Sarah interviews author Alyssa Cole about her series of articles for Romance Writers of America’s Romance Writers Report which focus on romance authors in different countries around the world. They discuss her upcoming books and her efforts to help readers diversify their reading lists. Plus, she has a movie recommendation for everyone everywhere. Special thanks to the birds of Martinique for making a background guest appearance.
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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
And this is VERY cool: big huge thanks to the Romance Writers of America for making a PDF download of two of Alyssa’s articles for the Romance Writers Report available to the podcast audience.
Click right here, and download two of her Romancing the Globe columns. That link will create an instant download, and the file is 523k. Thank you, RWA!
This podcast and all future podcasts are a production of Smart Bitches Trashy Books, LLC. Thank you for listening!
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This Episode's Music
Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater. This podcast features “Celtic Frock” by a UK duo called Deviations Project, which features producer Dave Williams and violinist Oliver Lewis – they have their own Wikipedia page. This is from their album Ivory Bow.
This podcast is sponsored by Renee Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and The Dawn, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers and available in print and e-book. Each dawn brings death. But can love change the story? This intoxicating retelling for A Thousand and One Nights will leave you begging for book 2, The Rose and the Dagger coming Summer 2016.
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
This sumptuous and enthralling retelling of A Thousand and One Nights, will transport you to a land of golden sand and forbidden romance. She came for revenge. But will she stay for love?
❤ Click to view the transcript ❤
Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 176 of the DBSA podcast. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and with me today is Alyssa Cole. We’re going to talk about her series of articles which have been appearing in the Romance Writers Report, the publication of the Romance Writers of America. Each of these articles feature different romance authors from countries around the world, and I think they have been super cool, so I wanted to learn more about them. We also talk about her upcoming books and her efforts to help readers diversify their reading lists, and she has a movie recommendation that I think everyone will want to take advantage of.
This podcast is brought to you by Renee Ahdieh, author of The Wrath & the Dawn, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, available in print and eBook. Each dawn brings death, but can love change the story? This intoxicating retelling of A Thousand and One Nights will leave you begging for book two, The Rose & the Dagger, coming Summer 2016.
The podcast transcript this month is sponsored by Kensington, publishers of Into the Fury by New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin. The first in a new series, Kat Martin is back with her signature spine-tingling suspense and unforgettable action as she introduces readers to the elite team of private investigators at BOSS INC., who are both hard-hitting and hot stuff. On sale January 29th, 2016.
Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater, and I will have information at the end of the podcast as to who this is and where you can find it.
And before we get started, two housekeeping notes: one, this podcast and all future podcasts are the production of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, LLC, and if you, in any location around the world, would like to sponsor the podcast or the podcast transcript, please email me: [email protected].
And now, on with the podcast!
Sarah: All right, so let’s have you introduce yourself to the lovely people who are listening, many of whom, I’ve learned, are on the treadmill or on the bike in the gym, so they’re all working out, which makes me feel really slack when I’m recording.
Sarah: So introduce yourself and tell the lovely people listening who you are and what you do.
Alyssa Cole: I’m also recording from a treadmill – no, I’m not. I’m sitting here. [Laughs] But –
Sarah: Oh, is the treadmill in the room with you?
Alyssa: I do have a treadmill, but it’s currently not in use, but I’m Alyssa Cole. I write romance, a variety of different romances: historical; post-apocalyptic sci-fi, I guess; romantic suspense; and contemporary. Just, I guess, under, pretty much anything under the romance umbrella.
Sarah: Fabulous! Now, you’ve been writing a column for the Romance Writers Report, which is the RWA publication, about romance writers in different parts of the world, and I have been enjoying this column so much. Was this your idea?
Alyssa: Thank you! Yes, it randomly came to me. I don’t know why – well, I think, I mean, even anyone who reads my stuff, my books or just in general, I’m really interested in the way cultures and different kinds of people interact with each other, and I think just one day I was thinking, like, I don’t really, I know there have to be other kinds of romance writers or – [laughs] – and I think, I bet if it was, like, you know, there’s a lot of talk about diversity and, like, normalizing the representation in romance right now?
Alyssa: And I was thinking, like, you know, most of the people I know are either American or Canadian or British, and I –
Sarah: There’s a couple of Aussies, couple of Kiwis, but, yeah.
Alyssa: Yeah, some Australian, Kiwis, and – I was like, I know there have to be other people in the world who are into romance, who enjoy writing romance. I know people have romance fans all over the world, so I was just, it was, like, a random thought while I was going to sleep, and you know those thoughts that you get, and then they start building, and I was like, well, maybe I’ll see if anyone else is interested in this, because sometimes people are not interested in the things that I’m interested in, and I pitched it to the Romance Writers Report, and they were like, yeah, that sounds like a good idea, so I started looking around for different publishers around the world, which I can talk about that a little more. It’s not always easy. But – [laughs]
Sarah: Oh, I’d love to hear about that, because I’ve noticed that it can be very challenging to find – I’ve been looking for romances that are published in other countries that aren’t translations of American romances. Like, who are –
Sarah: – the local writers in different countries who are writing romances, and that’s really hard to find. How did you start your research?
Alyssa: The first article I did was about Ankara Press, which is a Nigerian romance publisher –
Alyssa: – and I saw an article about them, and I was like, okay, cool! That was pretty easy for me, because it had their name. I could –
Alyssa: They were, they were relatively easy to find. They’re pretty, they have a web presence and, you know, a web site and –
Alyssa: – publicity department, and so I reached out, and they were pretty, they were great about getting back to me, about answering questions, because also, for them, they’re also looking for publicity, these romance publishers and writers around the world, because most of the market is in the U.S. and, and the Western countries, so, it, they are, usually once they realize that you aren’t, like, a scam artist – [laughs] – or someone trying to get something from them, it’s pretty, it’s pretty easy to get an interview with them or have them answer some questions.
Sarah: I hear birds on your end, and I have a dog barking on my end. Tell me you have pet birds, or is that just, like, the, the general sound of an island is bird.
Alyssa: [Laughs] This is just the general sound. I’m –
Sarah: Oh, that’s horrible.
Alyssa: – I actually am pretty used to it, so –
Sarah: That’s just terrible. Oh, gosh.
Alyssa: But, yeah, they’re, they’re just like, you know, birds hanging outside in the trees and –
Sarah: All right, so –
Alyssa: And then –
Sarah: – tropical birds, podcast guest, I am 100% on board with this.
Alyssa: [Laughs] And these are the quiet birds. There are also kind of these, like, parrot-type birds that fly by every night and scream as they fly by.
Alyssa: So these, these are the quiet –
Sarah: That must be great.
Sarah: Okay. So what are some of the countries, ‘cause I know not everyone who listens is an RWA member and gets this publication, and I, seriously, I have enjoyed these articles so much. I think they are excellent, so thank you for the entire idea. It has totally made every month better when I get that issue. What are –
Alyssa: And –
Sarah: – oh, please! Keep going! What are some of the countries and writers that you’ve discovered, and how have you been doing the interviews? Is there a lot of Google Translate?
