Book Wordy podcast 1 Meet Byrd and Miles Transcript

Transcript for the Book Wordy podcast, episode 1.

Byrd Nash
Welcome to Book Wordy, a podcast about fantasy and science fiction, authors and the art of writing. I’m your host, Byrd Nash, former journalist and author of the wicked rules and Windsor and other fairy tales. Okay, this is Byrd Nash with my partner Miles. And we’re going to be doing a little test podcast here to experiment with the recording studio, or recording lab where they call the Audio Lab

Miles
Audio Lab, the lab in the Maker Space

Byrd Nash
Makers, we’re makers, makers, like, I guess we’re not hunter gatherers or makers. And this is at the downtown Tulsa library in Oklahoma, they have this fantastic opportunity here where you can use this audio lab to record things such as this podcast. What is this podcast going to be about? And that’s kind of what I’ve been racking my brains about. Because I love to talk. I know. I’m sure everyone out there would love to listen. It’s going to be about books. I know that. And I know is probably going to center around fantasy books, st fantasy and science fiction, but it might go between the reading and the writing. Because I obviously read it. But I also write it. Miles is just the reader.

Miles
Yes.

Byrd Nash
So why don’t we talk a little bit about what kind of stuff you like and what kind of stuff I like because it’s definitely different stuff. What’s your favorite read Miles?

Miles
My favorite read is like fantasy with some really good world building.

Byrd Nash
No, it’s not. You know, your favorite stuff is trashy ghost stories. Why don’t you just admit it?

Miles
That’s a guilty pleasure. I have moods where I want to read trashy ghost stories.

Byrd Nash
I bet if we looked at your Kindle and we made points on the scoreboard, everything that’s on there that you read the most of and the most frequently. It would be Tolkien, trashy ghost stories, and probably Bjold, I’ll admit that, Bjold…

Miles
I reread the Bjold stories several times a year.

Byrd Nash
right. But let’s quantify here because she has a huge body of work, right? And the books that we’re talking about are the ones in a specific universe, her fantasy universe. The Paladin of Lost Souls?

Miles
Paladin of Souls, what she is calling the World of the Five Gods

Byrd Nash
Right, that’s your favorite. So it’s not the Miles series

Miles
the Miles Vorkosigan, whatever that name is

Byrd Nash
Right. So just to be clear. Okay, I’ll give it to you that you do like to read that

Miles
I do like to read that. But I think basically I’m kind of picky that there’s some stories that I love and will read excessively over and over, and others by the same author or other people would say very similar that I find completely yawnsome.

Byrd Nash
And of course, you can call me all sorts of names. I’m okay with that. We’ve been together a long time. So, okay, I’m cool. But I do think you like a different sort of book story that I like, I think you’re more willing to read light hearted stories. I just did a review of a book that I didn’t like but he liked. I know you’ll be told probably by the marketers that your reader’s probably female but this is a guy and he’s willing to read your light fluffy romance, ghost paranormal read. Whereas I the female, I’m just not interested. So no insult to what you like to read.

Miles
But we definitely like different things. We have some books that we both like. Some authors who both like, but both of us definitely have quite different tastes in other areas. I do like light, fluffy reads that just make me feel good.

Byrd Nash
Yeah, and see, I just don’t like that.

Miles
Feel good? Why would I want to feel good? I want to feel miserable.

Byrd Nash
Right? I think you’d like feeling miserable. Miles…

Miles
I cannot read a story that makes me feel miserable.

Byrd Nash
I did not know that!

Miles
You did not know that?

Byrd Nash
And I bet that applies the movies that we don’t see.

Miles
Exactly.

Byrd Nash
We just have different philosophies of what we like to read, although we do crossover on certain books, and certain authors and I usually know when I read something if he would like what I just read. For example, we both read mysteries. I won’t go into mysteries probably here on these podcasts. But we both read Agatha Christie, we would both read the Elizabeth Peters books about her Egyptologist and there’s also some fantasy that we both would crossover and read. I don’t know that you read science fiction as much although I guess we would say space opera. You read a lot of because you are a Miller and Lee fan.

