Sarah interviews author Rhoda Baxter about writing scientist heroines and her most excellent pen name origin story. Along the way they chat about books, television, and movies, the differences between the US “romance” market and the UK “romantic” market, and gin & tonic baked goods.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello, and welcome to episode number 212 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Today, I am interviewing author Rhoda Baxter. We are going to talk about scientist heroines and her most excellent pen name origin story. Seriously, this is the best How I Got My Pen Name story that I know of. We also talk about books, television and movies, the difference between the US romance market and the UK romance market, and how baked goods can contain gin and tonic, which was a total revelation for me.
As always, I will have links in the podcast entry at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast to all of the books and things we discuss.
I do not have a sponsor for this episode, so I want to ask you very humbly for a request, and I mean this most sincerely. If you can, if you are able, if it is in the realm of the possible for you and you are approaching the fall and winter season in the northern hemisphere, please, for me personally, please go get your flu shot. I am recording this with less than twenty-four hours until the episode drops because this is the best I’ve been able to talk in two weeks. I got the flu early, and it is so brutal, I cannot even tell you. I was between 101 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody. It was gro-, oh, it was terrible and disgusting! Please, avoid what happened to me. If you can get your flu shot, get your flu shot. Herd immunity is an awesome and real thing, and on behalf of my very, very, very, very shy immune system – seriously, my immune system is like a wallflower in a ballroom full of rakes – please, if you can, get your flu shot.
Our music, as always, is provided by Sassy Outwater. You can find her on Twitter @SassyOutwater. I will have information at the end of the podcast as to who this is, but I have used this track before, and it is so awesome, so if you haven’t found it already, I will tell you how to go and find it at the end of the show.
Speaking of finding things, we have our own iTunes page. Did you know that? iTunes.com/DBSA has most recent episodes, plus links to all of the books in the iBook store, which is awesome.
And now, without any further delay – and I have managed not to cough; you have no idea what a miracle that is – on with the podcast!
Rhoda Baxter: I’m Rhoda Baxter. I write romance for Choc Lit Publishing, and I live in the UK in the north, where it is now getting cold. I used to be a scientist. I still kind of am, but, yeah, I wrote romance novels.
Sarah: Do you ever really stop being a scientist?
Rhoda: I don’t know. I don’t know. My husband is what I call a real scientist, ‘cause he still does real science all the time –
Rhoda: – but, so, yeah. [Laughs] But, yeah, I guess, I, I, I’ll always be a scientist.
Sarah: ‘Cause I live, I live near someone who works for NASA, and they pretty much think in scientific terms and with a scientific context all the time.
Rhoda: Yeah. I, guess, yeah, I guess you can’t really stop doing that.
Sarah: [Laughs] What kind of –
Rhoda: It’s very annoying when you’re working on something and you’re like, ah! That would never happen!
Sarah: So you probably cannot watch a lot of procedural television.
Rhoda: No. It’s like when DNA testing gets done in an hour; you’re just like, yeah.
Rhoda: Nope. Never going to happen.
Sarah: How much does DN-, how long does DNA testing actually take?
Rhoda: Several hours. I mean, it depends what you’re testing. We used to do ours overnight, but that was kind of laziness, you know?
Rhoda: You set it up in the late afternoon, so you can go home and have your dinner. But, no, it is, it takes several hours, like half a day at the very quickest.
Sarah: Right. So when you have a half-hour drama and the DNA test is done in, like, thirty seconds, you have a really good laugh.
Rhoda: Yeah. Yep.
Sarah: What kind of a scientist were you? What did you do?
Rhoda: I was a molecular microbiologist, so, main-, bacteria mainly, and I just kind of moved genes around, see what they did, that sort of thing. Yeah, so I’m actually, actually named after the bacterium that I did my Ph.D. on.
Sarah: This is what I wanted to ask you about. Your pen name comes from a bacterium.
Rhoda: Yeah, it’s a, it’s a little red one called Rhodobacter sphaeroides. And, you know, you used to, we used to go to the pub, and we used to be like, oh, yeah, if I ever wrote a romance novel I’d call myself Rhoda Baxter. And then I did write a romance novel, so I said, ah, I’ve got to do it now.
Sarah: So you kind of had to use the name then.
Sarah: [Laughs] So, has anyone ever identified the bacteria from your pen name?
Rhoda: Only my friend’s dad, but he was like, he’s a doctor, so.
Sarah: [Laughs] Oh, you named yourself after bacteria! That’s so cute!
Rhoda: Like, oh, yeah, it sounds a bit like a bacterium. Yeah, there, there’s a reason for that. [Laughs]
Sarah: It’s on purpose!
Sarah: I think, I, I think of all of the How Did I Pick My Pen Name stories, that’s probably my favorite by a large margin. Oh, I named myself after a bacterium. As you do.
Rhoda: There’re loads more left. There’s, what, Salmonella, Pseudomonas. [Laughs] Lots!
Sarah: The second one would make for a lot of good pen names.
Rhoda: Yeah, Pseudomonas, yeah, it would.
Sarah: That’d be lovely. So if you ever needed, like, a third industry, you could hand out or sell pen name ideas based on molecular bacteria.
Rhoda: Yeah, I should, I should just kind of, you know, get some domain names, like, you know –
Sarah: Oh, yes.
Rhoda: – Sue Domonas, author. [Laughs]
Sarah: Squat on –
Rhoda: That kind of thing.
Sarah: – all the dot coms and dot co.uks.
Sarah: That would be very profitable, I think.
Rhoda: I think so, yeah.
Sarah: ‘Cause you’re going to start a trend. Now everyone’s going to name themselves after bacteria, and we’re going to run out of bacterial names.
Rhoda: Yeah, right? So, okay.
Sarah: When you decided to write romance, I know that a lot of your characters are also scientists. Was that just writing what you know? Or was that sort of like, we need more scientists, especially heroine scientists?
Rhoda: It’s a bit of both. Obviously, I, I, I can convincingly write a scientist, so that’s fine, but, yeah, I mean, I used to read a lot of chick lit. I used to commute to London from Oxford, and it’s a long and boring commute, and –
Sarah: That is a long way. Like, I’m not, that, that’s a long way, right?
Rhoda: Yeah, well, it, it is on, like, the British rail system, it’s, like, an hour and a half, and you’re doing, so, three hours on a train every day. So –
Sarah: That’s a lot.
Rhoda: Yeah. I used to read a lot of chick lit back in the, like, late ‘90s, early 2000s, and I just thought, I don’t, there are no people like me, you know? But, so, yeah, so I thought, I’m going to write professional heroines who do science-y things, because apparently scientists weren’t heroines back, back then. So – or heroes, in fact. [Laughs]
Sarah: No, there weren’t a lot of either.
