Growing Organically: An Interview with Scott Fynboe, Creator of SAFTAcast


In honor of the one year anniversary of SAFTAcast, I had the pleasure of chatting with Scott Fynboe, creator of the series.

Jane Huffman: Can you tell me the creation story of SAFTAcast? What was your role in it?

Scott Fynboe: Okay, so, December 2013: Sundress VP and SAFTA Literary Arts director T.A. Noonan and I were discussing a then recent episode of The Nerdist podcast. At the time, Sundress was looking to expand into new, creative areas, and I was looking to get more involved with the organization, so T.A. tossed out the idea of doing a podcast of some sort.

We talked it over, drew up a proposal, pitched it to Erin Elizabeth Smith over the phone, and within minutes, Erin greenlit the project.

The show was pitched as something like “a podcast that goes back to the original ‘talk show’ style, like Jack Parr or Dick Cavett, with people just talking about things.” In other words, a writing & literature podcast that would feel like a getting-coffee-at-a-diner conversation.

Erin loved the idea and gave me complete creative control over the show – title, logo, theme song, guest choice, etc. I mention that because one thing I really enjoy about working with SAFTA is that they let creators do what they do, and act more as advisors than architects. That freedom, then, allows a project – a show like this – to grow organically. It’s an amazing level of trust that they put into creators and I don’t take that trust lightly; it means a lot.

JH: How have the goals and incentives of the program changed over the past year?

SF: Some things have changed, certainly. But most of them have been within the show – redoing the way I open each episode, the addition of “The Burning Question that is on Everyone’s Mind,” that sort of thing.

But as for overall goals and incentives, I can’t say that much has changed. When the show was greenlit, T.A. and I wrote up a four-point “mission statement” for it:

  1. To be unique in the creative writing podcast market by producing a show that is not only informative, but entertaining.
  2. To give authors, editors and artists an outlet to not simply read and/or discuss their work, but to explore the topics that fascinate them and which display their personality.
  3. To foster Sundress Publications’ relationships with other presses, authors and artists.
  4. To continue Sundress Publications’ tradition of exploring diverse creative outlets.

I still adhere to those aims by keeping them in mind each time I record something. (Though, now that I think about it, the fourth one feels a little “out of date.” I think that was written because the show was going to be Sundress’ first audio-only project. It might need a little rewording.)

JH: What is your favorite part of interviewing authors about their lives outside of their writing.

SF: Everyone – author and not – has stories about their individual histories and experiences. Yet there are also common threads that connect people. There’s an amazing balance of the unique and the universal experience in a conversation, and I love hearing someone’s stories while uncovering those connections.

For example, when Leslie LaChance was on the show, we got to talking about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. We both know the film and we both have a dislike of it – but for different reasons.

As I recall, Leslie said she was working in retail when it came out, and customers were obsessed with the merchandise. Meanwhile, at that same moment in time, just a couple hours drive away, I was a little kid, having the merchandise forced on me.

And neither of us knew the other person existed until decades later.

I don’t know about you, but that’s so cool to me. Consider just how many separate moves, maneuvers, interactions, networks, relationships, jobs, hobbies, technologies, etc. had to be in place – just for one episode of The SAFTAcast to take place; for two people to connect over a mutual disdain for a Spielberg film.

Okay, I risk going on a tangent into quantum physics type territory here. So I’ll say that, ultimately, what I really dig about doing the show is just that I get to chat with awesome people; learn about their stories. Then let audiences discover how awesome the guests are, independent of their art. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

JH: Maybe this is an impossible question, but do you have a favorite episode or episodes?

SF: I “plead the fifth” on this question. However, I will say that I have a couple of favorite promos.

For technical reasons, I love the “Sundress Academy 2015 Holiday Message.” That was recorded and cut in less than two hours, and came out amazing.

Overall, though, the one that still gets me is for Mary Stone’s episode, “SAFTAcast en SAP!” Intentionally bad Spanish, goofy, non-sequitur sound effects, inaccurate music cues – I still giggle every time I listen to it.

JH: What is a question you often ask writers that you’ve never had the chance to answer yourself?

SF: “What was it like growing up in ________________?”

I could have a field day with that question.

JH: Do you have any other current projects you’re working on? What’s next for you?

SF: After being out of the scene for a few years, this April I got the itch to start writing and publishing again. So I aim to do a bit of that over the summer.