Miles
Again, there’s certain worlds that I’m really interested in and enjoy reading, like Miller and Lee’s Liaden Universe. In high school I read practically nothing but science fiction. But now I really don’t. It doesn’t interest me generally.

Byrd Nash
I do know because what you’ve ordered on our joint shared Kindle, that you lean more towards the classics of science fiction. So there’s the Arthur C. Clarke stories that are on our Kindle and stuff like that. But I think a lot of science fiction right now has veered into more military ideas science fiction, and less science exploration science fiction, maybe? I don’t know. I don’t go the bookstore gten enough, so I’m not sure I can quite say that. But I do know that you’ve enjoyed the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, even though that gets a little dark. Yeah. So but probably because the type of hero he is,

Miles
Yeah. What I like about a science fiction story that I like is the people, right? And the stories of the people.

Byrd Nash
If someone has a character that I get attached to, you have sold me on your entire series. If you have a character that I’m like, that is super interesting to me, I will be there and I will buy your books. And a perfect example of that is Julia Czernada’s series about the Thousand Words for Stranger. That’s the woman that has amnesia deliberately in order to find this guy. She has to be mated to a… It’s a long story. You’ll have to go read it. But what was the other one though, that has the alien character that she wrote. And I can’t…

Miles
The webshifter

Byrd Nash
The Webshifters universe. The webshifters universe, definitely, she has me, I will buy her stuff, even though I don’t like some of her later things that she’s bought, you will definitely get me if you have an interesting character. And..

Miles
the characters are wonderful, I love to read those

Byrd Nash
Right. So as a reader, what am I looking for when I read stories? I am looking for you, authors, to have something fresh for me to read. I want something fresh, but familiar. And this is a hard line to write as an author. I understand, I understand. But please understand that if you give me a trope stereotype character, I’m just not gonna buy your next book. I… I can read plenty of those kind of characters. Right now, I don’t read the paranormal shapeshifter stuff because all of that is so hackneyed and overdone. Some of them, you would have come up to me and say, “Byrd, you have to read this story, it is something super special, something unusual,” for me to dive into it. It is just so predictable. I foresee that genre actually collapsing by the next few years. The only reason why it keeps surviving in my opinion is the romance crowd has come over to read the paranormal shifter, “I’m an alpha and I’m going to dominate you female alpha, and you have to be my bitch”. Not for me. Sorry, no, not going to read it. not interesting. Now. You know, I’m just saying I think the romance crowd has been brought over to the fantasy crowd and that’s who’s reading that. I don’t really think it’s a fantasy crowd reading it.

Miles
Honestly, I think the shifter, alpha romance stories, I think are for the romance crowd. These people are looking for romance with an exciting edge of fantasy. I don’t think they’re appealing to people who are seeking fantasy.

Byrd Nash
I don’t think they’re for people who grew up or whose first reach is too fancy. And why do I think, that is because I come from a fantasy first romance second crowd. And when I talk to people that enjoy those kind of books it’s very obvious that they also read a lot of romance authors In addition, not that’s a horrible genre, or that you shouldn’t write it or that there’s not a readership, there obviously is. But I do think that is one of the worst in the fantasy genre that has the most predictable storylines and the most predictable plots, and the most predictable heroes. So for me to get to read that, which not to say I don’t like some good sex scenes, but it has to have a character that I like, wow, I really like that character.

And I don’t know that we should mention her name. But for example, Ilona Andrews, I really liked her first few books on the Kate Daniels series. And then it went into a big muddled mess, but I think I’m on her hate list. So I don’t know that I want to mention this too much. But if you follow her blog, you’ll see that she goes to romance conventions, she does not go to science fiction or fantasy conventions. There’s a reason for it because people who are reading paranormal stuff, the paranormal shapeshifter stuff, their main interest, in my opinion, is the romance. But like you said, a dark edge, something edgy. So he turns into a wolf and then they had sex or he’s hairy and they had sex or whatever, or he has superhuman strength, because he’s a werewolf, whatever.

