Interview with Mike Moglia (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)
Today at FBC, we are having a special kind of interview. Lately I’ve been enjoying a lot of booktube and podcasts, one of my favourites is Mike Moglia who hoststhe Swords & Sports Podcast & youtube channel. Combining his zany humour, introspective questions & ideas for novellas, Mike’s interviews often have me chuckling and wondering how quickly he slips some insightful commentary all while highlight different aspects about the authors and the titles they have written.
So read ahead and get to know more about Mike Moglia, the man, why he chose the specific title and how he really gets his research done.
Q] Welcome to Fantasy Book Critic Mike. To begin with, could you tell us a little about yourself and when did your love of reading begin?
MM: Well for the first time in my life I was required to come up with one of those “About Me” bio’s as I’m part of the team putting on Self-Published Fantasy Month starting this September (shameless plug?), so I can include that here:
“Mike is a fantasy fanatic who decided after running out of people IRL to force to listen to his fantasy hot takes as he slowly alienated himself from the general population to take the only logical next step: start spewing fantasy hot takes on the internet! Armed with absolutely no knowledge of plot elements, character development, or sentence structure and with a tenuous grasp of the English language, he is well equipped to attempt to flip the book review game upside down in his continuing quest to read 52 fantasy books in 52 week, creating 52 podcasts documenting the experience!”
Since that is poorly crafted by me, I’m happy to elaborate. I guess my love of reading has always been there. I was the kid constantly reading ahead in class when we were doing that terrible, terrible class thing where everyone had to read a paragraph of a story out loud in a textbook because I was so fucking impatient. Are we allowed to curse here? I remember more clearly how my love of fantasy developed. There are like three things I remember:
1) The first was watching Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring when I was like 9. I thought it was soooo sick. I was obsessed with that movie.
2) The second was my cousin gifting my sister the first Harry Potter book and me reading it so I would be included.
3) The third was some random librarian recommending the Pendragon series. That series is fucking awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever looked back from there.
Q] Let’s talk about how you got into video & podcast interviews & reviews?
MM: Yeesh, the truth is I started reviewing books because I was bored as shit at work. Feeling the need to express myself creatively my mind was slowly experiencing death by data entry. I decided to create a blog just to give myself a sense of accomplishment and an outlet for my need to do something different.
The podcast thing came about a year after I started the blog. If I’m being honest, I think I always wanted to do the podcast but a blog felt like a safer place to dip my toes in the book review content pool. I was actually pretty nervous about the whole thing, for all of 2020 I had a co-host for the show, my at-the-time GF and now wife Nathalie served as the sounding board for all my ideas and helped me have the confidence to put my stuff out there. Those initial 52 book reviews/episodes were an absolute ton of fun. The interview part came some point around the 4-5 month mark. Alicia Wanstall-Burke, author of The Coriadic Sagas series (which is absolutely FANTASTIC) was like live tweeting the episode and I reached out to her and we did the interview. It was wild. We did maybe 10 interviews in 2020.
At the end of the year, Nathalie informed me it was time to fly on my own. Wanting to build on the things I enjoyed most about doing the show, I decided I was going to try and do 52 author interviews and book reviews this year. I’m doing pretty well, I think I’m at 30. I added the video element because I’m vain. No, really I did it to reach a wider audience. I HATE doing the video it takes way more work, but I understand the need for it.
Q] Why Sports & Swords? I like the title but besides your love for both what else was the reason for that particular title?
MM: God is that worst name for a fantasy podcast ever? Initially my idea was to combine the two things in the world I love most, fantasy and sports. I thought the uniqueness of the idea would lend itself to an interesting show. I’m a weird dude, I get a ton of my reading done during commercial breaks for NFL or NBA games. I’ve been listening to the Wheel of Time audiobooks for like 2 years as I train to run marathons (not a humble brag I’m really not that great a runner). I talk about fantasy sports and fantasy books with the same level of incompetence and ignorance.
I gotta admit the name was a mistake. Sports is way to general a thing to combine with fantasy book reviews, quickly I nixed the sports talk and focused purely on the fantasy book aspect. I kept the name though because Swords & Schlongs was taken.
Q] How do you prepare for your author interviews. What sort of research do you do? Besides social media snooping, do you hire private detectives? Surf the dark web? Sacrifice some goats?
MM: Dude the goat thing is step one! But honestly I stalk, stalk, stalk some more. I usually start with twitter, I can normally get a bunch of questions from going through someone’s tweets. Then comes perhaps the most obvious part, I google “AUTHOR NAME interview” and get to reading and listening. Some of the more prominent or active authors have tons of material out there. I go through everything I can, social media profiles, written interviews, podcast interviews, guest posts, Instagram pictures, LinkedIn profiles (not kidding I literally just did this), report cards, criminal records, Denny’s reward card memberships, stuff I make up, you get the point.
