The podcast where you join Oliver Brackenbury on the journey of writing his next novel!

Oliver does his best to make each episode work on its own, but this podcast is a series and so you may wish to start with episode 1, or perhaps the episode where he reads you the short story that birthed both the novel and the podcast! Heck, there’s even a lil’ trailer for the show.

Ep 51 – Voe Loses It

In this story Voe is faced with an important choice similar to one from a previous story, and the decision she makes will echo throughout the entire rest of the novel! In this outline episode, among other things, Oliver discusses how to tell what’s good or maybe not so good to kick down the road…More

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Ep 50 – My People

Oh ho! And thus we enter the third quarter of Oliver outlining Untitled Sword & Sorcery Novel with this novella-length love letter to his favorite Robert E. Howard tale of Conan the Cimmerian, People of the Black Circle. Read People of the Black Circle for free.Read THE LEGEND OF GWÂSHBRÂRI, THE GLACIER-HEARTED QUEEN, the myth…More

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Ep 49 – Interview with Alasdair Stuart

Alasdair Stuart is a professional enthusiast, pop culture analyst, and writer behind the award-nominated weekly newsletter, The Full Lid, as well as a multiple Hugo finalist and co-owner of the Escape Artists podcast network. He’s also a really kind and fascinating man, whom Oliver greatly enjoyed chatting with about building your own podcast empire, financing such an empire, balancing…More

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Ep 47 – Interview with Kirk A. Johnson

I spoke with Kirk about his new book The Obanaax and Other Tales of Heroes and Horrors. We cover the afternoon movies which helped form Kirk’s idea of what heroes should be, his own first collision with Conan and Frazetta, why martial arts films were such a big thing in the black community back in…More

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Ep45 – Interview with David C. Smith (Part Two)

David C. Smith remains a lovely and talented author with whom Oliver spoke for so long we decided to split the interview into two parts. Here’s that second part! In this half we discuss the 80’s sword & sorcery publishing implosion, the importance of adapting to changing tastes and not just telling the same limited…More

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Ep 44 – Interview with David C. Smith (Part One)

David C. Smith is an author whose career began in the 1970’s during the second wave of sword & sorcery, he still writes to this very day, and Oliver felt very lucky to get the chance to have this epic, first-ever two-part interview with him! In this first part we cover David’s original aspirations to…More

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Ep43 – So I’ve Been Doing this Podcast for a Year…

It’s the one year anniversary show! What have I learned? How have I benefited? What’s coming up next? Feat. Behind the scenes stuff on my launching this podcast/novel project, and how it’s been this past year, including details on the technical stuff, promotion, the Patreon, a listener question about liking your antagonist more than your…More

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Ep 42 – Writing Anxiety with Mike Harrington

Oliver discusses with Mike the ways anxiety has affected them when trying to write, and how Mike overcame a thirty year block to end up making his first ever short story submission! Subjects they cover include playing Dungeons & Dragons leading to creative writing, the potential long-term impact of complimenting your child’s creativity, the validation…More

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Ep 41 – Sword & Sorcery & Feminism, with Nicole Emmelhainz

Oliver and Nicole Emmelhainz discuss her essay on feminism and sword & sorcery, “A Sword-Edge Beauty as Keen as Blades: The Gender Dynamics of Sword-and-Sorcery“! This covers things like Weird Tales Magazine, Robert E. Howard and Conan, Jirel as “Alice in Wonderland with a big sword”, Howard and Lovecraft’s correspondence with each other as well…More

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Ep40 – Founding a Literary Magazine, with Nat Webb

Returning champion Nat Webb joins us to discuss his recent founding of a literary magazine, Wyngraf! Their discussion covers alternate titles for the magazine, defining cozy fantasy & backpack fantasy, conflict in stories and other things that can drive story, writing delicious food scenes, the cozy fantasy scene on Reddit and elsewhere, getting into short…More

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Ep39 – Carry Me from Kholtum

