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Season Three Q&A - Part One

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Monstrous Agonies Season 3 Q&A Part One Transcript

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

Hero: Hello, friends and welcome to the Season Three Q&A. Just in case you've managed to get here without realising this already, I'm Hero, the creator of Monstrous Agonies, and I was answering your questions with Sophie B., who plays the Understudy. As always with these Q&As, we were not recording under strict studio conditions, so please interpret this sound quality generously.

Sophie: Let's go, let's go! Here we are for the--the last time.

Hero: [gasp]

Sophie: What I really love about this Q&A, the last one, is that you've sent me the questions and finally, here at the final frontier, you have arranged the questions for me into some semblance--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --of order and categories, so I don't have to do it.

Hero: Well, I've been taking responsibilities away from you slowly all season, so I was like--

Sophie: In order to prove that I have less worth than you, and so you get more in the divorce.

Hero: Exactly! Exactly.

Sophie: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: I understand.

Hero: So I could be like, “Oh, honest, Your Honour, they don't even do anything. They didn't even order the Qs for the Q&A, let alone--”

Sophie: Have their own episode or anything, no.

Hero: Look, in fairness I fully intended for you to have your own episode, but then I don't know what I did to my spreadsheet this season, but I [bleep]ed it. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: It's the only way I can describe what happened.

Sophie: Yeahhh.

Hero: To my careful--like, I was like, okay. It's the last season. You're gonna sit down and do your spreadsheet, and you're gonna, like, plot it, and it's gonna make sense, and there's gonna be an Understudy episode in the usual place 'cause that's great, and we love that. Um, and--and all of these like, plot beats are gonna happen in sensible places, and I know what those are, and it's gonna be great. And it just all... [bleep] the bed, really.

Sophie: It did all go a bit out the window, didn't it.

Hero: Very quickly and--and irrevocably. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Out the window! Like, it wasn't on the windowsill. It was gone. It was down on the garden, running across the lawn towards the trees.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: It was...

Sophie: It was eloping with its childhood sweetheart.

Hero: It was... off it [bleep]-ed.

Sophie: Yeah. Come on. I'm gonna moderate you now. I'm gonna mod you so hard--

Hero: Ooh.

Sophie: --and we're gonna go into that first question. So this comes from Alex, and first of all they just want to know: how are you, Hero?

Hero: I'm pretty good thanks, Alex.

Sophie: Yeah. They wanna know how I am. And I'm pretty good as well.

Hero: Wow. Well, we're doing great.

Sophie: Isn't that great? And um, and they also want to know if we remembered to drink water today. Have you drank some water today, Hero?

Hero: I did. I'm drinking some water right now. Um, with my other mouth. That is not in front of a microphone.

Sophie: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Hero: How about you, Sophie? Hydrated?

Sophie: I am. I drank some water at work, and then yeah. And then I had a Bellini when I got home, which probably has some water in it somewhere.

Hero: When I was visiting you was when I realized that a Bellini is not a small pancake.

Sophie: [giggles] No, sweetheart. No.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Almost--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --but not quite.

Hero: Almost!

[Sophie and Hero laugh]

Sophie: Ohhh.

Hero: I think I'd prefer the pancake, to be honest.

Sophie: Uh, do you want to talk about your podcast for a bit?

Hero: I'd love to. If only I had some questions to prompt me.

Sophie: Well luckily for you, people listened to this podcast you made, and--and they want to know things about it. Caspian wants to know, so what was your favourite part of the creation of the podcast? It acknowledges that a lot of people say that their favourite part of podcasting is working with other people, but you, quite infamously, hardly worked with anyone making this. So was there some other element of making it that stuck out to you as a favourite bit?

Hero: Um, yeah. This one made me laugh because I don't--like obviously I know that I make Monstrous Agonies. But the idea that I made it on my own is ridiculous. Um, [laughs] 'cause my favourite part of making this podcast has been working with other people. It's just that the other people have been all of the listeners [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Um. Yeah, but genuinely the bit has... that really like, lit me up and I was amazed and--and that made me go, "Oh wow, this is something special" was the response from listeners to the submissions and to having that opportunity to--to sort of build this world and this story, uh, with me. So, “this podcast is mostly just you”, it's not really! [laughs] You know. I'm the conduit, but um. Yeah. When I look at--when I look at my precious spreadsheet, it's so packed with submissions and with letters and with ideas from other people. Yeah, that it's that. Honestly, it's been--it's been that collaborative creation.

Sophie: Yeah, I was about to say like, it's--it's fully just been such a collaborative process for you, and I know that you're very--as someone who has edited various things for you, you have generally always been very fun to collaborative with. So--and I think that's because of how much fun--

Hero: Well, it is fun.

Sophie: --you find--exactly! Yeah! Yeah. [laughs]

Hero: Yeah. It is--like, I don't. There's--there's very few things that I've ever created that I've been like, "I on my own can do this." Creating a whole, like, three years of a world. Like... I don't think I could do that on my own! Like, I'm gotta big brain. It's not that big. [laughs]

Sophie: Quite a few of your listeners want to know kind of the--the question that always get asked during things like this, which is, "Do you have a particular favourite episode from this season?"

Hero: Um. The baby. The baby... the baby.

Sophie: The baby baby.

Hero: Um, the little. The baby baby.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: [baby voice] The little baby.

Sophie: [baby voice] The babiest baby of all time.

Hero: The babiest baby of all time! [regular voice] Um. Who doesn't want to grow up because then she'll stop being a creature. That was... great. I loved that. Um. It's also hard because like, favourite episode? Like I tend to think of them in letters rather than whole episodes. Um. I'm trying to think. What... what did I do? [laughs]

Sophie: Honestly, like, I think the... the final showdown with the CEO, like.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: I think we... we like slightly different things out of fiction? I'm like, I wanna know what those characters are doing. Whereas I think you like it sometimes when the narrative's a bit like, "oooooh." A bit wibbly--

Hero: Oooh.

Sophie: --and going off in weird directions, and so I think for me... especially because like, I--we had a lot of chats about what's going on with this character and what do they actually want and why are they such a big [bleep]-head, and all that sort of thing.

Hero: Mmm.