I’m also developing a second, Sundress-related podcast. But I won’t say anything about that right now.

JH: What’s next for SAFTAcast?

SF: Keep going and get bigger.

Okay, that was a little pithy. We [Sundress and me] are gonna keep doing the show, obviously. But we’ve got a few special things in the works.

We’re toying with making some merchandise of the show available to the public this summer, and we’d really like to do one or two listener/fan “contests” before the year is out (once we figure out the logistics of them). Speaking of the end of the year, based on the response from last December, we’re looking to do more than one “Holiday music mini-sode” this winter.

And who knows what’ll happen beyond that. Best thing to do is keep a watch on The SAFTAcast website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

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Check out SAFTAcast here.

More information on Scott Fynboe here.

More information on the Sundress Academy for the Arts here.

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Jane Huffman writes from a variety of rooms in the Midwest. Recent poetry is featured or forthcoming in Radar Poetry, Word Riot, RHINO Poetry, The Boiler, Arroyo Literary Review, Moon City Review, and elsewhere in print and online. She is an Editorial Assistant for Sundress Publications. She was a recipient of a 2015 fellowship from the Stadler Center for Poetry. She has a BA from Kalamazoo College and is an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Getting the AWPer Hand at AWP (A Newbie’s Guide)

By Scott “C” Fynboe, Host and Coordinator of the SAFTAcast

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs. The AWP. Each year, hundreds – if not thousands – of students, writers, editors, and publishers learn of its existence. I don’t know how, either. The AWP doesn’t camp out in college student unions, its members wearing matching shirts, holding clipboards and asking every passerby: “Have you heard about us?”


Somehow, though, people do hear about them. Or they hear about the convention, rather. While AWP is the name of the organization, the letters are synonymous with their annual conference and bookfair. I’ve never heard anyone ask “Are you a member of The AWP?” No, it’s always “Are you going to AWP this year?”

Maybe you are going this year. And maybe you’re going for the first time. And maybe you have no idea what to expect. Enter this guide.

In short, the convention is an interesting mix of an academic conference, a college homecoming and a drunken bacchanal.

In long, it’s best to break the convention down into parts:

1. A-Lister Readings are public readings by well-known writers. Only go to these if you really like a particular author – as in “this is my favorite living author and I’ll die if I don’t get to be within a hundred yards of their personal space” – or it’s a special event (and you like the writer).

For example, I went to Anne Carson’s 2013 reading. Given her reputation as a recluse, to do a public reading at a large conference meant it was kind of a big deal.

2. Keynote Events Skip ‘em. The only people who go to these are the AWP’s head honchos.
3. Panels There’re many panels to choose from. Go through the program a month or even a couple weeks in advance, pick out a few that are relevant to your interests and think about going. I try to make it to one or two a year so I feel like I’m at the convention for some kind of professional development and not simply to “hang out with a bunch of writers and friends.”

4. The Bookfair This is where you’ll end up spending most of your time. Seriously. I’m not kidding. It’s the largest of its kind and I can try to describe the size, but nothing can prepare you for the scale. Row after row, room after room of big name presses, university presses, small press publishers, companies hawking things related to writing but aren’t necessarily books, and even more. The only thing it lacks is literary cosplay.

4a. The Bookfair – Your Wallet Because most of the vendors are publishers, there are many books up for sale. No matter what you set as a budget, you’ll go over it.

The best time to buy is toward the end of the convention. Many publishers don’t want to be going through the airport with multiple bags of unsold books, so they’re likely to slash prices and/or cut a deal.

Some dealers leave the convention early – usually bigger presses – but a lot of the tables are independents and smaller presses who are there for the whole time. Attending this thing is expensive for any vendor. When you buy from a small press, you’re helping keep them afloat. So, if you see a book that catches your eye, buy it and give ‘em your support.


4b. The Bookfair – Friends and Well-wishers This is the homecoming aspect of AWP. A lot of writers and publishers travel in various circles and use AWP as a way to either re-connect with old friends or connect with internet-only friends.

If you’ve never been, though, don’t feel that AWP is completely incestuous or that you won’t enjoy the Bookfair. It’s a great place to network, to discover new presses, and to make friends. If you see a press or book that you like, chat up the booth a little. Get to know them. Who knows who you’ll discover?

