Podcast Transcript 103: Discussing Fandom from Down Under, and More Young Reader Recs

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[music]

Sarah Wendell: Good day to you, and welcome to another DBSA podcast, which stands for Dear Bitches, Smart Authors, ‘cause apparently iTunes still doesn’t like the word bitches. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books – take that, iTunes – and this week I am, or was, in Australia! I start off this episode with an interview with Nikki, who is a fan of many things, most particularly Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and we talk about fandoms and the ways in which people participate in them and why they make people happy. Then I have more recommendations for young readers, because this was the greatest question I ever could have asked, and also the most expensive one.

This podcast is brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Blurred, the new steamy Connections novella from New York Times bestselling author Kim Karr.

The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater, who is entirely constructed of awesomeness. I’ll have information at the end of the episode as to who this is.

And now, on with the podcast.

[music]

Nikki Cousins: My name is Nikki Cousins.

Sarah: So, you’re Australian.

Nikki: This is correct. Yes.

Sarah: You are actually an Australian.

Nikki: I – Do you know what? For real? – have kangaroos in my backyard, and I live in Sydney. I’ve seen them.

Sarah: Wait, really?

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: But, what, do they, like, come out of the woods and be like, hey, how you doing? ‘Cause I’ll get deer in my yard –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – but I don’t have kangaroos.

Nikki: We have deer also. So, our next-door neighbor used to talk about the kangaroos, and we just used to think he was crazy –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – and then one morning, they came out the front, and my kids were like, mum, there’s kangaroos.

Sarah: [Laughs]

Nikki: And we, and we live in suburbs. Like, it’s not as though I’m in the bush.

Sarah: What were they doing? Like, all they were at –

Nikki: They’re just, like, kind of, I think, going, why are you in my front yard?

[Laughter]

Nikki: ‘Cause that’s the way it should be, but –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: Yeah. And kookaburras and, yeah, it’s – I hate that we’re the cliché. But we have kangaroos.

Sarah: You are the cliché; you actually have kangaroos.

Nikki: One day we walked down the stairs at the end of our street, and we saw a kangaroo, chickens, and a dog.

Sarah: And you live in the Sydney suburbs.

Nikki: Yep.

Sarah: All right, this is really cool. [Laughs]

Nikki: It’s like 20 minutes away from the CBD.

Sarah: The central business district.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: That’s amazing.

Nikki: Yep!

Sarah: Okay. So you –

Nikki: So that’s Australian.

Sarah: You are the most Australian Australian –

Nikki: [Laughs]

Sarah: – and they should probably use you in tourism advertisements.

Nikki: They should, yes.

Sarah: We actually have kangaroos.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: That’s pretty awesome.

Nikki: Yeah!

Sarah: So you were telling me that you were obsessed with Emma Approved.

Nikki: Yes.

Sarah: What do you like about it?

Nikki: Oh, everything. I like the, the way that they use the book language in modern language. Like, that, that transition, and it’s really cool, and I love the 360 element of it that you can be – you can just watch the video, or if you’re like me and you grab onto something and then just loooove it to death.

Sarah: Oh, yeah?

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: My husband and I call that going down the rabbit hole, when you love something, and you’re like, excuse me, I need to immerse myself in this thing that I love.

Nikki: Yeah. Yeah!

Sarah: Bye! Down I go! Yeah, I have done that –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – with many things that I love, including romances, but yeah –

Nikki: Yes.

Sarah: – I know exactly what you mean.

Nikki: And so you can – but you can – and so you can follow the Twitter stream and, and even like the outfits and –

Sarah: Oh, yeah, they do a post of everything everyone’s wearing.

Nikki: Yeah, yeah! The little skirt with the triangles on it? It was only in a size 10, and for those that cannot see, I am clearly not a size 10, but I love it. I just love that you can be a little bit into or, like, just live your life by it. Because I can do anything on that spectrum, so –

Sarah: Yeah, I’m, I’m the same, and when you really love something, to discover that there’s more and more and more about it is so fun.

