Interview with Sarah Rhea Werner

Girl in Space

I have to begin this article by letting you all know that Sarah Rhea Werner is a delightful human. This is the second time that I have had the chance to talk with her and talking with her makes you feel like you’re getting the warmest hug of your life. Also I learned that she is from Ohio which makes her an even cooler person.

If you have never listened to Write Now or Girl in Space, then you need to go to the end of this article and listen to them. Sarah Rhea Werner is an incredibly talented person and extremely busy so I was delighted that she was able to spare some time for an interview.


What inspired Girl in Space?

I have two answers, so I am just going to merge them because it comes from two places. I have another podcast called Write Now and one day I was talking into the mic and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I just started telling this big story.” I had all these unfinished novels and decided to adapt one of the storylines into an audio drama. After that, I started looking around at other science fiction podcasts and I found Tin Can. Then I had to find out how to tell my story in a way that wasn’t just another retelling of the same story.

I actually don’t know if this is awesome or embarassing, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I love The Princess Diaries, like the books. I wanted to have this snarky feminist up in space and she was just doing her thing. That’s kind of where Girl in Space came from, I’ve been writing it as I go and I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone.

What is it about audio is appealing as a medium for storytelling?

I love writing dialogue and this space. I like being in this arena with so many wonderful and beautiful people, and you don’t get that in novel writing. In the world of fiction writing, it is very cutthroat, and there are a lot of politics involved. In this community, everyone is just so eager and willing to help each other and give each other a boost. I want to be a part of that kind of community. So that’s part of why audio is so appealing.

Will there be a season two of Girl in Space?

There absolutely will be a season two

How does it feel to be wrapping up the first season?

It’s hard. I have to tell you that this is something that I’m working on as a person. It’s a personal growth moment. I have never finished a creative project, so this is my chance. I went through multiple rewrites of the final episode. I just completely scrap it every time because I don’t know how to end something.

How did you market Girl in Space?

Before my launch, I followed the standard marketing campaign procedure. I set a mission statement, goals, and some guidelines and standards. I set the tone of my interactions and chose colors for my brand palette. I set up a Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and a Facebook, honestly it was not great, I would suggest choosing one or two and sticking with them. At the time I didn’t know that the audio drama community was so prevalent on Twitter, but I saw the most engagement there so it’s where I’ve put in the most time. I didn’t have a press kit at the time until Elena Fernández-Collins and Wil Williams began to encourage podcasts to have them. Since I had everything assembled in my brand guide, it was just a matter of translating that into a press kit. So before I launched, it was telling people about Girl in Space, I felt like I did have a bit of an advantage since I already had a podcast. I had an email list from that fanbase so I sent them an email letting them know that I was starting this new project; I included the date and where they would be able to find it. I sent another email out to my family and friends saying the same thing. Asking them to tell their friends and family, and letting them know when and where they could find the podcast. As part of the prelaunch branding initiative, I made business cards and handed them out at Podcast Movement.

I don’t know if this was a part of the initial success, but when I launched, iOS had just made an update to Apple Podcasts, so I think that a lot of people were checking podcasts out for the first time. This in addition to the legwork I did priming my audience boosted my show to the front pages of iTunes the first week it launched. I was blown away.

After the launch… I think it’s all about helping people and being a good citizen. If you do have a bit of success, then use that to lift others up because when one person succeeds in audio drama, everyone succeeds.

What has been the hardest part about making Girl in Space?

I think the biggest challenge for me is making things on a timely schedule, and the stress of doing everything myself. I really don’t like that aspect. But I want to balance this out and say that while there are a lot of challenges, some of them are really good like figuring out what my characters are going to do.

So what is your favorite part of Girl in Space? Is it figuring out what your characters are going to do?

I have so many favorite parts, which is good otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this thing. I love the writing. I’m a writer at heart and love figuring out what the characters are going to do next and letting them guide me.

What advice do you have for aspiring creators?

First, I would say that there’s a lot of stuff that wants to get in your way. There’s other people who will say that you can’t do it. There’s people who seem to be encourage you, but are secretly trying to sabotage you. Not to make you paranoid, but there are people that will say, “Oh that’s a really good idea, but just wait until this or that.” It’s not helpful. Also, you don’t need a $400 microphone and access to a professional studio to make an audio drama. I use a piece of foam and a blue yeti mic, and when I started, I didn’t even have my own mic.

Don’t let that stop you. Don’t let people stop you. Impostor syndrome is huge and something that almost everyone in this community experiences. But you know what? If you want to make an audio drama, then you can make an audio drama. You can do it. That’s how anyone ever has made one, by making it.

