WHAT IS Kingsize about?
Si: It’s a podcast inspired by the writing and adaptations of Stephen King. That’s it really. I think it’s different to the others I’ve heard because there aren’t many that are UK based and the two people who are delivering its content are actors, so that feels quite unique.
Matt: Yep, we are constant readers and this man’s books have been with us throughout our lives. It’s also a celebration of friendship; and a love letter to King & this wonderful community of readers.
What inspired the start of Kingsize?
Si: In October of 2020, or thereabouts, I thought how wonderful it would be to do a podcast about Stephen King’s books with my great friend Matt Robinson, a fellow fan and constant reader. I had been listening to a number of different podcasts over the summer when I was out and about taking walks in lockdown. Having had this brainwave I proceeded to do…absolutely nothing about it! I didn’t entertain the idea for very long. I certainly didn’t ask Matt about it, thinking that as a busy family man he would never have time for that sort of frivolousness and would have far more important things to do than mess about with me. He’s got three kids for Heaven’s sake! Then, about two weeks or so later, Matt dropped me a line as I was doing my washing up I believe, and he asked me if I would be interested in starting a podcast about Stephen King’s books. I really ought to trust some of my ideas more than I do, you know.
Something that I’m curious about, because I tend to be constantly involved in projects, how do you find the time to balance Kingsize and life in general?
Si: We have been recording our podcasts in a group and releasing them by the season, so far anyway! So we’re not committed to a strict schedule and we can read and record them as regularly as we like.
Matt: For me, one of the positives to come out of the pandemic is that I now work from home. It’s given me the gift of time and so I can now record episodes with Si and then edit them. We’ve put no pressure on ourselves, but likewise have made sure we have kept the momentum going, otherwise, it’s easy for a couple of weeks to become a couple of months—time rushes by so fast. It’s all a balancing act but we feel very lucky to be in a position to have these wonderful things to balance.
Tell me about your creative process, what influences you to create and how do you incorporate your creativity into the podcast?
Si : I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to fully answer that question certainly in terms of what influences or inspires me to create. In my case some of the answers can be found in a rather troubled childhood, not as traumatic as it could have been certainly, but definitely one that informed quite strongly my choice of work. Fortunately, I absolutely love it! Every cloud, eh? In terms of making the podcast episodes, we’ll both reread the book in question and watch the adaptation if there is one; I’ll make some notes as I’m going along about the aspects/themes/sections of the writing I’d like to discuss and we’ll compare notes before recording and then we’ll go for it at an agreed time and date. Perhaps it should be more complex than that but it’s how we’ve been doing it!
Matt: I love your questions—real depth. For me I’m deeply aware of the fragility of life as I recently became an orphan. I know we live on through our kids and our actions but also our legacy is shaped by how we leave the world. Did we live a life that was composed of kindness, humanity, integrity and creation? And by this I don’t just mean creation biologically, I also mean the art we create that can enrich and help others. King’s writing has been a healer for me throughout my life. My creative process with the podcast is that if one moment of one episode helps someone in a dark moment, it’s worth it. On a practical level, I will read the book and make voice notes into my phone. I then decipher my ramblings and get some key themes I want to talk about. We don’t want the podcast to be just rambling and we want to have some discipline there so it’s killer rather than filler. At the same time we want to have room for it to breathe. Nothing is scripted or rehearsed but there are some chapter headings we like to hit. When editing I aim to keep those looser moments in—I don’t want it to be too polished but also want it to be crisp so our listeners don’t switch off. I was blown away by Jason Sechrest’s “The Company Of The Mad” podcast—a real in depth look at The Stand—and this encouraged my creativity and bravery to go deep with the themes; and be willing to share our different reads.
As it stands right now, what is your favorite episode that you’ve done or what episode are you looking forward to?
Si: I’m really pleased with all the episodes we’ve recorded so far and I think we opened very bravely with The Mist. Not only is it a novella but a very successful film and rightly so. (Please listen to this episode for more information on what I’d like to do to Frank Darabont and why!) However, I’m hugely looking forward to our next book, Cujo. My perspective of this story has changed greatly since I read it for the first time. It hits much closer to the personal mark now!
