Mary & Blake Larsen

My next interview in the “Outlander- the fans who make it” series is with Mary and Blake Larsen of Outlander Cast, who are a welcome presence in the fandom, with their podcasts, website and Facebook group with tens of thousands of followers. I find their blog intelligent and entertaining and hope you enjoy the interview.

  • Please tell us about yourself.

Mary and Blake Larsen – 36 and 35 respectively.  We live in Rhode Island, USA – the biggest little state in the union. (which – fun fact – gets 4% bigger at low tide.)

Blake: For my day job, I work with my family.  We build, own, and operate commercial plazas throughout New England.  We are also franchisees of Dunkin’ Donuts and own/operate many shops throughout MA and DE. It’s a great business that requires immense focus and attention to detail.  I am specifically in charge of the donut shops, and company expansion.

My real passion, however, lies in history, art, my wife, and film.  I received a B.A. in history from St. Anselm College. I fancy myself a little bit of an artist also – and participate in local art shows all the time. My most special moments come from being able to get on my motorcycle with my wife and ride for as long as the gas tank will let us. But, I am a GIANT film/television buff and my movie collection is well above 500 at this moment.

I love the nuances of direction, writing, lighting, and the business of making a film or television show.  As such, my wife and I created Mary & Blake Media — which is a company dedicated to podcasts and blogs — which features a little podcast called Outlander Cast.

Mary: I am a work-from-home mom. I have two beautiful children that I am home with, but I also run M&B media with Blake and have a highly successful and widely growing makeup business.  It’s hard, challenging, but extremely fulfilling being able to do the work that I do to help empower and encourage women of all ages to be their best possible selves either emotionally and/or physically.

I went to The University of Rhode Island where I received a B.M. in music because music is my main love in life. I was a music teacher for many years in RI and only stopped to help raise my family. I play baritone saxophone for The American Band (which is the oldest pep band in the country) and I was a television host on RI’s version of the Today Show called The Rhode Show.  I, also, may be the biggest Harry Potter nerd in the world 🙂

Mary & Blake1

  • What made you decide to start your Outlander Cast blog and podcast, as well as your Facebook group Outlander Cast Clan Gathering, and your website Outlander Cast?

Mary was a fan of the books for many years and I was a huge fan of Star Trek, as well as Battlestar Galactica.  So when we heard Outlander was being made into a television show by the guy who helped write Star Trek and was the showrunner for BSG (Ron D. Moore) we knew that this was a fit.

I didn’t know anything about the books, but I decided that I would go along to get along because Mary had such a huge passion for the characters.  Truth be told – I didn’t really care for the original trailers and it felt a little hokey to me – but I had immense faith in Ron Moore, and my wife’s care for the story, so I stuck it out.

In terms of why we made the blog and the Clan Gathering — our tag for Outlander Cast is that we are  “by the fans, for the fans.” That is absolutely by design.

I sometimes feel like well-established blogs and/or podcasts have keepers at the gate and suffer from a tad bit of elitism. Our answer was to go the opposite route.

We created the blog and the Clan Gathering really for one reason – to give people a voice. ANYONE can be a writer on our blog. ANYONE can join our group. If you love Outlander as much as we do, then you fit our mold.

Everyone loves television in some form or another and their opinions deserve to be heard. Which, of course, is why we feature lots of listener feedback on the podcast, and even dedicate a weekly podcast episode to JUST the listeners thoughts.

But the podcast, blog, and facebook group give people the ability to voice/ write their thoughts, have civil and thoughtful discourse about the show, and provide a pedestal for those who otherwise may not have it.

Yes, we may have created Outlander Cast, run the site and are in Apple Podcasts — but we’re just two regular fans who happen to have microphones in front of our faces and have the tech ability to make it all happen.

All of our writers, and our editors, are all in the same boat – they’re just regular fans who showed interest in joining us on this journey. While they are all certainly professional and have great strengths that relate to our cause (whether it’s PR, journalism, screenwriting, event coordinating, small business owners, nurses and more) and help the group, blogging or podcasting is not their so-called “profession”. They donate their time for one very simple reason – they just really love Outlander and want to talk about it – like anyone else.

As such, we know everyone else’s opinion is just as valid as ours. It’s all about creating a vibrant, textured, and engaging community of equals who can  celebrate the collective love of Outlander.

  • How much time do you spend every day on Outlander?

Well, this is a complicated question.

During season – its probably at least 4 hours and can range up to 6 through 8 hours per day. There is a LOT of behind-the-scenes production that goes into the podcast as well as the blog.  It’s constantly meetings, meetings, meetings haha.

To that end, it’s important to recognize that this is a massive coordinated effort. We may be the captains of this boat, but we couldn’t do it without the amazing assistance from our stellar site editors Ashley Crawley and Janet Reynolds who help run the blog to perfection. Also deserving of immense credit is our staff who reside around the globe, and carve out large amounts of their personal life to provide steady excellent content.  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the group moderators of the Clan, who are major players for OC and have the distinct pleasure of doing most all of the dirty work 🙂

Mary & Blake

So, in season, we and our merry little band are posting, creating original content, and engaging with our audience via social media, YouTube videos, email, Patreon, or on our site, almost every single day of the week and multiple times per day.