Sophie: And so having that come to that final confrontation and kind of having all those lovely through lines and like, the Mab of it all. I just think it was a really well-done confrontation without it being--because I know that you--you were like, "The Presenter's not gonna fight them. Like, it's not gonna be like--"

Hero: Right! [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] It's not gonna be some huge battle at the end of the world. Like, it's--

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: That's not who they are, and that's not what this is.

Hero: It's--it's one radio station standing up for--

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: --its morals. It's not, you know.

Sophie: I think it had enough successful stakes and drama and tension, while also not suddenly taking us into a whole different genre.

Hero: Mmm. I really--I tell you, my favourite bit of that was, um. The Presenter being like, "Oh my god. You pay for good reviews?"

Sophie: Yes! [laughs]

Hero: "That's pathetic."

Sophie: Yes! [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] Of just being like, "Oh, you're--'cause we knew you were... we knew you were horrid. And we assumed you were stupid. Um, but you're also really sad." [laughs]

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: I texted Dom after getting their audio for that [laughs] and I was like, "Oh, they're such a [bleep]. You play them so well!"

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And Dom was like. "Thaaanks."

Sophie: Yeaaah.

Hero: "I guess!"

Sophie: I think that's a very high compliment.

Hero: [laughs] My favourite episode, uh, I think might be--from season three--might be the CEO's episode.

Sophie: Oh, yeah, okay. No, that is...

Hero: It was really fun.

Sophie: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Hero: Just to--just to sit there and be like. How do I cause the most psychic damage to the people who are expecting a nice, normal Monstrous Agonies episode.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] Oh, also the um. I really love the... the season three finale. I think I did a really [bleep]-ing good job.

Sophie: You did.

Hero: Um, and again, I think it's--I think it's like. Very Monstrous Agonies. Like, the fact that the two letters are like, a puppy play werewolf?

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And somebody speaking like, pseudo-Middle English and--and talking about Chilli Heatwave Doritos. That just felt like--I was like, yeah, yeah this is real Monstrous Agonies. [laughs]

Sophie: Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, so Ella--she specifically wants to know if you have a favourite episode of the entire show.

Hero: Um... so I--I do listen to Monstrous Agonies quite often. It is my favourite podcast.

Sophie: [giggles]

Hero: I mean it's--it's exactly what I like!

Sophie: Yeah! Absolutely.

Hero: [laughs] Um. I go back to the bonus episodes quite often because I think they just, um, they were really indulgent. And they were just me enjoying things and doing things that I liked and thought were interesting. And then realizing that you can--you can get actors to say... anything.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: You can--you can make Alan Burgon say, [unfortunately Shrek-esque Scottish accent] "I love to SLARP!"


Hero: [regular voice] And he just has to say that!

Sophie: He just has to say it.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: The consummate professionals.

Hero: He just has to say it.

Sophie: Absolutely.

Hero: Yep. Um. So my--and my favourite one of those is probably the... immortal monk who is like, writing his like, hagiography of a saint who's like, talking to God and oh, it's just--it's truly just me being like, wouldn't this be cool. [laughs] And burbling on.

Sophie: Yeah, that is... very H.R. Owen. Is it a bit mortifying if I say that I think my favourite episodes are the Q&As?

Hero: [laughs] That's not mortifying.

Sophie: I just think we're really fun, and I really like talking to you.

Hero: We're just really fun.

Sophie: So.

Hero: It's nice hanging out!

Sophie: It's nice, and then I listen to them, and I'm like. Oh I'm hanging out with my pal. So that's nice.

Hero: Um, also the um. Season two finale with the AI who's raising the little mandrake.

Sophie: Yes. I mean, I think the--the AI voice is possibly the pinnacle of your accents? Like, it is...

Hero: But also--but also, I think, talking episode--because the other letter in that one is the guy who's been left his uncle's not-decaying body in a big coffin.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: And that is like, that was--when I realized that all of the letter slots could be filled by submissions, I set a few aside for myself and that was one that was like, absolutely like. Hardline, going in--somebody--like my uncle has left his body to me, and it's weird.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And I really, really love that. Yeah, that's one of my favourites for sure.

Sophie: So the AI obviously, one of your top tier voices. And paperwizards, um, has a whole question about that which is--first of all a compliment, which I see you've left in rather than just skipping to the question.

Hero: [indignantly] I--

Sophie: It is that your accents throughout the show have been phenomenal. [insistently repeating] Phenomenal.

Hero: Yeah, paperwizards didn't actually say that. I just--

Sophie: You just typed it up. Yeah, I knew that. Um, but what were the hardest accents that you had to do? Or were there any that you flat out refused to do, for instance?

Hero: [laughs knowingly] There were. One person asked for a French accent on their letter, and I said no. [laughs] I took one look at it, and I was like. Uh, [French accent] non. [laughs]

Sophie: Mais non.

Hero: Mais non. [laughs] Parce que... je suis... [bleep] á [French accent] le France [regular voice] accent.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] Eh, yeah. So... I didn't do a French accent. Somebody asked for a--a Brummie accent, for a Midlands accent? And um... I was like, I'm not doing that because I tried to do one with Byamba the Mongolian Death Worm, who was from the Midlands, and it's... fine? [groaning] Ehhh. I don't really wanna put more of my bad Brummie accent into the world.

Sophie: I mean, I think considering--considering that you, again, are a single person doing this by yourself without any sort of accent coach or anything, just with a lot of vim.

Hero: And vigour!

Sophie: And vigour. Some might say, vim and vigour.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Taking all those things into consideration, you've done a very good job of a lot of quite tricky, and very varied accents.

Hero: Eh, yeah. I think they get less varied as they go on. I think I get quite lazy. [laughs]

Sophie: Well, I think--I think going back to season one, I do think you were like. "Every--every letter, new accent, let's go. Something different."

Hero: But I was also... like, also in season one, I think I was like, "Yeah! Accents for everyone!" But also hadn't quite internalized just how much you have to overact when you're voice acting?

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: So like, like my--my sweet mum. I said something about like, how hard it is to do the accents, like fairly recently, and she went, "Oh, I didn't realize you were doing accents." [laughing in disbelief]

Sophie: [cackling]

Hero: Like, oh! Thanks, mum!

