tonia ransom podcast producer's portrait

Interview with Tonia Ransom

Finally, I have a chance to share the best details of my recent interview with Tonia Ransom, a horror author and podcast producer with impressive technical and skills and an enviable gift for great storytelling.

I recently had an enjoyable and inspiring conversation with this talented and knowledgeable producer of “Nightlight Podcast” and co-creator of the highly anticipated “Afflicted” horror audio drama anthology series.

Here’s what we talked about:

Tell me: who is Tonia Ransom. What do you do?

TONIA: I’m Tonia Ransom. I’m the creator and executive producer of Nightlight, a horror podcast that features creepy tales written by black writers from all over the world. I’m also a horror writer. I have a few stories that have been published, including a couple on Nightlight Podcast. I’ve had a couple of stories published in anthologies and things like that.

I’ve got a screenplay that we can talk about here a little bit when we talk about Afflicted, and I’m working on my second screenplay. So yeah, very, very busy, but also feeling very, very blessed and honored to have the support of so many great people like you behind me because I absolutely could not do this alone. 

Any writer, any podcaster needs fans and they need people who are super fans who are going to promote them. I just, cannot say how grateful I am for people like you because I would not be where I am today without people who enjoy my work and tell other people about it. So thank you. 

cover for tightrope cat by tonya r moore on nightlight podcast

Listen to my short story “Tightrope Cat” – narrated on Nightlight Podcast.

How did you get into Podcasting?

I once, okay, so I’m gonna show my age a little bit here. So, remember before the iPod could do cool things like listening to podcasts and stuff like that? It was just a little box that was basically a walkman, you know, a digital version of a walkman. They also came out with iTunes radio around that time, so you could listen to radio stations from all over the world, which I thought was really cool. I was a web developer at the time and I can’t listen to music when I work unless I don’t know it.  Because if I know it, then I find myself like tuning out what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m singing along in my head and then I start dancing and bopping along and next thing, you know, like I’m not getting any work done because I’m too busy listening to the music. 

I get distracted by music. I get less distracted by stories though, you know, I knew that I could watch tv and work on stuff so I decided to try out old time radio and it was you know, I’d heard about old time radio like you know my grandmother and her siblings talked about listening to it all the time. So it’s not like I didn’t know what it was, I just never heard it, you know, I thought that you know that it was gone.

Basically, you couldn’t hear it anymore because tv has replaced it and you know they’re in some you know dusty archival room somewhere, you know, I don’t know why I thought that but I did and  I started listening to old time radio to help me through the work day because I was working for a startup, working like 14 16 hour days sometimes, like a lot of times, you know, so it was a lot of work you know, so I needed something because it turns out I have ADHD. Didn’t know that until earlier this year. So, that explains this whole music thing. 

I started listening to old-time radio and just fell in love with that medium of storytelling, as I thought it was a great way to tell a story, especially a horror story because often what occurs in our imagination is far scarier than what someone can put on the screen. You know, you think about the Twilight Zone Episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, the monster that’s on the wing of the plane, like everybody hated that monster, they thought it was crap, but they still put it there and I think… I think I have very little criticism for the Twilight Zone, it’s you know, one of my favorite shows of all time, but I think that that episode would have been a lot more successful if William Shatner wasn’t the actor because you would have had to have a really strong actor to pull off the reactions of seeing the monster on the wing if you’re not showing the monster on the wing. 

Yeah, it just would have been very good you know, like not showing the monster, but then having a stronger actor that could carry the weight of showing the terror that they were feeling in that moment, seeing the monster and conveying, you know, through their own eyes, what they were seeing, that was terrifying to them, would have allowed us to fill in the blanks of what’s terrifying to us. It would have been far scarier than seeing this weird dude in a ghillie suit you know, like walking on, going up a plane

What do you want potential listeners out there to know about Afflicted?

Afflicted is best described as Lovecraft Country meets true blood. So you’ve got like the cosmic horror stuff that you get from Lovecraft country and then you get the southern folklore of true blood all in one audio drama, which like, I love true blood so much that I’m really excited to be able to kind of continue that world in a very, very small way. You know, this one doesn’t really have vampires or anything like that in it, but it does have that southern folklore, the hoodoo, that wasn’t true blood and it’s told in the style of like American Horror Story. So every season has a different set of characters, a different storyline. , but the thing that kind of remains constant in all of this which is the throughline to all of the seasons is this demonic book that’s bound in human flesh. That is, that is the thing that carries you from season to season. So, you know, at the end of season one, you know, there are going to be people that find this book and you know, the story kind of continues on, although I think season two, we’re going to kind of go back in time a little bit before we pick up

Super, super excited about that, I told a story on Twitter.  that was kind of a prequel to this first season that kind of talks about what happened with this book in this town of Aaron Dale that’s featured in the first season.  so you know, definitely encourage folks to go out and read that, I can send you the link to it if you want.  it’s, it’s pinned, it’s pinned, but yeah, I’ll send it to you just in case I pin something else but you know, it basically details that I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t 

In the opening scene, if you’ve watched the afflicted preview that’s on the campaign,  you’ll hear me reading these lines from a character named Agatha and Janice her friend who are summoning this demon. And in the prequel to the prequel is just basically kind of what happens from the book’s perspective,  with that summoning and how everything kind of happened after that, and how they’ve kind of set the stage for what’s going to happen in season one. 

poster for afflicted audio drama

Successfully funded on Indiegogo, “Afflicted” is accepting additional pledges so that they can pay their contributors, staff, and performers more.

What is your dream? Your big, scary goal.

You know, my big dream, honestly, is to be like the Rod Serling of this generation. I want to tell stories that get deep into the psyche of humanity and society and sort of lay that bare for us all to learn from and to grow from and get better from. The secondary part of that is I would love to just be like the Shonda Rhimes of horror. You know how she has like all these dramas, you know all these really successful dramas. I would love to do that, whether that’s in podcasting or in TV. I would like to be that. That’s the goal.

I’m feeling very optimistic.

Photo of tonia ransom

Tonia Ransom is the creator and executive producer of NIGHTLIGHT, an award-winning horror podcast featuring creepy tales written by Black writers. Tonia has been scaring people since the second grade when she wrote her first story based on Michael Myers. She lives in Austin, Texas, and is currently working on her second audio drama, Afflicted, best described as Lovecraft Country meets True Blood.

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