Off season – it’s a little less time.  We are doing monthly podcasts, monthly meetings with the editors, daily promotion of content, daily interaction with the writers in our staff forum/ messenger, weekly posts of original content on the blog, and I am doing Blake’s Book Club (which features my chapter-by-chapter analysis of Outlander) for our patrons on Patreon. So I would say at least 2 hours per day at that point.

  • What do you like most about the Outlander books and show?

I think the community.

Obviously, the show and books are great, right? It’s well shot, decorated/ costumed to perfection, and the writing for the most part is unmatched in quality when compared to the rest of the television landscape.  Even the books are detailed, fleshed out, and the world feels lived in.

I could go all the way down that rabbit hole and say bunch of superlatives that have already been said ad nauseam.

But the community (despite the vocal minority of the people who can be very negative and combative when it comes to Outlander) is special. People take it very seriously, and they dedicate a lot of their lives to it.

This is important for me because I appreciate people who take their fandom seriously.  I probably care too much about the things I love – so I envelop myself in them.  So the highest praise I can give about any fandom is that they care.  And Outlander fans  DEFINITELY care.  What would be the point if we didn’t care so deeply, right?

But it’s funny – if I’m driving down the highway and I just happen to see someone with one of those vinyl stickers that says “sassenach”, I instantly feel an unsaid connection to them. It’s like when you see someone with a shirt that has your college alma mater on it. It’s an unspoken bond 🙂

Mary1

  • Which character in Outlander is your favourite?

Blake: I can only really speak to the show for this question and I know this is going to be very unpopular – but, hey, what the heck.  Perhaps because Tobias Menzies is one of my favorite actors going, I really love Frank and Black Jack Randall.

As a married man myself – I love Frank because I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry that he lost the love of his life, got her back, but it wasn’t the same. I love his struggle to make his marriage what it once was, failing for multiple reasons (that are not all entirely his fault) and the whole tragedy of it all.

As for BJR – well, I think he is just a delicious antagonist. His direct relationship with Claire/ Jamie exemplifies the depravity, insecurity, passion, cunning, and (very) small slivers of humanity that are the wonderful/ required opposites which formulate a viable, formidable and unforgettable character for television.

Mary: Absolutely Roger.  He’s a musician, the ultimate nerd, and a fearless lover. I couldn’t ask for anything more in a man and a character.  Although, Blake is nowhere near a musician and he’ll readily admit it – but he’s the love of my life so he gets a pass 🙂

  • How has Outlander affected your life and/or lifestyle?

As cliche as it sounds, I think it’s the friendships that we never would have been privy to had we not created Outlander Cast.

Of course, it’s helped us learn about our own heritage, and we set a goal (like all good Outlander fans) to make a pilgrimage to Scotland at one point in our lives.  But it’s the friendships that are most prevalent, and most affecting, in our daily lives.

We derive so much strength, hope, and encouragement from many of our fans and colleagues that work with us on OC. From getting countless emails from people who listen to us while working out, recovering from Cancer treatments, going on road trips with their families, etc. —  to earning the trust and care of our colleagues who we depend on during our tough times — or even being able to put together a LIVE PODCAST EVENT for the season 3  finale that consisted of a hundred people from across the globe gathering at a hotel in Providence, RI for one evening  – our friendships are what’s most important to us.

Plus #relationshipgoals from Jamie and Claire!  I’d say the most pivotal moment in their relationship so far (in the show) is the moment from The Devil’s Mark when Claire admits to being from the future, and Jamie just says, “I believe you.” Naturally, he has questions – and wishes that she was just a witch because it would be easier.  But, that level of trust, love, and understanding in one’s spouse – in my opinion – is the top goal for ANY married couple.

  • Is this the first fandom you are a member of? What made you decide to join this fandom, rather than any other one?

No, we have been active fans in MANY fandoms over the years.

Whether it was Star Trek, Star Wars, LOST, Harry Potter and Battlestar Galactica  – we are always pretty active. In addition to Outlander, we also have podcasts about The Leftovers on HBO, Gilmore Girls and This Is Us on NBC – so we are pretty much fandom’d up to our eyeballs.

If you like any of those fandoms or want to discover new shows – you can see all of those podcasts at our the  website for Mary & Blake Media: Maryandblake.com

Mary & Blake media

  • Have you met Diana or any of the actors of Outlander? If so, which actor did you enjoy meeting the most? If not, who would you like to meet the most?

We have not met Diana – but we have met many people! Much to our surprise we have been invited to premieres, cons, and other gatherings so we have been extremely lucky and fortunate.

It’s a very humbling experience being around people who have accomplished so much in their lives – whether it’s the actors, crew, creatives – or even other website owners, podcasters, and writers for major outlets. I always feel like we’re two jabronies who have no business being near any of them (show members, professional writers, and super fans alike) and they can all see right through us.

But I would have to say that our favorite experiences with the actors have come in the forms of either meeting Grant O’ Rourke or Rik Rankin.  They are both genuinely funny, warm, inquisitive guys who give you their sole attention while you speak to them. Grant O’Rourke even asked us for advice on how to create a podcast! That was a total thrill 🙂

But, in the case of both guys, it was an honest pleasure to sit down with them, share a drink, and have a normal conversation.

Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to answer these questions.  We truly appreciate it.

Mary

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