4c. The Bookfair – Don’t be “That Writer” If you’re a writer, the Bookfair is a good way to find out about contests and/or publishing opportunities. However, don’t be one of those attendees that walks from booth to booth, asking each vendor if they can publish your work. This is like a young actor who bothers a famous one because they “have an idea for a script.”

If the press has an upcoming contest or call for submissions, there is usually some quarter- or half-sheet of information. Pick it up and if you have questions – or if they tell you about it directly – then engage in conversation.

I’m not dumping on any person’s work or potential work, but unsolicited authors can be annoying at the con, especially if the vendor is tired and/or a bit hungover.

4d. The Bookfair – Celebrity Sightings Occasionally, big-name writers wander the Bookfair. They’re there for the same reasons everyone else is: to visit with someone they haven’t seen in a while, to peruse the current literature landscape, etc. If you see someone famous, be cool; don’t be a fanboy/girl.

5. Off-site Readings The longer you walk through the Bookfair, the more off-site readings you’ll get invited to. These are public readings, often in bars, and there are many. And they’re often made up of multiple presses doing a joint event. And there are only a few hours per night that they happen.


In other words, you won’t go to every off-site reading. Not by a long shot. You might do one or two a night and your choice often comes down to “who do I know at this reading” or “this is a really cool venue.” If you have friends reading at two different events at the same time, you have to make a choice who you’re going to piss off.

6. AWP is No Different It may be about writing, teaching, and publishing, but AWP is just like any other pop culture con. (But without the cosplay. Seriously, this needs to start happening.) If you’ve ever done a big one like SDCC or NYCC, or even a small, regional one about anime or Rocky Horror, you can expect the same things:

Drinking/hungover people

Sleep deprivation

Eating whenever you have a chance

Sore feet and legs

Bright lights

Quick drop-offs in personal hygiene levels

Interpersonal drama

Frayed nerves

Fighting to find a Wi-Fi signal or a wall outlet in the lobby


7. Con Crud No rundown of AWP is complete without mentioning the “AWPlague.” After it’s all over, invariably you or one of your crew will get sick as a dog. Use this time to read the stuff you picked up, watch old episodes of Cheers (that’s what I did after Boston), and curse the convention.

Until six months later, when you look at the calendar and start wondering if you’re going to have the money to go next year because, dammit, it’s worth it.



Things Scott “C” has done:

– DJed at WHRW-Binghamton for seven years, hosting a variety of music, game, and talk shows
– Mobile DJed weddings, proms, reunions, karaoke nights, and at least one bar mitzvah
– Performed improv comedy as a member of The Pappy Parker Players
– Acted in both musical and not-musical theater
– Written and published some poems
– Shopped for a futon
– Taught English at a Florida college

Things Scott C has not done:

– Visited Europe
– Worn denim to a black-tie event
– Owned a hammock or a gazebo
– Studied dentistry
– Vomited on a retired postal worker
– Woken up before he go-go’d
– Some other stuff

Photos taken from and

Scott C. Fynboe On SAFTA’s Inaugural Writers’ Retreat

ImageIn May, I had decided to quit writing poetry; told both my wife and Erin Elizabeth Smith that I was “out of the game.” Over the last two years, my focus was on pedagogy, a tenure portfolio and an endless stream of freshman comp papers. My creative energies were centered on finding new ways to scribble “thesis,” “I’m not sure what you mean here” and “citation needed” into the margins of student essays. At the end of the workday, there was nothing in the tank to make me sit down and think about drafting new work, let alone sending out any submissions.

And yet, because I would be in Knoxville on vacation anyway, I found myself going to SAFTA’s first undergraduate poetry retreat and camping trip. At the very least, I could offer an extra pair of arms to tote food, gear and supplies up from the farmhouse to the mountain-top campground. I could make runs to the nearby Ingles grocery store. That sort of stuff. My participation was going to be limited, and I liked that.

Then, two nights before it began, Erin sent out a copy of the weekend’s schedule; the 9:30am Saturday slot read “Writing Exercise with Dr. Scott Fynboe.” I protested the next day, as we worked on straightening up the farmhouse. “I told you, I’m out. I quit writing.” Her response was a one-note laugh, followed by “Tough. You’re doing it.”

So I sketched out an exercise that night and promptly turned my efforts to lending a hand at every turn. I met our guests on Friday evening, worked to make them feel welcome, helped give tours of the farm, and drove my SUV into the hills loaded down with three people’s camping gear – all the things I’d promised. But when the group settled in with their first writing prompts, just before dinner, I sat away from the campfire, not participating.

