PodTales 2019: Jordan Cobb in Conversation with Ely Fernández Collins

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Today we present an interview with Jordan Cobb, creator of Janus Descending, as well as a prolific actor appearing in such shows as Among the Stars and Bones, Mythos, and 1994. Jordan sat for a live conversation with noted podcast critic Elena Fernández Collins.

Alexander Danner
The following was recorded live at PodTales on October 20th, 2019, using hurriedly improvised recording equipment. The sound quality isn’t great, but we hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.


Today we present an interview with Jordan Cobb, creator of Janus Descending, as well as a prolific actor appearing in such shows as Among the Stars and Bones, Mythos, and 1994. Jordan sat for a live conversation with noted podcast critic Elena Fernández Collins.

Elena Fernández Collins  

I’m gonna read a bit of a bio here for Jordan. So Jordan Cobb wears enough hats to sink a battleship. She’s an accomplished stage and voice actress, writer, director and showrunner. Her first audio creation was the underwater sci fi podcast Here Be Dragons. Since then, she’s founded No Such Thing Radio an audio production company and created the acclaimed sci-fi horror podcast the Janus Descending, which tracks the stories of two xenoarcheologists small world orbiting a binary star investigating the remains of a lost alien civilization. And as you can imagine, it goes real great. Brinkley next to that one if you haven’t listened to yet. She’s currently in the process of building six audio dramas. Primordial Deep, Descendants, Eaten with Sara Rhea Warner, Damned Minutes with AR Oliveri, Moonlight with Julia Schifini, and a spinoff of Janus Descending called Arc Juno. Most recently, Jordan was on stage with Shakespeare and Company as Anne Page. In the Merry Wives of Windsor, you can hear her voice acting work as Chel on Janus Descending, as well as Marsfall, Among the Stars and Bones, 1994, and Mythos, there’s more, but if I list them all, we’re never going to listen to Jordan speak. Jordan, please take a nap.

Jordan Cobb  

What now? Seems like bad timing.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So first, we’re going to see me view it up in here. So I would love for you to right now speak your deepest, biggest dream into the universe, so that we can get this party started with some positive energy.

Jordan Cobb  

Oh, there are so many, um, but my biggest one at the moment is I really want to actually be able to have the discipline to sit down and finish writing the book that I’m currently working on. I was four chapters in and then I had to scrap a whole chapter. So I’m three chapters in now. But I that’s my big, big dream for the moment.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Good. Yeah. That’s a wonderful dream. Also, apparently, she’s also writing a book

Jordan Cobb  

I’d have time to take a nap tomorrow. I’ll take a big one in honor of you.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So you have a new podcast. Surprise. You’re currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo Primordial Deep. Tell us what Primordial Deep is about.

Jordan Cobb  

Primordial Deep is a story about a group of explorers who are tasked by a secret organization to go to the bottom of the ocean and figure out why a bunch of prehistoric creatures are reappearing in seeds. It’s going to be about seven episodes long for the first season. It’s going to be an ongoing series. It came up. I pretty much wrote the whole thing over the course of this summer over two months and then had to sit on it for far longer than I wanted to and just hold those secrets in. Which is really, really hard because I I’m really excited about this project because it’s essentially my excuse to shout about dinosaurs, and just be really, really excited about dinosaurs all the time.

Elena Fernández Collins  

That’s pretty good excuse, right? So in, you stated before, online, that Primordial Deep, was born, at least in part, from your desire to craft stories for people of color, where they are the hero. I’m gonna read a couple of those tweets, because I think we need to hear it. 

Jordan Cobb  

Yeah.

Elena Fernández Collins  

I’m gonna let my phone open the tweet. A couple of months ago, I posed a question to this community, asking what stereotypes they were tired of playing, and what characters they would rather see themselves play. Almost every single person of color said, “I want to play the hero. Cast me as the hero.” And I fucking wept. In this story I am deliberately trying to hold space for people who are systematically pushed aside or worse, who are included only to push someone else’s story along as a stepping stone for someone else’s greatness. Not here. I am making space for new heroes. So first of all, Jordan, I would like to make space for you here as a hero. Can everybody please give Jordan a round of applause?

Jordan Cobb  

Thank you.

Elena Fernández Collins  

You deserve it. I made myself cry. The plan was to make you cry. And then I made myself cry. So, you know,

Jordan Cobb  

My evil, devious plan.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So, tell me what it is that you mean by these words, right? What do you want the communities that are involved in fiction podcasting to take away from this when they are creating?

