Otherppl with Brad Listi is a weekly podcast featuring in-depth interviews with today's leading writers. All episodes—hundreds of them—are available for free. Listen via iTunes, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, or right here on the web. Better yet: download the Otherppl with Brad Listi app. Available for iPhone and Android. Free! If you'd like to support the show, you can do so via Patreon or Paypal.
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A listener named Patricia keeps having wildlife encounters in the desert while listening to the program:
And another, this one tinged with a whiff of venom:
A listener named Ty has an observation:
I am continually impressed by the frequency [with which] the phrase ‘other people’ comes up in your show. [And] the context [does not involve] the show, which I find interesting. I’d say 80 percent of the episodes have you or your guest uttering ‘other people’ at one point during the dialogue.
All part of a diabolical subliminal advertising campaign, Ty. I own you.
Ty also commented on the tragedy in Boston and my monologue for Episode 166:
I was at lunch when I saw the news about Boston in my Twitter feed. One of my first thoughts was the drone attacks and the innocent lives lost at the hands of our country. I didn’t tell anyone this because I was afraid. I’m not really sure what I was afraid of but I didn’t think that too many people would understand what I was feeling.
I was glad to hear what you had to say. I hate this violence.
A listener named Ben weighs in with his thoughts on Boston and the nature of violence:
I too couldn’t resist the temptation of looking at the images on the news websites. There was one picture where a group of police officers are drawing their guns in response to the second explosion. What were they going to do, shoot the explosion?…There is no end….
….What can I do or say, what course of action can I take that isn’t another lit match in the kerosene whirlpool? Unless I consider noticing to be an action….What more can I ask of myself? What more help can I bring? — because I’m not about to draw the gun that I don’t have. What can I give to the cries of the world pounding in my ear? I can give the world the moment that I already am — I can give my attention, which is unfolding now.
I’m an idiot.
No, you’re not. Or if you are, then I am, too.
Work hard to stay awake, and try your best to be the change. Sounds like a plan to me.
Plenty of feedback on Episode 163, my conversation with Owen King, author of Double Feature and son of Stephen:
Even Max Millwood, the podcast’s most intensive critic, was bullish:
This episode proved that Episode 162 wasn’t a fluke, but that the show is truly on the rebound from its string of weak March interviews. This episode was truly a gift to the audience…The interview was enlightened conversation at its most muscular; curious self-evaluations of two like-minded authors. You impeccably treaded the sensitive issue of addressing [Owen’s] father [Stephen King] with respect and your audience’s curiosity. Nicely done….
It’s almost as if Owen was made to not only write, but to be interviewed about his writing. It’s as if the sperm of Stephen King’s that became Owen had the genetic material to give good interviews about what it’s like to be of Stephen King’s sac of horror balls….
Though he takes issue with how I say the word horror:
Listi Watch does notice that you pronounce ‘horror’ as ‘whore.’ It sounded like you were saying ‘whore novels,’ which would’ve been an interesting link back to the monologue. Please pronounce it as ‘HAH-ruhr’ henceforth.
A listener named Stefan has a bone to pick with King regarding self-publishing:
[King’s] analysis of the self-publishing movement was really far off. He doesn’t seem to have any understanding of why people self-publish. They’re not doing it because they think they’re so brilliant and don’t need any editing. They’re doing it because breaking through in the publishing industry is impossibly slow and difficult.
While there’s certainly tons of self-published work out there that’s not any good, King’s assertion that the professional editors in the publishing industry serve this great gate-keeping function is a bit hard to take, particularly coming from someone who, as he admits, has gotten some breaks due to his connections.
Max Millwood offers his thoughts on this topic, and wonders if he detected fear in my voice:
You spoke highly of editors in a way that was indeed honest, but seemed to have self-interested undertones. While Listi Watch doesn’t question the integrity of your opinions on the industry machine you deemed not only necessary but important, we do wonder if you felt a certain comfort in taking its side. It would be a lot more favorable for potential industry brass listening to your show to hear you talk positively of them as opposed to critically, and the soft trickle of fearful passion underlying your voice during this segment showed your awareness of that. But please note this is not a call-out of you by any means. We know you speak according to your beliefs.
The Newer York throws a line into the water:
Past guest Christopher Beha makes a request:
Answer: Hopefully soon. Stay tuned.
Millwood’s review of Episode 164, my conversation with Jennifer Spiegel, was mixed:
It was a weaker episode in comparison to the prior two episodes, which were something of an Other People renaissance. That is not to say that 164 returned to the awful level of the March shows, but it definitely did not take flight the way 162 and 163 did. Spiegel was a well-chosen guest who could’ve been dealt a better hand of hosting from you in the first half, but there was nothing overtly problematic in this episode….
