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Season One Q&A - Part One

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Monstrous Agonies Season 1 Q&A Part One Transcript

[Title music: slow, bluesy jazz. It fades out as Hero starts speaking.]

Hero: Hello, friends! And welcome to the end of season one Q&A session. I’m Hero, creator and writer and everything else-er of Monstrous Agonies, and I’m joined today by Sophie B, whose voice you will know from Episode Thirty Four where they played the Understudy.

Sophie: Hello!

Hero: Before we start, just to say we’re recording this in my living room rather than under strict studio conditions in a wardrobe full of blankets, so please interpret this sound quality generously.

Sophie: Our first question actually comes from two of your listeners. RadicalReliableRandomness and Leslie both ask, the kind of the good starting point question for any Q&A, which is: what gave you the idea for the podcast in the first place, and specifically, what drew you to the advice segment format?

Hero: I, uh, remember getting these questions because I realised I don’t know.

Sophie: This is a really great way to start a Q&A [laughs] It’s like, “Oh yeah, that’s a really good question. I have no idea the answer though.”

Hero: I’m going to give you a--I’m going to give you a nice easy first question to start off on. What--why this podcast--

Sophie: Why did you do it?

Hero: “Why did you do it?” I don’t know. No, I don’t remember. I know why I picked a podcast rather than anything else, and that was because I--because they are like the only original fiction that I can think of where you go straight to your audience.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: You know, you don’t have to go through an editor. You don’t have to go through a marketing team. You don’t have to jump through any hoops. And not only--obviously, there’s self-publishing and people put their own fiction out there, but the difference is that most people who read books don’t read self-published books. Most people who watch films don’t watch little student films published on, uh, YouTube.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: You know, most people who listen to music aren’t listening to people’s random SoundClouds. Whereas most people who listen to fiction podcasts are listening to people in their wardrobes.

Sophie: [laughs] Yeah.

Hero: Covered in blankets.

Sophie: [laughs] They’ll just listen to any old thing.

Hero: They have no st--So the reason I’ve done a podcast is podcast audiences have no standards.

Sophie: You’ve heard it here first, guys. This is uh, this is what Hero thinks of you.

Hero: Yeah, and I was like they’re my people. Um--

Sophie: People with zero standards. [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] Zero standards. Um, and so--and then working backwards from that, I was like. Well, I want something that I can do on my own as somebody who doesn’t have a great deal of sound engineering or voice acting experience or anything like that, and it was in lockdown as well. So I was like, well it can’t be something that requires me to rely on either the skills of other people because I don’t know anybody else who makes podcasts.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Or the like, mental capacity. Like genuinely, it was a stressful year.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: And I don’t think anybody wanted me to come in, wanting them to record every week and--

Sophie: Yes, exactly.

Hero: And--do you know what I mean? So it was something that I was like, I really need to be able to do this on my own, so a radio show made the most sense, and then how do you have a radio show with as many voices and stories as possible without actually having any voices?

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Um. And so the--the uh, advice section, sort of segment, idea came out of it. Like basically. And also why radio, why an advice segment. Because I don’t ever, ever want to put any sound effects on anything?

Sophie: You have said this to me multiple times.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: No sound effects. No effort.

Hero: No.

Sophie: Just you by yourself in a wardrobe.

Hero: Just me and my art.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: My muse. And my wardrobe. Um, yeah. I don’t want to sit on or whatever it is. I don’t--I hate that. I hate it. I hate it. Ugh, I hate it. So a podcast and an advice segment podcast partly because I think that the basic medium is very punk and cool. And partly because I’m incredibly lazy as a creator and I wanted something I wouldn’t have to do a lot of work on. [laughs]

Sophie: Excellent. So, on that note. Leslie once again, they ask: What was the first episode you ever came up with? Did you plan ahead? Was there a sort of narrative arc you wanted to follow, or did you just kind of take it one week at a time as it came?

