Podcast Profile: Esbat Bookish

This profile first appeared at Leviathan Libraries June 2020.

Podcasts have been popular for several years now, and it can be hard for listeners to stay on top of new podcasts they should add to their rotation. Podcast Profiles highlight new and established podcasts that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Today, we’re talking with the team behind Esbat, a podcast celebrating books by marginalized authors. Elle and Regi share their vision for the podcast, talk about the type of content they feature, what they’ve learned so far, and what they have in store for the future.

Esbat - A Bookish Podcast

Let’s start with introductions. Tell us a little about yourselves.

Elle: I’m Elle, writer, reviewer, editor and now podcast host! I’ve had a few short stories published, co-run Divination Hollow and have my own blog, and I’m a freelance editor as well as co-host of Esbat: A Bookish Podcast.

Regi: I’m Regi. Lover of all things podcast, writing, and horror, and now I’m co-hosting with Elle on Esbat! I’ve had two short stories published, am working on a novella, and also contribute on Divination Hollow Reviews.

What inspired you to start a podcast?

Both: Spite

Elle: It’s something I’ve considered doing for a while, and a few years ago I realised I really wanted the opportunity to discuss books by diverse authors. I pushed it to the back of my mind, but the idea wouldn’t go away. I love listening to podcasts, but a lot of the SFF & Horror ones I’ve seen are fairly male-led. I don’t actually like the sound of my own voice, but after appearing on Staring Into the Abyss I realised maybe it was something I could do. And I enlisted another podcast fan who I knew would make an excellent host – Regi!

Regi: When Elle approached me to be co-host, I was thrilled because it was something that had been bothering me about bookish podcasts for a while. I don’t see myself in a lot of mainstream books written by cis-het men, and by doing this podcast it gives both myself and listeners a chance to broaden our horizons and see what else is out there beyond the bestsellers lists. 

Tell us about your podcast’s focus and why you chose it.

Elle: Our focus is on books by diverse and marginalised authors in SFF & Horror, with diverse and marginalised guests. We chose this because, as stated above, it seemed like there weren’t many SFF & Horror podcasts that were focusing on this (and I am definitely up for recommendations if there are some you know!), and we thought it would be a great opportunity to chat to some excellent guests – not just authors, but different people within those genres, including reviewers/bloggers, artists, etc. 

Regi: Exactly that!

How did you decide on a name? What does it mean to you?

Elle: The name came early, and from discussions between myself and Ellen Avigliano, as we very much wanted the podcast to be linked to Divination Hollow. With the ‘witchy’ aspect of Divination, our mascot Broomhilda, and the fact witches of some sort or another can be found across SFF and Horror, we wanted something that spoke to that. As far as I remember, it was Ellen who came up with Esbat – a coven meeting outside the Sabbats. And it stuck.

Regi: And I had no complaints about it! I rather like the name and my only note was adding the ish. I asked that we add the ish to our title because there are marginalized creators in all media, and we should keep the door open for them, too!

Who’ve you had as guests on your podcast so far?

Elle: So far we’ve had authors S.H. Cooper, Laurel Hightower and AK Faulkner, reviewers Dai Baddley and Heather Hood, and of course, Sandra Ruttan! With more coming up. We’re really excited and so grateful to everyone who has agreed to join us so far. 

Regi: Of course, if anyone wants to come on, by all means reach out and let us know!

Who’s your dream guest?

Elle: Oh this is hard! I feel like I have out of reach celebrity dream guests – Brie Larson, definitely. In the book world, Ellen Datlow. 

Regi: I would quite literally have a heart attack if Abigail Larson, Aidan Thomas, or Madeline Miller were to agree to come on. 

What do you wish you’d known about podcasting before you got started? 

Elle: We’re definitely still learning. But I wish we’d come up with more of a structure before diving in. We’re finding our feet right now but with some excellent people giving us solid feedback, we’re learning a lot!

Regi: I think there’s no way to be fully prepared to start a podcast, so there’s always a learning curve. But we’re finding our footing and coming up with more of a structure with each episode.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered from hosting a podcast?

Elle: People are so willing! It’s amazing – people absolutely love coming on and talking about the books they love, and it’s been great to already have so many different voices and books, and apparently my voice is quite pleasant (so I’ve been told!)

Regi: It’s not awkward as I thought it would be! I was terrified at the thought of dead air, but the conversations have all flowed so naturally. 

What do you have in store for future episodes of Esbat?

Elle: Talking and books! At the moment, we have an episode to record with Hannah Selector, and we’re planning out more topic themed episodes, alongside our usual specific book focused ones. We’re approaching more people soon and our plan is to basically keep the discussion going, while improving (we hope!) as podcasters.

Regi: With regards to the topics, we’re starting a bit broader, but if anything comes up that piques a listener’s interest, they can reach out and let us know they want more of a deep dive and maybe we can even invite them on a future episode!

Do you prefer approaching guests or is there a way people can approach you to be on your podcast?

Elle: We are more than happy for people to approach us! If anyone does want to do so, please remember we are not looking for guests who are cis het white men! We’d love to talk to anyone involved in any of these genres – writers, reviewers, artists, and fans! Just drop us an email to esbatbookish@gmail.com or DM us on Twitter – @EsbatBookish.  

Regi: Don’t be shy!

Tell us about some of your favorite podcasts and what you like about them.

Elle: True Crime and Cocktails – I love the chemistry between Christy and Lauren, and the way they bounce off each other! The NoSleep Podcast has been a favourite for years – creepy stories with amazing voice actors, and it was a privilege to be featured in their Halloween 2021 episode. I’m also a huge fan of Calling Darkness – a comedy horror scripted podcast, and thankfully there’s a season two coming!

Regi: NoSleep is incredible in terms of overall production, and maybe one day I’ll have a story on there like Elle! Some other podcasts I really enjoy are Small Town Murder, True Crime Obsessed, and Dead Meat Podcast because of how easy the hosts banter and show genuine love for one another. Even Small Town Murder, which is hosted by two straight white men, are comfortable enough to declare that they love one another, and I love that for them, you know? (but seriously, I listen to so many podcasts, it’s A Problem)

Elle Turpitt is a writer, editor, reviewer and podcaster. She’s had stories published in Were Tales: A Shapeshifter AnthologyThe Dead Inside, and on The NoSleep Podcast. She co-runs the dark fiction blog Divination Hollow, and co-hosts Esbat: A Bookish Podcast. She previously co-edited the anthology A Woman Built By Man with author S.H. Cooper, and loves getting the opportunity to work with some of her favourite people. 

You can find out more about Elle by following her on Twitter, @elleturpitt, or heading over to her blog, elleturpitt.com.

Regi Caldart (she/they) is a program manager, writer, reviewer, narrator, and now podcaster. They’ve had short stories published in A Woman Built By Man and Musings of the Muses by Heather and S.D. Vassallo and hope to have more published in the future. They love finding inspiration from those around them and meeting new people. 

You can find Regi on Twitter @regicwrites for more writing and @ignatiastrigha for more horror and fandom content. On Instagram they are @regi_caldart and @circe_zombun, because their rabbit looks like a zombie. 

You can find Esbat: A Bookish Podcast on your favourite podcatcher, or check out https://anchor.fm/esbatbookish to find easy to follow links, or check out our page https://divinationhollow.com/esbat-bookish-podcast 

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