A Halloween Proust for Proprietors: Matthew Carpenter and Max Andrew Dubinsky of The MAD Fictioncast

This is a story of shared interest. I was introduced to to Matt and Max by a mutual friend over a mutual love of something entirely spooky: fiction. Over just a few emails I quickly learned that we were on the same quest to uphold fiction and creative storytelling in a world that's consumed with the ease of games and apps and tv shows. Their plan of attack was simple: unearth otherworldly short stories and narrate them to the tune of an original soundtrack experience, like an old-time radio drama anthology. My response to their idea was simple: I was hooked.

And now, on Halloween, their creation, The Mad Fictioncast—filled with monsters, mayhem, and magic—is live and offers two episodes to sink your teeth into. Truth be told, Max and Matt were actually some of the first people to complete the Proust for Proprietors questionnaire, but it turns out that it takes time and courage to attempt the feat that they did—sourcing awesome stories by way of reading a ton of short fiction, selecting and getting permission to use just the right ones, and then thoughtfully narrating them, adding music and stellar sound effects along the way. The Fictioncast features authors such as Jonathan Ames, Kelly Link, Jeff Vandermeer, Amelia Grey, and Matt Andrew Dubinsky himself.

Beyond fiction, we can agree on many things: a good story connects us no matter who, what or where we are, the magic of that experience is often unearthly, stoves are dangerous and should automatically shut off, and the Upside Down awaits us, we just have to create it first.

Names: Matthew Carpenter and Max Andrew Dubinsky

Company: The MAD Fictioncast

Give your one minute elevator pitch in less than 20 words. Go: A podcast featuring short fiction spiced with original music and sound effects - think War of the Worlds radio broadcast.

Why fiction?

Matt: The limitless nature of fiction allows for unusual and unexpected characters and environments, and if they’re written so that the stories can be grounded in our reality, then it makes that story uniquely exhilarating and immersive.

Max: Because storytelling is as old as the human race. A good story connects us no matter who we are or where we are from. And in today’s self-help, self-addicted, self-improvement blog-o-sphere, there’s just not enough good old fashioned storytelling.

What gets you up in the morning?

Matt: Cats, and then coffee. Always in that order.

Max: Coffee, and then Matt’s cats, and then my own cats. Always in that order.

What are two truths about your career that you want neophytes and followers to know?

Matt: If you’re truly attempting to make something “different”, there will be doubters in every phase (including yourself). And if want to make something that involves getting permission from a creator, it is best to get the permission first before doing anything else.

What’s one thing about what you’re doing now that you hope changes the status quo, or something you’ve made or done that you hope will outlast you?

Matt: That people will become more apt to seek out short story fiction. Or all fiction, in general.

Max: I think as a writer it’s my hope that everything I make outlasts me. Well, almost everything. And I want a short story (by anyone) to go viral in the way certain opinion pieces or blogs often do.

Today or Tomorrow? 

Matt and Max: Today.

What’s your greatest extravagance?

Matt: I’m going to speak for both of us here and say our respective pairs of cats are as extravagant as we get.

I would love a day in the life of...

Matt: George RR Martin when he was first building the Games of Thrones novel.

Max: An astronaut in orbit. Or a bird if that’s too much to ask.

Name a living or imagined hero.

Matt: Jack Churchill. He was a British Army officer who fought throughout the Second World War armed with a longbow, bagpipes, and a basket-hilted Scottish broadsword.

Max: Godzilla

What virtue do you value most?

In yourself :

Matt: That the painting isn’t “signed” until I love what I’m creating.

Max: That I’m about as quick to get angry as a sloth is to make a cup of coffee.

In a friend:

Matt: Empathy.

Max: Patience.

Imagine it’s 1907. What are you doing with your life?

Matt: Making ragtime compositions about the Wizard of Oz.

Max: I see myself on some sort of steamship headed to Paris.

In the future I’ll be…

Matt: Trying not to fry bacon naked.

Max: Still leaving the stove on hours after I’ve finished cooking.

Let’s imagine I’m going to take your portrait and I ask that we use a book as a prop—an armrest, a stool, a weapon. What’s the book?

Matthew: East of Eden.

Max: The World According to Garp

Do you identify with hipsters, yes or no? If yes yes, answer A and C, if no, answer B and D.

B) What’s the last great concert you went to that wasn’t a music festival?

Matt: The XX, at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall in Portland, 2010.

Max: Jimmy Eat World, Cleveland OH, 2007

D) Do you believe in ghosts?

Matt: Not necessarily, although I do subscribe to the Arthur C. Clarke quote "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Max: Absolutely, yes. In fact, I’m quite certain I’m being haunted right now.

Try to imagine ten days away from a computer—where are you headed and what are doing?

Matt: Biking away from the city and into nature, camping and writing. And probably smelling great by the end.

Max: I feel like Matt and I should use this 10 day vacation to take some time apart, but I will also be biking somewhere in nature so wherever Matt’s going, I’d like to come along.

What are you afraid of?

Matt: The thing that I’ll never love anything that I make after this moment.

Max: My last 2-5 seconds alive before everything fades to black. What will my thoughts be?

What part of the future do you see coming and look right in the eyes with comfort and assurance?

Matt: That I’ll be able to spend ten days away from a computer.

You’re in the woods and you come across the alien from Stranger Things. He wants to chat (that’s an unexpected twist). What’s the one thing you want to tell him about your time on earth?

Matt: I’d tell the alien that I once read “Keep cool. Don’t freeze.” on a can of juice concentrate, and I then lived my life accordingly.

Max: No matter how much I do, no matter the places I’ve traveled and the incredible things I’ve seen, I remain perpetually haunted by this thought -“Is this it? Earth is all there is to explore?” Take me to the Upside Down.

What are you waiting for?

Matthew Carpenter, music and sound design

Matthew Carpenter, music and sound design

Max Andrew Dubinsky, narrator

Max Andrew Dubinsky, narrator