Hero: Uh, I did it all in order basically. Um, because what I did was I sat down well before I started writing and came up with a list of as many agonies as I could. And just a huge--like there’s--there’s still about forty or so sitting there that I probably won’t get to, because some of them are rubbish. You know, some of them are like “Kraken doesn’t like new boats.” [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: “The--upsets its tummy.” [laughs] Like, you know. Or, “Vampire tooth dreams,” you know.

Sophie: Vampire tooth dreams?

Hero: Vampire tooth dreams.

Sophie: I wish we had your notebook of ideas like, in front of us right now.

Hero: [laughs] Yeah.

Sophie: I would love to just read a little list of them out for everyone.

Hero: To see--yeah.

Sophie: To see how much the listeners helped to shape this great thing that you make.

Hero: They did. They really did. Um but, I came up with enough for like--more than enough, um. To kind of also uh, reassure myself that this wasn’t going to be--that I was going to get ten weeks in and run out of ideas. So the first episode I came up with was the first agony in the show. It’s the one who’s uh--it’s uh, it’s someone who's jealous of their partner, their immortal partner, because they say that they slept with Shakespeare and Byron and Richard II. And there was a bit of chopping and changing as it went on. Um, and as we started getting submissions as well, obviously I was gonna prioritise other people’s much better and funnier ideas.

Sophie: [laughs] Oh, come on. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Hero: No, mine are great. Mine are great. But like, yeah, I don’t know, the submissions are cracking.

Sophie: Yeah, so actually along those lines, um RadicalReliableRandomness asks if you have a particular favourite submission, and then Leslie, also asks if you have a favourite of your letters. So what’s the pinnacle--

Hero: Mm.

Sophie: --of an agony from both you and the listeners?

Hero: Um, so--oh, submissions. I really--I feel like one of tho--I feel like a politician when I--

Sophie: I was about to say, you’re about to give a very political answer.

Hero: Oh, but they’re all so good.

Sophie: I could see your stature changing. You--your sort of your face changed into that sort of, “Well, I-I must say.”

Hero: Yeah. But they are! Because I think the thing about the agonies--the submissions, is that--that other people’s brains--nobody’s brain’s work in the same way, right? So you can see when I’m thinking through an agony, because I think of kind of the same thing. Like, you ask me for a werewolf story and I’m like, “Uh, werewolf boyfriend chews slippers,” and somebody else is like, “Okay, but what if there was like a blood purity issue about the manner in which you got turned, and the trauma of your turning?” And I’m like, oh, that’s very interesting. Um, so it’s hard to pick a favourite submission because they’re all coming from such different and exciting places, you know?

Now the--the wulver, the Scottish wulver, the woman who’s like, I just moved to this little island and somebody keeps living fish on my door.

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: Oh, he’s so cute!

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: [high-pitched] Oh, he’s so cute! [normal voice] Um, I really like that one. Oh! The one--the one that Assface - thank you, Assface, for that - the one that Assface submitted that was, um, it was the person whose friend is a shapeshifter and they’re like, but how do I know the real them? That was like--that was brilliant because like, sometimes I get a submission and I immediately know what the answer is, and it’s almost always like, [Presenter voice] “Have you tried talking to them?”

Sophie: [Presenter voice] “Have you spoken to this person recently? Tell them about your feelings. I’m a sultry posho, and I’m here to tell you what to do.”

Hero: Exactly. Yeah, you’re going to replace me--

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: --next season. Yeah, but sometimes I get them, and I’m completely stumped, and I’m like I--I do not know what the answer to this is.

Sophie: And that was one of the--

Hero: That was one of them.

Sophie: The shapeshifter one. It was a brilliant submission.

Hero: It was so good!

Sophie: It was really good.

Hero: And I was sat in the bath, because I write quite a lot in the bath, and I was sat there, and I was like. God, what is, the true self? [bewildered noise, laughs]

Sophie: But I think that’s the best place to ponder that sort of question--

Hero: Yes.

Sophie: --is in the tub.

Hero: Um, and then favourite ones that I wrote. I’m really proud of the banshee because of how many people have written and been like, [high-pitched, emotional voice] “It made me cry!”

