Social media and the internet has seen a rise in fan-run review sites covering movies, TV and books, and more web surfers are taking notice. How do you account for its increase in popularity?
I think this is definitely a case of both the democratization of media and the fragmenting of it. People have always shared their opinions with friends about movies, TV shows, and video games they liked, but now that you can have what is essentially a global platform for your opinions. That's going to be a very attractive proposition for some. I also think that people like to hear the opinions of "amateurs," or maybe just regular people would be a better way to put it. I think there has always been a strain of distrust for people who have been educated in a particular topic and get paid for writing about it, i.e. paid film critics. I don't necessarily feel like the distrust is wholly justified, but I can see where people are coming from. For example, I'm a lifelong horror fan, and in the past I did feel like a lot of mainstream critics didn't really care for horror, or didn't really get it. But now I can go to a fan-run site that only discusses horror and is made up of reviewers who love the genre; I'm much more likely to listen to their opinions because I think they have a better handle on what they're talking about and a better appreciation for it. I tend to read a wide swath of reviews, though, from mainstream media critics to smaller sites, just to get a sort of rounded view of things. That said, I think the impact that fan-run sites has had on larger mainstream review sites has been enormous, and as time goes on, I don't really think there will be much of a distinction anymore.
Besides having a handle on what they review, many sites present in depth analyses, with honest opinions about good and bad points rather than just praising everything. How important are efforts to challenge the sameness in TV and movies?
I definitely do appreciate the more in-depth analysis that a lot of fan sites give. Though I'm leery of sites that praise everything, I also intensely dislike sites that go in the opposite direction, i.e. the ones that just shit on everything for the sake of sounding cooler or more edgy or what have you. I do like a balanced overview, where you can point out something's flaws without going overboard and comparing the movie or video game in question to cancer or Hitler or whatever, haha.
I'm not sure I'd categorize today's TV and movies as being "samey," or at least no more so than in previous eras. While I don't particularly care for big-budget Hollywood blockbusters in general (though there have been some I quite enjoyed), I didn't like them when I was growing up in the 80s either, mostly preferring independent or art films. I think that some of the blockbusters of today are better-looking and better-written than ones of the past. As far as TV goes, I actually think we are seeing a renaissance in the medium, as it really seems as though original cable series as well as series produced by Netflix are truly an embarrassment of riches. Not that people shouldn't be picky in their entertainment if that's what they want to be, but I'm just floored by the amount of quality programming that's out there; far too much for me to ever have time to watch it all. Combine that with the impact of crowd-funding, which for example brought back my favorite TV show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, plus the ease with which pretty much anyone can make their own shows and movies fairly cheaply and get them out into the world, and I really think we couldn't be living in better times, at least in regards to the entertainment available to us.
As an aside, do you consider Mystery Science Theater 3000 the first of its kind in its approach to classic entertainment? Are you familiar with Rifftrax, a recent project of the actors who apply the formula to mainstream productions?
I don't think MST3K was necessarily the first of its kind as far as that sort of call-and-response funny film critique style. It took elements of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, What's Up Tiger Lily, and local "horror host" type shows and codified them into a winning and pretty original formula. But for sure it was the most culturally relevant, and its influence on today's brand of snarky internet commentary on movies really can't be overstated. And I am indeed familiar with Rifftrax! I have a bunch of them, always download new shorts (which are my favorite), and have even gone to some of the theater events, including Birdemic and their revisiting of the classic Manos: The Hands Of Fate. I really am a complete geek about that show and all its offshoots; I even gave a very large amount of money that I couldn't really afford to the Bring Back MST3K Kickstarter!
Considering how important it was to you to support MST3K’s Kickstarter campaign, how much more “fan power” does crowd funding give to fans? Is it on a par with social media?
Crowdfunding has really been such a huge boon to DIY entertainment, and I really love that we are heading more toward a culture of Patreon and Indiegogo, where fans can support their favorite creators directly. It's a much more one-on-one experience, and people who create things you love are a lot more accessible. That said, I still think social media is much more powerful, if only because it's much easier to just hit the ‘like’ button or share something than it is to actually put up some of your own money in support.
