I first discovered Ash Tales a few months ago on Twitter (or maybe it was longer than that… time in the Wastes can be subjective). In any case, this quickly became one of my favorite accounts to follow. I happen to love audiobooks and post-apocalyptic fiction (um, duh!) and this was the best of both worlds! Ash Tales is a podcast that is a reading (complete with sound effects) of a postapoc short story. Really… it’s like a star was actually listening when I wished upon it!
I recently decided that an interview was in order… I simply had to know more about Ash Tales and the man who created it. So, with no further ado, here he is… and as always, please click the pics for a taste of Ryan’s fabulous work…
First off, tell me a little about yourself. What makes Ryan tick?
I guess I’m motivated by two core beliefs: Post apocalyptic fiction is more important than most people give it credit for, and it deserves greater awareness. Writers get a raw deal, and deserve a better way to share their stories with people.
Aside from that, I’m 25, I play a mean guitar, and I have a crippling love affair with dark beer.
What sparked your interest in postapoc fiction? What is your first memory of something telling you “This is it… this is what I love”?
About a decade ago I was given a dog-eared copy of The Postman to read. There was something in that story that fascinated me: seeing society crumble down brought out a bit of the frontier spirit in me, and I damn near packed-up my bag to go and live in the woods. I looked for a few books that captured a similar vibe, and that was how I found The Road – and that magic phrase “post apocalyptic fiction”. Cue the light bulb and angelic chorus.
Is there a certain type of Apocalypse that you favor? Nuclear Armageddon? Social Breakdown? Ecological Disaster? Dare-I-say-it…. Zombies?
It’s gotta be the classic nuclear apocalypse scenario – that feeling of living under the gun is just so relateable. Books like Alas, Babylon and On the Beach really hit home for me, seeing how close we’ve come to a real-life cataclysm, and how close we could come again.
Are you a fan of “fantasy” apocalypses or ones based more in reality (Fury Road vs. The Road)?
Don’t make me choose man! I guess if I had to come down on a single side, I’d favor realism. I think post apocalyptic fiction can be a powerful form of social commentary, letting you strip away society’s veneer and see what life’s really like at its core. I studied Economics and Sociology, so I’m fascinated by the unspoken rules that govern our world, and I love anything that explores what life would look like without society around to guide us.
Are you a writer yourself?
Absolutely! Writing was the only thing I was ever good at, so I’ve spent the last decade finding ways to make a living from it. I’m the co-founder of a marketing agency here in the UK, and before that, I was a freelance copywriter. I’ve written all kinds of weird and wonderful things (I’ve even been a beer reviewer – that was pretty sweet), and I’m now turning my hand to writing fiction. I’ve published a few short stories and a novel is in the works (new-found respect for serial authors – novels are hard work!).
I absolutely love what you’re doing with your Ash Tales project… seriously, this is a an amazing blending of audio and postapoc fiction. Would you tell me more about Ash Tales? How did you come up with the idea? What would you like people to know about it?
A couple of years ago, I decided to write a roundup of awesome post apocalypse books – the kind of guide I was looking for when I first discovered the genre. A few thousand words and a dozen cups of coffee later, and I’d written The 50 Best Post Apocalyptic Books. I set up Ash Tales, hit publish – and promptly forget I’d ever written it. I stumbled upon the site a year later, and saw that the post was getting hundreds of visits a month. Now, it’s just crossed 20,000 views (insane!), and as it turns out, my weird little end-of-the-world fascination wasn’t that weird or little.
Are you a “one man band” when it comes to Ash Tales, or is it a team effort?
Total one-man band! I count myself really lucky that my day job gives me the skills to run the site, letting me focus on the stuff I love doing: reading and writing post apocalyptic fiction!
It’s also important to say that Ash Tales wouldn’t exist without the support of our awesome readers and writers. I’ve been blown away with the response I’ve had from people, and I’m always humbled by talented authors that are willing to take a chance on me, and share their work with the site.
Is postapoc fiction popular in England? If so, why do you think that is? If not, why not?
It’s always struck me as a pretty American phenomenon, and most of the genre’s classics have their roots firmly in US soil. At a guess, I’d say we have the Cold War to thank for popularizing the genre, and the US was more directly involved than our quiet little backwater. With that said, there are a couple of books my native country has contributed to the cause, including The Children of Men, The Day of the Triffids, and the super underrated The Death of Grass.
I’m not going to ask you the old standby of “What is your favorite postapoc movie and book?”. So, what are your THREE favorite postapoc movies and books?
Impressive…. most impressive (in my best, yet totally pathetic Vader voice). I’m going to suppress my elation that you are the only person I’ve ever spoken to who was familiar with The Death of Grass… only because it would be both embarrassing and perhaps a skosh messy.
Ryan, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to ask you these questions and letting our fellow wanderers of the wastes learn more about you and your project.
If any of you writers are interested in submitting your work to Ash Tales, you can submit your tale here… Ash Tales Short Story Submissions.