Friday, July 13, 2018

Mark Combs's Podcast has AUTHORS THINKING OUT LOUD

HALLIE EPHRON: What’s an expert in ancient biblical history doing hosting a weekly podcast (Public Display of Imagination), interviews with such ne’er-do-wells as Brad Parks and Faye Kellerman and me?

I had the pleasure of being interviewed last week, and will be posted on Tuesday, July 17th. His questions went far beyond “Where do you get your ideas?”


Follow Mark on Twitter @PDI_Podcast2016. His page looks like this:




Mark, how did you get into podcasting, and why primarily genre authors (action-adventure, mystery, suspense, thrillers, sci-fi …)
 

MARK COMBS: It's a vehicle through which I can invite almost anyone to sit down with me for a digital cup of coffee and get a positive response. I'm drawn to those genres I guess because they seem to best reflect life in the raw... unscripted and
unbridled
.


HALLIE: How did you get from biblical history to edgy modern crime fiction?


MARK: Oh boy... there's a couple of worlds that you wouldn't immediately connect. For me, if the biblical text is separated from the ancient culture that produced it, then it becomes subject to the whim and fancy of modern day spin, which really doesn't interest me at all. In any study of the ancient culture, you begin to get a sense of who the writers were as people and of the message they were trying to preserve for their generation.

That takes me to my fascination with the modern day novelist. Regardless the story line, the heart and thought processes of the author bleed through on every page and that relationship captivates my attention in a unique way.

HALLIE: Way back when, who was the first author you interviewed, and how’d it go?


MARK:
I started with KJ Waters; she was intelligent, entertaining, and easy to talk with. A closer, more personal friend came next.


Gary S. Pritchett had just released his first work and he had done so much to encourage me that I wanted to try to do something to encourage him.

Then, I met MJ LaBeff; she took a reciprocating interest in my written work and the podcasts. She promoted both and almost single-handedly exploded the listening audience.

I gave a little ink to each of them in the back of my book, Don't Forget Your Cape. They're all heroes in their own way for me.

HALLIE: Who was the first author you interviewed, for PUBLIC DISPLAY OF IMAGINATION, and how’d it go?

MARK: My first two professionally published and marketed authors were Brad Parks and Carter Wilson. Brad caught me off guard with his away-from-home office set-up at Hardee's. I'd be totally distracted in such an environment, but, as you can tell from his books, it works exceptionally well for him. I was also quite taken by his commitment to research.

Carter drew me in with the way he uncovered his storyline. I got the impression that his mind's eye would be drawn to the imagery of a old framed oil painting, hanging in a dimly lit room that depicted a scene that he was compelled to investigate. As our conversation unfolded, I could envision him standing in front of the piece, studying every minute detail.

I really liked his approach to peeling back the layers.
HALLIE: You felt SO well prepared when you interviewed me. How do you prepare for an interview?

MARK: When I read Stephen King's book, On Writing, I was
intrigued by his description of how telling a story is a bit like unearthing a find in an archaeological dig for him. My goal is to research enough about each author so that I can properly set a tone that brings the audience to the "dig site" and then we explore from there. My goal is to infect every listener, to let them "catch the bug."

HALLIE: Do you have any advice for budding podcasters?
MARK: You can easily research and learn about equipment and how to set things up, but getting a look at the overall picture of what's really involved in bringing it all to life is important. Devote quality time to each step of the process.

You have to invest time in scheduling guests, recording the conversation, editing the recording, and producing the end product. Then, you have to devote daily time and effort to marketing the show. All of those things are important to achieving the goal.

Once you have an audience, you have a promised date with that audience on each production day. The reveal of a new episode is an absolute thrill.

HALLIE: And… taking a page from the kinds of questions you ask: If you could interview any author, living or dead, who would it be?