What review sites have you been watching besides your podcast? What do you find sets those programs apart, so that you can immediately recognize them?
Probably my favorite review show on YouTube is Welcome To The Basement (the channel is The Blame Society, and I also love their other show, Beer And Board Games). Two guys, Matt and Craig, who are passionate about film, come from theater and stand-up comedy backgrounds, just sitting on a couch watching a movie, making jokes, and then doing really in-depth and informed discussions about the movies afterward. They do a broad range of flicks: new and old, art films to blockbusters to cult trash, just a vast panoply and I love it. I love the variety, I love their wit, and I love how unashamedly into movies they are. They're funny, but they're also humble and earnest, and not concerned about seeming cool or flippant. They're also about my age, and grew up in the same type of 80s punk/alternative framework as I did, so I can relate to a lot of their opinions and experiences. They don't like some of the movies they feature, but they are always very articulate about the reasons why, and when they disagree, they are civil and adult about it. So they're easily my favorite. I also love Brandon Tenold, who tends to do more Z-grade films and has more of a riffing, MST3K vibe, and other channels like the Shit Flick Critic and Shitcase Cinema. Specifically for horror, I quite like Bloodbath And Beyond.
Why do you think more people are watching channels that critique movies from a fan’s point of view as opposed to clips that endorse movies funded by big companies? Do you think it inspires people to start their own channels?
As I said, I definitely think people are more inclined to believe something a fan says rather than something from the perspective of a "professional." I don't necessarily think that's a great attitude to have in all areas of life (like people believing some random idiot on the internet about curing their cancer rather than listening to a real doctor, to take an extreme example), but for movies I don't think there's any harm in it. People expend a lot of time on their various fandoms and they like to watch other fans discuss the topic, and perhaps argue about what they liked or didn't like. And I definitely think it inspires people to start their own channels, which I think is fantastic. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the DIY attitude of the punk era (which yes, I am old enough to remember). Most of the channels people start are probably not going to be that good, but a surprising amount of them are pretty brilliant (again, just like the punk era).
What inspired you to start 13 O’Clock Podcast amid the expanding number of Youtube channels? Did you see an opportunity to attract more viewers by joining Youtube?
We had actually been kicking around the idea of doing a podcast for a while before we actually got around to doing one. We thought it would be fun, just because we like to talk and we think we have a funny back and forth with each other which our friends have always found amusing. We also thought it might be another avenue for getting the word out about my writing. But we didn't actually get off our butts and start the thing until after we met the horror writer Armand Rosamilia at an event here in Orlando. We got to talking to him and he had a podcast and a network that it was hosted on, and he suggested we should start one, because we had a good rapport with one another that he thought would be entertaining. So we did. We were initially on his network, but then went our own way when we wanted to start our own Patreon. We've since expanded to two episodes a week, one a paranormal or true crime topic, and one a movie review. It's a lot of work to produce, but it’s fun too, and we've got to meet so many awesome people because of it.
How long had you known each other before you started talking about doing a podcast show? Have you both written for local zines or music papers?
We had probably known each other for about seven years, and been a couple for five, before we started the podcast. Many years ago I used to write for a local music magazine in Florida, and I've also written a bunch of fiction and non-fiction in the years since. I also have a horror blog called Goddess Of Hellfire, though I don't write as much long-form stuff on there as I used to, because I just don't have the time. Tom is more the idea guy, the pitch man, the comic relief, haha. I'm usually the one who does the research for the shows and does all the technical stuff. When we record the show, half the fun is me just talking about the topic and then Tom putting in his two cents, because I'm never sure what he's going to come up with. He's like the audience surrogate.
What kind of fiction and music reviews were you writing before you started reviewing movies?