Nikki: And then – yeah. No, I love it.

Sarah: And that other people love it as much as you do. And you’re like, oh, there’s a fandom! Oh, I love this!

Nikki: Yeah. I, I’m, I’ve never met a fandom I haven’t liked. I just love that whole concept of that you can just find your tribe –

Sarah: Yes.

Nikki: – of something so obscure –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – and just be you and love what you love –

Sarah: And there’s other –

Nikki: – and it’ll be okay.

Sarah: And that other people have the exact same love of things that you do –

Nikki: Yes. It’s –

Sarah: That’s one of my favorite things about the Internet. Because you know, on one hand there are like, it’s scary, and people are mean, and it’s horrible! But I always find the people who love the things that I love as much as I do, and I find it enormously welcoming.

Nikki: Yeah, oh, I do too. And just, like, you know, yeah, I love everything about that kind of thing. It’s – yeah. Because I just love – and I have really obscure – not that I think they’re obscure – like, I mean, the Buffy fandom and –

Sarah: Mm-hmm. That’s not so obscure. That’s, like –

Nikki: I know.

Sarah: That’s probably about a quarter of the Internet.

Nikki: But in normal life –

Sarah: Mm.

Nikki: I just started a new job –

Sarah: It’s not on the air any more.

Nikki: No, and I’m like, I’m really into Buffy, and they’re like, what is that? And a piece of me died inside.

[Laughter]

Nikki: Like a piece of –

Sarah: Oh, no!

Nikki: – a piece of me died inside, but then equally, they said to me, something something Snapchat, and I’m like, what?

Sarah: What?

Nikki: That’s not a thing! Yeah, so, I love that when, in times of trouble, I go to my happy fandom place, whether it be Buffy or romance and – yeah, I love it. I love the Internet.

Sarah: Fandoms are good. And it’s funny how different fandoms operate differently in wherever you are on the Internet, so if you go to a bulletin board, it’s one type of interaction. If you go to Tumblr, it’s an entirely different group of interactions. If you’re on a specific fan community site, it’s a different type of thing. If you’re on a blog, it’s different, so there’s different ways to interact with your fandom.

Nikki: Yeah, well, mine was – do you remember LiveJournal?

Sarah: LiveJournal is still around, of course! Yeah!

Nikki: Yeah, so LiveJournal is, like, my Buffy –

Sarah: That’s your fandom?

Nikki: – Spike. Spuffy – I hate that name, but I do love the joining of name. But so, Spike’s my jam.

Sarah: Spike is your jam?

Nikki: Yeah. So much –

Sarah: That’s my favorite phrase. That’s my jam! [Laughs]

Nikki: – so my jam, and I get that no one else, like, in my normal life –

Sarah: You understand, no one has this thing that you do.

Nikki: Yeah, and –

Sarah: It’s kind of alienating, but at the same time you’re like, I know my people are out there and I can connect to them whenever I need to.

Nikki: Exactly, and I go to those conferences as well, and they’re just –

Sarah: So they have fandom conferences here in Australia?

Nikki: Yeah, so they have a thing called Supano-, that’s the one I go to, Supanova.

Sarah: Supanova, right! That’s sort of like your Comic-Con.

Nikki: Yeah, yeah.

Sarah: Costumes and sessions and fandoms and –

Nikki: And it is just the most joy-, you will never find a greater group of people who are just being them and loving being themselves and finding other people that love themselves.

Sarah: Isn’t that the best? Oh, it just makes me so happy.

Nikki: It’s, I love it!

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: And I, you know, I, I mean I go to see him and, so that we can rekindle our love –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Nikki: – and by that I mean I stare, like, from a, from a court-designated distance and look at him.

Sarah: [Laughs] At James Marsten?

Nikki: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Marsters, I will correct you.

Sarah: Marsters, I beg your pardon.

Nikki: So –

Sarah: I’m not sufficiently caffeinated. It’s totally fine to correct me.

