Last night, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the co-writers of the podcast, came to the Varsity Theatre to talk about their novel in a discussion hosted by Flyleaf Books and moderated by John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats band.
The novel’s setting, Night Vale, is a fictional town in which every conspiracy theory is true and the strange and supernatural are commonplace.
The podcast is told through the voice of community radio personality Cecil Palmer, voiced by Cecil Baldwin.
For fans, the universe of Night Vale offers an interesting twist on reality.
“The weird and the dark and the mystery has always interested me,” said 15-year-old Savannah Mastin, who attended the talk. “This is a place where the logic doesn’t apply.”
Cary resident Max Beeman, who attended the discussion, said the podcast challenges people’s perceptions of reality.
“I just love how it plays off the fear of the unknown,” Beeman said. “It really gets you to broaden your view of what is normal and what is weird.”
Keith Hayes, a librarian in Wake County, attended the show. He listens to the podcast with his daughter and arrived at the discussion as the Glow Cloud, one of the podcast characters.
“I love Night Vale because it’s an excuse to bring the absurdity and macabre into real life,” Hayes said.
Hayes said he dressed as the Glow Cloud to embarrass his daughter.
During the discussion, Fink and Cranor spoke about the conception of the podcast. The two met when they wrote a play about time travel together in New York. Fink wrote a pilot episode for the podcast, showed it to Cranor and the rest was history.
Websites like Tumblr jumpstarted the “Welcome to Night Vale” popularity and established its committed fandom. After the podcast gained attention on Tumblr, it was downloaded around 2.5 million times.
But Fink and Cranor never worried about the demographics of the podcast’s audience.
“We knew from the get-go that this was something we wanted to do, regardless of who was listening,” Cranor said.
When Fink and Cranor started putting on live shows in front of audiences, they were able to experience their own podcast in a whole new format.
“I’d never watched anyone experience this in real time,” Fink said. “It was amazing.”
Johanna Albrecht, children’s manager of Flyleaf Books, said the bookstore jumped at the chance to bring “Welcome to Night Vale” back to Chapel Hill after one of the live shows at Memorial Hall over the summer.
Albrecht said she admired the show’s narrative quality.
“It’s a storytelling podcast, so it appeals to readers,” she said.
“It’s a different medium of taking in a story.”