Sophie: Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of tears shed over the banshee.

Hero: Yeah. And that’s really the only reason you get into fiction.

Sophie: Just to make people cry.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: The next question comes from Fyre. And actually, it’s kind of--this is a triple-parter question because there are three people who’ve asked very similar things, so I’m going to do a really good thing where I try and merge them all into one question, and be very smart about it, so let’s see what happens. So Fyre, she asks if you have a particular species or um, genus in mind for the Presenter, or is that something that will be revealed later, so you can plead the Fifth on that one. I think that’s what pleading the Fifth means.

Hero: I don’t know, I was going to say, I’m not an American. I’m going to swear on the Magna Carta. [laughs]

Sophie: I don’t think that that’s the same thing. Um, both Anon and Matthew would like to know whether you, Hero, personally, would like to tell us which creature you most vibe with.

Hero: I like that you say “you, Hero” in case I think you’re talking to a different you.

Sophie: Well no, I’m just specifying that it’s a different question--

Hero: I, Hero.

Sophie: --from you as the Presenter--

Hero: Oh.

Sophie: --versus you as the real human that you presumably are.

Hero: [laughs] Allegedly.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Allegedly human. It doesn’t occur to me that anybody would think of me as the Presenter, which is very funny.

Sophie: Yeah, which is very funny because you are.

Hero: [laughs] I am. But I’m like, I am not a sultry posho. Um, eh, I am a little bit posh. Eh, so species in mind for the Presenter. Uh, no. No to both. I don’t have anything in mind when I’m writing, and I don’t imagine that I’ll change that. And it’s--

Sophie: Is there a particular reason for that?

Hero: Well yeah, I-- [thinking sounds] Yeah, I am not the Presenter who always has an answer immediately. No, I love--my favourite thing about Monstrous Agonies is leaving as much space-- [laughs] -- I’m a very lazy writer, and I want--

Sophie: Yeah, I was about to say, this again feels like a “I didn’t want to do a lot of work, so I’m leaving it up to you, listener.”

Hero: [laughs] Well, I am. But I like the-- I don’t think you need that information, and I think it is more fun not to have it. I think it’s good for writers to know things that you don’t necessarily say, because it just means that you’re writing to a consistent idea, to a consistent world. It’s like when you’re world-building, you don’t actually have to tell everybody how elections are held in Narnia. You can just, you know--

Sophie: Yeah, just everyone turns up at the big rock and--

Hero: Exactly. They famously do not have elections in Narnia. Free Narnia. #FreeNarnia. Um, but yeah, so I--and I actually don’t have a particular genus in mind for the Presenter. I love that we got a couple of bits of fanart so far, and they look completely different.

Sophie: Yeah, wildly different. There are no real, like, similar markers among what you’ve got so far. It’s just very much “Here is my interpretation,” which is really, really brilliant to see.

Hero: It’s really cool, and really exciting, and I want that to be happening for as long as possible, so I’m not going to be like, “Oh, the Presenter definitely has five heads and--”

Sophie: I was going to say five arms.

Hero: Oooh.

Sophie: Yeah. So there we go. And then so, the next part of that is you--

Hero: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: If you were going to be a creature in Monstrous Agonies, if you were sitting there thinking, “I need to write a letter and get some answers to my problems,” what would your genus be?

Hero: I would definitely be like, some--I would be something small and hairy and I live down the back of the sofa, and I steal your biscuits when you sit down with a cup of tea and you put your biscuits on the armchair. Sofa, on the arm of the sofa. And then you look round and the biscuits are gone. And that was me.

Sophie: And that was you.

Hero: And my problem is that the person whose house that I have infested doesn't buy the biscuits that I like, and I don’t know how to influence that.

Sophie: Oh, I’m sure you’d find a way. I’m sure you’d absolutely find a way.

Hero: How about you?

Sophie: Oh, wow. Oh no!

Hero: Oh no!

