When I started listening to audio dramas last year, I stumbled across The Tales of Sage and Savant by Eddie Louise. I honestly wasn’t expecting much when I sent an email requesting an interview, so you can understand why I let out an ungodly squeal when she agreed to it. I can report that Eddie Louise and Chip Michael are extremely kind and talented individuals.
The response that Eddie had sent me after I had sent the questions was so good that I just had to include it in this writeup.
I see Doctor Sage as my superhero character – seeking to right the wrongs of mis-accreditation, or inequality, of societal judgment based on outward characteristics. It is my hope that listeners following along will find a way to see past the surface of people to the pure and lovely consciousness inside. Season Three we will encounter oppressed people of all sorts – slaves, and queer folk included. It is important to me that I not do ‘suffering porn’ but show the humanity and goodness of people whom the world ‘others’. It is my little fight for the soul of humanity!
After I read this, I could wait to get her answers to everything, but I limited it to 15 questions.
Interview with Eddie Louise and Chip Michael
Your book TransMIGRATIONS is now out, is it a retelling of the audio drama or will we be getting a different story?
TransMIGRATIONS is both a novelization of the podcast itself and a chance to pull back the curtain and figure out the circumstances of our Narrator, Justin Bremer. Who is he, and how is he able to see everything Sage and Savant do and know everything they think?
The novel begins in the year 4063 and we learn how Justin got his job and what his brief is. Through his eyes we see the adventures of Sage and Savant as they bounce through time.
As is the case with the podcast, I have a four-year plot outlined and year by year we will learn more of the future and the mysterious organization that funds the Doctor’s research and has tasked Justin with observing her transmigrations.
What inspired you to create The Tales of Sage and Savant?
This story came in the normal way for me, via an intense and very cinematic dream. I dream nearly every night, and many of my dreams are story-based narratives. The story of Sage and Savant played out over half a dozen nights, always beginning with electrocution. My husband, Chip always takes the brunt of these dreams. The more exciting I find the story, the more I move in the bed, flailing and kicking and pushing against perceived boundaries. I knew this story was a winner when Chip woke up with bruises!
Are Sage and Savant going to meet or inhabit queer characters? [Y’all know I had to ask]
Sage and Savant are on a journey of understanding and each season they will be exposed to adventures that help expand that understanding. This means they need to learn to see things through other eyes. I do wish to have them encounter queer characters, but need to get them to grow a bit first so they do not make a hash of it. Basically, I thought of the hierarchy of current social challenges and then ranked them on severity in current context. Then I tackled the easiest ones first. Over the four seasons we will hopefully and grown together and expanded our consciousnesses together.
What is it about audio that appeals to you?
I love the chance to visit far-flung places without the concern of a budget! But seriously, I love the way that aural stories challenge us to use our imagination in a unique way. As a kid I would listen to all the old radio shows from the 30s and 40s on midnight radio. I would huddle in the dark under the blankets and listen so carefully to find out what the Shadow knows. The images from those stories echo in my head still.
How do you decide what time Dr. Sage and Professor Savant go to?
My personal library contains some really fun books – Bad Days in History, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Cause of Death: A writer’s Guide among them. I need a location that will have dead bodies, naturally, and then I want my characters to have an adventure that is interesting. And, of course, I want to go somewhere new or experience something we haven’t before. I spend a lot of time Googling – in fact, I am pretty sure I’m on the FBI watch list thanks to my searches.
If you could travel to any time, where would you go and why?
Oh, this is hard. To Versailles during the reign of the Sun King? To Egypt in the age of the Pharaohs? To the American West to visit the Lakota before the white devils came? In the end run, it would probably depend on how I traveled – as a female, there would be many places restricted to me. As a westerner I wouldn’t be welcomed to the Forbidden City. That is deflecting your question though, so I think I would settle on… Fin de siècle Paris. Salons, Cabaret, Absinthe, Art. The city was an explosion of creativity and philosophy, where a bright and creative woman had a chance of gaining notoriety and renown.
What is the favorite thing you’ve learned while researching a person or place you were sending Dr. Sage and Professor Savant to?
Wei Boyang is cracking! A second century Chinese alchemist who invented the formula for gunpowder whilst looking for immortality. History says he succeeded in that quest. I couldn’t resist adding him to my story and imbedding him in the heart of the mysterious Les Charges de L’Affairs.
Which character do you love writing the most?
I love both Sage and Savant for different reasons. She is so laser focused, off-handedly cruel and righteous. He is so good natured and charming but has a moral backbone of steel. What is most fun to write is those intersections where her weaknesses meet his strengths and vice versa.
Are you listening to any podcasts at the moment, if so, what are they?
The podcast that started me on my modern listening journey was Welcome to Nightvalewhich is a delight. I also really like Steal the Starsand Uncanny Valley. In the non-fiction world it is hard to beat Sexplanations and Says Who.
Are the women’s marches, the #MeToo movement, and other challenges to the patriarchy inspiring the events in the world of Sage and Savant?