Nikki: That’s okay, and I am sufficiently obsessed, so, like –

Sarah: I have a friend on my personal Facebook who I went to college with, she was in my wedding and, so we’re still connected over Facebook, because I’m in New Jersey and she’s in South Carolina, which is like a 10- or 12-hour drive –

Nikki: Okay.

Sarah: – and she is way into Dragon Con, which is the comic sort of, Comic-Con version of –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – in Atlanta, over – in September – and every year I see her doing her costumes for, like, months ahead of time. So last year, her Facebook image was her and her roommate with James Marsters – Marsters? – got that right?

Nikki: Marsters, yes, yes.

Sarah: Yes, Marsters. And they’re all growling at the camera together, and she was posting all of these pictures of him, and I’m like, did you just, like, hang out with him for an hour? And she said, he is so generous with fans. He will literally chill with you –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – and take pictures and is completely happy to be part of the fandom. And I’m like, that’s such a cool level of comfort.

Nikki: He totally gets –

Sarah: He’s down!

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: I’m like, this is his jam! [Laughs]

Nikki: Yeah, this is his jam. Well, he totally gets, I mean, he totally gets that we give him the life that he has.

Sarah: Yes.

Nikki: So I have photos – I’m not allowed to show them in the home –

Sarah: [Laughs]

Nikki: – of him biting my neck and –

Sarah: [Laughs more] I have seen this with my friend. She has one too!

Nikki: Yeah. And so outside of all the normal, like, husband and children and the great life, greatest moment of my life. Greatest mom-

Sarah: Chewing on you? That’s amazing.

Nikki: And, and I, I, like, it’s sad, but I’ve paid a lot of money. Like, I’ve got to a lot of, like, one on one – not one-on-one, that sounds creepy – but like –

Sarah: Intimate chats, yeah.

Nikki: Yeah, yeah. And, yeah, he totally is, and he has that ability, like, you are the only person in the room. And I know I’m not –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – but you feel like you are, and you just – there’s so many – I think when you were like 15, that’s just when everything was just pure joy.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Nikki: I mean, there was crap too, but – and I’d just become a 15-year-old girl, and I’m like, ah! [Sniff] Bye!

Sarah: [Laughs]

Nikki: You’re awesome! And then he’s like, any, anything else? I go, no, and I made him laugh. I can’t remember what I did, but I made him laugh, and I’m like, I rule the world.

Sarah: Yes, yes, when it’s –

Nikki: And everyone, but everyone’s having those mo-, and it’s, they’re, you know, like –

Sarah: And he’s chill.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: He’s, like, totally into it.

Nikki: And people have a go, you know, like, why do you like him? I’m like, you know what? You’re never meeting George Clooney. You’re never meeting Brad Pitt!

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: And having his arm around you. That’s never going to happen.

Sarah: But he knows that this is his fandom, and this is –

Nikki: Ah, and –

Sarah: – this is, this is, this is probably the biggest role of his life –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – and he’s okay with it. What’s amazing to me also, especially with the Buffy fandom is that the story is done.

Nikki: Mm.

Sarah: Like, the story’s over, it finished. There isn’t more of it coming, but that hasn’t diminished the enjoyment that fans get out of not only revisiting the world but pretending that they’re in it, playing in it, creating fanfiction. So the, the, the main, the canon story is over –

Nikki: Mm.

Sarah: – but the fandom continues to grow and explore that whole world very happily years afterward.

Nikki: Well, I was really – ‘cause I get that it’s weird, and when I went to my first one, I thought it would be me and a handful of middle-aged women living the dream of meeting James.

Sarah: I think it’s weird if you don’t understand what it’s like to be a super-devoted and passionate fan of something –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – but to me it’s like, no, that’s not weird at all.

Nikki: No.

Sarah: I go to a conference for five days all about romance novels, and I, you know, there’s a vampire ball and a fairy ball, and it’s Romantic Times, and it’s awesome!

