Behind the Scenes at The Queen is Not Amused

tony-papadakisMany of my readers have asked about my brother, who co-hosts my podcast, The Queen is Not Amused. So that you can get to know more about him and how we work together, I’ve asked him to write a blog post to answer the many questions you’ve had about the behind-the-scenes activities on the podcast. I haven’t edited or changed a word of it. Enjoy! -Christine

Q: How much prep do you get for each episode?

It depends on the podcast episode. Normally I get almost no prep, and sometimes I get zero prep. It depends on if Christine wants me a little prepared or if she wants a genuine reaction. For example, in Episode 9 When Albert Met Victoria, she started out by saying the episode was about love. My reaction was genuine. Frankly, I almost got up and walked out. That’s not what I signed up for!

All my reactions are genuine. I am hearing what my sister says for the first time as we record. I am learning along with the audience. Often, I just sit and listen and take it in. I enjoy history, and I especially enjoy learning about history I did not previously know.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the podcasts?

What I enjoy most is the very thing that made me suggest doing it: Christine’s understanding of history. While researching her books, she quickly walked away with a take on history that was often at odds with what I had heard about Victorian England. Time and again I found myself being fascinated with what she had learned. 

It was her take on history that led me to suggest the podcast to her. I am glad she took me up on the offer!

Q: How much research does Christine do for each episode?

I’m not sure I can answer this directly. She normally comes with a stack of paper that she is flipping through as she talks. It is what she brings for each episode to ensure the accuracy of what she is saying. Sometimes, if you listen closely, you can hear her turning a page.

If I had to guess, I would say she comes with about 10 pages of notes per episode. When she gets on a roll, however, her eyes are not on her notes. She is just gushing out what she learned. It’s really amazing to watch her go.

Q: How many takes does each episode require?

It depends. We normally know in the first minute if we have a good take. We spend as much time on sound checks before recording than we do with the recording itself. This is because when we are done recording, I have to break everything down and put it away until the next time I need to record.

We did three episodes in a row on a single take, and then the next episode took five takes. Each episode is its own little journey.

As the person who edits the podcasts, I can assure you that when we start, we roll straight through. I have yet to edit out any real dialogue. The most I do is tighten up a pause or take out a stray noise.

Q: How did you and Christine come up with the ideas for this podcast?

Christine comes over, we do sound checks, she tells me what the podcast is about (sometimes), and then we record. I have absolutely no idea where she comes up with the topics.

I can say that when we discussed the idea of the podcast, she quickly twirled out about twenty topics. They tumbled out so quickly that I couldn’t keep track of them. She later said that she wrote out about a hundred podcast episodes.

Here’s the scary part: once we nailed down the format of the show, she realized that many of her topics needed to be split up. Her original idea was to pack more history into each episode. So maybe the list of a hundred topics will turn into two hundred or so! I don’t know. I’m hearing these topics as we record them.

Q: Both you and Christine have a love of history. Where does that come from?

Our live of history mostly comes through our parents. Mom was an avid reader, and Chris picked up her love of books from mom. Mom’s preference was for mysteries even though she read widely.

Dad on the other hand grew up in Greece and France during World War II. I remember him watching World at War and Victory at Sea, and those shows stuck with me. I think that was where I first learned to appreciate history. Years later, while travelling to Charlottesville on the back roads, I pulled off to see a Civil War battlefield display (the Battle of the Wilderness). I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about the Civil War, so I bought the American Heritage book on the Civil War and was immediately hooked. Christine asked me extensive questions about the Civil War when writing her first and sixth Lady of Ashes books to make sure she got details correct.

I was in my forties before I began to explore the American Revolution for myself. Additionally, while in Seminary, I found the church history classes fascinating, especially the early church through the fall of the Roman Empire. [I’m pleased to share that my brother hosts  the podcast, 10 Minutes in New Testament Greek, devoted to mining nuggets out of the Greek New Testament that you can use devotionally or in your ministry.  If you desire a connection with the original Greek but don’t have the time for involved classes with lots of memorization, then 10 Minutes in New Testament Greek is for you!]

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