Laura Packer Interview: Author of “From Audience to Zeal” (Part Three)

Interview with Laura Packer

“It was so important to me that…that I neither shield my audience from the depth and rigor of what it is to be a good storyteller nor do I present this in such a way that they feel like it’s never attainable, that they can’t reach it.” -Laura

Author and Storyteller Laura S. Packer is the creator of “From Audience to Zeal: The ABCs of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story.” Part 3: Laura Packer and Sean Buvala discuss the nature of Laura’s new book, coming at the end of 2018. They talk about the invite a reader needs in order to feel comfortable in the conversation of an author’s book. They discuss the nature of how stories are used for bonding people’s lives together in the midst of a real-life lab(rador) in the office. Woof. Part 3 of 8. Learn more at audiencetozeal.com. Preorder a Kindle version at this link now.

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A transcript for Part Three is printed below the “listen” link below. Additional transcripts for other issues will be available soon!

Listen Here to Part Three:

 

Informal Transcript

(This is a simple transcript that may contain grammatical and punctuation errors in the translation from spoken word to print. Enjoy it anyway.)

Find all eight episodes here.

Announcer: You’ve just entered the Storyteller.net Amphitheater.

Sean Buvala

Sean Buvala: You’re listening to me, Sean Buvala, talk to Laura Packer. I’m the publisher of the Small Tooth Dog Group, based in Arizona. And we are talking about the new book that she has coming out, to be released by us at the end of 2018. And that book is “From Audience to Zeal, the ABC’s of Finding, Crafting, and Telling a Great Story.” You know, we’ve spoken so far about kind of the bigger issues, and a little background, and stuff.

Sean Buvala: Let’s narrow down a little bit. Let’s start talking about this book, in particular. In my mind, the book is somewhat like a dictionary, because there are all these words. There are all the A words, and B words, and C words. It’s something like an encyclopedia because you can kind of dig in there and go in-depth on ethics, for example. You can go in depth from there. But, this book feels to me, and I’ve been working in the initial edit work and all of that, so I’ve seen it a lot. This book feels less like an encyclopedia or a dictionary, and more like this kind of deep, yet familiar, conversational blog. Blog is such a throwaway word, but it’s deeper than that. So, my question to you is, why do these entries feel more familiar than just being a dictionary or encyclopedia entries?

Laura Packer: Well, the first response to that is that I’m a storyteller. So, I want my writing, when it’s instructive writing, to be engaging for the reader and accessible to the reader. And of course, all writers want that. But I think that an advantage storytellers have is that we are very focused on our audience’s needs. When I write fiction, for example, that is more focused on my need and what I need to say, perhaps to myself. But when I’m writing about storytelling, I’m very interested in making it as conversational and digestible as possible, without making it dilute, without diluting content, without talking down to my audience at all.

Sean Buvala: Right.

Laura Packer: Anything like that. So, that’s the first part of the answer. The second part of the answer is that this project started on my blog. So, it started in a setting where I was deliberately writing to an audience I could not predict, and where I was talking about different concepts and practices in storytelling. But part of what I also was doing was saying, “This is who I am,” and being as authentic as I could about my being the narrator. I wasn’t trying to remove myself as the narrator, as you often find in a textbook, for example.

the cover of the audience to zeal book by laura packer. the title of the book is in the center imposed over a full page image of old fashioned printers blocks, some stained blueSean Buvala: Right.

Laura Packer: In a textbook, the narrator is as removed as possible, so it becomes rather dry. In this case (book), it’s me. I’m the one who’s talking to you. Because I started doing this in a blog, I was able to develop a very conversational, and practical, and I think, intimate voice, in many ways. And that has followed through into Audience to Zeal, because I want my audience to feel like they are sitting down with someone and having a conversation about these different ideas, and having a chance to mull over the concepts, themselves and feeling welcomed into the conversation.

Sean Buvala: That’s a great image, feeling welcomed into the conversation. I think that fits, from the very first draft of this that I got from you to the editing work we’re doing now. We want people to feel like they’re talking to, not an erudite coach, although you certainly are a deep thinker, someone who really can help people to go, “This is something you really need to know.” That’s been a goal of every book that we’ve released through the Small Tooth Dog Publishing Group is, we make these editing choices on that, that some people don’t always agree with.

Sean Buvala: But we make these editing choices that keep the conversational nature of the content going. And I think that’s a hallmark of some of the stuff that we’re doing is, we want people to feel like this is immensely practical and immediate. And I certainly got that when I first got the text from you, that it was practical and immediate. And it wasn’t blog-ish, and I just threw out my first idea, which none of this reads like that. None of this reads like, “Oh, I hope I can fill enough space.” If we’re definitely not there, I’m filling enough space. That is not a problem.

Laura Packer: You have a lot of stuff to say.

Sean Buvala: Yeah, you do. And it’s like, “Oh, is this two volumes? What should we do with this?” No, so, conversations that you and I have had, yeah.

Laura Packer: It was so important to me that, and remains so important to me, that I neither shield my audience from the depth and rigor of what it is to be a good storyteller, but nor do I present this in such a way that they feel like it’s never attainable, that they can’t reach it. I have come to believe that if you set a high bar for people, that if you set expectations for people that are fairly high, but they know that you believe in them, that they will be much more likely to achieve greater things. And my hope is that the tone of Audience to Zeal does that, and says, “I’m meeting you as an intellectual equal. Here are some complicated and complex ideas, broken down into ways that you can follow, and understand, and then use.

Sean Buvala: Right, right.

Laura Packer: I want it to be practical and useful.

Sean Buvala: Right. And I think that you’ve achieved that. I’m slightly distracted by again, we are in an office that, with the Small Tooth Dog Publishing Group, we don’t publish books about dogs. But dogs are a big, huge, giant deal in our lives. And so, I don’t know if the dogs that are losing their minds at the front door right now are coming through or not. But it’s an office, and it’s alive.

Laura Packer: I’m not hearing them. How many dogs do you have?shows covers of laura packer's new book title from audience to zeal the abcs of finding crafting and telling a great story

Sean Buvala: We have three. We are on our fifth rescue dog. My son’s company is Three Lost Dogs, and he publishes books and online training. And so, we began with one rescue dog, and that was the Three Lost Dogs. He had three at once. Two of them have moved on to the Rainbow Bridge, as they say. Dog number three is still with us, and he’s really ancient and is not going anywhere. And then we are on dogs four and five. So, four and five, which includes a very interesting purebred Malinois. So anyway, that’s totally off topic, but that’s what we have. And it’s super busy here.

Laura Packer: But that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it, sharing those stories of our lives?

Sean Buvala: Yes.

Laura Packer: And sharing those things that build connections. Telling the stories that evoke empathy and relationship.

Sean Buvala: Right.

Laura Packer: And that’s what you just did with your dogs.

Sean Buvala: Right.

Laura Packer: And you told me so much about your life in just that little conversation. That’s why storytelling is a basic part of what it is to be human.

Sean Buvala: Precisely.

Laura Packer: So, there.

Sean Buvala: How did we get there? No, you’re exactly right. How did we get to have all these dogs in the house, and what does it mean? So, I agree with you that there are these basic human touch points, and one of them is, “So, what kind of pets do you have?”

Laura Packer: Right.

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