Katharina Maimer: How I do it!

Katharina Maimer is the voice behind the Luscious Leftovers podcast and one of the the two founders of the Every Photo Tells weekly story anthology podcast. She is a law student currently living in Vienna, Austria. She is fluent in German, English, French and who knows what other languages. She will soon be abandoning the nation of her birth to move to Scotland in order to claim the love of her life. She will take with her nothing but a goat and a smile (because the rest of her things have been sent ahead). She can be followed on Twitter as @kmlaw.

General Writing Questions 1. Before you begin writing, do you script out the general outline of plot and characters, or do you let these situations evolve as you write?

When it comes to short stories, I usually just have an idea and go along with it – the finer details usually then come to me while I am writing. For example – my first „Every Photo Tells…“ story – I knew I wanted someone to be on the run. Then I went ahead to ask myself why he was on the run – because he was chased. I thought it was more interesting that a man was chased by a woman. After that, the feeling of a new life, starting all over came out, so i asked myself, what his old and new life were like… and so on.

For my book, I didn‘t start with an outline. I knew, what the idea behind the story would be like, and the general motivations of the characters. Then I started to write and think about how long it should be. Maybe I am a bit of an obsessive planner, but I had in mind a rough length of chapters and a number of those. With Scrivener and folders it was easy to make a folder for each chapter – and since my book is very timeline- driven, assign a rough date to it. With every new idea, new twist that came into my mind, I was already able to put it in it‘s place in the timeline. But I also use the research function for random ideas, that just came to my head but I don‘t want to use just yet – or it would distract me from the chapter at hand.

2. I’ve heard repetitively that writers should deal with writing as any other job. Do you have a scheduled or structured writing routine? Please detail.

I have no routine whatsoever. For EPT I have some kind of deadline where a story has to be finished and recorded, but that‘s about it. Whenever I send in stories to other podcasts with timelines, I am not too proud to NOT send in a story, even though I originally intended to. As far as the book is concerned, I realize that I have no time pressure on it whatsoever, so I write a Chapter or two whenever I am in the mood, or have nothing else more pressing or inspiring to write at that moment.

My issue is with short stories, that WHEN I am inspired, I can write down a few thousand words in one take. Then I am writing no matter when and where. Having a MacBook Air, that I carry around almost everywhere I go helps with that matter a lot. But when I HAVE to write a story, need to tell it, I have also gone ahead and either written it on a piece of paper or recorded my thoughts on my iPhone in audio.

3. What is your writing environment like? (cats, music, computer etc.) How has this evolved/ changed?

Since I have been seen to write in the weirdest (or most inappropriate?) situations, I have every and no writing environment. If I take the time to sit down and write, it‘s usually on the couch, with my small laptop table that fits just perfectly – nice combination of comfort and writing ease. I don‘t usually write in the study on the office desk – that has always been more a work/study thing for me. I also quite enjoy the laptop support from IKEA, that perfectly fits on one‘s lap and enables me to write in my rocking chair or in bed without overheating the Air.

And I always listen to music, at work, on the road, etc. Same is true for writing. If I can, I have music running – preferably something that fits the mood of what I am writing.

My writing environment as well as my writing schedule has changed and evolved with the amount that I am writing, as well as the life changes that I went through. When writing becomes a bigger part of your life and you have the support at home to live this hobby, this naturally changes your routine.

4. Do you write anything, or have you, that is solely for yourself? (no intention of sharing with a large audience)

There is only one piece of writing that, with full intent, no one has read so far. It is not intended to be shared with a larger audience in the future, but it will be shared with a handful of people. Other than that, there are pieces of writing, recently a poem for example, that only one other person has read. (And another one will WANT to read after I have sent him this file 😉 )…

Sometimes it happens, that I am not confident enough about a piece of writing to share it – but there are always 1 or 2 people who I force to read every post-it note and grocery list that I write.

5. How has social media played a role in your writing?

I got back into writing after I started podcasting a few years ago. Social Media has given me the inspiration – through Social Media I found my inspiration again. Up until about 9 months ago, there had been an 8-year gap, where I didn‘t write much at all. There was the odd poem, but nothing more elaborate or inspiring than papers for university.

