Sarah, Amanda, Carrie, Elyse, and Redheadedgirl gather to talk about the book that made them romance readers, and the romance that changed their lives in some way. We of course start off with TMI discussions about pet farts, and ask really important questions like what would happen if Stephanie Plum was sent back in time, and what books are required for the zombie apocalypse?
We also have some special guest callers telling us about the books that made them romance readers! I put out a request to the Patreon supporters to ask them to call our Google Voice number and leave a message answering all my nosy questions to make sure the voicemail audio would still work for the podcast. It does! So, thanks to the Patreon volunteers, we have some special guests mixed in with our discussion, plus I got Sassy Outwater on the phone, too, because she was doing the dishes and couldn’t get away from my calling her. MWAHAHAHA.
We want to hear about the book that made you a romance reader! Just dial +1 201.371.3272, and leave a voicemail telling me about the book that made you a romance reader. And if you can’t call, just record an audio file and email it to me!
This is a long episode, but hey, we’re celebrating. Come celebrate with us!
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This Episode's Music
The music you’re listening to in this episode is performed by Sassy Outwater – and that is indeed Sassy on her harp. This tune is called “Rhumba for SB” and I finally found out – as per the end of this podcast – that this piece is from a collection by Salzedo, and is one of her favorite pieces of harp music ever.
This podcast episode is brought to you by you! Thank you for listening, thank you for emailing me, thank you for becoming Patreon supporters. I love hearing how much you enjoy the podcast, and how many of you have made it part of your weekend -and especially how many of you are working out or walking around. Keep going. You have TOTALLY got this.
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Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, June 24, 2016
Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 200 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books! Yay! I’m so excited! This is our two hundredth episode. I am amazed that there are two hundred of them, and I’m so excited that you are here! I am going to be joined by Amanda and Carrie and Elyse and RedHeadedGirl, and we’re going to talk about the books that made us into romance readers and the romances that changed our lives in some way. And of course we’re going to start off with a TMI discussion about pet farts, and we’re going to ask really important questions like, what happens if Stephanie Plum is sent back in time and what books are required for a zombie apocalypse.
We also have some special guest callers telling us about the books that made them into romance readers. I put out a request to the people who had supported our Patreon campaign to ask them to call our Google Voice number and leave a message answering all of my nosy questions to make sure that the voicemail audio would still work for the podcast, and it does! So thank you to the Patreon volunteers who we have special guests mixed in with our discussion. Plus I have Sassy Outwater as well because, well, she was doing the dishes and she couldn’t get away from me calling her.
I also want to hear from you! I want to hear about the book that made you into a romance reader, and now that I know that the voicemail audio quality is way good, I would really love it if you would call 1-201-371-3272 and leave me a voicemail telling me about the book that made you a romance reader, and if you can’t call because you’re far, far away, you can record an audiofile and just email it to me. No big deal. I would really love to hear from you. I would like to hear what book made you a romance fan.
This is also a super-long episode, but hey! We’re celebrating! So extra celebration, right?
This podcast is brought to you by you! Thank you! Thank you for listening and thank you for emailing me and thank you for becoming Patreon supporters and thank you for listening each week. I love hearing about how much you enjoy the podcast and how many of you have made it part of your weekend and especially how many of you are working out or walking around. Keep going! You have totally got this.
The podcast transcript this month is sponsored by Kensington, publishers of All In by Simona Ahrnstedt. Recently named by Publishers Weekly as one of its best books of summer, All In is the first foreign language romance to be translated and published in the U.S. Escape into this summer’s most buzzed about book All In, an international bestseller where beneath the midnight sun, powerful Swedish elite prowl parties for conquest, trade damaging secrets like currency, and one explosive game of cat and mouse between lovers is poised to change the power balance forever. Discover the romance that is taking the world by storm. All In really does have it all, and it is on sale June 28th.
If you are a regular listener of the podcast or a regular reader of our transcripts, you have probably seen that we have a Patreon campaign, and I would like to invite you to have a look. By listener request, I set up a Patreon, and you can see it at Patreon.com/SmartBitches. With monthly pledges starting at $1, you can help me reach goals like transcripts for all of the episodes so that all of them have one, and you also get rewards and options, and there’s a special Patreon feed where I post little videos of what it looks like when I edit, sometimes really well and sometimes really badly, and I post heads-up about important interviews and invite people to submit questions, so there are lots of fun ways to get involved if you would like. If you have taken a look or you have supported the podcast or you’ve made a glance at the website, thank you. I am so appreciative of your support.
The music you are hearing, as always, is provided by Sassy Outwater. This is one of the earliest pieces of music that Sassy sent over to me when I started asking her for music. This is Sassy herself playing her harp. This is called “Rumba for SB,” that’s the name of the file, and I always figured that, you know, she made up a rumba, but no! She told me in the interview that you’ll hear at the end of this podcast that this is from a collection by one of her favorite composers, and this was part of one of her final exams when she was studying, so thank you, Sassy! If you want to find out more about her, you can find her on Twitter @SassyOutwater.
Okay, one more thing before we get started, and I swear I’ll stop talking. We talk about a lot of books in this episode, like, a ton of books, and they are all going to be in the podcast entry at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast, so if you’re thinking, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, I need to write it down, I need to write it down! Don’t worry, the books are all going to be listed, and there’s a ton of them, and there’s also the number to call if you want to leave a message and tell us about the book that made you into a romance reader.
I really enjoyed this conversation, and I loved hearing from different people who called in, so thank you for that, and without any delay, now, on with the podcast.
Sarah: Who farted?
Carrie S.: Not me, man!
Sarah: [Laughs] All right. So I have Wilbur right here –
Amanda: Hi, Wilbur!
Sarah: – and Orville’s over there –
Somebody: Wilbur, hello.
Sarah: – and Zeb is on the floor, and somebody made a fart, and it wasn’t me, and it is dire in here right now.
Elyse: You’re never going to solve that mystery, Sarah.
Sarah: There’re too many, there’re too many furry butts in here for me to really know, like, who the hell just made this smell. It’s, oh, my God, my eyes are watering, it’s so bad. [Laughs]
So welcome to our two hundredth episode.
Sarah: I’m so pleased!
RedHeadedGirl: Can you hear me?
Amanda and Sarah: Yes!
Elyse: Yeah, we can hear you.
RHG: Okay, good.
Sarah: Are you there?
RHG: I’m here.
Sarah: Somebody –
RHG: Mom, Mom sent a random handful of Swedish currency that she found in the bottom of her purse.
Amanda or Carrie: Yay, Mom!
Sarah: [Laughs] As you do.
Amanda or Carrie: All right, Mom!
RHG: Along with, I mean –
Sarah: She’s just walking around with kronor?
Sarah: All right.
RHG: Yeah. Well, she’s not going to need it, and I will –
RHG: – and she also, she also sent Amanda’s –
RHG: – T pass.
Sarah: That’s cool. That’s very cool.
RHG: So – [laughs] – so that saves Amanda about three dollars.
Elyse: Hey, man –
Amanda: That’s three dollars we could spend on meatballs.
Carrie: You’re going to want that three dollars.
Sarah: Okay, here is Wilbur. Say hi to Wilbur.
RHG: Well, that three dollars –
Amanda: Hi, Wilbur!
RHG: – will definitely, you know, get you into a toilet.
Carrie: When that moment comes, you’re going to be really happy for that three dollars.
Sarah: Cost, it costs three dollars to pee in Sweden?
Amanda: Public toilets.
RHG: No, it, use of the public toilets costs five kronor, so that’s less than a dollar? But, you know –
Sarah: Those toilets better be nice if you’ve got to pay to get your ass in, literally.
Elyse: You know –
RHG: – are.
Elyse: – you could not do that in the United States, ‘cause someone would just jump the stall and/or take a protest, like, dump outside the public toilet. You know that’s going to happen. Like, I’ve had to go really bad sometimes, and I don’t think I’d want to be fumbling around for change, right? Like, something’s going to happen emergently.
Sarah: [Laughs] I barely have, I barely have change for parking meters.
Amanda: Well, like, when your bladder knows, like, a toilet is nearby –
RHG and Carrie: Right.
Amanda: – it starts the process.
RHG: Yes. The thing is –
Sarah: [Laughs] There’s no room in that process for a quarter!
Amanda: No, there’s not.
Elyse: Or have you guys ever been, like, on a road trip where you have held your pee so long your lower back now hurts like, like your kidneys are shutting down.
Carrie: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Carrie: Absolutely. Yeah. In –
Elyse: I hope we put this in the podcast.
RHG: Definitely. So just for size comparison? This, this is a one krona. It’s about the size of a quarter, and this is a five kronor.
RHG: Biggest coin, so you can just reach into your pocket and pull one out and fling it into the, the thing so you can get into the bathroom.
Elyse: But what if you don’t carry change? We live in, like, a very debit card society now.
Sarah: I was so excited when I went to public parking here today and I could use my credit card in the little public parking monitor.
RHG: We’ll find out if they’ve upgraded. It’s been four years since I’ve been there. I only go to Sweden in Olympic years, apparently.
Elyse: Maybe, maybe they have, like, the Visa touch or whatever.
RHG: They use chip cards there.
RHG: It’s all good.
Sarah: So we’ve covered farting, and we’ve covered paying to pee in Sweden.
Elyse: I’m also knitting right now, so if you hear clicking and it’s disrupting the recording, let me know.
Amanda: Al-, yeah, also, Eric is typing, so if that bothers anyone –
Sarah: I cannot hear any of it.
Elyse: God damn it, Eric!
Carrie: Hi, Eric!
RHG: God damn it, Eric! Tell him to –
Amanda: They’re cursing at you.
Sarah: My dog sneezed. I’m, I mean, I’m really not stressed about background noise. Any minute now we’re going to have the, the dog whining at the cat sound, so, you know.
Elyse: Yeah, that’s okay. Dewey will make an appearance, as he always does.
Sarah: He better! I can’t have an episode without Dewey!
Elyse: It’s like, you’re paying attention to something that’s not me, and it’s a Goddamn tragedy!
Sarah: Carrie, I’m going to need you to go climb out a window and then ring your doorbell so your dog goes nuts?
Carrie: Oh, no, that’s, that will not be a problem because here in Sacramento, as the sun begins to go down, all the dog walkers emerge, and, and so my dog will look out the front door –
Sarah: [Laughs] What, ‘cause it’s not six million degrees outside?
Carrie: – right, and the dog will assume that we’re under some kind of siege and will, like, freak out. No, it’s hilarious, ‘cause I’ll start walking Lucy around the block right before the sun just hits the horizon, and just as it – ‘cause it’s, like 110 – and just as –
Sarah: I was going to say, at that hour it’s, what, 102?
Carrie: No, at that hour it’s about 80 or 90. And just as the sun dips below the horizon, so it’s still quite light, but there’s no direct sunlight, all the dog walkers come out, as though they are vampires who have just, like, simultaneously risen from the grave because the indirect sunlight has gone away.