Q] Amidst your in-depth
surveil research that you have done for all the authors, what are some of the weird things that you have unearthed?
MM: I wish there was something that truly stood out, but my biggest take-away is that people are unique. While that sounds corny as shit, bear with me. One of my favorite things to do is learn about what someone is passionate about, to highlight not just their spectacular book but them as a person. Whether that is Christian Cameron’s ability to chop an arrow with a sword, Alexander Darwin’s skill at twisting people into human pretzel’s, ML Spencertalking to herself for hours and it turning into a book, Levi Jacobs is a travelling fruit salesman who sells fruit out his van, Cameron Johnston’s ineptitude at blacksmithing (I kid I love you Cameron), or Michael R. Fletcher’s clear sociopathic tendencies (I’m not kidding, though I also love you Mike) I get the unique opportunity to learn about the person behind the art. Also this was a GREAT question for me to name drop.
Q] What are some of the trickier aspects of video podcasts that you as a broadcaster have to finagle but the viewers aren’t clued into?
MM: The trickiest aspect of video podcasts is making sure the office I record in is clean. With all the recording equipment, the room being tiny, and it also serving as my actual work office, it is a true struggle. I keep leaving my closet door open, so now I just leave it open every time. My dad hates it. I also struggle with coming up with clean t-shirts. You can tell the day’s that I record that week’s episode and do an interview the same day because I’m too lazy to change my shirt. But honestly, I’ve done a really poor job of getting quality audio for the non-interview portions. At this point I’ve been doing it for long enough that I’m too afraid to ask someone, so please take this as my cry for help ;)
Q] How much work and time goes in to the preparation for every episode. Do you have a particular routine or does it depend on the subject?
MM: Step one is to read the book. Well I guess step one is reaching out to the author to see if they are interested and setting up the interview. So step two is to read the book. It is my pledge to the listener that I will always read the entire book before I interview someone.
I do not pledge to have any basic understanding of the book. As I read I take extensive notes, just kidding I copy and paste passages of the book from the kindle app onto the notes app. The stuff I’m looking for are plot points, things that make me laugh, and any reference to dicks. How long that takes obviously depends on the length of the book and my attention span. So I would say anywhere from 4-10 hours.
After that, I think I do the whole stalking thing. Usually takes a couple of hours when I include writing questions. Lastly I come up with the book specific questions, this usually also takes a couple of hours.
Q] You have done multiple interviews with a few authors. What do you for the prep for those to not make it feel repetitive? Do you focus on their newest work or something else?
MM: So the concept behind the podcast is to read 52 fantasy books in a year, so for every author I interview I read one of their books. I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to interview an author every week this year. The book specific questions are always unique and are actually the easy part. The hard part is finding new things to talk about with every author, as I am really against asking the same questions I feel like I hear in every interview.
I want to offer listeners a new side of their favorite authors, or help them discover a new author whose book they would be interested in. Also I’m genuinely curious about people in general, so if I ask the same questions I’m going to be bored as hell.
Q] Please tell us about the books and authors who have captured your imagination and are there any current authors you would like to give a shout out to?
MM: OMG this is my favorite part. Let’s just look at the authors I’ve had on for August, otherwise I’ll never get through it. So August I got to talk to Chase Bolling about his book, The Road of Resistance. We also discussed what side of the plate the salad fork goes on. After that, I spoke to Sam Hawke about her book, City of Lies. She claims she never poisoned anyone, I’m not convinced. This was followed up by Stephen Aryan to talk about his book, The Coward. We talked about the difficulty of shooting rugby players with arrows. And if that list wasn’t incredible enough, I closed out the month talking with David Wragg about his book, The Black Hawks. I also learned that he knocked down the foreign secretary. Dude these books were fucking incredible, and I had so much fun getting to talk about them! It’s crazy that I have had the opportunity to talk with established authors in the genre, up-and-comers and my always amazing self-pub people out there grinding.
Q] Who are your contemporaries in podcasting whose content you look forward to?
MM: So many people. Friends Talking Fantasy, Beggars and Brawlers, Fiction Fans Podcast, Green Team Pod, Under a Pile of Books, my enemies over at Wizards, Warriors and Words, my sworn nemesis Daniel Greene(he doesn’t know it yet), and I am positive I’m missing some. O yea Stephen Aryan’s fantastic Late Night Talks, Ben Galley’s Fantasy Author Lounge, and randomly I think the dudes over at Don’t Call it a Book Club do an amazing job though I know absolutely nothing about them. Please don’t hate me if I forgot you!
Q] Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions Mike. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
MM: Keep on reading, or something. Peaceeeeee.
NOTE: Alicia Wanstall-Burke pic courtesy of the author herself.