Almost all horror fiction. I had written two books of short stories and a couple of horror novels before I started reviewing. When I first started the blog, I would often put up short stories from the books and excerpts of the novels just as teasers, and sometimes I would post short stories I wrote that hadn’t been published. I also posted descriptions of particularly interesting nightmares I had, haha. As far as music reviews go, I pretty much wrote reviews of gothic and alternative stuff. This was in the early to mid 90s. I remember writing about Nick Cave, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, David J, Alien Sex Fiend, stuff like that.
Is anything you have written still in publication today? Can it be purchased or downloaded on the internet?
Pretty much everything I’ve written is available somewhere! All of my fiction and nonfiction is available on Amazon; my author page is Jenny Ashford. The fiction is available in print and eBook formats, the nonfiction is available in print, eBook, and audio book. I’m eventually going to get around to doing audio book versions of my fiction too, I just haven’t had time to do it yet. Plus some short horror stories I’ve written have turned up in various anthologies over the years, like History Is Dead (zombie stories with historical settings) and The Nightmare Collective. Easiest way to find those is to go to my website, click on the Books tab, and there’s a big list with links of pretty much all my stuff.
How long has Goddess Of Hellfire been online, and where on the internet can it be found? Are classic horror movies mostly reviewed there, or do you also cover other materials?
It's at goddessofhellfire.com. I started writing it in mid-2014. At first I just put up things like short stories and novel excerpts I'd written, articles about various creepy topics, and so forth, but then I got into talking about horror movies, books, and even horror-themed toys I loved growing up. Then I started picking out some of my favorite scary scenes from horror movies and discussing why I thought they were frightening, or why they had made an impression on me. I also did a series on silent films, with funny commentary. Once we started the podcast, I also started promoting the podcast on the blog. But since we've been doing mostly older movies on the podcast, I've lately taken to reviewing newer horror films on the blog. In fact, a couple years back, I started a Horror Double Feature category, where I pick two fairly recent (i.e. post-2010) horror flicks at random on Netflix and review them. So the blog has reviews of everything from horror classics (The Haunting from 1963, Don't Look Now, The Tenant, Dead Ringers, Blood on Satan's Claw) to silent movies from the earliest days of cinema (Haxan, The Phantom Carriage, The Hands of Orlac), to recent independent horror (Starry Eyes, The Invitation, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, They Look Like People). It's kind of a mixed bag. As I said before, I'd really like to write more long-form reviews on there, but the past few months have been kind of crazy and I haven't really had time. I have a huge list of movies I want to write about, both old and new.
What other movies are you thinking about reviewing for Goddess Of Hellfire?
As far as newer movies go, I’ve watched a large batch of indie horror movies lately that I want to review, including Creep 2 (I already reviewed the first one, which was awesome), Anguish, The Ritual, Abattoir, Tag, and Before I Wake. I just posted reviews a few days ago of the horror comedies Ava’s Possessions and Welcome to Willits, both of which I really enjoyed, and I was pretty stoked that the guy who wrote Welcome to Willits, Tim Ryan, saw my review on Facebook and shared it around and friended me! As far as older movies, I still want to do some more classic silent films, like The Golem and The Man Who Laughs. And other movies I want to do are Cemetery Man, Carnival of Souls, Ravenous, Blood and Black Lace (I’ve written about a lot of giallo movies on my blog, but haven’t got around to doing the big heavy-hitters yet), more Dario Argento movies (since I’ve only written about Suspiria), The Brood (definitely need more Cronenberg on the blog; I’ve only done Dead Ringers so far), and probably Inland Empire and/or Lost Highway, because David Lynch is my favorite.
Does your approach to reviewing differ greatly from the sites you have watched recently? How much room do you two have to discuss movies you grew up watching? What is your criterion for choosing material to discuss?