Rhoda: No. The Big Bang Theory changed things a lot.
Rhoda: Yeah, so I, I wrote that, and Doctor January, which is, like, my first non-chick-lit novel, if you like, that’s got, it’s all entirely set in a microbiology lab, and a lot of the, the science that happens in there is, is based on stuff that I used to do, so I, I know –
Rhoda: – without needing to check, I know it’s accurate.
Sarah: No one, no one can challenge you on the science of your, of your books. Your science is way tight.
Rhoda: Oh, someone did! I had a, I had a review once where they were like, hmm, I, this science isn’t very convincing. I was like, oh-ho, I can give you references.
Rhoda: I know exactly how to do all of those things.
Sarah: I will record a very long, very, very long YouTube video demonstrating all of this.
Rhoda: Yep. Yep. I was, I was actually quite tempted. [Laughs] Well, not to demonstrate it –
Sarah: I can understand that.
Rhoda: Yeah, but you kind of, like, draw out the steps and go, look, this is what PCR does, and this is what this bit does, and yeah, but, you know, I got talked down.
Sarah: Probably for the better. Although, you know –
Rhoda: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sarah: – if you’re going to run a DNA test all night long, you could have your characters get up to some very interesting things while they’re waiting for all those tests to come through.
Rhoda: Very true! Yeah, we used to spend a lot of time apparently doing very little and, you know, like, the boss would come in and, what are you doing? Oh, like, our samples are spinning or samples are running or whatever, and that was perfectly legitimate. But we used to have in the lab an aerobic cabinet, see, which had gloves. You stuck your hands in the gloves, and then you, you press the vacuum, and basically you were stuck in there, and you had to operate it with your feet, and if for some reason you kicked the controls out of your reach, you were stuck. So we used to take a phone in, into the airlock with us –
Rhoda: – and, like, if that number rang, you just kind of went and rescued whoever it, that was stuck.
Rhoda: And, you know, stuff like that. You could do a lot to make it romantic.
Sarah: Especially, especially if you have the, the airlock phone, and the person you get on the other end is someone that you really, really dislike who really gets, gets along poorly with you. You have to go help them out, ‘cause they’re stuck in a cabinet.
Rhoda: Yep! Yeah, it’s, it’s the rules, ‘cause it could be you next time.
Sarah: Ah. I, I’m already imagining the tension. That’s just delicious. You wrote that, right?
Rhoda: [Laughs] Actually, I don’t think I put the airlock bit in. But no. I, I’ll, I’ll go save it for another one.
Sarah: All right, let me know when it’s in, ‘cause I’m here for that.
Rhoda: [Laughs] Cool. I will do.
Sarah: So you have written a number of different books, and it’s, it’s really interesting for me when I talk to writers who publish in the UK, because the terminology that you guys use is slightly different, and I learned a lot about this when I was at RNA in Lancaster in, in July. So you, you have romantic novels –
Sarah: – and then you have chick lit, and romance is not something that is as widely used as a term. Is that right?
Rhoda: Romance, to us, is a bit more nebulous than it is in the US, ‘cause in the US it’s like, front and center is the romantic con-, conflict and the romantic storyline, and –
Rhoda: – there’s not a lot of other stuff. So what we write would probably be more women’s fiction over there.
Rhoda: I mean, there are some. Chick lit is like the – I don’t know, is, is chick lit even a thing over there? I don’t think it is, is it?
Sarah: It, it’s weird. There are books that I could describe as chick lit, except that it’s not a term that’s used anymore in term, in, in marketing, because it’s so –
Sarah: – it, and a lot of readers think it is derogatory or pejorative, and a lot of writers whose books were assigned that category found it really limiting because the – from what I understand, and certainly from my perspective – the idea of chick lit was light and funny, light-hearted, and romance was a secondary or tertiary part of a plot that dealt with a lot of other things.
Sarah: And so if you had a book that was about a female character and romance was part of it, you got assigned chick lit, even if it wasn’t –
Sarah: – anything, anything in common at all with all of the other books in that category, and –
Rhoda: Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s very similar to here.
Sarah: – that – right, and that category kind of just disappeared. Even though the books still exist, they get called other things, or you, you’ll – [laughs] – you’ll have someone pitch a book, and they’ll kind of talk around the term for a little while and use a bunch of other words, and then maybe they’ll be like, it’s kind of like chick lit, but not really.
Rhoda: Exactly! That’s exactly, ‘cause you know, I, I started off, oh, I write romantic comedy, and people were like, is it chick lit? No, no, it’s not chick lit; there’s not enough shopping and shoes in it.
Sarah: Exactly! Shopping and shoes!
Rhoda: Yeah, and they’d be like, okay, so what’s it about? You go, it’s about woman, man, yeah, funny jokes. It’s chick lit. Mm, no. In the end, you just kind of go, right, fine, call it chick lit, and so, yeah.
Sarah: And it’s funny because, for me, chick lit, I think of Sophie Kinsella and Shopaholic and –
Rhoda: Yep. Yeah.
Sarah: – diff-, different, I think Jane Green was a chick lit author, and I don’t know –
Rhoda: I guess now they probably crowbar Sarah Morgan into there, but only just.
Sarah: Barely, yes, ‘cause romance, for Sarah Morgan, is primary to the story. The thing about chick lit, one of my theories, this is, this is totally my own theory –
Rhoda: Okay. The Wendell Theory of Chick Lit.
Sarah: Yes. I am, I am as full of shit as anyone, basically.
Sarah: Grain of salt time. So my theory is that you can trace the evolution of a new subgenre by looking at what pieces it’s made of, and my theory is that New Adult is recasting chick lit in a bad economy, because you have heroines who are coming of age and experiencing autonomy for the first time –
Sarah: – but instead of having a wonderful economy where you get a job with a very high salary right out of college in a field that you’re completely unqualified for! And you can go to Bergdorf’s, like, on a whim! Or, you know, if that’s too boring, go to Barneys! Like, you have this wonderful economic future ahead of you! That is no longer the case. And so you have this same situation of experiencing autonomy, entering adulthood, in a very financially and emotionally precarious time, and that is what has, in part, influenced the, the angst and the emotional, the emotional depth of New Adult, whereas the essential subject matter can be traced back to chick lit. Somewhere right now, many New Adult authors are screaming at me. They don’t know why. They’re just facing the direction that I am in, and they are screeching in, in anger, because I know that – [laughs] – I know that that theory does not hold water with a lot of people –
Sarah: – but I think that there’s –
Rhoda: Oh, I must –
Sarah: – I think there’s a lot of commonality.