Sophie: Oh my god, how devastating!

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Thanks, Sue!

Sophie: Ohhhhh.

Hero: But in fairness, in quite a lot of season one...

Sophie: Well, I think a good fallback was always--you were like, "I'll just do it and then speed it up! Or slow it down."


Sophie: "That's a new accent!"

Hero: Yeahhhh.

Sophie: And you know what? It is. It is.

Hero: And it counts. Um. Yeah, and 'cause there's all sorts of qualities to voice that you change when you're doing voices.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Right? So like, um there's accent, which is one of them. And I kind of... basically? Just go between Northern and Southern English. Like, there's not--there's a little bit of class difference going on, but basically that's it. With a few outliers like Nessie's sister or the--the trans Boston lizard lady.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] Um, and then there's all of these other qualities so like, are you breathing through your nose? Are you breathing from your chest? Are you pitching it up high into your head or are you speaking from like, down in the belly? And are you going quickly or slowly and all of these other things. You know, trying to--trying to vary that but also realize that if I'm speaking [pitches voice down] from down in my chest and [slows voice down] slowing it down, and going Southern [regular voice] I'm just doing the Presenter again, and [laughs] I need to do something else, you know?

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: But actually, that--I mean, I do know exactly which was the hardest one to do and it was the Coloradan accent because Colorado doesn't have an accent that I can tell. Maybe all of the Coloradans in the audience are really, really mad at me for saying that. But somebody was like, "I love that you gave him like, a bit of a twang."

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And it's like I just can't do an American accent without a bit of a twang! I don't know what to tell you! [laughs]

Sophie: See, for me, if I try and think okay, what do I think about Colorado, all I can think about is that Vine that's like, "Say Col-o-rad-o!" then the guy skis past really quick [laughs] going "I'M A GIRAFFE!" So to me--

Hero: See, for me--to me, it's the line in--do you know that um, country song where they got all the old country boys to sing about being a highwayman that--that one? [sings in a country voice] A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado. And just that little bit like, [slurs vowels while singing lowly] Bould-o Rohl-no. [laughs] Like, I just really like that bit.

Sophie: That's it. A place called Boulder. Boulder, Colorado.

Hero: [singing in deep country accent] A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado.

Sophie: Is it a Monstrous Agonies--

Hero: [continues singing] I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below.

Sophie: --Q&A if one of us hasn't burst into song? No.

Hero: [singing] They buried me in that great tomb that holds no sound. [voice gets even deeper] But I am still around.


Sophie: Are you…?

Hero: [singing] I'll always be around.

Sophie: [bursts out laughing]

Hero: [singing] And around-- [laughs]

Sophie: Uh, Michael would like to know which episode was the most fun to perform?

Hero: Uhhh. Baby. Was fun. Baby Creature. Trans Bostonian lizard lady and her [Boston accent] moisturizer! Great craic. The Middle English was really hard but really fun. And I'm like-- [starts and stops a few times] So I said to someone, I was like. They were um, texting me and they were like "Oh yeah, yeah, you did really, really well." And I was like, I mean it's not really authentic pronunciation. Like, I don't know how to pronounce Middle English and like, even the things that I did know I had to change it for the sake of like, people who are listening who don't know, and like I don't know if it like, translates properly. And they were like, if anybody calls you on that, they are a [bleep]. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] And so I'm like. I'm like oh, I didn't pronounce my Middle English properly.

Sophie: That kind of actually, sort of uh, comes around to a couple of questions that came from both Jan or Yan Caltrop, one of the two, I'm not sure--

Hero: I think they like that you can pronounce it either way.

Sophie: Oh, I like that for them.

Hero: Yeah. It's like a reversible windbreaker. You can wear it… either way.

Sophie: [voice dripping with sarcasm and disdain] It's exactly, exactly like--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --do you know what I was thinking when I was thinking about how you can pronounce it either Jan or Yan, I was thinking, god, do you know what--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --this is... literally... exactly like a reversible windbreaker. That was the first thing--

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: --that popped into my head.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: I think about windbreakers quite a lot, as someone who really loves practical fashion.

Hero: Do you?

Sophie: Yeah, it's um--

Hero: [snorts]

Sophie: And I love--actually, I--

Hero: [laughing] And I'm sure windbreaker is the word that you use for your windbreaker. Or anorak. Perhaps cagoule. All of these--

Sophie: [serious] Okay, no. Stop.

Hero: --all of these normal words for people to say.

Sophie: A windbreaker, an anorak, and a cagoule are three completely different pieces of clothing!

Hero: [long-suffering sigh] Okay. [clears throat] Okay. We have to move on.

Sophie: [disdainfully] Windbreaker and a cagoule--oh do we? Now that I'm getting impassioned about something? [laughs]

Hero: [quickly, breathily] They're the same.

Sophie: And not--

Hero: [low demonic voice] They're the same!

Sophie: No. They're not. Oh, no. Okay. [takes a breath] So both Jan and MythicMenagerie have a couple of questions regarding research. So obviously doing the Middle English episode you will have fallen down one of your typical research holes, 'cause I know--

Hero: I love the hole.

Sophie: --you love to research. So um, MythicMenagerie wants to know about some of the fun things that you learned about researching for the show, and Jan wants to know sort of, you know, if there something that you maybe didn't end up using, but kind of was like ooh, that's interesting. And then you were--disappeared down a Wikipedia rabbit hole for five days.

Hero: Yes. I, uhhh... I have no satisfying answer for this because I go down research holes so often and so deeply that I have no real way of discerning which were Monstrous Agonies-related and which weren't.

Sophie: Yeah, it's--it's every single day with you, it's at the drop of a hat. Like [laughs] you just...

Hero: Yeah, I think... [starts and stops a few times] So also, 'cause for me research is like, my starting point? Like I find it really, really, really hard to write if I don't have... I kind of need to have the scene set quite well for myself already. Like I remember last season someone was uh, an underground creature who had evolved to not be able to see above ground. So naturally [laughs] before I could start writing, I had to go and research different kinds of cave creature and different kinds of animals that have evolved to not have eyes or to have vestigial eyes or to have eyes that work completely differently than us or that have all of these different senses that help them move around in a place where there just isn't any light. Um, and only like. Half a sentence of that actually went into the letter. But I needed it so that the person who had written the letter could feel like a real person and could feel like a--a real problem. And also could feel like a real creaturely problem?

