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12 Days of Kickstarter: Day 12

On the Twelfth Day of Kickstarter, Heart Beat Podcast gave to me:

12 Listener Questions,

11 Restricted Texts,

10 Points of the Star,

9 Church Kites

8 Working Watchdogs,

7 Minute Episode Preview,

6 Crew Members,

5 Badass Friends,

4 New Mods,

3 Warring Factions,

A 2 Tiered City,

And a Private Eye and a Brand New Scene!


I know you’re here mostly for the listener questions, but before we’re going to do that I am going to ask for a favor. Our Kickstarter is now LIVE. Please, donate what you can, even if it’s only a few dollars. Anything helps, and we need your support to continue to spin in the Tiered City. Plus you get cool rewards if you do.

1. What is Two Step’s Backstory?

Jim “Two-Step” Bickle was born and raised only a block away from where he currently lives in the Lower New York District of Satellite. From a young age, his uncanny ability to start (and end) schoolyard fights propelled him out of the educational circuit and into the fighting ring. His loss of education was something that he grew to regret, but seeing as it was too late by the time that realization hit him, he leaned into what he was good at. Two-Step went professional in Lower’s boxing world, but phased out of fighting himself and into training others when it started to get harder to get back up. At least, that’s what he tells people.

In reality, Two-Step quit boxing after he took a bullet to the shoulder in a Lower alleyway. During his time as a boxer, he was known to take care of the problems in his neighborhood that the wasps left alone--settling domestic disputes, scaring off encroaching gangs, solving robberies, investigating violent crimes--you name it, and people came to Two-Step for help with it. Despite not having a wealth of education, Two-Step had a decent track record--likely because nothing escaped his notice, and he wasn’t above using a little bit of violence to loosen some tongues. He says that when he hung up his gloves, he hung up his vigilante justice, but maybe that’s just because he passed it on to a dark haired girl that showed up one afternoon and stayed for the next fifteen years. Who am I to say?

Two-Step, though he claims to be retired, still owns the gym that Jack grew up in, and still has a hand in training some of the best boxers in Lower Satellite. As he always says: “There are two steps to being successful, kid. Step one: get in the ring. Step two: fight like hell.”

2. Was Satellite Inspired by other sci-fi worlds, if so, which ones?

Satellite was inspired partially by the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick, the 1st movie adaptation of it, Blade Runner, the first Bioshock game, and the (not-fictional) city of London. Satellite was actually conceived while I was sitting at a train station in London after grabbing a drink at The Grapes, an amazing pub owned by Sir Ian McKellen. That’s a story for a different post, but this station had a raised platform, and I vividly remember sitting on it and thinking about how a city could be divided by its transportation. There it was-- Satellite. At least, the tiers of it.

3. What’s your favorite biomechanical mod?

I’m 100% biased, but my favorite modification is the one that the Watchdogs have. This story started as a book about a Watchdog, so this mod was the first that I came up with. The Watchdogs have an implanted gland in the brain that processes two different chemicals (that they inject). The chemicals allow them to see the world in two extremes, by either tapping into the way that a machine functions, or leaning hard into empathy and human behaviors. This spectrum allows them to separate themselves from their emotions to view things logically, pick up on the inescapable human elements, like the tells of experienced liars, or make unseen connections. The mod that the Church’s Inquisitors have is also awesome, but I’ll talk about that one later (probably).

4. Does Jack Hart have a fuzzy sidekick?

She does not, unless you count Johnny as fuzzy. He has a foot tall, bright pink mohawk, but I don’t know if that makes him “fuzzy” or just awesome.

5. What should we expect from the first few episodes of the podcast?

You should expect some dope storytelling and some awesome voice acting.

But actually, the first few episodes of the podcast will serve to provide a more solid introduction into the world of Satellite and several of the important characters. They will give an idea of the kinds of cases that Jack Hart usually works and some of the major problems that plague Satellite. We will also use the first few episodes to hint at the larger season plot.

6. Is the city America in the future?

Sure is. A megacity that takes up what used to be the US. See Satellite’s case file for some more info on the Eternal Beacon of Hope.

7. Who is your inspiration for Jack?

Jack was actually mostly inspired by my sheer anger and annoyance at the stereotypical, “always get a girl that deserves better”, drunken, surly investigator that unfortunately stars in a NUMBER of noir stories. Jack Hart was a protest to this idea and this annoyingly misogynistic tendency in the genre. That combined with some real life inspiration from some of my own amazing friends gave birth to Jack Hart as we know and love her. Oh! And some Rise Against songs played a heavy hand in her crafting.

8. From where do you draw inspiration?

I draw inspiration from everything, all the time. I joke that my brain is like a 16 top stove and all the burners are on, but it’s true. I get ideas from other books that I read, TV shows, other podcasts, conversations with my friends, the newscycle, lots of inspiration from music, and occasionally from class lectures on population genetics. This story is always chugging along at the back of my mind, and my house is covered in notes that I scribbled down at random time points that don’t have a home. Yet.

9. Is Jack the hero?

My gut says both “yes” and “no”. She’s a hero in a certain sense of the word, but I wouldn’t term her “lawful good” by any stretch of the imagination.

10. Why doesn’t Jack have body mods?

She doesn’t want them. A lot of body mods in Lower are for compensation for lost limbs, making you better at your job, etc. Jack has never needed them, and she isn’t fond of the idea of having them simply to “upgrade” herself when she’s fine the way she is.

11. Why is Jack a detective?

Jack is a detective because it’s almost the only way to bring about justice in Satellite. She actually pursued being a wasp for a time, but quit once she realized she was less likely to help people and would actually be yet another instrument in oppressing them. In Satellite, private investigators have a little more power than investigators in our current day and age--mostly because the wasps don’t really want to deal with a lot of the crimes that PIs do.

12. What is your process for writing an episode?

It’s a lot, and I’m working on refining it. I’m not a screenwriter by trade, most of my experience is actually in short story writing. For each episode I write a short synopsis and then I write a short story version of the episode. I do a few rounds of edits, and then go through it and cut it into a script--cutting out dialogue and parsing it to characters, turning scenes into either background sound cues, monologues, or both, and then I do another several rounds of edits. Any writer will tell you that 90% of writing is actually editing. After I’m satisfied with the script, write a list of all the characters that will need voices at the top. I then cut down these massive documents, which I call Control Copy Scripts, into something that makes sense for the voice actors, and send it out with voice assignments for each actor. It can be tedious, but it’s a labor of love.

So that’s the 12 listener questions. We’ve got a few more in the bank that we’ll release later as other blog posts, and if you have questions still feel free to send them in--maybe your question will get picked for an upcoming post. Again, if you like what you’ve seen, if you want to see more, or if you want to support any of the creative people involved in this podcast, please check out our Kickstarter--we can’t do this without your support!

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