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: We go every year. And when I explain it to people, like my mother-in-law, so which one is this? And I, well, this is the fan conference, and she’s like, oh, okay. It’s not the professional one where you’re learning to write novels, which is not what I do anyway –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – it’s the fan conference.

Nikki: And I think that’s sad, ‘cause I’m the same, like, you know, I run in, like, at the school gate, you know, and it’s, and they don’t get it, and, and I think, you know what? It’s really sad not to be really passionate about something for you.

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Nikki: Like, be passionate about kids and your family, but, like –

Sarah: This isn’t –

Nikki: – you still need something for you.

Sarah: It’s sort of a way to, to play.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a way of playing in a world.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: And I, and because one of the things that I spend so much time thinking about is the crafting of worlds in romance –

Nikki: Mm.

Sarah: – whether it’s contemporary or paranormal or historical, the idea that you want to continue to play in a world makes total sense to me.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: Somebody said something really good on Tumblr a couple weeks ago, and I cannot remember who it was, but they were, they were pointing out that, you know, especially in the States, and I’m assuming it’s true here with sports culture, it’s totally acceptable for a man to take off his shirt and paint his entire body in major colors and wear a giant hat and giant foam fingers and go out in the cold and drink beer and yell and scream for a sports team. That kind of dress-up is totally understandable –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – but if you put on a costume and go to a conference about a, a story that you love, well, that’s just weird.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: I’m like, no, it’s perfectly, it’s the same thing!

Nikki: It’s the same! And you know what? If you’re not hurting anyone –

Sarah: Yeah, who cares?

Nikki: Who cares?

Sarah: Yep.

Nikki: You know, just be and enjoy and –

Sarah: One of, I think one of the best things that the Internet has created in terms of our ability to interact is (a) for example, I would never have met you if I had not been part of the romance fandom and then connected with romance readers in Australia and then come to Australia.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: Like, I never would have been able to sit down with you –

Nikki: No.

Sarah: – but more people get to discover that they’re not alone in the things that they love –

Nikki: Yes.

Sarah: – so if they live in a place where no one else has that passion that they do, they know that they’re not alone –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – so that they can feel more confident in what they like.

Nikki: Yeah. And it all, it all links. I mean, everything’s linked anyway, but – so I, through the Buf-

Sarah: It’s the Internet. It has to be.

Nikki: It has to be!

[Laughter]

Nikki: It has to be; it’s all-seeing, all-knowing. But, so, through the Buffy fandom I wrote fanfiction –

Sarah: Yep. No shame.

Nikki: Didn’t know that that was a thing. Didn’t know there was shame around it.

Sarah: Oh, yeah.

Nikki: There’s some, like, it’s like –

Sarah: [Gasp] Derivative works are so derivative. Yeah, whatever.

Nikki: Yeah, but really, there’s what, how many original ideas left? We’ll see.

Sarah: The thing about fanfiction, fan-, and, and I will confess, it took me a really long time to understand the allure of writing it and reading it. But it, what, what was holding me back was that I had not found the world that I wanted to stay in.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: Like, I’m happy to visit and then it would be like, okay, I’m done with this book; I don’t need to go live there.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: I did not experience the Harry Potter fandom the way other people did. I did not want to live in that world –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – and I was not – Like, I didn’t compulsively want to revisit those characters, but there are series where I do love to visit the characters in, in romance.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: And once I understood that and found other stories that I liked, I understand; fanfiction is your way of revisiting –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – and living in that world or redesigning it or recasting it or placing it in alternate – okay I understand now.

Nikki: Yeah, yeah.

Sarah: And it’s not like I was ever like, oh, fanfiction, that’s just dumb. I just didn’t get the interest. Now that I get it, I think it’s amazing.

Nikki: Yeah. I think it’s – there’s some really talented writers –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Nikki: – and again, it’s that thing, if it’s not hurting anybody, then –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – and some people, like, for me, it was just kind of like, oh, I think I can do this, and maybe I’ll, I’ll go and do original things –

Sarah: Mm-hmm.

