The Cryptonaturalist podcast is the creation of Jarod K Anderson. It’s a completely unique, poetic and quirky fictional podcast in the genre of a classic nature documentary. Yet that’s where its similarity with the known world ends. This is David Attenborough meets The X Files, or Jane Goodall meets Big Foot. In the lingering shadows of dusk you will discover an array of fantastical cryptids, strange animals, otherworldly locations, featured fiction and poetry from talented guest contributors, and field reports from fascinating lovers of strange nature.
The Cryptonaturalist podcast is a constant stream of odd, poetic, and sometimes philosophical observations about life, science, and the natural world. Jarod K Anderson is its creator and he delivers his stories in an Old West type of cowboy voice that is very enjoyable and almost hypnotic to listen to!
Well, I’ve always loved stories and I started writing nature poetry when I was ten…
My fifth-grade teacher Ms. Woolard would take us out into the woods and encourage each member of my class to find a peaceful spot to write about the natural world. Even before that, my mother and I would enjoy frequent nature walks in rural Ohio and she would teach me the names of trees, birds, and wildflowers. My father built me a play area out of lashed together logs in the woods behind our house and I spent much of my time there. Couple those experiences with a lifelong love of nature documentaries and my early creative influences take shape.
I used to listen to The Hobbit on well-worn cassette tapes
I’d listen to it in the dark when I was supposed to be sleeping, the spiders of Mirkwood chittering through my headphones. The feeling of listening to such stories is unforgettable and I knew I wanted to inspire that feeling in others.
Creativity feels like a happy accident, like a gift from my unconscious mind
I enjoy the surprises. My brain will hand me a phrase or metaphor that sends me down the path to a complete poem or story. That said, it often strikes me that the creativity is just the catalyst, not the real force behind my work.
When it comes to writing – the work is…work
I can sit down and come up with story ideas all day (I’ve published two books of writing prompts cowritten with Leslie Anderson), but the craft of turning those initial ideas into complete pieces is the real key to producing something. Still, the mix of craft and creativity creates a lot of opportunities for fun, teasing out the perfect image, metaphor, or plot complication.
Marty Stouffer’s ‘Wild America’ ran from 1982 to 1994. He was a bearded man with a backwoodsy accent who waxes poetic about things ranging from muskrat dens to the dietary habits of black bears
I think I watched all 120 episodes a dozen times or so. I suppose I wanted to do what Marty Stouffer did, just without all those bothersome facts getting in my way. Tolkien meets Stouffer. The X-Files as hosted by David Attenborough. The idea seemed like such a perfect distillation of my primary interests, I had to do it.
The podcast Welcome to Nightvale really showed me the power of a single voice telling a story
As I said, I love a broad range of speculative fiction and nature documentaries, but without Nightvale, I’m not sure I would have thought I could write/perform The CryptoNaturalist solo. In terms of writers, Jeff VanderMeer blends nature and the bizarre in ways I can only dream of achieving. VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy is probably my favorite work of the last decade.
There’s an overgrown and underused path near my house that leads to a lake. When I look at the water and feel a profound sense of quiet contentment…
That place brings me comfort and clarity. My house shares a fence with a huge old cemetery where I walk often. That place is full of peace and memory. I’m grateful that the pandemic didn’t take either of these places from me. Social distancing is profoundly easy at both locations. Leslie J. Anderson, my partner is certainly my biggest human inspiration.
My partner Leslie J Anderson is an amazing poet and storyteller. She once described a ghost as ‘bleeding churchyard rain.’
I have so many of her phrases bouncing around my skull. You should really look up her work. She is always stunning me with her imagery.
Irony is a cheap shield against vulnerability. Learn to be sincere in your work
If you want to build an audience and reach people, write to communicate, not to impress. Write about things that excite you. Oh, and academics write for other academics. They have precious little to do with the living artforms of fiction and poetry in the context of modern culture.
You should still get that MA in literature, but don’t buy it when academia calls itself the true home of the arts. It’s not…
I just released a collection of poetry! Field Guide to the Haunted Forest by Jarod K. Anderson. It’s available through most online booksellers. Your local bookstore can probably order it for you too.