Sophie: Yeah, you don't want to fall down the kind of like, the--what I would call the Zootopia Trap, as it were.

Hero: [bewildered laugh]

Sophie: Where it's like, "This is about racism!" And then you get a bit further into the film and you're like, this is--

Hero: [high-pitched] It's really bad if that's about racism!

Sophie: [high-pitched considering noise]

Hero: [even higher-pitched considering noise]

Sophie: So it's not. It's not. And it's the idea, I think, yeah, as you said like, so many of the letters start out as sort of a 1:1 real world metaphor.

Hero: And--and--and, you know, even--so there's the researching thing so that the monsters feel real. Then there's like, um. So MythicMenagerie actually um, I think it was them who wrote in a letter about uh, uh a shapeshifter who also has Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: And that was... so great to have the opportunity to actually go and learn about DID. And then to learn about like, different kinds of plurality, different kinds of systems, different ways that DID can--can look for different people, and that that's not the only way that people can be plural, and all of these things. So the research is a really nice way to sort of ping off from that and go, yeah what is it actually--what is it like if you're--if you're a refugee and you just moved here. What--what do you have to worry about?

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: You know?

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: And yeah, this is for a letter about someone who's falling in and out of time, but let's... yeah. Not sort of use it as an opportunity, but also sort of use it as an opportunity I suppose to sort of develop my own empathy for... for different people

Sophie: No, I was going to say. I think for you, researching whether it is about... finding out what particular kind of mole creature or the underground whatever or like about--

Hero: Very few of them were moles, actually.

Sophie: Very few were moles. So there you go! You see--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --but this is--this is 'cause I think um, so--so one of the questions that sort of drew my eye here, and I want to talk about this is um, so both Chris and Teethworm say, you know, are there any stories or folklore that you sort of learned about or wanted to include that got cut for time or that you haven't used, and um, and emberdune, they also say you know, have you got any like letters and submissions or ideas leftover, and are you going to do anything with that? And I think obviously you can answer all of those things yourself, but I know, knowing you, anything you've put to one side or learned about is going to crop up at some point in a future project.

Hero: Yeah. Yeah, I think of it as like compost, really. Like I--I think it's--it's healthy to put lots and lots of things into your compost bin, and then it mulches down and comes out in interesting ways, you know?

Sophie: I think, and just to prove--just to prove how much you do composting and reusing things and stuff, genuinely think you've said that on all three Q&As now we've talked about--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --your--your mulchy compost brain bin.

Hero: Well, it's good! Brain compost!

Sophie: Yeah, it is!

Hero: Put--put some stuff in your brain compost! It's good for you.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Yeah, um--

Sophie: So I guess--

Hero: Are there any leftovers?

Sophie: I think, yeah, surely. Yeah.

Hero: Well, so we have--there were--there were five submissions specifically from Orbworb [laughs] uh, who uh sent them in in season one and then I was like, 'cause--I think Orbworb is a they? I'm gonna say they. I'm sorry Orbworb, please forgive me. Um, uh, they sent in like a lot in season one, and I used a lot of them, but I was like, oh I'm going to try to space them out, and sure, I'll have loads of time to fit them in in season two. And then loads of people submitted in season two and season three, so I have five little suggestions from Orbworb sitting there that will never get used. Um, and then I still have like, a full spreadsheet of ideas that I wrote out when I was first sort of coming up with Monstrous Agonies and first started thinking about what kind of letters we might use. Um, my personal favourite is the gestalt bee consciousness AKA hive mind [guffaws]

Sophie: [guffaws] You're so farting funny.

Hero: So farting funny.

Sophie: Yeah, but that will crop up in something in the future, I can feel it. 'Cause you're so pleased with it, so it'll show up.

Hero: I'm sooo pleased! Yeah. So there's--there's--there's tons. I don't think there's any particular stories, like plot points because there's so little plot.

Sophie: I think... We had… Probably about--Mmm, maybe a few episodes into season two, you and I had a big video chat where you kind of had--and I'm sure you won't mind me telling people this--you were a little bit like, "Wh--what's the story? What's--"

Hero: I had a huge flap.

Sophie: You had a big flap worrying about, you'd set this thing up and then you were like. "But I sort of didn't really think it through. I've set up an event, and then where do we go?

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: So we had a really good productive chat, and then your laptop [laughs] died. And that--the notes from that chat were--

Hero: Just gone.

Sophi: --lost. Lost to the sands of time.

Hero: And that's how we ended up with such incredible plot points as, "A wizard did it."

Sophie: A wizard did it!

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Oh, but how did--how did--how did the CEO make the static? Intern holding [through laughter] a crystal to up to the radio!

Sophie: But know this, listeners. There is an alternate reality in which Hero's computer--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --never crashed, and those notes stayed and you got a totally different Monstrous Agonies resolution and story.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: Um. But we don't live in that world, we live in this one.

Hero: Eh, and we don't remember any of it.

Sophie: We don't remember it, no.

Hero: I don't remember any of it.

Sophie: No. So even though we lost all of those plot points, Taze still says that the main cast in Monstrous Agonies are incredibly written and wants to know whether or not you have a particular process that you use to build characters or do you just kind of wing it as you go along.

Hero: You'll be shocked to know I wing it. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] What a revelation.

Hero: [high-pitched] What?!

Sophie: We could just--we could just take that sound byte and have that for all of the answers in this Q&A. [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] In fairness... characters, I find, particularly easy. Like I find plot extremely difficult to write and to come up with, which is one of the reasons that Monstrous Agonies doesn't really have any. And any that it does have is like, so character-driven, you know, like only the Presenter could have got themselves into that situation. You know?

Sophie: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Hero: Um, and only the CEO would put them there, and only Mab would be Mabbing about in the background, during...

Sophie: [laughs] She does love to Mab about.

