Kati D has been eager to interview Lauren Dane for the podcast for a long, long time, and finally we found a time for everyone to connect. Yay! We discuss how Lauren got her start as an author, books that address frightening situations like domestic violence and stalking, and stories that focus on fierce and independent heroines who are part of realistic and vivid groups of women friends. We also talk about alpha witches and alpha wolves, and what books she’s reading lately.
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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:
The app I mentioned also has a website: Coffivity.com, where you can distract your prairie dog brain (if your brain is like mine) with the sounds of a coffee shop.
We are coming up on episode 200, so if you have ideas of how to celebrate, please drop me an email!
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This Episode's Music
Our music is provided by Sassy Outwater. This track, and all the nifty mouth music within it, is called “Finlay’s,” and it’s by Capercaillie, from their album Beautiful Wasteland. You can find it at Amazon, or iTunes, or wherever you buy your fine music.
The podcast this month is sponsored by Loveswept, publishers of Good Girl by bestselling author Lauren Layne. In this steamy novel, country music’s favorite good girl hides away from the world—and finds herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.
Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous. But when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars—and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering—and serious heat.
Noah really should tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home. But the charade gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together—before the outside world catches up to them.
You can find Good Girl by Lauren Layne on sale May 17th wherever ebooks are sold.
❤ Click to view the transcript ❤
Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 192 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. With me today are Kati D and Lauren Dane. Kati has been eager to interview Lauren Dane for the podcast for a long time, and we finally found an opportunity for everyone to connect. We discuss how Lauren got her start as an author, the books that she writes that address frightening situations like domestic violence and stalking, and the stories of hers that focus on fierce and independent heroines who are part of realistic and vivid groups of friends. We also talk about alpha witches and alpha wolves and what books she’s reading lately, too.
This podcast is brought to you by Loveswept, publisher of Good Girl by bestselling author Lauren Layne. In this steamy novel, country music’s favorite good girl hides away from the world and finds herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.
Jenny Dawson moved to Nashville to write music, not get famous, but when her latest record goes double platinum, Jenny’s suddenly one of the town’s biggest stars and the center of a tabloid scandal connecting her with a pop star she’s barely even met. With paparazzi tracking her every move, Jenny flees to a remote mansion in Louisiana to write her next album. The only hiccup is the unexpected presence of a brooding young caretaker named Noah, whose foul mouth and snap judgments lead to constant bickering and serious heat.
You can find Good Girl by Lauren Layne on sale May 17th wherever eBooks are sold.
And we have a sponsor for the podcast transcript this month! [gk: Yay!] The transcript is sponsored by Everything Under the Heavens, book one of the Silk and Song series by Dana Stabenow. Johanna flees her homicidal stepmother in Khanbaliq, the storied city of Kublai Khan, and sets out on the Silk Road with companions Jaufre and Shasha in search of her fabled grandfather, Marco Polo.
This book is now free on Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes, and it is 99 cents on Barnes and Noble as well.
I will have links to both of these books, as well as everything else we talk about during this episode in the podcast entry.
And if you’re a regular listener or reader of the transcripts and you’d like to support the show, please have a look at our Patreon campaign at Patreon.com/SmartBitches. I set up the campaign, which is a little bit like Kickstarter, except that instead of a single project you make monthly ongoing pledges, to contribute to the show. Starting with a dollar a month, you can help me reach goals like commissioning transcripts for the seventy or so episodes that don’t have them, and you can see rewards and options on the Patreon site at Patreon.com/SmartBitches. Thank you to everyone who nudged me to set one up, and thank you to everyone who has pledged. I so appreciate your support, and I’m really looking forward to doing the first round of rewards for people who supported the campaign, because some of them are really, really fun.
And now, without any further delay – no, wait! I forgot something. One more thing: We are coming up on episode 200 of the podcast, and I welcome your suggestions on how we ought to celebrate. Do you want to call in and ask me questions? Do you want to have, try to do a live show on Google hangouts? Do you want me to try to hunt down Fabio and ask him nosy questions? I’m not sure I can do that last one; he’s a little hard to get a hold of. But if you have ideas of what to do to celebrate 200 episodes, I would like to know! Leave a comment on this entry or come find me at [email protected], or leave a comment on the podcast. I am totally open, and I welcome your suggestions because, wow, 200 episodes! That’s a lot of episodes, and if you’ve been listening and you’ve been binging and you’ve been following along, thank you! It is really cool to know how many people listen to the podcast.
And now – I mean it this time – on with the podcast interview!
Kati D: My name’s Kati Brown.
Kati: And I’m a long-time reader and long-time fan of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and, as well as a –
Sarah: Oh, well, that’s nice of you to say! [Laughs]
Kati: – as well as a huge fan Lauren’s, which –
Lauren Dane: Oh!
Kati: – she knows, ‘cause I stalk her on Twitter all the time, and – shh –
Kati: – bug her for books and those sorts of things. So, Lauren, I think probably the first thing to ask is sort of, tell us your story. How did you get involved in, how did you become an author?
Lauren: Well – and this is Lauren Dane – okay, how did I get started? Well, it’s a, it’s, it’s kind of a funny story. I was getting ready, I had a toddler and a preschooler, and I was getting ready to go back to work in legal services, in nonprofit legal services, which was what I was doing. I’d been working with abused and neglected kids at a shelter and helping their moms get through dissolution and protection orders and all that. Anyway, I was getting ready to, you know, go back to work full time, and, you know, the kid was going to go to preschool and all that, and then I ended up pregnant. [Laughs]
Lauren: Okay. Yeah! And so, this pregnancy was a really complicated one, I was on bed rest, I couldn’t, you know, it was all this crazy stuff, so I had a lot of time sitting around, and so I decided to write, you know, like, ‘cause I had time, and my husband brought home this secondhand laptop, ‘cause we had, like, 38 cents that we found in the couch.
Lauren: And I ended up writing the first book that I ever contracted on that one, and then, like, another one or two, like, one and a half before it died, ‘cause again, it was a used laptop, but, yeah, that’s kind of how it started. It started ‘cause I just, you know, had time on my hands in a way that, you know, if you’ve ever been on bed rest or been, from anything, you just sort of know that, you know, it’s sort of, it’s either watch TV or whatever. There’s only so much crafting I can do, so I ended up writing a book, and yeah, that’s how it – [laughs] – that’s how it happened. I didn’t expect it to be successful; I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t really know what to expect, so when that first royalty statement came, and I was like, wow! Wait, people bought it that weren’t just my mom?
Lauren: I’m pretty sure my mom still has that original, like, a, you know, PDF on her computer somewhere? But, yeah, so that’s, that’s how I started, and it was a way for me to do this fun gig and make stuff up and be home when my kids got home from school and all that, so I, I was, I leapt into it.
Sarah: I think that bed rest is such a life-changing thing for a lot of people, because –
Sarah: – it is really rare for a woman to be told, okay, you really can’t do anything. You’re not allowed.
Sarah: Sit there and do nothing! Like, that is 180 degrees the opposite message that women get.
