Back to Bez
Updated: Apr 3
A lockdown ago, i.e. what seems to be a very long time ago now, back in early June, I had the honor of being the featured guest on the 398th board game broadcast by Bez Shahriari, one of the more colorful personalities in the industry. Bez has worked for game companies and a board game cafe, has designed Flash games and several whimsical physical games, and hosts a daily podcast that ran for 400 straight days and now runs a few times a week.
Bez first reached out to me in July 2020. She was planning a program about the BoardGameArena site and had found me because Cheeky Parrot's Flaming Pyramids game was in the process of going up on the site. Flaming Pyramids' designer Norbert Abel had done the work on that, so I recommended he might make a more suitable guest and this is the conversation that resulted:
About a year later, Bez circled back to me and invited me onto her show:
"I was wondering if you'd like to come onto my show one day? We can chat about any topics you deem worthy. Why you chose to publish games, methods of marketing, how your location affects your relationship with games, your favourite game, what you believe makes a good game, representation, or something else."
Being a pretty good talker, how could I say no? Bez takes her role very seriously and I was asked to submit a biography, a photo, links, and any previous interviews I cared to share. This is the bio I submitted:
An only child, Julia was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and earned a degree at Washington University in St Louis. As a young adult, she lived in Denver, where her son was born, and Carlsbad, California. She’s never been a “career person” but has had some interesting jobs and volunteer positions and engaged in political activism. Diagnosed with manic depression at age 29, she immigrated to New Zealand the same year and after stints learning and practicing homeopathy and teaching English as a Second Language, she eventually found her way into the board game industry, and has been designing, publishing, and distributing games since 2011.
Which led to a very enjoyable, free-wheeling conversation of almost two hours. What luxury to speak to anyone at such length in this day and age! And I guess I did OK, because I have been invited back as a participant in Bez' 500th show, a marathon which will run from 10am December 11 through 11:30am December 12, UK time. When I know my time slot, I will announce it on Cheeky's social media channels.
Here's our first conversation, with a list of notable time points:
3:50 I discuss Pinochle, a favorite card game on my father's side of the family, which was an inspiration for Raid the Pantry, which is discussed further at 24:30
17:00 We talk about sowbugs aka slaters, a very fascinating yet overlooked creature I consider my spirit animal (shh! don't tell the budgies)
42:40 Bez asks me about moving from the US to New Zealand
At 58:00 we talk about homeopathic principles such as direction of cure and how I manage my mental health
1:14 The development of Granny Wars
1:17 The story of Hoard