I literally hadn’t listened to a single podcast until I was recommended My Favorite Murder by a friend earlier this year. That podcast is AMAZING: I listen to episodes when I run and find they help me run for longer, I listen to them at work, when travelling and also while writing my blog posts.
Obviously, being obsessed with crime fiction, my top ten list is chock-a-block full of real crime stories, mysteries and strange stories, as well as crime fiction author reviews and general writing tips. I’d love to hear what you think of this list, and please do tell me if you have any recommendations!
All of the podcasts listed are FREE and can be listened to via the hyperlinks provided. I tend to listen to these on iTunes but you can also listen to podcasts via the likes of Stitcher, Podbean and Soundcloud.
Why listen to a podcast?
Listen to the following for tips on writing and planning stories, inspiration for story, setting and character ideas or even just to swot up on your general knowledge:
Ready yourself for a murder adventure hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, two lifelong fans of true crime stories. Each episode the girls tell each other their favorite tales of murder, and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans. Check your anxiety at the door, ’cause Karen & Georgia are dying to discuss death.
If you haven’t listened to MFM yet, welcome to your new favourite podcast! I wish Karen and Georgia were my real life friends. The podcast covers real life murder stories, told from a refreshingly honest point of view. This podcast is such a relief for me, as someone who has loved gruesome stories my whole life but never able to discuss them openly as murder, and death in general, is such a taboo subject.
Prepare yourself for honest observations and dark humour; this podcast will make you laugh out loud. Even the adverts in between episodes (recorded by Karen and Georgia) are hilarious.
Part of the reasons the girls have such a huge fan following is their invitation for people to submit their own hometown murder stories, which are presented in minisodes in between the main episodes. The girls have over 60 episodes you can listen to at around an hour to two hours each.
Their tagline: Stay sexy. Don’t get murdered.
Listen to for: real crime stories, hometown murders
It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon.
The one you’ve probably already heard of if you are a seasoned podcast listener, the story of Hae Min Lee’s murder at the hands of ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed… Or so it seems. This podcast has me riveted through every episode, and itching to listen to the next one. The great thing about this series is that each episode covers a unique aspect of the one case, so that we feel we get to know one fascinating case in massive detail: episodes cover timelines, witnesses, the scene, the relationship, suspects etc.
The pacing of Serial is perfect and I find narrator Sarah Koenig really easy to listen to as she guides us through the case. Season 1 has 12 episodes of around 30 minutes to an hour each.
Incidentally, Serial is a spin-off from podcast This American Life which is well worth a listen: they cover one topic per episode (of which there are over 600) with past subjects including summer camp stories, doppelgangers, spies and DIY stories; a real treasure trove of random articles you might find inspiration from for your stories!
Listen to for: real crime stories
Welcome to Crimetown, a new series from Gimlet Media and the creators of HBO’s The Jinx. Every season, we’ll investigate the culture of crime in a different American city. First up: Providence, Rhode Island, where organized crime and corruption infected every aspect of public life. This is a story of alliances and betrayals, of heists and stings, of crooked cops and honest mobsters—a story where it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
A relatively new podcast, Crimetown picks one city per series to investigate in terms of the crime culture unique to that city. The first series picks Providence, Rhode Island as the city under the microscope. The podcast is told by narrators Marc and Zac in fantastic detail, using interviews, recordings, stories and stats to uncover the truth behind organised crime in the city.
If you are a fan of The Godfather, you’ll love this podcast because it is full of old-school mobsters, hits, heists and stings; it is incredibly well researched and would be useful for anyone using Providence or Rhode Island in their stories but also for 70s and 80s crime in general.
Listen to for: real crime stories, city case studies, organised crime
Welcome to Murder and Mayhem – the podcast where we explore the dark and mysterious side of writing. It’s a world filled with more evil and crime than you can shake a sharpened stick at – where people save the world from certain destruction, where spies, terrorists and thugs abound, and where the killer could be someone in your very own home.
M&M is a spin-off podcast from the popular So You Want to be a Writer (which I will I go into more detail on next) hosted by the Australian Writers Centre. It was created specifically to cover one months’ worth of crime thriller author interviews, delving into story inspiration, creative process, planning, careers and funny stories.
