I do love a good dystopian story, but I always get annoyed how writers erase queer people and turn women into props. It’s extremely frustrating, which is why I was so relieved when The After Disaster Broadcast (Read my recommendation HERE) didn’t do that at all. J. J. Ranvier didn’t shy away from writing about the monthly moon sickness, queerness, or mental illness. How could I not ask her if she would agree to an interview?
Interview with J. J. Ranvier the creator of The After Disaster Broadcast,
What inspired you to create The After Disaster Broadcast? Where there any audio dramas that inspired you?
The idea first started after I watched a post-apocalyptic film that did not hold my interest, despite having actors I liked. After thinking about it, I realized I didn’t understand any of the character’s reason for continuing survive when they were so alone. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the main post-apocalypse media I enjoyed were 1) Comedies 2) Focused on interesting reasons why the characters kept going. So I wanted to make my own.
It originally started as a screenplay with the pretentious title Sonder in the Apocalypse. However, I realized it would take years to have the budget and prestige it would take to make such a movie, I realized I could make it now as a podcast. The biggest inspiration was Welcome To Night Vale, partly for its humor, but a lot for its single person narration format. I was also inspired by Alice Isn’t Dead and Ars Paradoxica for creating excellent and interesting female leads.
What is it about audio that is appealing to you as a medium for storytelling?
I really love the sound of my own voice…just kidding…mostly. I love how only engaging one sense forces you to be more creative. I enjoy the challenge of character and plot development with only audio descriptions and sound effects to go off of.
Do you use your experiences to write about some of the things that Jo and the gang encounter?
Absolutely! The rejecting men stories from episode 16 are true with a twist. I knew the guy who left the flower in a woman’s apartment and the guy who put his arm around me ended up being bitten (by me) so hard he bled. I think the big ones, though, are the episode about the college kids was heavily inspired by my own college experiences, particularly the roommate stories, and the period episode was totally based off my worst period stories. For example, the girl screaming through the door “I HAVE MY PERIOD” was based off a camper that did scream that to me through a bathroom door when I was working as a camp counselor. A lot of the specifics about death I learned in my college Death and Dying class.
What is your game plan for if the world ends?
Find all my friends and hang out as long as possible. I don’t think I would make it, I get tired going up stairs and don’t stock up on groceries often enough.
What character from an audio drama do you relate to the most?
I think it’s cheating to pick my own characters so I’m gonna have to go with Sally Grisham from Ars Paradoxica. Her manner of speaking is like a slightly less sarcastic version of mine and her caring a lot about both people and science is very me.
What is your opinion on how queers and women are portrayed in post-apocalyptic stories?
One of my biggest pet peeves in post-apocalyptic stories is there seems to ALWAYS have to be a plot line about one of the main women getting pregnant and, because of the lack of modern medicine, half the time they die. It really shows how the writers really seem to think of women as walking wombs. That or walking sex objects that are either there to be love interests or be threatened with sexual violence. So, uh, I think the portrayal is bad most of the time. It really ends of a reflection of how the genre frequently focuses far too much on how society would become violent.
The same goes for portrayal of queers where they are either non-existent or given stories that only end in tragedy.
If you could write a crossover episode episode where Jo met a character from another audio drama: who would she meet, and how would that meeting go?
I just started listening to The Ghost Radio Project and I like the idea of “The Collapse” being the volcano eruption. I’d love to see Jo meet Ziggy and struggle not to accidentally call them Scout.
What has been your favorite thing about creating The After Disaster Broadcast?
My favorite thing has been voice recording itself. It’s not something I’ve really done before but I discovered I really really love it. Whether is recording an episode by myself or with guests, I feel so good speaking into a microphone and getting to hear it later. I’m actually starting to get into voice acting because of it.
What is your greatest hope for The After Disaster Broadcast?
I’d love to eventually go on the road with a live show. I already traveled with a live show to one city and it was super cool to meet fans of the podcast. That plus the show getting successful enough that I can be a full-time podcaster and use my free time to work on other projects. Cause what else do you do with free time??
What advice would you give to someone wanting to create an audio drama?
Research, research, research! Even if it’s not sci-fi! Every idea ever has been done to some complicity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, just do it better. See what other people in the genre have done, look up what tropes and cliches are overdone, look up complaints people have about the genre so you can avoid them or even invert them, research the towns you want your characters to be from, etc. You can never do enough research when it comes to writing because that is the best way to get ideas. Also google things like the title of your podcast to make sure it’s not taken, the acronym to make sure it doesn’t mean something else, the names of your characters to make sure there isn’t a bad association with the name, etc.
How do you market The After Disaster Broadcast?
Almost entirely through social media, but I get creative. I do little games and polls to announce each new episode and I put a lot of work into interacting with fans online. It makes a huge difference to be available through social media.
J. J. does get creative with marketing a new episodes:
NEW @AfterDisasterBC! More about Jo and Co's past and present
RT and I'll tell you what would happen to you when you go urban exploringhttps://t.co/Gp8AOVTcBr
— J.J. Ranvier (RUN AAaaAAWaaaAAaAaay) 🎃🦇 (@SaintofSnark) July 15, 2018
NEW EPISODE NEW POLL
Best place to hide and hunker down in the apocalypse?
— The After Disaster Broadcast (@AfterDisasterBC) August 1, 2018
J. J. also tweets survival tips:
SURVIVAL TIP: Attacked by a shark? Hit it in its weak points like the eyes, gills and its insecurities about it's short snout
— The After Disaster Broadcast (@AfterDisasterBC) June 18, 2018
What has been the hardest thing about creating The After Disaster Broadcast?
Writing. Writing is hard. Writing on a schedule and timeline is extra hard. But when an episode comes together and all the pieces work and the characters make jokes it’s so farking worth it.
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