MARK: One is Agatha Christie. I've heard that she would write her mysteries without designating a guilty party upfront, then go back through the work and try to determine who, among the suspects, is the actual culprit. I think it's incredibly unique.
The second person is the ancient prophet Ezekiel. He wrote his text during an absolutely soul-crushing time for his people. Once proud Israel, who served the supreme deity, Yahweh, was being conquered; their fortified cities were being destroyed and the survivors of the brutal siege warfare were being systematically taken into captivity by the nation of Babylon. I cry when I read what Ezekiel wrote and I'd love to explore those emotions with the aging writer.


HALLIE: Any budding podcasters out there? Mark should be checking in to answer any questions.

ABOUT MARK COMBS

Author, Mark DeWayne Combs began his writing career by publishing weekly motivational blogs for a business networking group that he founded in the fall of 2007. More...

30 comments:

  1. This is so interesting . . . I know absolutely nothing about podcasts.
    I’m curious to know, Mark, if you talk with your guests prior to interviewing them for the podcast, or do you just jump into things? Have you ever been so surprised by some answer given during an interview that you didn’t know what to say next?

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    1. I prefer a spontaneous conversation. Many authors will tell you that they try to listen to their characters and let the characters tell the story. I try my best to listen to my guests and follow the flow of conversation.

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  2. I can answer some of that... Mark was amazing in his prep, but it didn't involve talking to me first. Which is good... because it turns out practiced responses aren't nearly as compelling as spontaneous. I remember he stumped me with just one question, though now I can't remember what it was. Mark...?

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    1. You're right, Hallie, I think predetermined questions and answers would sound like two people reading to each other. I think it's much more fun when neither party really knows exactly what's coming or where it will lead.

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  3. Wow Hallie! Will you post a link on FB so my poor old brain will remember to listen to your interview? I rarely watch/listen to podcasts, mostly because I put my computer away after my morning coffee, although a couple of months ago I saw one with James Lee Burke, and it was terrific. I know you will be too.

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    1. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Hallie and I'm looking forward to posting the interview on Tuesday. Usually the first link posts in the Public Display of Imagination FB group, then links are tweeted throughout the day. iTunes picks up each new podcast episode automatically and notifies subscribers.

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  4. Here's Mark's web site for his podcast... he says he's posting it starting next Tuesday July 17. http://markcombsauthor.com/weekly-podcasts/public-display-of-imagination-podcast/

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  5. Oh I love this! I used to think that podcasts weren't for me, but lately I've been listening to several off and on. And I was going to ask if this one was available on iTunes, but I just found it and subscribed. Will look forward to the new interview with Hallie. I do a lot of walking for fitness and my treat to myself has been audiobooks and also podcasts. I'm totally hooked and sometimes will keep walking in order to get to a good stopping point. Ha! Really am glad to hear about your, Mark!

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    1. Thanks Kay. Always encouraging to hear that the show has a new subscriber. I look forward to joining you on many long walks in the future. Let's go places...

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  6. I'm listening to the Brad Parks interview right now. Loved that book!

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    1. Brad was such a fun guest to talk with. I hadn't previously read a lot of his work, but just had to dig into his series with Carter Ross after the podcast had posted.

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  7. I don't listen to a lot of podcasts (just too noisy around here lately and I always find my attention drifts off), but this one sounds fantastic!

    Mary/Liz

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    1. I certainly hope you'll eavesdrop on the show next Tuesday. Hallie and I would love to have you join us. I normally listen to podcasts when I'm driving or cooking. I hate doing one, but love doing the other; listening to an interesting or entertaining podcast seems to make both activities a little more enjoyable.

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  8. Mark, Congrats on the podcast! I'm not asking you to name names, but have you ever had a guest who doesn't end up being a good interview subject? How do you manage when the interview seems to be going off the rails?

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    1. LoL That's a funny, but apropos question. Not every podcast conversation has been riveting, but I almost always learn something, regardless the guest. Hopefully, I've become a better host over time, but I'm not brave enough to crack open any of my initial efforts from long, long ago in an effort to find out.

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  9. I'm a mystery heretic--I am not favorable impressed with Agatha Christie. I've always felt her stories rely on last minute information ("You mean he was Lord Bloddyblah's cousin?! Well, no wonder!") to solve them. It always felt like a cheat to me.
    If the description of how she wrote is accurate, it may explain my feelings.