Sarah: And it’s time to walk the dogs and pick up poop.
Carrie: And now we can go outside.
Elyse: In contrast to your 110 degrees, it is 52 degrees in the morning here when I go to work.
Amanda: That’s nice.
Elyse: Yeah, it’s lovely.
Sarah: I had to put on pants ‘cause it was 68.
Sarah: I know!
Sarah: I even shaved my legs! Like, what a waste of a, of a bit of razor blade!
Sarah: I could have skipped! I’m really bummed.
Amanda: I get so angry, like, if I shave my legs and then, like, plans get cancelled.
Amanda: It’s like, do they know what I just went through for twenty minutes?
Elyse: Right. I remember learning to shave my legs, the maiden voyage, right, like, your mom gives you the pink Schick razor, and, like –
Carrie: Oh, yeah.
Elyse: – and, like, your, your dad’s can of Barbasol and tells you to, you know, what’s going to happen. So of course I’m, like, freaking, so she, you know, just be really careful around your knees and, like, the back of your, you know, the back of your leg, ‘cause that’s where you cut yourself the most. So I’m, like, I’m totally prepared to not cut my legs, and I go to flip the plastic cap off the razor and completely take the pad of my thumb off instead.
[Outpouring of sympathy]
RHG: I once shaved my legs before a dance before school and cut my ankle? And I still had to, like, I slapped on a whole wad of Band-Aids, didn’t clean up the bathroom, it looked like a crime scene.
Sarah: [Laughs] Ankles bleed, man.
RHG: Oh, my God!
Sarah: Zeb would like to, like you to know he is digging a hole in the carpet. He’s going to try to reach the first floor before the end of the episode.
RHG: Good dog.
Sarah: You know, it’s funny. I, I get more comments when the intro and outro are super unprofessional, like the dog barks, and there’s, you know, something falls –
Carrie: Oh, yeah.
Sarah: – and the cats are yelling, and people are like, that was great! And I’m like, I, I tried to record that, like, nine times, and that was the most professional one.
Sarah: So apparently when my animals are being nutjobs is the best audio.
Carrie: Yeah! Absolutely.
Sarah: Do you still sacrifice an avocado?
RHG: Bad things happen if we don’t.
RHG: We have discovered that before recording Anglo-Filles episodes, if we don’t sacrifice an avocado at least once every three months –
Carrie: Oh, right!
RHG: – the podcast gods get very angry.
Sarah: I feel bad for the avocado. They’re delicious and expensive.
RHG: It’s true; however, it’s worth it.
Sarah: Okay, are you guys ready?
[Chorus of agreement]
Amanda: I have notes and everything.
Sarah: Dude! You’re so prepared.
Sarah: Does Eric have notes?
Amanda: Eric probably doesn’t give a shit.
Sarah: Aw, come on!
Amanda: He’s over there. Well, before we started he’s like, don’t hold back on your podcasting on my account. I was like, don’t, don’t worry. Like –
Sarah: This is not a concern. [Laughs] Okay.
Amanda: No. We’ve already talked about bodily fluids, so we’re off to a great start.
RHG: Oh, yeah. Sounds about right.
Elyse: I bring, I bring the diarrhea commentary to you every podcast episode.
Sarah: I was –
Elyse: At least I’m kind of sober for this one.
Sarah: All right. So we’re going to talk about the book that made you a romance reader, which could be the first romance you read, or it could be the one that you tried, and you were like, oh, no, I actually like these! These are awesome! And the romances that changed your life in some significant way. Now the, the cool thing is I posted on the, the Patreon feed about this and invited people to leave me a voicemail message so they can answer the questions, so as I edit this, I’m going to include other people as sort of like an interstitial, talking about what their favorite romance is, and hopefully people will call after this episode, and we’ll get more people to respond and tell us what book is their favorite or what made them a romance reader, what impacted them significantly. Yay!
Sarah: ‘Cause romance readers are the bestest ones. All right, who’s going first? What book made you a romance reader?
Elyse: Uh-oh. We have a Dewey.
Sarah: Dewey’s going first! All right! [Laughs] All of a sudden there’s cat ass. All right, Elyse, Dewey’s nominated you.
Elyse: I’m back! Can you hear me? Dewey, Dewey just knocked me over, because it’s pumpkin time.
RHG: I see.
Elyse: Dewey gets – I’m sorry. So, Dewey has constipation issues, so Dewey –
Sarah: [Laughs] Bringing in the diarrhea with every episode.
Elyse: – so Dewey gets – he does! My cat has constipation issues. So he gets a teaspoon full of, like, canned pumpkin every night for fiber, and, like, 7:30 is when we, we do pumpkin, and so he’s pissed off because it’s, God damn it, I need my teaspoon full of pumpkin, woman.
RHG: Isn’t that what his father-servant is for?
Elyse: I will let his father-servant know, but I sing the pumpkin song, and Rich doesn’t sing the pumpkin song.
Amanda: Well, what’s the pumpkin song?
Carrie: Yeah, well, we are going to hear the pumpkin song?
Sarah: Yeah, don’t leave us hanging.
Elyse: Well, I can’t – right, it’s just like, [sings] it’s pumpkin! It’s pumpkin time! [Says] We sing that and walk around the kitchen. [Laughs]
Carrie: [Laughs] Well, this is already the best podcast we’ve ever done.
Elyse and Sarah: So –
Elyse: So, listeners, I’d like you to know, if your cat has constipation issues, I highly recommend a teaspoon of canned pumpkin every night.
Sarah: But you have to sing the song.
Elyse: You have to sing the song.
Elyse: It’s also good for hairballs, ‘cause it keeps, like, everything moving.
Elyse: I’m so sorry, Sarah.
Sarah: Okay, Elyse, now – [laughs] – now that we’ve moved on from pumpkin and poop –
RHG: Do we ever, though, really?
Sarah: – as soon as, as I can regain control –
Elyse: So the first romance novels I read were all by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and I kind of want to go back and reread them now, later on in life, but I know they’re going to really piss me off. So I think the very first one I read was A Rose in Winter, which is a really kind of fucked up Beauty and the Beast story where there’s not anything really wrong with him, but he pretends like there is, and – I don’t know, it, that’s what really got me into the genre. It was a lot of old school what-the-fuckery. Woodiwiss was good with, like, she did, like, lots of girls dressing up to be boys and then, like, joining the army and the hero being like, I’m not gay or attracted to underage boys, but strangely I’m drawn to this person, right? Like that old school crazy shit.
Sarah: And, and they always –
Elyse: Old School Catherine Coulter.
Sarah: – and they always fit in, like, you, you’d have them, like, borrow some ten-year-old boy’s pants.
Sarah: Like, when I was seventeen, I was never a small person, but there was no way I would be fitting into a ten-year-old pants. Like, no. No! There’s no way. I don’t understand. So what did you like about the Woodiwiss book? What was it that was, made you kind of go, oh! Well, well that’s a thing.
Elyse: I, I don’t know how old I was, like, thirteen or fourteen. I mean, it was the first explicit sex I ever read about, right, and I, my mom didn’t know I was reading the book, she didn’t care, but, so it, there was that kind of like illicit, oh, I’m reading something for grownups that I’m not supposed to be reading, which made me want to read it more. But I don’t know. I think, you know, romance novels were probably the first books that I read consistently that featured a female heroine kind of in charge of her own story, and that wasn’t something that, at that time, YA literature really offered a whole lot of? I mean, you got your Judy Blumes, and that was kind of it, right, and then a bunch of books about dogs dying. That was YA literature when Elyse was a kid.
Elyse: Okay, you had Judy Blume and Where the Red Fern Grows, and those were your options.
RHG: Oh, be fair. You had The Yearling too.
Elyse: I never read The Yearling. I read Misty –
RHG: No, no one actually reads The Yearling, you just, it’s there on your shelf.
Elyse: Mist-, was it, like –
Carrie: No, I, I had to read it for school, and being the good girl that I was, I actually did, in fact, read it. In fact, I think I had to read it twice.
Elyse: What were the books about the horses on the island? Misty of –
Carrie and RHG: Misty of Chincoteague!
Carrie: Which I read five billion times, and then I went back and looked at as an adult, and while not all of Marguerite Henry’s books are super sexist, that particular series is super, super sexist.
Elyse: And, and then there was Brighty of the Grand Canyon about the donkey.
RHG: Brighty of the Grand Canyon –
Elyse: That’s a running joke in our family because, like, if Richard and I are both reading, the running joke is that’s the book Dewey’s reading. He’s been reading Brighty of the Grand Canyon for, like, three years now.
RHG: He, he should graduate on to King of the Wind. That’s my –
Elyse: I don’t think I read King of the Wind.
Carrie: Also Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Yes.
RHG: Oh, King of the Wind is wonderful.
Carrie: Oh, yes, it is.
Elyse: So I, I think I went from, like, you know, reading about horses and dogs to reading about people boning and discovered I quite enjoyed it.
Sarah: All the jokes just ran to the front of my brain –
Sarah: – and they ran into each other and fell down. [Laughs]
Carrie: Right, that happens.
Elyse: In retrospect, those books were very sexist and fucked up and rape-y, which a lot of old school romance was, and it wasn’t until – man, I mean, I remember when I started to find the new school romances that weren’t rape-y, and I was like, what is this? I feel less conflicted about enjoying this book, right?
Sarah: Do you remember which ones you found?
Elyse: I do not. There was one, I think I’ve talked about it on the podcast, because someone may have actually found it. I have no idea what the title or the author was. It had a female bounty hunter or time traveler who went back, like, to the old west and fell, fell in love with the sheriff, and I remember there was a scene where she had her period, and she made her own tampons?
Sarah: That would be memorable, yes.
Elyse: Right. She, like, MacGyvered some tampons out of cotton and string.
Amanda: It’s like a podcast HaBO, so if anyone –
Sarah: Maybe you know this book.
Elyse: So this probably, this probably would have been, like, late ‘90s? I want to say the cover had them in the usual, like, pre-smexing position, but there was a waterfall involved maybe.
Sarah: That’s subtle.
Elyse: Right. And I think the hero was really confused ‘cause she had contact lenses, and he couldn’t figure out how her eyes were changing color. I don’t know.
RHG: Yeah, hmm, that sounds right.
Sarah: You know, if you’re going to travel through time, your color contact lenses are totally coming with you.
Elyse: Sarah, she had to disguise herself. She was a bounty hunter. Okay?
Sarah: Time traveling! Surely the bounty doesn’t apply through multiple hundreds of years.
Elyse: I don’t remember. I just, the only thing that stuck with me is the tampon part.
Sarah: What would happen –
Elyse: You’re asking a lot.
Sarah: So this makes me wonder, what would happen if Stephanie Plum went back in time? Would, like, carriages blow up?
Elyse: She’d just die.
Elyse: I mean, with some people, going back in time would be like me going back in time. Like, you’re just, you’re going to die.
Elyse: There’s no question about it. I’m going to, I’m going to, like, you know, cut my toe and wind up with some infection and die, and that would be the end of it. I’m not –
RHG: You don’t need to time travel for that.
