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We also mentioned the following podcast episodes:
- Episode 423. Vampires and Spicy Blood with Zoraida Córdova and Dhonielle Clayton
- Episode 293: The Elements of Surprise: Untwisting the Twist with Vera Tobin, PhD
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Sarah Wendell: Hello there. Thank you for inviting me into your eardrums. I’m Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and with me today for episode number 424 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: Courtney Milan. Courtney’s new book, The Duke Who Didn’t, is out this week, and you had questions! So she’s going to answer all your questions. We are going to talk about narrative structure, finding joy in the process of creating, and managing emotional ups and downs amid the current hellscape. There is a special commentary from Pele, and I want to say thank you to Amanda, Claudia, Malia, Olivia, Shana, Catherine, Rhode, and Emily for their questions.
I will have links to all of the books we talk about and, of course, where you can find The Duke Who Didn’t in the show notes at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast.
And speaking of podcast, I have a compliment! I love this.
To Mackinzee E.: Someone right now is designing the perfect pair of pajamas: not too hot, not too cold, soft, comfortable, and comforting in every way. They are named after you.
If you would like a compliment of your very own, have a look at our Patreon at patreon.com/SmartBitches. Monthly pledges start at one dollar, and every pledge makes a very deeply appreciated difference in making sure that every episode is accessible and that the podcast keeps trucking along, delivering new episodes to your eardrums every Friday.
Thank you again to our Patreon community for being so excellent, and if you would like to have a look, patreon.com/SmartBitches.
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I have some very exciting episodes planned for the next few weeks, including an episode with an author whose books I love so much I really barely kept my cool during the interview, and I have an Amanda episode coming up soon, so if you would like personalized recommendations, you can email us at [email protected], or you can leave a brief message, tell us a terrible joke at 1-201-371-3272. If you would like book recommendations, just tell us what you’re looking for and we will come up with a list of things for you to try – we are very expensive people to know.
And as I mentioned, I will have links to all of the books we talked about, plus the podcast episodes I mentioned, and where you can find Courtney Milan and her latest book.
But for now, let’s do this podcast thing. On with my interview with Courtney Milan for The Duke Who Didn’t.
Courtney Milan: Hi! My name is Courtney Milan, and I write historical romances and sometimes contemporaries. Do I need –
Courtney: Do I need to say more than that? Is that, that’s good.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s plenty.
Courtney: Okay, good.
Sarah: Releasing The Duke Who Didn’t?
Courtney: Oh! Oh, yeah, a book! [Laughs]
Sarah: Remember that book you wrote? You wrote a book?
Courtney: Oh my God, yes! I, yeah, you know, I did write a book. Thank you! I appreciate it!
Sarah: I mean, I know that there’s a lot going on every third minute –
Sarah: – right now in the world, and there’s a lot to keep track of, but, uh, congrats! You wrote a book!
Courtney: Thank you! I am actually really pleased about this one!
Sarah: Okay, that’s wonderful! Because, if anything, I am so excited to talk to you about something that you are excited and happy about! As opposed to, oh God, I have to talk about that thing again.
Courtney: Oh God.
Sarah: We won’t talk about that thing! Let’s talk about the happy stuff!
Courtney: Yeah. What thing?
Sarah: [Chants] Happy stuff!
Sarah: Happy stuff! Yes! So, was it hard to keep this a secret? ‘Cause, like, when, when you told me, I was like, holy shit, you wrote a whole-ass book. This is amazing; I’m so excited! And then when you announced it, people were like – [gasps] – oh my God, new Courtney Milan! Yes! Was this hard to keep a secret?
Courtney: Yes and no. Okay, so the point when I was most tempted to tell people about it – so, obviously, as you can tell by the cover, this has been in the works for a while, and the reason you can tell this by the cover is if I had waited until after the book was done I could not have shot the cover, because nobody wants to breathe in each other’s face anymore.
Sarah: Yeah, no more clinch cover shots now –
Sarah: – for a while.
