How our podcast began

Guest blog by Robin, one of the producers of the fortnightly podcast, Books That Burn.

In spring 2019 my sibling (and eventual cohost) Nicole and I began talking seriously about starting a podcast. I wanted to discuss books, while Nicole wanted to discuss fictional depictions of trauma in media. Once we decided on fictional depiction of trauma in books it was very important to us, especially to me, that if we were going to discuss trauma and books we need to talk about it from the perspective that the author is the only one with agency.

That’s because when discussing books with other people, I had often been frustrated by discussions about a character doing a very terrible thing or having a terrible thing done to them turning into justifications for why that character had to do that heinous thing because it was the only thing that made sense in the plot.

Every few months we sit down and decide what we’re doing for the next six months to a year, checking in about the books that are next up in our queue, seeing if anything needs to be moved around, and making sure that we have obtained books we need or at least have confirmed that they’re at our respective libraries.

Right now, we have our book list tentatively planned to the end of the year with the next few months of episodes already recorded. We read each book during the week in order to record the episode that weekend. In each recording session we usually spend about an hour making the notes for the episode and talking through the book a little bit, and then it takes one and a half to two hours to record an hour-long episode. We have that discussion right before recording so that we have fresh in our minds what we want to talk about.

I need notes, Nicole feels restrained by having anything approaching a script, so we compromised with an outline that lists our topics for the episode, names of major characters, a few points that I don’t want to forget, and the outline for our wrap-up section.

For me personally, the hardest part about making each episode is not going on deep tangents and minutia about the books. I’m a very detail-oriented person, and in a lot of our early episodes before we had the structure of our notes to help me, we sometimes got in these hyper-specific tangents (and occasionally arguments) where I would get stuck on some point or another and we would drift away from actually talking about the characters and their trauma.


Books That Burn is a fortnightly book review podcast focusing on fictional depictions of trauma, produced by Robin and Nicole. Join them for minor character spotlights, main character discussions, and favorite non-traumatic things in the dark books they love.

Robin (they/them) is a non-binary person who recently obtained a small cat as an alarm clock. They handle the social media for the podcast, including for the 2021 BTB readathon. When they aren’t monitoring the Twitter feed, they are listening to a lot of other people’s podcasts and reading even more books for fun. Their current goal is to finish at least four books per week in 2021. Robin writes all of the reviews for the accompanying blog, Reviews That Burn.

Visit the Books That Burn website HERE.

They will be guests on the ‘Podcasting and Vlogging: The current frontier’ panel (Panel A4). Check out the full schedule HERE.