Alyssa: There hasn’t been so far. So first, with Ankara Press it was speaking with Nigerian authors and authors from that general region, and everyone, pretty much, people speak English there –
Sarah: Right, yes.
Alyssa: – as well as whatever local language they have, so that was fairly simple. Then I did South Asian romance, and I actually regret this one, because when I first started I didn’t realize how, that it would become an ongoing column, and so I condensed. Instead of doing Indian romance, Pakistani romance, I made a South Asian column –
Alyssa: – and again, people there speak English, but that’s, if I could change one thing I would go back and focus on the individual countries and, you know, even individual regions in the country. Hope-, maybe I can do that as time goes on, but yeah, so, authors there speak English.
Alyssa: Then the next one I did was Argentina. [Laughs] That was where the Google Translate problem first cropped up –
Alyssa: – because – I mean, and I know Google Translate sucks because, you know, my husband speaks French, and I’m learning French. When we were first dating, sometimes there would be, you know, I don’t know what you’re talking about – [laughs] – and then I would Google Translate it, and it also, I wouldn’t know what he was talking –
Alyssa: – but for some – [laughs] – for some reason I thought it would be easier with Spanish, but it was not. I’m sure the, the questions I sent them, I’m amazed that they understood what I was, what I was talking about and the answered questions so well, and then I translated them with Google Translate, and I was like, I have, this doesn’t make sense, and I know that these women know what they’re talking about, so this is the Google translate, and then I was saved by Mr. Cole, who also speaks Spanish, and I was like, hey, can you help?
Sarah: What does this mean?
Alyssa: Yeah, this doesn’t mean that, does it? Because there were just some things that were like just weird, totally weird or inappropriate, and I was like, I don’t think that’s what they’re saying, and that was not what they were saying. So that’s, one thing I learned is for – and, like, I speak, I understand a bit of Spanish, and even with that I was like, I’m, I think you’re wrong, Google Translate. [Laughs]
Alyssa: But, so that was my first encounter really with, like, realizing that I’m going to have to put a little more – like, I can’t wing it with Google Translate. I have to find someone who speaks the language fluently to help me translate it, because it’s not fair to the authors if I ask them for an interview and then, like, put down some crazy response, which they might, they might not see and be able to correct if they don’t speak English. So that’s one thing that in 2016 I’ll be working on more too, like, reaching out to people and countries that are not primarily English-speaking –
Alyssa: – or don’t have a large English-speaking population and also getting, like, accurate translations of the work. And also, the, the last place that, the last column was, was Filipino romance writers, and they also all spoke English as well, so.
Sarah: Yes. So what have you learned from the different writers?
Alyssa: The thing that’s interesting to me is, like, the similarities, as well as the differences, but the simil- – like, I think that romance writers everywhere are similar in ways –
Alyssa: – and one thing that’s interesting to me is that basically we all have the same origin type, like, we all basically read the same kind of books. Everyone was reading Judith McNaught, Nora Roberts, and, like, all of the big names in romance. Like, they read those all over the worlds, those, Mills & Boon, Harlequin influence people all over the world, and, like, it’s interesting now because I feel like now the results of people growing up and reading those books and with the current technology we have, those things are coming together and allowing people who maybe wanted to write romance before but didn’t have the, the, there was no resource or no outlet for them to do that. Now that technology is spreading because of the internet, romance writers all over the world are able to write the kind of romance they love with their own, but adding their own, you know, cultural elements or just their own personal, even beyond culture, their own spin on it, and I think that’s a really great thing, and I think that’s something that’s even happening in the U.S. right now with the –
Alyssa: – diverse, trying to diversify and, you know, make publishing, romance publishing reflect the reality of the world more than it does right now.
Sarah: And the women who read it and the women who write it.
Alyssa: Yeah, and, like, so that, I just found that, like, so fascinating, just, like, thinking that all over the world, there are all these, you know, young women, and men too, growing up and reading these books, and the fact that romance has that all over the world, basically.
Sarah: I remember when I learned that, I was shocked, because I would receive email regularly from people who would start their email by apologizing for their English and then explain to me that they learned English solely so that they could read romance because where they live romance is not translated into their language, and because that’s what they wanted to read, they learned English, and I, I had that message sent to me more than five times from five different countries, and I was sort of like, are you serious? Like, if the only thing that I wanted to read was in a different language and I had to lead, learn to read the language in order to get my hands on it, that’s a staggering amount of dedication right there!
Alyssa: Yeah! They, romance fans, when they say romance fans are the most dedicated –
Sarah: They are not lying!
Sarah: That is legit true. [Laughs]
Alyssa: The other thing that I noticed that’s interesting, again, all around the world, it’s generally written by women and read by women, although – and, you know, here, too, there, in the U.S. and England and Canada, too, there are guys who read romance, but in other places, like with the Ankara Press, the Nigerian press –
Alyssa: They, one thing that was really interesting to me is that there’s really no stigma for men reading romance novels in that region. I don’t know if that’s true of other places in Africa, but they said, like, you know, you can be at the airport and see a dude reading a Mills & Boon, and it’s not like, oh, check that out! Like, it’s not considered a weird thing, just because reading is reading, no matter what you’re reading. So I found that really interesting.
Sarah: Wow! That is interesting, ‘cause I, I remember very clearly seeing a, a gentleman in the Taco Bell one time when I went with my husband, and he was reading Nora Roberts – not J. D. Robb, but, like, Nora Roberts – and I, and I was like, okay, it is against the readers’ code for me to interrupt this gentleman’s meal while he’s reading, but I really wanted to be like, you are the best, dude! You rock! ‘Cause he was just totally chilling in Taco Bell with a big old Nora Roberts novel, and I was like, yes! Because it’s not something I would see very often, and I wish I saw more of. How cool that it, there’s no male-female stigma attached to it in Nigeria!
Alyssa: Yeah, and I think that’s, you know, it’s just a societal thing. I mean, in most places I’ve, where I’ve spoken to authors, there, there is the general romance, you know, romance versus real fiction type argument, that, the same that we have here, and people seeing romances as less than or not serious writing, but everyone I spoke to everywhere else just said that that was changing and that the books were getting more respect, predictably as they became bigger moneymakers for publishers and authors. [Laughs]
Sarah: No! The devil you say!
Alyssa: You know! Who would imagine, but yes. So I think that’s something that is being reflected, you know, around the world, but I think there is still the kind of, in many places there is still the kind of stigma of feminine literature and not – I think, hopefully that’s slowly fading away – oh, quickly, but, you know.
Alyssa: Slowly too. Either, any kind of fading away will be good, because it’s just, you know, there’re, I’m sure there are dudes who would love romance if they gave it a try and – [laughs] – but there’s just this whole societal, you know, misogynistic idea that that’s something men can’t do, which is ridiculous. So it was, yeah, it was really refreshing to see that, you know, in at least one place in the world, there’s no kind of gendered reading preference for romance.