Lauren: It is absolutely, and, and when it’s, it’s, it’s laden with all this other stuff, like, if you don’t, you know, you could, you know, essentially, the baby that you’re carrying, you know, you could lose your pregnancy or whatever and then, you know, so it was kind of hard ‘cause I had these kids running all around, and my spouse, he’s just, he’s so great.
Lauren: So he stepped in and, yeah, and then, you know, my, my little one at the time, my middle, he just would hang out with me in bed and, you know, he would do his thing, and I would read to him and stuff and write next to him, so. That was at the beginning. [Laughs] I don’t let them in the room when I’m writing now.
Kati: So, so how old are your kids now?
Lauren: Eighteen and soon to be fifteen and soon to be twelve. My twelve, soon-to-be-twelve-year-old is the one whose pregnancy sort of ended, you know, made me go this left turn into writerdom.
Kati: Wow, there you go.
Lauren: Yeah! Yeah, I, I’m surprised, you know, and they all sleep and all, they all sleep through the night, and they all go to the bathroom, and they all, you know, just things that you think that will never happen when they’re, when you’re trying to do it. I was like, you’re never going to get potty trained! But, yeah.
Lauren: Luckily, luckily, they eat more than goldfish, they sleep through the night, and they pee where they’re supposed to, so, you know. I think it worked out. [Laughs]
Kati: It’s sort of magical how that happens, right? Just when you think it’s never going to happen.
Lauren: It totally feels like, when it’s happening to you, it just, it just feels like, oh, my gosh, they’re never going to sleep for longer than three hours. I’m never going to have REM sleep again. And – [laughs] – never going to sleep in. You know, these things that you think, but anyway.
Sarah: And it totally re-, reinvents your concept of what wealth is? Like, I remember hearing, at one of the high holiday services, I think it was for Rosh Hashanah, one of the people of my old congregation was invited to speak, and what she said stuck with me, because her kid was always asking, well, are we rich? Are we wealthy? I mean, are we, like – and she’s like, well, we have everything we need, so yes, yes, we are. And he’s like, okay, but what, like, how wealthy are we? ‘Cause he was being inundated with all of these images of what being rich is, ‘cause as you grow up you see that everywhere, and her, her talk ended with, as long as no appliances or people are leaking in the night, you are wealthy.
Kati: True story.
Sarah: So true!
Lauren: Oh, my God, that, that needs to be on a cross-stitch, actually.
Kati: Oh, my goodness, that’s so true. I have a, a twelve-week-old puppy, so I’m, like, back to babyhood again with the whole –
Sarah: It’s like having a toddler!
Kati: It’s –
Kati: And it –
Lauren: But he’s so cute!
Kati: Oh, she’s adorable, but – and God made her that way so I didn’t kill her –
Kati: – but she, she is just, you know, it’s still 4 a.m., up, I’m standing outside in my bathrobe in the backyard going, whispering, go potty! Go potty! You know, it’s –
Kati: – ridiculous. Like, it’s –
Sarah: Could you just pee, for the love of God?
Lauren: Just go!
Sarah: I think I’m going to need puppy pictures. I’m definitely going to need puppy pictures for this –
Kati: Oh –
Sarah: – podcast entry.
Kati: – there you go.
Kati: Well, I will, I will send you some, ‘cause she’s stinking cute, but oof!
Kati: She, like, I just literally had to say to the kids, look, I’m going upstairs to my bedroom. I’m closing the door. Someone must stay with the puppy all the time while I’m upstairs. They’re both like, okay, fine. Go.
Lauren: And they just left it outside your door because somebody forgot. I just went to get a soda! I’m trying –
Kati: Yeah, exactly. I, I can hear ‘em out in the backyard right now, though, so she’s, hopefully they’re tiring her out, which is –
Kati: – you know. Yes. Okay, so second question: So, Lauren, your past prior to being an author has really informed the way that you write and the stories that you write. Can you talk a little bit about, you know, you, particularly with your Brown siblings series. You really featured some of the things that you encountered on a day-to-day basis in your, you know, previous professional life before you became an author. Can you talk a little bit about that, because not everybody writes issue books like you do, which is something that I’ve always really appreciated about you.
Lauren: Oh, do you mean, like, like, domestic violence and stalking –
Lauren: – like that?
Lauren: You know, I, I just, I grew up, I was sort of raised with this belief that family is, is integral to who you are as a person, is, you know, like, you’re, it’s, it’s, like, the foundation of your life, and then everything kind of spokes out past that, and so my dad, my dad was a parole officer when I was growing up. First he was a probation officer; then he was a parole officer. You know, my parents volunteered all the time, and – and we had leaky appliances, by the way.
Lauren: But, so, so, when I started doing, when I started, you know, working at these shelters and, and dealing with these families and dealing with these women, I, I just always, I always thought of them as so much more, as so much stronger and more interesting than, than who the media or whatever made them out to be. You know, they’re, like, issue people instead of real people who have issues? So I, I don’t know, it just sort of came natural to me when I – I really do believe that everyone deserves a happily ever after. All kinds of people with all kinds of stories and backgrounds, and so when I was writing, those were stories that were, that meant something to me. Those were struggles that meant something to me that I could, that I really could find myself writing and not rolling my eyes, because I think sometimes, you know, when you’re trying to think about what sort of things, what sort of conflict there’ll be in your book between the hero and the heroine, it’s easy to get caught up in stuff that doesn’t seem, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to a per- – I, I would just talk these things out, so for me, like, what are things that, that would drive you as a person. What are things that would make you not speak when you should, or what are things that would create these triggers in you, that would create this conflict? And for me, these were things that were realistic and that, that people overcame because they had a great deal of personal strength and courage and integrity and, and so they were just, you know, they were – and I didn’t see them being written about, so that’s, that’s kind of what drove me. I just sort of saw these things, and they felt important to me and interesting to me, and they were, you know, they were something I could write about and I knew about. Who were these women I wanted to hear about, and why did they matter? And, you know, that’s, that’s how they came to me.
Kati: So let’s talk a little bit about your heroines, ‘cause you know, because you’ve read reviews that I’ve written before about your books, one of my favorite things about Lauren is that Lauren has never in her life written a doormat heroine. Her heroines kick ass, stand up for themselves, call the hero on all of his nonsense, and generally save themselves, which I really appreciate because so often in romance we read that, you know, the hero sort of swoops in, and he saves the day, and yay, thank God for him, and, and one of the things that I really love about your heroines is that, you know, the hero’s there providing a support structure or maybe an emotional support that she was lacking prior to him, but generally speaking, your heroines save themselves. So can you talk a little bit about writing strong heroines and how you sort of approach that and, and where you think their place is in the, in the market right now?