Elyse: No, I’m not sturdy enough to survive in a time pre antibiotics.
Sarah: Carrie, what about you?
Carrie: What about me? So, so I guess, which question is it? What’s the first one I read, or what’s the first one that made me, like, go, oh, my goodness, I am a romance reader?
Sarah: That one.
Carrie: Okay. I would say Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. So I actually was, I read Bridget Jones’s Diary, and I liked it, and it was sort of shelved under, like, chick-lit, and then I tried reading some other stuff, and I just hated it, but! Shelved on the same shelf, instead of being in the romance section per se, was a copy of Bet Me, and that was it. It was all over. And by the time I read all of Jennifer Crusie, I’d gotten a hold of some other recommendations. And then I found you guys, and I just started going down, like, all the A grade books and, you know, I was in. So, yeah, so, there were other romance books and definitely romance, things that I consider romance novels that aren’t normally considered romance novels? – like, you know, Jane Eyre, whatever – that I read way before Bet Me, but I would say that was the one that made me an official die-hard member of the club.
Sarah: And that was the one where you read it and were like, ohhh, now I get it.
Carrie: Now I get it! Right. Yeah.
Sarah: Is that book still the pinnacle for you? Like, is that the one that, against which you grade other books of similar genre?
Carrie: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. And I have multiple copies, and I stash them in multiple places.
Elyse: And you send them to me.
Elyse: And you send them to me.
Carrie: Oh, I sent you –
Elyse: You’ve, you’re like a, you’re like a Bet Me pusher.
Carrie: I am! Well, there’s a copy for –
Elyse: You just keep copies – right.
Carrie: I gave so many away I was out of them, and that was distressing, ‘cause normally I have at least three copies, and I have a, a pantry shelf that I call the zombie apocalypse shelf, and I have, like, food and extra water there. It’s really like if there’s an earthquake, ‘cause I live in California. But I have, like –
Sarah: Zombies could happen, though. I mean, there’s not a lot of water, it’s really, really hot –
Carrie: Right, exactly! And I, I have water, and carefully wrapped in Ziploc, I have my apocalypse books, and one of them is Bet Me. Also Jane Eyre and The Lord of the Rings, in case I have to, like, re-, reboot Western civilization, I figure I’ve got it covered.
Elyse: That sounds about right.
Carrie: Yeah, and it’s like, there’re definitely some other ones that need to be in there, but the problem is I kept sticking more books in there, and then it was like, you know, the whole food/water concept seems to be going by the wayside here. I have a zombie apocalypse emergency book collection instead of –
Sarah: I think your priorities are in order. Books, water, food.
Carrie: I know, right?
Elyse: And you’ve seen the old Twilight Zone episode, right, with the, the guy in the library?
Carrie: The guy with the glasses? I hate that one.
Elyse: Yeah. Right!
RHG: Well, it’s because that’s hell. [Laughs]
Carrie: Yeah, he’s in hell. It’s awful.
RHG: It’s supposed to be.
Carrie: I hate it! It’s too depressing. Makes me so upset.
Sarah: Is, Carrie, is there a, a romance that you’ve read that really changed you? Or was that also Bet Me?
Carrie: That would also be Bet Me!
Sarah: How come?
Carrie: The other one – what? How did Bet Me change me? Bet Me has a lot to do with body image and body dysmorphia, which is something that I really struggle with, and even –
Sarah: And chicken Marsala, which I struggle with.
Carrie: Right. My personality and my family are very different from Min’s, but every single time I go shopping I remember Min talking about how Cal tells her that she dresses as though she hates her body, which is a huge problem that I have. When I go shopping and I buy everything at least two sizes too big and, like, really, like, bulky, and there’s just a lot of stuff from there that I pulled out. Also, the acceptance of multiple clients of Happy Ever Afters, I really like that part of the book, that aspect of the book. And –
Sarah: Especially with, she didn’t want to have kids.
Carrie: Right, yes, and that does not magically change at the end. She just, she’s not like, well, now I fell in love, so actually I do want to have kids. It’s just not part of their happy ending. There’s also one of her friends who likes being single, and her happy ending is being single, and that’s, like, in the epilogue, they talk about Min’s whole group of friends, and they all have, you know, a different thing that they do, and I really loved that. That was exciting to see in a romance novel. I still –
Sarah: And it’s still pretty revolutionary to say that your happiness does not have to include children. It doesn’t have to include a person. It doesn’t have to include a, a single partner. It could be multiple people in your life! That, that happiness doesn’t have to be one prescribed thing.
Carrie: Yeah. Yeah. And the other book that really changed my life was also a Jennifer Crusie book. It was Maybe This Time, and that is because – wait, is it Maybe This Time or Maybe Next Time? My mind’s a blank. Google for –
Sarah: Pretty sure it’s Maybe This Time, but I am not the title person.
Carrie: I think it’s Maybe This Time, and it’s because –
Sarah: Eh, we’ll get it right in the show notes.
Carrie: – that’s the first thing I wrote for you guys. I won a contest, so, yeah, so I have a whole life trajectory to thank that book for.
Carrie: Yeah! Seriously! So thank you –
Sarah: Huh! I didn’t know that!
Carrie: That’s true! That’s when I started doing more writing.
Sarah: And now you do all the writing.
Carrie: And now I write all the time!
Elyse: We don’t know whether you sleep.
Carrie: Actually, I sleep a lot. I sleep a lot. What I, what I don’t do a lot, what don’t I do a lot of? Well, I don’t get to watch as much TV as I would like, because, you know, I’m reading, but I have to say that if you, if you’re like, oh, no, I can’t watch TV ‘cause I have to read for work, like, you’re doing okay. That’s, that’s –
Carrie: – good, a good quandary to have, as opposed to, I have to clean the toilet, although I do that too, so, you know.
Sarah: [Laughs] Elyse, was there a book that changed you significantly, a romance that you read that made you go, oh! Well, that’s different now.
Elyse: I don’t think so. Maybe – I was already reading romance when I read Pride and Prejudice, and I read that for high school, and I think that was the first time that I saw romance really legitimized? And so it made me think, like, oh, okay, this isn’t just – because at that point it was still, in my world, something that was very denigrated, right, and I still felt embarrassed going to the romance section at the library or at the bookstore, because our library was awful. All the paperback romances were on, like, these three shelves in the middle of fucking everything, so if you were browsing paperback romances, literally everyone in the library could see what you were doing, so if you were, like, a 13-year-old girl super embarrassed about checking out books with Fabio on the cover, like, worst possible shelf placement, public library. But no, I think when I read Pride and Prejudice, and I remember as I’m reading it, I’m like, this is a romance novel. This is a romance novel! But wait, but I’m reading this for school. But this is a romance novel, and it was like, oh, this is a real, legitimate thing.
Sarah: Yep. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a thing, and there’s more of it.
Elyse: Right, and that was also the first book that got me into Regencies, and I went, like, massively down the Regency rabbit hole after that.
Sarah: Oh, Regencies. I just read a Jo Beverly this week, and it, ‘cause you, you know the old school, old style Regencies – I don’t want to say old school Regencies, ‘cause it wasn’t like there was even kissing, much less raping – but there’s such a quiet, deliberate style there that, that the writing is such a comfort read for me, because it’s very character driven, there’s a lot of, you know, doing things in parlors and who should be in the parlor with you and whether or not it’s appropriate, the older style Regencies are such a comfort read for me, and I forget how much I like them.
Elyse: They’re kind of less angsty.
Sarah: Oh, yes. Even the Carla Kellys that take place in the middle of war have angst, but it’s not like wrenching. You know? Like, no one’s reaching in and ripping my heart out and squeezing it. Unless I’m reading the wrong ones, in which case somebody’s going to be like, no, you didn’t read this one, and then you’ll cry for days. RedHeadedGirl, what about you?
RHG: My career in reading romance, as it were –
RHG: – is, is in two parts, ‘cause there’s the, the, you know, thirteen- to sixteen-year-old, and then after that I was like, oh, but, but I’m supposed to be reading, like, fantasy and science fiction, and nobody cool – cool isn’t the right word – nobody in my cohort actually reads these, so I don’t read these anymore either. And the, the book that sort of, the, the first book that I bought myself in that phase was Catherine Coulter’s Season of the Sun, which I think was my second or third review that I wrote for Smart Bitches? And that had Fabio on the cover and everything. It was rid-, that’s, that’s where potato rage comes from, ‘cause I did not realize at that time that Vikings did not eat potatoes. It made perfect sense to me because, you know, we had potatoes with our Swedish Christmas dinner. Ugh, it pains me now so much. And then I came back when Cleolinda Jones happened to link to the site during a certain black-footed ferret plagiarism kerfuffle.
Sarah: Oh, yeah!
RHG: Oh, yeah! And then I was like, well, wait a second, I liked these. I liked these. Do I still like them? And the book that really brought me back was Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady.
Carrie: Oh, yeah.
RHG: Which is on my shelf. It’s right back here. See? Right here.
Elyse: I went through that phase of, I need to read legitimate literature too, pretty heavily when I was, like, in college, and I was going for an English degree and would feel guilty about reading romance novels and – thank God that’s over.
RHG: Right. So, yeah, I mean, I could say something like, the one that really changed me was Surrender to the Night, ‘cause that was the first review I ever wrote, and that led me to the path that is right here, but that seems really trite and boring, so I don’t want to say that.
Elyse: I feel like a lot of Bertrice Small really changed you, but maybe not –
RHG: Not in a good way.
RHG: No, no, I – no. No.
Elyse: Which was the one where she had the cat, what was it, like, the cat was named Tulip or some shit like that?
RHG: I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Elyse: I –
RHG: Maybe that was Skye O’Malley.
Elyse: Before I wrote for the site –
Sarah: I thought she had a parrot.
RHG: Me, I don’t, all these Bertrice Small rape-tastic, fucking-their-way-through-history books sort of meld together in this one giant orgy in my head.
Elyse: Did any of you ever read the Hellion by Bertrice Small?
Sarah: Oh, yes!
Elyse: So that, that shocked young Elyse in many ways.
Elyse: So for those of you not familiar, it’s like a medieval historical, and the heroine’s husband gets kidnapped by a witch who lives with her brother in some castle, and they’re super into kinky sex, and he can’t remember who he is, so she has to have sex with the, the witch’s brother guy, and I remember there was a part that, now, as an adult, troubles me a little bit where he put grapes in her vagina. Do you remember that?
Elyse: [Laughs] Right! Right. And then –
RHG: Oh, the yeast infection!
Amanda: Was that green grapes or red grapes?
Elyse: They didn’t specify. He got them back out, but I’m just thinking, fuck, what if one, one of ‘em gets stuck in there, right? Like, you’re going to be squatting on the floor pushing, like, real hard –
Amanda: You’ve got to use those Kegels.
