Wondering what Coffee Pod|cast is all about? Spineless Wonders’ EMMA HOWE caught up with the podcast’s presenters, ALI MORRIS and EMMA WALSH to find out the story behind this new show, how it is different from other literary podcasts and what podcasts they are listening to right now.
- How did the idea for Coffee Pod|cast arise?
EMMA: Like all great ideas, Coffee Podcast was born over drinks. Bronwyn of Spineless Wonders, which was where I had interned during my Masters of Publishing, approached Ali and I with ciders, a pair of headphones, and some Little Fictions recordings, and asked if we’d chat about them for a podcast.
Ali and I have been talking about stories over coffee since we caught the early train to English class at school, then later at uni where we – I – inhaled espressos and stories for five years, then in our pyjamas on Sunday mornings as housemates. So, all I thought that would really change was the microphone in the room. And perhaps less swearing and reliance on gesticulation.
- How do you decide on the pieces of microfiction used in each episode?
ALI: I like to listen blind – put on a few stories and pick which one means the most to me in that moment. Somedays all the stories are phenomenal and then I end up with a list for the next few weeks.
EMMA: There’s two things I consider. First, is the immediate reaction I have to a story. Does it make me laugh, cry, punch me in the guts? I believe that most writers and lovers of short stories would agree that the form is uniquely immersive – and impacting. There’s something about the concoction of brevity with voice and character that’s deeply affecting, as if you are swallowing a whole life in one gulp. Neil Gaiman said that a short story is the “ultimate close-up magic trick – a couple thousand words to take you around the universe or break your heart”. So, that magic is the first thing I look for. The second is: do I have something to say – which is often actually, so really it’s more about if I have something interesting to say. Does it spark a thought, a feeling, an idea that lends itself to discussion?
- What is your favourite episode of Coffee Pod|cast and why?
EMMA: It would have to be a tie between ‘Tooth’ by Jon Steiner and ‘Well, Then’ by Susan McCreery. The ‘Tooth’ episode is when I really felt the podcast come together and Ali and I started to feel more comfortable debating each other (on record at least). Ali and I started disagreeing about the impact of the story: I was quite affected, relating to the protagonist’s endless violent inevitable path back to this toxic home – but Ali was laughing! Embracing the absurdity of it. That interplay of different perspectives really sparked with ‘Tooth’.
‘Well, Then’ by Susan McCreery is simply a delight. It shows the comic adventure you can go on in microlit, how reading it can be like taking a detour to a playground for a quick trip down the slippery dip then carrying on with your day. Ali and I went on a huge rambling conversation about Jane Austen, Darcy, the inadequacy of the ending in the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice (which the story takes as its starting point), and the joys of microlit – and it opened up the podcast to not just being about Serious Literary Criticism but simply about being fun.
ALI: I like all the Jon Steiner ones – I can definitely admit I have found a new favourite author from doing this podcast!
- What’s next for the future of Coffee Pod|cast?
EMMA: There are many highly caffeinated adventures awaiting Coffee Pod|cast. We are talking with community radio stations and are really excited about possibly getting involved with writers’ festivals and even schools, down the track.
ALI: I’m thinking longer themed episodes every now and then with a few stories together.
- How is Coffee Pod|cast different to other literature focused podcasts?
ALI: We wanted to have a literature podcast that was more informal, more like the conversations you have with friends about a great book. And microfiction works really well with podcasts since everyone can experience the story at the same time – it almost recreates the experience of a book club. Since Emma and I are both working full time, finding time to read gets harder, but microfiction can be read (or listened to) in those little gaps in the day – like when you are having your morning coffee.
EMMA: There are many incredible podcasts out there that discuss literature, stories, writing. I feel Coffee Podcast has carved out its own place by bringing micro lit into the mix, a genre I’m excited to bring to more and more people. And like the stories it discusses, the episodes are short. It’s approachable.
I just read a disturbing article about how we should be using our commute time for useful tasks like paying bills and reading emails, otherwise it’s just ‘dead time’. That article frightened me. Your commute, waiting in line for a coffee, these are all opportunities to revel in our creativity, our imaginations. It’s truly a pleasure we don’t experience much anymore, the pleasure of having a story read to you, of having your imagination indulged. Coffee Podcast can bring that burst of storytelling into your day.
- What are some of your favourite podcasts?
EMMA: I have three podcasts that I will spend my data on without hesitation if I haven’t downloaded episodes: The Guilty Feminist, a brilliant comedy podcast about being a feminist in the 20th century; My Favorite Murder, a podcast that’s about 80% hilarious tangents and 20% true crime tales; and Sleep With Me, the podcast that cured my insomnia. Though I’ve recently started to get into Lore, a podcast that shares scary stories from the darker side of history.
ALI: I have a few favourites- top 3 would be My Favourite Murder, The Dollop and the Australian one, Dragon Friends.
Subscribe to Coffee Pod|cast on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify. Join the discussion of Facebook.
Coffee Pod|cast is produced with the support of Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. Spineless Wonders also wishes to acknowledge the support of Little Fictions by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund and the City of Sydney Matching Grants program.