Rhoda: – Well, New Adult’s not really huge here, so it still gets probably bundled into YA, yeah, which, which is irritating, ‘cause it’s, it’s –
Rhoda: Yeah, it’s slightly different, yeah. It’s more about becoming you than about, I don’t know, fighting bigger things.
Rhoda: But, yeah, but, it, it would be nice, actually, if it became one, because that would, that would nicely divide up the whole women’s fiction, romantic comedy, What Are We Going to Call the Thing That Isn’t Chick Lit thing.
Sarah: What Are We Going to Call the Thing That Isn’t Chick Lit I think is a question that a lot of people constantly ask, because it, even, even the difference in the way the books look between the UK and US is, is a challenge.
Rhoda: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Sarah: Like, you have co-, covers that are illustrations and silhouettes and cartoons –
Sarah: – and I really like some of them, but to me as an American consumer, they send a completely different message.
Rhoda: Yeah. We occasionally, very, very occasionally have people buy them thinking they’re for children.
Sarah: Uh, oops.
Rhoda: Yeah. And they are so not.
Rhoda: And, yeah. That doesn’t happen very often, ‘cause, well, not so much now, anyway. It used to do. But, you know, cartoon-y covers, if you’re not used to it –
Rhoda: You kind of go, oh, yeah, it’s got, like, cakes and things on the front.
Sarah: And shoes.
Rhoda: I’ll buy that. [Laughs]
Sarah: And possibly slender legs with high heels on.
Rhoda: Yeah, you don’t get so many of those now.
Rhoda: It’s mostly about, it’s tea shops at the moment. It’s all, like, a cake shop in Cornwall and –
Sarah: You know, it’s so funny. You have tea shops and Cornwall. We have small towns and cupcakes. Like, we are, we are never going to run out of cupcake bakeries ever. It’s all bakeries and confectionery shops and cupcakes out, coming out your ears in small towns –
Sarah: – and I love how the –
Rhoda: Same round here, yeah.
Sarah: – the, the parallel in the UK is Cornwall with tea shops.
Rhoda: Yeah, Cornwall, I think, is a Poldark thing, you know?
Sarah: Oh, totally. Totally a Poldark thing! It’s also –
Rhoda: Which should start soon.
Sarah: Yes, I think it is starting soon, isn’t it?
Rhoda: It is, yeah. And we’ve got The Great British Bake Off as well.
Sarah: I know, and we don’t – do, do you know how far behind we are in what is actually aired in the States? We just got the end of the season where Nadia won.
Rhoda: Oh, wow.
Sarah: Like, two weeks ago.
Sarah: We’re so far behind you. It’s like, it’s like when, when our, when our, when our television station puts the Olympics on time delay. Like, we know that this is over and it happened six hours ago; we’re not stupid. With The Great British Bake Off –
Rhoda: You know who won, yeah.
Sarah: – it’s like the Olympics times a thousand. Like, we already know! We watched it on YouTube!
Sarah: It was last year, for God’s sake! And the worst was I knew – okay, so my husband got totally hooked on The Great British Bake Off, which is amazing because we love cooking shows, but we don’t like reality television, and it’s like the best version of reality television, with cooking.
Rhoda: [Laughs] The most brilliant mashup of both.
Sarah: It’s so freaking British!
Rhoda: And it, it’s so, it’s just, it’s competitive, but they’re really nice to each other.
Sarah: Yes! The only thing that would make it more British –
Rhoda: I love that.
Sarah: – the only thing that would make it even more British is if they all had to stand in a queue and wait before they could enter the tent.
Sarah: Like, that would make it extra –
Sarah: – that would be like the cherry on top of the showcase, or the showstopper, of The Great British Bake Off. Make it more British, have ‘em stand in a queue for, like, what, half an hour? Forty-five minutes? Then let ‘em in.
Rhoda: Yeah, yeah.
Sarah: No reason, no complaining, we’re all just going to stand in line, and then you’re going to go inside. Anyway. It’s like the most British thing.
Sarah: And so my husband is totally hooked on the, on the Bake Off, and, like, it’s, it, it’s on the, the DVR. He’s like, oh, we have a Bake Off! We get to watch it! And I knew the ending! I knew that she won; I knew she made the Queen’s birthday cake!
Rhoda: Oh, no!
Sarah: I was like, I knew all this stuff, and I had to, like, shut my mouth, ‘cause you know, Bake Off spoilers is, is, like, a really good way to break up a marriage, right?
Rhoda: No, no.
Sarah: Can’t end my marriage over the Bake Off.
Rhoda: Right! It’s the only thing I watch while it’s being broadcast. Everything else I watch on catch up.
Rhoda: The Bake Off is on at night, my eight-year-old and I, she stays up, and we watch it together.
Sarah: It’s so adorable!
Rhoda: It’s really fun.
Sarah: And I’m, I’m, I’m worried about Mary Berry. Like, I’m a little worried about her.
Sarah: ‘Cause I’m really worried she’s going to haul off and just pop him in the mouth.
Rhoda: [Laughs] What, Paul Hollywood?
Sarah: Yes! [Laughs] I’m waiting for her to be like, no! You’re wrong! Pow! But that would be an American – you can see how I’m tinged by American reality television. The scrum would be the American element.
Rhoda: Well, you know, when, like, Paul’s really mean to them, you’re just like, oh, he’s being mean, but when Mary’s really harsh, it just hurts.
Sarah: Ohhh. Oh, it’s, it guts you!
Rhoda: Yeah, you’re just like, ooh, Mary is harsh!
Sarah: Oh, I just crumpled inside! She’s, I don’t taste the basil. NOOO! Oh, it’s terrible!
Rhoda: So, in, in the first episode of this series, there’s this bit where this guy is, is, is putting gin in it? And her eyes just go bing!
Sarah: Oh really?
Rhoda: I’m sure it was, the camera was just like panned onto her face just for that bit. [Laughs]
Sarah: That, that is a pretty British addition. I mean, like, you guys have gin and tonic bars.
Rhoda: Yeah. Gin and tonic cupcakes.
Sarah: I’m going to have to lie down now. I did not realize that was a thing that existed?
Rhoda: What, gin and tonic cupcakes?
Sarah: No, I had no idea! This is going to be –
Sarah: – this is the, this is my moment. This is how I’m going to make a bazillion dollars in the American romance market. I am going to write about a small-town cupcake shop that sells nothing but alcoholic cupcakes.
