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Podcast

Summary

Writing Alchemy is storytelling that centers intersectional characters, including a fairy tale series that combines humor and magic with serious topics, and a tabletop role-playing series about the adventures of disabled and mentally divergent heroes.

This full-color illustration depicts the characters Jewel and Min standing back to back. Jewel, a tall black woman wearing elegant purple clothing embroidered with gold, stands on the left as she tosses a handful of gemstones into the air. Min, a short tan Chinese woman wearing simple green and brown clothing, stands on the right as she blowing a swirling gust of air. Illustration by Caitlin Scannell.

This full-color illustration depicts the characters Jewel and Min standing back to back. Jewel, a tall black woman wearing elegant purple clothing embroidered with gold, stands on the left as she tosses a handful of gemstones into the air. Min, a short tan Chinese woman wearing simple green and brown clothing, stands on the right as she blowing a swirling gust of air. Illustration by Caitlin Scannell.

 

Ways to Subscribe to Writing Alchemy

RSS feed: https://writing-alchemy.net/feed/podcast

Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=154803&refid=stpr

itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gy/podcast/writing-alchemy/id1049213332

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen?authuser&u=0#/ps/Iv7lbjcvu3ao5jnjtkhhrhfq3vm

Or you can add yourself to my mailing list and receive announcements when new podcasts are released.

 

This is an illustration of the Musical Creature Band done in an abstract style. On the left is a bear playing a horn while standing on one foot. In the back is an elephant plucking the strings of a harp with its trunk. On the the right is a golden-brown rooster dancing by flapping its wings and strutting. In the front is a donkey with a white nose standing next to a blue drum.

This is an illustration of the Musical Creature Band done in an abstract style. On the left is a bear playing a horn while standing on one foot. In the back is an elephant plucking the strings of a harp with its trunk. On the the right is a golden-brown rooster dancing by flapping its wings and strutting. In the front is a donkey with a white nose standing next to a blue drum.

 

Podcast Description

This podcast is a combination of different projects that all focus on storytelling that centers characters living at the intersections of oppression. Overall there is a focus on light, humorous stories that also contain serious themes. I hope that this podcast can provide inclusive entertainment that gives people a break from the many struggles that are happening right now, while also pointing the way forward to new ways of telling stories.

Writing Alchemy includes a series of fairy tale podcasts, Unfamiliar Heroes, and several episodes that highlight the work of various artists, activists, and community members.

 

Tala stands holding a sheet of parchment with blurry numbers on it. Across from her Death, depicted as older woman with white hair, sits on a bed with her scythe casually draped over her shoulder. In the background is a fireplace with a golden fire burning in it. Illustration by Majin Roses.

Tala stands holding a sheet of parchment with blurry numbers on it. Across from her Death, depicted as older woman with white hair, sits on a bed with her scythe casually draped over her shoulder. In the background is a fireplace with a golden fire burning in it. Illustration by Majin Roses.

 

Fairy Tales

Romance and fairy tales are two related genres that have always called to me. Fairy tales, in particular, speak to me deeply. I am in love with their potential to combine whimsical magic and humor with intense topics that go to the core of human struggle. This is why I write fairy tales.

In this section of the podcast I read from my fairy tales, which I have created to combine whimsy and humor with a strong social-justice ethic that centers intersectional characters (my goals and approach to tacking oppression). Music and sound effects are added to enhance the story-telling.

Following the stories, podcast discussions are designed to add richness to the stories by delving into important topics within the reading. They cover a wide range of topics, such as the depiction of trans characters in media, the symbolism of monsters, historic origins for specific story ideas, commonly used racist and ableist metaphors, and the power of art to connect to common human experiences.

 

This illustration depicts three characters, each from a different genre of story, and each with a disability. On the left is a black gnome archer riding in a chariot pulled by a large brown dog. The chariot has a chair in it so that they can sit instead of stand. In the middle is a Latina woman manipulating a tech device on her wrist as she begins to go invisible. She is wearing an air filtering mask of the type that people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sometimes wear. On the right is a white muscular superhero wearing a very gay, blue superhero outfit. He has lightning crackling between his two hands, which are shaped atypically. This beautiful work of art was created the amazing Rose Adare!

