She used to write for Kamloops This Week. Now, former KTW reporter Andrea Klassen has written — and also produced, edited and directed — a new fictional podcast, loosely paralleling her own experience finding love.
Since her departure from the newspaper, 34-year-old Klassen has been working communications in the Cariboo. She initially moved to California to be with her long-distance partner, at which time the former newspaper writer — who, unbeknownst to readers, had also dabbled in podcast and video game writing in the past — finally had time to create her own podcast.
Unable to work in the U.S., Klassen spent the days writing from her girlfriend’s kitchen table, before returning to Canada both engaged and with a first draft of Me and AU. The story, consisting of 15 short episodes released every two weeks, centres around romance sparked by a shared interest in fan fiction.
“It’s about those summers you have at the end of your university life, when you’re sort of burning out and you’re starting to transition into adulthood,” Klassen said. “But that’s kind of terrifying, so you supplement all your time into something completely random — like a bad Canadian TV show, in this particular case.”
For those who don’t know fan fiction, it is essentially the taking of pre-existing works of fiction and writing alternate storylines, settings or otherwise. The term “AU” in the show’s title stands for “alternate universe.” This quote from the first episode of Me and AU sums up the popularity of fan fiction: “Sometimes you see a movie, hear a podcast, read a book and it’s like finding a home you didn’t know you were missing,” character Kate Cunningham said. “And you want to be in that place more often.”
Klassen has herself penned fan fiction. In high school, she wrote it for Katherine Applegate’s fantasy book series, Everworld. She made friends online who shared that interest and even met her fiancé in a similar way. In fact, Klassen said the show was inspired by that very experience she and many of her queer friends have shared.
Formerly involved with Kamloops Pride, Klassen said only one character on the show is not a member of the LGBT+ community and it was important to her to cast voice actors who shared that experience.
She also consciously sought to cast Canadians. Klassen said audio-fiction is dominated by American and British voices. For that reason, she also set the show right here in Kamloops. Expect: Can-Con jokes, references to Ukrainian dancers and Canada Day celebrations, vague mention of Thompson Rivers University and dialect unique to this country.
Me and AU launched in June, postponed by a couple of weeks, due to the George Floyd protests in the United States. Klassen said it didn’t feel right to launch the show at that time, so she opted to wait. Five episodes have since been released and the indie show has so far garnered more than 4,000 downloads.
The slice-of-life is light and fun, with upbeat music, written by Samantha Rivers and inspired by Carly Rae Jepson. One neat thing to happen since the show’s debut: someone created fan art depicting Me and AU characters. Klassen said she does not know how the artist found her show, but she was flattered to see sketches of characters she had created and shared the image on the show’s social media.
“It was so cool,” Klassen said. “When people do stuff like that, it’s just — it’s such an investment of energy into something. It can feel like you’re the only person who cares about what you’re making.”
Meanwhile, as Me and AU romance blossoms in the podcast space, Klassen is dealing with a major challenge in her own relationship. When she came back to Canada to sort out immigration papers, she got stranded by the Canada-U.S. border closure, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had just paid my application fees and was in the process of setting up my appointment to do my final interview in the U.S. consulate to finish the immigration process, like two days before everything shut down,” Klassen said. “We’re sort of stuck right now.”
Klassen has not seen her fiancée since Christmas. However, the two continue to stay connected online. A shoutout on one of the episodes notes she was among the first to support her podcast financially, contributing via a Patreon campaign.
To listen to Me and AU, search for it wherever you listen to podcasts or go online to https://www.spreaker.com/show/me-and-au. New episodes are released every other Thursday.