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The Making of Lone Wolf

Dipsea|2024.02.27

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The Making of Lone Wolf

Faye: Hi, welcome back to Fictional Men Written by Women, a podcast created by Dipsea. I'm your host, Faye Keegan, and we have a very fun episode today. We have Olivia here to talk a bit about the making of the Lone Wolf series and go a bit behind the scenes. So, Olivia, introduce yourself.

Olivia: Hello, I'm Olivia. I'm the Editorial Lead here at Dipsea. So I write and edit stories.

Faye: How was the story originally written?

Olivia: I think this is like a classic, just feels like, a classic Dipsea tale to me. I feel like you would assume that we brainstorm a story and then we write the story and then we cast the story and then the story is made. And I just feel like that process gets really messed up.

Faye: That only occasionally happens that way.

Olivia: Yeah, especially like earlier on, but every, I feel like sometimes there's humbling moments and this story was a humbling moment, but then a success story. Originally, we wanted to make a small town Scottish romance, which Scottish actors, people want to hear those, like, everyone's like, please do more Scottish accents.

Faye: Requests for Scottish accents, one of the number one requests for the last five years. It's very consistent. And we've tried to deliver on it, and we have not yet.

Olivia: Yeah, I mean, it's like a whole country, but we're struggling, we're struggling. So if anyone listening has a hot Scottish cousin… they don't have to be hot, they just have to have a gorgeous voice.

Faye: Hot voice.

Olivia: Hot voice, hot voice cousin, um, or friend? Anyway, but so we wanted to make this small town Scottish romance, like very classic, like this girl moves to Scotland to live with her grandmother, it's like her roots, she's never been there. Anyway. We did this whole thing, we like, wrote a few episodes. We had content made.

Faye: We were pumped up. I feel like we had little Scottish flags on so many internal documents. Like, yes, the Scottish romance is finally coming! Um, and then all of a sudden it was not. It was not coming.

Olivia: The voice actor couldn't do the story. Last minute, they couldn't record. Something came up. And we couldn't reschedule with them.

Faye: And that does happen. Like, you know, it's just like individual people. Like, “I have a cold,” “I can't record.” You know, like these are things that happen.

Olivia: People can't deliver scripts. People can't record things, weird things happen, or we like change something in a script.

So we had spent all this time making these stories. We had studio time booked. So we were like, how can we recreate the story with a voice actor we already work with, who we know we can book, and like totally change the setting because we do not have another Scottish actor. And we were like, maybe it could be Irish, we have an Irish actor, but it was way too similar to our Irish series.

We didn't want to double down. So we were like, let's do a small town Western romance, which I just think is such a funny thing to do because it feels so different. But then as we shifted the script, like, we actually, line by line went through and changed it. We did some bigger structural changes as well.

But I actually think it was pretty successful.

Faye: Totally. Although it's crazy it took us so long to do something like that. Although we did have one, one from the past.

Olivia: Totally. Oh, to do a cowboy story?

Faye: Yes, exactly.

Olivia: Yeah, so I feel like when you think of classic romance. If you, like, imagine the wall of long hair, like, Fabio types. Like, I feel like there's a man on a horse. Or, like, shirtless.

Faye: How did we get so many men not on horses before we finally found our guy?

Olivia: Yeah, well, we did. We did do a cowboy series. Iconically named Cowboys. Which, also a great story because originally we were coming up with all these different names we were, like, slacking about.

And then we were like, Cowboy. And then, I don't know if it was me or somebody else, we added an S, like, Cowboys. And we're like, that's it.

Faye: I do think it is funny, like, a lot of our stories have internal names, like, an internal moniker for them, and then before we release them, we're like, we actually can't just release a story that's called Cowboy Romance.

Like, it needs to have something else.

“Cowboy Romance” and “Cowboys” was not our biggest creative leap, but, like, Hometown, one of our most popular series, was, in all the original scripts, called like, “Nerds Become More.” Haha which is like iconic. And there's so many things like that, there's like amazing archaeology of Dipsea stories.

Olivia: Also, I feel like it is like the origin, like you can just get the the absolute nugget, the center of the idea.

Well, this story, the one we actually ended up making, Lone Wolf, was originally called Small Town.

And it's like, it could be a small town anywhere, Scotland. Montana. So we did, we switched it, which I think was pretty successful. I asked a friend from Montana for some plot because I was like, I actually don't know anything about living in a small town there, surprise. And she was like, I think you should do a story about the tension between wolf conservationists and ranchers, which I actually now know a ton about.

Faye: The fact we didn't immediately make this a werewolf story itself is shocking.

Olivia: It is one breath away from being a werewolf. It's called Lone Wolf. I actually think it's really interesting though, like, it's Lone Wolf… and our werewolf series is called Pinedale Falls. Haha

Faye: I'm gonna switch the titles up, that was incorrect.