This illustration depicts three characters, each from a different genre of story, and each with a disability. On the left is a black gnome archer riding in a chariot pulled by a large brown dog. The chariot has a chair in it so that they can sit instead of stand. In the middle is a Latina woman manipulating a tech device on her wrist as she begins to go invisible. She is wearing an air filtering mask of the type that people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sometimes wear. On the right is a white muscular superhero wearing a very gay, blue superhero outfit. He has lightning crackling between his two hands, which are shaped atypically. This beautiful work of art was created the amazing Rose Adare!

 

Unfamiliar Heroes

Unfamiliar Heroes is a podcast series in which people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or divergent minds use tabletop role-playing games to create stories that center characters with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or divergent minds. In its core values, this project centers the experiences of people living at the intersections of oppression.

One important goal of this project is to make space for disabled, chronically ill, and neurodivergent heroes in speculative fiction and gaming. By having all of the characters be disabled, neurodivergent, or chronically ill, I intend to challenge myself and the other players to move beyond the narrow set of roles that currently exist for disabled characters in speculative fiction to. In doing this we will be calling into question assumptions and structures inherent in role-playing games, such as the assumption that heroes have to leave their homes in order to participate in the adventure.

 

This illustration is meant to be suggestive of the underground cavern full of candles. It depicts eight abstract candles surrounded by darkness. There is one candle close-up in the foreground with a pool of wax pouring from it. The other candles are less detailed and farther away. The flame of each candle is behaving in a different manner, with some blowing to the left and some blowing to the right, while others are still.

This illustration is meant to be suggestive of the underground cavern full of candles. It depicts eight abstract candles surrounded by darkness. There is one candle close-up in the foreground with a pool of wax pouring from it. The other candles are less detailed and farther away. The flame of each candle is behaving in a different manner, with some blowing to the left and some blowing to the right, while others are still.

 

Episodes:

(Asterisks denote episodes with transcripts. Transcripts can be found both on the Transcripts Page and in the show notes for those individual episodes.)

Episodes Page with Full Summaries!

Writing Alchemy Teaser

I created a short teaser for those new listeners wondering what Writing Alchemy is all about.

New Listener Introduction

The purpose of this episode is to give new listeners an introduction to the two different podcast series in Writing Alchemy and to present some different options for good places to start listening.

Fairy Tale 1 – “Tala and Death’s Embrace” with Guest Tobi Hill-Meyer

Tala and Death’s Embrace: Tala’s friend is gravely ill. To save her friend’s life, trickster Tala matches wits with Death in a series of over-the-top hijinks which culminate in a final confrontation with a sexy twist. Find out what it takes to save her friend’s life!

Fairy Tale 2 – “Tala and Godmother Death” Part 1 with Guest Liz Cruz

Fairy Tale 3 – “Tala and Godmother Death” Part 2 with Guest Tobi Hill-Meyer

Tala and Godmother Death: Inspired by the Grimms’ fairy tale “Godfather Death,” this story follows Death’s three godchildren and explores what happens when the most selfish and clever one comes across the trickster Tala.

Fairy Tale 4 – “Tala and Prince Hart” Part 1 with Guest Jessica Miriam Littenberg

Fairy Tale 5 – “Tala and Prince Hart” Part 2 with Guest Gina de Vries

Fairy Tale 6 – “Tala and Prince Hart” Part 3 with Guest Oblio Stroyman

Tala and Prince Hart: Prince Hart is asexual, but his parents and many suitors are having a hard time accepting that. When the trickster Tala decides to come to his aid, chaos naturally ensues in this exuberant story that is a playful response to the all too common romanticization of boundary-crossing behaviors!

Self-love Special Part 1 with Collaborator Liz Cruz

Self-love Special Part 2 with Collaborator Liz Cruz

A workshop-style collaboration that explores barriers to self-love and self-love practices as experienced by people living at the intersections of oppression. For episode 7 Liz and Fay are joined by Tobi Hill-Meyer, who reads her erotic story, “Self Reflection,” which explores the themes of self-love and self-talk in a rather surprising way. For episode 8 Jessica Littenburg reads her poem “Healing Is” which is about finding tools for dealing with chronic illness, Ryannah Quigley shares her inspirational experiences as a plus-sized trans woman of color working on the film project hashtag body beautiful, and the band Bicycle Face shares two children’s songs which combine fun and silliness with some important messages about self-love.

