I’m happy to introduce you to @wood_sparks AKA Bee this month. This is the first time I’m interviewing a reader, rather than a writer–Bee is the editor of the Larry Newsletter and narrates a podfic for love is a word, you gave it a name by CuckooTrooke, who I interviewed a couple of months ago. Read that interview here: Author Interview – CuckooTrooke – No Stunts Magazine
If you like this feature, want to chat, or give me suggestions for future profiles, please hit me up on Twitter. @Rosann_1986 (formally @FlyWishing).
Without further ado, I introduce you to Bee!
Handle: @wood_sparks on twitter
Rosann: Thank you so much for being here and answering some questions. I love your narration of LIAW. What made you decide you wanted to produce audio versions of fics?
Bee: I first learned of the existence of podfics when I joined the Sherlock fandom about 10 years ago. From the first time I listened to one, I fell in love with how much more intimate the story feels when someone is passionately reading it to me. I found them a soothing companion while doing chores or when I was working a boring, repetitive job in the summers. Often I would listen to the same podfic over and over to help me fall asleep at night. Of course I was curious, back then, if maybe I could do something like this too, but it felt intimidating as I didn’t know where to start. It wasn’t until more recently, after some years of receiving very kind compliments on my voice, as well as steady encouragement from my friends and family that my voice was “made to read audiobooks”, that finally I dared to try it. What gave me the final push was my overwhelming love for Miia’s glorious fic “love is a word, you gave it a name.” It was a lot of trial and error (and re-recording the first chapter twice because I was still learning how to do it right) but I’m very proud of the product I created.
Rosann: I know you’ve completed love is a word, you gave it a name by CuckooTrooke, but do you have any more in the works?
Bee: LIAW took me close to a year to record, which was mostly owed to some ridiculously difficult life circumstances that barely left me any peaceful moments to record. If I were to take on another project of that size, I’m sure it would only take me half a year, considering everything I’ve learned along the way. But you must understand that creating podfic is not expensive, it’s not difficult, it just takes a lot of time. Every 10k of text will result in roughly 1 hour of edited podfic, and will take at least 5 hours of focused work, often more. If you’re able to work on it for 2 hours every day, a 100k fanfic will therefore take you a month. All this is to say that while I will certainly not be taking on any large projects like this anytime soon, I’m already thinking about several shorter fics I’d like to record in the near future.
Rosann: That’s fascinating! I never realized how much time it would take. How much (if any) was the author involved in the process? How did the permission process work?
Bee: Thank you for asking, this is a topic that’s very close to my heart. I feel that it’s gotten a little lost recently that there is not, nor should there be, any money involved in producing and consuming fanworks. Therefore all we have as payment is gratitude and respect. I’m personally very offended at this new trend of disrespecting authors through the anonymous ask boxes which authors set up for shy readers. When I started participating in fandom 20 years ago, the first thing I learned was the “if you don’t like it, it wasn’t made for you so kindly move on to the next thing” rule, and it would do our fandom good to be reminded of that. But I digress! With regards to your question: The golden rule of podfic is that the author’s consent is essential. Some authors have issued so-called “blanket statements” in their AO3-profile, where they state which kinds of transformative work they generally allow to be made of their fanfic. For those who don’t share such statements, you need to write to them and ask.
How much the author is involved in the process from there on, is between you and them. In my case, I sent Miia a sample of the first chapter to make sure she approves, and I sometimes asked her opinion on pronunciation, but she (like most authors) didn’t want to be involved beyond that.
Rosann: I wholeheartedly agree with you about the disrespect that seems to be more common these days. People who feel the need to criticize should take your advice and move on to something else.
Do you have any other advice for fans interested in making a podfic?
Bee: Yes! Considering that what held me back from making podfic in the first place was not knowing where to start, I decided to share everything I learned with the fandom in the hopes of encouraging more people to record podfic! I made a website under https://www.1dpodfics.com that has a beginner-friendly step-by-step guide of what to consider. The page has been a community effort though, with several people making sure the content is helpful, and my friend Tina (@TinaLovesLou28) creating the beautiful artwork for it. Oh, and in addition it also has a full list of links to every 1D podfic I could find!
Rosann: That website is an absolute treasure for podfic lovers! What’s your favorite fic of all time?
Bee: I couldn’t possibly give any answer other than “love is a word” for the top spot, as I’ve rarely read anything that’s taken me on an emotional journey quite like it. Aside from that, I’m a huge fan of anything by bananaheathen and indiaalphawhiskey, and will always reserve a soft spot in my heart for “Hiding Place”, as it was the first fic I read in this fandom.
Rosann: I love all those that you mentioned. Great taste! Have you ever dabbled in writing fics?
Bee: I have, but that was in other fandoms and I would prefer not to disclose these works. But I’ve written enough to know that I don’t enjoy doing it, and to gain a deep appreciation and respect for the unpaid work our fandom authors provide for us every day.
Rosann: I know you also produce a Larry Newsletter, so you’re in deep. Can you tell us your Larry origin story?
Bee: Of course! The story of how I entered this fandom is one of the fondest memories I have in my life, as it took me from a bad place and showed me the meaning of happiness and community. The short of it is that I was aimlessly flipping through reels one evening in April of 2022, when the algorithm decided to show me a video from Coachella night one. It was a video that began by Harry simply sitting there, smiling softly as he was looking out at the crowd, his hair tangled by the warm wind, and a gentle, happy smile crinkling his eyes. I distinctly remember thinking “oh, that boy from One Direction grew up”. Suddenly he was no longer the “annoying boy band member” I previously (wrongly!) perceived him as, but an adult like me. Enraptured, I looked up other videos of him, spending the whole night soaking up everything I could. I had been stuck in such a miserable situation back then, where everything seemed glum and hopeless, and here was this man viscerally reminding me that there is joy in this life. The way he dances across a stage… not for the absence of misery, but despite it. It’s like he unlocked something in my heart, and suddenly I could see in colour again. Today, I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. While I was educating myself on the history of One Direction, I went down the YouTube rabbit hole that made most of us the Larries we are today. I found a wonderful community with the Larries on Twitter, and soon decided that I wanted to actively participate in this community. Today, I am leading the “Bigger Than Us Kindness Project” and publishing the weekly fandom summary known as the “Larry Newsletter”.
Rosann: I love your origin story and how you found joy in your life through the boys and the fandom! Thanks so much for being willing to share!
Find Bee on Twitter @Wood_sparks