Sarah: How is success measured in other countries? I’m always curious about this. If you’re an author and you’re publishing in a genre that’s slowly gaining respect in your, in your country, are there bestseller lists there? Are there measurements or – how are they determining success? Is that something that you talked about in your interviews?
Alyssa: I, actually, that’s an in-, a really good question. I haven’t asked about bestseller lists. I generally have asked about their own, like, if I’m speaking to authors or to the publisher, like, why they write what they write –
Alyssa: – how they interact with other authors and with readers, but I haven’t asked generally about success, just because, yeah, it is something that I think is, in different places can be interpreted differently.
Alyssa: For example, when I was speaking, when I interviewed the Filipino authors, they were, you know, they all seem like they have all, they’re very organized and have all of their stuff together, but there are certain things that hinder them, like, many people in the Philippines don’t have e-readers.
Alyssa: So, like, they couldn’t really measure their success there as well as they, as someone in a Western country who is mostly published in the United States and has most of their readers in the United States.
Alyssa: So there are things like that, and also the people who are self-published, as opposed to people who are with local publishers and, like, the local publishing scene as opposed, like, compared to the big five here, for example. So that’s something, and that’s also something else that I want to explore more this year, like, speaking to publishers and editors, more, more focused on publishers and editors as well, in addition to romance authors –
Alyssa: – because I think it would be great to know how those things are measured in other countries.
Sarah: Definitely. How many more articles are in your series?
Alyssa: As of right now, it’s ongoing.
Sarah: Yay! I’m happy!
Alyssa: And right – [laughs]. As, but yeah, as I said earlier, it can be hard finding people?
Alyssa: One, because of the language barrier. That’s getting a bit easier because I’m learning French, so I can try to interact with people in, for example, French-speaking, Francophone Africa and places like that, but –
Sarah: Go you!
Alyssa: – other places can be harder, and also places that don’t rely that much on the internet for reading.
Alyssa: That can be harder because, like, they won’t have, like, a, a website with all of the information you need, so a lot of it is like being a detective sometimes. You, like, look, you know, Google search romance in a general region, and, like, the other thing that’s funny is when I search, for example, Middle Eastern romance, all of the sheikh novels come up, and I’m like, that’s cool, but that’s not what I’m looking for.
Alyssa: I’m looking for romance written by – so, like, you know, you have to change your search parameters and then also – and in some places there are books that are just, you know, published very locally and just given directly to the small bookstores, and, like, that’s something, something that I likely won’t be able to contact those people because I, you know, they’re not on the internet really. It’s just a very small, local thing. But yeah, so I was basically, like, looking for articles, looking for a trail to a certain country or a region and then trying to find, dig up more and see – you know, sometimes you find something and then you look into it, and you see, okay, this person’s or these people stopped publishing.
Alyssa: Or this publisher went under. Like, you know, just how things change. Publishing is always changing here, and it’s definitely always changing in other countries too, as either things don’t work out or people move onto a new venture, so then, you know. So it’s a, that part is frustrating sometimes, but it’s also cool because it’s just seeing how things change in other countries as well.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. Definitely. And, you know, what, what’s written down on the internet can very quickly become out of date in a matter of, you know, months.
Alyssa: Oh, yeah. [Laughs] Ohhh, yeah.
Sarah: So what countries are you working on now? Can you tell us?
Alyssa: Yeah! Well, right now I, I am working on east African romance. I’m looking, I’m trying, I’m trying to get in contact with some romance authors in Kenya; also some romance author, a publisher in Mali I’m trying to get in contact with; and I’m also thinking of, like, look-, I’m also looking for Caribbean romance authors, just in general, either here in Martinique or, you know, on the surrounding islands, but like I said, it’s like you search and you search and you see someone, and it’s like, are they really from the place where they, it says they’re from, and you know, things like that, that can change – [laughs] – can be, like, can make things a bit difficult while you’re searching, but – and I also want to try to reach out to countries like, you know, China, Russia, but like – and that’s another thing. Some, in some places, romance, you have to learn what the local terms for romance are, because in some countries, like, for example, when you search Russian romance, the things that come up are, like, Dostoevsky and stuff like that. So –
Alyssa: Which, you know, again, that’s cool, but not what I’m looking for. So, so it’s, it’s interesting, and now that I know that this series of articles will be ongoing, it will just be refining the process of searching and trying to expand and see, you know, who I can find and who’s willing to talk, and again, I think sometimes people might receive my emails and think I’m some kind of, like, you know, scam artist, because people who work for publishers get all kinds of crazy emails, so – [laughs]
Sarah: Oh, yeah.
Alyssa: And I’m just like, oh, hello, I am a romance writer from the U.S. and blah blah blah. They don’t know if I’m telling the truth or if I want something from them so, you know, it could be, it can be a little hard, but it’s definitely worth it. This is my favorite project that I’m working on right now because it’s just cool seeing, you know, how people work in other countries, and like I said, I love learning about the similarities, the differences, and the things that generally make us all the same in the end, so.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. Especially because the romance genre, no matter what sort of flavor you’re writing, still has the same core emotions, and –
Sarah: – those translate very easily. The, those are, those are easily understood concepts, regardless of the language that the book is written in.
Alyssa: Yeah, and it’s cool because, like, even, one of the questions I like to ask is, like, what romance is popular –
Alyssa: – in, in your region? And I feel like that can kind of reflect what’s going on in a general area. Like, for the South Asian romances, a lot of the, most of the authors said that college romances were really popular, and –
Alyssa: – well, you know, I guess that would translate to New Adult –
Alyssa: – here, but, like, kind of, if there is a boom of people that age and, like, that’s a big thing, people going off and, you know, women going off to college and the new experiences that they have, I think that’s pretty cool. And, like, in Argentina historicals are really popular, because people love, like, looking, like, looking back in time at – historicals are popular here in the U.S., too, but in general, like, British historicals? [Laughs] But, so, in Argentina, people are really into the history of their country, and they love reading historical romances about that. So I think it’s interesting, too, seeing, like, what readers there are into and how that reflects in the romance that’s getting written.
Sarah: That is very cool. Have you been able to find any of the books that the authors you’ve interviewed have, have read? ‘Cause I know that there is a, an enormous barrier to entering the American book market because that, less than five percent of the total book market is books that are brought in in translation, that it’s very rare for books to be translated and brought into America. Most of the time we export everything.
Sarah: So have you been able to locate some of the books that you’ve read about, or are they still mostly available in those countries and in the surrounding countries?
Alyssa: Actually, most of the people that I have spoken to have books available on Amazon –
Alyssa: Yeah, even, like, Ankara Press, the Nigerian press, they even have, like, a free, they did a free Valentine’s Day book, and if you go to their website, they have the link to that, the link to the authors. The South Asian authors that I interviewed, some of them are published through Harlequin India, so, and Mills & Boon India, and so their books are available, you know, on Amazon and through that website. The Filipino authors also, they have, all of their books are available on Amazon.
