I really had to stretch my writing muscles and dust off the part of my brain I used in my journalism classes for this one. Rather than conducting this interview via email, I spoke with these podcast hosts over Skype, and while I recorded our conversation and jotted some notes down while we chatted, it was still tougher than I remembered to glean a cohesive written piece from a spoken conversation (and I used to do just that quite a bit).
I asked Luke and Dan of Don’t Call it a Book Club the same questions as the other two podcasts I’ve interviewed, though, and here’s what they had to say:
Rhonda: What’s your show all about?
Luke: Our show focuses on fantasy and sci-fi books for the most part. Dan and I pick a book, split it into three or four sections, and spend three to four episodes discussing it one section at a time. We’re more focused on comedy than serious analysis, so there’s a lot of joking around, making silly observations and crazy theories.
Dan: Like a dumb lit class that you wouldn’t learn anything useful from.
R: Why did you choose the podcast medium?
L: There’s a number of podcasts that do something similar but none that have quite our approach, which was what I was really interested in. I really like talking about the books that I read. Dan and I are friends from college, and we missed talking about fantasy books together.
D: The biggest draw for me was the idea that Luke and I could have an excuse to talk every week about what we’re reading, so we might as well record it and put it on the internet. There are some other fantasy podcasts out there, but no one else we’ve found is doing this kind of deep dive into some of the stupid details of a book.
R: What has been the biggest surprise?
D: How bad the first episode was. We had no idea what we were doing, figuring out how to get the audio together was way harder than I thought it was going to be.
L: I was pretty surprised how much we can talk about fantasy books. We consistently go for an hour or more, even when we don’t have a lot of notes on it.
D: The main reason we’re doing this is that I really like talking to Luke every week about fantasy books.
L: We were good friends in college, but we live far away now, so this is a great way to stay in touch. We’ve also done a few episodes where we’ve read a book by an indie author and then had them on for the final episode on that book, getting to know authors and how cool they are in person is really nice.
R: What episode would you recommend to a first-time listener?
L: It’s tricky to recommend one, because people kind of have to have read the book, pretty much. We know some people that listen without reading, but I don’t know why. I think my favorite was our coverage of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson; it was one of my favorite books we’ve read, and we had a lot of fun talking about it.
D: Every book we’ve read we’ve had some great conversations. I think one that would be easy for most people to get into would be A Game of Thrones. We’d both read it before, so we were reading with a really careful eye and found a lot of great insights. A lot of people have read that book already, or want to read it, so it would be pretty easy to jump in.
R: What do you hope listeners get out of your show?
L: I think rather than a straightforward book review or just a like/dislike, we want to add content, to speculate about certain things we found interesting, make up theories and think about things you wouldn’t normally think of, adding to the experience of reading the book rather than just an informed opinion.
D: Our primary goal is always entertaining, but we are also looking at character motivations in a very interesting way, digging into the story in a way that isn’t common, and engaging in the story ways that are really different.
R: I think I already know the answer to this, but 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?
L: Fantasy and sci-fi…
D: For a recommendation, it depends on age. For middle or high school readers, I would recommend Eragon by Christopher Paolini. That book really sparked our interest when we were young. For a young adult I would say The Lies of Locke Lamora. It’s incredible.
L: Dan is effusive in his praise of that book. I would recommend the novella Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. I think it’s my favorite book we’ve done for the show. It’s not too fantastical, so it’s a really good entry point into fantasy in general and to Sanderson in particular.
R: What are 2-3 books you read and loved in the past year?
D: We read The Lies of Locke Lamora in the past year…
L: One issue is that it’s hard to read outside of the show, but one I read outside the show was the Cradle series by Will White. It’s kind of a new genre called progressive fantasy, where the character “levels up” over the course of the story. I read all six books in a week and a half. I don’t know if it’s quite the literary masterpiece The Lord of the Rings or A Game of Thrones are, but, it’s a very enjoyable read.
R: Do you think A Game of Thrones is a literary masterpiece?
L: I — uh…
D: Careful, Luke…
L: Dan and I run a podcast but we are not super sophisticated in terms of literary analysis, so I don’t really know.
D: We have chemistry degrees.
R: What’s one book you hated in the past year?
L: I rarely read a book I don’t like because I have low standards and I like all fantasy. But one we read recently was The Three Body Problem. It was OK, but just not my favorite.
D: We also read A Fire Upon the Deep for the show, and it was fine, I didn’t hate it, but it was my least favorite that we’ve done. It felt like there was a really epic climax being built, but then it felt like a big letdown at the end.
L: I think those are unpopular opinions. Those are pretty popular books, so I hope we won’t get angry tweets for this.
Why do you love books?
D: I love fantasy and sci-fi books because you do get immersed in a fantasy world, but more than that, it’s interesting to read the world someone else builds and how they introduce you to that world. How the author introduces those elements of magic or technology, and whether these fantastical elements are explained in detail, or if they are understood intuitively. So, understanding how an author develops their world.
L: I’m gonna give the cheesy answer–being able to put yourself in this world that can’t exist in real life is really fun. Part of that is the imagination, where the author might write something, but I can imagine it any way I want. Putting myself in the world and being guided by the author, but also exploring it on my own.
Thanks to Luke and Dan for taking the time, and for their patience while I prepared this post! Be sure to check out their show’s website at Don’t Call it a Book Club and find the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts!