PLEASE NOTE: This episode was re-recorded fairly last minute and there are some parts of the end of the episode which may be accurate to the old, rather than the new, version, because there was not time to do our usual full Quality Check before launch time. These will be completed in the next two days, and if you spot anything in particular, you can report it here.
Hey everyone! It’s me, Pippin, and this week we’re going to be answering some questions asked by you lovely people out there. There’s quite a bundle so I shall dive right into it without much preamble, except to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated to the crowdfunder so far! I’m recording this in the early hours of Sunday and we’re at just over 10% funded so yeah, and for every 1)% I will be making a cursed TikTok audio, so if you want mor ecursed tiktok audios please consider donating at crowdfunder.co.uk/spirit-box-radio. For ten pounds you can name a character in the show and for twnety pounds you can get an advanced copy of the season two official soundtrack and we have more rewards than that we have a whole bunch of them so check out the crowdfunder there’s a link in the description. If you have any spare change that would be increde, but please make sure you’re financially able it is more important to me that you’re taking care of yourselves. Um so yeah, please only donate if you’re able, but if you have any spare change, every little helps!
I’ve split these questions into two broad categories, and the first one is
IN WORLD-TYPE QUESTIONS
which are all about the universe and the characters from an in-world perspective, as opposed to from a production point of view.
Hi pip! If m was the most powerful arcanist in the northern hemisphere, was that impressive or not? Like best out of 6.4 billion people is pretty good, but is there just one baller Kiwi arcanist who is best in the world or like A LOT of really powerful witches in the southern hemisphere just chilling in Patagonia and Antarctica because they don’t like to be near people?
So this question is super fun because I can tell you some lore that I’m not sure will ever make it into the show proper, but is something that I’ve thought about a lot, which if I was to ever make some sort of like, I don’t know, guide to Arcanism type info book thing – side note, is that a thing you’d be interested in? It would take a while for me to put it together like, but it’s a thing I could do if enough people wanted it for sure!! Anyway, it IS pretty impressive, but only kind of, because it’s all kind of a marketing thing. There’s no board of Arcanists that works this stuff out. You’ve actually sort of met the former Most Powerful Arcanist in the Northern Hemisphere, that being Nagisa, who is Iranian, and named in part after a Persian harpist – like, honestly, it’s a cool story, apparently people just straight up fainted or stripped naked this harpist was so good. It’s a great bit of history.
We’re going to be hearing a few more powerful arcanists in Season Two, both Madame Marie’s contemporaries and her predecessors. The designations of ‘the Most Powerful in [X]’ are designations an Arcanist might claim, and others will probably come to them and judge them, which is what Nagisa is talking about in their letter to Madame Marie about visiting them in the tent on the pier. It’s significant that whilst there is mixed opinion about Madame Marie, the discourse is either, ‘nah she’s so powerful’ or ‘no she’s completely a fraud’, with few Arcanists taking a middle road of like ‘she’s alright but not that great’, which would be way more damning in a lot of ways.
Anyway, to answer this question, there are a few people claiming to be the most powerful Arcanist in the Southern Hemisphere, and that’ll come up next season a bunch!! Thanks for that question Clue!!
more of a lighthearted (?) question but on a scale of 1-10 how much trauma does sunshine boy sam hold
so much. But also like, in a way, the fact he can’t remember his childhood is kind of a good thing. He doesn’t remember trying to claw his way out of his bedroom, stuff like that, it’s all gone. I imagine it’s quite difficult to see others kind of holding that trauma on your behalf though. Anna sort of takes it upon herself to bear Sam’s forgotten suffering for him as well as her own, which she doesn’t need to do and I think Sam probably feels quite bad about. But Sam and Anna, they have these– they can have these emotionally intelligent conversations. They’re both hugely sensitive people and don’t worry that much about being open with one another. For all of Anna’s stubborn disbelief in Arcanism, she’s certainly not shy about making that dissent known. They can air their disagreements quite openly. How they learned to do that successfully will be talked about a little in Season Two.
A sort of companion question to that one, is this one from, Sethy, who says:
i dont have any smart questions or whatnot, i just want to know is there any possibility of sam getting a kiss on a forehead and a therapy at any point of a pod
pls just want this boy to heal and be happy
I’m going to interpret this as a question asking about general softness for the sunshine boy, and, yeah! There will be softness. I am not going to talk to much about the ultimate direction of the show, but when I say this is a show with themes of grief and trauma, I mean these are things the show is actively working through, about, and addressing, and a part of healing is space for softness, and out of that softness comes growth. I’m not a fan of shaggy dog stories, and I like to tell stories that are trying to say something, however successfully they end up saying it.
