Interview with Patrick Hester (Functional Nerds)

My guest today is author, blogger, podcaster, two-time Hugo Award winner, and all-round Functional Nerd Patrick Hester (@atfmb).

SCy-Fy: Patrick, you’ve done a huge number of podcast episodes – what is the major challenge with podcasts?

PH: The biggest issue most podcasts run into is time. It takes a lot to keep a podcast alive and flourishing. On top of that, it can be a grind. I’m approaching 500 episodes all combined (not including the work I did for I Should Be Writing) and a lot of people stare at me when I tell them that – I mean, talk about a commitment of time and energy.

SCy-Fy: I’m staring, fixedly.

PH: Scroll through iTunes and you’ll see a lot of podcasts who never made it out of the single digits with episodes. So keeping yourself engaged and energized is always a major challenge. Beyond that, I think it’s just finding and keeping an audience. It can be hard, especially in SF&F fandom, to branch out beyond and bring in new listeners to an audio podcast. There isn’t really a secret sauce. You just have to keep plugging away at it.

SCy-Fy: What keeps you going?

PH: Ah, well – There’s the Two Johns, Anealio and DeNardo, without whom I don’t know I’d be able to keep doing this stuff. DeNardo’s unconditional love of all things genre is infectious and reenergizing. Anealio’s commitment to community and art and the whole creative process is unbelievably inspiring. There’s the incredibly kind and supportive SF Signal Irregulars whose knowledge and passion cannot be denied. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone to this particular well and come back sated.

SCy-Fy: Are there any particular resources that help you as well?

PH: Difficult to answer. Google reader used to be on the list. Now I use Feedly just to keep track of what’s going on around the Internet., of course. Evernote.

SCy-Fy: How do you prepare for a show?

PH: So, I have a notebook. In that notebook are all of my notes about a show, taken while I am recording. I set up each page with the title of the show, maybe the number (not always, cuz I sometimes record things out of ‘order’), the list of people who will be on the show – I make marks next to their names when they answer a question or talk so I know who needs to get called on next, start and stop times, and I have an ‘edits’ column on the right.

If I’m recording a Functional Nerds episode, I also have space for when we hit ‘picks of the week’, and what those picks are for each person. If it’s a list show for SF Signal – Standalone Novels You Should Totally Read as an example – I’ll prep some space where I can keep track of the books and authors mentioned for the show notes. When recording, I make my little notes.

When editing, I work backward from the end of the recording and follow my little timestamps to the areas where I need to make edits. Has ridiculously cut down on my audio editing time.

SCy-Fy: What are your future initiatives?

PH: I really like doing the big author panels. They can be very challenging given all the different timezones and schedules and writing deadlines and whatnotall. I’d like to do more in 2015 if I can get all of those ducks in a row. I’d also like to bring different authors together to talk about things – people who maybe don’t know each other. There’s usually such a great energy when people meet for the first time and I’d love to capture that on more shows.

SCy-Fy: The most popular show you’ve presented?

PH: The most downloaded episode I’ve had is hands down my Steampunk Mega Panel with Philippa Ballantine, Tee Morris, Gail Carriger, Cherie M. Priest, Paul Di Filippo and the late, great Jay Lake.

SCy-Fy: Your personal favourites?

PH: My favorites… Jim Butcher for my fan boy moments, any of the convention panels we’ve done, my first interview with Maurice Broaddus and Jerry L. Gordon

SCy-Fy: Which forthcoming films are you most looking forward to?

PH: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Ant-Man, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., JJ: The Force Awakens.

SCy-Fy: Thank you, Patrick. It’s been very – functional – chatting with you.

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