Sophie: I’m supposed to ask the questions, not answer them. Um, me personally as Sophie B, if I was going to be a creature. I know it’s kind of a--not a boring answer, but I just think I’d like to be a ghost. Like, I’d just think that I love ghosts, I love ghost media.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: I can see you trying not to make fun of me because of how often I make things that involve ghosts.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: I just think ghosts are very very cool.

Hero: I just think they’re neat!

Sophie: I just think they’re neat, I do. Marge Simpson dot jpeg.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: Yeah, so I would just think I would be a ghost, and I think my particular issue as a ghost would be that nobody was trying to solve my death.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: I think I would have died of natural causes.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: But I would want there to be someone involved enough to want to find out what happened to me.

Hero: Amazing.

Sophie: I would just like be doing ghostly things, leaving little clues around that are false to make it look like something terrible had happened to me, but nobody would be picking up on them.

Hero: I love that you have picked--you're like, I actively want to--to not be actually interesting. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: I don’t actually want to have a backstory.

Sophie: Well, I don’t--I just don’t want to have a tragic death, but I want all of the fun that comes with like--

Hero: You just want the neurosis.

Sophie: Yeah. I just want people to want to solve my tragic death without having to have tragically died in the first place.

Hero: Amazing. Wonderful. That’s beautiful.

Sophie: So, we’re going to keep on with the creature questions because you have an anonymous question submission which talks about--on the Tumblr, which if you aren’t following the Monstrous Agonies Tumblr already, you should be. There’s memes and fanart and all sorts of fun things.

Hero: It’s @MonstrousAgonies.

Sophie: On the Tumblr, you mentioned that in the MA universe, giant versions of regular animals exist.

Hero: I did say that on the Tumblr.

Sophie: You did say that on the Tumblr. Which is very fun. And so this anon, because they love that idea, wants to know if there are any other kinds of beings, creatures, or entities that may never get mentioned, but you’ll word-of-god them into the universe of Monstrous Agonies.

Hero: Yes. Usually I’m very averse to word-of-god, but I did say that there are--because there’s a picture. Somebody has drawn a series of paintings where it’s like, the normal world but there are giant cats that you can just faceplant into.

Sophie: Yes. Yes.

Hero: And I was like, I may never ever mention this in the show, but I want you all to know that this is the Monstrous Agonies universe. There’s no COVID, only giant cats.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Nessie exists 100%, but also is thriving. Like she has no need to write into the show because she’s living her best life.

Sophie: She’s having a great life.

Hero: She has no problems. She’s incredibly well-adjusted. She is just living her life and loving it. And she’s fabulous. Um, so Nessie’s having a great time. I think I generally--like, there are certain things that I like, steer clear of. But--you know. The fact that like, Zeus exists, right?

Sophie: [laughs] Yes.

Hero: There’s the advert about like, um, divine parentage.

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: Like, [deep voice] “It was probably Zeus!”

Sophie: It was--because it was probably Zeus.

Hero: Right. So like, Zeus exists in this universe. But also if you think too hard about what it means for certain gods to exist--

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Your world breaks a bit. You know.

Sophie: Yeah, you then have to get into rules lawyering and--

Hero: Exactly.

Sophie: And then you’re writing Dungeons & Dragons.

Hero: Exactly. Exactly. And I, would you believe, I hate world-building because it’s real hard, and it takes a lot of effort. [laughs]

Sophie: I feel like a lot of answers to this Q&A are going to be, “Well, it was very hard to do that, so I did it this way because it was easy.”

Hero: Yeah, work smart not hard. Yeah. Obviously. So I--there are certain things that I’m like… they’re definitely out there. I would say like, “if I haven’t mentioned it, assume that it’s real” would be a good rule of thumb.

Sophie: That is a good rule of thumb. Or if Hero hasn’t mentioned it specifically, but it seems like it would be very funny for it to be real--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Then it probably is real in the world of Monstrous Agonies.

Hero: It definitely is. Yes, if it’s funny, imagine I said it and then tell all of your friends how funny Monstrous Agonies is and give me the praise for the thought that you had.