Matt: Likewise, our season 2 is going to kick off with a chunky couple of episodes of Cujo and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into that one. I’m also so looking forward to 11/22/63 as it’s possibly my favourite book of all time. I’m really proud of the The Dark Half episodes where we spoke quite deeply about whether we can outrun our shadows. And Misery was a real hoot too—that’s when we realised that we could record long episodes and do them in two parters. We didn’t want to miss out themes and Misery, in particular, is such a rich source material and adaptation to mine. The joy is being able to re-read these stunning books, sometimes 30 years after we first read them, and it’s such a new experience.
What are your top three horror movie recommends?
Si: The Blair Witch Project, very unnerving stuff and the first film of its kind, I think.
The Thing, John Carpenter was very hard to rival in terms of suspense.
Wolf Creek is an excellent horror movie too, John Jarratt is terrifying in it!
Matt: The Blair Witch Project. I slept with the lights on for a week after that.
It Follows. I saw this with Si at a cool little local cinema at night and I found it wonderfully disturbing.
It Pts 1 & 2 – Again, had a great cinematic experience watching these with Si. I thought what Skaarsgard did as Pennywise was exceptional and the films captured the sheer horror and humanity of one of the greatest novels in history. The scene of Pennywise as the neighbourly old lady is imprinted on my mind.
What is the most twisted horror flick you’ve ever seen?
Si: I’m not sure if it’s a horror movie in the traditional sense but Irreversible is a very tense film. Brilliant but tough to watch.
Matt: I thought Funny Games by Michael Haneke was so fucked up but I was mesmerised. I also think narratively, performance wise, and direction wise, Se7en is peerless. Twisted but perfect.
What movie scared the crap out of you as a kid?
Si: Watership Down (1978). I watched again recently and it’s really trippy and psychedelic!
Damien: Omen II (1978 again!) It may not hold up that well by modern standards but it gave a twelve-year-old me a few sleepless nights!
Matt: Candyman. The fact that so much of the horror happened in the daylight; as a kid I thought things were only meant to go bump in the night.
What or who got you into Stephen King? I feel like everyone has a very personal story of the when and how.
Si: I watched a lot of TV as a kid and after I had seen The Dead Zone, It and Salem’s Lot, I was very interested in the books behind them. After someone at school recommended It, I started off slowly and read Skeleton Crew.
Matt: I was always an avid reader and used to devour books from my local library. The King cover art always caught my eye and there was something enticing & a bit rule breaking that appealed to me. I sensed that the moment I started reading King I would be part of a cool gang with amazing secrets and stories. And I never looked back.
What was your first Stephen King book and what is your favorite and why?
Si: Skeleton Crew. My first story was his novella, The Mist. I’m changing my favourite Stephen King story all the time, mostly due to rereads and podcasts! That said, It will almost always be a benchmark because of the physical effect it had on me.
Matt: Christine was my first, closely followed by Cujo. (maybe alpahabetical order at the library!) Oh .. my favourite, that’s like asking which one of my kids is my favourite. Ok, it’s the dog. So, 11/22/63 is my desert island King—the love story in it just makes my heart beat faster,coupled with the time travel and thriller aspect. Cujo is an astonishing read and I still cannot fathom that he has no memory of writing it, yet the prose and pacing is flawless. This book should be taught in all English classes. And of course It spans universes. It’s a book I would show to aliens and say “look at what humans, ok super humans, are capable of.” I had such a deep journey along the Beam with The Dark Tower odyssey and I think The Drawing Of The Three and Wizard and Glass were just astonishing.
What was your first Stephen King movie and what is your favorite and why?
Si: It’s very difficult to have one favourite adaptation as so many have worked extremely well on screen. Both versions of It (released 27 years apart mind!) have great merit. The original Salem’s Lot still holds up well. The Shawshank Redemption goes without saying really and The Dead Zone (1983) will always have a special place in my heart; I think that was the first and Christopher Walken is particularly good in that. Most recently I was absolutely blown away by all three seasons of Mr Mercedes, grand cameo from Stephen King too!
Matt: I can’t remember my first, maybe The Raft in Creepshow 2 back in the 80s. My favourite adaptation would be Shawshank. I loved It especially Chapter One. Like Si, I’m really enjoying Mr Mercedes—I wouldnt have thought of Brendan Gleeson as Bill Hodges but he’s an absolute hoot. Stand by Me is so nostalgic—that performance by River Phoenix is one for the ages. And of course the black and white version of The Mist. They are tricky books to adapt really well and I’m always a little nervous watching them to see how they work.
What Stephen King book is in your TBR pile? What book do you recommend people add to theirs?