Sarah: They have gin and tonic cupcakes, margarita cupcakes, I’m going to have caipirinha cupcakes and, oh, my goodness, a, bourbon cupcakes
Sarah: I’m just, and bacon. Bacon bourbon cupcakes. I’m sure those exist already. I’m going to make alcoholic cupcakes.
Rhoda: Well, there you go then. That’s – [laughs] – that’s bound to be wonderful.
Sarah: There’ll be the best reality show based on the series.
Rhoda: You know, like, an alcoholic cupcake recipe book spin off.
Sarah: Totally! Gin and tonic cupcakes? I feel like my world has just expanded. Wow!
Sarah: Thank you!
Rhoda: There are Cointreau cakes, you can have gin and tonic cupcakes. Why not?
Sarah: Sure, why not? Of course! Ah! So with your, with your books, one of the things I learned from you when we spoke at RNA was that Choc Lit has a bit of a different publishing process, and this – so it’s like a hard right turn from alcoholic cupcakes, but I’m super curious –
Sarah: – ‘cause it chocolate technically, I guess. It’s Choc Lit. So –
Rhoda: Yeah, basically. I mean, we’re, we’re all partial to cupcakes and gin and tonics, so, yeah.
Sarah: Well, I mean, you guys have a whole break for extra food and pastry.
Sarah: That’s very civilized.
Rhoda: We’d be lost –
Sarah: We don’t have teatime. We’re all workaholics over here. We, we eat bad snacks from a vending machine. We don’t take a break. I remember when I went to the, when I went to a conference in Australia, GenreCon, a couple years ago, they had breakfast and then morning tea and then lunch and then afternoon tea and then dinner, and I was like, I’m going to gain ninety pounds at this conference. There’s food every three hours. This is the most civilized conference I’ve ever been to. It was amazing!
Sarah: See, this is what happens –
Rhoda: Well, to be honest –
Sarah: – this is what happens when you break up with the UK officially. Like, we did that, you know, two-hundred-odd years ago, and now we don’t get tea.
Rhoda: Yep. You lose teatime! I mean –
Sarah: We lost teatime! What –
Sarah: I need to go back and address the colonialists and the, and the rebels who were like, yeah, we’ve got to overthrow this ruling tyranny. Like, nonononono! You’re throwing away teatime; just think about, think about what you’re doing! You’re giving away cake time.
Rhoda: How about we keep that, throw away everything else? Yeah.
Sarah: Right? Anyway. So Choc Lit has –
Sarah: – a very unique sort of process of, of how books are published. Am I remembering that right?
Rhoda: You are. So, we, we submit a synopsis and then kind of, you know, so long as it’s in the romance genre and it has the hero’s point of view, it gets sent to the, the actual full manuscript gets sent to a reading panel called the Choc Lit Tasting Panel, and –
Sarah: Okay, that’s adorable.
Rhoda: [Laughs] And they, they read it, and then they score it, and there’s a, I think, I forget exactly how many, but it’s, like, four to six people read it –
Rhoda: – and then the scores are collated and if, like, I think you’re allowed one miss, but everybody, every-, if everybody else passes it, then they’ll take it!
Rhoda: And they also get the feedback from it as well, so the books are edited with actual reader feedback. But what, what that means is that a lot of publishing is very conservative, and they won’t take books which are a bit, bit out there, you know? So, like, Please Release Me, which is my last book –
Rhoda: – that was different.
Sarah: Oh, yes.
Rhoda: [Laughs] It was a romance, but even for here it was more women’s fiction, and it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t have got through the, the selection process anywhere else, because it was different. It had a paranormal element to it. It was about grief. It was, and, you know, there’s a little bit of love in there, but it was, it was just different. Nobody would know which pigeonhole to stick it in, and the readers just went, yeah! We like it! And then, you know, again, with the diversity thing, I’m, I’ve been sneaking, sneaking Sri Lankan characters into my books all along, so there’s always at least one Sri Lankan character in my books. And they –
Sarah: Ooh, that’s very devious.
Rhoda: It is, yes. [Laughs]
Sarah: Surprise! Sri Lankan characters. Ha-ha!
Rhoda: Yeah. Ta-da! [Laughs] It’s a random person walking past to the Sri Lankan character, whatever. Yeah, and, so Grace is a, is half Sri Lankan, and I did wonder, you know, would that, that be an issue? But no! Readers didn’t even notice.
Sarah: It’s funny, I remember when I was reading it, there’s a part where, after she sort of – ‘cause one of the themes of that book is waking up. Waking up from a coma –
Sarah: – waking up from grief, waking up to your new life, and there are two scenes in there, from that book, that really stick with me, and one is when she, she realizes that she doesn’t have any connection to her father’s homeland, and so she leaves and goes to Sri Lanka for, I think, was it, like, six or eight weeks? Like, she takes a serious holiday –
Sarah: – and I was like, is, is there, like, an extra section of her in Sri Lanka I could read somewhere? Is there, like a, like, a Sri Lankan pamphlet maybe that I could – ‘cause that was amazing! And it, and it wasn’t part of the story, so I understand why it wasn’t in the book? But that must have been amazing!
Rhoda: Yeah, I actually wrote some of those scenes. I should put them in a, a deleted scenes section, shouldn’t I?
Sarah: Ye-, yes! ‘Cause that’s, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s an interesting way to introduce a character to a culture that is partially hers that she’s never experienced in person, immersed in it?
Sarah: And, and, you know, traveling to get to know a parent who’s died through the place where they were born is really powerful! Like, I thought that was so…brave.
Rhoda: Yeah, and then, it was, it was, it was the place that he was born, but he hadn’t been back.
Rhoda: Like, for her entire life, he’d never been back, but he still talked about it as home.
Sarah: And I think that as a, as a way of managing and navigating her grief, that is just very, very brave, because, you know, grief is all about how painful it is to be surrounded by the things that are familiar, that remind you of the person who’s gone, but also wanting the familiar because it’s comforting, and she’s like, I’m going to go and find out about my father, who never went back to Sri Lanka, and I’m going to go there and learn about him. Like, that’s just really incredible!
Rhoda: Yeah, but with, with Grace, though, she never really got to grieve for her father properly the first time round –
Rhoda: – ‘cause it’s all about, she’s kind of trapped in this whole grief thing –
Rhoda: – and, you know, so her father dies, and then mother falls ill, and she just never gets a chance to assimilate it all, and so, yeah, a lot of it, part of it, the clearing out the house eventually is symbolic as well, and that’s kind of her reconnecting with her parents as they used to be, you know? As they would want to be remembered, rather than as sick people that she had to look after. Yeah, so, there, there’s a little bit of that, and I guess the next stage from that is connecting with her father and the bits that she didn’t see of him.
