Growing Organically: An Interview with Scott Fynboe, Creator of SAFTAcast

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In honor of the one year anniversary of SAFTAcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Scott Fynboe, creator of the series.

Jane Huffman: Can you tell me the creation story of SAFTAcast? What was your role in it?

Scott Fynboe: Okay, so, December 2013: Sundress VP and SAFTA Literary Arts director T.A. Noonan and I were discussing a then recent episode of The Nerdist podcast. At the time, Sundress was looking to expand into new, creative areas, and I was looking to get more involved with the organization, so T.A. tossed out the idea of doing a podcast of some sort.

We talked it over, drew up a proposal, pitched it to Erin Elizabeth Smith over the phone, and within minutes, Erin greenlit the project.

The show was pitched as something like “a podcast that goes back to the original ‘talk show’ style, like Jack Parr or Dick Cavett, with people just talking about things.” In other words, a writing & literature podcast that would feel like a getting-coffee-at-a-diner conversation.

Erin loved the idea and gave me complete creative control over the show – title, logo, theme song, guest choice, etc. I mention that because one thing I really enjoy about working with SAFTA is that they let creators do what they do, and act more as advisors than architects. That freedom, then, allows a project – a show like this – to grow organically. It’s an amazing level of trust that they put into creators and I don’t take that trust lightly; it means a lot.

JH: How have the goals and incentives of the program changed over the past year?

SF: Some things have changed, certainly. But most of them have been within the show – redoing the way I open each episode, the addition of “The Burning Question that is on Everyone’s Mind,” that sort of thing.

But as for overall goals and incentives, I can’t say that much has changed. When the show was greenlit, T.A. and I wrote up a four-point “mission statement” for it:

  1. To be unique in the creative writing podcast market by producing a show that is not only informative, but entertaining.
  2. To give authors, editors and artists an outlet to not simply read and/or discuss their work, but to explore the topics that fascinate them and which display their personality.
  3. To foster Sundress Publications’ relationships with other presses, authors and artists.
  4. To continue Sundress Publications’ tradition of exploring diverse creative outlets.

I still adhere to those aims by keeping them in mind each time I record something. (Though, now that I think about it, the fourth one feels a little “out of date.” I think that was written because the show was going to be Sundress’ first audio-only project. It might need a little rewording.)

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JH: What is your favorite part of interviewing authors about their lives outside of their writing.

SF: Everyone – author and not – has stories about their individual histories and experiences. Yet there are also common threads that connect people. There’s an amazing balance of the unique and the universal experience in a conversation, and I love hearing someone’s stories while uncovering those connections.

For example, when Leslie LaChance was on the show, we got to talking about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. We both know the film and we both have a dislike of it – but for different reasons.

As I recall, Leslie said she was working in retail when it came out, and customers were obsessed with the merchandise. Meanwhile, at that same moment in time, just a couple hours drive away, I was a little kid, having the merchandise forced on me.

And neither of us knew the other person existed until decades later.

I don’t know about you, but that’s so cool to me. Consider just how many separate moves, maneuvers, interactions, networks, relationships, jobs, hobbies, technologies, etc. had to be in place – just for one episode of The SAFTAcast to take place; for two people to connect over a mutual disdain for a Spielberg film.

Okay, I risk going on a tangent into quantum physics type territory here. So I’ll say that, ultimately, what I really dig about doing the show is just that I get to chat with awesome people; learn about their stories. Then let audiences discover how awesome the guests are, independent of their art. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

JH: Maybe this is an impossible question, but do you have a favorite episode or episodes?

SF: I “plead the fifth” on this question. However, I will say that I have a couple of favorite promos.

For technical reasons, I love the “Sundress Academy 2015 Holiday Message.” That was recorded and cut in less than two hours, and came out amazing.

Overall, though, the one that still gets me is for Mary Stone’s episode, “SAFTAcast en SAP!” Intentionally bad Spanish, goofy, non-sequitur sound effects, inaccurate music cues – I still giggle every time I listen to it.


JH: What is a question you often ask writers that you’ve never had the chance to answer yourself?

SF: “What was it like growing up in ________________?”

I could have a field day with that question.

JH: Do you have any other current projects you’re working on? What’s next for you?

SF: After being out of the scene for a few years, this April I got the itch to start writing and publishing again. So I aim to do a bit of that over the summer.

I’m also developing a second, Sundress-related podcast. But I won’t say anything about that right now.

JH: What’s next for SAFTAcast?

SF: Keep going and get bigger.

Okay, that was a little pithy. We [Sundress and me] are gonna keep doing the show, obviously. But we’ve got a few special things in the works.

We’re toying with making some merchandise of the show available to the public this summer, and we’d really like to do one or two listener/fan “contests” before the year is out (once we figure out the logistics of them). Speaking of the end of the year, based on the response from last December, we’re looking to do more than one “Holiday music mini-sode” this winter.

And who knows what’ll happen beyond that. Best thing to do is keep a watch on The SAFTAcast website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

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Check out SAFTAcast here.

More information on Scott Fynboe here.

More information on the Sundress Academy for the Arts here.

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Jane Huffman writes from a variety of rooms in the Midwest. Recent poetry is featured or forthcoming in Radar Poetry, Word Riot, RHINO Poetry, The Boiler, Arroyo Literary Review, Moon City Review, and elsewhere in print and online. She is an Editorial Assistant for Sundress Publications. She was a recipient of a 2015 fellowship from the Stadler Center for Poetry. She has a BA from Kalamazoo College and is an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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