Miles
Or he gets, he gets to be an aggressive, asshole, domineering male, because he’s really a wolf. So it’s okay that he dominates me.

Byrd Nash
Yeah, and what I already went off on someone about this, what is ludicrous, is if you actually study the biology of wolf packs, that is not how wolves behave. So if he’s behaving like that, because he’s a wolf, then why would he behave like that? Because wolves don’t behave like that. So really, he’s behaving like that, because he’s an asshole. So he’s behaving like that because he just your typical asshole guy who just can’t take no. And, you know, you tell him, you’re not that into him. And he comes on to you at the bar, but how you’re his alpha bitch, and, you know, you’re fated to be together, and that’s too bad. So he’s just an asshole, not because he’s a wolf, go research wolves. And you’ll find that out.

The other thing that I really just can’t handle was the vampire stories. I think because of Twilight. Obviously, there’s a lot of people who believe that if they write about vampires, they’re going to hit the pay dirt and they’re going to end up with this huge audience that is going to love every moment of everything they’ve written. But you’re not providing anything new. So as a reader, if you’re working a very hackneyed storyline, werewolves and vampires, which had been around a lot this last century, if you don’t provide something new, you’re just not gonna keep your readers. You might grab a few that while, they’re there for the sex, they want to have the romance. But unless you provide some sort of new perspective on this, you’re not going to build an audience. Now, that’s just my opinion. But that’s my opinion, as a reader of these genres. So not really quite my genre though. They’re not really yours, either.

Miles
They’re not really mine. And as you say, the if you’re going to do something with traditional tropes, like werewolves and vampires, or something like that, it’s got to be a very new take that is very interesting. With characters that make sense and that I really am drawn to.

Byrd Nash
Okay, space vampires. Right there pulled it out of the hat, fine. You’re a vampire, but you’re vampire in space, you’re from a planet that well, you know, it’s a planet of vampires. Right. Okay, fine. That’s different. I don’t think I’ve ever read a vampire science fiction story.

Miles
And I’m sure they’re out there.

Byrd Nash
Someone stole my idea? Never!

Miles
But, it’s got to make sense. You’ve got to just not say, Oh, it’s a space vampire. But what does it mean to be a space vampire? And how does that influence everything else in their life, character, and species?

Byrd Nash
Stop being logical! So let’s go skip to this point of what he’s talking about is the world building. If your world does not make sense, if you have huge holes in how your world works, that’s a big problem for me. And was one of the reasons why I got turned off from Ilona Andrews, amongst other reasons. But one of them was, you know, the scene where they’re pulling out a condom, so they can have sex, and I was like, but you’re in a world which is no longer having manufacturing. Atlanta is falling into more of a, I don’t wanna say medieval because it’s not a medieval world, but more primitive, non technological world because of these magical shifts. But yet they have condoms,

Miles
Right. They they can’t produce police tape because it’s too expensive to produce the plastic, but they can apparently produce large numbers of multicolored condoms that are reliable, even though there’s magic that’s destroying everything technological.

Byrd Nash
Yes, but Miles, this because the shifters have got to have their condoms, werewolves don’t want to be making baby werewolves all of the place, that would make a very sad, second story, third story. So again, it’s things like this, that will start tripping you up as an author, you, you don’t have to make a super complex world. I see people doing this, like drawing their maps and making sure they know where their mountains are. That’s not a bad thing. I’m not saying this bad, have fun go for it will help you in deciding how your hero or heroine is traveling the world.

But on the other hand, don’t trip up by like, for example, I was reading a book and the second page in this medieval world, the girl says, “Okay.” People didn’t use the word Okay, in medieval worlds. I was actually writing something myself. And my editor said, it takes place in Regency England. This is from the wicked Wolf’s book. And I use the word Renaissance. And she said, “Umm, Becky, I don’t think they use the word renaissance in the late 1700s.” And I was like, surely they did? Well, we looked at that, but no, they did not. So these are the little things that you as an author need to be very aware of. And if you don’t think you need to be very aware of it, then you should look at negative reviews on Amazon, because your readers are very aware of it. And they will point it out to you again and again. And again. Generally, if I get in the mood of the story, you can say weird things, and you can go off tangents and you can do stuff and I won’t call you out on it is just when, definitely on a reread though I’ll catch it.