Lauren: To me, one thing about Romancelandia that always just makes, gives my eye twitch is this, this feeling that, that women need to be saved or that, you know, like, the, the double standards that heroines get versus, like, what a hero does. Like, she can never be in love with anybody else. She can never be sexually attracted to anybody else. She can, like, she has to wait to be saved, or she is, you know, all of those things, and even, if she doesn’t wait to be saved, then that’s always seen as a reflection on the hero. Like, why didn’t he do this? Why didn’t he do that? And so, for me, I’m kind of like, look! We’re the heroes of our own story, and, and I, I happen to think women are pretty amazing, and I have a daughter, and I think she’s amazing, and I want her to see on the page, you know, smart women who can handle their own business and who are fortunate enough to have partners who respect their agency and respect the fact that they’re strong enough to find their own solutions but who also want to be there to share the load? So, and, and it’s easy for me to write those mouthy heroines, ‘cause that’s, maybe, maybe, write, like, what you are or who you are?
Lauren: It’s always harder for me to write the softer heroines who sort of have to have these things drawn out from them, just because I just kind of, like, I like people who can stand up, and despite whatever their, their baggage is or whatever’s weighing them down, I like writing a woman who can find her way out of, of a labyrinth, and, you know, I kind of think of it as, like, like, summer camp? Like, you know how you, you get challenged by something and you think you can never do that, and they make you climb a rock or do, you know, like, whatever it is you have to do at summer camp, and you do, and you go, oh, wow! I never thought I could do that! And there’s this sense of, it’s accomplishment, but there’s something deeper than that when you figure out that you could do something you, you never thought you could? And so when I’m writing a heroine, I, like, think of it in those terms. Like, I want her journey to be something like something happens to her and she realizes, you know what? I can do this. It’s hard, and it’s scary, and I’m going to mess up along the way, but I have the ability to be my own white knight, to be my own savior. And so I like, that’s just how I ended up writing them, and that’s what I like to do. And because, like I said, the double standard about heroines just makes me so – it drives me nuts.
Kati: Right, so what’s interesting, what, what I think is interesting about what you just said is that your books are more the story of the heroine than the hero, right? So often in romance, doesn’t it feel like we read these books and it’s, you know, the heroine is supposed to be, what, a placeholder for the reader –
Kati: – but the hero is sort of the center around which the story revolves, and in, in your books that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Lauren: You know, I happen to, I am fortunate in that I was raised by a really amazing man who was a partner to his, to his spouse, and I am married to somebody who’s, you know, really a great dad, he’s a great partner, whatever, you know, and stands at my side rather than, you know, steps in front of me to handle business, except, you know, sometimes when I don’t want to. Like, I hate to pump my own gas. [Laughs] He does that for me, but I, I do –
Sarah: [Laughs] I just moved from a state where I never had to pump my own gas to a state where I have to, and I’ve really forgotten how, so if you could loan me your husband, I would really appreciate it.
Lauren: Oh, my gosh, he would pump your gas. He’s a wonderful person that way, but, yeah, I, I, every time we go into, to Oregon – ‘cause they, you can’t pump your own gas in Oregon – it’s always this weird, like, you get out of the car to do it, and they rush out there, and you’re like, oh, oh, yeah. Okay, that’s right. [Laughs] But as the heroine, the heroine books, yeah, I feel, yes, I do feel like we, we, the, the hero, he can mess up. He can be a jerk; he can say hurtful things; he can do hurtful things. He gets to have a past. He gets to have all of these things that we never allow the heroine to do, and I just, to me, that strikes me as kind of a self-loathing thing in our genre? Like, we’re all women writing these books about women, and sometimes I feel like, wait, why are we doing, why are we creating all these damsels? Like, I think we can, you know, I mean, that’s – to, to be, to be totally fair, there are a hell of a lot of really amazing writers out there right now, writing kickass heroines –
Lauren: – you know, who, who just write so amazing and, and, you know, really great characters with agency and all that, but for me it was, it came out of, yeah, I, I like writing heroine-centric books, and, and I have to tell you, it gives me a special kind of thrill when somebody tells me they like a book, that they like my heroine. You know, like, I like it when they like my heroes, but when somebody says they like your heroine, it’s a whole ‘nother level as, as far as, you know, romance readers, ‘cause they’re very hard on the heroines.
Kati: That is true. [Laughs] That is true. It’s amazing how, how a heroine who, who is disappointing to a reader can really flavor their approach to – for, I mean, for me, if you don’t write a good heroine, a strong heroine who I believe in, it’s unlikely I’m buying another book by you, because I don’t trust you to, to write a, you know, someone who I admire or enjoy. I think that particularly, there are a number of authors who I think are very good at that. I think, of course, Lauren, but I also think Julie James is really good at that –
Kati: – and I think Jaci Burton writes really –
Kati: – very smart, strong heroines who –
Lauren: HelenKay Dimon also –
Sarah: We are raised and taught, I think, to be harder on one another?
Sarah: And so we are, we are taught constantly, and very, very deeply, that we should reserve judgment for women almost all the time, and so when you write a heroine who is very vivid and very much in a specific position – she’s not neutral, she’s malleable –
Sarah: I think Lisa Kleypas once described the heroine as, the heroine that no one has problems with is like the porridge in the, the three bears: not too hot, not too cold, not too much, not too little, just right –
Lauren: I, I –
Sarah: – then that heroine is accepted.
Lauren: I think that’s really true, and, and as an author, you have to find that place where you can just not, not listen to a certain brand of criticism that will get you – to me, it always makes me second-guess, and I just feel like there’re things that you should second-guess, like, am I executing this right, and my pacing, whatever –
Sarah: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Lauren: – but there are other things that, like, I’m never going to, to me, where I am at this point, I don’t second-guess the fact that my heroine is her own savior, is her own hero and that she absolutely will do it in concert with, with her partner, but I want, I, I want the spotlight to be on the heroine. I want, you know, I want every book to be the heroine’s book. Sometimes it’s not; sometimes it’s the couple’s book, the couple is the main thing, or the hero might be it, but I really, I really do, I, I do, I like that focus on the heroine. And –
Sarah: Yeah, me too.
Lauren: – and I kind of also feel like if a lot of people don’t like the heroine, I listen, and I see why, and sometimes it’s a real thing. Sometimes I feel like, oh, you know what? I should have made this or that clear. And other times I think, okay, I did that just right. I mean, I, that, this pissed off enough people that I’m, I hit a nerve, and so that’s kind of, that’s a good thing. That’s the point I was trying to make, or, you know, I guess I just kind of missed. [Laughs] You know, I get, so I do get, I do get hate mail sometimes about it, but, you know, I feel like, yeah, if you can make somebody cry or really, really mad, then you’ve probably done your job.
Sarah: Especially because your heroines own their sexual agency.
Lauren: That’s another thing I think is really important. You know, I, I’ve, I’ve written a few virgins, and, and I, I still want those characters to be, you know, in charge of what they like and what they don’t like, so, yeah. I, I think there’s a whole lot of waiting around for somebody to tell you what you like in romance, sometimes in romance novels? Like, no. Go. You like it, or you don’t. So, I, I’m a big, I’m a big believer in sexual agency for all my characters.