Jordan Cobb  

Um, I have noticed in a lot of projects not only that I’ve been a part of in this community, but also in just the wider realm of when I’m acting, when I’m reading books, anything that a lot of characters who end up as characters of color are the ones that it doesn’t necessarily matter what the race is, that it doesn’t have anything to do with the story necessarily that it’s just, this was a character who you can kind of tell was written as a white person, and that it was just written in later, or just you found it actor of color to play that person. That space was not intentionally made to include other people’s narratives. And so I wanted to find a way to create characters who were meant to be played by people who look like me, by people who don’t look like me by people whose stories I don’t ever really get to hear. Um, because they’re not necessarily being written, that they’re just either. I hate to phrase it this way, but sometimes they are just throwaway characters. Or I forgot the other half of that sentence because the first half made me mad. But what I was trying to do with Primordial Deep, because when I did reach out, and I was hearing so many people in the community, newcomers and people who I’ve worked with before saying that, “Hey, I want to see myself in these stories.” It stuck with me because I’ve seem to have accidentally fallen into the brand of somebody who writes horror, which was never really my intention. Because I hate scary stories. I’m the biggest baby on the face of the earth. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. But in horror, and in science fiction, as well, I’m a huge science fiction fan. You find a lot of characters of color who either, who what they look like doesn’t necessarily matter to the plot. Or they end up being the characters who terrible things are constantly happening to, not only because it’s horror, or because it’s science fiction, but because it will make their white leads look better, or it because it will force a response from these characters who are you know, you’ve got the sassy Black Friend, in the horror film, they die. And their best friend who’s the main character is now like, “Oh, I have a reason now to finally like, fight and stand up and do what’s right and save the world.” And I’m tired of it. Frankly, I get real tired of watching the people who I know from having seen them and experience them in my own lives, just the stepping stones and background characters to just fill out someone else’s story. So I’m trying to find ways to push those storylines to the front lines. And while that may not be what the focus of the first season of Primordial Deep is, because I didn’t have actors in mind when I wrote the first season, I just knew that I wanted to create a space. But moving forward from here, there’s going to be a lot more I’m going to be directly working with my actors to figure out, “Hey, how can I bring aspects of who you are and things that you want to see and experience in stories or just have out in fiction in the world? How can I bring that to the forefront? How can we work together and tell these stories that most of the time just get overlooked, walked over or, you know, slashed in the bathroom and never you don’t think it for the rest of the film?”

Elena Fernández Collins  

That’s amazing. I think that’s an incredible goal for your work.

Jordan Cobb  

It’s gonna take some time, but it’s gonna be fun, I think to work with.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So you’ve noted before in interviews, like the one that you have is Sarah Golding in the Madiva Podcast. Um that podcasting is still a heavily white, cis, male space. And to be clear, you’re not wrong. spaces like this need active involvement in order to make them equitably inclusive, which means thinking about even how we present ourselves to interested parties to make it safe to approach in the first place. So, what are some tangible or concrete actions or ideas that you have, that you’d like to see more of, in order to accomplish a space where marginalized people can feel safe joining us?

Jordan Cobb  

I think this is really tricky. And I may not necessarily have the best experience to speak to this, but in in my experience, a lot of the time it’s just being able to have yourself open to have conversations with people. And that may not necessarily always mean talking. That means that sometimes you need to know when you need to take a step back and leave the floor and let other people speak. I find that if you find actors that you love, writers that you love, producers, sound designers, anyone that you love, and if they are marginalized, and you have a platform, use your platform to push them forward. The reason that we have, I believe the reason that we have platforms, the reason that, you know we are given these opportunities, these chances to speak is so that we can use that opportunity that you know, I’m in a room with all of you right now. And I can use this opportunity to give hands up and help other people so that they can reach wider audiences, so that they are no longer finding themselves on the margins necessarily, in all aspects. That there are things in life we can’t combat. But, you know, there’s also a lot in our life that we can control. And so I think it’s that if you find yourself in a position of, of control, no when to cede it. And know when to use it.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So, as you noted, you don’t like or know which. All right. In fact, on, you know, on on Radio Drama Revival when you had an interview with David Rheinstrom, you talked about the fact that you use the concepts that scare you as a way to write terrifying audio, you put them into your scripts. You think, “Oh, I’m scared of this. So I’m going to use it and I’m going to stick it in here and I’m going to do that thing.” So, but where does the desire to frighten people come from? Like, why? Why is why are these the stories so far right That you’ve chosen to tell? 