Miles
Yeah, yeah. And it’s not like where you have to spend pages describing how your world works, and all the rules and everything. I don’t need that. But if the world doesn’t make sense, if you say something in one place, and then you imply the opposite somewhere else, then

Byrd Nash
so give me an example with what would bug you on a world? That doesn’t make sense.

Miles
I will get lots of haters. But

Byrd Nash
Uh oh! Get ready world!

Miles
one thing that bothers me with Harry Potter is they have this huge culture, centuries old, powerful magic users, intellectual scholars who have studied, they have whole schools for teaching it, but they have practically no spells. There’s like a dozen different spells and some like inventing a new spell is like a major landmark.

Byrd Nash
Well, maybe they’re just stupid scholars. Have you ever thought that? They are just stupid?

Miles
magic can like do anything but like nobody’s invented a new spell in 100 years is like, that doesn’t make sense with how its portrayed elsewhere.

Byrd Nash
I’m not going to get into Harry Potter too much on this video, uh video, podcast, we’d have to sit here for three days and talk about that maybe three years, but every world’s going to have its flaws, even your favorite worlds. However, if you write believable characters, and 90% of what you wrote make sense, your readers will forgive you. For other things. I will have to say, if you want to see a really well developed world go look at Bjold’s the Five Gods world. That is a meticulous world building. I mean, meticulous. When you read those books, you are in that world and she does not slip up. There is no slip up.

Miles
No. there’s, there’s no exposition dumps or practically none, where she explains everything. Everything makes sense. And everything is consistent. And the culture and the things people say and their religious practices, and the way they relate to each other. Everything is perfectly synced together to make sense in that world. Yeah.

Byrd Nash
That is the mark of the master.

Miles
And it feels so completely natural that you can imagine exactly what the world is and know what will, what the world would be like.

Byrd Nash
Yeah, but what irks me is other people, who will remain nameless, who think they are masters. I’m like, girl, you don’t know anything about being a master. Take a backseat. And please read Bjold. So the other person I would say we’ve mentioned her earlier is or Czernada. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing her name right. But it’s, I’ll put it in the notes for the podcast. Her Web Shifter universe, you believe that that universe exists. And that those those aliens exist. You believe it.

Miles
You believe it? Yes. And everything is consistent and true. And people’s reactions and her reactions in different worlds with, with different species is completely consistent and believable.

Byrd Nash
Right, even though… Now see, of course, where she excels in the web shifters and also… the what’s the name of the other series, Miles? I can’t remember that series name of it, it is the Thousand Words for Stranger,

Miles
I don’t remember the name of the series.

Byrd Nash
And those two worlds that she built, have really super interesting aliens,

Miles
that’s where she really excels. is creating aliens that are completely different. And unique, but also completely consistent. And you can, you can believe that these creatures evolved somewhere on a world in another,

Byrd Nash
But they’re all different

They are all different and they are all interesting, right? And they’re all real.

Miles
They are all completely different

And they all have their own different ways of viewing the world that’s completely consistent with their nature, but also different than ours.

Byrd Nash
Right. That’s where she excels. Now another author, who I have such mixed emotions about her, but her name is PM Griffin. And she wrote a space opera series called Space Commandos. And she does a lot of repetition in those books, which I absolutely despise. She repeats herself a lot kind of like the James White series,

Miles
cut and paste large sections of the setup text exposition at the beginning of each story.

Byrd Nash
I don’t want to say that she does that because I don’t know her. But I you can tell from looking at her books that there’s a lot of repetition information in the same descriptions being used to describe the hero and the heroine. However, having said that, why do I return to those stories? Because I do read them and their probably my bubble gum, they’re my would you call that pleasure?

Miles
Guilty pleasure.