Olivia: But it's just the way that it happens. But I, I do think it was successful. Like, this is actually one of my favorite Dipsea stories.

Faye: I think it's really good. I think that Jesse, really, is such a full character, and I think his personality is so strong, and the actor is also really good, it's like really strong banter, you have that flirtatious, like, tension, and like, it's not really enemies to lovers, but kind of like, the secret affair, off limits, and he's a little bit like rough around the edges.

I think that delivers through from like banter to sex to banter to sex and just feels like really compelling and consistent throughout. It feels like a real person.

Olivia: Totally. Also feels just like such an escape to me. Like I feel like it's what romance should be like. I feel like I'm in the small town. It's summer. I’m like having a forbidden romance with this man. I'm really like swept up in it and I think it's just very immersive. I think his voice and the actress is great too who plays Katie. I feel like she has this wily newcomer energy that also really working. And, I think this is an example of us hitting the trope really hard.

Sometimes I think like at Dipsea, we see something that's very trope-driven and we're like, how can we add more nuance? Like that story feels maybe sort of done before or corny. Like, how do we make it feel more modern?

But this was a story where I think it's like, actually what you want is the rough around the edges cowboy. Like no edits. Don't reinvent the wheel.

Faye: Haha. Totally. Well, I mean, in the original first cowboy story we did. Cowboys. Iconic. We did way too much. And we just lost the thread on cowboy.

Olivia: We never even had it. Haha

Faye: It's only in the title and the art.

We also have to make sure that, and I think this is done really well, again, with Jesse and Lone Wolf. But the elements of the story and elements of the sex, like, line up. Like, if they have a really, kind of competitive offense relationship, and they're having kind of that dynamic in their sex as well, where they're kind of vying for power in a really fun and flirty way. Like that encapsulates the sex and the romance as well in this story in Lone Wolf.

Olivia: I also started watching Yellowstone. Do you watch it?

Faye: No, I don’t. I don't know why. I'm the exact target audience.

Olivia: You are a horse girl adult. Haha

Faye: How dare you. Haha

Olivia: I mean, light, light! Like, first impression. You're not giving a horse. Haha

Faye: I do feel like one of the things I have to pull back on, generally, is adding more horse knowledge into my stories.

Olivia: When we did Pinedale Falls, which is the werewolf version of Lone Wolf. But in Wyoming.

I also wrote that one, and I don't really know anything about horses. I love horses… on like akind of spiritual, emotional level. Like, I respect them. I'm interested in them. I've never ridden one. But I was like, oh, this is a huge blind spot because they're like on a horse ranch. And Faye would come in and be like, “Oh yeah, he's a bit, like, he's a bit fresh today.” Haha

Faye: I'm just like such a loser. I was like, I had to add way too much. I'd highlight it and be like, comment, add Olivia, please cut this down by 65%... like at least. Haha

Olivia: But I think that's great. Like storytelling, writing, and editing. I always tell, when we're working with freelance writers, I'm like, I'd so prefer you do way, way, way too much… because I'll just like absolutely carve that story out of there. Like, that's basically what I do. I'm like just like removing thousands of words.

Faye: Lead deleter of words. Haha

Olivia: Yeah, it's so brutal. I feel like people are editing me that way, and it makes for a better story. So, I do it to other people, so I'm sorry if I've ever edited anyone's…

Faye: Speaking to the writers, if you're listening to this podcast

Olivia: If you're listening, I'm sorry that I'm not gentle.

Faye: We do it to each other too, it's not personal.

Olivia: No, but I do think it was a good collab on this one. A lot of horse information, and then we sort of reeled it in.

Faye: The other, I feel like, the third character in Lone Wolf is the weather… which drives so much, I feel like, of the story.

It's like so hot, so they go swimming. Like, it's pouring rain, so he grabs a blanket. And I think weather, obviously, is a part of everyone's lives, but I do think that there are some stories and some characters that we generate where the weather feels part of the character. I think Killian is like this too. Like in almost every single Killian story, it's like raining and there's a fireplace and that feels like a part of what you're delivering with a Killian story unless you're in the bar. But, I think that with Jesse he has this like… the wildness of like the weather that mirrors the wildness of their relationship and it feels really tight that way.

Olivia: Yeah. I think it's also, I don't think I've ever articulated the weather in our stories in that way before, but it's such a sensory … Like, I think it makes for some of the best stories. Even Hometown has that a little bit, it's like always a little rainy, like there's some Twilight inspiration in there, probably. I do love the episode, I think it's episode 5 or episode 6, the one where she's cold.

Faye: Summer Storm, episode 6.

