An Interview with Max Bowen, host and founder of Citywide Blackout

For our 2024 blog series, we’re highlighting industry professionals to find out more about their time in the book world. Follow along for insight on what catches a reviewer’s interest, things to avoid when pitching a media outlet, what librarians are searching for and more. 

Today, we’re chatting with Max Bowen, a podcast/radio host, public speaker, reporter and writer, and voiceover talent. He is the host and founder of Citywide Blackout, a podcast focused on the heart and soul of the story behind the story, featuring guests who create works we love — from music, the arts, books, films and much more. 

With roots on radio at Boston’s WEMF Internet station, the show began in April 2009 as a platform to highlight the stories of musicians in the region. Later, it expanded to include authors, comic book creators, filmmakers and other guests around the world. 

In addition to his work in radio and podcasting, Max has voiced and produced three audiobooks in the genres of true crime and science fiction. 

As someone who hears about A LOT of books, what makes one stand out to you?

Hearing a personal connection between the author and the story. Knowing that they’ve put some of their own story into the book means a lot.

What’s the worst thing an author (or publicist!) can do in telling you about book they’d like you to consider for coverage?

Telling me that it’s “unlike anything I’ve read before.”

What makes your job easier?

Getting all the information I need: website, socials, hi-res photos. It saves me a lot of time hunting these down.

What’s the most memorable (or maybe funniest) pitch that’s ever come your way?

A pitch for Michael Eon. It really spoke to me and made me excited to read the book.

Did you always know you wanted to be involved in the book world?

Yes. Ever since I was in high school I wanted to be a writer.

What is your most recommended book and why?

Ghost Road Blues” by Jonathan Maberry. One of my favorite horror stories.

What is your favorite part about working in the book community?

Getting to meet the authors. They have such wonderful stories to share.