Hero: She does Mab about, doesn't she? Um, so I don't--I've never been someone who sits down and does--you know, I know some people like really swear by like, doing questionnaires about their characters and like building them from the ground up, or like starting with an archetype and moving out from there. All mine just roll up, just sort of fully-formed? You know, like--like the Presenter. I knew who the Presenter was as soon as--like I didn't. It's not even... it feels almost like lying to say that I made them up, you know? I just... they were just there. And then everything that happens, and the way that they react to that is like. Yeah, because that's what they would do.

Sophie: So that actually kind of leads us onto Ella asking, you know, did you always know that Mab and the Presenter were going to have that romantic tension. Was it a plan since the beginning or did it develop over time?

Hero: It was so obvious.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: It was so obvious that if you put the person of Mab in a room with the person of the Presenter, they would hate [bleep] and then regular [bleep] and then fall out and then get married and get divorced and fall in love again, and like that was--it was just clear that--that that was what they were gonna do, you know? Like you could put those two people in any universe in any situation, and they would have the same ridiculous [laughs] um, you know, emotional plot with each other. Because that's just, it's--it's just who they are, I think.

Sophie: Yeah, I think--I think as well like, from a listening standpoint, obviously there's that first sort of hinted at relationship, but I think once Mab shows up in the flesh, you're like oh, okay, so this is... this is it.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: This is--this is where this is going.

Hero: Here she is!

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Here she is.

Sophie: I sent you, uh, a picture that was Roger Rabbit and Jessica Rabbit, and I was like: that's them. That's Mab and the Presenter. [laughs]

Hero: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: You can also substitute for Kermit and Miss Piggy.

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: I think--I think there's that kind of blend of those two and you've got it, and it's obvious, and there's no other way for it to possibly be.

Hero: No. They're just--they're written in the stars, what can I say? [laughs]

Sophie: Graverobinn, um, it wants to know--well first of all it says "Hey, dad." Which--

Hero: Hi, kiddo!

Sophie: Um, you know, people call you dad.

Hero: People call me dad. They do.

Sophie: They do!

Hero: Um, I made a post on Tumblr on Father's Day that was like, um, "Hey! If your dad sucks or if you just want another one, I'm your dad now!" And people really liked that post a lot more than I thought they were going to. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] Yep. So uh, you are dad now. Congratulations on the fatherhood.

Hero: Thank you.

Sophie: You're welcome.

Hero: I'm gonna--I'm gonna be weird about it. I'm gonna be weird about it. Like every dad before me. [laughs]

Sophie: Yeah, perfect. That's all we can expect from a dad. So one of your children asks, "Are there any particular pieces of media that influence Monstrous Agonies?" Like either things that you actively used to influence you at the time or maybe listening back to episodes, you were like oh God, that's really like XYZ, you know?

Hero: There were--there were quite a lot of letters, specific letters that either were consciously riffing on another piece of media or I realized after. So I didn't realize until I was--I think I was in the middle of recording the troll letter.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And I was like, this is a Discworld troll!

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: [laughs] That's what that is! And it's so funny 'cause it's such a Discworld troll! So that was--that was one where it's like, there's, uh, Peter Wimsey. Lord Peter Wimsey is in this as a ghost who is haunting his big collection of books and pestering the poor archival assistant who's trying to restore them. Like, that's--that's Wimsey, and I knew it was Wimsey at the time, and it's very obviously Wimsey if you know Wimsey. And like, there's a Good Omens letter where one of them is like, "We saved the world! I had a sword, it was on fire." [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. But no, yeah. I think what's the point in making a fun show if you don't get to slip in all these fun little things that you love?

Hero: Yeah! And then I think there's also like a whole raft of things that are always going to be influencing everything that I write? Diana Wynne Jones is always going to be in there. Like, Ursula Le Guin is always going to be in there. Um. Actually, that whole thing about um, not wanting the end of Monstrous Agonies to be like "And then the Presenter PUNCHES the CEO in the FACE and does a ROUNDHOUSE KICK and it's really COOL," and like, a lot of that was because growing up--growing up a Quaker and--and growing up, raised by a pacifist, it was really important to me that Ursula Le Guin's stuff was like. Really clearly not about punching evil in the face. [laughs]

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: Which, when you're a kid trying to read fantasy, is like. There's not a lot of children's fantasy books that aren't about punching evil in the face. [laughs]

Sophie: No, you're right. Most of them are big battles and...

Hero: Yeahhh. Yeah. I mean, I also loved The Hobbit, which obviously does have a big battle, but Bilbo gets bonked on the head, and you miss the whole thing, which I just... loved. Um. And yeah, so those kinds of things, the kinds of things that you could like--like, it's pretty Prachett-y in a lot of places. And it's like [wibbly voice] well, yeah, of course it is. [regular voice] Like. [laughs] I can't not be!

Sophie: Yeah, I know, but it's--it's funny, isn't it? 'Cause I think, I think sometimes people shy away from the idea that something that they love so much is clearly such an influence on their work, but that's all anyone's ever been doing, you know?

Hero: Right.

Sophie: It's just being influenced and influenced and being made up of all these little things that you love.

Hero: Right. And like, if somebody turns round and is like oh my God, that letter felt like Terry Pratchett wrote it? That's amazing! Like, I'm absolutely like, walking on clouds, like! [laughs] What a compliment, you know?

Sophie: Yeah, I think the way that you've decided to resolve the conflict at the end of the season was, as you said, kind of going off the back of all those heroes of yours and whatnot. Like, doing it in a way that is quite definite, but without having to resort to violence or anything, and obviously the big part of that was Station coming to life and chatting on. So Alex, they ask, when did the idea of having Station have its own voice come into play, and also Alex was one of the voices of Station! So--

Hero: Thank you, Alex!

Sophie: Said that it was a very moving experience, and I think a lot of people would probably feel the same way who got to be a part of it, feeling that they got to be part of Monstrous Agonies. And obviously that's, as you said--

Hero: Yeah!

Sophie: Like you said, that collaborative thing with the letters and everything, I think it's very different. So when--when did you have that idea? When did you know that's how you wanted to do it?

Hero: Um, I think we--I think you and I had another one of my panicked "oh God I don't know where I'm going" video chats.