Our approach to reviewing wasn't really something we thought a great deal about. We just decided we were going to talk about movies, particularly ones we really liked growing up and that kind of shaped our personalities, and that was it. We never really have a script or much of an idea what we're going to talk about; we just watch the movie, maybe read through the Wikipedia page to remember all the actors' names and stuff, and then turn on the mic and start yapping, haha. Sometimes we go off on tangents, sometimes we relate personal anecdotes about seeing the movie, stuff like that. And our approach to picking the ones we review is completely random. We have a list we want to get around to eventually, and sometimes fans will recommend some good ones, but most of the time we'll just be talking about something else and one of us will say, "Hey, remember that movie from 1978 with the tentacle monster, that really scared me as a kid" (or whatever) and then we'll do that. We usually do older movies, like 70s and 80s, but we've done newer ones too, like Blade Runner 2049 because we loved it so much, and I reviewed David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, which is one of my favorite movies ever. We don't have any rules or set criteria, we just pull stuff out of our butts most of the time. Hahaha.
What sort of ideas does Tom come up with for the show? Are most of them adapted into your podcast?
He mostly likes paranormal topics; it was his idea, for instance, to do reviews/discussions of episodes of the show "A Haunting" on some of our episodes, and that's really worked out well. A lot of people really responded to those, and those particular episodes have been responsible for some of the show's beloved catchphrases, such as "Where is that raccoon?!?" and, "Man said it would be fun!" Hahaha. Tom is also into weird history, UFO and space type things. Some of the topics he championed on the show were the ones we did on Nazis and the occult, the shows on Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey, myths about the Maya, the triangle UFO phenomenon, history of "life on Mars" stories, failed doomsday predictions (that was a fun one), and the one we did about crazy cryptids. On the whole, he's way more into conspiracies and crazy theories on the fringe of science, whereas I'm more the skeptic type who prefers to talk about weird murders, or debunking various paranormal topics (for example, one of my favorite episodes we did was about Houdini's campaign against the spiritualists and how he busted fake séances. We didn't get a lot of hits on that one, but it was still great fun for me to do).
What did you two discuss about LaVey and Crowley? Do you usually research the obscure topics featured on your podcast?
The Crowley show we kind of turned into a “fun myths about the man” discussion, because there are a lot of crazy stories about him that are kind of entertaining but probably untrue. The Anton LaVey one was mostly just a straightforward talk about his life and the ins and outs of the Church of Satan, with a short discussion about his association with Jayne Mansfield. I try to do as much research on the topics as I can, within time constraints. I’m also a writer and a graphic designer, so when it comes down to crunch time I really only have a day or two to research whatever topic we’re discussing. I try not to make mistakes, but sometimes they slip through just because I didn’t have time to get a really broad view of the subject. That said, we still just want it to be a fun, casual show, so we try not to worry too much about crossing every T and dotting every I. We never script it really, I just write a brief outline of the topic and we turn on the mic and wing it.
How long have you studied graphic design? Have you designed any graphic art for 13 O Clock Podcast?
I actually got a degree in graphic design back in the mid-90s, and I’ve been working in the field since 1997. I’m completely freelance now, which is nice. I did indeed do all the graphics for 13 O’Clock, including the logo, all our t-shirt designs and various promo materials. I’ve actually done design for lots of bands, including the post-punk/gothic band from Miami, Astari Nite, and some death metal stuff like Sons of Ragnar and Withering Earth. I designed the Black Metal Chef’s cookbook, The Seitanic Spellbook, from cover to cover, and I'm pretty proud of how that came out. I also do tons of posters for Goth nights and various gigs around central Florida. Plus I do a bunch of package design and some corporate promo stuff as well, to pay the bills.
How often do you design posters for Goth parties and local performances? Can your work be viewed online?
I do all the posters for the goth/industrial night Tom and I host (along with our friend DJ Lavidicus) called Memento Mori. That's the third Monday of the month in downtown Orlando. I also do two or three posters for Astari Nite gigs per month, and I do posters for pretty much every death metal show at The Haven and Bombshell's Tavern in Orlando. Sometimes I also do posters for various nights at Rok Bar in Daytona Beach. A lot of my posters and other designs can be seen on the Portfolio area of my website.
Are there other occult based topics you might be covering on future podcasts?
We have a few occult-style topics on the list. Someone recommended we do a show on Fox Hollow Farm, which is a serial killer story and a ghost story all in one, so we’re definitely going to do that. We’re probably going to do ones about Illuminati theories as well, one about Ouija boards (another listener recommendation), and maybe less occult but more mystery-themed, one about creepy uncracked codes, the Voynich Manuscript, the Elisa Lam case, and a few other topics.