Fairy Tale 7 – “Dangerous Company” Part 1 with Guest Tobi Hill-Meyer

Fairy Tale 8 – “Dangerous Company” Part 2 with Guest Lara Milton

Fairy Tale 9 – “Dangerous Company” Part 3 with Guest Bex Shea

Dangerous Company: The last five dragon slayers died. Kalla is good at solving problems, but her skills will be tested as she embarks on her journey with the very dragon she is expected to kill disguised as her guide. Some interesting surprises are just around the corner…

Interlude 1 – Contemporary Lesbian Romance by Yolanda Wallace

In this romance-themed interlude episode, Yolanda Wallace reads from her contemporary lesbian romance 21 Questions.

Interlude 2 – Intersections with Kristina Gibbs-Ruby

This interlude episode is all about intersections, with a focus on fatness, disability, gender, and queer identity. Guest Kristina Gibbs-Ruby reads a powerful spoken word piece about bullying and fatphobia while Fay reads hir popular article, “Why Having Conditional Privilege Is Not the Same as Simply Being Privileged,” which delves into the complexity of invisible identities, privilege, oppression, gatekeeping, and the struggle to be recognized as real through hir personal experiences.

Fairy Tale 10 – The Wishing Dildo Series #1 with Lector Morales

Fairy Tale 10b – Art, Activism, and Disability with Lector Morales

Fairy Tale 11 – The Wishing Dildo Series #2 with Vee Chattie

Fairy Tale 11b – Sex Work Myth and Reality with Vee Chattie

Fairy Tale 12 – The Wishing Dildo Series #3 with Kathleen Lamothe

Fairy Tale 12b – Diverse Minds with Kathleen Lamothe

Fairy Tale 13 – The Wishing Dildo Series #4 with billie rain

Fairy Tale 13b – Chronic Illness with billie rain

The Wishing Dildo Part 1: It is said that the Wishing Dildo can grant any wish relating to sexuality or fertility, as long as that wish is consensual. Prince Hart sure hopes that is true as he and his friend, trickster Tala, embark on a quest for it. As they travel, they soon discover that sometimes the greatest adventure is the people you meet along the way.

Unfamiliar Heroes 0 – Foundations and Ground Rules

Unfamiliar Heroes is a podcast series in which three disabled, neurodiverse, and/or chronically ill players and a game master play story-focused tabletop role-playing games where all of the player characters have disabilities, diverse minds, and/or chronic illnesses. In its core values, this project centers the experiences of people living at the intersections of oppression. Unfamiliar Heroes is part of the Writing Alchemy Podcast.

Unfamiliar Heroes 1 – Welcome to the First Responders Training Program Part 1

Unfamiliar Heroes 2 – Welcome to the First Responders Training Program Part 2

Unfamiliar Heroes 3 – Welcome to the First Responders Training Program Part 3

Unfamiliar Heroes 4 – Welcome to the First Responders Training Program Part 4

Unfamiliar Heroes 5 – Welcome to the First Responders Training Program Part 5

Underneath the facade of ordinary reality lies a hidden world of monsters and magic. At Sylvan Community College a secret program teaches supernatural teens to deal with this dangerous world as they struggle with the mess and confusion of their own lives. Welcome to the First Responders Training Program, a tabletop game using the Monsterhearts 2 role-playing system!

Second Anniversary Special –Terrible Lyrics to Brighten Your Day

This second anniversary special episode includes behind the scenes updates, outtakes, and six very silly bad poems that were composed for a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Vogon poetry competition in which the goal was to make poems that were as terrible (and funny) as possible.

*Unfamiliar Heroes 6 – Cat’s Paw Ghost Control Adventure 1: The Lederhosen Sprites

*Unfamiliar Heroes 7 – Cat’s Paw Ghost Control Adventure 2: The Backyard Mystery

Tabitha the space alien cat, Jake the fake TV psychic, and Lalla the plant talker botanist are the paranormal detectives of Cat’s Paw Ghost Control. Join them as they solve supernatural problems with cat-themed technology, a shady network of contacts, and plant power in a tabletop game that uses the InSpectres role-playing system!