Jordan Cobb  

Um, it’s not necessarily that I have the desire to frighten people. It’s more that I have the desire to figure out people. That all of the stories that I tell I’m personally wrestling with trying to figure out something about what it is to be a human being. Something about what it is that we’re all constantly going through and how we interact with other people. So, with the Janus Descending for a more tangible example, it’s how far will we go for the things that we love? Whether that’s a person, whether that’s a concept, whether that’s something we just desperately want in our lives? How far will we go for love? And there are some people who will, you know, do, like Chel does some pretty shady shit at the beginning, like in the prologues, you know, breaks into her partner’s personal things. Is rifling through information and then gets herself an appointment with his boss, goes directly over his head and says, “Hey, I want this.” On the other side, you know, there are people there is evidence that people will kill for love. People will do horrible, horrible things. And I wondered, well, how do we get there? What do you have to go through in order to get to that place for love? So I had my baseline of what are we dealing with emotionally? And then it’s, well what physically or mentally has to happen to a person to get them from point A of like,” I’m just going to sit here quietly pining,” to, “I’m going to do a murder because I think that’s what the person I love would want me to do.”  And it’s, you know, so I think it’s uh, there’s a huge spectrum to what it is to be human. And I want to play in all spaces of said spectrum. And if that means that I have to scare the shit out of myself in order to do so, occasionally, I’m just going to have to suck it up, put my big girl pants on and do so.

Elena Fernández Collins  

How are you planning on addressing this? In Primordial Deep?

Jordan Cobb  

Uh, Primordial Deep is more action thriller. And it’s, you know, also my excuse to just talk about dinosaurs and play with dinosaurs. So it’s figuring out I’m still sort of piecing together what the underlying thread of Primordial Deep is. I always find that I fall into my stories, whether it’s figuring out what the narrative is figuring out where the plot is going like I have the whole of the story, I think it’s going to be four or five seasons, maybe pretty much arced out. But it’s really finding the pieces of humanity that are best. It’s slotting them all into place to tell the story that I’m telling and figuring out what that means. And it’s a lot of how far we go. Yeah. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

Sounds like a very interesting puzzle for you. 

Jordan Cobb  

It is I’m having a grand time.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Let’s see here. So, um, since we’re talking about the design of your stories, and things like that in both Janus Descending and as far as we can tell from your description, Primordial Deep, there’s an element also of taking risks. Right? In the name of the work, whether the work is love, right? For a person or science. Science is a big one. Would you consider yourself a risk taker?

Jordan Cobb  

Um, I’m trying I haven’t been for a good portion of my life. And I think that comes from a lot of different places. And a lot of, I spent a lot of time trying to shape myself into what other people needed me to be. And when I got about halfway through college, had to start figuring out what it was to just be myself. And I’m still figuring that out. So I’m trying to take risks in certain areas, so that I can be more of myself and continue figuring out what exactly it is, you know, in to have my own human experience. But no, for a very long time, I was, nooooot a risk taker, like the biggest risk I would take and this is a big risk, but like, it felt small because it’s something that I do frequently. I think risks change, depending on how frequently you do them. But the biggest risk in my life for a good long time, was just going and auditioning for plays, which is huge. You’re putting yourself in a room full of people who like, don’t know you and saying, “Hey, here’s my heart. Hope you like it. Cast me in your show, maybe.” And sometimes that works really well. And then yeah, but if it doesn’t work it It feels a lot like getting, you know, stepped on with a stiletto heel. So that was the risk that I would take. And then I’m learning how to take other ones in other areas of life. Slowly but surely,

Elena Fernández Collins  

Ah yes, the coming of age tale or become a very popular audio fiction writer.

Jordan Cobb  

Yeah, just, you know, I, I seem to have accidentally thrown myself into the deep end with a pocket full of rocks and I’m just like, gotta empty these out real fast. Thank God, I’m a swimmer. Right I’m a Pisces so that worked out real well for me.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Give it time.

Jordan Cobb  

We’ll see.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So in addition to risk there’s a preoccupation with with depths with descending so far in your work right? And unknown horrors in water, right there’s aquatic beasts in Here Be Dragons, the subterranean ruins and Janus Descending and now Primordial Deep. What appeals to you about dark water?