Oh, absolutely. Like many women, I have a #MeToo story and growing up in Wyoming I was expected to become a rancher’s wife, never the rancher. Doctor Sage is my revenge on those limitations and my blow to the barriers that are thrown up to stop women from achieving their full potential. Simply the act of imagining that women achieved parity, similar to today, one hundred and twenty years in advance, allows me to model a better future. Be the change you want to see in the world, right?
Was Dr. Sage inspired by a real person?
Not specifically, but she is a fist up response to the hundreds of male scientists who have been willing to claim the work of their female colleagues as their own – both in the past, and unfortunately, in the present. She is a demand that the female scientific mind be recognized and celebrated. Fun fact – did you know the early measurement for computing power was a kilo-girl? As in computing power equal to x hours of the NASA Computers – who were girls that were bitchin’ at maths! How did we go from that to thinking computers were the territory of young men?
How do you select the musical guests for the episodes?
Oh, this is the fun part! There are so many remarkably talented Steampunk, Cabaret, and Roots music groups out there just now. We find them at Steampunk events, at Cons, and at local dive bars. Then, we try and match the group and song that play well with the episode theme. We have fans write to tell us how they love discovering new music with our podcast. I’m very proud of that.
What is your favorite thing about creating The Tales of Sage and Savant?
I love getting to turn history inside out – to look at things through the lens of an outsider and an insider simultaneously. I love constructing meaning out of chaos. And, I have to admit – I love finding all the creative ways to kill my characters!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to create their own audio drama?
Outline, outline, outline. I was flailing in the dark when I first started writing Sage and Savant – I knew the basic shape of what I wanted but had no idea where I was going. As I got deeper into the story I had to outline for my own sanity and the writing became stronger because of it. Also, make sure it is a story that you want to devote a good portion of your life to. Creating a monthly audio-drama is a huge time-suck so you really have to love what you are doing. Think about sound effects – if you are writing a real-world story (even alternate history like ours) then you will need real-world sounds. If I write in a train, everybody knows what a train sounds like – you can’t fake that. If you are writing in a fantasy or Sci-Fi realm you can do more made up sounds – each type has its challenges. Lastly – listen to the hundreds of great stories that have blazed the trail for you. Pay attention to what makes you laugh, what makes you think, what turns you off – in this way you will build your story on the bones created by creatives that went before you.
How do you market The Tales of Sage and Savant? [Eddie handed the explanation over to Chip]
What a huge question. Let’s start with social media. We obviously want to post about the episodes on Facebook and Twitter, but we add to this, posts around the episodes–things that we’ve done to research the science or bits about the history. Every episode has background information that we try to put into a post (or three) on our website about the research that went into creating the episode. These blog posts turn into posts on social media. We then respond and repost (RT) things we find on social media that align with what happens in the podcast. For example, there is a surprising amount of information on ways people can die on the internet. Although, we try to not focus on ways to kill people. Since our characters have to find dead bodies to travel into, we need to continually find new ways for people to have died, so our characters can travel (and it doesn’t become boring for the audience). As such, whenever we find a tidbit about this on the internet/social media, we try and share it. This creates interesting things to talk about over social media, and encourages people to become interesting in what our podcast is about. The same is true about time travel, quantum physics, and interesting events in history. These are all aspects of the podcast, so aspects we talk about over social media.
One other thing we think about is ways in which to get people to visit the website. People can find our podcast on iTunes and GooglePlay, but there isn’t really an effective way (without paying lots of money) to advertise on those mediums. So, we try and drive people to the website. As I mentioned above, blog posts about the research we do is one way. Another way is working with our sponsors. In season two, our sponsors have provided us with content we convert into audio stories and excerpts. This is a great symbiotic relationship. Our sponsors–publishers of science fiction books and stories–get audio stories they can share with their audience and we get content we can share over social media. When people click on the links to the audio stories or interviews we do, they come to our website, which focuses on our podcast.
The podcast is a labor of love. No one involved makes any money doing this Our sponsors provide a small stipend, but that is converted into online advertising. Yes, we do pay for some advertising, but it is minimal and highly targeted. We try to find new areas to market, looking for people interested in steampunk or science fiction. Our audience is a good mix of both and I think we fit well with either category. So, primarily we use social media to get the word out, but do so by generating content about the podcast, background information posted to the website, ancillary content and online advertising.
The most recent addition to what we use to drive interest to our podcast is releasing soundtracks. We have five up now, working on providing another couple (from previous episodes), and will have another one for the final episode of Season Two coming out in May.
Are you smiling? Because I am smiling. Be sure to check out The Tales of Sage and Savant on the interwebs at SageandSavant.com and go buy TransMIGRATIONS. If you are on the Twitter, you can find them at @SageAndSavant
I cannot wait to share even more interviews with you all, so be sure to follow or subscribe to the email list so you can stay up to date when I post. If you have any suggestions for future posts, or want to chat you can find me on twitter @Audiodramarama or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org