I spoke with Alex and Shannon from the podcast Lightstick & Lightsabers for this Podcast Spotlight interview.
What was the first Star Wars content you remember seeing and what was the content that kicked your love for Star Wars up a notch?
Alex: I know I saw the original trilogy first, and my memories of that are vividly Return of the Jedi. I loved everything going on in Jabba’s palace and Star Wars has always been something that I’ve bonded over with my Dad. I’ve always been a big fan but I didn’t enter fandom spaces until the sequel trilogy. The Force Awakens definitely woke something up in me.
Shannon: I remember seeing ads for The Clone Wars when I was in middle school. I was a huge fan of Ben 10 Alien Force and Generator Rex, and Clone Wars aired during the same block. It never really interested me, though, and it wasn’t until I saw the trailers for The Force Awakens that I started to get curious about Star Wars. My love for it kept building and by the time The Last Jedi was out, I was fully submerged into the fandom.
Who are some of your favorite characters and have those favorites changed over time?
Alex: My favorite characters are Ben Solo, Rey, Hera Syndulla, Cara Dune, and BD-1. As a kid, my favorite character was Padmé. She’s still a top character for me but something about the Disney era characters really speak to me. I was 11 when Revenge of the Sith came out and Padmé’s death really affected me at the time. I didn’t think death was the only way her story had to go and I was really sad about it. I think it’s similar to the way a lot of kids are feeling about a certain character death in The Rise of Skywalker.
Shannon: My favorite characters are Ben Solo and Rey. I also love Ciena, Tam, Rose, and Iden, but Rey and Ben have always been my number ones. Rey is the reason I got into Star Wars; seeing that the new trilogy was going to be her story awakened something inside of me, and I felt drawn to her from the start. As for Ben, I deeply relate to his story and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him. Seeing these two characters come together has been so special and moving, I hope we get to see more of their story in the future.
When did you make the decision to start your own Star Wars podcast? Had you been a part of other podcasts (either as a host or guest) before?
Shannon: My podcasting journey started when I joined Network 1901 back in 2015. We’ve had quite a few shows over the years but none that I felt were truly something I built. Alex and I had been talking about Star Wars nonstop for over a year and I knew I wanted to start a show with her, but I was scared.
I had learned a lot about hosting and editing from my partners within Network 190, but I wasn’t sure if I could pull off something new. However, shows like Scavenger’s Hoard, Skytalkers, and Who Talks First inspired me to give it a shot. I knew I wanted to do something different, not just cover Star Wars news and topics but make something for the fandom. Being part of the Reylo community opened my eyes to parts of fandom I had never seen before, and I wanted to highlight that.
So, Lipstick and Lightsabers became a show about the women of Star Wars fandom; a place where women could share their stories, and a place for me and my best friend to talk about the things we loved. Alex had never hosted a podcast before, but she had a guested on a few shows and we had recorded together before. There is no one else I’d rather do this with; I feel like we balance each other out well and her art takes the Lipstick and Lightsabers to another level. Recording with Alex and hearing stories from other women in fandom are the highlights of my week, and I hope to see the podcast grow even more as we enter our second year.
Alex: I’ve always been a big fan of podcasts in general. I started listening to Disney Parks related podcasts in high school and I’ve never looked back. They’re great to listen to while I’m working. I listened to Modern Mouse on Network 1901 before Shannon joined. After The Last Jedi came out, I reached out to Shannon because she was the only one who seemed to interpret the film similarly. Since becoming friends, I guest-hosted a network episode with her and a few other shows. I think our podcast came together pretty naturally because Shannon and I developed such a good friendship and we were talking about a lot of things we discuss on the podcast.
How would you describe your podcast to someone who hasn’t heard of it yet? How is it different from other Star Wars podcasts?
Lipstick and Lightsabers is a podcast by, for, and about the women of Star Wars fandom. Whether you are a new fan or saw the original trilogy in theaters, everyone has a unique story to tell, and Lipstick and Lightsabers is a place for you to share your Star Wars experience. Every Friday, we share a new story from the fandom, and then every other Tuesday, Alex and I dive deeper into Star Wars news and topics.