Oliver takes you through the end of a friendship in this outline of the final Voe & Tiravam story for the novel. Among other things he discusses an epiphany he had which caused him to look at how his outlining had evolved over this first half of the novel, plotting an emotional journey for the…More

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Ep38 – Flyting Fancy

Oliver returns to telling you about that dang novel this podcast is built around, covering the outlining of a nautical tale! In it, Voe and her best friend Tiravam struggle to create meaning in an uncaring universe, try to get paid for stealing a terrible treasure, get sucked into Ye Olde Insult Battles, and more!…More

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Ep37 – Interview with Chase A. Folmar

Author, and Associate Editor of Witch House magazine, Chase A. Folmar joins Oliver to discuss his upcoming sword & sorcery novella, Frolic on the Amaranthyn. Chase and Oliver discuss his sword & sorcery and creative writing origin story, that sweet spot of horror and action, mood and plot, finding your voice as an author, the…More

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Ep36 – Interview with Cora Buhlert

Cora Buhlert is a Hugo-nominated author and genre scholar who Oliver was lucky enough to meet through his research for the novel, and he’d love for you to meet her too! Oliver and Cora discuss her falling in love with the very American body of work known as pulp fiction while she grew up travelling…More

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Ep35 – Interview with Ryan North

Oliver has a fun, informative discussion with author Ryan North, whose new book “How to Take Over the World: Practical Schemes and Scientific Solutions for the Aspiring Supervillain” is now available for pre-order. They discuss having one footnote for each day of the year, cramming more jokes in the margin to make a comic have…More

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Ep34 – Interview with Dariel Quiogue

Oliver chats with Philippine author Dariel Quiogue about his sword & silk novel, “Sword of the Four Winds”! Their discussion covers portrayal of war elephants in history and stories, Alexander the Great being a war criminal to some, Carter & De Camp (and Nyburg) Conan tales, Howard Lamb’s Khlit the Cossack stories (a huge influence…More

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Ep33 – Interview with Jason Ray Carney of Whetstone Magazine

Oliver speaks with the editor of “Whetstone: Amateur Magazine of Sword & Sorcery”, covering a wide variety of subjects germane to running a semi-pro literary magazine, online community, and good old sword & sorcery. Oliver and Jason get to some INTERESTING places in their far-reaching discussion, including subjects like: writing workshops, working class literature, modernist…More

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Ep32 – Interview with Jordan Smith of Dark Crusade

This episode will introduce you to fantasy & horror author Karl Edward Wagner, as well as his iconic sword & sorcery supervillain, Kane! Oliver and Jordan discuss subjects like The Carcosa Papers, the magic of seeing author’s original notebooks (and fantasizing about others feeling that way seeing yours), getting deep into why Kane stands out…More

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Ep30 – Story Consultation with Nathaniel Webb

Trying something new for the show, Oliver is sitting down with author Nathaniel Webb to consult him on his latest work-in-progress, a sword & sorcery short story! After a reading of the story so far, and a little getting-to-know-you, you’ll get to listen in on a proper story consult where Oliver will discuss Nat’s story,…More

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Books Oliver Read in 2021

* = Re-read Check out past years: 2012, 2013 (skipped), 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018,  2019, and 2020. Follow Oliver on Goodreads to get these reviews as they happen. 1)  Extreme Cities: Climate Chaos and the Urban Future by Ashley DawsonI found the first half of the book was a lot of “IT BAD” when what I was looking for was more of the back half,…More

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Ep29 – Sacred Thievery

In three acts, Oliver shares the outlining of this second story in the sword & sorcery novel’s second quarter, an escalating farce built around the theft of a saintly relic from one church within the same religion as the other, who has hired Voe & Tiravam to perpetrate said theft. Ah, if only it were…More