Alyssa: – I’m pretty sure. [Laughs] And the Argentine authors, they’re also available on Amazon for the most part, I think, but again there’s a language barrier for people who don’t speak Spanish. The other books are generally in English, and that’s another thing that’s interesting. Many of the people that I’ve inter-, the publishers and the people I’ve interviewed, right, in English, just because that’s the international language of romance. You know, French is the language of love, but English is the language of romance, apparently.
Alyssa: So, that’s, and that’s, like you said before, people who learn English just to read romance, that’s just in general –
Alyssa: – people write in English so it’s marketable to the largest population of romance readers, which, which are, is, who are English-speaking.
Sarah: Right, of course.
Alyssa: The other interesting thing is that people, in addition to writing in English, though, people do publish translations into their languages or even local dialects, so that’s something that’s pretty cool as well, making it, they also make the books available for people who don’t speak English.
Sarah: That’s very cool! So I want to switch topics to a much more difficult and very challenging question.
Sarah: I want to ask you about your books.
Alyssa: Okay. Hopefully I can answer that.
Sarah: Well, sometimes it’s like, oh, gosh, talking about my own books is so hard, which I completely understand. What are you working on right now?
Alyssa: Right now I’m in the middle of edits for my next series, which is a Civil War espionage series with Kensington, and I don’t think I’ve really told anyone about that yet, so breaking news.
Alyssa: [Laughs] It’s a Civil War espionage series focusing on people of color and their contribution to the Civil War effort, and the fir-, and also somewhat based on, many of the characters are based on real people, real historical figures.
Sarah: This is cool!
Alyssa: So, yeah, I’m in edits for the first book, and I’m really excited. Like, my, I love writing all types of things, but I really love writing historicals too, just because, you know, it gets my, I’m able to do my little sneaky teaching, as –
Alyssa: – as well as writing romance and, you know, getting the love and sexytimes and stuff in there too. So, yeah, I’m working on that right now, and I’m also, I don’t know when that will be out, but I’ll hopefully have more information about that soon. And I’m working on book two of that now, too, of that series. And I’m also working on finishing up a contemporary fairy tale, not exactly a fairy tale. It’s a romantic comedy, there’s an African prince, and the heroine is, you know, and, and getting her Master’s in public health, and it’s a romantic comedy, even though, like, romantic comedy is hard for me because I’m always tempted to put something really depressing in the story. [Laughs] Like, I had to convince myself not to put an Ebola outbreak in the story. Like, no, that’s not romantic comedy. So I’m working on that now, and yeah. And more “Romancing the Globe” stuff, but –
Sarah: Yay! So what is your most recent book that has been published in your, what, what is the most recent book that has come out from your excellent backlist?
Alyssa: My most recent book would be Mixed Signals. That’s book three in my Off the Grid trilogy, which is a post-apocalyptic romance series, and it’s, it came out in October. It follows, the series follows a family/group of friends who survive a post-apocalyptic, an apocalyptic event –
Alyssa: – and are living in a post-apocalyptic world, and it’s the book, the third book, following the youngest sister in the, in the family, and it’s basically post-apocalyptic New Adult because it’s, you know, the world is trying to get back on its feet, and she’s entering this – [clears throat] pardon me – she’s entering this basically post-apocalyptic college, and so, but it came out in October, and it’s, it was nominated for an RT award. People seemed to really like it, which made me happy because I was like, this is the book that’s going to make everyone hate me, and the –
Alyssa: – and then people were like, oh, no, we actually like this book, so that, you know, that –
Sarah: Yay! Why did you think people would hate you?
Alyssa: I don’t know. You know, authors put a lot of pressure on themselves, and, like, I was just –
Alyssa: – you know, terrified. I was like, maybe I, you know, maybe it’s crappy. Like, you know, you, you convince yourself of all of the things that are wrong with your book – [laughs] – so I was very happy when that wasn’t the case.
Sarah: Fabulous! Nice job. [Laughs] Isn’t it nice when you’re wrong?
Alyssa: [Laughs] Yeah, well, things, for things like that, definitely. Yeah, so that was the last book. The whole series, well, it was a trilogy. All three books came out last year, and they’re post-apocalyptic, but they’re not zombie, it’s not zombie stories, which, I love zombie stories, but – I guess it’s kind of like gentle post-apocalyptic in a way?
Alyssa: Oh, I don’t know if that’s a genre, but it’s, you know, I feel, like a bit more realistic or not, like, there aren’t zombies chasing people down. It’s more about the human issues that come up?
Sarah: Right. Because survival when things are going incredibly wrong is pretty compelling.
Alyssa: Yeah. And also, like, how love and friendship and hot dudes and hot chicks can get you through that. [Laughs]
Sarah: Yeah, it’s, it’s very difficult. [Laughs] And your, that, that book, Mixed Signals was named one of the best romances for November by Sarah McLean in her Washington Post column, yeah?
Alyssa: Yes. Yeah, it was. That was –
Sarah: That’s awesome! Congratulations!
Alyssa: Thank you! Yeah, that was really awesome, really shocking. It was –
Alyssa: I was traveling, so I was in a hotel and just, like, rolling around on the bed in the hotel room. That was really great.
Sarah: That is very cool! So, here’s the hardest question that I ask: what are you reading or have read recently that you recommend? Do you read a lot of science fiction?
Alyssa: Right now I don’t. I mean, growing up I read, you know, Asimov and all different kinds of science fictions that I –
Alyssa: – would take out from the library.
Alyssa: Right now – and I’m totally blanking, even though I just wrote a review, a bunch of reviews on my blog, but the books that I’ve read recently – oh! I read A Midnight Clear; that’s by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner, and it’s a free, you know, freebie novella that’s really, really, really good. [Laughs] It’s –
Sarah: Ooh, hello! I’m listening.
Alyssa: – it’s part of their historical, they have, like, a, a historical series set during the 1960s, the space race?
Alyssa: And this is a prequel set at the end of the 1940s, and it’s just, like, really well written, and I told them I was like, I was getting really angry – [laughs] – while I was reading it, ‘cause I was just like, why is this is so good? Like, I’m getting mad!
Alyssa: I don’t know if anyone, I don’t know if anyone else has that feeling of, like, when you’re reading a book and you’re just like, how dare you be this entertaining and good?
Alyssa: I, you know, have a temper problem, so maybe that’s just me. What else? I’ve read some Jeannie Lin that I really enjoyed from her, her steampunk series. What else have I read? Courtney Milan’s Once Upon a Marquess, of course.
Alyssa: Amazing. Tessa Dare’s latest: amazing. And also, like, I’m tot-, it’s also hard because I’m trying to remember stuff that I’ve read, like, what is actually released? [Laughs] What am I –
Sarah: I have this problem. I very much have this problem.
Alyssa: What am I allowed to talk about? Suleikha Snyder’s Unlock Me serial written under the pseudonym Mariah K. Quinn, which is, like, in the stepbrother BDSM type romance, which is awesome. You know, not something I thought I would say, but –
Alyssa: – but it’s really well written and awesome. Also, lately I’ve been loving Melissa Blue. She has her Scotland series; the books are Under His Kilt. And also Tasha L. Harrison, her series, In Her Closet is the first book, I believe, in the series.