Nikki: – and I try that and let’s see how that goes, but it’s, it’s a breeding ground, and it’s, what you say is true, like, you, it’s like a blanket –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – and so when you want to go back and –

Sarah: To that community that you love, it’s there.

Nikki: Yeah. And, yeah.

Sarah: The, the thing that I find really interesting in terms of fanfiction as a sort of a, a training ground, or I, I liken it to sort of training wheels –

Nikki: Mm.

Sarah: To create a piece of fiction, to make it really compelling, at least for me as a reader, no matter what genre it is, there has to be worldbuilding. Like, I have to believe in the place where the characters are. So if that’s already created and you have a common understanding with your audience that this is the world I’m writing in, you get to skip that part and then work on character development and dialogue, which are equally important. So once you’ve built those skills, you can then learn how to build your own world.

Nikki: Yeah. Yeah.

Sarah: And, I mean, that’s a really excellent exercise, because for me, what yanks me out of a story in any genre is when the worldbuilding is incomplete or the characters’ dialogue isn’t realistic. I expect – I don’t expect it to be perfectly realistic –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – I don’t expect – I mean, historical accuracy has never bothered me all that much.

Nikki: No.

Sarah: I always say the duke can drive a Porsche to Almack’s and I don’t give a shit, but if he talks like he’s a piece of plot, then I’m, I’m out.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: With, with fanfiction, you learn to develop all the pieces by starting with the world –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – built beneath you.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: And I’m, I think that’s really smart.

Nikki: And I think it’s a good kind of cushion.

Sarah: Yeah!

Nikki: ‘Cause, and, and you can kind of – ‘cause I, I’ve gone back and reread some of my stuff, and I go, oh, yeah. Woof. That’s, yeah. And, and you just kind of see where you’ve –

Sarah: And you learn, you learn to communicate in emotion –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – and you learn to communicate attention –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – which is part of what is writing fiction.

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: Attention.

Nikki: And it’s fun. Like, as a reader and a writer, it’s fun, and I, I had a friend from Boston, and we would write together, and it was basically – I didn’t care if anyone read it – it was just like we’d write a chapter, and it was like a challenge –

Sarah: Yeah!

Nikki: – it was like, all right, get yourself out of that –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – and then she’d send it back to me and she’d be like, get yourself out of that, and, and it was just, you know, really a great exercise of what can you write, and how can you –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – do it, and –

Sarah: So what fanfiction pieces have you reread that you love the most?

Nikki: Um –

Sarah: And if you don’t know I don’t have to put it in.

Nikki: No, no, no. No, no, that’s okay.

Sarah: The lovely thing about editing software –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – is I can take out whatever I want –

Nikki: Oh, good!

Sarah: – or whatever you want!

Nikki: And you can edit it back and make me say I like weird things.

Sarah: I like big butts; I cannot lie.

Nikki: Well, I do love big butts, and I cannot lie. That’s a great –

Sarah: Well, there you go.

Nikki: – that’s a great song.

Sarah: Yeah. You should always believe the people who say they like big butts, because they cannot lie.

Nikki: I cannot.

Sarah: Yes. [Laughs]

Nikki: That’s really – I love that song so hard. “Been Here Too Few Years” by Addie Logan –

Sarah: Yeah.

Nikki: – so that’s, and so, I’m really, I’m probably not, there’s probably other people like – so I won’t read canon fanfiction. I only read alternate-reality contemporary, so –

Sarah: So alternate universe, alternate-reality contemporary –

Nikki: Yeah.

Sarah: – same characters in a contemporary setting.

Nikki: Yeah, so they’re not vampires, so – and it’s only Spike and Buffy. I’ve got really particular tastes.

Sarah: That’s fine!

Nikki: So it’s –

Sarah: Love what you love.