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Ep 28 – Kinship in Kholtum

In this episode Oliver tells you all about how he outlined the origin story for his protagonist’s new friendship, a friendship that would be at the heart of a whole quarter of the novel’s stories. This involves discussion of consulting others when you’re feeling lost trying to make a vital decision, puppetry (and avoiding obvious…More

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Ep27 – (World)Building a Fantasy City

Will Oliver succeed in finally naming his dang fantasy city by the end of the episode??? Oliver takes you through the process that got him to where he felt he knew enough about the fictional city where he’d be setting no less than four of his novel’s stories in. He covers repurposing research from an…More

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Ep 26 – Creating a Co-Protagonist

Oliver takes you with him through the process by which he designed a new best friend for his novel’s protagonist, a co-protagonist for the next four stories he has to outline, when Voe and this new best buddy will have swashbuckling, thieving adventures loosely inspired by the Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories of Fritz Leiber!…More

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Ep25 – Act Two, Part One

A lil’ recap of the podcast & novel is followed by Oliver sharing how he figured out the most top-tier planning of his novel’s middle, particularly its first half, and how it would fit into the novel as a whole! This includes discussion of “how much inspiration do you want to take from another author’s…More

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Ep24 – Interview with Michael Curtis

Since Oliver greatly enjoys the role-playing games & adventures written by Fritz Leiber scholar Michael Curtis, while Leiber’s Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories have been a great source of inspiration for Oliver’s novel-in-progress, you better believe he was excited to talk with Michael about: Why people should read the Fafhrd & Grey Mouser stories, how…More

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Ep23 – Interview with Julian Bernick of Spellburn

Julian Bernick has written across a wide variety of mediums, so Oliver discusses with him getting burnt out on novels, the Appendix N Reading List, writing for role-playing games, Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series, writing lyrics as the lead singer of several bands, and more – but the focus of this interview is poetry, gothic…More

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Ep22 – Interview with Ngo Vinh-Hoi of the Appendix N Book Club

Oliver and Hoi discuss fantasy book cover art, the origin story of the Appendix N Book Club, the conservative faction of S&S fandom, finding S&S outside the usual Anglo sphere, podcast show notes (do people read them??? ARE YOU READING THIS???), figuring out how to keep the momentum going with longform creative projects, what makes…More

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Ep21 – Interview with Matt John of Rogues in the House

Oliver speaks with a host from the popular sword & sorcery podcast Rogues in the House, Matt John, about the genre, gatekeeping vs helping the S&S scene thrive, the trials of buying books online when you’re Canadian, working sword & sorcery and role-playing games into the classroom, Army of Darkness hot takes, He-Man, “Good Rudes”,…More

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Ep20 – Interview with Milton Davis about Sword & Soul

In this interview we’re speaking with author and publisher, Milton Davis. Oliver and Milton have plenty of laughs talking about what it’s like being both a writer and a publisher, knowing Charles Saunders and what’s going on with the Imaro TV adaptation, when the history nerds come for you, origin stories, designing and playtesting an…More

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Ep19 – Interview with J.M. Frey

Oliver has a long, highly informative chat with author, actor, and voice actor J.M. Frey about her experiences as a writer, including what happens when your book grows to around the 200K word mark, self-publishing, the challenges of author exhaustion (incl. frank discussion of how the economics of publishing deals have evolved), when she received…More

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Ep18 – Interview with Christine Brackenbury

We’re kicking off a block of interviews with a chat with Oliver’s mum, about her relationship to creativity as both parent and “pre-parent”, the book she wrote, the book Oliver’s dad says he’ll finish, what it’s like for both Oliver and Christine to look back on his decision to try making writing what he does…More

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Ep 17 – Disgrace the Stone

With this, the fifth short story, we’ve reached the end of the first act! In Disgrace the Stone, the outlining of which Oliver will share with you, Voe is finally a “hero” as she’s struggled to be but the events of this story will change her mind about that being what she wants. The brainstorming…More

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Ep 16 – The Boy and the Blacksmith