Sarah: And the other scene from that book that I remember so clearly is the scene where she’s looking at the calendar after her mother has died, and there’s nothing on it. There’re no doctor’s appointments, there’re no trips to the hospice, there’s no, there’s nothing on the calendar.
Sarah: And she’s gone from being completely busy to having nothing to do because her role as caretaker is over.
Rhoda: Yeah. Yeah, and that’s, it’s hard to move on from that, ‘cause it took over her life.
Sarah: Right! Right, right, right.
Rhoda: I mean, and, you know, I’m, I’m kind of middle-aged now – [laughs] – and a lot of –
Sarah: Yeah, yeah, me too!
Rhoda: – a lot of – I don’t think I’m middle-aged, and then suddenly I remember. [Laughs] And it’s horrifying. But no, a lot of people my age are now in that sandwich generation where we’re looking after children and looking after parents.
Rhoda: And, yeah, I kind of wanted to explore that a little bit as well. I mean, Grace doesn’t have children, because that was just too complicated, but yeah, that kind of, you’re caregiver to somebody younger than you and somebody older than you, and they both have, both have demands. Yeah, so, that, that was kind of what I was trying to explore, but Grace’s, Grace’s whole being is, is centered around being this carer. She gave up everything else in her life, apart from work.
Rhoda: That’s the one thing she still has, and that’s kind of the other thing she defines herself by, but I, I didn’t go into that a lot, yeah, and then kind of left that side of it because I wanted to focus more on the, the grief and coming out of grief and waking up, as you say.
Sarah: And like you said, that’s a hard sort of niche to define in terms of what kind of a book is this?
Rhoda: Yeah, yeah. It, yeah, it is, it doesn’t comfortably fit in its – I mean, it’s got a paranormal element, but it’s not what you would expect to be paranormal.
Sarah: Right, like, no one’s a vampire, there’re no werewolves –
Sarah: – just, there’s a ghost.
Rhoda: Yeah. There’s, there’s not even a big bad, you know? There’s, there’s, the ghost is a little bad. [Laughs]
Sarah: Right, and the, and the, and the –
Rhoda: Although she, she’s completely nuts. She was great fun to write.
Sarah: Oh, my gosh, I cannot imagine.
Rhoda: She was so much fun to write, ‘cause, you know. She curses a lot.
Sarah: And she, and she gets really close to not being awful, and then –
Rhoda: Yeah. She’s, she’s kind of trapped in the angry stage of grief?
Sarah: Yeah, she really is.
Rhoda: Like, she, she blames her mother for her father’s death, and she just can’t get past that, and she’s just so angry. And, yeah, and she gets really close to not being awful, and she kind of realizes that, like, Grace is her friend, and she hasn’t had a friend for, ever, for as long as she can remember –
Rhoda: – and, yeah, but it, she’s so ingrained, and also, like, I kind of didn’t want her to be able to move on too much, ‘cause she’s in a coma, and she’s, she’s kind of representing the stuck. [Laughs]
Sarah: Yes. And she’s recognizing not being, she’s, she represents not being able to move on and –
Sarah: – and taking responsibility.
Rhoda: Yeah. But the, the fact that she lets go in the end is, is, you know –
Rhoda: – spoiler, but, yeah.
Sarah: I do, I do like the part where her last words are, are her, are, are not what she wanted.
Rhoda: [Laughs] I know. That scene made me laugh, and I felt a bit bad laughing at her death scene, but, you know. It did make me laugh.
Sarah: And even then, because Grace is the only one that can see her, even though Grace would –
Sarah: – really like to not have this ghost randomly show up in her house all the time –
Rhoda: Yeah, and, like, try and watch DVDs with her and stuff. I mean, like –
Sarah: Right, like –
Sarah: – Grace has to grieve again.
Rhoda: Yeah. For this person who wasn’t even really there. She never really met her in, you know, in, in corporeal life, like.
Sarah: Yeah, exactly.
Sarah: I, I think that one of the interesting things about romances and romantic stories that involve ghosts is that it’s, like you said, it’s a paranormal element, but it’s not a paranormal creature. It’s a piece of a human, but not the whole character.
Rhoda: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. I mean, they’re, they’re still people. They just manifest in a different way.
Sarah: So, can I ask you a somewhat personal question?
Sarah: Do you, do you think ghosts are real?
Rhoda: Previously I would have said, no, I don’t really believe in them, but, in order to make up the rules for Sally, I had to kind of really think about it, and the way I came up with a, a way of rationalizing it was that, like, you know, if you have a house, a set of flats, you have the same space, but it’s the same space multiplied several times on top of each other.
Rhoda: Right, and if you take that into a four-dimensional example, so you’ve got three-dimensional space, and it’s the same place, but it stacks up in time?
Rhoda: So you’ve got time in the past and time in the future, and so Sally is moving around the same space but in a different time.
Rhoda: So she will walk through things that weren’t in front of her when she was there, if you see what I mean.
Rhoda: Which is why she can’t go to places she hasn’t been before.
Sarah: So she can, she operates in spaces where she has been, but any changes –
Sarah: – to those spaces don’t apply to her, because they weren’t there when she was there.
Rhoda: Yeah, exactly.
Sarah: So the space remains –
Sarah: – and the timeline moves forward, but an individual –
Sarah: – spot on that timeline, in that space, can be inhabited by what’s, remains of someone’s memories.
Rhoda: Yeah. That, yeah, that, that was pretty much my, my idea of how it worked, and from there I, I could do all the rules of what she could walk through and what she could see and she couldn’t see and stuff like that, so. For example, she can’t go out into Grace’s garden because she’s not been there when she –
Sarah: She’s –
Rhoda: – took a look round the house.
Rhoda: And now, and then obviously it becomes quite important for the plot that –
Rhoda: – she was somewhere where she wasn’t supposed to have been.
Sarah: But then she was there. Uh-oh.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s, that’s the worst, when the character’s like, oh, no, there’s no way this is going to happen. Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s, that pretty much guarantees it will, dude. Sorry.
Sarah: So, outside of the world of your rules for ghosts, when you were doing your research, did you have to read a lot of ghost stories?
Rhoda: No. I was quite affected by Truly, Madly, Deeply, if you’ve seen it, the film?
Rhoda: Yeah. I like that film a lot, and it was one of these, like, everybody was like, oh, it’s the most romantic film ever, and I watched it, and I got to, I don’t know, ninety percent of the way through it thinking, it’s good, but I don’t see why, and then, like, the last ten minutes, ah, brilliant. I love it.