Sophie: There you have it. And that’s the podcast in a nutshell. And just before we move on, I just want to mention that the artist who you reblogged onto Tumblr who does the very big animal paintings is called Monokubo for anybody who is interested.

Hero: Thank you.

Sophie: So go look that up because they are great. So now we're kind of coming to a string of questions that kind of deal with the--the show, uh, within the universe--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: No! Stop. I mean within the universe itself--

Hero: Sure.

Sophie: --existing within the realms of the Monstrous Agonies universe.

Hero: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: So Emma asks what other regular shows are on the Nightfolk Network?

Hero: Mmm.

Sophie: Who else has a nice little segment that people tune in to listen to?

Hero: Well because there are a few recurring ones in the sign off. There’s the book club, cookery corner. There’s a film ah--we have a film correspondent who is named after--it’s called Films and Filming which - [laughs] - this is so nerdy and it’s so specifically nerdy--

Sophie: Really? You’re about to tell me something nerdy?

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Very out of character.

Hero: It’s not just nerdy. It’s gay nerdy. Films and Filming was a film magazine in about the 50s to about the 70s. And in the 50s and into the 60s, it was uh, a really important resource for gay men in England because it was something that they could read in public and it was a film--it was absolutely a film magazine.

Sophie: Yeah, it was legitimate.

Hero: It actually talked about films, but it also talked about like, hunky boys in film. And it had all these pictures of hunky boys being sexy in films, and it was so known that this was a gay man’s magazine that, you know, they would leave classified ads looking for partners in this magazine. And the film correspondent is named after one of the editors of the actual Films and Filming magazine. Um, Robin Bean I think is his name. So that--that is a thing.

Sophie: That’s very cool.

Hero: That’s a thing. [laughs] It was just me being like, I have just read this chapter in my queer British history book, and I’m going to mention it.

Sophie: And I’m going to flex on everybody.

Hero: Going to flex on everybody.

Sophie: With the--gay hanky code equivalent of magazines.

Hero: Yeah! Basically.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Basically. Which is lit really, and then it became less and less popular the more and more explicitly gay it got because it stopped being--it stopped being good for film buffs because it was also actually a film magazine. So actual just regular straight filmgoers would buy it. So it became less accessible for them, and also it wasn’t doing the job of being kind of plausibly deniable for the gay men anymore because it was so gay. Right?

Sophie: It’s amazing how many things were disco before disco.

Hero: Yes! Yes, exactly, exactly. Um, and that was. Yeah, it was a really cool thing. So there’s a film correspondent, I feel like there’s--oh, what else is there. There’s a celebrity gossip column. There’s a celebrity gossip column. I’m going to word-of-god it now. There’s a celebrity gossip column, and it’s on just before the Presenter’s bit.

Sophie: Oh, yes.

Hero: And they hate it. They hate it.

Sophie: That would be mine. That would be my show.

Hero: They hate it because they’ve now got an incredible amount of knowledge about the monster Kardashians. And they are raging. There. I’m word-of-god’ing that.

Sophie: That’s incredible.

Hero: Or they have to do it. Maybe they’re the only presenter on the station, and they’re just broadcasting 24/7, and they hate the celebrity gossip bit because they have to do it.

Sophie: I love that you were like, I’m going to word-of-god this and then immediately contradicted yourself.

Hero: Yeah. Yeah.

Sophie: What is god if not a pile of podcast contradictions?

Hero: I am Janus, the two-headed god.

Sophie: Excellent.

Hero: Thank you. [laughs] Moving on.

Sophie: Moving on from that, because now we can’t trust any answers you give.

Hero: You shouldn’t anyway.

Sophie: No. So Treb. Hi Treb!

Hero: Hi Treb!

Sophie: She wants to know do you have enough material to do a mini-episode of just adverts? Because Treb, you see, finds them very funny.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Hero, how do you feel about the adverts? And having to write them and record them and make adverts for the podcast? A thing you chose to do.