Courtney: Yeah, except, okay, side bar – oh, I don’t, I’m, I’m not supposed to know about this – there is somebody who’s going to have a cover reveal, and it, the cover is, like, the shots are amazing, and the way it happened is they knew people who were roommates, so, like, asterisks –
Courtney: – and then they were roommates. Or whatever.
Courtney: But finding something like that, like, people who fit the, the, the mold for the story is not super easy. I have had this cover since September of 2019, and I’ve had the idea for this book in some form since like 2013 or 2014 or something like that? I don’t remember exactly. And it’s sort of been just like turning around and around and around and around, and sometime in the middle of 2019 is when I decided I was going to start working on it. I wrote about five thousand words before February 2019? Actually, I had convinced myself that I was going to, like, speed through it in December and Jan-, like, like December 22nd, and I kid you not about this date, I told myself, I’m going to sit down, I’m going to write this book, and the reason I was going to write it is because I wanted to go watch Yuzuru Hanyu skate in Korea? I didn’t have a lot of extra money, and I was like, I need to finish a book; this is ridiculous. Right? And so I was like, I’m going to do this really fast. It’s going to be out like February or March; it’s going to be great. I did not actually do that, because I made this decision like December 21st or December 22nd, and then, like, December 23rd happened, which we’re not talking about.
Sarah: Right, yeah. We’ll just skip that whole day.
Courtney: Yeah, and there was a point, and so – this is a really long-winded answer to your question; I’m so sorry – so in any event, sometime in February, what happened was – or January maybe; I don’t remember when it was. Time is all nonsense right now. So sometime in the Beforetimes –
Courtney: – I said to myself, I should put this book up for preorder, and it’ll force me to write it. And also, I figured that if I had put that cover up, like, at the height of the RWA thing I would have gotten some public attention beyond the normal? But then, like, luckily my friends were all like, yeah, Courtney, you actually can’t write anything right now, and you’re really stressed. Why do you think that’s a good idea? And so I was like, okay, I’m not going to say anything yet. And then, like, COVID started, and I had what was probably COVID for like five or six weeks, and I couldn’t do anything. Like, I was sleeping like eighteen, nineteen hours a day, and then when I started writing again it was, like, at first, the first couple of weeks were really, really low writing days? And I looked at those first five thousand words that I had written initially, sometime in December and January, and I said, these all suck; I hate them, and I was like, I need to make, I need to figure out what this book is missing, and then I, like, started making a list, and I was like, my heroine makes lists, and for some reason once I got that and the entire book shifted, and it was just like, aha! And then I just wrote. So keeping it a surprise wasn’t actually that hard once I knew what I was writing, because I had spent this huge amount of time beforehand feeling this intense pressure and this intense scrutiny, feeling like –
Courtney: – everybody’s going to be looking at this; I have to get it right; blah-blah-blah, all this stuff, and so, like, I just had to get the idea of other people outside my head so I could do anything at all. So it wasn’t so much that I kept it secret, because I wasn’t trying to do that; I was trying to protect my space of not feeling anxiety, if that makes any sense.
Sarah: Yes! No, that makes total sense! It’s, it’s really hard when you know that what you’re doing is looked at. Like –
Sarah: – that’s a really hard space to create in! I, I, I –
Sarah: – I am there with you! It is really, really hard, and you have to – [deep breath] – at some point you have to think, how is this going to be read by someone else? But not while you’re creating it. You have to –
Sarah: – do that part later, and it’s really easy to get in the habit of doing the later part first, and then you don’t get anything done.
Courtney: Right. Exactly.
Sarah: Now, you mention that you’ve had the cover since, did you say September of last year?
Courtney: Yes. That’s right.
Sarah: How, how did the cover come to be? It’s gorgeous, first of all. How did this cover come to be?