Nikki: – contemporary, contemporary, yeah, contemporary Spike and Buffy, basically. Yeah, and then they just – so they have that conflict –

Sarah: But it’s not vampirism and, and slaying –

Nikki: No.

Sarah: – it’s something else.

Nikki: Yeah, yeah.

Sarah: Ooh.

Nikki: Yeah, it’s really good. It’s really good because you’ve got that cush-, you’ve, that conflict that you, that’s so hard to get –

Sarah: It’s re-, it’s reinventing the familiar.

Nikki: Yeah, and you, because you’ve watched seven seasons –

Sarah: Of course.

Nikki: – you get the conflict and where they’ve come from and stuff.

Sarah: Honestly. That’s great.

Nikki: So, yeah, so “Been Here Too Few Years” by Addie Logan, that was a long one, and he was a rock star, and she was, like, a poor college student and –

Sarah: Whoa.

Nikki: Yeah, it went over, like, about a 10-year period. That was an awesome story. Awesome, awesome story, and, like, inspiration.

Sarah: That’s awesome.

Nikki: Yeah. And I, I, it’s, actually, I put it on my Kindle, too, so –

Sarah: Ooh.

Nikki: I – yeah, ‘cause you can –

Sarah: You can move them around.

Nikki: Yeah, yeah.

[music]

Sarah: Fear not! We are not done yet. I have email from many people in, lo, many places, all about recommendations for young readers and the things that they’ve thought of and said back to their radios while listening to the podcast, which is, like, my favorite thing, that people talk back. So you ready? Here comes email:

Our first email is from Kim who says:

I’m listening to your most recent podcast, and you mentioned How to Train Your Dragon. My boys, who are just about the same ages as yours, have listened to How to Train Your Dragon read by David Tennant, aka, The Doctor. We listened to it on a road trip together, and it was so much fun. If your boys haven’t heard this version they would love it. I got it from Audible, and I’m sure it’s probably available elsewhere.

Thank you for all you do to make the podcast possible.

Sarah: You’re very welcome, Kim! And oddly enough, you are not the only person this week to mention the How to Train Your Dragon audiobooks, which I am seriously tempted by, especially because I know that the books are significantly different from the movie, and there’s multiple Hiccups in the book, and in the movie, they’re all combined into one Hiccup. So I’m really curious about this. Thank you for emailing us.

This next email is from Melanie:

Since you seem to be asking for books for young readers, I have a great one for middle-school readers. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle, and also its sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate! It’s about a thirteen-year-old boy from Pittsburgh who dreams of being in a Broadway musical and incidentally isn’t sure about his sexuality. It’s a great story about being different and not fitting in in your hometown and finding that maybe you fit in perfectly somewhere else in the world. This book is hilarious fun. I ordered it for my sixth-grade son who had developed a love of musical theatre. When I flipped to the author bio, I burst out laughing. “Tim Federle is the author of over 700 emails.” [S: Laughs.] I started reading the book, and I couldn’t put it down myself. Nate is tormented in school in his hometown near Pittsburgh, and he’s nothing like his jock big brother. His one best friend is Libby, and she shares his love of musical theatre. I love that they’ve come up with their own swear words using the names of Broadway bombs. He embarks on a trip to New York City by himself to audition for E.T.: The Musical. I think Federle gets the tone of middle-school-aged kids exactly right: whip-smart funny, but also naïve and unsure of themselves. I absolutely loved all of Nate’s wide-eyed observations about being in New York City for the first time. He’s amazed to find Applebee’s right next to the bus station and a cupcake shop on every street. The author has appeared in several Broadway shows and was the associate choreographer for Billy Elliot on Broadway, working with all the children in the show, so he knows the subject matter, and he knows theatre kids. Better Nate Than Ever is just excellent, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The sequel has Nate in the rehearsals for the new show, E.T.: The Musical, and continues his adventures. It also has his first kiss with his crush in the show. I did a fist up in the air when I read that scene.