Jordan Cobb  

I can’t see the bottom. Um, I am very much an introvert. So I do well, sort of on the inside of my own head, which is, you know, technically you close your eyes and you’re in a very dark space. I also find a lot of the things that I am inherently attracted to are larger than myself. So concepts like the ocean concepts like space concepts like dino- well not concepts, but dinosaurs. Oh god. I’m really interested in in the big things. Um, and I, I think there’s so much of the world that there is left to explore. There’s so much of this universe that is so beautiful and strange and sometimes it’s scary, but sometimes it’s incredible. And I really love the concept that, you know, as the captains of our own ships, we can find out any mystery that we put our mind too. And then you know, you figure that one out and you’re like, cool, but in figuring out this one mystery, I have eight thousand others, there’s always something more. And I think that’s kind of another thing that I love about dark water that like, you know, you reach in, you don’t know what’s there, you pull something out, you reach in again, there’s something new. That just kind of keeps going. It’s bonkers. The universe is so weird you guys, loves a pattern. So we keep seem to start swirling around the same things over and over and over again. But inherently even within all the same patterns, there’s always something new. Yeah, I get really excited.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Good Sometimes the things you pull out of dinosaurs

Jordan Cobb  

Please, God just bring me dinosaurs. I know we have the whole Jurassic Park like series as to why that’s a bad idea. But I want them.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So you this is where the AV would have been come in handy. So I’m gonna have you describe it also, but you’ve recently released a new logo for your production company. 

Jordan Cobb  

Yes. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

No Such Thing Radio. So tell us what it looks like since people can’t see it. And then talk to me about it because there’s layers here and I’m not wrong.  Oh, there’s so many. The image is of uh, it’s one of the Celtic knots. It’s the one that kind of looks like a triangle that just sort of does the triple swirl thing. So that’s the big image. But imagine that as a three headed snake, swallowing itself. That snake is made of multicolored crystal. So that’s the image the three headed crystal snake swallowing its own tail. This comes from Primordial Deep, which was I originally had it commissioned. It is the symbol of the secret organization, which is known as the Syndicate of Vis. Which, that particular minor spoiler is not a big deal. That particular organization is in the constant pursuit of knowledge. So that’s what they do. And then you later find out that there are three heads to this particular syndicate, one of whom we follow throughout Primordial Deep. Uh, so I had that image commissioned, and a Chelsea Getter who is the incredible artists that we work with, who did all of the character designs for Janus Descending and just a bunch of other things. Sent that back and she sent it back and the crystal image of the snake. The colorization is the same as the colorization for the gorgons in the images for Janus Descending, which is super duper spooky, and I love it. And I saw it and I was like, Oh, this is super emblematic of all the weird shit I make, isn’t it? I should just make this our logo because on the one hand it’s you know, you look at it and you’re like “Ooh, crystals pretty.” And then you see the snakes and you’re like “Ah, dangerous kind of don’t like this.” The snake swallowing its own tail which is called an ouroboros also links back to an episode of Here Be Dragons that never actually got made. But the image of a snake swallowing its own tail is emblematic of eternity, because it just keeps going around and around and around forever, it’s never actually going to manage to, you know, finish itself. The stories that I want to tell lie in that balance between the light and the dark between the beautiful and the dangerous. Between the fantastically strange and the tangible. So, it’s all of these things that I’m really really deeply interested, all sort of pressed into one very weird image that I now get to play with in a whole other bunch of series and things like that. It’s gonna be so much fun. Jordan’s table is outside on the main floor.

Jordan Cobb  

Yes, you can see the image on the table runner that we have. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

Yes, great. And by the way, the image when it was posted on social media The image of the snake eating itself is on top of dark water. Yeah don’t think I didn’t catch that. 

Jordan Cobb  

I don’t know what you’re talking about. Me themes? I would never. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

Okay. So you’ve spoken also fairly publicly about failure, especially creative failure. I’m gonna read one of your tweets aloud. It’s the one about the posters. 

Jordan Cobb  

Oh, great. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

I’ll warn you. So I have a poster of my greatest creative success at one end of my bed, and a poster of one of my most beloved and bitter creative failures on the other end. My room is full of tactile representations of where I’ve been and what I’ve made. Days like today. It helps to see I am a spectrum. So what’s on the posters? 

Jordan Cobb  

So I have a giant poster of Janus Descending directly over the head of my bed. And at the foot of my bed I have an aisle actually also on the side. Well, the one at the foot of my bed is of the characters from Here Be Dragons. It was an image I’m not sure if we ever got to release it anywhere. And then the posters that are along my side, I have a sign that says Here Be Dragons, which I got when we were making the show, and images of four women facing the four directions who were emblematic of the characters that I was writing. Um, so…

Elena Fernández Collins  

Why do you keep them up there? 

Jordan Cobb  

Um, because it was, they’re all pieces of myself. And I think it’s really important that when we are looking at ourselves in any given moment to remember that we are not just one thing. When I wrote that tweet, I was having a shitty day. I had made some of the, what felt like the just dumbest life decisions I’d ever made and everything just kind of crashed in on one day. And I found myself in my room, feeling you know, sorry for myself like you do because we’re human. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

valid. 