Sarah: Good! [Laughs]
Lauren: I don’t, I don’t, I don’t like any, I don’t like, there can be all kinds of shades of subtle, but I don’t ever want, like, consent to be subtle. I don’t want, I don’t want any reader to be like, wait, did she – did he make her come or not? I want, you know, yes, he does, every time.
Lauren: You know? [Laughs]
Sarah: Lauren Dane –
Sarah: – never misses an orgasm.
Lauren: There’s something really, there’s something really, I think, empowering about that, and, and there’s something empowering about a character who’ll be like, wait, where are you going? We’re not done. You know, we need to – [laughs] – you know, like, my, wait, no, no, you get to come, but so do I. I think there’s something really powerful in that. So, you know, I want, I, I want that. I want these characters to be in charge of their own pleasure.
Kati: Well, and if for no other reason than it, it tacitly tells the, the reader, hey, it’s okay to be like, uh, that was great, but what about me?
Kati: Like –
Kati: – you know, even if, even if you’re, you’re just portraying that with your heroines, it, it tells, it tells people, hey, it’s okay to be like, can you hook a sister up before you –
Lauren: [Laughs] Yes!
Kati: You know? I mean, I think that there’s, there’s definitely something to that, which is a great lesson. So, the other thing, Sarah, you may or may not know about Lauren is that Lauren, on top of writing kickass heroines, wrote one of my very favorite heroes ever. So can we talk about Brody Brown for just a moment, Lauren?
Lauren: Oh! [Laughs]
Sarah: Oh, you can take as long as you need. You can take hours. It’s totally fine.
Kati: So, Brody, right, is my, is literally in my top five favorite heroes of all time –
Lauren: Thank you!
Kati: – and – well, you’re welcome, but the reason is because Brody epitomizes the caretaking alpha, right? I mean, he is, I love him because he’s busy taking care of everybody else, and then he’s taking care of his woman and her child, but he does it in a way that never kind of supersedes his woman’s power –
Kati: – and, and, so the, the Brown siblings is probably one of my favorite series ever that you’ve written, Lauren, and I, I wonder if you can talk a little bit, because those books really do have issues, right? Every single one of those characters has for-real life issues –
Kati: – that, that they’re overcoming or dealing with or, you know, finding a way to live with or be at peace with, and so I wonder if you can talk a little bit about the series, how it came to you, that sort of thing.
Lauren: Well, you know, for me, Erin is the seed of that whole series. I, I had a vision of the scene, in the opening scene where she’s on stage?
Kate: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Lauren: That, in, in Laid Open, or Laid Bare, rather, I had, that, that came to me before anything else, and it came to me, I don’t know, like, two years before I wrote it. I just had this vision of this female rock star, this bass player, you know, with all this stuff, and so she was the seed, but then I thought, well, who, who could create this person? Like, who’s going to be this person’s life? ‘Cause I’m a big believer in the cast of characters around your main character are really going to inform as to who, who that protagonist is, right? You never, to me, you never know a character better than when you see it through a, you know, somebody who’s really close to them? When you see it through their eyes. So I thought, well, who, who did this, who did Erin come from? How did this happen? And then I thought about, okay, well, here was one brother, which was Adrian, but then I thought, you need something more than that, and I started writing, and Brody just came to me, and I thought, well, no, they don’t, you know, they don’t have parents, so how’s this going to work out? And then, you know, and then Brody came along, and as I was writing Laid Bare, I started, you know – he’s, he’s a lot like, my husband, Brody is.
Kati: Wow, lucky you! [Laughs]
Lauren: I am! You know, I, I have to say that a lot of these, you know, like, Levi and Jonah and some of these characters, a lot of them have characteristics of my husband and, in that they’re super sort of alpha, RRR! But they’re also, like, stay in their own lane?
Lauren: You know, like, so, so, you know, I wanted, I wanted her to have plenty of men in her life who cared about her and who gave, you know, and who sort of created this foundation in her life, but also that, you know, that you could understand why she would be this person who would walk away from Todd, you know, and say, like, I’m not going to be anyone’s dirty little secret, and so then I figured, okay, well, how does she come back from this, and what happened to her to switch her from this, you know, character who was really bold in the first part of the book to somebody who’s not as much later, and then the, the thing about her child came out, and, and originally I wasn’t going to write, I wasn’t going to write anything about her child, because several people were like, you can’t write about children who die in romance! Everyone will hate you for it! But then I thought, well, I didn’t, I wanted it to be something else. You know, these things mark you as a person, and how did these things that mark you as a person really deeply change that? And so for some reason, over the course of that series, it was just a whole lot of people who had these deep scars and wounds just sort of came together. But you know, people thought, people were, you know, when I wrote that, then everyone said, oh, all she does is write heroines with big issues! [Laughs] And so, so, but it just, it just sort of came out that way. You know, when you think, why would somebody be all the way across the country? Oh, well, so she’s escaped, but what has she escaped from? And then I started thinking about what are the things that affect people? I mean, a lot of times, these things come up and, and either I see something or I know somebody’s going through a problem, and when I was writing, when I was writing some of this stuff about addiction with Elise’s brother, there was somebody in our life who was dealing with their son who was a heroin addict, and so all of this emotion that was coming into my life because of our friend who was dealing with this problem with her son was something that I thought, oh, you know, this is, this is a real thing. What do you, how do you feel as a parent when this is happening to your kid? How do you feel as a, as a friend or as a, you know, as a sibling to somebody who’s having this, and how do you protect yourself, and so I guess, there’re just these, I don’t want to make it seem like I take other people’s misery and farm it for my books, but I – [laughs] – I guess I kind of do?
Kati: Well, don’t, don’t most authors sort of, in some way or another, I mean, I, I know several authors who, I, I guess, you know, your life and the people around you have to inform what you write somewhat, I guess.
Sarah: Right –
Lauren: Oh, yeah.
Sarah: – and as an author you’re being empathetic, and you are, you’re –
Sarah: – you’re translating emotion. It’s not like you’re, you know –
Sarah: – tell me more about how awful you felt, like you’re a daytime television host.
Lauren: Right, and I’m, you know, which just, it was just like, oh, my gosh, you know, how do you – and, and then, you know, we have a friend who went through major, major problems with addiction for several years, to the point that, you know, you couldn’t, you know – he estranged everyone and burned all kinds of bridges and stuff, so you just, you call that back when you’re writing, and so the, the stuff about social work and the in-, inside out, that was something that I had, you know, of course I dealt with a lot of social workers when I, when I did public interest work, public interest legal work. I dealt with social workers when I worked at the state in the attorney general’s office. I worked with, obviously, CPS people and social workers, and all of that stuff sort of comes in, so I was able to apply these things about the law that I knew, you know, and that’s how you flesh it out, but, I mean, I guess it’s write what you know. [Laughs] And, you know, and again, I, I, they were, they were conflicts that felt believable to me without being fantastical? Sometimes things feel too fantastical, and I can’t, I can’t make it execute right, so, for whatever reason it just, you know, and because the stories were gritty, and the characters were kind of gritty, and the setting was a little gritty, it just, it just seemed to work out that way, that they all just had –
Lauren: – all those problems, but I just, I feel like, you know, addiction is something that a lot of people have to deal with, whether it’s, you know, immediate family or friends or, or, you know, externally, and, and stalking and domestic violence, these are, these are things that happen to women all the time, and, and you don’t, and you don’t see it where they’re recovered, and they’re survivors. They still have triggers, but, but they’re survivors, and how does that work after that? How does that change your life? So I want, I wanted to write about these issues without making the people who have experienced them have been so weakened by them that they’re, you know, that, that you don’t care about their stories. I wanted to tell stories about people who overcame something, and it, it just, it just felt interesting to me to do it that way.
