Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Jella Erhard
Peek behind the scenes of Felicia Day’s Audible Original series, Third Eye, & learn how she redefined audiobooks to create a unique experience for listeners.
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Pop Closer With Felicia Day
“Knowing yourself is life’s eternal homework”
I recently enjoyed a virtual chat with the ever-radiant, multi-talented Felicia Day. She’s charmed audiences with her web series, The Guild, and through Geek & Sundry, the multimedia production company she founded and transformed into a powerhouse, she has also created a haven for geeks worldwide.
Felicia’s talents span far and wide. She’s a gifted actress, a successful businesswoman, and a remarkable writer. Her Audible Original series Third Eye is a modern fantasy tale that’s whimsical, witty, and brimming with imagination.
Third Eye transports readers to a magical San Francisco and introduces them to Laurel Pettigrew, the Chosen One, who didn’t quite live up to the title.
Felicia Day as Codex – The Guild
Third Eye also has a star-studded cast that brings the story to life. The cast features Neil Gaiman as The Narrator, and talents like Felicia herself, LilyPichu, Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, London Hughes, Alan Tudyk, and even Weird Al Yankovic, among many others. Felicia and her team have reimagined the audiobook format to offer listeners a unique TV show-like experience.
With Third Eye, Felicia hasn’t just given us a delightful modern fantasy story; she’s revolutionized how we experience audiobooks. If you haven’t delved into Third Eye yet, get ready for an enchanting ride.
JELLA ERHARD: So, you know that I love you so much. I’ve been following your work for many years now and I love pretty much everything you do. Thank you not only for doing the interview but for everything you’ve done. You’re truly an inspiration.
FELICIA DAY: I appreciate that, so much. It means a lot, I like what I do.
Yeah, it definitely shows. I also loved Third Eye so much. I love everything about it.
Thank you! So of course, I’m so happy to talk about it because I put so much of my heart into it.
It’s such a great story with fantastic characters and while it incorporates a few classic fantasy tropes, it also feels new, different, and unique. It wasn’t only witty but it felt so cinematic. At first, it reminded me of old radio shows where it wasn’t just about voice acting but the creators would integrate sound effects, like knocking, and in Third Eye everything went even further and it was way bigger. It really felt like listening to a TV show. Was it fun to work on that?
It was so fun because I got to do exactly what I wanted with it, with the writing, the casting, and also just learning how to tell a story in audio. It was very challenging to think about storytelling with nothing to see at first. But when we started working and added a narrator throughout, it really helped. And also just when we were editing, making sure that no one was confused about who was in the room, what they were doing, who would enter, and adding all the little details of sounds, as you said, people, people kind of think about audio storytelling in a very old fashioned way. But we wanted to make this a very cinematic experience for your ears. And that’s why we spent six months just on the post-production part of making this show. So it’s seven hours, and every episode, we had to go through very carefully to make sure that everything was clear and not confusing and also as big as it could be.
Get Third Eye on Audible
Yeah, it’s definitely big. It’s amazing, really. Thank you so much for your hard work. It’s also undeniably uplifting and feel-good, but you didn’t shy away from the darker themes either. It’s set in a magical world, but it also really feels grounded in reality. I think it has definitely helped me but can help all listeners put everything into perspective and have a brighter outlook on themselves and their flaws. It’s something that’s in everything that you’ve been doing, including the other books you’ve written, You’re Never Weird On The Internet and Embrace Your Weird. You’ve been exploring these themes, like anxiety, perfectionism, and embracing one’s quirks and it’s all in Third Eye too. Is that what inspired your book and drew you to this project?
Absolutely. I definitely put some themes in there that were very personal to me, like imposter syndrome, and perfectionism. I was kind of a child prodigy. I was a violinist early in my life and very good for my age. And then I became a kind of a prodigy on the internet very ahead of the time with my internet content, The Guild. And so every time I felt excited and confident it would gradually fade away, something would not be up to my standards or somebody else’s standards. And so I began to uncover this prodigy syndrome of being very good. But then basing your whole self-worth on your achievements and these outer qualities, and things that you could do well, but tend to fade away or normalize as you get older. And I wanted to kind of confront that and I thought it was a perfect way to look at it with a chosen one because it’s such a familiar trope and fantasy. And since I love fantasy, I love to deconstruct things. So it became a perfect venue for me to kind of tackle these personal problems of my own.