Sarah: In his closet?
Alyssa: In Her Closet.
Sarah: Oh, In Her Closet. There’s, there’s two different closets.
Sarah: My bad. Okay, I got it. Got to get the right closet!
Alyssa: Yeah. [Laughs] For Rebekah Weatherspoon, her latest, So Sweet, which is a novella about a young woman who gets a sugar daddy, but it’s totally funny, sweet, and super romantic and, like, just made me laugh out loud the entire time I was reading it. I always recommend that because, like, you know, there’s so much crappy stuff going on in the world, like when you just need to read something and really laugh and feel happy and light when you’re done, I recommend Rebekah Weatherspoon.
Sarah: I was not expecting to like So Sweet as much as I did, ‘cause I sort of approached it like, okay, sugar daddy relationship, not so sure about that.
Sarah: Not like I have a, a problem with anyone who would do that? Like, you do you, that’s fine. I just wasn’t sure if it was going to work for me as a reader and my, you know, expectations of romance, and gosh, did that work for me so well!
Alyssa: Yeah, it was –
Sarah: You’re exactly right; it’s, it’s very light and friendly and funny.
Alyssa: Yeah. Yeah. And it, it’s just like, and I feel like I love, in her writing, there’s, like, the unexpected humor, where you’re like, it’s not that, you expect it to be funny, but a line just hits you at just the right angle, like –
Alyssa: – they’re like, what, where did that come from? And you just, like, burst out laughing.
Alyssa: So, yeah. I recommend that. And the other stuff I’ve been reading is, like, horrible Civil War research so – [laughs] – which I recommend, but also not the greatest light reading material.
Sarah: No, it’s not super uplifting and –
Sarah: – feel-good.
Alyssa: [Laughs] No.
Sarah: It’s, it’s kind of feel-crappy, that research.
Sarah: Can you talk a little bit about the, the espionage series? Can you, can you share a little bit more details, or is it too soon?
Alyssa: Oh, no, I’ll share some details now. The first book follows a woman, she’s a free black woman living in the North –
Alyssa: – but she, she joins a secret society and goes undercover. She poses as a slave in Civil War Richmond to funnel information to, you know, to the soci-, secret society and to Washing-, to the capitol, and, so she’s the heroine, and the hero is a Scottish-American, he’s a spy working for Pinkerton’s, for Allan Pinkerton, who – I don’t know if, if readers don’t know about Allan Pinkerton, he basically originated the Secret Service, and also there’s the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which, it’s still around today.
Alyssa: So basically, he’s posing as a Confederate soldier, so – [laughs]
Sarah: Everybody’s lying.
Alyssa: Yeah, everyone’s lying –
Alyssa: – and, you know, of course that can cause trouble in all kinds of things, including love. So it’s basically about them kind of being forced to work together. He’s smitten with her, and she’s like, you know, are you insane? Get – [laughs] – get out. Do you see the situation that we’re in? And the country that we’re in? But, you know, it’s about people – it was really fun to write, because you get to write “fun” spy stuff, but, and also, you know, the, the growing love and, between two people who, in a time when generally they were told, you know, you should not be together. I mean, we’re, like, it’s during a period where they’re fighting a war. [Laughs]
Sarah: Right. It’s not really convenient.
Alyssa: So, so, yeah. It’s really, it was really fun to write, and, you know, it’s set during the Civil War, but it, so there is some heavy stuff, but overall I, you know, I try to keep it fun, exciting, you know, a lot of banter between the hero and heroine, so, yeah, I’m really excited about it.
Sarah: Cool! That’s excellent. Do you, do you have a title for it yet?
Alyssa: The title is still in flux right now? [Laughs]
Sarah: Titles change. This I know.
Alyssa: But I, I will hopefully know soon.
Sarah: And when is this scheduled to come out? Sometime –
Alyssa: That is also – [laughs] – that is also in flux, but, you know, sometime this year.
Sarah: It is 2016, right? Yes, yes, it is. Okay, good.
Alyssa: Yep. Yep.
Sarah: I, not only have I not been able to remember what year it is, but I have been dating things incorrectly on the website, so I published a podcast in 2015, like a year ago, and it was supposed to be 2016? Yeah! Good job! This is way more troublesome than writing the wrong date on a check.
Alyssa: Oh, yeah. And people are like, oh, how come no new podcasts are coming up?
Sarah: Yeah, ‘cause they, they came out today but actually last year. You know, things happen.
Sarah: So are you going to be going to RT or RWA this year? Are you doing any panels at RT?
Alyssa: I am! I’m going to RT for sure, and I’m pretty positive I’m going to RWA. At RT, I’m doing a panel – and this is actually my first RT convention, so I’m a little freaked out – [laughs] – because I’ve heard that RT is even crazier than RWA, and the last RWA I was just like a completely drained battery after it was done. But I –
Sarah: Yes, it is very draining. Get ready.
Alyssa: [Laughs] And in Las Vegas, so, yeah. But my, I’m doing a couple of panels. One panel is called “Diversify Your TBR,” and it’s basically just going to talk about popular books, popular multicultural books and, like, basically, if you like this kind of book or you like books by this author –
Alyssa: – perhaps you should try these authors or, and these books.
Sarah: So like a discovery tool.
Alyssa: Because, just because, you know, sometimes people don’t, just don’t know about different authors, and we figure – Lena Hart is the author who, who is moderating and who submitted that panel, but I think it’s a great idea because, you know, people always are looking for new books like the books that they enjoy, and I think that’s a really great way of getting people to expand their horizons.
Alyssa: And then the other panel is a historical panel exploring the exciting new world of inclusive historical romance, and so it’s just talking about, you know, the different, how historical romance is growing and changing to include stories that weren’t necessarily always told, or if they were told perhaps weren’t the, at the forefront of romance. We’ll just be talking about how, you know, historical romance is changing for the better.
Sarah: So, so there were, there, there weren’t just white people in history?
Alyssa: Yeah, I know it’s surprising. If you, you know, watch –
Alyssa: – watch TV, read a book, or anything, that’s what it seems like. I’m really glad that it’s changing. I wish it would change more quickly. I think it’s changing quickly for the better. I wish it would change even more quickly, but, just because I feel, and, like, one of the things that motivates a lot of what I do is I feel like there’s just so much information, and it’s out there, and it’s available, but it’s kind of pushed behind the predominant ideas and media and in pop culture and in society in general, so I, I really enjoy exploring those ideas and also, like, exposing other people to them. Learning, I mean, a lot of my stuff that I write is just, like, I get interested in something, and I’m like, oh, this would make a cool romance. Or, you know, this is something that people might find interesting, because I find it interesting, but –
Sarah: And, and there’s always someone.
Sarah: There’s always someone who’s interested. Like, I have many, many recurrences of I, I can’t be the only one that thinks this is really cool, right?