Jordan Cobb  

And, and I looked up, because I’m laying on my bed and I look off and I can see Janus Descending over my head, and I’m like, that’s a thing that I made that people really intensely love that this is a thing. This is a good decision I made. Then I look at the foot of my bed and I can see Here Be Dragons and I personally, I know that show is like intensely beloved by a bunch of people and I really love that show. I love the characters. It was my first you know, jumping into audio fiction. And even though a lot of things went technically wrong, and that we never actually finished season one that it’s written, it’s recorded, but because of a bunch of different reasons, it’s not going to get released as it was intended. And that particular story. I mean, I am five episodes into season two, and it’s, it’s just not going to get told the way that it was originally intended. And I personally have felt that as a as a failure, you know, I failed to complete something that I started, I failed to deliver on a promise that I made to an audience. I failed to tell you a story. That, even if it’s something that I really, really love, it’s something that’s, you know, it, it didn’t work. And that happens a lot of the time and I think it’s really important that we can ourselves from all angles that like I can, on the one hand, completely fucking bomb a story. And on the other hand, I can actually tell you a story and have it be a story that you really enjoy. So finding yourself in that gray space of just being a person, I find just really important. And I have such a hard time reminding myself of this, that I had to do it in a very public sphere. Because otherwise I forget. But I think it’s also important to share not just your success, but especially your failures. When you have a platform, because people only ever said, like, see the finished product. They only see when you are celebrating your success if you tell them that like, hey, for every like one page of the script that I wrote, there are 40 others that I threw away. You know, they’re going to understand, oh, okay, all of the things that I’m going through, are like it’s the same process, and that I don’t have to feel bad about me with my work in progress. Because I’m looking at your existing successful project.

Elena Fernández Collins  

I think that it’s very brave to be able to confront failure in this way. I think it’s very difficult. I don’t think that we learn how to do that.

Jordan Cobb  

Yeah.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Like, in general, I speak generally from existing in society in the US, on the internet. And in in Puerto Rico, and that’s just not something that we are, are taught. It’s something that you learn.

Jordan Cobb  

Yeah, I think it’s another thing that, you know, you kind of fall into, it’s because because everybody falls, it’s a matter of picking yourself back up again, and being able to admit that you fell. And like, you know, if you’re walking down the street and you’re trying to look really cool and then you trip and you fall, you might want to just kind of gloss over that. But for things that are, if it matters to you then I think it is important that you share when you fail because it’s gonna hurt and it’s going to be you know, I personally I have to share the fact that I feel like with Here Be Dragons, I failed, because it comes up frequently. You know, I’m still attached to the Twitter, that is Here Be Dragons. So every time someone tags us or talks about it or retweets or anything, I get that notification. Whenever people are writing reviews, I still see those it’s it’s something that comes up you know, people outside tell me, “Hey, I really love this show. And I’m like, thank you so much. I am so glad you love it.” And inside I’m going, “Oh god, this is another person I disappointed, I completely fucked up, it’s the worst.” But you have to share these moments. Because there are other people out there who are feeling the same way. And it’s hard and it sucks. I’m not gonna lie, it really fucking sucks sometimes to like, just admit that you failed. But we all do it. And I think the more that we talk about it, the more normalized it becomes and the more okay with failing we become. And that’s how you start learning to take risks. I’m trying to admit, when I fuck up, so that I will be like, Okay, this is the thing that I can do and be comfortable with so that I can get the courage to try.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Sort of jumped on to my next question was how can we learn from failure without rubbing salt in our own wounds?

Jordan Cobb  

Yeah, I think there’s always gonna be a little bit of salt. Especially me, I mean, I’m a salty bitch. I will rub salt in here. I will rub it on my food. I will just sprinkle it into the world. I try not to sprinkle too much in the world but you know, it’s it It’s a matter of when you fail, give yourself the time to heal. Because I think if you immediately start to jump into talking about, “Hey, I really messed this up.” Sometimes that will hurt you more than it helps others. And I think there are some things and you know, private failures are also perfectly okay. It is perfectly fine to not be okay with talking about something that it’s a matter of, know thyself. That’s kind of my internal model motto is, know yourself well enough to know when you can share these things. And when it may be helpful for others, and when it will do harm to yourself. I think it’s really important to, you know, know when it’s going to be like, Is this just going to be a light salting Am I just trying to shove the whole like Himalayan pink salt like into my veins? Because one is significantly right, one is healthier and better than the other. You know a little bit of salt goes away in time. You stick the whole crystal on there and it, well one you’re Peter, but two it’s just… Sorry spoilers for anyone who hasn’t listened. But also not really. They’re all dead in the end. So awful. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

You got this, bud. You got this.