Sophie: [laughs] Mm-hmm.

Hero: I think I was like two weeks in to the--to season three, and I didn't know [through laughter] how it was going to end.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And I was like, "Sophiiiiiie!!!! HELP!!!" Um, yeah. And--and I think it--it--as soon as--as soon as we sort of noodled our way to a non-violent ending.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: A non-violent confrontation that also... it was important to me that we respected the fact that, like, we aren't... Not to sort of waffle on. As individuals, there is a--there is a hard limit on how much we can do?

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: And we've been sold, on purpose, a lie about how much that is, right? We've been told that we can buy ourselves out of capitalism, and that we can--we can watch the right TV shows and make the world a better place, and that we can consume our way to goodness. Um, and this is... bull-[bleep]. This is nonsense. Um. This is a useful lie for the people who are trying to sell us things to consume. And a useful lie for the people who are actually responsible. And it's massively unhealthy because we take on this huge, huge pressure and huge responsibility for things that like… You know, I was talking to one of our mutual friends a little while ago who was, as we all do regularly, having a bit of a panic about climate change. Um, and I was like. You gotta remember, you are a slightly smarter than average monkey.


Hero: It--[laughs] There is--okay? There is a hard limit to the amount of influence you are--you do have and that you are supposed to have. So concentrate on the things that you can do, not because they're going to save the world, but because they're good for you? It's good for you. It's healthy and--emotionally and spiritually healthy for you to live in a way that aligns with your own ideals. Like. That's just it. It's good for you. You'll feel better. And to kind of reassert that we have limited choices in that, and we're all sort of tied into these--these structures and these systems, it's very, very hard to--to unpick yourself from. So I didn't want the end of Monstrous Agonies--I don't mind making a joke about like, "We know the people who cause climate change, and you can just kill and eat them!" Like, that's funny. But for the finale, I was like, yeah, but like, realistically... like, we're not going to sit there and like... undo the CEO and Apocacorp and make them not ever have been. But we can go, “it is important to choose who you listen to and where you listen and how you spend your time and you can just not engage with this.” Like, you can--you can untangle yourself from this to a degree.

Sophie: Yeah, and I think the thing that's been proven time and time again is that like, idiots, in the vein of people like the CEO, etc. Defeating them in the marketplace of ideas is all well and good, but as you said, not even giving them that platform, you know--

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: The reason why they're all sort of going "Debate me! Debate me!" it's because--

Hero: Yeah!

Sophie: --the second they get you in a debate, they can start to tell you what they think and, no, the thing is just to go, nope!

Hero: Just stop paying attention. Stop giving them airspace. Stop giving them psychological space. You know, go and--and go for a walk! Just hang out! Just phone a friend. Read a book.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: D'you know? [laughs] Just do something else! Um. I forgot what the question was.

Sophie: [laughs] It's all right, don't worry. I haven't. The question was basically about when did the idea of giving Station a voice of its own. So I think from that chat that you talked about that we had, we knew that Station was going to get involved at some point. But I think the idea of having the listeners be the voice of Station? That came a little bit later.

Hero: I think once I knew that--as soon as I knew that Station was gonna speak, I wanted it to be the listeners.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Like, those two ideas arrived at the same time. I've always liked dropping little hints about Station being a little more sentient than your average radio station. Um. So like, the fact that it is Station who chooses the letters, not the Presenter. Like they're selected by Station. The fact that Station was like, [higher voice] very excited to get Mab invited onto the show! [laughs, regular voice] Like, um, and these little things. And so it felt, I think that felt quite natural and--and like it had been foreshadowed by someone who knew what was going on.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Which is always nice when you stumble across something that's [laughs] going to look like you planned it.

Sophie: You're like oh, I've accidentally seeded this the whole time! Yeah!

Hero: Nice! Good on me! Aren't I good?

Sophie: Yeah, so obviously that was a lovely victory for you, but um. Caitlin uh, wants to know how did you, H.R. "I don't ever, ever want to put sound effects on anything" Owen--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --feel about editing that episode, both in terms of the general sound effects, and then having to create Station from everyone's voices. She does say that you did a marvellous job with it, but it was--

Hero: Thank you, Caitlin.

Sophie: It was--it was um, a job that you--it was a rod for your own back, wasn't it really. You sort of, uh.

Hero: Well weirdly, actually. So the voice of Station was actually just time-consuming. So it took me... about twenty minutes tootling around with some of the recordings to figure out how to get it to do what I wanted it to do. Because I knew exactly what I wanted it to sound like.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: I just didn't know how to make it do that.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: And then, um, it was--it was time-consuming because the response was way bigger than I thought it was going to be. Um, so I had basically taken every individual word and put them into--each word was in two different groups and then everyone who wanted to be Station got given a group, which was a list of words.

Sophie: Yeah. And you didn't miss any groups whatsoever.

Hero: Mmmm, I didn't miss any groups! I didn't miss any groups.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: All of the groups were fine. I accidentally put the word "not" in four groups instead of two, and then... which word was it, Sophie?

Sophie: "This."

Hero: “This.” And you know that because I realized I didn't have any recordings for "this" while I was making it and had to run into all of my group chats and go [breathlessly] "Hey guys, could you just uh, record yourself saying the word 'this' please? Thanks, love you." [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Um, so the word "this" is--it's really lovely, actually. It worked out really nicely 'cause it means that "this" is voiced by you, our friend Jeebs, my best friend Sean, my boyfriend Matthew, and my little mum.

Sophie: Lovely!

Hero: So it was--it actually worked out really nicely that there's just this one, one word that is like. [silly voice] This one is all of my lovely people! [laughs] [regular voice] Um, yeah. So the actual voice of Station was time-consuming, just because it was sort of fiddly, um, so each word that you hear probably took about fifteen, twenty minutes to do and because I didn't want to--the reason that I put them--put each word in two different groups was because I didn't want to have the same voices saying the same word over and over again--

Sophie: Yes.

Hero: --if that makes sense.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: So I ended up with, lets say twenty people saying "Station" and then Station I think gets said five different times, so it's five different combinations of those twenty--

Sophie: So that it's not going to end up sounding like, an Alexa saying it.