There are just 30 episodes to listen to, recorded July to August 2016 as part of Thriller month. Authors include one of my favourites, Linwood Barclay, as well as the likes of L.A. Larkin, Matthew Reilly and Liane Moriarty. You can even order it in eBook form here.
If you primarily like listening to author interviews, I’d also recommend Crime Café hosted by author Debbie Mack.
Listen to for: author interviews, writing tips
A weekly roundup of news, ideas and gossip in the world of writing, blogging and publishing, the podcast also features an interview with a successful writer every episode.
This podcast is an amazing resource for writers of all genres because it is packed with minisodes on every aspect of writing, whether it be editing, writing a blurb, world-building, writing dialogue and everything in between. The show is hosted by Australian Writers Centre’s Allison Tait and Valerie Khoo.
You’ll never get through all the info stored in these podcasts episodes, there are hundreds to listen to. I would probably treat this podcast as a handy reference for the specific problem you are having as a writer, rather than listening to the episodes one-by-one.
Listen to for: author interviews, writing tips
Unexplained is a bi-weekly podcast about strange and mysterious real life events that continue to evade explanation. A show that explores the space between what we think of as real and what is not. Where the unknown and paranormal meets the most radical ideas in science today…
This podcast is less chatty like some of those mentioned before, instead adopting a more documentary-style commentary of real life strange stories. Narrator Richard MacLean Smith covers the weird and wonderful as opposed to out-and-out murder, telling us stories about demons, third eyes, ghosts and time slips. If you are looking to write more in the thriller than cosy crime genre, this podcast is for you.
Listen to for: paranormal stories
Matt Rees is an award-winning British writer of crime fiction, thrillers and historical fiction who lives in Jerusalem. In The Man of Twists and Turns he podcasts about writing and writers, history, art and music. It’s a podcast about writing for writers and for readers who love good writing.
Ok, I mainly listen to this for Matt Rees’s voice, which is like something from a late night radio station… Seriously just listen.
Matt is an author and recorded this podcast to bring us not just general writing tips (his ‘How to write a book’ series is great) but also tips for using meditation, yoga ad music to help us write. Most of his story inspiration comes from his extensive journalistic career in the Middle East and as such many of the clips of his stories he reads to us feature these cultures and stories in some way. This is a fascinating perspective on traditional thriller stories.
There are around 50 episodes at mainly less than half an hour, so easy to listen to on your commute.
Listen to for: writing tips, story readings
Narrated by world renowned criminal psychologist and trial consultant, Dr Michelle Ward, THE MIND OF A MURDERER PODCAST expands on Dr Ward’s exclusive and chilling interviews with real life Hannibal Lechter like cold-blooded murderers, getting to the psychological core of how and why people commit murders.
This podcast is just fascinating, interviewing real criminals face-to-face to try to understand their motivations for murder. Michelle digs into the childhood traumas and home lives of these murderers, and we learn some interesting titbits about what prison life is like for these killers currently serving their time. A fab source for adding some depth to your crime stories! I also really enjoyed Michelle’s inner monologue while she’s interviewing these people; she says exactly what we’re all thinking.
The podcast covers just six interviews with convicted serial killers, and at less than 30 minutes each you will whizz through the episodes.
Listen to for: serial killer interviews
Every week Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks explore the horrors of the world both imagined and real.
This podcast is hilarious and has me embarrassingly laughing out loud when I listen to it, but it is intense; I can only listen to one at a time. That might be because the Last Podcast team consists of three entertainers: Ben, Henry and Marcus. The pace of their podcast is fast and loud, with maximum drama at all times.
The podcast picks a famous true crime or mystery/unexplained story each episode to dissect and comment on, bringing us the facts but also the rumours and lesser known details of the cases. The guys also visit some of the scenes too.
Listen to for: real crime stories, paranormal stories
Fact is scarier than fiction. Casefile, a new true crime podcast. Each episode explores a new case. We cover the shocking, the terrifying, the strange, and the unsolved.
Although another podcast covering true crime stories, this is run by an Australian team which means we are introduced to stories perhaps not covered by a predominantly American true crime podcast market.
The podcast currently has 50 episodes you can listen to, and each is around an hour long.
Listen to for: real crime stories, hometown murders
Over to you
What are your podcast recommendations? Have you listened to any of these to help your own writing? Let me know in the comments!