For years Lytherus has enjoyed the chance to interview authors and give readers a chance to know the minds behind their favorite books. But even for people like me who are passionately in love with the written word, a significant portion of our fandoms exist in other forms. We’re starting a new feature called Spotlights that will give us a chance to…well, spotlight a variety of different groups and organizations who contribute to our geeky loves.
First up, we have an interview with the hosts of my favorite podcast, Tosche Station. They had me at the words Star Wars and sarcasm, but what keeps the podcast fresh, interesting, and laugh out loud funny is the fact that they don’t confine themselves solely to Star Wars. The result is an honest outpouring of love for many, many geeky things.
Please join me in welcoming Brian and Nanci to Lytherus!
Can you start by telling our readers a bit about what the Tosche Station network does, and where they can find you?
-The Tosche Station Network is a blog/podcast that covers and discusses geek culture and fandom with a focus on Star Wars primarily, though we do delve into other franchises fairly regularly. The blog is a mostly daily-update site that features news and columns from our five staff writers. The podcast is a weekly show featuring Nanci and myself that discusses news as well as a new central discussion topic every show. The portal to just about everything we do can be found at http://tosche-station.net. The podcast is available on iTunes and for bite-sized morsels of our fandom inanity, we’re also on Twitter.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you came to be Star Wars fans?
Brian: Well, I’m an IT professional out of the Orlando area and outside of the podcast and blog, I tend to think I lead a pretty dull life. As for how I became Star Wars fan, I’d probably have to trace it back to 1994 when my dad purchased a copy of the original trilogy and told me and my brother that we were going to watch it and love it. I was skeptical, but dad was right. I was hooked from that point on.
Nanci: I’ve lived in Florida for many years. I love space, theme parks, and the beach, so it’s pretty much the perfect place to live. My day job is pretty mundane. At night I write about spaceships. I became a Star Wars fan when my dad realized I’d never seen the Original Trilogy and made me watch the first film. I loved it so I watched the rest. Then I found the EU. Then there were the prequels. And so on and so forth…
Obviously, not all Star Wars fans run podcasts. Where did the idea come from?
Brian: I’d like to say it was something profound, but it really was as simple as “I’m bored. Maybe I should do a podcast.” I made the mistake of posting that thought on Twitter and someone from Solo Sound got a hold of me and asked if I’d be interested in pitching a pilot to them. Well, I was interested, but there was no one I’d do it myself. So Nanci got roped in. 69 episodes later and we’re still doing this for some odd reason.
Nanci: It’s all Brian’s fault. Plus I’d been listening to podcasts for awhile and thought it’d be fun to do one myself.
Once you had the thought, “Let’s do a podcast!” did you sit down and record episode one straightaway or did it take time for the idea to crystallize and to get equipment set up?
Brian: Well, we didn’t just sit down and record, but we didn’t spend a whole lot of time figuring out exactly what we wanted to do either. Nanci cooked up some rough show notes for the pilot episode and then we sat down on Skype and some cheap computer headphones. Sadly, that pilot episode never did air because of a technical glitch. Our first episode listed on the site and iTunes is actually the second episode we recorded.
Over time our format and recording setup got more defined and sophisticated. Now we’ve got four regular segments per episode and an actual podcast studio with professional grade recording gear. We’ve also moved from Solo Sound to Majestic Giraffe as a hosting network.
Part of what sets your podcast apart from other Star Wars themed casts is your focus on the Expanded Universe. Why do you find yourselves drawn to this aspect of the fandom in particular?
Nanci: For me, it was the only “new” Star Wars I could get my hands on for many years. I became a fan in 1992 after watching the Original Trilogy for the first time. I got a copy of Heir to the Empire not long after and became hooked on the Expanded Universe. At that time I didn’t have the Prequels or The Clone Wars to look forward to. It was the books or nothing. I often say that the Original Trilogy got me interested in Star Wars, but the Thrawn Trilogy got me hooked.
Brian: I’d always enjoyed the films but it was the Expanded Universe novels that actually got me into the Star Wars fandom itself. I find that the GFFA and the more macro Space opera concept lends itself very well to prose fiction. For me, books can add to the universe in a way that films and television simply can’t.
Can you give me your five best recommendations for a new reader and the five worst you recommend they avoid?
Nanci: I tell everyone to start with The Thrawn Trilogy, then the X-Wing series coupled with I, Jedi, then the Hand of Thrawn duology. After that I’d probably recommend standalones like Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor and Kenobi.
Brian: I’m on the same page as Nanci as far as what to recommend, so go with that. As for what to avoid? Well, I’d shy away from the likes of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Crucible. The Crystal Star is another rough one that I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend.
In addition to the podcasts, Tosche Station also runs a blog. I know you just wrapped up a crazy reread through the EU…do you have any other events like that planned?
Brian: All the credit for that crazy reread (fondly dubbed the Waru Express) goes to Bria. She jokingly said one day she should blog her adventures reading through the multitude of Star Wars novels she owns. I challenged her to do just that, and she took me up on it. As for whether we have any other long-form series like that planned? Unfortunately not right now, but if you did enjoy that series, you may also enjoy the X-Wing retrospective we did early in the blog’s run.
Nanci: Everyone’s watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so maybe we’ll do some sort of roundtable about it. But don’t hold us to that. I’ve sworn on the podcast that I’ll read through the X-wing comics and blog about it. I imagine Brian will hold me to that eventually.
Do have a top cool experience of being a fan either in Star Wars or another fandom?
Nanci: Having Ashley Eckstein run me down at Star Wars Weekends to compliment my Her Universe bag and then recognize me as “Nanci from Twitter” was pretty awesome. Tim Zahn knows me by name now thanks to Dragon Con. Oh! And this year at Dragon Con we asked Tim what’s the best way to get in contact with him about scheduling a podcast interview, and Mike Stackpole leaned over and said something like, “They’re really good, you should do an interview with them.” I admit, I squeed a lot.
I’ve also met a tons of friends thanks Star Wars fandom, including Brian. That’s by far the best part.
Brian: There’s just way too many awesome things that we’ve experienced to be able to pick just one. We’ve gotten to interview some great authors and Star Wars figures, served as panelists at conventions, and met all sorts of great people from fandom. If I had to pick just one thing, though? It’s thanks to fandom I met Nanci for the first time. Fast forward a few years later and we’re engaged. Don’t let anyone tell you that geeking out over something is a waste of time.
Speaking of other fandoms, while you primarily talk about Star Wars, you often talk about other geeky things you like which how the Mageworld series and the Captain Marvel comics came to live at my house. Can you give us a short list of “if you like Star Wars, you’ll probably like…”
Nanci: You already mentioned Mageworlds; that’s the main one I’d recommend. (And I have to give props to Dunc from Club Jade for turning me onto that series.) If you’re a fan of Zahn’s books, definitely check out his original novel The Icarus Hunt.
Brian: Yeah, another vote for Mageworlds. If you like Star Wars, you like space opera, and if you like space opera, you’ll adore Mageworlds. Now if I’m giving another comic rec and you enjoy Captain Marvel, you should also be reading Matt Fraction’s incredible Hawkeye.
To close, are there any other internet homes or fandom things you’d like to give a shout out to?
Nanci: We have to mention staff writer Bria’s style blog, White Hot Room. Also great cosplayers (and Jacen/Tenel Ka fans) Zhobot. Of course, Bria and Emily just recently started their own spinoff podcast called Women of Odd Enthusiasms. Check them out!
And my random question for folks: what color would your lightsaber be?
Brian: Uh, green!