This time around we’re outlining story number four in our sword & sorcery short story cycle! Oliver sets out to write a sword & sorcery love story, but is that what he ends up with? He also gets into that time the rural Canadian mafia murdered Oliver’s brother because his parents wouldn’t give them gold,…More

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Ep15 – Monstrously Slow

This time around we’re outlining story number three in our sword & sorcery short story cycle! Oliver introduces you to the marvelous book which made him want to tell this story, thrusting his protagonist Voe into the middle of a mighty battle between empires in the absolute meat grinder of a canyon floor with arrows…More

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Ep14 – The Woman Who Floated Through Time

Outlining the rest of the book has begun! Oliver walks you through how he outlined the second story in the novel, currently called “The Woman Who Floated Through Time”, which includes discussion of whether or not characters should change over the course of a story, templates vs writing prompts, when its time to really break…More

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Ep12 – Interview with Howard Andrew Jones

Author of the recently concluded Ring-Sworn trilogy, editor of the most excellent sword & sorcery magazine Tales of the Magician’s Skull, and teacher of a heroic fantasy writing class Oliver recently attended (the next session just opened to registration), Howard Andrew Jones has been a source of inspiration, knowledge, and encouragement for Oliver while our…More

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Ep11 – Sword and Planet

Oliver looks at the risky proposition of mixing some scifi in with his fantasy via the sub-sub-genre known as Sword and Planet, explores S&P and makes some recommendations, then walks you through the thought process that got him to the kind of S&P story he’d like to tell in his Untitled Sword & Sorcery Novel.…More

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Ep 9 – Choosing Seventeen Stories

In this episode Oliver gets down to the task of choosing exactly what stories are going to go into this short story cycle of a sword & sorcery novel, discusses the importance of order of information, figuring out the word count he wants to aim for and more.More

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Ep8 – Language and Race in Speculative Fiction

Oliver gets into universal translators and “The Common Tongue”, Robert Howard’s prose, reads a few cool paragraphs by Howard and a handful of his S&S contemporaries, gets into writing while not being entirely aware of the precise terminology for the techniques you’re using, our old friend racism, and doing your best to avoid the inherent…More

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Ep7 – Rereading “Voe”

Okay, NOW Oliver reads to you the short story that birthed this novel writing project, “Voe”. He’ll also explain why he waited this long, provide commentary on his decision-making while writing “Voe”, and discuss how this episode marks an important point in the progress of both podcast & novel. He also gets into his greatest…More

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Ep6 – The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction

In this episode Oliver shares the essay he found that helped him envision the ending of the novel, an almost anti-sword & sorcery essay, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction by Ursula K Le Guin. First he reads it to you (click here if you want to read it yourself), then gets into how it…More

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Ep5 – Outlining My Outline

Oliver discusses how, after the initial sugar rush of brainstorming for the novel, he stepped back to make several important decisions that would help keep him from getting lost while finishing the outline of the novel, as well as writing the dang novel itself! This involves choosing tense, perspective, primary POV, theme, all that good…More

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Ep3 – Brainstorming Stories

Oliver discusses what a short story cycle is in novel form, his initial brainstorming of stories to include in his novel, and reclaiming dry or even dispiriting material from your school days as a source of pleasure later in life. This episode’s listener question comes off of episode two’s discussion of protagonists, with Oliver answering…More

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Ep2 – My Protagonist

Oliver shares with you the path he took from being inspired by a famous painting, through to his creating the protagonist of “Untitled Sword & Sorcery Novel”, Voe, roughly nine years later. He also answers a listener question about best practices when soliciting and receiving feedback on your work.More

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Ep1 – So I’m Writing a Novel… begins!

Meet host Oliver Brackenbury as he introduces the podcast, himself, and the titular novel “Untitled Sword & Sorcery novel“. He also discusses the genre of sword & sorcery, then shares his experience working with an editor on the short story which become the first chapter of the novel. It can be lonely writing a novel,…More

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