Getting into podcasting and the community around it, that consists of many people that are writing, prompted me to start on my book. I put it down for a while, when I got into writing short stories again. But yes, Social Media provided me with the inspiration I needed – or provided me with the means to find my inspiration.

Podcasting Questions 1. What type of OS do you prefer? Linux? Mac? Win? What are your machine’s specs?

I started off podcasting on a PC. I admit it. I will never go back to Windows and I regret not having switched earlier every time I have to touch this §=$()“§? at work. Anyway, having said that, the answer is Mac. Snow Leopard. I am writing on my MacBook Air, 2.13 GHz, with the SSD.

2. Would you please describe your current studio? How has this changed? (What did you start with?)

I started off with a 10 buck Logitec mic. *sigh* Good times! At one point I got myself a small Behringer mixer and a regular mic – I have recorded with those ever since. There will be a studio change in the close future, but I have to admit that I have been looking into new mixers and mics for a long time now – but there is always the money issue between what you want and if you need the money for more important things. But luckily, there will be an automatic upgrade as far as my studio is concerned once I move.

3. If you were able to build your dream studio, what would it include? Be as specific as you wish.

This is a tough question. I would like to dodge it by saying that I have to accord my answer with my studio- mate, but that would be too easy. I mean, I am not going to list what exact model of Mic and mixer I want – Condenser and Firewire are my specs of preference. Since I also don‘t know yet what condenser mic works best with my voice, I can‘t really give you a specific model. And to be honest, there will be enough people providing exact details and specs fo their dream setup.

For me though, what defines my dream studio, is the ability to podcast in peace. Sounds weird, maybe. A quiet room, that is comfy and gives me a non-sterile environment to get creative. This would be a combination of study/library/studio for me. To sum it up, my dream studio is more a feeling than an assortment of gadgets.

4. Other than a computer, what piece of HARDWARE would you recommend to a new podcaster?

You mean „other than a Mac“, right? 😀 I would now start with a USB mic if I could. I am looking into Blue‘s Snowflake for podcasting on the road. I have only heard great things about it.

5. What have you had to learn for yourself that you wish someone could have warned you about?

Podcasting with co-hosts and podcasting burn out. I suffered under both. It is something, though not necessarily a bad thing, that might occur to you. And as a podcaster, you need to be able to deal with both. Well, maybe not with the first if you podcast on your own, but surely with the second.

Burn out in podcasting has been, for me, the next step after ‘life getting in the way“. No one tells you how to find your balance, how to find your podcasting groove. Apart from the fact that it is different for everyone, it would‘ve been helpful to share experiences with other podcasters in similar situations.

And I am going ahead here and stress again how important support is. Support, or the lack thereof, can make or break a podcaster.

6. What would you consider a “beginner’s mistake” you’ve either experienced or hear others making?

I think I have, at one point, made every mistake one can make in podcasting. I have podcasted for too long, have had too many podcasts not to have made numerous mistakes myself.

It‘s hard to think of something particular – maybe that people take on too much as far as podcasting is concerned. For a newbie, a weekly 30 min podcast might be too hard to pull off. Especially if you have little to no experience in editing. Not to ask for help – the podcasting community is always ready and willing to lend a hand or an ear, give advice, and are more than happy to share at least a few of their podcasting secrets with the world. It would be stupid not to make use of this – and find friends along the way.

7. How much time does it take, once you have all the elements, for YOU to put together a 30 minute podcast? (please describe your production technique)

Podcasting a story of 30 minutes is very different to podcasting 30 minutes of an unscripted entertainment podcast. To put together a 30 min story, given that I have already written it, takes me first of all, about 45min to record. I have gotten into a routine of recording scripted podcasts, that helps me to edit later. Whenever I make a mistake, I click my tongue and then repeat the sentence or part. Like that I have a visual aid when it comes to editing later – I can literally see the pikes where I have to edit. I got that tip from the ‘Podcasting for Dummies“ podcast btw.

Casting Questions (answer if you can) 1. What is the hardest part of putting together a casted podcast?

