In the past, I have always been very accommodating about appearing on podcasts, youtube streams or variations thereof, hosted by everyone from professionals to thos new to hosting. It has been, for the most part, very rewarding. But occasionally, I have had to sit through some pretty dire guest appearances. Spots so bad that they made me swear off doing podcasts for almost eight months. But over the past several weeks or so, I have gradually been wading back in, doing a guest spot here and there. And I’ll continue to do so – until I find myself in one of those interminable appearances that will have me swearing off podcast for another 6-8 months.
So, what is the difference between a great podcast experience and a terrible one? In one word: the host. In another word: preparation.
For starters, do some research. You don’t have to watch every youtube and podcast I”ve ever been on, but check out a few to see which questions I’ve answered multiple times and try to avoid them. Also, if you’re going to answer industry-specific questions, please do a little research on said industry so you know what you are talking about. And finally, try to keep your questions specific. Looking back, one of my favorite experiences was with host PJ and the gang at Orville Nation. Every week, we got together to discuss a different episode of Dark Matter. PJ and the guest panel were prepared with episode-specific questions and they always mixed things up. It was a blast. Another great one was the Dial the Gate series I did with host David Read that followed the same basic formula – specific questions about specific episodes, this one related to Stargate. I have also had some great experiences on shows that took a more general tact, talking about my experience breaking into the industry, working my way up, and projects past and present. In the case of the latter, the questions were more general but the host always followed up with some great follow-up questions.
So, preparation is key. Research. Prepare your questions in advance. And when it comes to questions, please avoid the following…
1 – Could you tell us a funny story or a practical joke from the set of Stargate/Dark Matter?
This is more of a cast question. I was in my office for much of production, rewriting scripts or prepping episodes.
2 – What advice would you give writers dealing with writer’s block?
Unpopular opinion, but writer’s block is a luxury issue, one a writer can only afford if they’re working at home on an original pilot or feature. But I’ve always said that the best cure for writer’s block is a deadline. If you’re being paid to deliver a script on time, the prospect of that missed deadline should be motivation enough. If it’s not, then chances are whoever assigned you that script will deem you unreliable and not hire you in the future. And that bitter experience can also be used as fuel to combat your next case of writer’s block.
3 – What advice would you give writers who have to deal with online criticism?
Any working writer must face the reality that they will face criticism, justified or not. My advice would be to grow a thicker skin. Failing that, I’d suggest avoid reading any comments as you blindly attempt to promote yourself online. Failing that and if you truly can’t stand to have your feelings hurt, stay off the internet. Or find another line of work that is beyond criticism. Good luck with that.
4 – What is something you have always wanted to tell the fandom?/Do you have a message for the fandom?
Respectfully, I’ve been blogging every day for over 15 years and maintain a regular presence on reddit and twitter where I engage with fans on a daily basis. I have had more than ample opportunity to ask any burning questions.
5- What is a question you wish someone would ask you that you’ve never been asked?
Seriously? This is just lazy.
Having said all this, one upcoming guest appearance I am very much looking forward to is my Saturday, October 14th chat with the great Jeff Howard. Jeff is an industry heavyweight, an excellent writer, and informative host, and he’s backed by the terrific Miz Marsha who has coordinated the event. Tune in to find out how it’s done – and throw a few burning questions my way (so long as it’s not any of the above)!