He then takes out the scalpel:
Yours and Spiegel’s opinion on literary success was grossly naive. To rail against the privileged and the lucky [is] truly the last-ditch [cry] of a weak person. We at Listi Watch know you’re above that (no, really). Listi Watch knows that you must be aware that you yourself are incredibly privileged because it’s only the privileged who can complain about privilege. The underprivileged do one thing: survive. As a privileged person, you should have a belief that the laissez-faire economic system that has served you so, so well can serve you well in the laissez-faire publishing industry. Don’t be complicit in general capitalism, and then complain that you’re not being recognized enough in publishing capitalism. Business is business, and, yes, only the strong survive….If you have the literary talent and angry drive, then there’s nothing in publishing holding you back. That’s the beauty of the ‘laissez-faire’ system; it works both ways. So be privileged, but don’t be a privileged bitch. But first you gotta be a damn good writer.
I wish I could remember exactly what Jennifer and I said. And yes, I realize that I could go back and listen to the show and try to find this particular segment, but…it’s Friday.
Not sure I agree with the above assessment—at least not entirely. The stuff about complicity and laissez-faire capitalistic goodness and largesse. But here’s what does ring true: That those who truly struggle don’t have any time to complain.
Hard to argue that.
And, as I’ve said before on this program, to complain about the rigors of making of art is, at its core, insufferable. It’s a privilege to be able to make art—particularly when one is doing so for (some meager semblance of) a living.
A listener named Shawn has some thoughts on the autobiographical, along with some kind words:
I enjoy how you steer conversation (sometimes artfully, sometimes clumsily) towards things that are inherently personal and emotional…I’m often surprised at how much energy some writers put into the denial of the autobiographical (or otherwise unsavory and personal) elements that creep into their work. As if the writer is supposed to be in total and complete control of the thoughts, memories, half-dreams, and feelings that shape stories. As if he can work with these raw materials and machine them to close of tolerances, without his own shit spoiling the finish. You seem to be very comfortable with this grey, middle game stuff, and it makes for great interviews. So thanks, and keep it coming.
My pleasure, Shawn. Thanks for listening.
I’ve been listening to Brad Listi’s ‘Other People’interview series for about a year now, mostly on days when I make the long drive to drop Jackson off at his daycare and then head back in the opposite direction to go to work. One of the more disturbingly compelling interviews was with female author xTx, whose work is so sexual that she fears the real-world professional consequences of revealing her name. This is her own choice, of course, to write the subject matter that she does, and the interview shows her to be extremely reasonable about her writing career and the hole she’s dug for herself with this anonymous approach. Here’s the disturbing part, though: she receives emails and Facebook messages from a variety of male readers, often treating the sexual scenes in her fiction as if they were true, and often offering themselves up to the author to…re-enact and improve upon the material in her fiction. God, that makes me want to go take a shower or something.
And speaking of xTx:
We talk about it constantly.
A listener named Janie gets hooked:
…and then goes on a massive binge:
A listener named Ray Shea takes issue with my monologue in Episode 160:
Peter Cavanaugh adds:
It was, at its core, a joke. I often tell them (or try to) in the monologues. Sometimes they work. Sometimes not.
Here would seem to be an example of the latter.
Apologies for the upset. I was truly just goofing around.
Doing two shows a week, usually at night, while tired and edgy from too much caffeine, trying to come up with something good to say. This is my particular plight.
I’m not complaining, mind you—(easy, Max)—just trying to paint a picture in hopes that you’ll cut me some slack.
On to Episode 165, my conversation with Michelle Orange. Here again Max Millwood filed his regular report, and the mood is frosty at best:
There were enough painfully awkward holes in the interview to qualify it as a ‘miss,’ but the episode was so lightweight as a whole, that any mistakes made didn’t resonate. The genius of Episodes 162/163 can now officially be labelled an isolated event, as we’ve returned to an episode that just didn’t quite get the job done. If there was a job to get done in the first place.
He found the early stages of the interview to be embarrassingly flirtatious:
The whole conversation started to sound like a first date, with you getting her to giggle over embarrassing stories of her nerdiness and, like, stories of prom music. Just before we got to the first kiss, you started the by-the-book interview. There [were] some pretty meaningful conversation topics brought up, like Kickstarter (which you could’ve taken further, after she brought up the conflict between artistic integrity and financial compromising) and first drafts (which you did a swell job of illuminating for the beginner writers out there).
And then he got disappointed:
The ‘painfully awkward’ holes…included several trail-offs, suspended thoughts, and confusing moments for Orange. First, you calling attention to the static blip on her phone was unnecessary, and led to one of the most awkward moments the show has seen in a long time. Secondly, you asking if her mother was still with us [had you seeming] unnecessarily eager to make something out of nothing. Any time someone makes a person think of [her] parents as no longer existing, an awkward moment ensues.
The bottom line with Orange is that she wasn’t terribly interesting on a personal level, and what worthwhile information she did offer, you had a tough time curating. This was not a superb episode by any stretch of the imagination.
He concludes by pleading for relief:
We at Listi Watch are looking forward to you knocking it out of the fucking park, Sammy Sosa style, [in Episode 166]. We at Listi Watch are depressed and lonely. We at Listi Watch want you to make us feel better.
On a brighter note, Scott Macaulay over at Filmmaker magazine enjoyed the episode enough to tweet about it:
Emily Allen is grateful for the learning experience:
Never, Emily. Never.