The Guild: Complete Megaset DVD
And is it one of your goals to help fellow “weirdos” and “misfits” see their quirks as strengths rather than imperfections?
Absolutely. I certainly love making people feel comfortable with who they are. You know, it took me a long journey, and I don’t know if I’m 100 percent comfortable with who I am, but I think everyone should embrace what makes them different, and unfortunately, society tends to ostracize those who are different and make people feel insecure or, want to hide what sets them apart. But in reality, our differences are our superpowers. And so, that is definitely a theme of all of my work, in being confident in who you are, even if it places you outside the system, you will have companions with you wherever you are.
Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day
“We’ll never know exactly what we’re capable of unless we push ourselves and TRY IT ALL.”
Third Eye was also just such an enjoyable story, and it feels family-friendly something that both adults and YA readers can enjoy. Did you deliberately want to connect with both adult and YA audiences when crafting this story?
Definitely enjoy YA literature myself, and I thought it was really important in crafting a story to appeal to all ages, uh, probably over 13. You know, there are some, uh, you know, nothing racy, but there are some naughty words a couple of times, but in general, yes, you’re right. I think people can enjoy it together. Sybil is definitely a little bit out there, but at the end of the day, it’s all done with a lot of heart and good intentions. And for me, there is a central relationship between Kate and Laurel, and I wanted to bridge that generation gap because my character is older, and then she is a teenager, but I think a lot of messaging to young girls is that older women are their enemies, and I think that’s definitely…
And the other way around, I think, as well.
Yeah, exactly. You’re totally right. We older women feel threatened by younger women. Younger women feel oppressed by older women. And I think it might be a narrative that is put on us by men trying to separate us.
We should help each other instead.
Exactly. We should be together. We should be teaching each other, you know, back and forth, and guiding each other on our journeys. And having a daughter really made that important for me. And so hopefully that is some of it baked into that relationship, especially.
I’ve always loved stories, whether in books or shows, that have narrators like Pushing Daisies and Jane The Virgin. Neil Gaiman, of course, did a fantastic job as the narrator of Third Eye. What’s your take on having a narrator?
It was 100 percent necessary. It wasn’t in the original TV script, but I realized in order to guide the audience from scene to scene, especially since this is fantasy and things are happening that you would not know what’s happening unless someone was describing it. It was really necessary, but at the end of the day, I, of course, didn’t want to do something typical like just a straight narrator. I want to have a snarky, self-aware, funny, and very charming narrator, and Neil Gaiman, of course, is the perfect person. I can’t believe he agreed to do it, but it was the thrill of my life when he said yes. So yeah, it was, I think, for audio, it’s very easy to get lost in the story and the narrator really helps us keep on track from episode to episode.
One of the standout elements is the dynamic between your character, Laurel, and LilyPichu’s character, Kate. It feels like the heart of the story. What inspired you, and what interested you about their relationship?
I think, especially having a daughter, um, I think that that relationship is very much informed by how I would love for us to interact when she’s a little bit older. My daughter’s very precocious, and Kate is definitely very precocious as well. But, Also, it’s a story of two people healing each other. Kate has a very dark background that we start to uncover. Laurel has a very dark background. And just knowing that you have somebody being your advocate and caring about you is so important in life. And I think that’s where I definitely wanted the heart of the story to be, between those two characters.
So Laurel is kind of based on you and Kate is on your daughter, Calliope?
A little bit, or maybe my projected future with my daughter.
Romance is also a pretty big part of the story. Unfortunately, Laurel doesn’t get too much of it but Wil Wheaton’s character, Robigus, and London Hughes’s character, Sybil, had a love story that was really fun. But my favorite couple is Frank and Tracy. Frank was voiced by Sean Astin and Tracy by Janet Varney. Was it fun to add those layers of romantic intrigue to the story?
