You can plan for the vacation of your dreams but you only get to experience the vacation of your reality

You’ve gotta look out for even bigger fish

The “historical fiction” genre is one where an author will take an actual historical event or era, and place a story within it. Typically they will stick to the facts in terms of the broad themes and sequences of whatever happened, but insert their own fictional (yet plausible) characters into the story to help move things along or make them interesting.

For example, maybe you’d have a story about Paul Revere’s ride within the larger context of the American Revolution. You’d keep the facts about Paul, the other historical figures of the time, the general timeline and route of his famous ride and so on all historically accurate — but then you’d make up some random family who lived along the route and have a whole bunch of stuff happen to them to give you a hypothetical everyman sort of angle on how the larger historical events that get remember might have experienced things at the time.

I think a cool new genre would be one where you totally flip this around. For example, maybe you’d find some insanely detailed diary of the day to day life of a random family from an era in history in which basically nothing consequential happened. Then, you’d treat this family diary the same way you typically treat the notable history … and you’d just straight up invent some large earth shaking events “out of whole cloth” as the saying goes.

In the normal historical fiction genre the readers of a novel might be like “I know I’m supposed to be focused on the details of Paul Revere’s ride here … but geez, the trouble that little Sally is having on the farm while she tries to learn how to churn butter and wrestle a steer at the same time is just captivating!”; where in bizzaro historical fiction novels the readers would be like “I know I’m supposed to be focused on the emotional decisions aunt edna has to make here about which patterns to use in her quilt, but wow do I find the side story about how the invention of the electric unicycle won the First World War just utterly compelling!”.

The shirts you keep at the bottom of the pile are wrinkled by now

In our modern era of computers and podcasts, one frequent technique to employ on a BOOK TOUR is for an author to go around and do interviews on lots of podcasts right around the time their book is coming out. I guess this makes sense and you probably try to hit podcasts which are topically relevant to whatever your book is about, and maybe cater the discussion slightly to hit whatever that audience cares about, assuming there’s not total overlap with your book.

I’ll occasionally have a thing where within the list of podcasts I’m regularly listening to multiple of them will all have on the same author who is promoting the same book around the same time and then I’ll wind up listening to basically the same conversation multiples times. The author will use the same anecdote with multiple interviewers!

This is probably not new. Comedians famously used to have literally just one “act” and they’d sometimes tour for years doing effectively the same set of jokes and stories in city after city because the people in Atlanta had basically zero access to the people in Austin, so the Venn diagram of people who’d have already heard that set was pretty small. Of course the internet sort of changed that and now you’ve gotta be more selective, I guess?

Anyway the point here is that whenever I see that multiple of my podcasts are having the same author on to promote their new book, I think of a bunch of things. First, I worry that I’ve created my own little content bubble or silo where I must be listening to too many similar things if they are all having the same person on. Maybe I should be broadening my subscriptions to get more hot takes from the “other side” or whatever.

But then I think no wait — maybe I should be looking up all the other podcasts that this author also did the same interview on, and also go subscribe to those! Maybe the signal of being on 2-3 of my regular podcasts is a bit of a tip-off for my and I can use “did you interview this person?” as a good proxy vote for a thing I might also be interested in.

But then I also have this incredible tension between “Sweet Jesus this is going to be so boring listening to basically the same conversation three times in a row” on the one hand and “But wait, this will be cool to see which of these hosts can do the most bang-up job of interviewing this same person?!”. It’s like a standardized test because they’re all dealing with the same guest and content. It’s like one of those things where multiple people wear the same dress to a fancy event and then the fashion magazinēs can do a “who wore it best” featurette on the event itself.