Sarah: And then you sign on and there’s, like, this huge group of people who are like, that’s awesome! Let’s talk about this for hours!
Alyssa: Yeah, and, like, especially with historical romance, I just feel like there’s so much stuff there to be discovered and that make for great, make for great stories in general –
Alyssa: – but especially great romances. I know sometimes, like, one thing that gets kind of iffy is people are like, oh, but, you know, I know bad things happened around that time period or to a certain group of people, and I don’t know if I can get past that when I’m reading a romance, but – I mean, I find that idea ridiculous, because if you think about any type of historical romance, terrible things were happening all of the time.
Alyssa: If you read it, if you read any Westerns, those people were going to die of dysentery. Like –
Alyssa: – if you read any Regency historical, you know that countess or whoever, after she worked so hard to get her duke and found the love of her life, she’s going to die during childbirth. Like – [laughs] – not to be a, not to be a downer, but like –
Alyssa: – that’s why, that’s why that particular argument is strange to me, because it just – and I think it’s just because people have been kind of trained, in a way, by the stories that are generally presented in, in media and in literature and in, on TV and movie screens. It’s like, oh, this seems, like, plausible, but oh, no, that thing, that couldn’t happen. But it’s like, actually that did happen. It’s historically accurate and, like –
Alyssa: – it’s just, like, you know, we’ve just been kind of trained to think, oh, well, that couldn’t happen, because I’ve never really seen that happen before. No one has ever explicitly said, here is a movie, or here is a, you know, a book about this particular thing –
Alyssa: – and that’s why I think that, like, really more inclusive romance is important, for me especially, historical romance, but all types of romance and, you know, all types of literature, but I think just exposing people to these ideas that – and I don’t want to call them new ideas, because they’re not new. It’s just less represented ideas that are, you know, they are historically accurate and make just as much sense as any other story you would read in romance, except the only difference being that they haven’t been traditionally represented, so they can seem implausible, or – and I think that the implausibility is just kind of the brain’s reaction to, well, how come I never saw this before if this was possible? So, you know.
Sarah: And also –
Alyssa: Is showing, expanding the, the idea of what was possible and wasn’t to meet act-, reality.
Sarah: And also the idea that, for a lot of readers, when they go back to a familiar setting, whether it’s a particular science fiction world or a historical, or even a particular made-up small town with a cute name in a contemporary setting, the familiarity of the worldbuilding is part of what they’re drawn to, so the unfamiliar can be, can be met with a lot of resistance that is not necessarily justified, you know what I mean?
Alyssa: Yeah. Yeah, I definitely agree with that, but I think that’s, you know, like I said, I think it’s changing.
Alyssa: Hopefully it keeps changing and just, like how I was saying before that, for peop-, for writers all around the world, the internet, social media, and just access to other people has changed their ability to get the word out about their product or even just to know that there are other people like them, like, in their own country or in their general region, who are writing what they write and –
Alyssa: – like, reading what they read. I think the same thing will work for more representative romance, just because, for me, it’s just a given. Like, it’s, some people see it as, like, oh, why is this being pushed? I think that there can be a bit of resistance to the change, to change in, like, going back to what you said, people are comfortable with a certain thing, but I think after, hopefully after an initial discomfort, people will realize, oh, well this, just, not just my reality, and, like, maybe people on a certain level realize that the romance they’re reading doesn’t always match reality, and again, we’re not always reading romance for reality –
Alyssa: – but as far as representation goes, there’s absolutely no reason for at least the representation of different races and cultures to be realistic, because, you know, like many people have said, if you can read about dragons –
Alyssa: – vampires –
Sarah: I’m here for the dragons. [Laughs]
Alyssa: – like – yeah! Everyone loves dragons.
Alyssa: So, you know, there’s no reason for it to see, like, a demographic shift as somehow being bad or something that needs to – yeah, I don’t quite know how to phrase this. Like, it’s just a, it’s just a shift in who gets to tell stories and who you’re reading about. The general format, structure of romance is not changing, so I don’t really see it as, there shouldn’t be a problem with reading about different types of people, and you can’t see me, but I have air quotation marks around types, because, you know, in general, people all, like, just as with the “Romancing the Globe” column, the thing that it comes down to is that we’re all basically have the same desires –
Alyssa: – the same need for happiness and to connect with other people, because that’s the other thing, too. Like, talking to these other romance authors and seeing, it’s like everyone reaches out to find their romance-writing buddy. It’s not just something that we do. Everyone needs that support. Everyone has the same, everyone wants to write a happy ending and read a happy ending, who –
Alyssa: – like with these romance authors, so who is doing it or what color they are or what religion they are doesn’t change –
Alyssa: – the, the basic idea of romance. So that’s why I, like, to me, I just kind of see it as, like, I know I’m like, well, do we really need to talk about this? I mean, we do need to talk about it because it’s a problem, but the bottom line for me is like, come on –
Alyssa: – like, get with the program.
Alyssa: Like, it’s not, it’s not like we’re, like, being like, you must eat Brussels sprouts if you hate Brussels sprouts. Like, I like Brussels sprouts, but you know, I don’t, Brussels sprouts are cool right now anyway, but – [laughs] – you know, it’s not changing the format, it’s not saying, oh, now the books are not going to have happy endings. Like, it’s –
Sarah: No, it’s, it’s not changing the core expectation.
Alyssa: No, not at all. So –
Sarah: I, I, I question –
Alyssa: – I think it’s just inevitable.
Sarah: I think you’re right, and I, and I question, how is it that so many people have arrived at a place where they fear the unfamiliar and they reject the unfamiliar? Like, there are –
Alyssa: It –
Sarah: – isn’t, doesn’t that seem odd? Like, why is it, how is it that this many people have arrived at a point where they are so ferociously rejecting of the unfamiliar? Like –
Alyssa: Yeah, and I think it’s, for me, I see, I do see it as a kind of, I see it as a kind of, like, form of hysteria.
Sarah: Institutional racism?
Alyssa: Ins-, I, ins-, institutional racism, but also kind of like societal mass delusion, because, like, for example, I don’t know if you remember the Sony, the Sony email hacks where someone hacked all the email –
Sarah: Yes, yes, I do.
Alyssa: – and the emails were released, and, like, you would see these Hollywood producers just saying things that make, do not match with reality at all. Like, they would say things like, oh, there are no Asian movie stars, which is ridiculous –
Alyssa: – and when you think about the sheer number, and globally, of Asian people, like, just kind of alone, like saying there are no Asian –
Sarah: [Laughs] An enormous number of people just went, what?
Alyssa: Yeah. First of all, there are no, no Asian movie stars. Okay, there are many people who beg to differ with that, and also –
Sarah: Jackie Chan would like a word with all of you.
Alyssa: Yeah! [Laughs] Yeah. There are just, like, so many. The film industry is huge there, and it’s just, like, a form of, like, you’re just saying this, and because you’re saying it, you’re thinking that that makes it right. Like –
Sarah: [Laughs] Don’t believe everything you think!