I put my characters through a lot, but for me, fiction has always been a safe place through which you can work out difficult feelings and emotions, and in the fiction I love the most, there is, at the centre of it, a kind of catharsis. I look for characters I can see myself in, things I fear about myself, things I wish were different, that kind of thing. And when I write, it’s a similar, though far more active process. I don’t use my work to work through my shit. I do that on my own time, not yours. My work is here primarily to tell a story. But part of that story is to do with catharsis, and processing, and growing. There will be pain in the journey, there always is, and it might not look how you expect it to, but Spirit Box Radio is a hopeful story, or at least, ironically, I hope it is. And yes, don’t worry, the boy will receive some kiss upon him little head.
Do you have a solid/fixed idea of how “magic” works in the SBR universe? Or do you just sort of make the mechanics of it work for you when you need them to?
Okay, so I do have a really solid idea for how the magic works, but it’s kind of wooly, if that make sense. So if you think of magic systems in fiction as being hard magic versus soft magic, where hard magic has this really rigid rule set and soft magic is free form and not about rule sets, the magic in SBR is a softer magic system in some ways. Sam has started to explore the concepts for how magic in this world works already, those moments where they’re trying to parse out what it means to be an Arcanist, and all that stuff, but he hasn’t got very far with those concepts yet.
The core ideas behind the magic in SBR are belief and narrative, hence the whole, ‘just vibes, but in a profound way’ thing. There is an underpinning logic there and there are rules defining who does what and how, but it’s not necessarily about like, saying the right words to make things happen, and where that does come into play it’s about words of power, and they’re powerful because of the way people use them, not because they have inherent power in themselves.
In terms of designations of Arcana, for Minor Arcana, these distinctions are descriptive, and don’t necessarily have hard dividing lines. The only two that have come up are ghosts and echoes so far, and there’s a sliding spectrum between ghosts and echoes, with a character like Regular Caller Beth being closer to ghost, the voice in the Crystal Ball being closer to an echo, and characters like Show Caller Emily and Mystery being somewhere in between those things, where they seem to have more autonomy beyond reflecting a speaker, but it’s much more limited and they can get caught in repetitive speech patterns.
It’s a bit different with Major Arcana and things like Scourge. But you’ll see how that all works in Season Two. Sam has to learn a lot, fast, in Season Two, so a lot of these ideas and concepts will be more thoroughly explored there.
Did you ever plan for The One Who Walks Here and There to initially make an earlier appearance in the show, or was he always going to appear first in the season finale?
[EVIL LAUGH] But he doesn’t appear first in the season finale. He pops up here and there. Sometimes he speaks. Once, he whistles. But this will all become clearer in Season Two.
And with that, I shall move onto the second category of question,
EXTERNAL QUESTIONS, NOT ABOUT THE STORY BUT ABOUT HOW IT’S MADE
What was your favourite episode to do?
I really don’t know! Performance-wise, I think my favourite episode to do is the one where the new old window appears in the basement studio, and then again up in Sam’s room and they have to run up the stairs. There’s a moment where he sees himself reflected in the window and kinda goes ‘damn I look pretty cool right now actually’ and that was great to play. Extremely good fun.
Writing wise, I just love writing Sam interacting with other characters, any time there is quipping and quick back and forth, I just love it, even though it’s difficult to edit down the line. Scenes with Sam and Oli are of course incredible, especially when they’re being fluffy. They’re good fun. I love them.
Editing wise, though? I dunno. I had a lot of fun sound-scaping the episode with Ripley’s writin gin it; there was something really cool about approaching sound-scaping with writing I hadn’t done myself, so it had less baggage attached to it, if that makes sense!!
Which was the first SBR character to be ‘created’ as such? Did you come up with Sam first, or one of the others? And if Sam was first, who was the next character?
This is a question with an annoyingly complicated answer. There’s a bunch of characters in SBR who started out as reiterations of characters I’d had in little word doodles from years ago, or pulled wholesale out of works that had existed a really long time ago which have now been eaten up and consumed by the world of SBR. In terms of the character whose closest to their original form, who keeps the same name and concept, roughly speaking, the first one I created was Maria Gillespie, from the letter from the doctor about the Impossible Child, fairly early on in the story.