Kati: So the, the other sort of side of the, of, you know, what you write is, you write a ton of really dandy paranormal and urban fantasy sort of romance, and you’re currently in the midst of publishing a new series, correct?
Lauren: I am!
Kati: Yeah. So can you talk a little about that?
Lauren: It’s called Diablo Lake, and the first book is Moonstruck, and the second is Protected, and it’s, it started out, the idea started out to be, like, a lot more funny than it’s, than it, than it executed. It executed darker – [laughs] – than that, but it’s a, it’s a small town in the Smokies in Tennessee, and it’s, they’re, it’s kind of kept secret by some sort of magics that the witches that live there have created to sort of keep their secret safe. So it’s got some shifters and some witches and a bunch of small, small-town stuff. It’s – I don’t want to say it’s like the Chase Brothers, ‘cause I don’t, it’s not exactly the same, but it’s, it’s got that feeling, small town. There’re, you know, businesses on Main Street. You’ve got yourself some hot blue-collar werewolves, they’re the Dooleys, and then you have the, the werewolves who are the white-collar, who run the town, those are the Pembreys. So we’ve got some Dooleys and Pembreys and some, some female witches who have – [laughs] – come into the scene and, and, so you’re dealing with an alpha witch and an alpha wolf in the first one, and the second one, you’re dealing also with an alpha witch and an alpha wolf, but, you know, it’s much more, mm, small-town dealing with sort of the general issues that you have in a small town: everyone knowing your business and stuff. So it’s dark in that there’re some politics, you know, which is always, which is one of the reasons I love to write paranormals and futuristics and urban fantasy, is you can tackle sort of political issues in a way that, that is accessible, and nobody feels, no-, nobody feels attacked when they read them if it’s a werewolf saying it versus if I was doing it in a contemporary romance? So I get to write all kinds of funky issues and, and all kinds of hot werewolf sex and, so, yeah. So it’s a small-town, paranormal romance, and it’s a little bit of my Chase Brothers, a little bit of my Cascadia Wolves, but with a whole new spin on what witches are, and, and what, what these shifters are, and sort of magic coming from the land and stuff, so it’s, it’s been a really fun writing experience. Angela James is my editor, and so she’s just really great about, you know, the covers are great, and all the packaging is wonderful, so. So those are the first two books, and they are in June, and I think they shifted the second one to August.
Lauren: And I’m hoping to write more because I love them, and I love the world, so we’ll see. I’m hoping paranormal romance is on the way back.
Kati: Well, it never left my Kindle, that’s for sure, so I’m, I’m always delighted when somebody publishes good paranormal, ‘cause there’s a lot that’s sort of marginal, we’ll call it.
Lauren: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sarah: I think, I think paranormal is due for another sort of surge in popularity? Especially because what you’re doing is combining paranormal worldbuilding with contemporary worldbuilding, because I think part of the, the, the appetite for small-town contemporary was worldbuilding. It was creating –
Sarah: – these communities that you could sort of –
Sarah: – mentally move into and hang out with for multiple books –
Sarah: – in a row, and that’s why those series that were set in small towns kept going and going, because it was like watching your favorite show and knowing everyone in Stars Hollow and –
Sarah: – only in book form, so what you’re doing is you’re creating a world that’s a small-town world and then adding contemporary and paranormal worldbuilding at the same time.
Lauren: Right. Right.
Sarah: Worldbuilding was always important to paranormal, and I don’t think we really talked about it in terms of other genres until small-town contemporary became such a big thing. With you combining something that has a long-time history in romance with paranormal being as popular as it was for as long as it was –
Sarah: – I think that both are, are an excellent combination, and I really think that a lot of readers are super curious about what new paranormal books –
Sarah: – are coming out, and I totally did a podcast with the two women, Leah and Bea Koch, who run The Ripped Bodice in L.A.?
Lauren: Ah, yes.
Sarah: And we had a whole discussion about how much we miss witches. Like, we miss –
Sarah: – covens of witches, we miss female friendship, we miss female friendship with magic, we miss witches! So you said witches, and I sort, I’m, I have on mute because I take notes while you’re talking so I remember, like, what books to put in the entry and everything? I’m like, oh, my God! Witches! Witches! Witches! [Laughs] This is so great!
Lauren: Yes, they, and they’re badass witches, and they’re, you know, there’s a – and they don’t have a coven, they have a consort, and because that, there’s a, an elderly woman, Ms. Rose, who is the, she’s the leader of their consort, and she, you know, she likes to keep things classy – [laughs] – and she likes to keep people in line, and, and I love that, and I love – maybe it’s because of my own, like, you know, like, growing up, I had a family in small-town South. I set, I had a family in small-town south-, or Central Valley in California, too, so I love small towns for what they are, and so it’s always fun for me to write that. But I love to write witches, and when they went out of style for a while I was kind of bummed, ‘cause nobody wanted to see them, so I’m happy to have them, I’m happy that, that Carina has given me a place to put my witches, ‘cause I –
Kati: Mm, me too!
Lauren: – ‘cause I love to write them. And I haven’t written a vampire – well, but I do write vampires in, in my urban fantasy, but, yeah, I think it’s going to be a while before vampires come back to –
Lauren: – to more PNR.
Sarah: I agree with you. I also love that you write really strong female friendship that’s a genuine friendship, that isn’t, you know, all other females are there to highlight the heroine for that book, and then in the next book, all the other females take on that highlighting role. In your books there’s a real messy, emotional, genuine friendship between the female characters, so, I mean, it’s not that much of a stretch for you to be writing a coven of witches, because that’s a very interconnected –
Sarah: – sort of society, but even in straight contemporaries and ménage contemporaries, you have friends who are women who are real, genuine, I will take no shit from you, but I will defend you –
Sarah: – if someone tries to give you shit friendships, which are valuable. I think, especially since I’ve read Shelly Laurenston’s Call of Crows series back to back last week – those books are so good!
Kati: They are so good!
Sarah: Oh, they’re so good!
Lauren: I love –
Sarah: I love them.
Lauren: And her –
Sarah: What I’ve noticed is that –
Lauren: – are the best!
Sarah: Oh, they’re so freaking good! Like, I just, I, I want to go read them now, reread them, and I don’t have time for that, but I want to anyway! After reading them and then thinking about the Crows and how they interact with each other, I think that women are conditioned to tolerate a certain amount of toxicity in their friendships, and I’m like –
Sarah: – wait, no, no. I do not tolerate that anymore.