I love romance, and I read romance books on the side. I love a good romance. And I think people finding each other is certainly a theme in the story and in my life, and in all my work. So yes, of course, I wanted people to have someone who they are able to care about. And even Laurel has sort of the possibility of romance in her life. And that’s kind of a central problem in her life that she can’t kind of create a future for herself because her past weighs her down so much. So, I do love Frank and Tracy so much because it’s so weird. It’s such a strange relationship between this old vampire and this very strange lady who loves dark things, art songs, and opera and it is very weird. And it’s very me. I think someone said, particularly that relationship, that only Felicia Day could write that. And I was like thank you!
It was certainly unique. But there is also darkness there, especially when it comes to Laurel’s relationship with her mom and the whole weight of being the chosen one. Was it hard to balance that kind of darkness with the story’s inherent lightness?
I think that if there was too much lightness, in seven hours people would get bored, right? So for me, you know, binging half-hour comedy is not as fun. I like to watch one episode and leave because, you know, the lightness of not having meaning underneath kind of makes it not last as long. And so for me building the story, I needed to have depths of character arcs and darkness there in order to make the comedy, the length, the longevity of the comedy last to the end of the piece. I’m in Hollywood, and I see a lot of stage mothers. And so that felt like something natural to kind of incorporate into this chosen one story. And you know, it’s, it’s a relationship that takes some interesting turns and twists. And I always wanted to keep people guessing, but also confront that idea that, you know, prodigies are not like spontaneously made. There has to be a parental thing involved and like confronting that was interesting to me.
And Sybil, you also talked about her. She’s such a character and like sparkly and loud and London Hughes completely nailed it. She’s fantastic. Was Sybil also a reflection on today’s selfie-loving, look-at-me culture, or just a fun character you dreamed up?
She’s also a trope that I wanted to turn on their head, you know, we have this very delicate fairy princess idea in our mind of, you know, and I wanted Sybil to be the opposite of that, she’s conniving, she’s ruthless, she’s greedy, she’s very sexual, um, and out there, and yes, uh, she is the funnest part of the show. When I first wrote the pilot, TV people said, “Oh, Sybil is overshadowing Laurel.”, and I was like, that’s fine. This character is THE big character.
They’re very different but I think they’re both great in their own way.
Yeah, I think they’re. I definitely balanced them out as we went along. But I didn’t know London Hughes. She’s one of the only characters, or people, in the cast that I didn’t know personally. And it’s because my director, Jonah Ray, suggested her for the role of Sybil because I said, I don’t know someone with, an accent who has this loud personality. And he said, I did stand up with this woman named London Hughes once, and I saw 30 seconds of her YouTube. And I was like, please offer her the part. She’s perfect. She is a scene-stealer and I love her so much. And she is the perfect Sybil. I could not have dreamed up a better Sybil.
Yes, Sybil and actually Robigus. I loved him, I love Wil Wheaton as well. I’m also a Trekkie. He did such an amazing job, he truly brought that character to life in such a fantastic way. How did you feel hearing Wil breathe life into a character you crafted?
I wrote this part for Wil Wheaton. We worked together on The Guild and with Tabletop, a show that I created with him for my old company Geek & Sundry. So we worked together many, many times over the years and I never want to do anything without him if I can help it. I needed an antagonist. But I needed him to be charming and I needed him to be likable in a strange way, but also ruthless. And he does that so well because he’s such a layered actor. And especially his expertise in voice acting is just incredible. And so I think that he brought depth to Robigus that other actors might not have brought. And I think that that really helps the story throughout.
The Guild Library Edition Volume 1 by Felicia Day
Absolutely. He was just incredible. I’ve seen your recommendations on Audible for fantasy and mythology books, and I know that you also love LitRPG. But I couldn’t think of a book quite like Third Eye. It actually reminded me more of anime shows in a way. I think anime creators do such a great job at mixing these silly fun things with really meaningful dark themes that make viewers think. Are you a fan? Do you have any favorite anime that you like to watch when you need a laugh or for comfort?
I will say that anime is my nerd blind spot. I am not an anime fan. I’ve, I mean, I enjoy Cowboy Bebop. I’ve watched some Naruto. You know, some very mainstream, anime I’ve watched. But I can’t say that I’m a fan.
So, you don’t like it?
I do like it. It’s just there’s not enough time in the day to consume everything. You know, just jumping into One Piece would be like, Oh my gosh, forget it. I’m hoping that when my daughter is older, she will get into anime and we can watch all of it together and then I will be anime literate.