In terms of like, the named, voiced season one characters, the earliest ones were the Enfield siblings, who were conceived of together, right off the bat. I love writing about complicated sibling dynamics. They’re all necessary for each other, as characters. They bring something to a room that the others don’t, and once you’ve got the siblings, you’ve got to think of Madame Marie, who unites, divides, and complicates them all. Oliver adds a different dimension to the dynamic of the three siblings, and he came next, kind of. And I think of the Enfield siblings and Oliver as the Core Four.
Tal/SBR George asks:
If you could change one thing about this first season of SBR, what would you change?
Okay so. I had a different answer for this before this week, but like. Now I think I would use different symbolism for stuff because Algiz has like associations with wh1tesoopr3macy that I didn’t know that Algiz in particular had specific use. Anyway. Fuck n@z1s. I will be putting some links in the description about links between Algiz and wh1tesoopr3macy so you can understand what all that is about and why we’ll be moving away from that as central imagery in the show as much as possible moving forward.
But, aside from that? God, okay, so like, I obsessively think about some of the details of the show, so there are some things I’ve written into the first episode which hopefully on re-listens, acquire new meanings and dimensions, and there is a lot of that in those early episodes, those moments which will hopefully bring an element of ‘wait, fuck’ if you go and revisit them again later in the story. Like I specifically had a list of important plot stuff I wanted to mention in episode one, so hopefully upon revisiting, those little details take on new meanings, like Sam off-handedly mentioning the door, stuff like that. But for all of that obsessive detail work, I managed to miss stuff like the colour of Revel’s fur, and the name Janet coming up twice, and a few odd bits like that.
Obviously, I did the remaster, so there is a lot of stuff I DID go back and change, which also complicates this question. If I could do something different it would be like ‘have more experience when you start this project’ which isn’t something I really think is possible to do. I wish I was the actor I am now when I started the project, but I didn’t know what I was doing, really, at the beginning, and that shows at times. Or it does to me, anyway.
Ultimately, though, and I know this is a total cop out, I have to trust that I was doing my best at the time, and be proud of the version of me that was trying his best for what that looked like in those moments, even where I feel like it doesn’t measure up to what my best is now. My best now won’t live up to my best a year from now, or at least I hope it doesn’t because if it does I’ve stopped working to improve and get better. Doing the remasters was important because I felt like there were technical problems in the editing of those early episodes that were causing a barrier to people who might otherwise have enjoyed the show, and I wanted to fix them, and I could fix them, but I’m not going to make a habit of that. Sometimes good enough has to be good enough, otherwise I’d keep working on the same tiny piece forever and never let it go. Part of the process of making is learning when to leave it alone. So yeah. Ultimately, nothing, I don’t think I would change it at all. Except maybe the Algiz thing, or at least I would have keyed that into a more explicitly anti-wh1te-soopr3macist narrative.
To close this Q&A, I actually have another question from Tal/SBR George!!
This one was open to anyone on the cast who wished to answer, and it is:
What’s one thing you wish you could say to your character at the end of S1?
Well, Tal, I put your question to the gang and here’s what they said!
Will would say to Oliver: ‘Oliver, my boy, my boo, my florist, please go to therapy & work through your trauma’ which is extremely valid of him, to be honest. Yes, Oli, go to therapy, boy.
Rip would say to Rhytidia: ‘WHERE U AT HON YOU GOOD???? YOU ALIVE?????’ to which I say lmao
Billy would say ‘Dearest Scourge, The FUCK my guy?!? Was all this really necessary??’ and that’s extremely valid of him tbh
Tais would ask Bliss ‘How are you enjoying Random Corner of the World?’ which, yeah, I hope she packed like shorts or something. Maybe there’s a beach, I don’t know.
Ellie would say ‘Madame Marie…. Was it really worth it?’ and, yeah big mood right there to be honest.
Beca would say ‘indi darling, find yourself a less toxic friendship group to lead pls’, but you know what, it’s not their fault. Sometimes you don’t choose the squad; the squad chooses you.
Alex would say ‘darling anna— pls take a self care day. watch legally blonde and have a bubble bath’ and yes Anna needs to chill. Maybe get a new scented candle. Tidy her space. Lay on the ground for a bit. You know.
Kay would succinctly tell Ingra “Enjoy the vacation!”, somehow I feel Ingra will have a bad word to say about it even if there is a beach.
Rose would ask Mystery ‘ever thought about swimming lessons babe?’
And finally, I would say to Sam that I’m proud of them.
That’s all we have time for today folks!! Thank you so much for your excellent questions, whether they were answered today or not.
I’ll speak to you soon, faithful listeners! Until then, stay spooky.