Steven Pressfield wrote a wonder book called The war of Art, in it he talks about something called resistance. Resistance goes by a lot of names, including self-sabotage, it’s this thing inside of use that’s either terrified of failure or success. You have your own resistance, you have naysayers, people sabotaging you, impostor syndrome, perceived lack of equipment, or a lack of time and energy. I want you to do it. Even with all of that stuff, I want you to do it. It may take a long time, and it may be hard (it is hard) but it’s totally worth it.

Do you consider Girl in Space to be a space opera?

I don’t think so, I feel like a space opera would span the entire range of human emotion, and Girl in Space doesn’t do that. I’ve talked to Wil Williams about this, like I have tried so hard to not make Girl in Space melodramatic, and I think that it’s hurting me a bit.

When I was in a college writing class I wrote something that I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is going to melt the stars. This is going to be just this gorgeous thing.” But the peer group I ran it past stopped me and said, “Sarah, this is really melodramatic, you need to calm this down.” So I’ve been sensitive to creating things that are “melodramatic” that I think that I’ve been tossing aside emotion for jokes, which is what I do with emotion in real life. I think I consider Girl in Space to be more of a sci-fi mystery than a space opera.

How did you create X? Because she is very intelligent and realistic, but she also has a simplistic view of the world. So I want to know how she came to be. 

Stephen King has this quote about how every character that you create when you’re writing something is partially you. Like there’s always a little piece of yourself in every character you create. For X, you know as much as I didn’t want her to be, I think she ended up being a little bit autobiographical. There’s a I don’t want to say that there’s a really dangerous place because that makes it sound way more sensational than it is. I want to share my own story and experience while also staying away from creating a mary sue. If you aren’t familiar, a mary sue is an empty vessel for the listener or reader. You can insert yourself in and everybody loves her for no reason. She has no flaws, except that she’s klutzy. I wanted to avoid creating that type of character. So I gave her lots of flaws, which I love doing. I think flaws make characters and people more interesting.

And there’s a lot of me in x. I didn’t do it intentionally, but I realized how autobiographical it was. Growing up we weren’t allowed to watch TV, and we couldn’t leave the house after eight. I didn’t really have any friends who could come over. So I sort of grew up in, not as extreme of an experience as x, but I was isolated. I was also your traditional super depressed teenager who hated everyone. I actually chose to be alone a lot of the time and I saw that as I was crafting the story and as I was creating x. So much science fiction deals with people wanting to be found or rescued. As somebody who’s a huge introvert and spends a ton of time alone, I thought, “What if this person was in a spaceship alone and this other ship came up to it. But she didn’t want to be rescued, and is actually just really annoyed that all these people were in her space.” She doesn’t really want or need them. She was perfectly content being alone… or was she. Ooooooooooo

In any media, could be TV, film, books, podcasts, or whatever; who is your favorite girl in space?

Oh gosh! There’s so many!

Give me a top three.

Okay. Okay. I’m going to give you three. I love Ripley from Alien, she’s such a good and interesting character. There is a character in Leviathan Wakes by James Corey. I was really entranced by the character of Julie, she doesn’t have a lot of action, but I found her intriguing. How can I not go with Princess Leia, or General Organa depending on where you are in the timeline.

Since there a multiple references to Jurassic Park, what’s your favorite dinosaur?

Velociraptor was what almost came out, but that’s just because I’m always thinking about them, but they aren’t actually my favorite. When I was little, my dad would always take me to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and there is a dinosaur skeleton. It is a haplocanthosaurus, and since a brontosaurus never really existed, this is the next best thing. I grew up seeing this beautiful skeleton and I have to say that the haplocanthosaurus is my favorite dinosaur.

Now for the most serious question I’ve ever asked: What is your favorite cheese?

Brie! Really good, expensive brie. Like the really good kind you get from a specialty cheese shop. I didn’t even hesitate on that, I know exactly what my favorite cheese is, and it’s brie. That is my “treat yourself” cheese.


Be sure to check out her website at girlinspacepodcast.com and sarahwerner.com. You can find her on Twitter at @SarahRheaWerner, @writenowpodcast and @girlinspacepod. Support Girl in Space on Patreon. And as always, don’t forget to listen and subscribe on your podcatcher of choice.

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Click the little drop-down menu in the top right corner and become an email subscriber of ADR. You’ll recieve a notificitaion when a new article comes out. If you have any suggestions for future posts or want to chat you can find me on social media or email me at audiodramarama@gmail.com.