Q&A: Joseph Fink discusses newest book based off podcast

Blaine Young

Podcast fans and paranormal literati alike are chattering about Joseph Fink’s latest brainchild, the novelization of his second podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead.”

The two-time New York Times best-selling author’s newest book orbits around Keisha Taylor, a truck driver traveling across the country searching for her wife who everyone thinks is dead.

The Daily Texan had the chance to talk to Fink about his latest release the morning it dropped.

Daily Texan: Where did you get the idea for the podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead?”

Joseph Fink: It came out of my first podcast, “Welcome to Night Vale.” We started touring it live, and at this point we’ve toured 17 countries and 35 states, so I’ve spent a good portion of the last five years sitting in a van driving around the country. I just started taking notes from that, and then I ended up with a lot of material about driving around the country. And then Jasika Nicole is a performer we’ve worked with for quite a long time and who I really love writing for. So it came out of that combination of wanting to find a place to put all of these experiences and also to write something for Jasika.

DT: What made you want to not only write a book based off of the podcast, but have it be a re-imagining?

JF: It didn’t seem very interesting, either for me or for readers, if I just (transcribed it) word-for-word. So if I was gonna do it, I wanted to tell it as its own thing. A story that works as a podcast and a story that works as a novel are not the same thing; you can’t write them the same way. I think of it as very similar to the relationship between “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” novel and the radio dramas that started it. They’re both written by the same person, and they both are more or less the same story, but they’re very much their own things that can be can be experienced entirely separately.

DT: Previously, you’ve said that this is the most personal thing you’ve ever written. Why do you say that?

JF: The main character has anxiety in the exact same way that I have anxiety, so in a lot of ways it’s a novel about how I experience the world every day. Also, it’s a love story between (Keisha) and her wife. In a lot of ways, almost everything I’ve written has been about long-term relationships. I’ve been with my wife (for) 10 years … so writing about long-term relationships and long-term love feels very personal to me. When we write love stories as a culture, we tend to want to write about people meeting. That’s where we think the interesting stuff is — where people are falling in love and getting together — but I think there is so much interesting storytelling to be done with people who have been together for years.

DT: What do you want readers to get out of your story?

JF: A good story. I want them to have the experience I have when I read a novel, like where it just sucks me in and I feel happy pushing through it and a little bit sad when it’s over because there’s not any more to read.


Fink will make a stop during his book tour in BookPeople on N. Lamar Boulevard at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.