Lauren: Exactly! Well, you know, I personally really, really believe in the power of, of female community, and I have never – when I remember being younger, and I had a friend who kept saying, oh, I don’t really have that many friends who are women; most of friends are boys, and I’m speaking up, you now what? Boys are fun and everything, but I, there is nothing in life that can fulfill you like a really good female friendship. I think that, like, intentional sisterhood is a really important thing, and I think as women we are constantly inundated with – especially the older you get. Like, where I am right now, it’s like, oh, my God, don’t move without, you know, you might leak pee. Oh, your hands are going to look old. Oh, you have this! Oh –
Lauren: Oh, you’re this, oh, you’re that! You’re too fat! You’re too thin! Get your boobs done! Get your – no, here’s the thing where you can freeze! And I just, there’s so much that’s constantly, like, pecking at women, and I think it’s like, you know, for younger women, it’s like, well, are you married? Are you going to get married? Do you have any kids? What is this? What is that? And I think that really strong female friendships, really strong female community, it’s, it’s like our defense. It’s, it’s our keep against all of the societal bullshit that sort of constantly inundates us, that makes us question whether we deserve all these things that we know we do. And so, for me, I, personally, when I’m writing, I honestly truly feel like there is no better way to know that character than what her friends or her family think about her, and, and how they respond to her, and how they connect with her, and how she connects with them. Who is this person? You know who a person is by how they respond to a friend in trouble, and so, so, yeah, I, I just feel like it says so much about a character when she has deep friendships with people who, who will call her out on her bullshit but who will also, yes, absolutely always have her back.
Lauren: And, and it’s a joy to me to write and, and I love it, and it makes me, it’s, it’s one of the things that makes me happiest when, when it gets called out in reviews, so I, I love to write female friendship, and I just, there’s always this, in, in a lot of fiction, there’s always this thing about women, and they should be jealous of one another, and they should, they’re always constantly trying to steal one another’s men and –
Lauren: – you know, that stuff, that stuff might happen, and it does happen, I’m sure, but I don’t necessarily want it happening in my books. I mean, I feel like if I can write a fucking werewolf, then I can write – oops, I said a bad word – that I can write –
Sarah: We, we do not have any FCC oversight. You can say whatever you like.
Sarah: It’s only the title of the podcast that can’t have the word bitches in it. The content, you can say whatever the fuck you want.
Lauren: All right. So I feel like if I can write a werewolf and people won’t bat an eye, then I can write a really mature and layered female friendship. I just, I, I feel like it’s a really important thing, and I, and I feel like when you look back through all the historical stuff, when you look back through time, it’s, it’s women and their best friends who have the most interesting stories to tell, who, who do the most interesting things. If you, if you think about suffragettes as, like, a group of friends, think about the diff- –
Lauren: You know what I’m saying? So I think when you think about it in those terms, you just, you really come out with a bunch of women putting them-, putting themselves together in the same room to, to do something. It’s, it’s a powerful thing, and so I love to write about it, and it, and it, it absolutely fuels my own life, and I’m, and it’s something that I, I am always pleased to write about. And you’ll be happy to know there’s a really wonderful, funny friendship between Katie Faith, who is the heroine in the next, in my PNR, Moonstruck, with her best friend Aimee, who is in the second book, Protected, so they’re, they, they make, there’s a lot of bless your heart, and there’s a lot of making fun and stuff, but –
Lauren: – it’s a real, genuine friendship that, that, that, seriously, it was, Angie was like, maybe have some of these conversations with the hero instead of with – [laughs] – I was like, but wait, they’re so much more fun when she has them with her best friend.
Lauren: So, yeah, so that’s, so that’s what I like. I, I think women are amazing and, and my friends have been amazing to me, and it helped me out of a lot of really scary situations, and so I am absolutely pleased to be able to write about it.
Sarah: I love that. I also think that, you know, when you have a character that’s sort of a virgin in all things, like, she’s never, she’s been kept protected or secluded for whatever reason, and this happens a lot in paranormals, where either they enter a world that is not theirs, and so they know nothing about it, and in that way they’re the audience surrogate, or they’ve been protected in some way, and then they’re unleashed on the world, and they don’t know what to do with it.
Sarah: There’s always that sort of, okay, how do I do this friends thing? How do I have close friends? How do I make friends? What do I do with them once I have them?
Sarah: And then you have women who roll in with a strong group of friends who are protective, and yet give you shit. Those are both such powerful messages, I think, for women who read romance.
Lauren: I absolutely agree. Yes, definitely. Because there’s, because who can’t, who can’t identify with that moment where you come into, you come into a room or a party, and everyone else knows everyone there, but you’re new.
Lauren: Or maybe you’re all new, and you’re trying to, you know, like, you’re, you’re looking for a handhold, you know, a place to sort of rest for a second while you get your bearings, but it’s also, it’s, it can be really, you know, it can be scary, it can be, you know, intimidating or whatever, so I, yeah, I think there’s a, there’s a wonderful amount of, of emotion there.
Sarah: And it’s hard to make friends as an adult.
Lauren: It totally is hard to make friends as an adult, because you –
Sarah: Yes. [Laughs]
Lauren: – because, I mean, a lot of times, you’re like, okay, well is this, am I, am I in everybody’s face too much?
Lauren: You know, ‘cause when I decide I want to make friends with somebody, I just kind of relentlessly be their friend?
Kati: Until they roll over and are like, fine!
Lauren: Until they just – yeah.
Kati: That, that’s what we call, my puppy’s busy doing that with my lab right now, and we call it the charm offensive –
Kati: – ‘cause she’s just endlessly in his face, and he’s, everyone once in a while it’s like, fine, I will play with you.
Kati: It’s the same sort of concept, right, the whole, like, hi, we’re going to be friends because I like you and I think you’re awesome, and you should think I’m awesome too!
Lauren: Exactly. Yeah!
Lauren: And I like, and I think that that’s a, it’s just one of those moment where you get when, when you’re reading a book like that or you’re reading something, and you see that on the page, and you remember those feelings? That’s a real intense connection between reader and material –
Sarah: Oh, yes.
Lauren: – and, you know, as it, when you’re writing that, you know, no, you know, that’s a really important thing to get, and so if you want to invest the reader in something, so you want to make it something that they can identify with. You want them to feel like, oh, yeah, I’ve been there. You know, so my heroine has to come back to town three years after she got left at the altar. And it’s a small town.
Sarah: Piece of cake!
Lauren: So everyone, so everyone knows her business, so –
Sarah: And everyone filled in her story while she was gone.
Lauren: Well, her mom and her best friend’s mom, they kind of, they’re, like, the gossip mavens of town, so, and everyone’s a little afraid of ‘em, so they, they were able to control most of it, so, you know, she comes back, and, and most of it’s been dealt with, but, you know, she, she gets herself, she gets a cute boy in the end, so that works out.