Alyssa: [Laughs] And the same thing with, like, you know, African-American leads in a film, and it’s like, they’ll be, oh, well, the movies don’t do well internationally, and then you go and look at the international figures for movies like Fast & Furious or Denzel Washington movies, even movies that do really crappy in the U.S. do amazing overseas. So it’s just like these weird, it’s like, we have these ideas, these ideas that, you know, popped up, I don’t know, in the 1920s, 1930s, and not, and we’re just going to stick with these ideas, even though there’s glaring evidence to the contrary, and you know, it’s the same thing with female directors. Like, oh, we can’t have female directors, there aren’t any female directors, or, you know, we couldn’t find anyone for the project and things like that. It’s just like this, these preset ideas, and I think, I’m talking about Hollywood, but I think there are similar problems in publishing where there are just these preset ideas of, oh, well, you know, these books don’t sell well, and then it, it’s like, is the book not selling well, or is not being marketed well? Like, people, like, you know, I think –
Sarah: Oh, yes.
Alyssa: – I don’t think you need to make huge differences, but sometimes you do need to consider other audiences, and this is where I think, too, where also having more people of color, people of different religions and ethnicities behind the scenes in publishing, as editors, as agents –
Alyssa: – and I think, honestly, more predominantly, the marketing and sales department – [laughs] – because sometimes people, like, you see certain things, and it just seems like people don’t, they think this is some huge scary thing. They’re like, oh, no, we couldn’t sell that, we couldn’t sell that, and it’s like, and then you see people go and self-publish their books and make millions and millions of dollars, and I know those are two different things, but – self-publishing and traditional publishing – but I think a lot of the problem is that marketing just has a skewed idea of who reads certain books, who doesn’t read certain books, and how to market to certain groups. Like, I mentioned this at the RWA panel I did over the summer, but, like, you know, if you want African-American readers, you don’t have to make, like, a rap album about your product to –
Alyssa: – sell – like, it’s, you know, it’s just like these weird, like, okay. I see, I guess, I see what you were trying to do, but, you know, like, why not just market that normally and see what happens, or maybe try outside channels, but, like, the first thing is, like, black people, uh, rap, yeah, they like rap. Like, and then it’s just like, let’s make a, a rap album about Game of Thrones. Like, and then like –
Alyssa: – and they, like, the sub-layer to that is, like, the people who did that, for example, didn’t realize that there is already a huge number of black people watching Game of Thrones who watch it every week, who tweet about it every week, who, you know – so it’s just, like, things like that. Like, where are you looking to get your stats about who buys what, who reads what, who watches what –
Alyssa: – because if you’re not looking in the right place, or if you’re going by preconceived notions, then you’re, in this day and age, you are just going to be wrong. [Laughs]
Alyssa: So, yeah. I think –
Sarah: One of the things I, I have been thinking a lot about lately, especially because it was, you know, it was just the holidays, and a lot of people have miserable family experiences at the holidays, and I think a lot of that tension comes from the huge distance between the reality of your family and the expectation of what family should be doing and what family should feel on, on a, on a holiday like Christmas or whatever, so you should all be in your pajamas having a wonderful morning, and everyone loves everyone, and you’re all warm, and all the, none of the nightgowns that you got have scratchy tags, and everyone’s comfortable, and everyone gets exactly what they want, and it’s this sort of homogenized, beautiful, comforting reality that does not exist, and the distance between your actual family with actual human problems and actual tensions and, you know, people who you really don’t like, despite sharing a lot of genetic code with them?
Sarah: The distance between that and this idealized concept is very painful, the larger the distance it is, and what I find so baffling is that same distance appearing in other places. So you have the actual reality of what the romance-reading community just looks like – we are a very diverse and intelligent group of mostly women, but we’re not all white –
Sarah: – we’re not all straight, we’re not all Christian. We are super different from, from each other in a lot of ways, yet we all love these books. Yet the idea of who is the readership doesn’t match the reality, and so this idea –
Sarah: – the distance between the idea and the reality gets bigger and bigger or smaller, depending on who’s operating the marketing machine.
Sarah: It, it, that tension increases. What I, what I love is the fact that at any time, I can sign on and talk to people directly and say, well, what are you actually looking for? Because I get pitch emails all the time that I am completely confused by. Readers who are desperate for this book to come out or for this movie to come out are seeking the next great zombie love story, and I’m like, really? I have not met these people!
Sarah: Who are these people you are talking about? ‘Cause I mean, I understand everyone wanting to go talk about The Force Awakens; I totally get that! There’s a lot to talk about! But, like, I do not see this roving horde of readers clamoring for the next great, you know, zombie romance. I, I don’t see them. Where are they? Are, are they there, or do you think they’re there? Or is it, like, a reality that you would like to manufacture for – like, what is this? So the distance between the idea and the reality gets either closer together or farther apart, depending on what, you know, what day it is. [Laughs]
Alyssa: Yeah, and it’s like, it’s like, I feel like just, there are so many times when the general societal algorithm kind of just falls back on a default, and, like, one thing that’s interesting – so, have you seen the movie Beyond the Lights?
Sarah: Beyond the Lights.
Alyssa: It’s a romance movie that came out in 2014. It’s –
Sarah: I don’t think I have, but I, I have younger kids, so my movie-going is extremely animated. Let me look this up –
Alyssa: [Laughs] Okay, so this is not –
Sarah: – ‘cause it might be on my queue.
Alyssa: It’s on Netflix, and the director’s Gina Prince-Blythewood. She also did Love & Basketball, and so, okay. So, I –
Sarah: Oh, it’s Gugu Muthab – how do you say her last name? Mbatha-Raw?
Sarah: Thank you! ‘Cause I have only read it and never said it, but I – ooh! I have this on my queue, I know exactly – okay, all of a sudden, my catnip activation has occurred. Yes! Tell me more!
Alyssa: Okay. And so, one of my 2016 resolutions is to make everyone watch Beyond the Lights, but it’s also, to me, an example of the weirdness that happens when people see, when marketers and people in charge see a movie or a book or whatever with a, a person of color or people of color as the leads and, so this is basically a straight romance movie. Like – and I’m, and it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s so romantic, and I just watched it a few weeks ago, and I was like – and I had seen people talking about it and saying how great it, saying that it was great. When I saw it marketed, it was, like, kind of weird. Like, I couldn’t tell if it was, like, a mother-daughter –
Alyssa: – family relationship movie, if it was a romance or, like – it’s set in the music industry. Like, I couldn’t really tell what it was about, but it’s like, it’s straight romance, and it’s amazing. You, you need to watch it.
Sarah: All right. I, I’m on this.
Alyssa: Anyone listening to this, you need to watch it. But also, first it’s on Netflix – [laughs] – and it’s a romance, but yet, when you finish watching it, or if you watch it, and the movies that are recommended to you, it’s not, it’s not recommending, like, you know, While You Were Sleeping or other popular romance movies –
Alyssa: – it’s recommending, like, Tyler Perry’s Madea or, like, you know, whatever –
Alyssa: – other black movies, so it’s like, again, miscategorization. Just because the people in the movie are black and the director is black, it gets shuffled off into this other category when someone who loves While You Were Sleeping or someone who loves, you know, other great rom-com –
Sarah: Would love this movie.