Elyse: Right! I just –
RHG: Yeah. There’s, there’s a scene in one of Anne Rice’s Beauty books where she is presented as a centerpiece at a banquet with apple slices shoved up her, her hoo-ha?
Elyse: Just don’t, don’t put food in the hoo-ha.
RHG: Do not – hi, Dewey.
Elyse: [Kiss noise] Hi, Dewey. Kisses. Bye.
Somebody: But there was also –
RHG: Pro tip, pro tip: don’t put food up the hoo-ha.
Carrie: Pro tip.
Elyse: And they had, like, a, a padded cross that he tied her to, and, like, it was the first time I ever saw the word dildo, and I had to look it up.
Elyse: Yeah, that was a –
Sarah: I – I, I am looking for a screen capture of a later Bertrice Small, and I know the phrase “rummaged in her labia” –
RHG: Oh, yeah, you –
Carrie: Oh, yeah.
Sarah: – is in there.
RHG: Didn’t you, like –
Sarah: That’s number two now.
RHG: – tweet that or text it or something?
Sarah: That’s my second most popular line in a romance novel. My most popular, my, my personal, like, this gives me joy, actually lives on my desk – hang on – this is a very recent publication. This is Lori Wilde, and it’s, it’s even, I even ripped it out of my ARC, because it was in, like, the little, I don’t know what that’s called, the little paragraph or sample that’s like the one-page teaser. It’s not the sample, it’s –
RHG: The, the, the –
Carrie: Oh, yeah.
RHG: – the blurb! The blurb. Or the –
Sarah: It’s kind of like the blurb or something. It’s, it’s inside, you know, here’s a little taste. Okay. Ahem. All right, here we go. Guess which part is my favorite.
Axel wash – [laughs] – watched Kasha take a deep breath, strong, in charge. Her breasts rose brilliantly, swelling with air, alive with it.
Amanda: Hard pass.
Sarah: My, my boobs don’t hold air!
Sarah: I would be a much better swimmer if my boobs could inflate with air. I wouldn’t even have to paddle, I would just sit! I, if you could inflate –
Somebody: They’re like balloons?
Sarah: Like, if you could inflate your breasts with air enough that you could, like, like, you know, when you’re in the Dead Sea and it’s so salty you can just sort of sit up? And you float?
Sarah: Like, if my boobs were filled with enough air that I could sit up in the ocean and read, I would be very happy. So I –
Elyse: Can you imagine, though, having to take the air pressure, like, the tire pressure of your boobs?
Sarah: [Laughs] That little thing that shoots out!
Sarah: Phrasing. [Laughs]
RHG: My mom didn’t like the Dead Sea at all. She didn’t like the, the floating bit. She didn’t enjoy it.
Sarah: Well, it is a very odd experience.
RHG: Yeah, I think that was basically it. [Laughs]
Sarah: But, yeah, rummaging in her labia was, was, was quite startling for me when I saw that one, and I can’t find which book it’s in, and the screen cap is on the computer that I have turned off. I, I, I always picture, like, somebody, like, you know, keeping, like, things in there, like, I’ve got to find my pen –
Somebody: Or, like, the trunk or something.
Carrie: Rummaging in her labia –
RHG: Couple of kronor.
Sarah: The one krona or the five?
Amanda: Like, my mom had a dollar store just in her purse, just –
Amanda: – trying to find her credit card!
Sarah: Yep. Rummaging.
Elizabeth: Hi, Smart Bitches! This is Elizabeth, and I love your podcast, and I’m calling for your two hundred, two hundredth episode question about first romance book that I ever read. The first romance book that I can remember reading was actually Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews, so me and, like, probably five hundred million other people, but it was kind of a funny story about how I landed on this book. There was a guy who – obviously; I mean, obviously, there’s always a guy – there was a guy who was my mom’s best friend’s son who was probably about four years older than me and I had a super secret crush on because, you know, we lived in opposite sides of the country, and I only saw pictures of him and heard about him through my mom, but he, when we were visiting over one summer, he actually said, you know, I think he was forced to talk to me and my sister because he was older than us and not at all interested, but you, you know, our, our parents kind of forced us to talk to each other, and he said, you know, we were talking about hobbies and what we did outside of school, and he said, oh! You like to dance. You should check out this book; it’s called Flowers in the Attic. [Laughs]
I had no idea, I’d never heard of it before, and I was like, oh, okay, um, cool, I’ll check it out. So when we got home I went to the used bookstore that usually went and found books at, and I found a copy of this book and read it and got to all the incest parts and whatnot and was like, whoa! Whoa! Whoa, crazy! Whoa! Like, why would he recommend this book to me? This isn’t about dance! I mean, maybe it’s a little bit about dance, but whoa! [Laughs] And so I, I was definitely one of those people, one of those kids who was definitely not going to ask my parents at all about boys or sex or anything, so I learned most of that, I learned that, you know, books had these crazy sexy times in them, and I learned everything about sex in relationships, I guess, from reading romance novels, starting with Flowers in the Attic, so, yeah, that’s, that’s my story. There you go. Bye.
Elyse: Hi. Did you guys hear that incredibly indignant meow?
Sarah: No, I didn’t! I missed it. I’m sorry, he’s going to have to do better.
Carrie: Can you hear my cat? My cat is super pissed off because I shut the bedroom door, and pretty soon I might have to give up and open the door, because eventually all three pets will start trying to get the door open by clawing their way through it, and I’m like, it’s not that exciting in here, and they’re like, no, no! The door’s shut! It must be great!
Sarah: Oh, if I try to go into the bathroom and pee by myself –
Carrie: Oh, yeah.
Sarah: – Zeb lies down, all four legs spread out, puts his nose under the door, and just cries in the most piteous manner.
Elyse: I like it when the cat sticks the arm under the bathroom door.
Sarah: [Laughs] What’re you doing under there? What – do you need some toilet paper?
Carrie: Yeah. Yeah!
Sarah: Like, I, I, I survived going to the bathroom unattended for many years, but Zeb is completely baffled as to how I made it through life so far without his assistance in the bathroom. It’s very odd. Amanda, what about you? What book made you a –
Amanda: What is the question? ‘Cause I’ve been drinking vodka.
Amanda: I don’t word very well.
Sarah: Well, now that we know that, let’s, let’s the change question. What shall we ask, ladies?
Amanda: I’m an open book. Rummage through my labia, ladies.
Sarah: I really hope that there is never any FCC regulations put on podcasts, ‘cause I’m so screwed! [Laughs] Unprofessionalism and labia rummaging. So what is the book that made you a romance reader, romance reader? And is there a romance that also changed your life?
Amanda: Okay. We’re going to, we’re going to dig deep, and we’re going to go through – separate from the rummaging – we’re going to –
Amanda: [Laughs] My, like, progression of romance, I guess? Okay, so I started off with, like, baby romances. Not, like, romances between babies, but, like –
Amanda: – romances for the younger audience.
Sarah: Er, he said, and she said, bleh.
Amanda: Baby romances. [Laughs] So, like, my first kind of taste as a teen girl to anything in terms of romance books was the, like, teen series of Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging?
Elyse: Yes! Those books are so good!
Amanda: I love those books, and it’s kind of like a coming of age series, and the girl’s British, so snogging is kissing. I had the entire series, it was amazing, and it’s kind of like a teen girl trying to, I don’t know, like, try makeup for the first time. I think she, like, accidentally waxes off one of her eyebrows, like, and she’s –
Sarah: As you do.
Amanda: Yeah! She has, like, a crush on a, on a boy, and – so that was my first foray into it, but, like, as the hormones get worse, you’re like, well, this fade to black isn’t doing it for me. I need, I need something else.
Sarah: You need –
Amanda: So my –
Sarah: – full frontal more than snogging.
Amanda: I need, like, D in the P action. So my mom was a big romance reader, but by the time I came around to it she had cleaned her wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor bookshelf, she had cleaned her romance collection out to make way for more books. I think she was on, like, a mystery kick. So we had this old, rickety shed on our property, and she had put all of her books into these huge plastic bins, and she’s like, have at it! And in those bins were paranormal romances. So the Carpathian series by Christine Feehan, the Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. So I started reading those, but they’re, like, it wasn’t hitting the spot that I wanted. Like, it wasn’t, like, they were good, but they weren’t great for me. And then –
Elyse: Are you petting the camera, Sarah?
Amanda: What are you doing, Sarah?
Sarah: No – hang on, let me see if I can turn the computer around. There is an Orville, and he is attempting to figure out where to sit, because not only do I have the sound box on the table, but I also have my laptop –
Somebody: Sit in the sound box!
Sarah: – hang on. Say hello, Orville.
[Greetings to Orville]
Sarah: Oh, I’m out of here.
Amanda: And he’s gone.
Sarah: He’s like, oh, that’s a camera! Screw that, I’m out of here! Putting my laptop back down. This microphone is so sensitive, I’m sure when I, like, edit this it’s going to sound like [exploding noise] explosions. Now he’s behind the sound box, like, can I, can I be in this box? Like, what is this box for? So the Carpathians weren’t doing it for you; there wasn’t enough –
Sarah: – full-frontal snogging.
Amanda: Yeah. And then I was part of a Goodreads, like, reading challenge book, and it was just all about romances, and this book, they had a challenge where, like, someone would recommend a book to you? They would recommend a book off of their list that they think you would like, and then they would pick a romance off of your to-read list in case you hated their choice. So the book they recommended to me was The Bride by Julie Garwood. And –
Elyse: Aw, oh, what a cute cat face.
Sarah: That, he’s, he is trying to get into the sound box, by the way. He’s, like, rubbing up on the, on, on the pop screen and everything and like, look, there’s foam in a, in a circle. This is awesome! The Bride by Julie Garwood is the best book. The Bride is so good.
Amanda: And I was like, this is it! This is what I’ve been looking for and waiting for and – it’s funny, though, I don’t read historicals much anymore. Like, it was the historical romances that kind of made me, like, a devout reader, ‘cause the paranormals were, like, wearing me out and, so, like, the historicals were kind of what got me to stick around. So Julie Garwood and then the Wallflowers series by Lisa Kleypas, though –
Sarah: I love those books.
Amanda: – I will share an unpopular opinion, ‘cause I feel like everyone’s favorite is Devil in Winter, but mine is not. Mine is It Happened One Autumn with Lillian, who’s, like, the brash American heiress, and, like, her hero is Marcus, who’s kind of like a stuffy, uppity, like, British aristocrat.
Sarah: He’s a, he’s a duke, right?
Amanda: I think so. Don’t know.
Sarah: I remember in –
Elyse: Of course he’s a duke.
Sarah: Of course he is.
Elyse: They’re all dukes.
Sarah: I remember at one point –
Amanda: He’s a lord; I don’t know if that makes him a –
Carrie: Some of them are earls.
Sarah: There is a sequel –
Carrie: No, I take, I mean in general, not necessarily in the Wallflowers series.
Sarah: There is a sequel and –
Amanda: He’s an earl.
