Tonia Ransom sits down with Kenya Moss-Dyme for an exclusive interview with Black Women in Horror (virtually, of course)! Tonia is the creator and host of NIGHTLIGHT, a horror fiction podcast that truly elevates your listening experience with full scale productions of short story readings. An author herself, Tonia is also newly inducted into the 150+ Black Women in Horror club. Read on to learn more about NIGHTLIGHT and Tonia!
How long has Nightlight been around and what’s changed during it’s evolution?
I started NIGHTLIGHT in summer of 2018. The quality of our productions has definitely gotten better as we’ve been able to invest more in our voice actors and our authors, as well as pay our sound designers. We’ve also been able to use paid sound libraries for better quality sounds. I’m so proud that we’re now able to pay everyone who works on the podcast for their skill, and have been able to raise author rates very close to pro pay.
Tell us about the crew.
We have a couple of actors, like the amazing Cherrae Stuart, who frequently voice the stories. Our sound designers are Jen Zink and Davis Walden. Jen previously worked on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show, and now also works with me on my second podcast, Afflicted. Davis has been with NIGHTLIGHT almost as long as Jen, and it’s been amazing to see his growth as a sound designer.
I’m not a big podcast listener, but I checked out some of the episodes at Nightlight and they sound really incredible as far as production and quality! For someone like me who is new to horror podcasts, what would you tell them to expect that’s different than other podcasts?
Thank you so much! As for what’s different: most narrative anthology podcasts do not add sound effects to their productions. Most are just straight narration, much like an audiobook, or narration with ambient music. We don’t add as many sound effects as a full-cast audio drama, but instead use sound to enhance the story. That said, I do think this is changing — we’re starting to see more narrative anthologies add sound effects and music so they are closer to an audio drama vs an audiobook.
Do you all participate and record remotely or do you get together in a studio to create?
Our actors all record remotely. Since each episode is just a single narrator, it doesn’t really make sense to record in a studio, or with real-time direction from me, though I will often leave some director’s notes for the narrator if the instructions are important to the way we want the story produced.
There are a dozens of episodes available on the site. Do you have any personal favorites?
I still love Wilson’s Pawn and Loan by Lamar Giles. It’s one of our first episodes, and did very well when it first came out, but it gets less play as an older episode vs some of our other Season 1 stories. I wish more people listened to it!
What is the selection process for your stories – do you seek out the content or is there a submission process?
I both seek out content and accept submissions. We’re open for submissions on even months February through October, and it works pretty much the same way any other literary publication works, except we evaluate stories primarily based on pacing since that’s so important in audio. I also read stories in other magazines and anthologies and reach out to authors directly if I find something I like.
Podcast tales have a way of getting under your skin, a little more intensely than books. Have there been any stories featured that you just couldn’t shake?
Desiccant by Craig Laurance Gidney – Episode 12 of Season 3. I love this non-traditional take on vampires, but the reason this one is so hard to shake is because of the people being hunted by the creatures. They are society’s castaways, and their treatment is a reflection of reality that is unflinching and heartbreaking.
I’m excited to work my way through the rest of the episodes – I’ll have to pace myself though, because your selection is huge! How often do you develop new content?
We release 2 new episodes every month from February to September, then weekly episodes in October, culminating with a full-cast season finale every Halloween.
What’s in store for Nightlight in 2023? Any new features or events?
This year is going to be all about growing our podcast listenership. It’s the cornerstone that will allow us to pay authors and actors more. We had our first live show last October, and I’m hoping to do more this year. We’re also bringing back author interviews, which we’ll eventually start publishing to YouTube.
And since you are also one of our featured Black Women in Horror Month writers, please share with the audience which of your own works you’d like them to check out.
I would love for folks to check out my newest podcast, Afflicted. It’s like Lovecraft Country meets True Blood with a heavy dose of hoodoo and science. It’s free to listen wherever you get podcasts, or at pod.link/afflicted.
Tonia Ransom is the World Fantasy Award-winning creator and executive producer of NIGHTLIGHT, an IGNYTE Best Fiction Podcast featuring creepy tales written by Black writers, and Afflicted, a horror thriller best described as Lovecraft Country meets True Blood. Tonia has been scaring people since the second grade, when she wrote her first story based on Michael Myers. She lives in Austin, Texas. You can follow Tonia @missdefying on all the socials. Risen is her debut book.
Visit the NIGHLIGHT podcast by clicking here.
Be sure to look for Tonia in the upcoming 150+ Black Women in Horror, a comprehensive guide to some of the most powerful voices on the scene. Click here for a free download of the current version, then come back in March for the newest book updated with dozens of new entries!
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