Jordan Cobb  

Again, you know you stick the whole crystal in your veins and that’s going to sting much more for much longer. And who who did? Who does it help? What good have you done by injuring yourself that deeply? Art doesn’t necessarily have to be suffering. You don’t have to suffer to become a better person or to become a better artist. You learn from it, you become more human from it. But after a certain point, you’re just hurt. Yeah.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Talk about the inverse now. Talk about success. 

Jordan Cobb  

Yes.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Yeah. So we talk, this is also something that happens a lot, right? People like to talk about, though sometimes don’t really do anything about failure, right? They like to talk about what to do when, like your manuscript doesn’t get accepted, what to do when your podcast doesn’t take off. Right. But I don’t think that we I also don’t think that we talk enough about what you can do when you have a successful creative work, and what that means for you, for your audience, and for your potential audience. 

Jordan Cobb  

Hmm. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

Right? So I would love to hear your thoughts on responses to success, especially after you Janus Desending.

Jordan Cobb  

Yeah, um. Nervous is the first thing that comes to my mind. I’ve been having this experience. I have had this experience at every single con that I have been to for podcasting. And also every time I get like emails or just open Twitter, someone will come up to me. And they’ll say, “oh my god Janus Descending. I love that show.” And I panic and lose all vocabulary whatsoever. And I’m like, “Oh my god, thanks.” Because the way that my brain functions is okay, I made the thing I put it out into the world. I don’t have to deal with this anymore because I’m not working on it right? Wrong. There is the part where you have made an artistic work. And then other people get to interact with it and I’m not used to that yet. And it’s something that, success is a funny word, because here’s the thing, success. is entirely relative. My version of success is different than your version of success is different than your version of success. And it’s, it shifts from every single person. So, you know, from someone who all they’ve ever wanted in life is to have a book deal, and a TV deal, and movie deal. I wouldn’t technically be a successful podcaster. But to someone who just wants to have like, 100 people listen to their show, I would be considered incredibly successful. And that boggles my mind. And I didn’t set any expectations for Janus Descending besides to write it, and to put it into the world. And I did that, and so I consider that a success. And so everything that has come afterwards, has frankly been rather overwhelming. For me, because I, I don’t necessarily always realize that I am visible. And, and I don’t always– This specific instance right now, sitting here being able to share my thoughts and feelings with a roomful of people is a very weird feeling for me, because I don’t necessarily always recognize the fact that I have a voice. And that there are people out there who are listening to me, you know, you get on Twitter and you feel like you’re shouting into a void. You put a podcast out, and it’s just like, I have dropped this on libsyn. And that is all and to a certain extent, you know, listeners, downloads, that sort of thing. It’s just numbers on a ticker. And you don’t know how many of those are real. It’s like, all of a sudden, you realize, there’s a person across the world in India or in South Africa or China or Australia, who was listening to something that you made in your bedroom in your pajamas? And oh, my God, I’m having a minor existential crisis at this moment, who is listening to something that you meant and it matters and it impacts them. And for me, that’s what success is, is if I can tell a story that impacts someone else, and makes them want to tell a story. And it’s verrry, weird to actually get auditory or visual or whatever kind of confirmation that that success has occurred. And I don’t know how to handle it. I don’t know how to talk about it. It’s why when people say nice things about me, I panic and try to like become a turtle and pull my whole body into my torso, and it doesn’t work. And I’m certain and I’m still here and I’m still visible. And I don’t. There’s a part of that’s like, I want to be able to like just put things out there and disappear. And I’m like, you should have thought of that a long ass time ago. And you know, podcasting in a way you can kind of protect yourself from that. You can just be an anonymous face or voice or storyteller on the internet. It’s when you get in front of people. I mean, but even then, you know, when people interact with your work, they interact with it in a lot of different ways. And you see, art, or someone sends you an email. That is my favorite thing in the world. When someone just sends me like a three line email of, “Hey, I listened to it, and I love it. And thank you for making your thing.” And I swear to God, I cry every single time. Like just again, in my bedroom in my PJs, like, “Oh God, there are other humans in the universe and they have seen this.” So it’s weird. It’s a weird funny feeling being visible, being heard. And I’m trying, because I don’t necessarily know that I would call myself successful, I would just call myself a storyteller. And I just know that my story is out there and that it’s impacting people. And that’s what I wanted. So like, thumbs up, let’s move on to the next one is kind of how my brain works. But I think it’s important to on some level, and like, okay, people see me as successful. People, on the one hand, like there are expectations for my own work now, that have me so nervous, but on the other hand, I’m like, “Okay, well, what can I do with this space that I’ve suddenly been ushered into? What do I do now that people can see me now that people are actively listening for what I’m going to say? How do I use that to make things better and make more stories happen?” I’m still figuring that out.