Sarah: – and he’s already married to Lillian, and one of the things I remember about that series is that Lillian was miserable being pregnant, like, she hated it, she was sick, she felt terrible, and it was one of the first time I, I saw, times I had seen a pregnant romance heroine who was like, this sucks. I hate this. This blows. I’m tired of this. Can it be over. I hate it.
Amanda: And she doesn’t have, like, that glow and –
Amanda: – she’s like, I just love being pregnant. Like, it, it was not like that at all.
Sarah: I happen to have loved being pregnant because it took so fucking long for me to be pregnant, but, you know, my first trimester, I was nauseous, and all I wanted was glazed donuts, bananas, Honey Nut Cheerios, and milk. And I hate milk! Milk’s disgusting! No, I wanted to drink, like, nine gallons of it. But I wouldn’t say –
Elyse: I’m from the dairy state.
Amanda: So – [laughs] – you are personally affected, Elyse.
Sarah: I like cheese! And –
RHG: Well, you do now that we’ve introduced you to proper fucking cheese –
RHG: – Miss Velveeta.
Sarah: Hey, Velveeta has a place.
Everybody else: No.
Sarah: On the shelf. For the zombies.
Sarah: [Laughs] Zombies like Velveeta; don’t tell me otherwise.
Carrie: I believe I would rather die in the zombie apocalypse than have to eat Velveeta!
Elyse: I, I’m with Carrie. Yeah, it’s a –
Elyse: – it’s, there’s, there’s, there’s, like, even a texture thing about it that’s messed up. It’s not –
Amanda: I’m with –
Amanda: – I’m with Sarah. I will eat it. I’ll eat it when there’s even no zombies around.
Carrie: Oh, my God. Oh, God, no, it’s disgusting. The closest thing I could think of as a use for Velveeta is a cookbook I read recently claimed that you can get that same really smooth texture that Kraft Mac & Cheese has if you add just a little Velveeta to your, like, real cheese that you grate up in this whole, like, you know, I have, like, this whole recipe, so it’s, like, super-yummy mac and cheese? But they’re like, the trick is, to get that velvety texture, and you can only get that if you suck it up and throw in a little bit of Velveeta.
Elyse: No, I think Velveeta would be suitable for, like, cutting up and putting out, like, if you had to trap a raccoon or something in a live trap, right.
Elyse: That would be, that’d pretty much be it.
Sarah: And yet –
Carrie: I bet they won’t eat it. I don’t think it smells enough.
Sarah: But Amanda, you’ve cut up Velveeta and put in a bowl with a, with a can of Ro*Tel and heated it –
Amanda: With Ro*Tel!
Sarah: – yeah, Ro*Tel, in the microwave? That –
Amanda: And that’s my dinner.
Carrie: There’s, there’s, there’s –
Carrie: Lucy knows that it’s not a podcast until she goes batshit crazy, so –
Sarah: Hi, Lucy! Well –
Elyse: Have we ever had a group podcast where Velveeta didn’t come up? I feel like they should be a fucking sponsor at this point, right? Like –
Carrie: [Laughs] Right?
Sarah: Hi, Kraft. We, we, most of us dislike your cheese.
Carrie: Oh, no, if they were sponsoring us, if they were sponsoring us, would I still be allowed to claim that I would rather be eaten alive, okay, by zombies than have to survive by eating Velveeta?
Amanda: If I were a zombie –
Sarah: Yes, sponsors do not have editorial control.
Amanda: Carrie, if I were a zombie –
Amanda: – could I put Velveeta on you –
Amanda: – and then eat you?
RHG: An F –
Carrie: You could try!
RHG: An F review still sells books.
Sarah: Damn skippy.
RHG: You said their, you said the name.
RHG: That’s going to make at least five people go, oh, I want Velveeta. Those people are wrong, but they’ll still spend their money.
Sarah: No, it’s okay.
Carrie: They’re, they’re wrong. You’re wrong, people! I’m judging you!
Sarah: I’m not. Eat your Velveeta and get your Ro*Tel.
Carrie: No. I’m judging. No Velveeta.
Sarah: I always have Ro*Tel. And I know that there are people, like, I, I know, like, an American ex-pat who lives in Australia, ‘cause Ro*Tel is not exported, she’s like, all I want to do is bring home a suitcase full of Ro*Tel. I miss it so much.
Carrie: What the hell is Ro*Tel?
Amanda: It’s like a spicy tomato mixture.
Sarah: It’s like a, it’s a smaller can of diced tomato, so it’s not quite fourteen and a half ounces, it’s a smaller can, but it is tomatoes and green chilis, and so it’s like if diced tomatoes were more Tex-Mex flavored, basically.
Sarah: And –
Elyse: We use it like chili.
Sarah: Yeah. Like, I have a salsa recipe that I make every week, because it’s amazing, but it involves a can of Ro*Tel. Also honey, lime juice, and cilantro.
Amanda: That sounds delicious.
Sarah: Oh, it’s good. I’ll send you the recipe. I call it easy –
Sarah: – it’s easy blender salsa. I make it all the time.
Carrie: I also have that genetic thing where I don’t like cilantro.
Elyse: Oh, cilantro’s so good.
Amanda: Where it tastes like soap for you? Right?
Carrie: It tastes like, like death.
Sarah: [Laughs] Soap, death –
Elyse: I, I love cilantro –
Carrie: It tastes like, it tastes like medicine. When I’m being charitable I say it tastes like medicine.
Elyse: I, I can’t do cumin, though. At all.
Carrie: Oh, really? I like cumin.
Sarah: I like cumin. I think that too much of it smells like feet, though.
RHG: Yes. That is true.
Sarah: It has a very odd small.
Carrie: It does have an odd smell. I’m not sure I would have said feet per se, but yeah, it does have an odd smell.
Lucy: Woof woof woof!
Sarah: Hi, Lucy.
Carrie: I believe that what may have happened is my husband might have come home, and –
Carrie: – you know, you can never tell. Until we enter the house and Lucy smells us, we could be in disguise.
Carrie: Okay, we could be anybody.
Sarah: You could be covered with Velveeta, trying to lure a zombie.
Sarah: This could happen.
Carrie: Yeah, so, yeah. Yeah. I, I don’t know. Sorry. Hi, everybody, my dog is here.
Sarah: Oh, that’s fine.
Sarah: I’m trying to keep the cat calm on the desk so it doesn’t try to, like, hump my laptop or climb inside the sound box.
Sarah: Cats are high maintenance, man.
Elyse: But they’re so cute.
Sarah: They are; they are so cute, and man, the heated bed is popular. Oh, my gosh!
Sarah: And if one of them is in it and the other wants it, they just sit on top of each other. Like hamburgers.
RHG: That’s why we had to get two.
Megan: Hi, Sarah. This is Megan from The Woodlands, Texas. My first romance reads were all the LaVyrle Spencers in the early ‘90s, and then I took a break, and about 2009 I discovered Lynsay Sands and Katie MacAlister’s paranormal, which led to the rest of their catalogs, and then after that I discovered Julia Quinn and Li-, Lisa Kleypas on audio, and it’s been downhill ever since. Thank you guys for all you do. Bye.
Sarah: So do you guys want to hear about my choices?
Everybody else: Yes!
Sarah: Yes? I’m, I’m not excused?
Everybody else: No.
Sarah: I always feel weird, like, I edit the podcast, and I take out me talking a lot, because I’m like, Jesus, I’m boring! Snip-snip. Back to you!
RHG: That’s – ohhh.
RHG: You’re wrong!
Sarah: Oh, okay.
Sarah: All right, I’ll be less judicious with my editing.
Elyse: We like to hear you talk.
Sarah: I do edit out my stutter so that when I see it in the transcript I’m always like, oh! I missed one. There’ll be garlicknitter with, like, five Is and five commas. Like, oh, there it is.
Sarah: Darn, missed one.
Sarah: So I, I’ve always, I’ve, I’ve told the story of my first romance, which was Midsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter, which I still love that book. It is so – I don’t like the word problematic, because it’s too vague. Like, what is the problem? Does it smell? Is it expired? Is it toxic? Is it racist? Like, what’s the problem?
Carrie: It’s like Velveeta.
Sarah: No, it’s better than Velveeta, ‘cause Velveeta’s – your baseline Velveeta is not bad for me. Baseline Velveeta is, you know, it’s, it’s there. It’s – there are things that are better, but it’s not like, you know, it’s not like that cheese that’s fermented and, and, and whatever the hell that’s called. Isn’t there a cheese that’s, like, you bury it? Or is that shark?
Carrie: That’s fish.
Elyse: That’s shark.
Sarah: Or sheep. Yeah, okay. But I also know that there’s some cheese that it’s just like, no, I can’t handle the smell.
Carrie: All right, I’ve gotten you off topic. Mid-, Midsummer Moon, Catherine Coulter.
Sarah: Midsummer Magic.
Carrie: Midsummer Magic, sorry.
Carrie: I think Midsummer Moon is the one with the hedgehog that I totally adore, but it’s not by Catherine Coulter, and now I can’t –
Sarah: No, that’s by Laura Kinsale.
Sarah: Midsummer Magic does not have a hedgehog. It does, however, have a hero who is sort of manipulated into marriage, a heroine who disguises herself as ugly so that her two charming sisters will be picked by this guy who’s being manipulated into marriage, but he picks her because he’s like, I will just totally park her in the country and then go back to London and bang my mistress and all will be well, and so she’s very pissed ‘cause she didn’t want to be picked, and she’s picked, and now she’s married to him and they have to have sex, and so at one point he, he uses cream to ease his entry? Like multiple –
Elyse: Like legitimate, like, like –
Carrie: Like you’d have in coffee?
Sarah: He just, it’s, it’s not very specific. It’s not like he grabbed a jar of Velveeta. It was like, he jar, he ran to, back to his room and grabbed some cream, and –
RHG: No, it was like face cream.
Elyse: No, that’s probably also going to, you, then you’re going to get a yeast infection.
RHG: Aren’t you going to get a, you’re going to get a yeast infection pretty much from anything. I mean, come on.
Sarah: So he’s trying to be considerate and at the same time he’s awful, but it’s a really interesting exercise in, as the reader, accepting that he is a complete dick to her, and he’s horrible to her, but he’s also trying not to be really, really awful. Like, he could just, you know, bang her and leave, but he wants to not hurt her, even though they have to consummate the marriage for whatever reasons. And then when she, he goes back to London to bang his mistress, she, he leaves her at his estate, which is a horse stud farm? Stud farm? Is that a thing?