And the music, in Third Eye, is also fantastic. I really enjoyed it. Do you feel like listening to music gives you a creativity boost and inspiration? Do you prefer songs with or without lyrics?
I was a classical musician, as I mentioned earlier, and so music carries almost too much emotional significance for me. I tend to get pretty distracted when music is playing. if I’m doing research, I love to play it. I did have a playlist that I created with Third Eye. I did a podcast interview where I kind of walk people through the top 13 songs. I also have a Spotify playlist. We couldn’t use any of the songs for licensing, so the people who did our post-production, Mumble, they’re actually from San Francisco and they cared so much about Third Eye and put so much work into it. I think all the songs that they picked are so, so good. And I feel like we should release an album because, honestly, I was introduced to wonderful songs. I love the soundtrack and I’m particularly proud of it. And I can’t claim all the credit. That was all a lot of Mumble and Jonah Ray, the director.
You’re also a fellow art lover and book lover, got any all-time favorites, comfort reads or music tracks that you love going back to? Or did you find something new recently that you really enjoyed?
Well, I certainly always go back to Erasure and Abba. Those are my two happy places. They’re so, important to me. And they just make me, you know, dance. I know they’re old songs, but I don’t care. Yeah, I like this.
Me too. I think many people especially love Abba.
Yeah. They’re just universal. It’s like the Beatles. I just recently read Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, which is kind of a mainstream book about video game development and writing, and it’s very beautiful. It’s about a friendship between a man and a woman, and the games that they design. And I didn’t expect to love it so much. It is one of my favorite books, I think. It was very profound and it touched upon things that… I didn’t think about, especially when you talk about video games, so I highly recommend it. It was really wonderful.
I also heard you talk about how Third Eye was initially, planned for TV. And now that you’re in with the Amazon team, do you think it could become a Prime original?
I can’t say that there is anything planned now. I definitely would love it to maybe go to TV, but if it doesn’t, I would love to work more with the characters in other formats. I own the project, so I can say what I can do with it and what not, which is, like, really important to me. The same thing with The Guild. I can do what I want with that project because I still own it, and that kind of creative flexibility is something wonderful to me. So, crossing fingers, but if not, I will still be able to tell stories.
Was this audio journey different for you than working on TV performances?
It was very different in that I wrote all the words. So, a lot of the actors would get together and record, but sometimes would not. And I would read all the other lines. So I would play myself, and every other character, and it was actually really fun. I wanted to make the other actors comfortable and feel like they were in a scene with other actors, even if the actor they were acting with wasn’t in the room with them at the time. Fortunately, especially for the romantic arcs, we got people in together, and I think that chemistry shows because it feels less stilted and kind of stiff than, like, an old-time radio show. I think that we wanted to get away from that description because it is something different. This is a TV show for your ears.
Yes, it definitely feels different. You love and played many powerful characters over the years. If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?
I would know all languages because I love traveling and I always learn like 10 words in every language but I feel very inadequate. It is my goal before the end of my life to learn at least passably conversational Spanish and French, but I’m not getting there yet.
Positive vibes, as we talked about, are a staple in everything you do. Any piece of golden advice you’ve received that you’d like to pass on?
I think that you know, believe in yourself. I think a lot of us don’t believe in ourselves or embrace our weirdnesses enough. And you are who you are. Everybody is born an individual and a unique one at that. And if we don’t embrace our uniquenesses, then we’re leaving behind the thing that makes us most powerful. So because of outside pressure, we might feel like we want to hide those things about ourselves, but honestly, to live the fullest happiest life, you must embrace who you are. And that’s really important and something that I’ve had to learn over the years. It isn’t instant, but if you have that mindset, it’s something you can work on and work toward.
And it’s a great goal. Lastly, do you have any upcoming projects or collaborations that your fans should know about?
Well, I can’t talk about any TV or shorts or anything like that. I do have some things coming out next year, hopefully even more once the strike is over. I’m working on a couple of stage play-things for next year. But nothing right now, so just join me on Twitch. I stream three times a week mostly, and I have a wonderful community on Discord.
LISTEN TO Third Eye HERE
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Thank you for reading!