Rhoda: And Alan Rickman as well, you know.
Sarah: Well, I mean, he elevates anything.
Rhoda: Yeah. [Laughs] Yeah. But now, unfortunately, he’ll always just be Snape to everyone, which is such a shame ‘cause he did so much more.
Sarah: It is a shame. When, when you were writing Please Release Me –
Sarah: – were you writing it for yourself, or did you think, okay, I, I bet, I bet this will work out with, with Choc Lit? ‘Cause it must be very challenging to write a book that you know doesn’t quite fit anywhere and that your options are limited by a genre and a publishing world that sort of has very specific definitions. Was that, is that daunting at all?
Rhoda: Yes, it is, but you know, I’m very lucky that Choc Lit has this system, because, yeah, they, they take some very different books. We’ve, we’ve got quite a few books – Jane Lovering writes slightly, she writes what she calls dark psychological fiction with jokes, which wouldn’t fit anywhere else, and, and, you know, like, the, the scientist heroes, they don’t tend to fit in regular genre fiction very well, and scientist heroines. So, yeah, and we, I, it does, writing for Choc Lit gives me the freedom to write, for example, Girl in Trouble, which isn’t out yet. That’s about a woman who doesn’t want to have children, and again, you’d never get that past a publishing house, but it got through the read-, the tasting panel, so, they were like, yeah, okay. We’ll go with that. And you know, that’s, that’s another under-represented minority.
Sarah: Yes! Yes, it is.
Rhoda: Yeah, so I – that’s quite nice, to be able to do that. When I was writing Please Release Me, I just, I just wrote the book. Wrote the book the, the way it had to come out. It was just one of those stories that was just nagging. But, yeah, I write two kinds of, of romance, so I tend to write, Doctor January and Please Release Me are slightly darker, and I’ll write a slightly darker book, and they, it takes more out of me, if you see what I mean. And then on the –
Sarah: Oh, I absolutely understand.
Rhoda: Yeah, and then I have to write something kind of, slightly lighter and, and, not frothy, but frothier – [laughs] – just to kind of release the tension.
Rhoda: So I kind of alternate between dark and not so dark.
Sarah: With Please Release Me, it came out last year for you, and I think it came out earlier this year for me – I have no sense of time –
Rhoda: Yeah, yeah. It came, it came out in paperback in June, July, something like that.
Sarah: Yes. What are you working on now? What, what are you, what are you writing? Can you tell us about it?
Rhoda: I’m currently writing something that’s very English. It’s – [laughs] – it’s set in Yorkshire. I used to live –
Rhoda: – in, in west Yorkshire, and –
Sarah: Is everyone just standing in a queue?
Rhoda: No, but there’s a lot of cake!
Sarah: Okay, I’m here for this! Go ahead!
Rhoda: There’re, like, cakes and buns and things, yeah, and a lot of snow.
Rhoda: ‘Cause it’s one of the few places in England where you will actually get a white Christmas
Sarah: Oh, that’s excellent!
Rhoda: Yeah. So, yeah. And then after that, I’ll probably go back to the, the world of Girl on the Run and Girl Having a Ball, ‘cause my next book, Girl Having a Ball, is coming out next month!
Sarah: Oh, really!
Rhoda: And that –
Sarah: Oh, my gosh, tell us about it!
Rhoda: Well, it’s actually a re-release, ‘cause it came out with Uncial Press –
Rhoda: – years ago, but I had to update it, ‘cause there’re lots and lots of emails in it, and we had to update it to WhatsApp because WhatsApp wasn’t a thing when I wrote it –
Rhoda: – and now – we had this discussion, and we were like, would they text each other or email each other or would they use WhatsApp. Oh, they’d WhatsApp, so I had to go through and, like, replace all of these emails and text messages. And, yeah, that one’s set in Oxford, and it’s probably New Adult, actually, thinking about it. It’s about somebody who’s twenty-two. She’s always had her big brother to look after her, and her big brother has got married, and they’re expecting a baby, and she can feel that the, the distance, the drifting apart, and she’s trying to prove that she can stand on her own two feet, and she’s setting up as a party organizer, so she ends up trying to organize this, this ball in an old manor house in Oxford, and it’s to raise money for a Sri Lankan charity, so I’ve got lots of Sri Lankan food in there. And –
Rhoda: – it’s in there. [Laughs] And, yeah, so it’s all about that, and it’s about her becoming independent, and obviously there’s the romance element as well. So it’s the, the person who owns the house, it’s his son that she falls in love for. Love with, even.
Rhoda: And he’s a lot older than her. He, he’s like six, how many years, eight years older than her.
Sarah: [Gasps!] Shocking!
Rhoda: I know! So he’s, like, nearly thirty, and she’s only twenty-two.
Rhoda: Yeah, but it’s, the house is actually based on a real house in Oxford.
Sarah: Really! Did you have to –
Sarah: – stay there for research? I mean, did you have to go visit and spend lots of time in this beautiful place?
Rhoda: [Laughs] I used to live there as a student, so.
Sarah: Oh, nice!
Rhoda: I, okay, this is going to seal, sound really bonkers, but it used to be owned by the Convent of the Sacred Heart, so it was called the Nunnery, and I met my husband there, so it’s like, whenever people say, oh, how did you two meet? you go, oh, we met in a Nunnery.
Rhoda: So, yeah, it, it’s based on this real house. It’s, it doesn’t, I don’t think it belongs to the convent anymore, I think they sold it, but at the time it was, it was fantastic. It was a brilliant place to live. And obviously I had a ready-made location for a story!
Sarah: Yeah, no kidding!
Rhoda: We, we found the World War II blackout blinds. We put ‘em up, and we turned the living room into a disco, which the heroine does in the book.
Sarah: Okay, that’s brilliant.
Rhoda: It was, it was really fun. It was really fun to write as well, ‘cause I’m kind of reliving my past. So Doctor January was me reliving days in the lab. Yeah, and Girl Having a Ball is me reliving the Nunnery.
Sarah: Well, I remember interviewing –
Rhoda: Although the –
Sarah: – I remember interviewing Sarah Morgan at one point, because she started writing medicals for Harlequin Mills & Boon, and she’s, she was a nurse by training.
Rhoda: Yeah, she started with those, yeah.
Sarah: So she was writing medicals, and was saying, told me that one of the reasons she started writing medicals was that (a) there were more happy endings if she was writing them, and (b) in her world, in her medicals, the doctors always listened to the nurses. Like, no one ignores the nurses. The doctors always listen, ‘cause you know if someone was a comp- –
Rhoda: Right, which doesn’t happen.