Hero: [continues to laugh] A thing that nobody made me do

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: That I could just stop doing if I wanted to. The problem is I love the adverts once they’re written. They really make me laugh. They genuinely--like HauntedSwords dot com. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: I think about that just on my own, and laugh at my own joke.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Again. Months and months later.

Sophie: I’ve seen evidence of this.

Hero: It’s very funny. Like a lot of the adverts, genuinely, I love that they’re there and I think that they’re really funny. I hate writing them. I hate it. I’m so--I just immediately, like the number of times I’ve just been sitting in the living room on Wednesday morning, and like I record--well, I should record earlier, but I end up recording on Wednesday afternoon to get it out for Thursday afternoon--and sitting in my armchair on Wednesday morning shouting at my partner, “What do monsters have! Monsters--do they need staplers?! Do monsters need chairs?! Do they sit? What do they do? Do--do monsters go swimming? Monster swimming costume - is that a thing? Swimming costume that--that isn’t--it’s good for spikes.”

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: “What do they have? What do they do? Wing gel - gel your wings!” I just--I don’t--I hate coming up with them, and I had--because I did one--

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: --I did what I did with the agonies where I wrote a list of them, but I hated so many of them. I have one-- [laughs] --There’s one bit of that spreadsheet that just says “VPN, but it’s ghosts?”

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And like--and like, I keep getting to that and I’m going: what is that? What--you don’t even know what a VPN is.

Sophie: No, I was going to say that you did yesterday call an HDMI cable an “HBMI” cable, so I just don’t think you should write any technologically-related agonies--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: -and/or adverts.

Hero: Yeah. Eh, HBMI, HDMI.

Sophie: It’s a D.

Hero: [pronouncing the same] Potato, potato.

Sophie: Yeah. [pronouncing the same] Potato, potato.

Hero: So, do I have enough agonies to make a mini-episode--adverts to make a mini-episode? No. I barely have enough adverts to make the--

Sophie: An episode.

Hero: An episode.

Sophie: An episode of the full show. So SentientTent, he would like to know if--obviously you use music in the podcast as a sort of transitional device. But, is there any sort of uh, songs in particular that you think represent the podcast? Do you have like a playlist you’ve made of Monstrous Agonies songs? Is there anything along those sorts of lines?

Hero: I wish that were true. I am the kind of person who listens to one thing--

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: --forever.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: So I--

Sophie: And that one thing is…

Hero: [unintelligible noises] It’s The Clash.

Sophie: It’s The Clash.

Hero: I was going to say it’s old school 70s British punk, but it’s--

Sophie: But it’s specifically--

Hero: To be even more specific--

Sophie: Specifically it’s The Clash.

Hero: I almost exclusively listen to The Clash, or there’s a playlist on uh, YouTube, that is every Mitski song in chronological order. I listen to that.

Sophie: Which I feel like could vibe with a lot of the podcast.

Hero: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I--I don’t, eh, I used to be with it.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Then they changed what it was.

Sophie: [continues laughing]

Hero: I used to be such a muso. I was really like, really used to be really really into music and I used to know who all the new groups were and everything like that. And had opinions on things and bought music magazines. Um, whereas now, like years go by, and I haven’t listened to a new song at all. So I really, um, The Talking Heads, I think. I think The Talking Heads have a Monstrous Agonies vibe.

Sophie: Yes. But I--

Hero: I can’t explain it, but they do.

Sophie: I like to think that anything I would do would have a Talking Heads vibe.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Like, that’s--I would just find a way to make it happen.

Hero: That’s true. Um, yeah, Sophie knows more about music than I do, and is a chronic playlist maker.

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: So I feel like would have more insight.

Sophie: Yeah, I think, um. So, just to go on a weird little tangent here, but there’s a singer/songwriter who I’m really obsessed with called Connie Converse.

Hero: [gasps] Is she the lesbian who went missing?