Sarah: The, the horses also bang, basically. The, at, at the farm, there’s lots of horses having sex, and she knows lots of things about horses, because she’s Scottish and she likes horses, so she starts, like, getting involved in the estate, and he comes back, and not only in his, is his wife, like, hot, but she’s running things, and he’s really not prepared to deal with this. And then they get together and there’s, they don’t need any cream anymore. I don’t know why that book hits me in all of, like, just in so many places. It’s probably a lot of nostalgia, but I love that book. But the one that I, that I, that really changed me? That, like, I look at this and think, wow! like, my life is different ‘cause I read this book, is Instant Attraction by Jill Shalvis? So I read it, and I want to say I read it in, like, January, and I, I, the whole book takes place in an outdoor snow sport sort of company, these three brothers run it, and the, the hero of that book is a former professional snowboarder who busted up himself, and now he can’t snowboard and it’s very sad. But I grew up with a parent who is extremely seasonally affected, and so I grew up hearing that winter is the worst thing ever, like, it’s horrible. It’s just, it’s terrible, you just have to endure it, and, you know, I grew up in Pittsburgh where there’s, like, a cloud that comes in in October, and then it leaves sometime in April, but it just hangs out all winter? And so I, I just sort of grew up thinking, oh, winter’s horrible and you have to get through it and it’s terrible. And winter isn’t fun, it’s not, like, joyful to be outside waiting for the bus in the cold, but then this book was like, no, winter’s awesome! You go snowboarding! You go skiing! And I hated skiing the times that I’d tried it. I thought it was horrible, ‘cause ski boots are the devil and they’re so uncomfortable? But then I was like, I want to learn how to snowboard. I want to do this. And you ever, you ever read about something or see something or look at something and you have that sort of resonance, like, oh, oh! That’s a thing! That’s, that’s a thing I, that, yeah. Okay! That’s a thing that I want to do. So I went home and researched ski vacations after reading this book. My younger son was still a baby, because that first year he was in the, the, the childcare center at this, at, at the place where we went in Vermont. My older son learned to ski; he was four. I learned to snowboard the following year. And then my husband also learned to snowboard, but he’d been skiing in high school. And now it’s a thing that we do every year; we go skiing and snowboarding. But it, part of it was that book not only giving me this thing where I had that sort of internal resonance of, oh, oh! That, that, yeah, that sounds good, but also this idea that winter could be fun and, and that you can go outside and do stuff, and it’s not this miserable, horrible thing to get through? Unless you’re in Wisconsin, which, which I understand that winter is something –
Elyse: Well –
Sarah: – that you just have to get through.
Elyse: – it is, it is most of our year, but.
Sarah: But the summer months, like, make up for it, right?
Elyse: Actually, I really love winter. I don’t think I could live anywhere that didn’t have a winter. And yeah, there is that, like, you hit a point in January, February, where you’re like, okay, fuck this, right.
Elyse: Where you – and that’s when everyone goes on vacation, so that’s when we do, like, a week somewhere tropical and kind of break it up, but, like, I love, I love the snow. I love when you’re lying in bed at night or you’re at home and there’s a snowstorm coming in, and you can hear the wind, and you look outside and it’s just, it’s, like, beautiful and quiet and still, so –
Sarah: Isn’t it –
Elyse: – no, I dig the winter.
Sarah: Isn’t it amazing how when you have a really big snowstorm the sky turns lavender?
Elyse: And it’s warm out. Like, it’s warmer out when it snows than when it doesn’t snow.
Sarah: Yeah. And I also notice that living, when we lived in New Jersey it was, it could be cold as hell. Like, there were some – I mean, not like Wisconsin cold; you’ll laugh at our cold – but I remember, like, there was a, a wind chill and the, with, with the wind chill it was something like 15 or 20 below zero and, you know, that’s never fun when you’re waiting for the bus, but it’s sunny. Like, the sun’s out.
Sarah: I remember being very disoriented when we first moved to Jersey, and I was like, it’s cold, but the sky is blue? What? Does that – what?
Elyse: Well, it, yeah. I mean, I think usually the coldest days of the year are clear.
Sarah: Yes, ‘cause the clouds don’t hold in the heat.
Elyse: Right. And I think when you live in an area like Wisconsin or Minnesota where you’re used to having really harsh winters, there’s kind of a, I don’t know, like a celebration that kind of comes out of that, right. We’re all going to be stuck inside for a bunch of months, so we better be nice to each other and, and drink Gluhwein and glogg and have a good time.
Sarah: Now, you have to be –
Sarah: – nice to each other or nice?
Elyse: That’s – well, Midwestern nice.
RHG: Well, yeah, these, it’s Midwestern nice. That’s where –
RHG: – Minnesota nice comes from is –
Elyse and Sarah: Right.
RHG: – that, that we all pretend this fiction because we have to, because we can’t leave.
Elyse: Right, and you, you don’t want to kill each other, ‘cause at that point, what are you going to do with the body? The ground’s really frozen.
Elyse: So –
Sarah: And there’s also the, there’s, there’s a sort of lack of bullshit and artifice and pretension in cultures where if you’re not careful the place you live could kill you?
Elyse: Yeah, I think, I know, like, when I look at how, so I was in Alabama a while back for training, and when I looked at the way that women in Alabama dress to go to work, right, it was like, holy shit, I am not bringing my A game –
Elyse: – but then I remember that in the winter I legitimately come to work wearing long underwear under thermal leggings with, like, giant Wellington Sorel-type boots up to my knees and, like, three – and nobody gives a fuck, right?
Elyse: And don’t bother wearing makeup because it’s going to, you’re, you’re –
Sarah: [Laughs] It’s going to freeze!
Elyse: – tears from the cold – yeah, I mean –
Sarah: And fall off your face in a big chunk.
Elyse: So there’s that whole, like, we’re not trying to fool anybody; we just want to get from the car into the building and not die. Like, that –
Elyse: – that’s the plan here, and we’re going to layer heavily.
Carrie: So when I lived in Alaska, in Bethel, like, winter, the only problem with winter was it just kept going. It just would. Not. Fricking stop. So every year, like, around February, I was like, okay, fuck this, you know, but, you know, it’s Halloween and the kids start trick or treating and they have their costumes on over their snowsuits –
Carrie: – you know, and they can, like, hardly move, and then we would do, like, an Easter egg hunt, and the Easter eggs were really easy to find, ‘cause you’d put ‘em out in the snow, and all the kids are still in their snowsuits. Like, it just goes on and on. But there’s also kind of a sense like, okay, all the community stuff happens in the winter.
Carrie: All the parties, all the plays, we get together for movies, because in that it’s still kind of a subsistence setup, so as soon as it gets warm everybody goes to fish camp, everybody leaves. So if you’re going to, you know, do something as a community, you do it in the winter or, like, the, sometimes, like, at the very end of winter. Like, we had a big dance festival, native dance festival, I think in March, which still was pretty much winter, but, but it was better flying weather, which was really important, ‘cause everybody had to fly in and out. But I really liked that, and then every time you got through a winter it was like you had, like, another mark of status, right? You had made it through X number of winters. And you know, like, it was hardcore, so you had to put on, to go, like, to walk outside my door, you’d put on at least ten layers of clothes, and because the roads would ice and we didn’t drive anywhere, you’d put crampons, like mountain-climbing crampons, on your shoes. Do you guys do that in Wisconsin and Minnesota?
Elyse: Not to, like, go to work or anything, but if you were going to do anything seriously outdoors-y, like hunt or something, then yeah, you would probably, that’s not a bad plan.
Carrie: No, you’d do this like, step out your front door to, like, everything is icy, but we have that same thing –
RHG: There are, there are times when things are so bad here because Boston has the melt-freeze cycle down?
RHG: That some people do do the Yaktrax just to make it to the fucking bus stop.
Sarah: We had to do that this year here.
Carrie: Yeah. Yeah. But it does have that same thing where Bethel was really, really dry, so it’s super, super cold, but there’s not very, very much snow. It’s, and it’s, and that you only get, like, an hour of sunlight a day, but it’s super bright, super blue sky, and all the ice is super, super reflective and, you know, that was really beautiful.
Sarah: And then when winter ends in Alaska, like, it makes noise, right?
Carrie: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, oh, no, no, ‘cause see, the river ices, and we call it the river road, ‘cause you drive up and down it to the villages all winter, right? So when it gets close to breakup, you know, they announce it, people stop driving on it, and then there’s all these community bets, you know, on when the river is going to break up, and you can get, win big money if you –
Carrie: – if you win the, the bet. And then it’s this huge community thing, and then as soon as the, the breakup starts to happen, ev-, everybody in town goes out to watch the water break up, so for days everybody, you know, every time you can leave the office, sometimes an office will just close and we’ll all go watch the water break up, and it makes this wind chime noise, especially towards the end, when the ice has gotten into, like, small fragments? It makes this, like, it sounds like wind chimes. It’s really cool.
Sarah: So do you ever look at yourself and think, okay, well, lived in Alaska, froze my ass off, now I’m in Sacramento, and it’s 110! Like, have you ever thought about maybe just permanently living in a place where it was, like, 70?
Carrie: Yeah. Yeah, that would be nice, yes.
Sarah: Like, temperate weather?
Carrie: Oh, that would be living the dream.
Sarah: [Laughs] Or, you know, maybe you just need to move to, like, Costa Rica.
Carrie: Oohhh! Well, who wouldn’t like to live in Costa Rica, really?
RHG: I wouldn’t. There’re no seasons.
Carrie: There’s a lot of –
Sarah: Yeah, ‘cause I know you guys like winter.
Carrie: – serious bugs. Anyway, I got, we got off again on a tangent, and we didn’t hear more about the book that made you love winter.
Sarah: Oh, no, that was it! I love that book –
Carrie: That was it, right?
Sarah: – I’ve read it a hundred times, and it’s, it’s not even like it’s the characters or it’s the, the thing that happens in the romance. It’s the setting of the book that just was so vivid to me that I, I still remember reading it and thinking, oh, whoa. And, I mean, the story itself is really good, it’s still one of my favorite contemporaries, but I think that’s true for a lot of, of romance readers that, well, like Elyse said, it’s, it’s, this is where women are the, the story –
Sarah: – and so if you read a lot of romance then you end up learning about things that you might not otherwise have experienced. Like, I had never really heard of or thought about the idea of bisexuality until I read Butterfly Tattoo by Deidre Knight – Deidre Knight? Deidre Knight. Hope that’s right. I will have to look it up – where the character had been married to a man and then finds himself falling for a woman, and that’s part of his conflict, and it, it, that, I mean, there’s still not a lot of bisexuality represented in romance, and a lot of bisexuality gets sort of erased as, you know, you have to pick a side. I had never even thought of it. It was not something that I even was aware of because it, I just, I just never learned about it until I read about that character and then realized, oh, that’s a, that’s a thing. Okay.
Elyse: Yeah, I mean, I, I studied literature and, you know, the, when I got to college there was more diversity and more focus on women and different ethnicities and things like that, but romance novels were really the first books I read that this was the heroine’s story, and she is going to take agency for herself. I remember in sophomore year in high school we did, like, an Arthurian legend unit or something, and I remember we read, you know, the, the legend of King Arthur, and then we also read “The Lady of Shalott,” and my teacher was asking for, like, what we thought about it, and I’m like, I think Lancelot needs to put a bag on his head ‘cause he’s fucking shit up for, like, a lot of women, right?