What Illuminati theories have you been reading about of late? Who is/was Elisa Lam and what is the Voynich Manuscript?
The Illuminati stuff I haven’t got too much into yet, because we’re probably not going to get to that episode for a few more months. It’s just been requested a lot, and we eventually wanted to do one, plus it's something Tom is kinda fascinated by. Elisa Lam was also a requested topic; that’s the girl who was caught on video acting very strangely in a hotel elevator and then later found dead in the hotel’s huge water tank on the roof. No one’s really sure if she somehow climbed in there herself or if she got murdered or what; it’s a pretty disturbing story. The Voynich Manuscript is this weird book from the 15th century that has all these drawings of unknown plants in it and is written in some strange language or code that so far no one has ever been able to decipher. I love anything about mysterious books and codes, so I’ve been wanting to do a show on that for a while, even though there have been several documentaries done on it.
How did you hear of the Voynich Manuscript? Did you get to watch any of the documentaries made about it?
I'm pretty sure I first heard of it from the History Channel, maybe on one of those "historical mysteries" type shows. I have watched a few other documentaries about it. It's always been such a fascinating subject to me, not only because no one has really been able to figure out what it says or what it means, but also because it was definitely made in the 15th century, and if someone was "faking it" for some reason (i.e. making a bogus spellbook or grimoire or something that was just written in some gibberish, made-up language), then that's an interesting story by itself. I'm enthralled by people who create crazy stuff like that for fraudulent purposes or just for shits and giggles. It's the same reason I'm dying to do a show on Han van Meegeren, the guy who painted a bunch of fake Vermeers and sold some of them to the Nazis; I just really admired his grift, I guess, haha.
How often have you chosen movies from the 70s and 80s because of the sentimental value that comes from discussing them? Name a handful of those movies and what you remembered the most while you two shared your thoughts on them?
Most of the time we choose films that had some significance for us during our formative years, and though some of that is surely sentimentality, I'm also interested in revisiting movies from our childhood and seeing how they hold up now that I'm an adult. For example, we recently reviewed Disney's The Black Hole from 1979. Tom remembered it fairly well, but was still surprised at how much he still liked it. I recalled seeing it in the theater when I was seven years old, but didn't remember hardly anything about it, so I was curious to see why it hadn't left an impression. And I was also quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it, considering I had barely remembered it at all. I was also very excited to review Time After Time, also from 1979, because I had very fond memories of watching that film over and over on cable in the early eighties. I still love it, and can recite it practically word for word.
Other classic movies reviewed at 13 O’Clock include Logan’s Run, Blade Runner, Westworld and Suspiria. Were these all personal favorites of yours? How much detail went into your discussions?
Suspiria is for sure one of my favorite horror films of all time, and it was one of the first movies I wrote down when we were coming up with a list of movies to review. Interestingly, I ended up reviewing Suspiria on my own (as I also did with David Lynch's Mulholland Drive) when Tom was out of town taking care of a family emergency. Tom had never seen Suspiria, and doesn't like Italian or surrealist horror in general, so I figured I would just get that one out of the way while he wasn't home, haha. Tom is way more into sci-fi. I like sci-fi too, and I definitely wanted to do Logan's Run and Blade Runner because those were beloved movies from my childhood, but usually if we do a more sci-fi oriented flick, it's generally Tom's pick, though I like the movies as well. I tend to be more of a fan of cerebral horror, ghost stories, surrealism, arthouse type stuff, which Tom doesn't usually have much patience for. So we try to hit a happy medium, where those genres intersect with one another. Like, we're both super into The Legend of Hell House, Videodrome, Salem's Lot, and John Carpenter's The Thing, so those were no-brainers for us to review. For other movies we usually have to gauge how much each of us loves them/knows about them to see if it will make a good discussion. I like it when we find the sweet spot of a movie where it's a movie we both like, but we like it for different reasons or we each have a unique reading of it. That happened on our recent review of the 1977 movie Demon Seed, which Tom interpreted in a different way than I did, so we had kind of a spirited talk about it and what we thought it meant.