Sophie: She is the supposed lesbian. We cannot retroactively decide that she is--we can’t word-of-god Connie Converse, sadly, but yes. She was a singer/songwriter who was around from sort of like the 50s. Um, and when you listen to her music, it’s incredible, um. She basically never got big. Never made anything. She wrote this absolutely heartbreaking letter to her brother basically saying that she wasn’t made for this earth, and she doesn’t know how to connect to people. And she got into her little, I believe it was a Volkswagen Beetle and drove off into the sunset and was never seen or heard from again.

Hero: Amazing.

Sophie: Never seen or heard from again. So, um, no one knows really what happened to her. Nobody knows whether she died or whether she’s been--you know, she would be ninety-something by now, I believe.

Hero: Oooh. I want--

Sophie: Because it was the 70s when she was--

Hero: I want her to be ninety-something and living with the woman that she met.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Almost immediately, you know?

Sophie: Yeah, yeah. Because there’s obviously, as is the case with anybody who in that time period who was like, “I don’t fit in this world,” queer people saw that and went “That’s me! That’s me!”

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Um, but the uh, radio producer found a tape of her songs and became really obsessed with this woman who sounded so contemporary for a singer-songwriter who existed in the 50s/60s, um, and so he and a partner of his went around trying to collect up all the demos they could, so you can listen to a Connie Converse album on Spotify or wherever you get good music from. But um, I honestly believe that Connie Converse’s music is very Monstrous Agonies. I think also the sort of like--

Hero: Also the story.

Sophie: The story of her, absolutely if you can uh--if you can devour any Connie Converse media, I highly recommend it. Along the lines of sort of inspirations. So we’ve gone from music there, but now Jules--JulesIsFine. That’s the full name.

Hero: Jules is fine.

Sophie: Jules is fine.

Hero: I panicked. This one came in on Twitter, and I didn’t know whether to put like, their Twitter username or her like--

Sophie: Yeah. Or whether, yeah.

Hero: I don’t know how Twitter works, and I don’t even know how to tell you what name I chose.

Sophie: Okay, so Jules, who either would like to be fully-known as JulesIsFine, or is letting us know that she’s fine--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --and in that case, thank you, Jules. I’m glad to know that you’re fine. We’re also fine here. She would like to know if there was any particular inspiration behind the host of the show. So was there a, um, was there a book or a film or a TV show or another podcast even that influenced how you built the personality and mannerisms of the Presenter?

Hero: I mean like, it would be wildly false to me to pretend that I haven’t ever listened to The Magnus Archives or Welcome to Night Vale. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] Yes, it’s one of those things like you’re making um, you know, a sort of queer horror podcast and it’s like, “Don’t mention The Magnus Archives. Don’t mention Welcome to Night Vale.”

Hero: Exactly. I mean, Welcome to--funnily enough, I’m not very good at listening to podcasts.

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: I don’t--

Sophie: Your attention span doesn’t quite manage it, does it?

Hero: [whines] They’re too long! I can’t listen to something for forty minutes or twenty, to be honest. I get bored listening to my own podcast, and I’m like--that’s why they’re so short! [laughs]

Sophie: ‘Cause it’s--you’re making, basically you’re making the perfect product for you.

Hero: Yes, and I’m like. I don’t want any sound effects because they confuse and alarm me.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And I want it to be nice and short. Um, but of course, Cecil Palmer is in the back of my head.

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: As a, you know, sultry-voiced weird radio host. You can’t get away from that, and of course The Magnus Archives, you know, Jonathan Jonny Jon Simms.

Sophie: Jonny Jon boy.

Hero: Jonny Jon boy--

Sophie: Jonny Jon Bon Jovi Simms.

Hero: Jonathan Jonny Jon Jon Bovi Simms. [laughs] Um, is like. Yeah. Definitely in it, not in a conscious way, but in a like, you can’t write high fantasy without Lord of the Rings being in the background.

Sophie: Yes, exactly. I think it’s totally natural to--for the things that have come before you in a genre to influence you--

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: --and to pretend that they haven’t is just to lie.

Hero: It’s just silliness.