Olivia: Summer Storm, episode 6.

Faye: I do think it's the best one. I think it delivers perfect Lone Wolf energy.

Olivia: And so satisfying.

Faye: Perfected the craft, and I'm afraid to make a seventh.

Olivia: Yeah. We just do the same thing. Haha

Faye: People are clamoring for it, but I literally am afraid. It is so good. And that one has like, I mean, I think both it is really good. Um, but also like it performs the best in the data. Like we, we like look at this stuff internally. Yeah. Um, it's like obviously a really good signal. We also talk to our listeners, we do free-form surveys, and get ideas about things that we're not making but that they want to hear. But this is a story that like from, I mean, Lone Wolf in general, from the second we started releasing it was doing really, really well. But episode 6 particularly has extremely high re-listen and favorite rates, which is just, I think, the biggest indicator that it has something that is so good that we also don't have anywhere else, you know? It's like, this one is really hitting. Um, but yeah, Summer Storm.

Olivia: It's interesting how those high-performing moments create a ripple effect, where then for, like, months I'm like, let's do a Pillow Talk where she's a little cold.

Faye: Haha. Totally.

Olivia: And there’s like a bathtub and he's warming her up. And it's like, okay… And then we go too far. Haha. Like, okay, actually, we've done like eight of these… but if you want that trope, you now can find it beyond just that one story.

Faye: What's inspiring in this story, this character, and this actor choice was user requests for deeper voices and like growl. Like “growl” was a word we kept getting and we're like, none of the guys we have here are really growling. We need a guy that can believably growl and I feel like he gets close, which is why he ends up being our werewolf in, in Pinedale Falls.

Olivia: Right, and we've used him in other stories, but he sounds pretty different in different contexts, but he has like, I think that, you know, deep really gravelly sort of like… like, it's not raspy. It's gravelly. They're different.

AUDIO CLIP OF JESSE FROM LONE WOLF

Olivia: I really struggle with this. We once did like an audit of, remember we did the audit? We did an audit of all the different voice types, and it was like whimpering, like raspy, like gravelly… These things matter, and I was tasked with taking the first pass of it, and then just absolutely failed.

Faye: It was ultimately kind of too hard. Yeah…

Olivia: That was generous of you. Haha

Faye: It was too hard, but somebody else did it.

Olivia: They could have done a better job. And they did. They completed it. It was hard.

Faye: It was hard. But I think it's really hard for us to know how to do, like, those kinds of specific things people really want. And I think that this actor does, I think, it the best.

Killian has more grunt. But is the word grunt sexy? Can we put it in the app? I don't know.

Olivia: I do think that's been a big update for us too. I feel like our most… um, we talk about this all the time… but our most unhinged meeting is always the tag meeting. Because it's so in the nitty-gritty of what we do… which is like, you don't really want to be there actually. It's like, no, it's such an intense place.

Faye: It starts out with like a question you think is going to be easy. Like, “let's label all of the spanking stories”. That's a classic one. You're like, okay. People want to look for it. People want to avoid it. Like, that's a great thing to tag. But like, if it's one slap, is that spanking?

Olivia: Is that spanking? When does it become spanking? It raises, like, philosophical questions that I feel like we spiral out on, and then at the end, we're like, what if we made charm bracelets that said “Daddy”? Like, somehow we end up, like…

Faye: Exactly, we pivot to a charm bracelet company that says, like, “praise kink” on a bracelet. That's like, okay, good. Good meeting. See you next month.

Olivia: Yeah. Start with the granular and see where you get.

Faye: No, it's very hard. It's very hard. I think that is, like, the challenge of both creating content, but also then how do you describe it to people to make sure that, especially for erotic content, we want to make sure the content is delivering on things people want, but also if you don't want to hear a spanking story or you don't want to hear a cheating story or whatever, you can avoid those things, too.

Olivia: Spanking and cheating, easier to differentiate. Totally. One spank, not a spanking story, one cheat. It's a cheating story. Not that we have those. We don't. We don't make cheating content.

Faye: We've tried. We've tried. We’re too nice. We're too soft. We're like, ah, they actually, they've broken up. That wasn’t really a thing in the first place. Too soft. Too soft. Um, totally.

Olivia: Yeah. Everyone feels good about the affair.

Faye: But I do think the biggest challenge is not necessarily like, should we or should we not make a cheating story? Like, we probably could. Just make sure it's clearly labeled. If you don't want to listen to it then, like, don't. It's probably okay. It's a fictional piece of content. Right. It's more just deciding to make that instead of something else.

I think the problem is people… I don't know if you've had this experience too and we're gonna find out, but people constantly pitch me ideas. Based on, often, their own personal experience, which is extremely sweet. It's like no, I'm having an amazing romance with the guy who pours my coffee… which I mean, we have actually have a couple barista stories. That one has made it in.