Describe other occult and paranormal topics you have covered of late.
We recently did a show on the Winchester Mystery House, although we talked less about the actual reported hauntings and more about the strange construction of it and whether Sarah Winchester really believed she was building the house to keep the ghosts confused. We also did episodes on the Belmez Faces (where faces spontaneously appeared in floor and wall tiles in a house in Spain, though it was almost certainly a hoax); the Moving Coffins of Chase Vault in Barbados (which was probably a fictional story that got conflated into a real event); and fire poltergeists (like the unexplained fires that broke out in the Italian village of Canneto di Caronia in the early 2000s). We also did episodes on spontaneous combustion, the haunting at Summerwind Mansion, EVPs, the so-called "witchcraft murder" of Charles Walton in England in 1945 (which seemed very much like a ritual sacrifice), sea monsters and ghost ships, the Black Mausoleum, Haitian zombie lore and the making of so-called "zombie powder," and the Scole Experiment. Oh, and we did a show about Tom's own poltergeist experience from when he was a kid back in 1982, the Mammoth Mountain poltergeist. We wrote a book about that as well.
Would you say the subject matter you and Tom prefer make for a kind of balance that’s unique for your podcast?
I do think we have an interesting dynamic going. I guess most podcasts similar to ours are either one or the other, i.e. all paranormal mysteries or all true crime, but from the very beginning, we wanted to have a looser framework where we could discuss pretty much anything that interested us. And since we have a bunch of different and kind of idiosyncratic interests, the topics are sort of all over the place, which I like because I like a lot of variety. I would get bored just talking about ghost stories every week, but I’d also get bored talking about horrible murders every week. And people really have seemed to respond to our sort of ramshackle format, haha. Plus we’ve gotten a lot of feedback that listeners seem to like the personal dynamic between Tom and me, the sort of funny rapport we have with one another, which I think is another thing that makes our show stand out from the pack a bit. It never really occurred to us that other people would find our interaction entertaining, because we've known each other so long and the way we act with one another is something we don't think about, but apparently other people are amused by our shenanigans.
Some time ago you did a feature on Elizabeth Bathory, who perhaps can be considered a serial killer. A few others from recent times have been the focus of your discussions. Would you discuss other modern era serial killers?
We're definitely going to do more serial killers. We've been asked to do some better-known ones, like Jack the Ripper, the Phantom Killer, and the Zodiac, for instance, and we'll do those at some point, but I'm always more interested in ones that aren't so well-known. Like we did an episode on the Atlanta Ripper from the early 1900s, and I was amazed how little-known that serial killer is, even though it's thought that he killed from 8 to 22 women. I also want to do a show on female serial killers, and ones on Jack the Stripper, Bible John, Dean Corll, the Monster of Florence, the Doodler, the Beauty Queen Killer, the Highway of Tears murders, the Alphabet murders, maybe Albert Fish or Carl Panzram. The show we'll be recording this week is actually going to be about serial killer Herb Baumeister, who I only heard about because I saw an episode of Paranormal Witness about his former house, Fox Hollow Farm. So it's like a serial killer show and a haunted house show all in one!
In addition to the podcasts you have posted, what untapped topics do you consider worthwhile to discuss?
Anything having to do with mysteries or the grotesque, really. I tend more toward true crime, creepy unsolved murders, urban legends, that kind of stuff. Tom is more into paranormal, conspiracy theory type subjects. We try to get a good mix of topics in there, plus we get a lot of great ideas from our listeners.
How often do listeners suggest ideas to you for discussion? Are there any fan suggestions you decided to go with that turned out well for the show?