To balance out what and who would work best for a story, the voice / accent I need with my favourite voices out there. But to be honest, I go with the voices I prefer, the people I like to listen to most. It‘s my party, after all… 😀

2. Do you provide the entire chapter to your talent, or just their lines?

Depends on the story – with short stories I usually send over the whole story, as to give an idea of what is going on. But it has also happened, especially with busy people, that I only send over a single line.

3. Is instruction given to your talent on how you prefer the line to be read?

Most of the time when it comes to single lines or two lines, I get provided with 2 or 3 versions of the line. With longer texts I give suggestions only when I feel it‘s necessary – which it rarely ever is. This is the big advantage to record with people who know how you ‘tick“.

4. What do you do with all of that unused audio?

I sometimes store the cool stuff for outtakes, but it also happens that I throw away the original raw recordings when the editing is finished. Depends largely on the content.

5. What is the hardest part of putting together a “straight read” podcast?

The writing of the script. 🙂

6. As far as cast goes, what would you like to try, but haven’t so far?

I have stuff in mind, because I like to challenge myself, my writing, my podcasts and my cast. Therefore I am not going to say what it is, just that I always have something planned – I would just like to try it first, before I announce it and fail.

General Questions 1. If someone approached you with THEIR book, and asked you to podcast it for them for a fee, what would you consider a reasonable rate per episode? (The way YOU do it)

That‘s a tough question… Are you trying to put together a list of fees of all the podcasters out there? Or have you written something and want someone to podcast it for you and now comparing prices?

Well… if it‘s just me to record it, and I am going to assume an episode to be 30min approx… I would say about 50-100USD per episode? Then again, if you add that together, it would be a lot. But I think that might be what my podcasting time is worth considering how long it would take me to put together a 30min podcast, and what hourly rate that would be.

And yes, I differentiate what kind of skill set is required. Would be a difference, if I provide 30 min of voice work, or 30min of editing, 30min of translating something or 30min of legal advice.

2. Do you podcast as part of a larger plan, or because getting your content out in some manner IS your plan?

I always have a plan. At least I claim I do. My plan is to continue to enjoy podcasting. To be quite frank, I have rarely seen a hobby, that so many people wanted to turn into a stream of income than podcasting. For me, it is still that. A way to spend my free time that i thoroughly enjoy.

3. What is the nicest compliment you’ve been paid or what keeps you coming back?

There is no greater compliment than to be loved for the things you are passionate about.

4. How important are numbers of downloads/subscribers to you? Do you keep track?

I do look at them, I am happy if they increase, I think about why some episodes have more listeners than others, but I don‘t keep a thorough track of it. I get much more kick out of feedback. If one listener tells me that he enjoyed an episode, then it was all the appreciation I needed. That doesn‘t mean I wouldn‘t have recorded it without that feedback – I just mean that I get a kick out of anyone telling me they like what I do.

5. How important are reviews left on Podiobooks/iTunes/other venues to you?

Again, like above, I appreciate them, but I get much more out of personal feedback – of it‘s on Twitter, or a comment on the blog, or an email.

6. If not answered previously, how do you read your manuscript while recording (hard copy, teleprompter, etc)?

If it‘s just me recording, I usually read it off the screen – thanks to two-finger-scrolling and the multi touch trackpad, it makes no noise whatsoever to “flip the page“. But it happens that I print a copy of the text out – not too often though.

~ by odin1eye on 6 April, 2010.

2 Responses to “Katharina Maimer: How I do it!”

  1. Yet another cool interview in this series. I’s always nice to get a different perspective and with this series, the answers are coming from so many different experiences that anyone interested in gettiing involved with podcasting their fiction (or podcasting anything for that matter). 🙂

    This series hits at a fortunate time for me as I start a new podcast (sorry, I’m not writing fiction – or at least not intentionally so – for mine).

    BTW: Katharina, as @kmlaw, is a delight to follow on Twitter !

    P.S.: Odin1Eye is shy about tooting his own horn on this blog, so I do so now. He has written short stories for the previously mentioned Every Photo Tells podcast at http://everyphototells.com/ – Oh, and they are pretty good too 🙂

    • I don’t know about good, but yes, I have submitted two short stories to the EPT podcast ad recommend everyone else does too (I DID have fun writing them)

      Thanks Mainframe for the very nice comment. You’re right of course, @kmlaw is a hoot.

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