The author has toured the country talking to kids in school, but unfortunately some schools won’t have him or cancelled on him when they realized that Nate is a gay teen character, because they’re afraid parents will be upset. His hometown school wouldn’t have him speak. He wrote about it for Huffington Post during Banned Book Week last year. Tim Federle also has a hilarious adult drink book that you would get a big kick out of, Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist. It is my go-to gift book. I mean, Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margarita is probably my favorite.

From Melanie

Sarah: Okay, there’s so much awesome in here. First of all, I, I’m totally from Pittsburgh, so I want to read this, and second of all, the fact that this is about a young kid who wants to be in musical theatre makes me so happy. Especially because Billy Porter who won the Tony for Kinky Boots is also from Pittsburgh and has talked a lot about what it was like to grow up as a young, gay, musical-theatre-loving kid in Pittsburgh. Oh, I’m so excited about this book, I want to read it right now. Thank you so much for the recommendation.

And this email is from Larelle who writes:

I have been on a bit of a listening binge as I am driving my kids to and from Tae Kwon Do camp 30-odd minutes away each day. I was really interested in your recommendations for young readers episodes, and I wanted to suggest some audiobooks I think you and your sons might enjoy. My kids are 12 and 9, a son and a daughter, and we regularly listen to audiobooks on the way to and from Tae Kwon Do each week. Catching up on your podcast has been a post-drop-off and pre-pick-up each day this week. [S: Ooh, thank you.]

One author we all love listening to, and it is not easy finding something that will interest a 12-year-old, a 9-year-old, and a 42-year-old, is Cornelia Funke. She is a German author best known for her Inkheart trilogy. Last year, we started out with her ghosthunters series, which is lower to middle elementary. There are four books about a young boy who apprentices himself to an elderly female ghosthunter. They are joined in their endeavors by a ghost whom the boy initially tried to vanquish – hence his meeting the elderly ghosthunter in the first place. Having polished off those, which are fun and a little suspenseful, we moved on to some of her other books. We listened to the Ghost Knight, about a boy who goes to boarding school and finds a ghost knight at the school is determined to kill him, which had us by turns amused, excited, and anxious in a good way. We’re currently listening to Dragon Rider. It’s read by Brendan Fraser, who does a fantastic job with voices and accents. Once again, we are alternately laughing out loud or on the edge of our seats as we listen to him tell the story of the silver dragon Firedrake, his brownie friend Sorrel, and their human companion Ben as they hunt for the Rim of Heaven where dragons originally came, all the while pursued by the Golden One who wants to find all the remaining dragons so he can hunt them.

I was also interested to hear you mention the narration of How to Train Your Dragon. I am an Australian currently living in Virginia, and I have found the differences in narration for the Australian/UK versus U.S. markets quite interesting. For me, How to Train Your Dragon is read by David Tennant in his beautiful Scottish accent, and I can’t imagine it any other way. Equally, for me, Harry Potter is read by Stephen Fry, not Jim Dale, and the Jim Dale version just doesn’t sound right to me. I guess it all depends on what you’re used to.

Anyways, I have finally been moved to write to you because I so wanted to share the joy that is listening to Cornelia Funke books. This, after so many one-sided conversations with you where I talk back to you either aloud or in my head while listening to the podcast.

Thank you for the blog and the podcast. I have gained much and lost so much money over the years.

Sarah: You are very welcome, and I’m glad you talk back. Feel free to email anytime, and yes, I really want to read those books too. Just, everyone knows that this is as expensive a job for me as it is for you to listen, right? ‘Cause I do these, and I’m like, and I’m going to buy this, and I’m going to buy that, and then by the end of the time I’m done recording, my shopping cart is filled with books. So you are not alone is my point here.

I love how the difference in narration has such an effect on the way readers comprehend a book, especially if the narrator is different in a different edition. I would probably want to listen to the How to Train Your Dragon books with David Tennant, but I loved the Jim Dale narration, and every time I hear his voice it’s like someone’s thrown a flannel blanket over me and it’s time to relax. I’d have to listen to the Stephen Fry versions; I’ve never even heard them. I think this is the first I’ve heard that he narrated them for that market. That’s so cool! Learn something every day.