Oh gosh, we get so many suggestions, and most of them are great. I still have a huge list of topics that have been recommended that we haven't gotten around to doing yet. Some of the best suggestions we've gotten were the murders at Corpsewood Manor and the Wineville Chicken Coop murders (which we did as one episode), mysteries of rock & roll (which was a blast to do) the Bloody Benders, the Smiley Face murder theory, the Russian Sleep Experiment, and Elizabeth Bathory. We still have a bunch more suggestions coming up, and I'm really looking forward to doing some of them!
There has been a lot of talk on Youtube about what is known as the Dark Web or the Deep Web in the last year or so. Would you ever consider a feature on it?
Oh yeah, that is definitely on the horizon. Matter of fact, I was just researching “creepiest videos on YouTube” with the hope of doing a show on that sort of thing soon. I don’t know how much into the really terrible shit on the Dark Web we want to go (like snuff videos and child porn, for instance), because I’m more fascinated by just the out there, weird stuff that people make that no one else can figure out the reason for. So there will likely be an episode discussing that topic in the coming months.
Many rumors about the deep web are just rumors. How would you be able to tell the difference while preparing your podcast?
I suspect most of the stuff that's on the deep web is exaggerated. I read somewhere that the bulk of the information on there is rather mundane; secured transactions, secret military stuff, corporate trade secrets, that kind of thing. I'm not saying there's not a lot of child porn and snuff and shit on there, because I'm sure there is, but I think when people think of the deep web, that's the first thing they think of, when probably that's just a small percentage of it (although even that small percentage is too much). As far as approaching it on the show, I generally always take a fairly skeptical or objective view of whatever topic we're doing, not to be contrary exactly, but because I know how easy it is to want to exaggerate something to make it sound scarier or more exciting. I usually present the information on the show as a sort of, "Well, some sources make this fairly outrageous claim, and these other sources have disputed it," and I'll usually fall on the more skeptical end of the spectrum. For instance, we did a show on H.H. Holmes, and even though he's quite well known for being "the serial killer who built the murder castle hotel with greased corpse chutes," I discovered that a lot of the claims about that stuff didn't come out until a bit later, that some of it came from his own confessions which were wildly embellished and self-aggrandizing, and that the newspapers hyped the hell out of the macabre story to sell copies. So was Holmes a killer? Definitely. Did he purpose-build a hotel with trap doors and special rooms for gassing people and stuff like that? Maybe, but I don't know if it was exactly like the legends. I tend to take the same approach with stories about the deep web, and especially nowadays, when it's so easy to fake things.
Where would you like to see the podcast in five years, going by its present growth? Would you like to eventually see it airing on a public access channel or a cable channel? Or would you like to continue building it from the grass roots?
I think I would like to see it continuing to expand, and I'd eventually like to get into some better production values, maybe incorporate video of us instead of just our voices and still images. I don't think I would want it to be a TV show necessarily, but who knows. The more people get involved in a project I'm working on, the more stressed out I get, haha. I wouldn't call myself a control freak necessarily, but I definitely like to do most of the work and not really be beholden to anyone else. It's why I started my own publishing company to put out my books, because I want to design my own covers and do my own book layouts and not have to depend on anyone else or hew to anyone else's timeline. It's the same with the podcast; I like to choose the topics and design the graphics and put everything where I want to put it when I want to put it there. So I hope we can just keep it independent and see it continue to grow.
How much potential for growth do you see building 13 O Clock Podcast independently?
Hopefully quite a bit. Since it's kind of a side gig that Tom and I do because we enjoy it, if it does well then that will be really great, a sort of nice surprise. It's actually already done much better than we were expecting, and we haven't even been going for two years yet. So I can see it continuing to build slowly, which is fine with me. If at some point it becomes huge, then that would be fantastic as well, and perhaps if that time comes we can take things to the next level, either by associating ourselves with a larger network or whatever else that might entail. I'm just happy that people are listening and responding to it; anything else is just the cherry on top.
jennyashford.com/ is a general site with links to everything on it, including all my books, my design portfolio, a bio, etc.
Goddess of Hellfire is my horror blog, which also has links to all the podcast episodes and movie retrospectives we've done, but also has lots of written movie reviews and essays about the genre, short stories, book excerpts, and more fun stuff.