But we have so many good ideas, things we want to do. And also often we'll do a dynamic in a queer story, and then we want to do the straight version or vice versa. And so like, the problem is not having good ideas, the problem is deciding what to do. And that's why I think the affair stuff always just gets a little push. It's like, we could do that, or werewolves, you know?

Olivia: Right, right. Yeah, and I think, it is polarizing. So it's like, I feel there are going to be people who are like, I don't want to listen to that. Where I feel like, who doesn't like werewolves?

Faye: Haha. Spoken by two freaks.

Olivia: Like, everybody likes horse stories. Haha

Faye: It's like, I'm pretty sure there are more people who cheat than have werewolf fantasies. As you said, I was like, obviously, probably the cheating. Totally. Haha. Well, whatever, we did the werewolf thing instead.

And I think also the challenge between delivering more in content people love and delivering new series. Like, you know, when we make Lone Wolf content, the first two episodes here… It was instead of making Lecture Me content, instead of making The Local content. Like, that kind of fills that spot on the calendar. And so it had to feel like really high conviction and sort of novel to get it on there… And maybe it only made it on there because it was going to be Scottish. It kind of snuck in.

Olivia: Right. I know. I feel like it, it's kind of a happy accident. But I, I feel like sometimes also… it’s just like devastating that a story doesn't do well. You invest all this time and energy and resources, and it just isn't a superstar.

You like treat it like it's going to be, and then it isn’t. Which is fine. Like, I think even stories that aren't the highest performing, people are listening to. I feel like it's rare that we make a story and people are like, I hate this.

Faye: Yeah, we're mostly trying to create content people really love.

Right. And then content, of course, we want to make. But also inspired by content we're watching, things we're reading, conversations we're having, like stories we're hearing in our own lives.

Olivia: We're trying to read the room.

Faye: But it'd be crazy for us to just, like, write exclusively stories about things that we like that wouldn't be interesting to more people than just ourselves.

Olivia: Right. I feel like that's often what people pitch me on. Like, if I'm in a bar and I tell somebody what I do… which I've kind of stopped doing. Haha. Like, strangers, I’m like, what if you didn't know what I do?

Faye: What do you say when you're in an Uber? So like, what do you do? What do you say?

Olivia: I say that I work in podcasting.

Faye: Oh, that's good.

Olivia: I'm like I mean, it depends. It depends. In an Uber, I probably am not telling them. And it depends on like, the demographic. Like, you know, if it's somebody's parent that I'm meeting. Like, I don't want to get into it. But sometimes people, you can tell, they're going to want to talk about it.

Faye: Right. Exactly. I recently had a friend come up to me. I've been friends with her the whole time that I've had Dipsea, and she just started listening to it more, I guess. And she was like, I saw her for the first time in like four or five weeks, I was away, and I came back, she's like, “Oh my god, Faye, I really want to talk to you about Dipsea.”

I'm like, okay. She's like, “It's really good.” I was like, I fucking hope so. Haha. She's like, I guess, she's like trying for a baby, which is an awesome use case, like good for her, obviously a big conversation. But she's like, it's like, it really works. I'm like. I know. Haha

Olivia: I hope so. I am, like, really surprised when people are like, yeah, it's hot.

Faye: It's like, it really works. It's like… like, by design, babe. Haha.

For listeners of this podcast who maybe don't have the Dipsea app. If they love Lone Wolf, what series in the app would you recommend?

Olivia: Like, next?

Faye: Yeah.

Olivia: Well, Pinedale Falls?

Faye: No, totally. That’s an obvious one.

Olivia: Not Cowboys?

Faye: No. It's like this, but with actual werewolves.

Olivia: I think that there's also like… I feel like it's kind of like a hop, skip, and a jump, maybe to The Local.

Faye: Like it’s the Irish version of it?

Olivia: Yeah. I think it's like, what thread? I think if you're a Dipsea listener. I think something to figure out for yourself… Maybe kind of a fun challenge is understanding your fantasy.

It's like, what is it about this story that draws me in? Because a lot of stories have similar elements, you know? Like, is it the relationship dynamic? If it's like, the gravelly voice, then maybe you should listen to…

Faye: Gerard. It’s also the same actor.

Olivia: Yeah

Faye: I think Gerard delivers pretty well there. But you lose all of the Montana of it all. But if it's like the vibe then I think The Local.

Olivia: Yeah.

Faye: It's very good. I also just love The Local.

Olivia: I'm such a fan of The Local. It's so cute.

Faye: But some people do like The Local just for the Irish accent, and then it doesn't go the other way.

Olivia: Totally.

Faye: I agree with your recommendations entirely.

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