And one last recommendation letter from Kylie, who writes:

I only just listened to the podcast where you asked for recommendations for books for younger readers. A lot of them are ones I would have recommended or know, but I’m surprised at a few absences. Dianna Wynne Jones is an amazing author. Apparently, my library had her books when I was younger, but I never knew because they were always checked out. And they had a tendency to go out of print. Not anymore! Some of the titles are Howl’s Moving Castle, Witch Week, The Homeward Bounders, Eight Days of Luke, and in those four listed there is a take on fairytale tropes, a school with magic children that pre-dates Harry Potter by a decade, a Prometheus tale, and Norse mythology in modern times.

Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy about sorcerers who send magic Dead back into death is YA. It starts with Sabriel, but the second book, Lirael, has one of the best imaginary libraries ever, strong heroines, magic, and a bit of romance. For younger readers, there is another series that starts with Mister Monday about a mysterious house outside of our universe that controls everything.

Both Mister Monday and several of the Wynne Jones books were tested out on my much younger stepbrother a few years ago and were well received.

I don’t know if John Bellairs is still on anyone’s radar. He did semi-Gothic mysteries set in contemporary life, which was the 1950s or so at the start. The early ones were illustrated by Edward Gorey, which is why I started reading them. I can see that they were in print fairly recently, but I’m not sure that they’re in tune with current trends.

Sarah: Thank you for this email, Kylie, and I guarantee you, about four people who are listening just went Edward Gorey? What? Where? Give it, give, give me this. Take my money! Now! That’s awesome. Thank you very much for writing.

And that is all for this week’s podcast. I have an interview with Kat from Book Thingo, also done in Australia, wherein we talk about recommendations; podcasting; her kids, who listen to the podcast – hi, Kat’s kids – and all of their recommendations for young readers as well. I’m going to edit that, probably split it up over two episodes, so you’ll have that coming soon. If you were feeling low on Australian accents in the podcast, I am here to help you, ‘cause you know, you can never go too far without enough Australian accents, right?

This podcast was brought to you by InterMix, publisher of Blurred, the steamy new Connections novella from New York Times bestselling author Kim Karr. You can find copies of Blurred wherever eBooks are sold.

The music that you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater. You can follow her on Twitter @SassyOutwater. This is “Dun Beag” and it is by the Peatbog Faeries from their CD Dust, and I am not entirely sure I said that right, so if I got it wrong, you can correct me.

I will have links to the CD, their website, and their iTunes listing in the podcast episode, along with all of the books that we mentioned, which were many because, well, that’s what we do here.

If you have ideas or you want to make suggestions for young readers – and we have more; we’re going to be doing this for the rest of the year, ‘cause awesomeness! – you can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can leave us a message on our Google voice number, which is 1-201-371-DBSA. Please don’t forget to give us your name and where you’re calling from so we can include your message in an upcoming podcast.

After my interview with Nikki while I was in Australia last week, I got to thinking about fandoms because, you know, I, I’m sort of in one and I like it, but I’m curious. What about you? What fandoms are you a part of? Obviously romance might be one of them, but what other fandoms or, or shows or books or movies or communities have you been really involved in, and what makes you stay in them? What, what do you like about them? I think that it’s very, very cool that the Internet can so easily bring people together over common interests, but I’m always curious what those interests are. So if you’d like to answer my nosy question, email us, and I’m curious to know what your, what your favorite fandoms are.

And that’s the end of the episode. On behalf of Jane and myself and all of Australia, we wish you the very best of reading. Thank you for listening.

[Awesomeness of music]

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  1. 1
    Elinor Aspen says:

    I have never been the type of woman who goes to male strip revues and gets grabby with the performers. However, if James Marsters put his arm around me and bit my neck, I am afraid that I would grope him inappropriately. Sigh.

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