Lauren: You know. [Laughs] Got, got to make the end worth something, so, yeah. So, yeah, it, I love to write female friendships. It’s a really important thing for me personally, and I love to write them.
Kati: So, Lauren, talk a little about what, like, which other authors, other than you, who are you reading and really enjoying right now, or, or what have you read recently that’s really kind of knocked your socks off?
Lauren: I asked, I don’t know, a couple, like, a month ago, I asked for recommendations for horrors to writers of color, and somebody suggested – and I hope I get, I hope I pronounce this right – Tananarive Due?
Lauren: And, so I started reading My Soul to Keep, which is, like, this – I, I like horror novels that, I don’t want it to be super bloody, gory, and in my face every second. I don’t like that. I like horror stories that have a lot of people in them that are going through stuff. So it, it’s amazing, and I really, really liked it. It’s called My Soul to Keep, and it’s got some, some sort of old-school mythology in it, and it’s got, and some interesting flashback technique in time before. It’s, it’s, it’s really, really good. But I also finished reading the latest Jane Yellowrock, which I love all of her – and of course now I can’t think – Fire – no, that’s Patty, Patty Briggs. I read Fire Touched, which I loved. I’m a huge, huge Patricia Briggs fan. Mercy and Adam are my favorite, although I do like Charles and Anna. And what else did I read? Yeah, so the newest Jane Feather, er, the newest Jane Yellowrock, rather –
Sarah: Shadow Rites?
Lauren: Yes, Faith, Faith Hunter is the author, so I, and I loved that. I don’t have my Kindle with me, so I’m going to go by –
Sarah: That’s all right; I have the internet. You’re good.
Lauren: Oh, okay. So, yeah, so I loved that, and what else did I read? I read – oh, yeah, I have to look at it now, ‘cause I just, I, I try to read, I try to read stuff that I don’t, that I’m not writing, so I got in a big horror, I was on a big horror kick, so I read some Christopher Golden, who I really, really love, and I’m, I’m waiting for the next Justin Cronin, the last book in the Passage series. That one’s coming out –
Kati: Yesss. My husband is slogging through those right now. He’s, he’s read them, but he’s like, I’ve got to get, I want to, like, jump back into the world again, and then he, just prior to that, read all of The Dark Tower again, Dark Tower?
Lauren: Yeah, I was going to say that’s, that’s quite a, that’s some, that’s meaty. He’s really getting into it.
Kati: Oh, yeah, he, well, I mean, he has a tattoo on his leg that is from The Dark Tower, so he’s –
Lauren: Aw, really?
Kati: Oh, yeah.
Lauren: Yeah, I think I –
Kati: It’s the mark of the White and some line from this –
Lauren: – need to meet this person at some point, ‘cause that’s pretty cool.
Kati: Yeah, well, he’s awesome, I’m not going to lie to you, but – [laughs]
Kati: – but yeah, so, the Justin Cronin, I’ve been, I’ve been looking at the top of my husband’s head for, like, the last two weeks, three weeks while he’s been – every time I’m like, what are you reading, babe? Still reading Cronin. Okay.
Kati: It’s bad for him right now, ‘cause I’m in a huge slump, so I’m like, endlessly, like, what are you reading? What’s going on with you?
Lauren: Do you, do you like m/m historical? Because K. J. Charles has this series out that I have absolutely loved every single book. It was like, A Gentleman’s Affair, and then it was A Seditious – or A Gentleman’s Something, and then A Seditious Affair was the second one, and I just finished the third one. It’s K. J. Charles. I love them! There’s, like, there’s, like, politics, there’s history, there’s all kinds of great stuff, and, you know, the, the, the different, the happily ever after comes not, not so easy, right, for men at this time in history, and, so, I love them, so if you, if you like m/m romance, those are ones I would highly recommend.
Kati: Hmmm, that’s good to know. I’m making a little note.
Sarah: I love how when someone says, I’m in a reading slump, everyone just sort of like, all right, we’re going to fix this. We’re going to fix this right now!
Lauren: So awesome.
Kati: My slump has been epic this time. I’m, I’m going on month four of, like –
Kati: – I’m – now, I will say this: I’m beta reading stuff that I love –
Kati: – but, you know, it’s not the same, ‘cause I can’t be like, like, I just finished one that she sent me half the book, and we got to the half-way point, and I was like, are you fricking kidding me? There’s no more?
Kati: I wrote her back; I’m like, listen, sister, I don’t know, I know you’ve got kids to raise, but you need to, like, sit your butt in a chair and write the rest of this book so I can read it, ‘cause –
Lauren: Being in a reading slump is the worst, ‘cause then I just, then I just end up rereading everything. I just went on a reread binge not too long ago where I read, I reread, I don’t know, like, the first seventeen In Death books. You know, so, I was like, okay, I, I’ve got to, I’ve got to clear my palate. Like, I cleanse it and move on to something else, so. Sometimes I can’t read romance for a while.
Kati: I’ve been trying to figure out, you know, I, I work from home three days, but the other two, I commute to downtown D.C., which is about, about two hours in the car each direction, so I’ve been listening to audio books –
Kati: – and I’ve been on, like, a Nora Roberts trilogy binge, where I’m just, like, listening to all of them over and over again, and I’m trying to decide if I need to, like, switch to Sirius and stop listening to so many audio books, because I sit down to read, and I can’t keep my attention. Like, everything I read, I’m like, oh, yeah, this is great. What’s going on on Facebook? What’s going on on Twitter? And I, you know, it’s, it’s weird. It’s like I’ve lost the discipline to sit down and actually read a book like a grownup person. I’m like a two-year-old.
Lauren: That’s why I, you know, I have a, I have a Paperwhite. I don’t read on any other device. I mean, I might, I read paper books, but I don’t read on any other device, because if I try to read on my iPad, then I’m just like, oh! Well, maybe I should see what’s happening on Twitter! You know, it’s –
Lauren: – then I go there, and then I just get all riled up, and so I’m trying to be –
Lauren: – seriously! I’m trying to be more, I’m trying to be less negative all the time, so that means less time in Twitter, and I miss Twitter, but, you know, every time I go there, I –
Sarah: You know –
Lauren: – every time I go there I leave, I leave mad, and I just, I don’t have energy for it.
Sarah: Right now is, is not a good time to talk to random people, because there’s just a lot of awful polarizing discussion of everything, and it, it, you’re not going to change anybody’s mind, so it can feel like taking a, a jump in a really nasty pool.
Lauren: It totally is.
Sarah: I completely understand that feeling.
Lauren: Yeah. I mean, I got attacked the other day ‘cause for, by Bill, by anti-Bill-Nye trolls. Like, real-, like, is that a thing?
Lauren: Apparently it’s a thing. It’s a thing!
Lauren: And I got attacked by them, and I thought, och ho hah.
