Where Wolf Wednesdays # 1 - Fletch Fan-Fiction
Hello, is this thing on?
Yes, I know - it’s been a little quiet here on the blog these last couple of days. For a while, I was experiencing a nice little streak of daily posts - and I was proud of that run. In the end, though, I broke that streak for one very important reason - it was time to get busy podcasting.
As I’ve written about in the past, I have been working these last few months to adapt a novel I wrote over the spring into a podcast. These last few days, I have been deep at work getting this project going in some earnest. It’s time to launch this sucker and that meant dedicating all my non-working hours to getting the momentum going. I anticipate still making occasional posts on this blog - I see writing blog posts as a form of mental calisthenics, designed to keep my creative juices flowing and prevent blockage.
Writing about a book or movie I enjoyed is a low-stakes way of forcing myself to write something, anything, and to keep those muscles active. When I go long stretches of time without writing, I find it harder to start up again. Plus, it’s nice to take a break from writing about werewolves every now and then in order to gush about other people’s creative output and the way it has moved me.
The main way I want to use this blog going forward, though, is to chronicle the process of actually making a podcast. Every Wednesday (#WhereWolfWednesday?), I’m going to share an update on the podcast project, plus talk about some of the various things I’ve learned in the creative process.
I’ve never made a podcast before, let alone one that features a lengthy narrative arc told across ten individual episodes and features a dozen or so vocal actors. I’ve never marketed a podcast and I’ve never tried to build an audience for one from scratch. I spent time this year trying to find instructions or guides on how to do these things - and they just don’t really exist, at least not in the form I was looking for. Do I think I can create a “be all, end all” guide to creating a podcast? Fuck no, if I could that, I’d figure out a way to make money from that knowledge. But, if I can share some of what I’m learning in this DIY podcast project, maybe somebody else out there in the world will find it useful in the way I tried to find something useful to latch onto myself.
So here we are: Where Wolf Wednesday Check-In # 1.
Maybe it’s a good idea to start from the beginning.
WHERE WOLF is a serialized novel I wrote beginning in February of this year. I would post a few chapters a week for a few weeks and then the quarantine hit. Stuck at home and furloughed from my job, I threw myself into the book in a big way - cranking out over 300 pages of the novel by the end of April. I liked what I wrote - but it was never the final project that I envisioned.
I actually started writing WHERE WOLF as practice for another project. I had a dream of somehow convincing the Gregory McDonald estate to grant me the license to do a FLETCH podcast. I think McDonald’s FLETCH novels would make excellent podcasts - a season dedicated to each book, told in chronological order. I even had a plan on how I was going to go about trying to make this podcast, including connections in the industry that I thought might actually give me a leg-up on trying to make my dream a reality. But, before I could even dream of calling in those favors, I needed to prove that I could adapt McDonald’s novels.
I started rereading the books, beginning with FLETCH WON, in January. They were still very entertaining novels, but it was clear that some liberties would need to be taken in adapting them - some of the cultural conversations had not aged very well and there was the question of how to format the series. Do you just read the novels as written? Does that prove a problem with the audiobook rights that I'm sure were sold to another company? If you do turn it into a podcast, how is that podcast formatted?
I thought a FLETCH podcast presented as Irwin P. Fletcher doing an in-universe podcast as a journalist and walking listeners through his investigation - with interviews recorded and cut into his own narration - might be a fun angle that would “explain” the format, but that would mean having to significantly rewrite a lot of McDonald’s story and plot. To try and figure out if I could even write in McDonald’s style, I started writing small scene sketches - just two people talking to each other. Could I replicate McDonald’s unique dialogue? The results were kinda Fletch-y - but in the process, I figured out that I was having more fun writing my own characters and plot than I would if I adapted McDonald’s stories. Besides, the chances of me being given permission to do an official FLETCH podcast were admittedly very slim, regardless of what "connections" I thought I had.
So, instead of a FLETCH podcast, I decided I would do my own story. But I had never written a podcast script before - so instead I decided to write it out as a novel. The barebone idea of WHERE WOLF - the story of a journalist going undercover in a furry convention to uncover the identity of a werewolf who was using the gathering of anthropomorphic animal lovers as its personal buffet - was an idea I first had in 2007 while staying in a hostel in Philadelphia. I was chatting with a dude from Africa about American horror movies and came up with what I thought was a pretty original take on a werewolf plot. I sketched out the rough beats, including how it would end, but I never really did anything with it. I always thought that if Marvel Comics was to somehow descend from the heavens and offer me - a schlub with no professional writing credits to his name - the chance to write any series of my choosing, I would use the werewolf plot to reboot WEREWOLF BY NIGHT.
That did not, of course, happen.
So now, in 2020, I pulled the werewolf idea back out of my noggin, combined it with my desire to write in the style of Gregory McDonald, and spent four months writing the first draft of WHERE WOLF.
I published the chapters daily as they were written. This was not a good idea. I am a writer who can always use a good editor and the initial drafts of each chapter were, let’s say, rough. Plot threads went nowhere, character motivations changed across wildly the storyline and there were, of course, typos galore. The final book was decent, though, I thought. I planned to keep the writing momentum going through the summer and hoped to immediately jump into writing the second volume of WHERE WOLF. That sputtered out after just a few posts. It turned out, I needed a break.
Next week, I’ll talk a bit about the initial process of transforming WHERE WOLF from a novel into a podcast script - a process I'm still not completely done doing yet.