Hero: Exactly. Exactly. And then I--I also went and got some words out of the bonus episodes because, I tell you what, Alan Burgon can really say [affects voice] NOT. [laughs] Like he really [bleep]-ing says it from his chest. [affects voice again] NEVER. [laughs] Um, yeah. So that was uh, just time-consuming. And also a bit emotional because a lot of people sent in really, really lovely messages with theirs as well. Which I had not anticipated, and it did make me feel a bit overwhelmed in a good way. I think the children say verklempt. So the actual--the actual hard part of both that episode and the--the previous seasons when the CEO turns up and is like [Australian accent] "Oh, I'm gonna kick yer bloody doors in."


Hero: Um. [laughs] When--yeah, that's what the CEO sounds like.

Sophie: Oh, we need a bonus episode of Monstrous Agonies for you to do that accent the whole time.

Hero: But those--any time where... 'cause I think I can just about manage to make it sound as if Mab and the Presenter are in the same room together, but trying to make it sound like the CEO is also in that room, but they're also not all stood in the same place in the studio, and they're also not all right in front of the microphone, but also you can actually hear them. Um, actually the smooching at the end of season three--

Sophie: Ohhhh. I was--

Hero: Good smooches.

Sophie: I was--

Hero: You were worried and you didn't tell me you were worried! I think that's the thing that really struck me.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Is that as soon as that episode went up, you were like, oh I was really worried this kissing was going to sound [bleep]! And I was like, well you didn't tell me that.

Sophie: Well, yeah. Because what good would it have done? It's not that I doubted your ability. It's more a personal thing in that...

Hero: Mm-hmm.

Sophie: Kissing doesn't sound nice.

Hero: Kissing doesn't sound nice.

Sophie: Kissing doesn't sound nice. So when I saw... my first reaction was obviously excitement.

Hero: Sure.

Sophie: As a fan of this lovely pairing. But my second reaction was, "Oh no. I'm going to have to listen to kissing noises." But! Obviously, you have an excellent scene partner, and you did a very, very good job because it was fun to listen to. It was very fun.

Hero: I think--I think the key thing is that it feels like that they're just [makes kissy noises]. And not--

Sophie: Oh, no.

Hero: --slippy slidey tongues.

Sophie: No, it gets... Oh, I think it sounds a bit slippy slidey at points.

Hero: Do you think it sounds slippy slidey tongues?! Oh, that's very mild--I think you need to listen to more podcasts to hear just how bad kissing can sound.

Sophie: No, it's not.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: No, but I think it's good slippy slidey. Not like as in l can hear the slurping, but as in--

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: --there were just some--some very deeply satisfied little murmurs.

Hero: Mmm. Yes. The grunts are what makes it.

Sophie: Yeah. It implied without me having to hear someone's tongue go on a spin cycle. You know?

Hero: Yeah. Yeah. That's what mine does. It's like a little propeller.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Just-- [laughs]

Sophie: Like one of those little caps that little schoolboys wear.

Hero: Yeah, exactly.

Sophie: Like brrrr [imitates spinning propeller noise]

Hero: Exactly.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: Yeah. Yes. So the hard part is actually making people sound like they're in the same room, and uh, there's lots and lots of things that um. When you get the actual sound of it, it doesn't sound like it? You know.

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: I think that's one of the things with kissing. The sound of kissing doesn't sound like kissing. If Liz and I had made out in a sound booth, it wouldn't have sounded like Mab and the Presenter were smooching. Um, most of the Mab and Presenter kissing is me kissing my hand.

Sophie: [laughs] Perfect.

Hero: 'Cause that was just the easiest, and just being a bit like [high-pitched voice] "ooh, wasn't that lovely?" [laughs] "Ooh hand, nobody knows me like you do." [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] There's quite a few people who both A) are making a lot of like, Hero puns on your name. Hero's journey, you being their Hero, etc. There's a lot of that. So if you made that joke in your Q&A question, know that I've seen it, and I'm holding space for you, but I'm not gonna say it.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: Okay? So other than making puns about your name, quite a lot of your valued listeners sort of want to know, what have you learned making the podcast, you know. What were the learning curves? And what do you think is good advice for anyone setting out on their own podcast journey?

Hero: Not including the mid-season break, I took as many weeks off in season three as I took in season and two combined.

Sophie: And do you think that was healthy, Hero? Do you think--

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: --that was a good way to do a podcast?

Hero: Yeah, I think that might have been the right decision.

Sophie: Mmmm.

Hero: I also had way more delayed episodes, episodes that just came out the day after, on the Friday. Just 'cause. Um. So yeah. So that was a big learning curve of just um, acknowledging that yeah, I want this to be a professional-ish production, but it's not. Not actually a professional, not actually getting paid for this. I am just sitting in a wardrobe making it every week. And it's okay if--if the schedule gets a little unprofessional because of that.

Sophie: Well, okay. I'm gonna--

Hero: No, not unprofessional as a--

Sophie: No, no, no, no, no. You said it's--no, you have to listen to me.

Hero: [groans]

Sophie: Bop you on the nose because it's not unprofessional. You are a professional, first of all.

Hero: [continues groaning]

Sophie: You literally are. You are. And it's not unprofessional to take a break--

Hero: Yes.

Sophie: --and it wouldn't be unprofessional--

Hero: Yes, no, I agree. But I mean in terms of like, you know. There are production companies who, first of all, are a production company. And that's not what this is. It's a much smaller scale production, and I think trying to compare myself to large-scale productions, and be like "Well, why don't I have loads of merch?" And it's like, 'cause you can't be [bleep]-ed, pal. Like. [laughs]

Sophie: Yeah.

Hero: You don't have any merch because you couldn't be arsed doing it! Yeah, so and my advice for people starting a podcast would be rest more.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: And also don't shoot yourself in the foot by being like, super ambitious 'cause, you know, so many of the podcasts that we love as podcast fans are like, full-cast, fully-realized soundscaped worlds. You know, you kind of--I think in your head, you're like. "Yeah! Everybody says that podcasting has a really low barrier for entry because all you need is a microphone!” And it's like. [high-pitched uncertain voice] Yeah? Ehhhh. [laughs]

Sophie: But also... quite a lot of people have quite a bit more than a microphone.