Sophie: Just silliness.

Hero: Um, who else. Who else. I, um. Quite notoriously don’t realise I’m making references when I write. The number of times that I’ve written something that has seemed like a really, really, like quite clever callback, um, or a reference of something, and I have just done it by accident.

Sophie: Yeah, I mean just yesterday we were in the kitchen, and you told me about a very funny line that you’d written.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Where a character was commenting on another character’s amount of gay literature, to which the gay character responded, “Well yes, you have to read all these books otherwise they won’t let you do it.”

Hero: Yes.

Sophie: And I very gently informed you that that’s actually quite a famous joke from the television show Friends. Little known show, you may not have heard of it, listener.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: But um, it’s an infamous interaction between the character of Ross and his wife’s new lesbian lover.

Hero: Carol!

Sophie: Carol. Yes, Carol is the wife, Susan is the lesbian lover.

Hero: Oh, Susan is the lesbian. Well, they’re both lesbians.

Sophie: They’re both lesbians. Good for them.

Hero: Famously. Good for them.

Sophie: Um, but yeah, so and you were baffled by--[laughs]

Hero: I was shocked. I had no idea. I have seen Friends.

Sophie: Yep.

Hero: Quite a lot of it. I don’t--I um, yes. So, if--if you’re hearing influence, there is a non-zero chance I have consumed that media, chewed it up, composted it, and turned it into the Presenter. But I am… a fool.

Sophie: Yes. Exactly. Um, and I also think that, um, the Presenter, speaking as someone who knows you and is your friend, I think the Presenter is quite often some of the very bits of just you.

Hero: Awww.

Sophie: ‘Cause I think you give--

Hero: Shucks.

Sophie: You do, though! You give excellent advice, and I think you’re a very level-headed...

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] Sensible person. But no, I--

Hero: [continues laughing] Nobody’s ever said that about me.

Sophie: I know.

Hero: Nobody has ever said that about me. I think, I think the Narra--the Presenter is often saying things that I would like someone to say to me.

Sophie: Yeah, or kind of--

Hero: Or wish somebody--

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: --had said to me.

Sophie: Or wish you’d been able to say to someone.

Hero: Exactly.

Sophie: It’s the perfect advice that, you know, you walk away from an interaction with someone, thinking, “Oh, I should have said that,” and it’s that. You’re giving yourself--

Hero: It’s very funny to me that you’re like, oh, you’re such a sensi--I once burst out laughing when somebody that their cat had died?

Sophie: I’ve done that as well.

Hero: Because I was just taken aback and nervous. And… I’m not actually somebody who many of my friends come to for advice. Uh, I--but if I--if you give me time to think.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: I can, I can get there. So yeah.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: Yeah, that’s. That’s fine. Yeah, I did um, one of my friends once came to school very upset, and I was like, oh what’s wrong. And she said, my cat died. And I didn’t burst out laughing at that part, but then she said, “he had kitty AIDS.”

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: And I just--I mean--

Hero: Jesus.

Sophie: Those two things--you know, cat death and AIDS. Not funny. But put--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Put the phrase “kitty AIDS” in one mouth, and I could not stop laughing, and she didn’t speak to me for quite some time after that.

Hero: Oh, I’m not shocked

[Title music fades in: slow, bluesy jazz. It plays throughout the closing credits.]

H.R. Owen

And on that inspiring note, we come to the end of the first half of the our Q&A. The second half will be posted next Thursday.

Thanks again to Sophie B for joining me, and a very special thank you to our beautiful volunteer, Rachel, who produced the transcript.

Hello to our latest supporter on Patreon, Aazeal! Join them at

You can keep in touch and get the latest news about bonus content by following us on Tumblr @MonstrousAgonies and on Twitter @Monstrous_Pod. You can also submit letters and prompts for agonies through our social media, on our website, and by email.

This podcast is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The theme tune is Dakota by Unheard Music Concepts.

Thanks for listening, and remember - the real monsters are the friends we made on the way.

[Fade to silence]


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