Alyssa: – or just great romantic movie would love this movie, but that’s not what’s getting recommended to them when they finish watching those movies. So it’s, like, I just feel like it’s a perfect example of, like, if this movie had been marketed well, like, I feel like everyone who loves romance should at least give this movie a try. We all have different tastes, maybe you won’t like it, but it, I feel like it’s a movie that, like, I and, I was speaking on Twitter and Emma Barry said something like, you know, I couldn’t believe that everyone in Romancelandia wasn’t talking about it, and it’s like, it’s true! This is something that I think every-, most romance readers would love this movie, but no one played on that marketing device, no one played, looked for the romance angle because it was presented, like, you know, it was like, oh, this is just, like, a black movie. It’s not, like, it wasn’t seen, the nuance of it’s a romance movie and you’re really going to love it and – like, that wasn’t hyped up how it is. I mean romances in general in film are, you know, currently there haven’t been any great rom-coms, to my knowledge.
Sarah: No, I was –
Alyssa: [Laughs] I, I don’t –
Sarah: – I was, I was talking at length with, with Liza Palmer, I was talking with Liza Palmer about that because she now works for Buzzfeed, because they are getting into scripted content –
Sarah: – and she is a huge rom-com fan, and there have not been good ones for years. And I’m, and I’m laughing listening to you talk about how, you know, the minute you watch this movie all of your Netflix recommendations are Tyler Perry movies. It makes think of Rebekah Weatherspoon saying, I do not write in the genre Black Lady. It’s not a genre!
Alyssa: [Laughs] Yeah!
Sarah: This is not a genre either. Oh, my gosh, I really want to see this, like, right now!
Alyssa: Oh, yes, and it – yeah, Rebekah Weatherspoon also loved this movie. We have squeed about this movie repeatedly together. But, yeah, it’s just a thing of like –
Sarah: How did I miss this? When did this come out?
Sarah: Oh, 2014! I was very firmly in animated movie land. [Laughs] If, if it has actual humans in it, it’s really unlikely that I’ve seen it, ‘cause when we, ‘cause you know, going to see the movies with, like, four total humans is expensive! So when we do it, we’re going with, you know –
Alyssa: Yeah. I don’t think the –
Sarah: Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney.
Alyssa: – I don’t think the kids would be too into this movie?
Sarah: Nah, this is totally all for me.
Alyssa: They would like the dog. [Laughs]
Sarah: All for me. This is my movie. Go to bed, everybody. Actually, you know what, my husband is out tonight, and my kids are going to bed early, and I have a date. With this movie. Yay!
Alyssa: I highly recommend. I am happy to hear that.
Sarah: Thank you!
Alyssa: Because – [laughs] – because I’m, it’s just, for me, it’s just, like, the most blinding that I can think of currently example of, like, when sales people and marketing people who have one idea of who wants to watch something, you know, who to market to, how to market to people –
Alyssa: – like, you know, when – and that’s a problem overall, I think, but I think especially when it comes to things that are culturally diverse and that are just seen as outside the box, you know, and when things are called outside the box, I don’t what that’s saying the box is. The white box, I guess? I don’t know. I’ve seen, you know, outside the box seen to describe things that aren’t seen as saleable, and then it’s like, well, why isn’t it seen as saleable? And then, you know, that gets all vague and no one really wants to talk about that aspect. But I think that, you know, besides wanting to push this movie and people to watch it, I just think it’s a good example of how something that is blatantly one thing can kind of get lost in the fray because it’s, people, marketers get confused just by the fact that there are people of color in it, and then it’s like, wait! Like, the first thing that should have come to mind was romance, but then it was like, no, well, maybe this is a movie about, you know, this sad thing, this sad mother-daughter relationship or something like that.
Sarah: Thank you for – [laughs] – recommending this movie. I have now gone down the rabbit hole, and I’m like, I’m going to watch this.
Sarah: And I’m going to watch this movie, I’m going to watch this one over here, and I’m going to watch this movie too. This is awesome. Thank you! I really appreciate this recommendation, ‘cause I don’t know how I missed this. What the hell? Dude. I am squarely in this demographic.
Sarah: And that is all for this week’s episode. I want to thank Alyssa Cole and all of the birds in Martinique for their guest appearance. If you would like to find some of the books or the movie that we discussed, the show notes at smartbitchestrashybooks.com will have links to all of the things.
If you have ideas or suggestions or you want to ask a question, you can email us at [email protected], or you can leave us a message at our Google voice number, 1-201-371-DBSA. Please leave us your name and where you’re calling from, because some of you are so awesome as to leave nice, cool messages. I want to do a voicemail episode very soon, so please call! Ask questions. Ask nosy questions! Do whatever you want to do! It’s cool!
The music this week was provided by Sassy Outwater. This is Deviations Project, which features producer Dave Williams and violinist Oliver Lewis. This album is Ivory Bow, and this particular track is called “Celtic Frock.”
The podcast this week was sponsored by Renee Ahdieh, author of The Wrath & the Dawn, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, available in print and eBook. Each dawn brings death, but can love change the story? This intoxicating retelling of A Thousand and One Nights will leave you begging for book two, The Rose & the Dagger, coming Summer 2016.
The podcast transcript this month is sponsored by Kensington, publishers of Into the Fury by New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin. The first in a new series, Kat Martin is back with her signature spine-tingling suspense and unforgettable action as she introduces readers to the elite team of private investigators at BOSS INC., who are both hard-hitting and hot stuff. This book is on sale January 29th, 2016.
Future podcasts will include me talking about romances, ‘cause that’s how we roll here. I have interviews planned, but if you have ideas or suggestions, please contact us, because I love to hear from you, and whether or not you’re training for a triathlon or running on the treadmill or walking the dogs or just hanging out, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a great weekend.
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
The podcast transcript this month is sponsored by Kensington, publishers of Into The Fury by New York Times Bestselling author Kat Martin. The first in a new series, Kat Martin is back with her signature spine-tingling suspense and unforgettable action as she introduces readers to the elite team of private investigators at BOSS INC. who are both hard-hitting and hot stuff.
A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a P.I.–the men of Brodie Operations Security Service, Inc. are down for the job. . .
Sinners, whores, and sluts beware–your time is at hand: a faceless menace is threatening lingerie models on a cross country tour, and Ethan Brodie is there to defend and protect.
Ethan’s learned the hard way that beauty is no substitute for character. So even though Valentine Hart is one of the most breathtaking women he’s ever seen, he’s keeping his hands off and his eyes open. Or that’s what he tells himself.
Then one of the models is murdered, and the closer Ethan gets to the answers, the closer he finds himself to Valentine–and the hotter the pressure feels. There’s more to Val–more to the other girls–than he could have guessed. But one is keeping a secret that could kill them all.
On sale January 29th 2016.