Back at the beginning of July 2016 I reviewed The Lift. A great podcast centred around the ghost, (or perhaps something more), of a little girl named Victoria, who guides people through their own personal nightmares to a fitting conclusion. If you are unfamiliar with this show, I recommend you go and check out my review here.
If you go and check out the website you will find a team of fifteen writers behind the show, and it would be lovely to get to chat to them all at some point, but for now we are going to be talking to the main creator and narrator Mr. Daniel Foytik.
So let us begin with discovering what media influenced the feel of The Lift, and that adorable little girl Victoria.
I loved classic radio dramas as a kid, so those are a big influence, and I also used to love to watch The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Fantasy Island. I enjoy morality plays and works that promote the idea of there being a clear consequence for the choices we make.
When it comes to Victoria, I really fell in love with the Bio-Shock video game series, and I remember the Shining Twins terrifying me as a kid (partially because they say my name in the movie) so the combination of those elements played a big part in her initial character development.
The show itself, grew out of another show that Daniel created, The 9th Story, that looks into all aspects of story telling, as he explains.
I started out with a concept for a show that would explore story in all its forms and named it The 9th Story. My intent was to create something that would allow me to look at the similarities between writing, oral telling, visual art, poetry, sculpture, and so on – all the various ways we tell stories. I thought it would be a great way to explore my own path as a writer and storyteller, while allowing me to talk to people who were a lot smarter than me; artists who already understood their chosen medium. It was and is about parallels between the different forms of making good art.
Now, part of that show’s original format was me occasionally writing stories and performing/narrating them. That aspect was kind of a way for me to force myself to keep writing and creating. It eventually led to me wanting to focus more on an idea I had for the series that became The Lift. The idea came out of many long conversations with my friend Cynthia Lowman about expanding and exploring the role of Victoria as it related to this meta mythos I had created around the fictional 9 story building where the 9th Story Podcast was recorded.
I can relate to having to force yourself to write. After twenty years of not writing, I decided to start again, and even then it took me about two years to actually put pen to paper. Can you envisage what your life would be like without writing?
I would probably be spending a lot of time being frustrated and wondering why. I was pretty devoted to the path of writing until I lost that focus sometime in my mid twenties, when I started to pursue a career and thought I had to choose one or the other. It wasn’t until my late 30’s that I found my way back. I didn’t consciously realise I had this void, but I did once I started creating again. I don’t know how I was able to go on for so long denying that part of myself.
So lets talk about your listening habits. What are your top three all time favourite podcasts?
What a wicked question! There are so many I love, and I’ve become friends with so many producers of great audio dramas as a result of doing The Lift, it becomes nigh impossible to answer that. How about instead, I tell you the three that were most pivotal to me in terms of making me a podcast creator and leading up to The Lift?
I know, I’m so evil, but I can’t help it. Okay, we’ll have it your way.
First is a show called Mysterious Universe. It’s created by two guys out of Australia named Ben Grundy and Aaron Wright. I started listening to them right at the start of their second season and I heard them grow and get more polished as they went. It proved to me that you could make this really engaging and professional show that was very high quality and fun on what was initially a very tight budget. It made me want to do it too, and made me believe that I could.
Second is a show that most readers will be familiar with called Welcome to Night Vale. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard at the time and it proved to me that there was an audience for the weird, high strangeness type of storytelling I was interested in hearing and making. It had this very Lynchian Twin Peaks kind of “things are not what they seem but we all pretend everything is normal” vibe I loved. They seemed to pull inspiration from all the really obscure, weird, geeky stuff I loved and transform it into something wholly unique. I also loved that they really focused on the story– it wasn’t super fancy or flashy, but it had great audio quality and it was engaging.
Night Vale has been a huge influence on a vast number of podcasters, and rightly so, its an amazing show. It was definitely one of the shows that pushed me back into writing. Also It’s nice to meet someone that likes David Lynch. I grew up on Twin Peaks, and I’m really excited about seeing the old gang back together for a new series next year.
Last is The Wicked Library, which feels a little bit like a cheat since I took over production of that show in 2015 for Season Six and took over full ownership of the property for Season Seven. But, I was a fan of the show before it was mine. I loved the concept of having a very entertaining show resulting from this great, collaborative environment where independent authors, artists, and composers could work together and make connections with each other and share their fans. The show’s creator, Nelson W. Pyles, is an independent horror author and knows how hard it is to get noticed without a huge publisher behind you. He came up with the concept as a way to help promote other independent horror authors while entertaining horror fans. As you might imagine, it grew. When I took over, it became a proving ground for me and I learned a great deal about using my marketing experience to do community building with many other artists who were making good horror. I even managed to get Owl Goingback and Neil Gaiman to let me produce episodes featuring their work last season! Owl will be back this season too along with another surprise author or two. We focus mostly on stories by indie authors, but the really well-known authors do help us get more ears and eyes on everyone’s work.
I haven’t yet listened to The Wicked Library, but with names like Goingback, and Gaiman, who incidentally, is the author who started me down the road of writing, you can guarantee it has just been bumped up the list.
So what does the immediate future hold for you? Any future projects in the pipeline, or teasers you wish to share with your fans?
The biggest little secret is that we are going to be putting together an anthology of the stories from Season 1 of The Lift, which will include two new stories written just for the anthology that have never been seen or heard before. We’re hoping to share more information on that later this year.
We’re hard at work writing, collecting and editing the stories for Season 2 of The Lift. We have a new music director in John Niespodzianski, who has a lot of experience and connections with other composers.
We’ve finished selecting all of the stories for Season Seven of The Wicked Library and – something new – you’ll hear a few guest narrators this season, which is going to be a lot of fun!
Cindy and I are working on narrating the stories for an Anthology from Shadows at the Door edited by Mark Nixon, (for which I also wrote a ghost story called “A Little Light Gets In”). We are also co-narrating a fantastic novel called Carrot Field, written by Vincent Asaro. I’ll be doing most of the voice work, but Cindy will be providing the female vocals. Carrot Field will feature custom music written by our former Music Director Nico Vettese.
The Carrot Field audio book will first be released as a story podcast with new “chapters” every other week starting this December. We’re very excited to help promote the wonderful book and audio book in this way. The audio book will have quite a few extras including higher audio quality and epic musical scores, but the podcast will be of the same level of production you’re getting with The Lift and The Wicked Library.
Wow! Lots going on then, and plenty for fans to get their teeth into. Thanks again Dan for taking time out to answer a few questions, and share your story with us.
If you’re a fan of The Lift and want to help us keep making it we’d love your support on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/victoriaslift. They are in need of some equipment upgrades, and would love to be able to pay the writers, artists and composers so any support you can give, helps them make sure they can keep telling awesome stories for us.
If you would like more info on the soon to be released Carrot Field (December 16th 2016) then visit http://vincentasaro.weebly.com/carrot-field.html
If you’re interested in getting a copy of Shadows at the Door, then click this handy little link http://www.shadowsatthedoor.com/store/
The new season of The Lift drops into our ears Wednesday 16th November 2016, but you can go and listen to a special show released today for World Audio Drama Day by clicking in this link here.
Check out some more of my ‘Behind the Mic’ interviews by simply clicking on the picture links below.