When the sun came out Saturday morning, I did my thing and led the group in a discussion of narrative poetry. Then I gave them two sets of prompts, and, for appearances sake more than anything else, drafted poems alongside them. My first piece was just okay. It felt stilted and dull. The second one was better. Its ending was more punchline than gut punch, but the rust was beginning to break off. I looked down at the legal pad, thinking “okay, this can be reworked. It has potential.”

Something snapped after lunch, though and as the day progressed, I felt invigorated. Prompted by Dr. Darren Jackson to write about “your mother’s tits” (taking after Robert Haas), I filled two pages, exploring deep fears about my parents’ advancing ages. Later, while I did not actively write during Dr. T.A. Noonan’s exercise that evening, I made a note on my phone of ways to crack open a piece I first drafted fifteen months prior. And come sundown, I found myself longing by the fire with a bottle of Mexican Coke, offering submissions advice and giving one-on-one thoughts about how to streamline a sci-fi novel. I was a part, not apart.

*   *   *

Before camp broke the next morning, Erin gathered all of us around the fire one last time to write about our weekend experience. “What is one thing you learned from this?” she asked and I set to compose my own “Ashokan Farewell.”* Last to read, I wrote that all of us – the SAFTA staff and the guests – should learn the words of John Denver’s “Poems, Prayers and Promises”** as he described, in four minutes, everything that had occurred over the weekend. Campfires, personal reflection, deep thoughts, gathering with friends (old or new), it’s all in there.

And that’s one way to think about the retreat. Campfires, tents and sleeping bags mixed with conversations, talk and s’mores. Another way is to think of it as meeting new people, learning new skills. Still another is the more traditional idea of the “writer’s getaway” – a chance to change surroundings and find some privacy to write.

The weekend with SAFTA was all of these things, sure, but for me, the “retreat” was a return. A return to something I had forgotten in the stacks of 500 to 750 word, double-spaced, MLA formatted pages and I deal with in sixteen-week bursts twice a year – that feeling of being back in grad school, drinking and smoking unhealthy amounts with a group of writing friends, sharing our work in dank bars and discussing how each of us would set the literary world ablaze.

Suffice to say, I’ve stopped telling people that I’ve quit.


* Best known as the theme music to Ken Bruns’ The Civil War, “Ashokan Farewell” was originally composed as a musical “goodbye” to campers at the annual Ashokan Fiddle and Dance camp in New Paltz, New York.

** And here’s the song:



Scott Fynboe is the Host and Coordinator of the weekly SAFTAcast.

Things Scott C has done:

– DJed at WHRW-Binghamton for seven years, hosting a variety of music, game, and talk shows
– Mobile DJed weddings, proms, reunions, karaoke nights, and at least one bar mitzvah
– Performed improv comedy as a member of The Pappy Parker Players
– Acted in both musical and not-musical theater
– Written and published some poems– Shopped for a futon
– Taught English at a Florida college



Things Scott C has not done:
– Visited Europe
– Worn denim to a black-tie event
– Owned a hammock or a gazebo
– Studied dentistry
– Vomited on a retired postal worker
– Woken up before he go-go’d
– Some other stuff


Sundress Publications Announces the Launch of The SAFTAcast with Scott C Fynboe


Knoxville, TN—Sundress Publications and Sundress Academy for the Arts are pleased to announce the premiere of The SAFTAcast, Scott C Fynboe’s podcast for and about writers. The SAFTAcast is a fresh take on the writer’s podcast because the writing doesn’t matter. We want to know about the creators, not the creation.

Who are the people who write, edit, and/or publish stuff? What do they find interesting? What are their passions? On the SAFTAcast, there are no setup questions, no pre-packaged answers, and no stack of blue cards on a table. It’s casual conversation―entertaining, informal, and insightful. We encourage our guests talk about what they want to talk about.

New episodes and promos will be released alternating weeks and are always DRM-free to download, share, and enjoy. You can view the trailer at

Scott C Fynboe lives in Port Saint Lucie, Florida where he teaches English at Indian River State College. He has extensive experience as a DJ, as well as experience in improv comedy, theater and writing and publishing poetry.

The SAFTAcast will premiere today, Tuesday, March 25th, and will be available at