Si: I have only read the first story in If It Bleeds, I was just getting into that when Matt and I started the podcast. If, by some twist of fate, a King fan hadn’t had a chance to read Cujo, then do! It’s not an especially long read and it has a cracking pace, it will also serve as a tonic to the notion that Stephen King is a horror writer. There are aspects of this book which are terrifying certainly, but it is a very human and heart-breaking tale, most particularly if you’re a dog lover!
Matt: Apart from the rereads for the podcast, in my TBR pile are some Bachman books, and also I can’t wait for Billy Summers this summer. Recommendations would depend on the audience—for a newbie I would recommend 11/22/63 or Misery; for the deep fan I would encourage a deep dive into tales such as Lisey’s Story, Buick 8 and of course The Dark Tower, with the encouragement to keep going even if The Gunslinger isnt quite your cuppa.. it’s a gateway to an astonishing epic tale that rivals any.
As a SK reader, you come across a lot of messed up scenes in his books—what is the most creatively horrifying/grotesque part you’ve come across?
Si: There are certainly two scenes that stick in the memory. The first is the death of Patrick Hockstetter in It. Although he is a bully and pal of Henry Bowers, his end speaks to a fear of flying/biting/stinging things! The other is a passage in The Dark Half when ten-year-old Thad Beaumont jumps into icy water and believes he is going to die. I have had an experience alarmingly similar to that. We talk about it in the podcast of that book too.
Matt: I love the dark moments in Misery from the thumb in the birthday cake to the gleeful killing of the cop by a vampiric Annie Wilkes on a ride-along mower. King seems to be having such fun here. Similarly, the rampage of George Stark in The Dark Half is just drenched in blood.
Are you a writer yourself? If so, what genre and where can one find your written work?
Si: Ah, no. I’m not a writer. I have been in a play in London that, while ultimately scripted, was based on improvised exercises. As an actor I get a kick out of delivering the message that the writer intended and hopefully exceeding their expectations.
Matt: I’ve always wondered if I have a novel in me but when I read King or writers such as Nesbo, Donna Tart, or Jonathan Franzen, then I realise I just don’t have that gift. I’m happy being a constant reader and podcaster. I do write lyrics for music that I do. My band, Last Picture Show, actually provides the intro and outro music for Kingsize. We are on Spotify and all the usual channels—check out our new song “the Joy and the Wonder”, I was very proud of the lyrics to that one—about unity rather than daily division—and Pearl Jam’s Dave Abrussezze is a fan!
What do you wish you would’ve known before starting this podcast?
Si: Not many people really like the sound of their own voice when it’s recorded and played back to them. That came as a bit of shock, although it’s not the first time I’ve heard it by any means!
Matt: It’s been so useful hearing all the annoying vocal habits and filler words I use and then trying to minimise those as we go on. Also to be more bold in my thoughts!
I’ve been digging into microphones lately and curious to know what equipment you use for the podcast? Is there a specific program you use for recording and editing?
Si: I’ve been using a Livster microphone set up, it seems to work very well.
Matt: I use a Blue Yeti mic with my MacBook Air. We record on zoom as we like to see each other so we can pick up on the body language and each other’s energy. I then take the audio to GarageBand and edit in there. I find the editing process hugely calming and rewarding.
Where can one find and listen to your podcast?
It’s available on all major platforms where you get your podcasts.
Can you tell me about a worst experience with recording?
Si: Having heard it for the first time, I wasn’t very happy with our first episode on The Mist, this is mainly due to the sound quality at my end of the recording. Thankfully, due to Matt’s technical know-how and generosity, this has now been resolved!
Matt: There was a heart in mouth moment after our chat on The Sun Dog where my computer crashed as it was converting the recording. I thought everything had been lost. As we don’t script this there would have been so many lost moments. Thank the King multiverse we were ok.
What has been your best moment so far with the podcast?
Si: Hard to say as there hasn’t been one I didn’t enjoy yet.
Matt: Yep, I will echo that. They seem to be getting richer & deeper with each episode, so I’m excited to see where they will take us!
Any tips for those interested in starting their own podcast?
Si: The best thing I can think of is to recommend making it about something that you are passionate and excited about. I expect that it will be much more difficult to motivate yourself otherwise. It’s easy to make time for something you love, right?
Matt: To quote The Shawshank Redemption, “fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free”. Just go for it—have fun, enjoy, be kind to yourself and let the world hear your thoughts. I’ve found there’s such a wonderful crowd of King fans on places like Instagram that you will have an audience and support network. Good luck!