BEHIND THE SCENES with Stacia Brown

Please tell me more about your writing background and what drew you to audio.

I earned an MFA in creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College back in 2007. It's always been my dream to write stacks of books but I've yet to publish one (but I'm also working on one). In the interim, I detoured into cultural commentary writing for publications like The Washington Post , New Republic , and Buzzfeed for a few years after graduation. I've also taught college writing in Michigan and Maryland. I didn't get into audio production until last year. Someone from AIR (The Association for Independents in Radio) emailed me in late 2015 encouraging me to apply for their upcoming Localore project, Finding America. I did and won the independent producer spot for my beloved city, Baltimore. I was partnered with the winning community radio station in our region, WEAA, and we created the audio doc series Baltimore: The Rise of Charm City .

I've been smitten with audio work ever since. My new podcast, Hope Chest , allows me to stretch my creative writing muscles in a new medium, and I find myself quite excited by it.

How have you made you start in this field? And what have you found to be its challenges and rewards?

Because I had no experience or foreknowledge of the field, I hired a small team of local women who taught me the basics of recording and editing. When I'm working on a reported project like Rise of Charm City , I find myself eager to go out into the field and talk to new people about where they live and what they remember. While they're speaking I can hear sound elements and scoring I may add to their edited interviews later. That's sort of thrilling. And successful passes at sound design are also the most rewarding part of my work on Hope Chest .

I still haven't figured out how to make a viable living at audio production and that's always the most challenging part of any career path I choose.

This is a very personal piece, revealing details about your daughter’s early challenges with language. And also about your fears of raising a black daughter in this world at this time. What were some of your considerations as you chose what to share, and what to hold back?

I've been writing about my daughter since I discovered I was carrying her. The work has always been very intimate and I tend not to withhold much of what we face as mother and child. But she's getting older now and so am I, so it occurs to me that we both could stand to live a bit more of our lives off the page. I'm constantly striving for balance there, which is a challenge most of the writer-parents I know also share. I’ll look to my daughter to instruct me in the fine art of discretion as soon as she's able to.

I was struck by the line “writing is more effective than marching.” Was that the thought that inspired this essay, or was that something you arrived at in writing it?

It's sort of a long-held idea that I've always been a little ashamed to voice. Society seems to value the grand gesture and the public expression. Marching is so compelling in part because it appeals to those values. My grand gestures are always written, always privately composed, then presented to the public in ways that allow me to absent myself from the process of their consumption. A piece of writing, for better or worse, is a perpetual movement. It marches every time someone new reads it, listens to it, shares it, discusses it, meditates on it. I don't think that makes it “better,” but I do think it's more enduring.

This is the second episode of your podcast Hope Chest . What is percolating as you think about future episodes?

Future episodes will continue to be confessional and contemplative, hopefully in ways that are relatable to a broad audience. I'm working on a piece about love and selfies, for instance. And long term, I'd like to continue exploring the ways that current events impact parenting. I just want them to stay relatively short and engaging. In audio every minute with someone’s ear is hard-earned and I hope the show always leaves the listener feeling enriched somehow.