Byrd Nash
They’re my guilty pleasure. it’s because she can really build a environment on a planet. So in the Star Commandos, most of the stories take place on different, different planets, they go there for mission, and then they take care of the mission. But the planets themselves. The ecology of the planet. PM Griffin knows how to create a planet. And she knows how to create life forms. That is her strength. So check her books out if you are interested in more alien things, because I just think that that’s where she excels. So as authors, we all excel at certain things. And that’s to be expected. What you have to do is know: Well, where’s my strengths? And where’s my weaknesses? And what do readers like? And what will readers not tolerate? And they’re not going to tolerate slipshod world building, slipshod character development. If your characters do stuff that doesn’t make sense from chapter one to chapter five, and there’s no reason for them to have changed, you can’t sell me on that.

And I want to bring that up. Because I’m not going to mention names, but reading a book and the heroine is acting a certain way in earlier chapters and then does a one-eighty when the hero shows up. And I don’t think I have to name names because I’ve seen this happen in too many books, especially ones that have a romance angle, the heroine is independent and strong willed, knows her mind, has a plan, is confident. And then the hero shows up and suddenly she becomes a marshmallow. And suddenly she looks to him for help. And she looks to him for guidance. And and then she makes bad decisions. And suddenly she has to ask him for whatever. Or, another scenario that I see, is the hero becomes alpha super aggressive to the female, that before she would never tolerate it. But now she’s like, oh, OK, you are the super alpha dominant. So I have to, I have to piddle myself and put my tail between my legs. Because man, Oh my god, that’s so sexy. I’ve seen that happen too many times. It’s probably another reason why I don’t read the paranormal stuff very much. So if you’re doing that in your books, and there’s no reason for your heroine to become a massive jelly just because the heroes showed up, don’t. Don’t buy that.

So coming to that, of course, this is a book that you haven’t read. But there’s the series by Patricia Briggs the Dragon Blood series that you haven’t read. And there’s an interesting, because that’s a two book series, there’s an interesting process that happens in those books, that’s kind of related to the point that I just brought up. The hero, I think it happens in the second book, The heroine ends up being imprisoned. And while it’s not explicitly described, you know later on that she was raped because it’s brought up. Which is really probably what would happen if you were in prison, come on, if you were in a medieval like dungeon, they’re not going to go “Oh, Missy, we won’t touch ya”, Oh I think they’ll be touching you. So no quicker way to break a person, then by torture of that nature.

So, But anyway, the hero is a bit of a pompous at the beginning of the book about this. He thinks he’s going to help her and he’s going to get her to overcome her fear. And then later on, he ends up being in the same prison and being tortured. I don’t know that he’s raped, but it is definitely very unpleasant. Let me tell you for him. There’s an awakening on his part about what she’s really suffered. That makes sense with the story. And it makes sense with the characters. But if you had written this whole different way, where the hero just showed up, and he was like, “Well, fine, you know, you fear men, but that doesn’t matter. I’m going to have sex with you anyway.” And then she falls in love with him. How does that work? It’s not logical, not logical to the people.

Maybe this is too much information, this first podcast, but we came in without a script just to try it out and see what we can tell you. Just to let you know though, as a reader, you can win over fans if you have a great character that we love, or a great universe we want to know more about, or a great world. I mean, it could be just an alternative universe to our own universe here on planet Earth. But if you make it so interesting, and so believable, we will want to know more as readers and we will continue reading. On the other hand, if you just make it a stereotype and you just use things like “her tears fell like snowflakes on the hard ground,” please, please go see an editor. Save yourself, save our eyes, save other readers from their horrible fate.

Well, thanks for being with us. This is Byrd Nash and Miles and we’re going to be talking about books probably forever, until we both die. So we’ll be around till we die, hopefully.

Miles
And maybe after. I make no guarantees.

Byrd Nash
Thats because you’re ghost reader.

Miles
I’m a ghost reading guy, yes.

Byrd Nash
Thanks again. We’ll see you next week.

You can find me at ByrdNash.com, Byrd spelled with a BYRD. On my website, you can read the show notes to today’s podcast, as well as find a list of all the episodes. I also do book reviews and have resources for authors on the website. Frost Waltz is the music and it’s by Kevin MacLeod at incompetech.com

Transcribed by Otter.ai
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