Sarah: And if someone was a complete jerk she could, you know, write them into the book and then have horrible things happen to them, so maybe what you’re doing is making everything the most idealized, awesome version of what happened.
Rhoda: Yeah! Probably.
Rhoda: Yeah. I also write about lawyers a lot. [Laughs] I work in technology transfer in a university, so I work with patent lawyers a lot.
Sarah: Oh, that is –
Rhoda: And they are basically science –
Sarah: That, that –
Rhoda: – scientists who became lawyers.
Sarah: I was going to say, they’re like scientific brains in, in lawyer bodies.
Rhoda: Yep, yep. Pretty much. Well, yeah –
Sarah: Well, that must be fun.
Rhoda: Well – [laughs] – Girl on the Run is set in a patent attorney firm, and I actually had a patent blog review it, and I was so nervous. I thought, oh, I hope there’s no, no holes in my patent law, you know?
Rhoda: They weren’t, thank goodness! [Laughs] So, yeah, ‘cause there, there’s an actual, like, suspenseful search for prior art in it, which they thought was hilarious. Yeah, no, luckily no holes in the patent law, so that’s good.
Sarah: Well done!
Sarah: So, one other question that I always ask people is what are you reading right now that you recommend?
Rhoda: I’ve just finished reading Falling by Julie Cohen. Which is –
Sarah: Oh, how did you like it?
Rhoda: I really liked it. I really, really liked it. It’s not a romance. There’s, like, a tiny romantic subplot in it, but it’s about these three women – so there’s the, there’s the, there’s Jo, there’s her mother-in-law, who has no one else to live with, and she’s had a fall, so she, you know, so she’s living with her, and then there’s Jo’s daughter, and it’s about these three generations of women living in the same house, and they all have their own secrets, and it’s all beautifully intertwined. I, I like Julie’s books anyway, so, yeah, I saw it and I was like, ooh, auto-buy. So – [laughs] – so, yeah, so Falling, really good. And I’ve just read, you reviewed The Bollywood Bride on the blog recently. I’ve just, I’m reading that.
Sarah: Oh, isn’t Sonali wonderful?
Rhoda: Yeah, she’s brilliant. I really enjoyed that. And it’s, it’s so nice to see characters who are, who are not white, but the issue is not the fact that they’re not white. The issue is, is something completely different. It’s, it’s a little bit kind of, The Bollywood Bride is basically what it’s like to be the daughter of the madwoman in the attic. So, so that was, that was really, it’s really interesting. I’m really enjoying that.
Sarah: That’s cool.
Rhoda: Yeah, I think, you know, the whole diversity thing? That’s, that’s what we need, we just need more people doing people-y things, not doing ethnic minority things, or –
Rhoda: – people of color things, ‘cause, you know, it’s not like, you know, like I said, if, it’s not like we shut the door and then suddenly it’s all, like, mangos and spices.
Sarah: That, that doesn’t happen? You don’t just shut your door and then you have, like, a –
Rhoda: Oh, yeah!
Sarah: – beautiful, fragrant mango tree just growing out of the floor?
Rhoda: No, no elephants and no singing and dancing.
Sarah: Oh, see, now you’re just breaking my heart. That’s just not cool. [Laughs]
Rhoda: No big, big Bollywood-style song, singing and dancing numbers. My, my daughter, we, we went to Sri Lanka over Christmas, and she got completely hooked on the Bollywood singing and dancing channel. So –
Sarah: Oh, yeah.
Rhoda: – for a while in our house there was singing and dancing –
Rhoda: – and all that in the air. [Laughs]
Sarah: One of the things I love about Bollywood movies is that so many of them are, like, visual romance novels.
Sarah: I remember doing a, an interview with Sonali, who was telling me that she didn’t realize that romance was a literary genre until she found one and then went to one of her friends, and she’s like, I found a Bollywood movie, only it’s in a book! There’s a whole bunch of them! There’s, they’re everywhere! Did you know about this?
Rhoda: [Laughs] Yeah, well, I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re right, yeah. Well, because growing up in Sri Lanka, we get a lot of, we had a lot of Bollywood films, and I don’t speak Hindi, but you don’t need to understand it, ‘cause it’s all, it’s so visual. It’s a visual story.
Sarah: Yes, and it’s all, it’s all sort of, if you don’t understand the language, the, the song, the costumes, the body language, and the, and the actual physical movement –
Rhoda: Yeah, yeah.
Sarah: – make it very, very clear.
Rhoda: You can still follow the story.
Sarah: You can still get the sense of what’s happening.
Rhoda: Yeah, yeah. Definitely.
Sarah: [Laughs] I remember I was watching one –
Sarah: – and of course I cannot remember the name because I’m horrible. I want to say they were wedding planners, and they were competing with a really, really, really big firm, and so what they –
Sarah: – and what they did was basically put together weddings that were very simple, and instead of being, like, extremely expensive and very, very high class and extremely elegant, they were very simple and intimate, and people sort of, like, started booking them because it was very trendy, and they’re –
Rhoda: Oh, this sounds great! I’m going to have to look it up.
Sarah: Oh, I will, I will find it for you. I will find it for you, ‘cause I just have to remember the – I, I am the worst person – it’s, it’s not even just titles in other languages; I cannot remember titles in English either? I just remember the pictures, but there’s, there is a sex scene in this movie?
Rhoda: [Gasps!] Really? In a Bollywood movie?
Sarah: Yes! There’s a love scene, and I was like, oh, my God. Oh, my God! What, are you serious? They’re, they’re –
Rhoda: Oh, wow!
Sarah: – and, oh, my God! The camera hasn’t panned away yet! Like, I had my mouth open, like, like, down to my knees. Like, whoa! It’s called – I’m going to say this wrong, so I, everyone who actually knows how to say this, please forgive me – it’s Band Baaja Baaraat.
Rhoda: Okay. I will look that one up.
Sarah: But if you look up Band Baaja, it’ll come up. The, the, the actors are terrific, and it’s super adorable, and it’s friends-to-loves, which is, like, totally my catnip?
Rhoda: Oh, that’s cool. Yeah. I like, that’s my favorite thing. I particularly like, have you seen Monsoon Wedding?
Rhoda: That’s in English.
Sarah: Oh, that’s very convenient. I can, I can not remember the title of that one as well. Monsoon Wedding?