Elyse: And I remember – I don’t think I used those exact words, but that was the gist of it – my teacher’s like, that is not a valid literary criticism. Fast forward –
Sarah: The hell it’s not! [Laughs]
Elyse: Yeah. Fast forward many years later to me working for Smart Bitches – ha-ha, motherfucker! Right?
Sarah: It’s all valid criticism here! I, I went to a very small women’s college in the South. The, there are still less than twelve hundred students, I think, in the total enrollment, which was not to my, it wasn’t where I intended to go, but it was the very ideal place for me, and I ended up in an English department where we did not really study a whole lot of dead white guys? We, I studied a lot of Southern women writers. So we took deep dives into, like, Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty and other fiction writers that are, like, still, people who are still writing, but even then, when I, when I wanted to read something that was more fun? I mean, ‘cause Flannery O’Connor is, was brilliant, but she wrote about some fucked-up horrible human beings. I mean, seriously, right?
Carrie: Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Sarah: Oh, my God.
Elyse: But I think that’s the other part that romance novels really work for me is because I’m tired of women’s fiction being centered around tragedy, and I understand that, why it is –
Sarah: Yes, thank you.
Elyse: – a lot of the time? Because it’s representative of real-life experiences, but at the same time, it’s like I do occasionally want to read a story featuring a female lead that isn’t death and sadness.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. This is true. So I have one final question for you guys. Is there a, a book that you’re looking forward to that’s coming out soon that you’re really excited about reading? Carrie, I know you lost your mind over Sourcebooks Instagram this morning.
Carrie: Oh, yes. I did. What else have – oh, oh, oh, oh! It’s, it’s, it’s comic book time, so –
Carrie: – coming out soon is a new volume of Sex Criminals a new volume of Saga, and I like to read those particular comic book runs in their, their trade publication form, where several issues are collected at once, so it will all be new and thrilling to me.
Sarah: I started writing down the books that I want to have, that I, the books that I want to read, because I send them to my Kindle, and then I look at my Kindle and I’m like, what is that? I don’t know what that is. There’s no cover art, ‘cause sometimes in advanced copies there’s no cover art, or I, or the, the formatting of the title gets messed up, so I have no idea what it is, and I’m like, why is this? So I had to start keeping track of them, and I’m too paranoid to do this on Goodreads because I’m afraid that even if I create a list and set it to private, the settings will change and it’ll become public, and I don’t want that to be public? Like, I just want to keep it to, so I have –
Sarah: – like, I write it down on paper. There is a book coming out in September, and I’m trying to make myself not read it, but –
Amanda: Is it Labyrinth Lost?
Sarah and somebody: Yes.
Sarah: Yes! Brujas!
Sarah: I am all about the brujas. Mas brujas. Si, si. Me gusta mucho. I, I – sorry, I almost switched language – I am, okay, (a) the cover is gorgeous, and (b) I’m so excited, and then, then, then, I got an email about a, a, a lesbian female heist romance with a thief heroine.
Sarah: That was kind of my reaction too.
Elyse: What book would that be?
Sarah: That would be –
Sarah: – Uptown –
Carrie: We’re all making grabby hands.
Sarah: – Uptown Thief by Aya, I think it’s Aya de Leon or Ava de Leon. I think it’s Aya. Aya de Leon. It’s from Dafina; it’s the Kensington imprint. And I am so very curious about this. Yes.
Carrie: I have required reading. I have homework. You’ll all be extremely – and I don’t care if this is public – you’ll all be highly amused that my therapist made, is making me read a book called Boundaries, and I’ve forgotten the name of the author, it’s Dr. Somebody, but I thought, well, yes, you guys will be like, well, duh!
Sarah: Is it telling you how to build them? Or how to set them? Or why they’re important?
Carrie: Well, I, I think it’s all of the above.
RHG: [Laughs] She doesn’t know; she hasn’t read it yet.
Carrie: I haven’t read it yet, Sarah! How would I know? No, but I, I believe the message is boundaries are good.
Carrie: Yeah. So, you know.
Sarah: I just, I just finished a book in which the, one of the characters was very, very estranged from her mother, and that character is increasingly vilified through the story because she becomes the villain, and I kept thinking, if the part where she’s estranged from her mother is supposed to make her the villain, her mom’s pretty toxic, so I just have a lot of empathy for her. Sorry. It’s –
Sarah: Boundaries are important.
[Pause for Truth]
Sarah: What about you, Elyse? Anything that you’re looking forward to that you want to read?
Elyse: I have The Woman in Cabin 10 that comes out in July, so I’m kind of pacing myself. That’s a psychological thriller that takes place on a cruise ship where the woman in the title thinks that she saw somebody get killed, which is kind of, everyone else is kind of gaslighting her, like, no, nobody really got killed, and she’s like, I know what I saw. So I’m looking forward to reading that. I’m reading Three, I want to read Three Dark Crowns, which is a YA dystopian fantasy that comes out in September.
Sarah: What about you, Amanda?
Amanda: Well, I keep track of everything because I have a problem.
Amanda: So I, I went through, like, my to-read list on Goodreads, and I’m surprised that there’s not more that I was super excited about, but there are two. One, I don’t know if you’ve heard, Sarah, but Maria Semple has a new book coming out?
Amanda: Yes. I heard about this, I think, like, three days ago, and I actually picked up Where’d You Go, Bernadette based off of your recommendation on the site, like, I think you reviewed it for Smart Bitches? So this one is about kind of like a depressed mom, and she’s like, okay, today was awful, but tomorrow, like, I promise, I’m going to, you know, like, go to yoga, and I’m going to do this, and so she, like, makes that list in her head, like, all right, well, today was shit, but tomorrow I’m going to get everything together. Tomorrow’s going to be the day. And then, of course, it doesn’t go how she planned. So I’m, I’m very curious to see what it’s going to be like, because the, the jacket copy is very vague, but that comes out in October, and it’s called Today Will Be Different. And then the next book that I’m excited about comes out in September, and it’s co-authored by Nina Bocci, who I haven’t read before, and Alice Clayton, who I love, who does great romantic comedy stories. Her Hudson Valley series is fantastic. So Nuts is the first book in that, and then I have Cream of the Crop right now, and it’s hilarious. But Roman Crazy is about a woman who used to live in Boston, and she’s about to divorce her husband for being a jerk, and she’s just like, fuck it, I’m going to just run away and have a fresh start in Rome. So, Sarah, you might like it too, ‘cause you like fish out of water stories.
Sarah: I do, and I like travel stories too.
Amanda: Yeah, it’s called Roman Crazy, and it comes out in September, and so she kind of just, like, packs up all her stuff and goes to Italy to start a new life, so. Both of them seem very funny and, and very interesting, and I’m excited.
Sarah: Are you reading All the Single Ladies?
Amanda: No, but I desperately want to. I desperately want to get my hands on it. [Laughs]
Elyse: Have any of you guys read The Grisha [Gree-sha] or Grisha [Grish-sha] series? I just started the first book, Shadow and Bone. It’s a –
Amanda: Oh, I think own, I think own that one, the first copy, and I’ve heard it’s good.
Elyse: Yeah, it’s, it’s a YA fantasy series, but it kind of takes place in kind of like a, it’s, like, based on Russian folklore.
Amanda: Russian –
Amanda: If you like that, one of the most beautiful books I have ever read in my life – and it’s also very dense; like, I couldn’t read more than fifty pages in a sitting – is Deathless? It’s beautiful. Like, the writing is beautiful, the mythology is beautiful, it’s Russian influenced, it’s fantasy. It’s kind of just like a big allegory, though, to Russia in World War II, I believe, but it’s, it’s an amazing book, fantasy, great writing. So if you like Shadow and Bone –
Tiffany: Hi, Sarah, Amanda, Carrie, RedHeadedGirl, and Elyse. I’m Tiffany, and I’m from Sydney, Australia. So the first book that got me into romance was actually a fantasy book. I wouldn’t know if I could call it a YA, because there was a sex scene in it. It’s a book by Kate Forsyth, and it’s a series called The Witches of Eileanan. I can never say the titles right. In one of the books the, one of the main female protagonists, she gets it on in the cave with the prince, and it just, it just hooked me, and I was like, where can I find more of this? And it, I, I liked it so much. This is me, fifteen years old, and I was like, I have to return this library book, but I don’t want to lose this section of the book, so I typed it all up on my Word, just so I can re-read that section over and over again, and I forgot when or how, but I, I guess I wandered into the romance section in my library. Thank God, it had, like, a huge section for it, and I just went to the deep end with that. I just, this was like a beginning of my romance reading career, I guess. I just remember spending so much time at school just reading romance book after romance book, not really doing any schoolwork – [laughs] – and my friends dubbed me That Reading Girl because I just read, like, that’s all I did. I didn’t really talk to them. I would just kind of be like, yeah, like, don’t talk to me when I’m reading, please. [Laughs] Anyways, happy hun-, two hundredth episode, and thanks so much for doing this. Bye!
Elyse. So, so we had this really interesting conversation. So Sarah recommended the Call of Crows series. I thought, oh, Rich is really going to like this. I got it for him on Audible, ‘cause that’s, he, he reads books, but it takes him so long with his dyslexia that he prefers to listen to them on audio. He just, like, inhaled the first two books. I don’t think he, everything he was doing, he was listening to those books, and then he had to tell me all about them all the time. Like, about –
Elyse: He still, like, periodically cracks himself up over Brodie Hawaii, the pit bull –
Sarah: The dog.
Elyse: – running around the backyard with someone’s arm in his mouth and his, her mom being like, Brodie Hawaii! You drop that arm! You’re a role model for pit bulls!
Carrie: That is such a beautiful moment in literature.
Carrie: I treasured it.
Elyse: So –
Sarah: I love those books.
Elyse: So he loves those books, and then I got him to read the Bannon and Clare series by Lilith St. Crow, which is, like, a steam punk paranormal mystery series, and then there’s the Psy/Changeling series, so he’s all of a sudden, he’s like, I didn’t know these were romance novels! I love romance novels! And I’m like –
Elyse: – see?
Sarah: Welcome, Rich. Did, did he like Dragon Actually?
Elyse: We have not started Dragon Actually yet.
Sarah: Oh, my God. It is campy, blood-soaked, female ass-kicking fairy tales. Like, when you meet –
Sarah: Annwyl the Bloody, it is just going to, it’s going to rock his world. I love that book.
Elyse: He was really, I think, surprised – maybe surprise isn’t the right word. He’s like, these are really sexy books. And I’m like –
Elyse: – yeah. Yeah, they are. And he’s like, but you’re on vaginal rest. I’m like, yeah, tough life for you, pal. Right?
Elyse: But no, he was really, he’s like, I really like fantasy romance, so that’s now his thing.
Sarah: Oh, there’s so much good stuff, too, now, because I think it’s becoming a little bit more popular? And, like, there was that glut of paranormal where there were just vampires and werewolves everywhere, and –
Sarah: – multiple alphas in the same clan and the same world with lots of books, and it just sort of became, like, a regurgitated cycle, but when, when, with the new sort of fantasy worlds that are being built that are huge and epic, it’s, there’re more of them, and they’re wonderful. Like, there’s a, a reader – [laughs] – there’s a reader review, and Amanda was like, I want this book right now!