Elena Fernández Collins  

A long process I think.

Jordan Cobb  

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I’ll be like, Eureka. I’ve got it. And then we’re dead and it’ll be fine. And then I’ll be a ghost and I can haunt people.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Not gonna be an issue with that one.

Jordan Cobb  

Yeah, right.

Elena Fernández Collins  

You can still speak into a microphone as a ghost, probably.

Jordan Cobb  

Oh god. There are podcasts about exactly that. Right?

Elena Fernández Collins  

So we’ve been talking a lot also about um, social media, right Twitter. And so you’ve used Twitter to great effect in the past to start in depth discussions on creativity, the life of artists, various facets of community building. What kind of role do you perceive social media has in your work as a fiction podcast creator?

Jordan Cobb  

Um it’s like a megaphone that I am and, you know, just I am one person in the universe. There’s only so far that my actual, physical like soundwave voice can carry. But social media is this wonderful slash horrible slash, weird little bubble, where suddenly I go from my voice can only carry, let’s say 20-30 feet, to thousands and thousands of miles, that I can say something here, and someone, you know, again in Australia is going to hear me. And that I think it’s important to use that to find connection. Because otherwise we’re again, just screaming into the void. And so it’s you know, you can use that to say, hey, buy my book, or you can say, hey, what kind of characters would you rather see in scripts? So I can start writing them so you can start playing them.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Awesome. What’s your favorite dinosaur?

Jordan Cobb  

Why would you Sophie’s Choice me like this? Okay, wait, are we talking– Okay, you said dinosaurs that narrows out the marine reptiles and the pterosaurs. So deinonychus, which is the kind of Raptor that the velociraptors in Jurassic Park are based off of Fun fact. velociraptors like the actual creature, velociraptor, about the size of a chicken deinonychus on the other hand, oh, what a glorious beast, he be, could jump about eight feet straight up in the air. Those switchblade claws that are on their feet. We only see the bone there actually were keratin sheets around them like cats talons. So they were probably three or four times larger than what you see in the bone. Yes I’m seeing so many horrified and just like deeply uncomfortable faces right now it’s just bringing me, I’m so sorry, but it’s bringing me joy. Also wait, I need to take just this moment. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

Okay.

Jordan Cobb  

So T-Rex did not have feathers. There’s actually no scientific evidence to say that a T-Rex had feathers. Listen, I have a platform and I will use it. There is zero scientific evidence to say that T-Rex actually had feathers, they are assuming they hypothesize that T-Rex may have had feathers, because it is related to  dromaeosaurs which is the Raptor family. So velociraptors dynamic is so on and so forth, which there is evidence of them having feathers and dromaeosaurs are related to birds. Now birds had already evolved by the time T-Rex was around. I’m just going to throw that out there. And they’ve found zero evidence whatsoever, but some guy went, “Oh, they have the wishbone thing going on and they’re related to dromaeosaurs. They must have feathers.” And now everybody draws T-Rex like a goddamn pigeon and it pisses me off. Ughhh.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Can we like rewind for a second? Did you say that the, what’s the name of your favorite one again? 

Jordan Cobb  

Deinonychus.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Deinonychus, thank you. 

Jordan Cobb  

Yes. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

It’s got feathers?

Jordan Cobb  

Yes. I yes. Probably, um, there are other species of Raptors that they have found actual imprints of the feathers. Or very very rarely like dinosaurs will show up mummified and you can just kind of see imprints of where they were.

Elena Fernández Collins  

So it’s a giant deadly chicken? I’m right, alright.

Jordan Cobb  

Ugh I won’t say it out loud. Yes, I mean, you know, Raptor does mean bird of prey. Yeah, thank you, my friend. Not quite giant deadly chicken. I have personal issues with chickens. That’s an entirely different story.

Elena Fernández Collins  

A very good story.

Jordan Cobb  

A very stupid story. But yeah, sure if we want to go that route. No! I will say they were deadly Falcons. That makes me feel better. Giant deadly falcons. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

Yeah, sounds good. So at this point, I would love to open the floor to audience questions. Absolutely. Yeah. So if you guys have a question for Jordan. Jordan,

Audience Member  

Is it okay for a two-parter?

Jordan Cobb  

Oh, yeah. You know me I love two-parter. That sound worse. Sorry, please ask your question.