Sarah: [Laughs] But you know, Kati, it occurs to me, I took a road trip recently, and I was with my kids, so I had my GPS on my phone, and I have a little magnet phone holder, and then I used a one-ear headphone, so I had one ear open, and one ear had a head phone in it, because they were listening to something in the back seat, and I needed to hear the GPS, so I turned on an audio book, which led to the most excellent thing where the book is going, and then the hero turns to her and says, move to the right lane to get off in two miles –
Sarah: – and that happened, like, six or seven times, and every time I was completely delighted, but when I got home, I realized I was having a really hard time concentrating on reading because the part of my brain that likes to listen things, to things was bored. Like, where, where are the words? We need words, it’s quiet, this is boring. So there’s this website called Coffitivity. It’s like – C-O-F-F-I-T-I-V-I-T-Y dot com – and it’s like a background noise, but it’s a coffee shop, so there’re voices and clanking and this sort of white noise of people, and so when I’m having a hard time concentrating because the, the, the ear-connected part of my brain is like, I’m bored, I’m bored, I’m not listening to anything, I’m bored, and I can’t listen to music with words when I’m reading, ‘cause it’s too many words. I turn that on, and my, and that part of my brain that’s like, like a Jack Russell Terrier of distraction, it calms the hell down, so that might help you –
Sarah: – because my problem was I couldn’t make the transition from listening to reading, ‘cause it was too quiet.
Kati: There really is an app for everything. Like, that’s –
Sarah: There really is! [Laughs]
Kati: – that is unbelievable, that someone was like, you know, we could market a thing – [laughs]
Sarah: Yeah, we can, we can –
Kati: – that’s just –
Sarah: – make the sound of a coffee shop into a marketable product, because, you know, I find being around other people very draining. I’m super introverted, which always makes people laugh, but it’s extremely true. I find being in a large group of people very draining. I could not work in a coffee shop, it would be physically draining, but listening to the sound of it? Not a problem.
Lauren: I actually was, yesterday was my mother-in-law’s seventy-fifth birthday.
Lauren: I am also, I am like you, Sarah, a tremendous introvert –
Lauren: – and I married into a ginormous Italian family, so I went yesterday, and my husband is, like, a 9,000 on the extrovert chart, right? So I always say, I, I am the life of the party’s ride home, you know –
Lauren: – from wherever we’ve been –
Lauren: – but I, yesterday, like, we got in the car, and he looks at me, and he goes, are you okay? And I was like, that was a lot of extroverting. It was a lot. It was a lot.
Sarah: That was a lot of extrovert performance. I’m done now.
Lauren: That’s what I said to him. I said, I feel like I was the only, you know, utility plug that everyone could plug into and suck the life out of, and it’s all gone.
Lauren: Like, we got in the car, and I was like, there’s no talking. Everybody put your earphones in. Shh!
Lauren: And, but my kids were both like, okay! [Laughs] They’re just, shh! Everybody shushed on the ride home, ‘cause it is, I’m, but that is a brilliant idea, the Coffitivi-, Coffitivity? Is that’s what it’s called?
Sarah: Coffitivity! I will send you the link.
Lauren: That is most excellent.
Sarah: Totally worked for me.
Kati: Excellent! See, there you go!
Lauren: See, there you go. Who knew? I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I’m delighted to hear it.
Sarah: And that is all for this week’s episode. Thank you to Kati and to Lauren for hanging out and answering and discussing so many interesting things. I really enjoyed this interview, and I hope you did too.
As I mentioned during the intro – and this is the outro, which is also totally a word, I am coming up on 200 episodes. The 200th episode of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books will be happening on July 1st, so if you have ideas of what we should do to celebrate, I would like to hear them! You can email me at [email protected] or [email protected]; I check them both. Or you could love a comment on this entry on smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast and let me know what you think should happen.
And if you’ve got ideas for whom to interview in the future, who we should talk to, what you want to know about, feel free to tell me that too! I like hearing from you guys, ‘cause y’all are smart, and I know you’re either putting on your makeup, or you’re on the treadmill, or you’re walking the dog, or you’re doing something, so whatever it is you’re doing while you’re listening, thank you for listening!
This podcast has been brought to you by Loveswept, publishers of Good Girl by bestselling author Lauren Layne. In this steamy novel, country music’s favorite good girl hides away from the world and finds herself bunking with a guy who makes her want to be a little bad.
Noah should probably tell Jenny that he’s Preston Noah Maxwell Walcott, the owner of the estate where the feisty country singer has made her spoiled self at home, but the charade of being the caretaker gives Noah a much-needed break from his own troubles, and before long, their verbal sparring is indistinguishable from foreplay. But as sizzling nights give way to quiet pillow talk, Noah begins to realize that Jenny’s almost as complicated as he is. To fit into each other’s lives, they’ll need the courage to face their problems together before the outside world catches up to them.
You can find Good Girl by Lauren Layne on sale May 17th wherever eBooks are sold.
And we have a sponsor for the transcript this month. The transcript is being sponsored by Everything Under the Heavens, book one of Silk and Song by Dana Stabenow. Johanna flees her homicidal stepmother in Khanbaliq, the storied city of Kublai Khan, and sets out on the Silk Road with companions Jaufre and Shasha in search of her fabled grandfather, Marco Polo. Everything Under the Heavens is on sale for 99 cents at Barnes and Noble and is free at Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes right now.
And if you’re a regular listener of the show and you’re thinking, how do I find out about sponsorship? Email me! [email protected]. And if you’re thinking sponsorship, not so much in my budget, but I would love to help the show, I would welcome your help. I have a couple projects that I’d like to get started on, including making sure that every episode in the archives has a transcript, because, well, accessibility is important, and not everyone likes to listen, which I totally get. If you’d like to give us a hand with that project and sponsor the show with an ongoing monthly pledge, you can have a look at our Patreon campaign, Patreon.com/SmartBitches. I am so thankful for everyone who has already checked it out and made a pledge, and if you’re thinking about it and I can answer a question, I will totally say my email address one more time, ‘cause you can totally email me at [email protected].
In the meantime, on behalf of Lauren Dane and Kati and everyone here, and myself, 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 Everything Under the Heavens, Book I of Silk and Song by Dana Stabenow.
Raised in a prosperous family of 14th century Chinese merchants, Wu Johanna has grown up on camelback, in bustling city marketplaces, and in the cool, shaded depths of Silk Road caravanserai. Hers is a world of spice merchants and pearl divers, bandits and troubadours, servants and sheikhs. A world in which trust is more valuable than gold, and the right name can unlock a network of contacts from Japan to North Africa. Johanna is, after all, the granddaughter of Marco Polo.
In the wake of her father’s death, however, Johanna finds that lineage counts for little amid the disintegrating court of the Khan. Dynastic loyalties are shifting, petty jealousies lead to cold-blooded murders, and the long knives are coming out. If Johanna is to find a future for herself, she’ll have to rely on her wits, the vagaries of fortune, and a close-knit circle of friends and traveling companions. Her destiny—if she has one—lies more than a continent away, at the very edge of the known world.
Everything Under the Heavens is currently free on Amazon, Kobo and iTunes and 99 cents at Barnes & Noble.