    Libby Dodd

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    1. It's just something that I heard and if my memory were better, I'd certainly credit the source. It sounds like an intriguing premise to me though, one I'd like to explore.

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  10. I am brand new to listening to podcasts (thanks to Julia's suggestion in a previous blog and to joining a gym where there is time to listen). I'm delighted to find yours (thanks, Hallie). What do you see as the future of podcasts? Will they continue to grow in popularity? Will they change in format? Any insight welcome!

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    1. I think they'll continue to grow in popularity, as many podcasts really seem to be a more personal in nature than scripted TV or Radio. I think most changes in format will occur gradually as a particular podcast continues to produce content. I'm sure mine will sound very different a year from now than it does today, but I couldn't begin to imagine how that will unfold. I guess I'll just have to stick around and stay tuned...

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  11. As Jenn says above, I do love podcasts. Having an Amazon Echo made all the difference to me - instead of being chained to my computer, I could listen wherever I had room to put Alexa. As much as I love NPR, it was stressing me out to listen to the news every night while preparing dinner. So mow I call up one of the podcasts I enjoy and relax.

    I'll repeat my advice from our podcast discussion: if you have an Echo, enable ANYPOD. It makes the whole process of going to back episodes, stopping and starting, and keeping track of your favorites much easier.

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    1. That's great advice, Julia. I've got a couple of Echoes, but hadn't tried that just yet. Thanks for the tip. :-)

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  12. It is so incredibly difficult to do a good interview! Reading this post right now… Getting on a train, and more to come! Mark, cannot wait to chat!

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  13. Hi Mark--I can't wait to listen to your interview with Hallie. How do you connect with your authors? Do you find them through your own reading, from reviews or recommendations, or all of the above?

    And I agree with Julia--Amazon Echo's Anypod makes listening to podcast so easy. It's opened up a whole new world for me. (I never listen to anything with earbuds because I'm deaf in one ear.)

    And I was fascinated by your approach to biblical writings. It would be so interesting to see these stories in their context, rather than being twisted every which way to meet modern agendas. Where can we read more about this?

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    1. Hey Deborah,
      I end up connecting with authors through all of the options you listed. Sometimes it's a book my wife or I recently read. Sometimes it's a recommendation from someone through social media. Sometimes a publicist reaches out to let me know about an author. I've been fortunate to talk with some wonderfully creative people; underscore fortunate.

      As for the biblical approach, you might enjoy the podcast of a friend of mine. His list of credentials are much longer than mine and his podcast takes a great approach. His name is Mike Heiser and his podcast is called The Naked Bible, primarily because he strips away modern perspective in favor of letting the text stand on its own merit. He's done several podcasts on different books of the Bible that are always interesting.

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  14. Interviewing is such a complicated and relentless combination of preparation and listening—but it’s so reassuring to know that you can edit! How do you think about editing? And do some interviews take longer because you know you’ll have a lot to do? What’s a key thing for the interviewee to remember? ( asking for a friend… )

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    1. That's an interesting question. Every interview takes on it's own personality, but I'm committed to opening windows of conversation that give the author a chance to tell their story, as opposed to me coaxing them into telling the story that I want to hear. Most of the time, I'm on a voyage of discovery; I don't want to give the listener the impression that I have "insider info" that they don't. We're going for a thrill ride (the listener and I), I'm just there to give the author the keys the sports car.

      As far as editing, I search diligently for spoilers and try to edit them out of the conversation. Other than that, I want every aspect of the author's personality to flow.

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  15. I need to mark the interview broadcast with Hallie on my calendar. I can't wait to listen to it. My son has done some work on creating a podcast and his interests lean toward the ancients, Gilgamesh and the Epic of Gilgamesh is one and Plato and Socrates. Can you guess he was a philosophy major? Haha. Anyway, I think your background is fascinating, Mark, and I plan on listening to your podcast with Hallie.

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    1. Your son's interests certainly offer plenty of room to run with ideas. Talking with Hallie was a treat for me; I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

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