Audience Member  

Is your biggest source of inspiration for your writings? With regard to your writing process? Do you find yourself absorbing and adapting ideas from other writings you consume? Would you like to stay within your own headspace when you’re creating?

Jordan Cobb  

I’ll answer part two first, I’d say yes, I absolutely. I do pull inspiration from a lot of the things that I’ve already encountered. So stories that I’ve heard or uh, the world that I’m living in just all sorts of things I find, do wind up in my work. But I do try as much as I can to stay in my own headspace because I know that all of those influences are constantly running like a current. It’s why I say that. I cannot listen to audio fiction while I’m trying to write one. Because my brain will take an idea that I heard in someone else’s show and go, I could go in this different direction with it and then I start running in that direction but it still feels, not stealing like an artist, but it feels like plagiarism when I, when it happens that way. As opposed to work that I’ve sat with that, you know, sort of lives in me already. That is influencing my work because I don’t think we can live or create in a vacuum. I said, things that inspire me include things that are larger than myself concepts that are larger than myself. So, space, I’m fascinated by the ocean. I’m fascinated by I don’t have to say dinosaurs ever again. Because no, at this point we know. Um, HP Lovecraft has been a big one lately. Um. uh, there are there. There’s just there’s so many. It’s really hard. Star Trek is one. Uh, yes. Star Trek is one. Not only because of the characters and the stories that they tell but also just the concept of at the end of the day, we’re all more similar than we are different. I find that the concepts of the books that I read and the movies that I watch and that sort of thing seep into me. And I get to sit with those and play with them and see how exactly they fit into my own eyes, and how I can try to share that again with others.

Audience Member  

I was just curious, are you ever sort of inspired by the themes or concepts that show up in like, ancient stories? So like the stories that sort of just keep getting retold over generations? 

Jordan Cobb  

Oh, Janus Descending is just a sort of awful retelling of Perseus and the Gorgon. There are a lot of I love mythology, and love it and I think it’s just– We all have shared history and shared stories and we all have heroes. We all have villains that we are all inherently aware of and I really interested in how those shared experiences can be translated. But I yeah, the older the story the better. 

Audience Member  

Direct follow up that, are you familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh? Have you rea d the Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson and would you be curious to do anything of your own like that?

Jordan Cobb  

I haven’t but as soon as I do, I mean like I am familiar of like the Gilgamesh like the story. I’ve heard of it. I haven’t actually gotten to like sit down and experience it yet, just yet. But as soon as I do, I say a million ideas are going to start percolating and going and going and going and going.

Audience Member  

Have you read Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince?

Jordan Cobb  

No, I haven’t. Should I?

Audience Member  

Okay. I, I would recommend it. 

Jordan Cobb  

Oh excellent. 

Audience Member  

Queer rebellious romance in a post apocalyptic, uh, Brazilian–.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Alright, everyone pull out your phones.

Jordan Cobb  

My phone’s in the other room! They’re using it for the Square.

Audience Member  

We’ll send it to you.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Dope we’ve got it for you.

Jordan Cobb  

Please do. Please do

Elena Fernández Collins  

We have time for one more brief question.

Jordan Cobb  

Sure. 

Audience Member  

Okay. It’s a it’s a cool one, I think.

Jordan Cobb  

Oh.

Audience Member  

Do you feel like your stage acting has added anything? Any more of an edge or something creative to either your work in podcasts or how you write characters?

Jordan Cobb  

Absolutely. I, for anyone who doesn’t know I started off as an actor. I’ve been acting since I was in the second grade, and then writing came around seventh grade. Uh, and then, sort of was always a background sort of thing until I started audio fiction really. So I primarily think of myself as an actor. And then storyteller, well no just storyteller, overarching and then actor, writer, many hat wearer. I found it really helps me to create character voices and to be able to. I said this in another panel earlier, I talk to myself a lot. It helps to be able to put that on the page. Sometimes. It helps me to find new perspectives and to explore new worlds when I can put myself in the shoes of every single person who’s experiencing it, and how they’re experiencing it and what they’re going to do with that. Um, but yeah, it’s, my work tends to be, I think of my actors first, Poor Julia, I think of my actors and the story from the perspective of what is happening to these people, before I think of the actual medium that it’s in, or the fact that Julia has to sound design any of it, which, which is why I have given her complete and total veto power over all of my scripts. I’m like, if there are you don’t like, you get to say, Jordan, no, and I’ll be like, cool. I will work this again. So there’s a lot to that.

Elena Fernández Collins  

Thank you so much for joining us today. 

Jordan Cobb  

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah. 

Elena Fernández Collins  

And thank you to everybody for your great questions and being here.