Podcast interview: Tell Me Another

I help co-host Josh Jordan’s excellent podcast, Tell Me Another. It’s a show where we interview different storytellers, from epic poets to comic book publishers, from photographers to bestselling authors. We also talk about the different media we’ve been experiencing in books, games, movies, and what-have-you. Every episode ends with the guest sharing a story.

Josh started Ginger Goat Press to publish his own role-playing gamebooks around the time I was pulling my hair out and trying to decide what to do with Monsters All the Way Down. His success was a huge inspiration to me. Since I took the self-publish plunge, Josh has been a huge source of advice and encouragement. I’m thrilled that I get to help with the show that he puts so much work into making great.

The other co-hosts are PK Sullivan and a recent arrival, Stephanie Bryant. PK has worked on the Firefly game and others (and he has some very cool projects coming down the pike). Stephanie is a writer (check out her Handknit Heroes comic!) and also works in game design and has some cool projects on the front burner. They’re all great people, and they haven’t kicked me out yet for talking too much.

Some of the episodes I’ve co-hosted include Mike Olson (Atomic Robo RPG), Lee Francis (INC Comics), Brandon Perlow and Paul Mendoza (New Paradigm Studios, publishers of the popular Watson & Holmes comic series), and Jim Butcher (author of the Dresden Files and the Codex Alera series). One of my favorites that I didn’t help with was author Jared Axelrod, particularly his recommendation of Kamen Rider Fourze, a Japanese TV show that might have made me a better person. They also had Janet Varney (voice of Korra on The Legend of Korra). Don’t remember where I was for that one–maybe I didn’t want spoilers since I haven’t finished Avatar yet.

Because the hosts are also storytellers, we’ve been doing a round robin, taking turns in the hot seat ourselves. Since I like talking so much (please don’t kick me off, you guys!), I got to go first. You can hear the interview here: Ryan McSwain Inteview Part 1, Ryan McSwain Interview Part 2.

You can and should follow Josh, PK, and Stephanie on Twitter. Coming up December 1-15, Josh also has the Actual Play Festival, an online celebration of collaborative storytelling. You can get more information here.

Talk to Your Kids About Poop (Before It’s Too Late)

My four-year-old son likes to talk about Poop. He realizes it is a word of great power. If he tells a story, Poop will be an important subplot, maybe even an underlying theme. If he sings a song, it will contain a chorus where Poop is chanted over and over like a drunken jukebox anthem. If my son says to you “Knock, knock,” you need not ask, “Who’s there?”

Because it will be Poop. Poop is the one who is there.

Needless to say, this has caused my wife great distress. One cannot simply go around talking about Poop Monsters and Poop Unicorns, and certainly not at the dinner table. The decree has thus been set in stone: You only talk about Poop with Daddy. (But not at the dinner table.)

So every few days, my son asks me a question of much gravitas. “Daddy, do you want to talk about Poop?”

I say, with a tone denoting the importance of the occasion, “Yes, son.”

And we talk about the greatest of life’s mysteries, one that has troubled both scientists and theologians since the dawn of man. Where does Poop come from? Where is Poop going? What does Poop mean?

And that’s fine with me, because you would not believe the secrets I to which I am privy. Have you ever heard of a Poop Octopus? I have. Can you guess what its tentacles are made of?

That’s right. They are Poop Tentacles.

I listen to my son explain these things to me because I want to hear about Poop Zombies and Poop Balls. Wouldn’t you? I even manage to keep my serious face. But I also pay attention because I have an ulterior motive–I want my son to feel safe telling me things.

I do it for the same reason I tell my son, when he acts suspicious, “You can tell me. I won’t get mad.”  I say this out loud for two reasons. One, to remind myself not to sell my child on Craigslist when he tells me what he broke. And two, because I’m training my kid to think it is safe to tell me things instead of waiting to get caught.

I don’t say, “You can tell me. You won’t get punished.” Because that might be a lie. And I don’t say “I’ll never get mad,” because sometimes my son accidentally hits me in the–let’s say in the “face”– with a plastic ThunderCats sword, and I might tell him to go to his room. I might loudly tell him to go to his room right now, and he will see said plastic sword again when I give it to him as a wedding present.

I’m trying to convince my son that it’s better to tell me things. I’m hoping one day, when Poop ceases to be his biggest concern, he’ll know who he can talk to.

Because there are problems even bigger than Poop Balls and there are things even scarier than Poop Monsters.

But in the meantime, I’m happy to hear about Poop Cars and Poop Monkeys. Do you know what Poop Monkeys live in?

Trees. They live in trees.