards. I have read some exceptional books that I would love to be able to share with people.
R: What genre(s) do you love to read? If you could recommend one book to newcomers to the genre(s), what would it/they be?
B: I mostly read fantasy and horror. As such, there is a short story anthology collection that comes out each year called The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror that I think is the perfect introduction to both genres. And with the short story format, if you don’t love it, at least you haven’t wasted a ton of time. You also can’t go wrong with any of Stephen Kings short story collections.
T: I mostly read fantasy, but I try to read outside the genre a few times a year. I actually lean heavily on Bob and Derek for book recommendations to supplement my TBR list.
D: I mostly stick to Fantasy. I also have read and really enjoy literary fiction (I have a degree in English) but our focus is on genre fiction. I’m in the process of trying to branch out more into Sci Fi, but it’s a very different kind of read. If I could suggest one book for newcomers to the fantasy genre, I would suggest Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist. It was the first book that got me into reading, the writing is strong, the plot has enough traditional elements to be familiar even for those with very little exposure to the genre but also does things against convention, making it an interesting starting point.
R: What are 2-3 books you read and loved in the past year?
B: The Narrows by Travis M. Riddle is a horror novel with a ton of heart. Seriously one of the best horror novels I have read in years. Here Be Dragons by David P. Macpherson is a humorous fantasy novel about a retired adventurer getting back into the game. And Joe Hill’s short story collection 20th Century Ghosts is the best single collection since his father’s last came out I think.
T: I thoroughly enjoyed The Martian by Andy Weir for its casual, humorous take on what could have been a hard sci-fi story, and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson for its brilliant world building and magic system.
D: Jade City by Fonda Lee and Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. Jade City was everything I love about books. Strong character focus, fascinating world, political/interpersonal intrigue, stylized action. Kings of the Wyld made me appreciate and enjoy books with a strong sense of humor where I previously did not. It had powerful emotional moments between characters as well as a way with words that wowed me on page one.
R: What’s one book you hated in the past year?
B: Ready Player One. For far too many reasons to list here. But you can hear us complain about it for over an hour on our Ready Player One episode.
T: Ditto on RP1. It’s t e r r i b l e
D: Ready Player One. It had potential to be a lot of fun but was a huge let down in practically every way. Listen to our episode about it for the full depth of our general dissatisfaction.
R: Why do you love books?
B: The escapism. I was an only child who lived in the middle of nowhere for much of my youth. Books offered me an escape from boredom.
T: Books are a means of exploration and escape that seem infinitely cooler than wasting time on the internet.
D: I love being introduced to new worlds other people have made for me. I enjoy getting to experience someone else’s imagination.
Thanks to Bob, Tonya, and Derek for taking the time to tell us a little more about their show and share their love of books! Check out the podcast website here.