Hero: Yeahhh.

Sophie: Quite a lot of people have a big studio and producers--

Hero: Yeah.

Sophie: --and sponsors and money.

Hero: Money and the thing that money--that money... gets you is time. So one of the reasons that I've been able to do Monstrous Agonies so consistently is because I... [stumbles] I'm a lazy, work-shy slacker who never has a job. [laughs]

Sophie: You are a creature of leisure.

Hero: I'm a creature of leisure! I've got a big bung of money that--that has meant that I don't have to work in the same way that other people have to work.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Um, which means that I can make Monstrous Agonies and get some money from my Patreon and build that up and do that every single week because I haven't had a full-time job the whole time I've been doing it. And that's--that's, you know, it takes time, it certainly does. But it isn't, you know, complicated soundscapes for hour-long episodes with a full cast kind of thing. Um. And I think people get really, really excited by the medium and by the possibilities of the medium, and they plan something really, really, really, really big, and then they don't achieve their goals in the way that they hoped.

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: Because they've never done it before. Because they're learning, because they're practising, you know. And then they--they get frustrated and disheartened and don't make a podcast any more. And that's really, really sad

Sophie: Yeah. Yeah, and I think--

Hero: I don't--I don't--'cause I don't want to sound like I'm putting people off.

Sophie: No, I don't think you are. I think you're being very practical, and I think the thing is--the barrier is low-entry in a lot of regards, in that you are beholden to no one making a podcast, you know. You can just do it and put it out there, and I think the thing--it's, it's giving yourself the space to make it the way you need to make it. So like for you, Hero, you're very--if you aren't working on something, your brain is going brrrrr and you can't handle it.

Hero: [laughs]

Sophie: So--so releasing--

Hero: I managed--I managed two days not working after--

Sophie: Two days. Two days they had a little holiday after the show finished.

Hero: And I was furious! Each one of those two days!

Sophie: You were so cross.

Hero: I was so cross.

Sophie: So cross. [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] I was having a horrible time!

Sophie: So I think yeah, for you, one episode a week for... all these years with little breaks in between and whatnot is doable, it's viable. But for other people out there, you might only be able to do, you know, one episode every two weeks or one a month. You have to do it in a way that makes sense for you and that works for you.

Hero: I think also like, I think the encouraging side of that is like. You can just try things out? So one of the reasons that I found Monstrous Agonies, the end of Monstrous Agonies so deeply, deeply strange emotionally. Like I have not known what I feel about the end of Monstrous Agonies. Um, but part of that is because it's the first big project that I've finished since the last big project that I've finished.

Sophie: [laughs]

Hero: [laughs] And the last big project that I've finished was a novel that I wrote in my early to mid twenties. And I'd worked on it for years, and then I sent it out to agents, and it got signed to an agent, and it got sent out to publishers, and... nothing happened. [laughs] Just. Nothing. Nobody wanted it. They didn't even hate it enough to reject it. [laughs] It was just... nothing.

Sophie: Just radio silence.

Hero: Just radio silence. And the occasional email from my agent saying when he was off for his Christmas break.


Hero:[laughs] And I was like yeah, thanks pal. That's--that's good to know.

Sophie: [silly voice] Happy Christmas.

Hero: [laughs] Yeah, and I was like. Cool. Cool, cool, cool. Um. And that was obviously like, upsetting for a lot of reasons. But one of the things that was really, really hard was that I had... pinned so many hopes on that book being how I became a writer, you know? And because it got signed to an agent so quickly, it was like. "Oh my god! It's happening, it's happening now! It's happening now!"

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: "And I'm finally gonna be a legitimate writer." Um, and it just didn't. And it didn't in a really underwhelming and kind of long--it wasn't--I read something somewhere about like, heartbreak? And how about like muscle doesn't break, it tears.

Sophie: [pained] Ooohhh.

Hero: And that's... but yeah. It just--it just tore. Slowly. And hurt a lot for a really long time. And in a way that I'm like, I don't know if I'm ever going to write another novel 'cause that sucked.


Hero: Um. And--and because of that feeling of having put so many of my emotional eggs into that basket--

Sophie: Mm-hmm.

Hero: --so that it felt like it going badly or it not going anywhere was like. Oh. Well what do--what do I do now? Because I was going to be a novelist, and now I'm not. And I think that's something that I think early career creators often do. They think that this is going to be it. This comic--

Sophie: This is the one--this is the one thing--

Hero: Yeahhh.

Sophie: --and everything rides on this one thing. And, yeah.

Hero: And that can be really awful. Whereas if you go into it with this attitude of play, you know, and you go in and you say like, "Yeah, I'm going to make a podcast. I'm gonna tootle around for a bit and make a podcast, and that seems fun, and we'll see what happens. And yeah, I'm gonna write some short stories and send them off to some magazines and see, you know. That sounds like fun. You know, I've never written a haiku. Like, how hard can a sonnet be?" Just trying out lots and lots of different things. And just trying not to be too precious about one project in particular. Um. So with Monstrous Agonies ending, it's like. I think part of the weirdness has been like, a lot of people have been talking about it as this huge, huge thing. This one project. And I'm like, yeah, it was... it was huge for me. Obviously, it's a really big thing, and it's the first big thing that I've had that--that other people have engaged with on a huge scale. Um. But like. I'm not--I'm not dying. [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] I mean, Hero, I'm sorry that this is how you're finding out, but um.

Hero: No!

Sophie: You are.

Hero: Ohhhhh.

Sophie: Once we finish recording this, that's it. This is actually your eulogy.

Hero: Well, who's going to edit the Q&A?!

Sophie:[laughs] Oh, no! Not me. Fine. We'll hold off on the--we'll hold off on the death for a bit.

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

H.R. Owen

That brings us to the end of Part One of the Q&A – tune in next week for Part Two.

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

If you've enjoyed Monstrous Agonies please consider signing up for a monthly pledge at or making a one-off donation at You can also support the show by sharing with your friends and familiars and following us on Tumblr @MonstrousAgonies and on Twitter @Monstrous_Pod.

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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