Elyse: Well, I think, I know one thing he commented on that he really liked in the Call of Crows series was that – he’s upstairs; I feel like I should just go get him – was that, that there’s –
Carrie: Oh, yeah, go get him.
Elyse: – there’s clearly a larger arc happening between the books.
Elyse: So he likes it when, this is one of the things he really likes about the Dresden Files is you have the individual stories but also this other arc that’s going to happen throughout the series, so you feel like there’s going to be closure at the end? It’s not just going to go on forever a la Stephanie Plum.
Sarah: She should go back in time. Shouldn’t Stephanie Plum go back in time?
Carrie: I would totally read that. It’s so funny, but, like, when I discovered Stephanie Plum, all of a sudden all I could read was Stephanie Plum, and I must have read ten Stephanie Plum books in three days, and then I could never go near her again.
Carrie: It was like that thing where my –
Sarah: You OD’d on her.
Carrie: I OD’d. It was like I ate, like, one specific kind of junk food, like, so fast that I gave myself a horrible stomachache, and now I can’t go near it. But I think part of it was just that feeling of, like, part of what kept me going was it was like, oh, how’s this going to resolve? And then I was like, oh, wait, it’s not. It’s just going to go and go and go, and I’ve already read, like, thirteen of these, so I’m good.
Sarah: Any books you’re looking forward to?
RHG: I don’t know, I feel like I’m kind of in a slump right now. I just got A Certain Age, that book with the gorgeous cover?
Carrie: Oh, it’s beautiful!
RHG: That, I’m looking forward to reading that.
Sassy: Dude, I had someone come up to me yesterday, and I had on a, a The Ripped Bodice shirt, and they had happened, I’d just placed my order at a café, and they’d asked for my name, and I had said Sassy.
Sassy: And she goes, are you the Sassy on the Smart Bitches podcast? And I’m like, yeah.
Sarah: That’s so awesome!
Sassy: Holy crap, I got a celebrity sighting from the Smart Bitches podcast. [Laughs] It was so awesome.
Sarah: That’s so rad!
Sassy: It was fun. It was cool.
Sarah: That’s super cool! Well, I’m actually using one of your early pieces of music for this episode, the “Rumba for SB,” as the, as the file is called.
Sarah: Did you make that up, or is that a, like, a, a piece of –
Sassy: No, that is an actual piece. That is part of a series of dances that was written for harpists, and I had heard it as a child and fallen in love with the piece, and I looked for it and looked for it and looked for it in college, and then I realized it was a, a part of whole collection of pieces and wound up studying the whole song cycle, but that piece still remains probably my favorite harp piece to play of all time.
Sarah: That’s awesome!
Sarah: I’m, I’m glad I get to use it, so thank you.
Sassy: Yes! Thank you.
Sarah: Do you know who it’s by?
Sassy: I need to, I want to say Cezanne? I will look. Give me –
Sarah: Yeah, no worry. Take your time.
Sassy: – five minutes, ‘cause I know I’m just, like, I have chemo brain right now? Slash hormone brain slash all kinds of not-functioning brain.
Sarah: Oh, perfect. I can’t wait to ask you –
Sassy: So this was on my recital, but I cannot remember jack crap right now. [Laughs]
Sarah: Dude – so here’s my question for you: what is the book that made you a romance reader? Do you remember what it was?
Sassy: [Sighs] So I started with Arrows of the Queen, the, the Queen’s Own [Heralds of Valdemar] series by Mercedes Lackey?
Sassy: That book series, I think, turned me onto the idea of romance as a driving force in the – I’m a huge Joseph Campbell fan? The whole hero’s journey, mythology journey? I’m a die-hard Star Wars fan? I remember being able to see those movies when I, the, the ‘70s, the first, original movies. I saw them before I lost my sight, so I fell madly in love with Joe-ish, Joseph Campbell’s analysis of epic mythology and journeys and things like that, and one of the things that was never brought up too much was relationships –
Sassy: – romance. And then suddenly I read this story about this incredible heroine who is life-bonded to this incredible person who doesn’t know he’s incredible, and the story just completely kind of transformed how I viewed mythology and archetype and all of these nerdy literary things that made me want to start off college as an English major. And I, I was crazy for it, and then I read Anne McCaffrey’s Killashandra [Crystal Singer] series and again realized that romance was this thing that I had loved but never really taken seriously in my books because I had that whole idea of bodice rippers, and to be honest, as a kid, they didn’t put a lot of Harlequin books or, or romance novels into Braille where we could access them. I had much better access to other types of books that had elements of romance in them, but I’d never read a, a straight romance novel until I got out of college, I think, was the first time I actually picked up a full-on romance novel, and I read Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnea Sinclair, and it’s a sci-fi, but there’s, it’s a romance, and that, I think, was the first time I had ever gone, that’s a romance, and that’s a hero’s journey, and that’s exactly what I want. I like sci-fi, I like thrillers, I like guns in my books, but it’s all for love. It’s all for romance, and that’s when I started reading and writing romance. And the first book I wrote wasn’t supposed to be a romance. [Laughs]
Sarah: Whoops. Darn.
Sassy: And then I finished it, and I went, wait a minute.
Sarah: Oh, crap.
Sassy: There’s no other way to label this. This is a romance novel. [Laughs] I wrote a romance novel.
Sassy: And that’s how it started. Yep.
Sarah: Is there a romance that you’ve read that has changed you profoundly, like, you can point to it as sort of a pivoting point in your life? Or is it the first ones that you read that made you go, oh! I like this! This is great!
Sassy: That changed me profoundly. Oh, there’re so many.
Sassy: Reading Susanna Kearsley’s books where she changes time periods with a character. The, the characters go back in time?
Sassy: But going to that archetypal idea, I still look at it as kind of going back in your life and looking at the things you did in the past versus the things you do now –
Sassy: – and influencing your decisions, ‘cause I like to apply books to real life. I, anybody who listens to the podcast knows I take books and go, can I see characters in reality, in reality? Can I see, can I identify with things that are going on in this book? And, so I love how she kind of takes the character’s assessment of her life and applies it to past and present and, and what could, their, her future could be. In every single book, that’s kind of a theme of hers, and I was profoundly changed by, by reading those books and, and starting to do that to my own life, in a good way.
Sassy: One year ago today I was going through neurosurgery, and I think especially in this past year it’s really been a help to me to remember, there was a time when you were not, like, sick and fighting for your life and not knowing what’s happening to your body, and you’re going to be okay. You just have to remember that time and hope for the time in the future when –
Sarah: You get back to that time.
Sassy: – you get – exactly. Yeah.
Sarah: That’s cool!
Sarah: And that is our two hundredth episode. Wow, an hour and a half! I hope you liked it. I am so excited that I have been able to do two hundred podcast episodes, and I am so thankful to Elyse and Amanda and Carrie and RedHeadedGirl and everyone who called in and Sassy Outwater, and most especially you for listening. Thank you for being part of our podcast community.
This podcast episode was brought to you by you! Yay! Thank you for listening and for being part of the show, for tuning in every week and emailing me and leaving comments and leaving reviews. It is really wonderful to know how many people around the world listen to the show, and it’s just, it’s so cool. So thank you for being so awesome.
The podcast transcript this episode is sponsored by Kensington, publisher of All In by Simona Ahrnstedt. Recently named by Publishers Weekly as one of its best books of summer, All In is the first foreign language romance to be translated and published in the U.S. Escape into this summer’s most buzzed-about book, All In, an international bestseller where beneath the midnight sun, powerful Swedish elite prowl parties for conquests, trade damaging secrets like currency, and one explosive game of cat and mouse between lovers is poised to change the power balance forever. Discover the romance that’s taking the world by storm. All In really does have it all. On sale June 28th.
The music you’re listening to is Sassy Outwater. You can find her on Twitter @SassyOutwater. This is Sassy and her harp, and this is one of the first pieces of music that she sent to us for the show. Every episode we have music that she has either produced or worked on, and in July we have some original music from one of our podcast sponsors. The fact that we get to feature so much cool music is so awesome, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
If you are a regular listener or reader of the transcripts and you’d like to support the show, I would like to humbly ask that you have a look at our Patreon campaign at Patreon.com/SmartBitches. I am looking to upgrade some equipment and commission transcripts for all of the episodes that don’t have them, and it is super fun to come up with rewards and different, different things to do for people who are supporting the show. So if you’ve had a look, thank you very much. And now it’s time for some compliments, which is seriously so much fun.
To Renee: You are more adorable than a sleeping baby otter in a onesie.
To Karina: I know that you probably think that this is the wind, but actually all of the trees wave at you every day because you’re that rad.
To Rachel A.: Underground wherever you step, fairies are throwing a massive dance party, and the groundhogs are too.
Melissa, you are the human personification of a high five, a high ten, and the perfect cupcake.
And to Andrea: In the zombie apocalypse, we’re coming to your house, because you have the best books and the best snacks, and you make everyone feel good.
If you’re wondering what the heck that was about, have a look at our Patreon campaign at Patreon.com/SmartBitches.
And like I said, I would love to hear from you. If you would like to tell us about the book that made you a romance reader, please call us at 1-201-371-3272 and leave us a voicemail. Tell us about the book that turned you into a romance fan. And if you can’t call, just record a file on your phone and email it to me at Sarah@smartbitchestrashybooks.com. Either way, I would love to hear from you about the book that made you a romance fan.
Next week I have an interview that I know you’re going to be excited about, and on behalf of everyone here, I wish you the very best of reading. Have a great weekend, and thank you for celebrating with us.
[lovely, lovely music]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
The podcast transcript this month is sponsored by Kensington, publishers of ALL IN by Simona Ahrnstedt. Recently named by Publishers Weekly as one of its “Best Books of Summer, ” ALL IN is the first foreign-language romance to be translated published in the US. Escape into this summer’s most buzzed about book, ALL IN, an international bestseller where beneath the midnight sun, powerful Swedish elite prowl parties for conquests, trade damaging secrets like currency ,and one explosive game of cat-and-mouse between lovers is poised to change the power balance forever….
In the cutthroat world of Sweden’s financial elite, no one knows that better than corporate raider David Hammar. Ruthless. Notorious. Unstoppable. He’s out to hijack the ultimate prize, Investum. After years of planning, all the players are in place; he needs just one member of the aristocratic owning family on his side—Natalia De la Grip.
Elegant, brilliant, driven to succeed in a man’s world, Natalia is curious about David’s unexpected invitation to lunch. Everyone knows that he is rich, dangerous, unethical; she soon discovers he is also deeply scarred.
The attraction between these two is impossible, but the long Swedish nights unfold an affair that will bring to light shocking secrets, forever alter a family, and force both Natalia and David to confront their innermost fears and desires.
Discover the romance taking the world by storm. ALL IN really does have it all. On Sale June 28th 2016.