Beware the pod people down by the reservoir

Graham Tugwell creates a fortnightly horror podcast.

Graham Tugwell enlisted his author friends to bring terror to Irish ears, writes Eoghan O’Sullivan

THE brainchild of Irish writer Graham Tugwell, Down Below the Reservoir is Ireland’s first horror fiction podcast.

The opening episode features bells that won’t stop ringing, tears in milk, and fingers jammed in a drawer (and accompanying, disgusting sound effects).

As the intro to each episode says: “This is a horror podcast. It exists to provoke and alarm and unnerve. None of us one will judge you if you turn away.”

Tugwell says there’s been a great reaction to podcast since the first episode, ‘Soundless Walk the Fallow Men’.

“They’re looking at milk and drawers in a different way now, things like that. You make these things and part of you expects them to die a quiet death online, unloved, but I am very, very pleased with how things are going,” he says.

A collaboration with fellow authors Sarah Griffin, Deirdre Sullivan, and Dave Rudden the foursome provide all the voices.

They have history together. Formed out of a writing group at Trinity College Dublin, they became the Risky Proximity Players, staging theatrical performances of Tugwell’s stories.

And he has a lot of stories; 150 to be exact, all set in the world of the reservoir.

There are 12 episodes, released fortnightly, in the first season of the podcast, and Tugwell has ideas already for season four.

He declares that he’s never short of inspiration.

“Writer’s block is sort of an excuse that I don’t believe in.

Because, even if you have writer’s block, surely you can write a story about having writer’s block.

Nothing is stopping you.

You may not feel like writing but that’s what separates people who write from people who don’t is writing. So write, for god’s sake!”

Tugwell says it’s a horror podcast because he can’t do happy endings.

“I think it’s a personality failure on my part where I tend to go pessimistic, and that the only art that sustains me is stuff that goes wrong and horrible. I can’t deal with happy endings, they don’t feel right,” he admits.

“It just doesn’t speak to me. Horror is an impulse for me, it’s simply the correct way of viewing the world, if that makes sense.”

Horror podcasts are already wildly popular, with the likes of Welcome to Night Vale, NoSleep, and Black Tapes commanding devoted listenerships.

So why haven’t there been more fiction podcasts coming out of Ireland? Because it’s still a relatively new medium, says Tugwell.

“I’ve had to explain what a podcast is quite a lot in the last little while: ‘So it’s not on the radio is it not?’ No it’s not on the radio. ‘It’s on the computer?’ Yes it’s on the computer.

“And then telling people how to download it and everything.

But I think horror is a very good genre to do as a podcast because it’s visceral and inviting in a way that certain other genres may not be.”

They’ve set up a Patreon crowdfunder to help support the podcast, with costs going on recording in Displace Studio, hosting the podcast online, and accompanying website.

“It’s expensive to make these things,” says Tugwell.

“But I just want to get the work out there, I want people to experience the stories, to hear them. Stories are no good if they’re trapped on a computer. All stories want to be listened to, all stories want to be read. This just seemed to be a perfectly good way of getting them out there. What more could a writer want than their work to be enjoyed?”

You can listen to/download episodes of Down Below The Reservoir from Downbelowthereservoir.com, iTunes, and Stitcher. New episodes fortnightly


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