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Lovely Listening: Sitting down with Holly from Past Loves Podcast

There are quite a few long admin hours running Flea Market Love Letters so we know our way around a Podcast or two! When Past Loves Podcast came onto the radar we had to sit down with host Holly and ask her to explain how this passion project came to be. Check out her recommendations for getting started listening, what drives her and how she sees the project growing over time. Thanks Holly for joining us!

Question: Can you tell us a bit about the Past Loves Podcast and how it came about?

Holly: "Past Loves is a weekly history podcast that takes listeners on a journey into the most heart-warming, joyous and gut-wrenching tales of love throughout time. Each episode features a special guest from the world of heritage or academia to discuss the more passionate side of history. I had wanted to start a podcast for a really long time. So, when I was furloughed at the beginning of April due to Covid, I thought that there was no better time to start. I knew that I was never going to be able to invest so much time into a project and I have to say I am so very pleased to have taken the plunge."

Q.: Have you always been a romantic? A big reader? 

H.: "Oh absolutely! I am such a romantic, it really is in my nature. If there is ever a cynic lurking inside me, the true romantic always wins. Also love is perhaps one of the most intimate insights we have into people. Particularly in history, I think that there is no better way to understand a person and to feel empathy for them than to look at who they loved and cherished. So, to me, it is really special to be a true romantic as it offers an entirely different outlook. I've always been a big reader too but really I've always favoured nonfiction. It's been my challenge to myself for the past two years to delve into the world of fiction, and particularly the classics, which is a whole new world of romance in itself!"

Q.: It's fantastic that you took the initiative to start the podcast. What surprised you about the process?  H.: "I think really just the level of work that it takes. The researching and editing of the episodes are incredibly time consuming. I mean, of course, the research is completely fascinating. But as sometimes I will only know the bare bones of a couple's story, it does take a lot of reading to feel like I have a really good grasp on their love story and the time period in which that episode is set. Editing is, however, the bane of my life. It's definitely getting a quicker process but the attention to detail that editing requires was a really big eye-opener for me. I don't think it helps that I'm a perfectionist though - certainly means I am particularly picky about everything!"

Q.: How do you go about framing an episode? From topic to research to writing to production? Walk us through your behind-the-scenes! Yes, it is interesting!  H.: "So when I'm starting a season I will start with a list of couples that I want to talk about and the people I want to interview. I have an ever-growing list of couples, some of whom will become shorter posts on Instagram and then there are those that I decide to pursue as an episode topic. At that point I will start with the very many emails that it takes to line up all of the interviews I need for the season. When an interviewee is confirmed I start to research and prepare the questions that will guide us through the conversation. This is where I try to craft the storyline that we follow in an episode. It usually follows a fairly similar structure but, with only around 50 minutes, I have to cherry-pick the most significant moments in their lives to talk about to drive the narrative of the podcast. I would say that this is the second longest part of the process (behind editing of course) and takes around 6-8 hours per episode. The interviews are then the most enjoyable but probably shortest part of the process. Once the conversation has been recorded it is down to editing and I have to record my intro and outro to the episode. Lastly, I market all of my episodes on Instagram so that usually means creating assets and scheduling them within my content calendar. It's a lengthy process but I have learnt so much along the way by doing it all myself. Plus it's my passion!" Q.: Some people when they start a new podcast don't start from the beginning (gasp!) Can you give new listeners a sweet spot where to jump in? H.: "I'd personally start with the episode about Charles Stewart Parnell (an Irish MP) and Katharine O'Shea. I came across one of their letters to each other when I was in the very early stages of creating the podcast in a fantastic book called Love Letters of Great Men (and its counterpart Love Letters of Great Women). I'd heard of them both whilst studying Irish history at school but their story was hazy and I knew Katie by another name - Kitty O’Shea. Kitty was the nickname given to Katie amid the vehement public response to Charles and Katie’s relationship. It was a derogatory slur and that was how I had remembered her so discovering their love story with the help of Elizabeth Kehoe was really poignant for me. The episode is a really interesting look at how a love story can be wrapped up in public perception and the ramifications of pursuing your true love." Q.: Are you tempted to give us a hint about which was your favorite episode to write, research and produce?  H.: "I'm not sure it's possible to have favourites because they're all special in their own ways. My love of Russian history though makes me a little biased, so delving into the story of the Chikhachevs in the heart of provincial Russia during the long Nineteenth Century was very special to me. But really I love them all so much and for different reasons. "

Q.: Where do you see the project going in future?

H.: "Well season 2 is planned to run from September to the beginning of November which is very exciting because there are some truly wonderful guests. I'm also going to be focusing on my instagram as I am really enjoying connecting with the community that is growing there which is incredibly rewarding. One day, though, my dream would be to write a book focusing on the history of love. Here's to putting things out into the universe hey." How can readers listen to the show? How can they contact you?  All of the episodes are listed on my website to listen to here: Otherwise the podcast is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts (as well as many other smaller podcast apps). To get in touch you can follow me on Instagram @pastlovespodcast and DM me there or email me

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