Rhoda: And it’s, it’s about a, it’s about a, a rushed wedding, if, if you like, but it’s, it’s about an Indian wedding –
Rhoda: – and about the, the family and about the sisters in it, and it’s one of those where I thought, yeah! ‘Cause – going back to the whole diversity thing – when I, when I read, we get a lot of literary fiction in, in England which is about Asian characters, but it’s almost fetishizing the Asianness, and, but Monsoon Wedding, it was about a middle class Indian family, and they spoke like people I would recognize, they acted like people I would recognize, you know, and some of the problems they had were the sort of things that you, you might see, you know, and just the way the family interacted and all of that, it was, it wasn’t all like, oh, this traditional birthing bucket and this traditional, traditional this, traditional that. They were just like normal people –
Rhoda: – but in India. And I liked that a lot. I took my, I took my husband to see that, and then we went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and that basically summed up everything that he was – this was before we were married, and I was just like, watch those two films, and then that’s you, that’s, that’s what you’re going to get.
Sarah: This is really – I’m looking at the plot summary of Monsoon Wedding – there’s a lot that happens in this movie.
Rhoda: Yeah, yeah. And there’s singing and dancing, so, okay.
Sarah: Well, yeah. Well, that’s how they all end, right? Everyone dances at the end.
Rhoda: Yep, yep.
Sarah: So instead of, you know, riding off alone on a horse into the sunset with –
Sarah: – with misery and sadness and isolation, you go –
Rhoda: Alone, yeah.
Sarah: – you know, you go dance. Woohoo!
Rhoda: Which is, I mean, perfect happy ending territory, right?
Sarah: Oh, totally. Maybe more books should end with dancing. I mean, it’s hard to write dancing in a book, but more dancing would be good.
Rhoda: Yeah, yeah, or just jumping up and down.
Rhoda: People jumping up and down.
Sarah: So are there any other books that you want to make sure that you mention to tell people about? Because it’s very interesting to me how, how similar in some ways and very different in other ways the UK and US markets are when it, when romance and romantic books are concerned.
Rhoda: British romances are, if, if you’re kind of into character-driven stuff, which is a bit more than just a romance, so kind of the romance is an element of it, then, you know, British romances would be, would be the thing, ‘cause we, we seem to have a lot of that. I’ve got, I have here – ‘cause I was, I was thinking about what people are fond of – got a list of scientist heroes and heroines books if you like.
Sarah: Sure, why not?! Bring it on!
Rhoda: Well, from the Choc Lit ones we’ve got, obviously, microbiologist, we’ve got Doctor January –
Rhoda: – and then Grace in, in Please Release Me, and –
Rhoda: – we’ve got Sweet Nothing by Alison May. That’s got a maths Ph.D. in it. How I Wonder What You Are has got an astrophysicist in it. Bring Me Sunshine’s got a biologist in it. And I’m, I’m going to pronounce the name wrong now; it’s McFarland, I think.
Rhoda: She writes, she’s got a couple with science, well, Ph.D. heroines in. And I’ve, I’ve completely forgotten what it was called. Oh!
Sarah: [Laughs] Welcome to my brain.
Rhoda: Yeah. It’s the first one she wrote, and I’ve completely lost it. I’ll have to email you what it was called. Yeah, I’m trying to think if there’s anybody else that writes science-y ones. I mean, now there’s a few more geek romance people, but they’re American, so that’s quite nice. You already cover them. So.
Rhoda: I read One Con Glory the other day. Really enjoyed that.
Sarah: Oh, did you like it?
Rhoda: Yeah! Well, I’ve never been to a science fiction convention or a, or a Comic Con, but you know, you kind of know what happens. I’ve seen so much on YouTube.
Sarah: Right, yes. It’s loud, it’s crowded.
Rhoda: Yeah. Yeah. But as you saw, our conferences are, are a little smaller. [Laughs]
Sarah: Yeah, just a –
Rhoda: And a little different – [laughs] – to RWA.
Sarah: A lit-, yeah, a little. Little in a lot of, little different in a lot of ways.
Rhoda: Yeah. More cake!
Rhoda: I’m sorry, more cake breaks. [Laughs]
Sarah: More cake breaks, which is very, very nice.
Rhoda: Yeah. The food was good there. I liked that.
Rhoda: ‘Cause in British, your main courses, you know, you take it or leave it, you can have it bland, but pudding, you do not mess with pudding. Pudding is the thing.
Sarah: Oh, no, pudding is serious business.
Rhoda: Yeah. I’m going to have to find you this recipe for gin and tonic cupcakes.
Sarah: And that is all for this week’s episode. I want to thank Rhoda Baxter for hanging out and talking with me. This is another interview that I ended up doing twice because the audio on the first go-round was not so good, so I am very grateful that she took yet more time to hang out and talk with me, and I hope you enjoyed it! If you are curious about some of these books, you know where to find them, right? Smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast, episode number 212. You can find it at the top of the page or near the top, unless it’s like, you know, the same week, in which case it’s at the top, but you know. You know how blogs work. They’re chronological.
As I mentioned during the intro, I don’t have a sponsor for this episode. Fear not! The transcript will still totally happen, as usual. And if you’re thinking, I would totally like to sponsor an episode of the podcast, I would totally like to talk to you about it, and you can email me at [email protected].
And if you would like to support the show for as little as a dollar a month – which would be so amazing! – have a look at our Patreon at Patreon.com/SmartBitches. I am immeasurably, immeasurably grateful to everyone who has taken a look, shared the link, sponsored the show, helped us out. You’re awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. And if you’re listening and you’re thinking, what? What are you talking about? Patreon.com/SmartBitches – thank you again.
The music you’re listening to is provided by Sassy Outwater. She’s on Twitter @SassyOutwater and on Facebook at PawsitivelySassy. That’s P-A-W-sitivelySassy. This is The Shadow Orchestra. This track is called “Sweet as a Nut,” and you can find this album on iTunes and Amazon, and you can also check them out on their MySpace page, and as always, every time I get to mention MySpace, my soul is twelve degrees lighter with, filled with joy because MySpace! I, I just want more bands to be on Friendster, because I’m old enough that I miss Friendster. I’m also really hopped up on cold medicine, so I miss weird things. If ever there was a time for me to take live calls and answer random questions, this would be it, but unfortunately I think it’s naptime.
But before I go I want to say thank you to you, yes you, for listening, because it’s awesome that every Friday I get email and tweets and messages saying, I love this episode! I love doing the podcast so much, and I’m so, so grateful that you tune in each week. So thank you very much, and if you have recipes for gin and tonic cupcakes, I would like to see them, because seriously, alcoholic baked goods, small-town romance? Mark my words, that’s a massive moneymaker. Like I said, hopped up on cold medicine.
So on behalf of Rhoda and me and everyone here, including my cats, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a great weekend.
[sweetly nutty music]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.