Unfamiliar Heroes 8 – The Renegade Starship Part 1

Unfamiliar Heroes 9 – The Renegade Starship Part 2

Unfamiliar Heroes 10 – The Renegade Starship Part 3

Malena the intellectual scientist, Adre the hot-shot engineer, and Mariah the alien doctor are all officers from the Consortium starship the Raptor. These three surprisingly senior officers were all participating in a test flight of Z-crystals, a revolutionary new type of propulsion crystal, when their shuttle was intercepted by the rebel ship Sojourner. Join them for this improvised, tabletop adventure that was created with the Lasers & Feelings role-playing system!

*Unfamiliar Heroes 11 – Willa and the Rubble Robots

Meet Willa the gecko lizardperson rogue in this character introduction episode of Unfamiliar Heroes. Willa is a student at the celebrated Adventurers Academy and right now she is studying creative problem-solving. Join her for a surreal training exercise involving four hostile robots guarding an orb, surrounded by a massive pile of rubble.

*Unfamiliar Heroes 12 – Tarragon Songsteel and the Underwater Maze

Meet Tarragon Songsteel the orc bard in this character introduction episode of Unfamiliar Heroes. Tarragon is a student at the celebrated Adventurers Academy, and right now they are studying creative problem-solving. Join them for a surreal training exercise where they attempt to retrieve an orb from a mysterious underwater maze.

*Unfamiliar Heroes 13 – D’Zân and the Sky Sharks

Meet D’Zân the weredragon druid in this character introduction episode of Unfamiliar Heroes. D’Zân is a student at the celebrated Adventurers Academy, and right now xe is studying creative problem-solving. Join xem for a surreal training exercise where xe swims through a sky full of sharks.

Unfamiliar Heroes 14 – The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Part 1

Unfamiliar Heroes 15 – The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Part 2

Unfamiliar Heroes 16 – The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Part 3

Bonus Cast 2 – Player and Character Introductions for The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Game

Unfamiliar Heroes 17 – The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Part 4

Unfamiliar Heroes 18 – The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Part 5

Unfamiliar Heroes 19 – The Owlbear Reintroduction Program Part 6

Willa the gecko lizardperson rogue, Tarragon the orc bard, and D’Zân the weredragon druid are participating in The Owlbear Reintroduction Program, a project that is reestablishing owlbears in areas where the owlbear populations have been previously wiped out. Of course, this is not as simple as it sounds, because owlbears are large, ferocious, magical predators. Throw in a group of skilled poachers determined to steal owlbear eggs and things are bound to get interesting. This improvised, tabletop adventure was created with the Magi Goes Awry role-playing system!

Bonus Casts Not Connected to a Story or Game:

Announcements:

 

Cute and comical illustration of a brown owlbear sitting in the back of a wagon.

Illustration of a brown owlbear sitting in the back of a wagon. They have a feathered owl head and a furry bear body. A band of feathers encircles their waist. The owlbear has an intense, focused look on their face as they sit awkwardly on their tush with their hind legs splayed out. This adorable work of art was created by the amazing Meghan Dornbrock.

 

Podcast Participants

I am committed to creating a welcoming and accessible environment for podcast participants and audience members. To that end, I have created a list of Words and Phrases to Avoid that includes a lot of harmful language that not everyone is aware of and a set of Game Ground Rules for Unfamiliar Heroes games. I have additional information available in the Information for Participants page. Because I know that some disabilities make these things more challenging, I work with every participants to ensure that there is a way of doing these things that works for them.

 

Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

Photograph of a microphone being held up in a stand with a pop filter in front of it. In the background is the top of a computer screen displaying an audio editing program.

 

Podcast Schedule

The previous release schedule was one episode every three weeks on a Thursday. Currently that schedule isn’t possible, but I hope to get back to it.

What’s Coming Next:

  • Bonus Cast 7 – The Other Realm
  • Bonus Cast 8 – Tricksters
  • A sequel game to Welcome to the First Responders Training Program

After that will come a second adventure from Sylvan Community College, The Haunted Mill (a second Magic Goes Awry game), part 2 of “The Wishing Dildo,” then several more Unfamiliar Heroes games, next will come part 3 of “The Wishing Dildo,” and so on. At some point there may be a more dramatic story, “The Rabbit, the Leopard, and the Fox,” and the beginning of my fairy tale novel.

 

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