Tell me about your first episode (or first few episodes) and how your podcast has changed since those first few episodes.
Shannon: The beginning went much smoother than I was expecting if I’m being honest! I was so worried that people wouldn’t want to send their stories in, or that Alex and I would run out of things to talk about, but the overall reception of the show has been really encouraging. I would say we had remained pretty consistent, but we have both definitely become much more confident as the episodes go by.
In addition to your main podcast you have a regular podcast called Star Wars Stories. Can you talk a bit more about that podcast a bit?
Star Wars Stories is our Friday Show. Every week we share a story from the women in Star Wars fandom; everyone from old fans, new fans, artists, fashion bloggers, cosplayers, or other podcasters. It was important to us, to highlight the incredible women we’ve met through fandom, and break down those stigmas that Star Wars fans are all the same.
Do you have favorite parts or least favorite parts about producing a podcast?
Shannon: I think I can speak for both of us when I say it’s technology! Alex is in Canada and I’m in Tennessee so we are at the mercy of our laptops deciding whether or not they want to behave and if they want to connect to the internet. Other than that, I enjoy editing the show, but it is very time consuming.
Alex: The best part of podcasting is getting to chat with Shannon on a regular basis. As Shannon said, technology can definitely put a damper on things though!
For new listeners can you recommend two or three episodes that would give people an idea of what the podcast is like?
Any of the story episodes are a good way to get a feel for what those episodes are like. As for the main show, our Master and Apprentice episode, L3 spotlight, and Makeup and Mando series are episodes I feel really showcase the way we discuss Star Wars.
What podcast episode have you received the most positive feedback about? I’m curious if you knew that one would be a winner or it surprised you that this episode was a hit with listeners?
We were surprised by how many people sent in submissions for our Saving What We Love episode! It was one that really depended on the fandom and everyone really came through.
How do you decide what the subject of your podcasts is going to be? Do you know what you’ll be talking about months out ahead or do you decide more in the moment?
Shannon: We are both Virgos who love organization so we tend to schedule things out in advance. We look at what might be coming out news or bookwise first, then if we still need a topic we have a list where we post ideas.
Alex: I also have a list for our weekly art that I make. I try to organize those with movie, TV, game and book releases. If there’s no release happening, I choose from a list of listener suggestions.
Who are a few people you’d love to have on your show as a guest in the future?
It would be our dream to have Suzie McGrath on the show, she has a really special story. But really, we hope that everyone who listens will send their story in.
What kind of equipment do you use for recording Lipstick & Lightsabers? Any overall tips for new podcasters?
Shannon: I record with a Bluebird mic and Alex uses a Blue Yeti. We record in Audacity separately and I edit in Adobe Premiere. My number one tip for starting out is that you really don’t need anything fancy. I started out by using my phone and movie maker! Passion and motivation are really all you need to get started.
What are some of your favorite Star Wars focused podcasts?
Our favorite podcasts are Skytalkers, Scavenger’s Hoard, What the Force, Who Talks First, and Friends of the Force.
Any plans to be at Celebration and if so apply for the Podcast Stage?
We will be at Celebration! Our first Celebration was Chicago and we had a great time meeting people and giving out podcast swag. This year we’ll be doing the same thing. We’re also hoping to get tickets for the Star Wars Nite Disneyland event. We don’t have plans to do the podcast stage.
What are you most excited to see or read in the Star Wars universe coming up in the next year?
Alex: We’re both very big Lucasfilm publishing fans, so Project Luminous is definitely a big one for us. I’m also very much looking forward to seeing what’s next with Star Wars animation. I’d really like to see Sabine and Ahsoka go find Ezra.
How can people who want to listen to your podcast find it and help support it?
You can find Lipstick and Lightsabers wherever you listen to podcasts and through our website. If you want to be part of the show you can send in your Star Wars story to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can support the show through our merch shop, or on patreon!