Courtney: Jenn LeBlanc, who runs Studio Smexy –
Courtney: – and also Illustrated Romance, is a photographer who actually does a lot of book covers, and she’s a good friend of mine. She used to live in Colorado with me; I’m still bitter that she moved away, but it has given her access to a wider range of models. So I actually emailed her in May, and I was like, hey, Jenn! I want to do a cover shoot, and here’s sort of what I’m thinking about. And, and I was like, there’s no rush because obviously the book isn’t written; I don’t know when I’m going to write it, and she said, okay. So she ended up scheduling me in September, and I, I, I knew I wanted a sort of like glorious clinch cover that sort of felt, like, luminous and old school and really lovey?
Courtney: If that makes any sense? And so that’s kind of –
Sarah: Oh yeah!
Courtney: – that’s kind of the direction I gave to her. Like, you know, I wanted that sort of like, you know, and I wanted a really tight shot. Like, historicals, you often have these full-length shots that you can get the dress in? I wanted a really tight shot so that it would feel intimate.
Sarah: I, I love that the hero has his shirt open and still tucked in.
Sarah: I don’t know why that delighted me specifically, but I saw that and I was just like, yes! Everyone has their shirt open and not tucked in! That is the way! [Laughs]
Courtney: Yes, exactly! You see.
Sarah: So I have many questions from many people, because when I mentioned –
Sarah: – I was doing this interview, so many people were excited that I was going to be talking to you, so so many people have so many questions.
Sarah: First is Amanda, who wanted to know if this was a planned book. You mentioned that this had been sort of running around in the back of your brain for a while, and the process that led you to start it and then finish it after great upheaval of awfulness, but was this something that you had planning to do? And what led you into this story? It’s the, if, if I remember correctly, the, the, the point of entry for you was the town that has this giant game where –
Sarah: – everyone comes to – right, yes!
Courtney: That’s right. Yeah, so, I mean, it’s planned in the sense that I have always planned to write this. It was not planned in the sense that I didn’t plan to write it right now? And I think I mentioned in my long spiel of nothingness before that the reason I initially said I want to write this was because I was imagining that I could write it quickly – which, uh-huh, I don’t do anything quickly, so I don’t know why I was thinking I could – but I could do it quickly so that I could watch Yuzuru Hanyu skate. The money turned out –
Sarah: That’s a good motivation!
Courtney: Just, just so you know, the money turned out all right because Worlds got canceled because of COVID, so I got all the money back from that, and I –
Courtney: So, like, it all balanced out. I’m glad I did it. Not that anyone cares about it! I should be talking about my books! This is – look at me! Ah, sorry.
Sarah: No. No, don’t apologize! I promise you, and this is absolutely true, do not doubt me, I know these things –
Sarah: – when you listen to someone talk about the things that they are passionate about, it is almost always interesting because what you are doing is interesting because you are interested. Does that make sense?
Courtney: Yes. Okay.
Sarah: Don’t be shy; nerd out hard!
Courtney: Okay, so that’s, that was thing number one. I was like –
Courtney: – oh, here’s something that, here’s a story I’m excited about; I can just do it really quickly. In terms of the rest of it, when I finally got back to writing again post my bout with COVID, I spent about equal time working on this and the next book that is coming out of mine, which is The Duke – no, it’s not The Duke Who Didn’t; that is this book – it is The Devil Comes Courting. I have two books that are The D-, and I’m obviously going to be confused about that forever from here on out.
Courtney: I worked on them both at the same time, and one of the reasons I was doing it is because The Devil Comes Courting deals with some really, I don’t want to say dark issues, because I don’t think they’re necessarily dark, but they’re things that feel more salient now than when I originally planned the book. So the heroine of that book was adopted by English missionaries, she is ethnically Chinese, and, like, I just want to say – spoiler alert! – I don’t think this is a great thing to have happen, and the book is, doesn’t present it as such, and when I, I came up with this idea in like 2013 or 2014 I want to say, and I was super excited about writing the book then, but it, it, it felt now, as I was writing it, that it had so much weight to it, given what’s going on at the border with children being taken away from their families and potentially, like, put into the general adoption system and, like, all this stuff? Like –
Courtney: – so it felt like it had, like, a modern weight to it that really sort of, it was very difficult to deal with on a regular basis, and so I –
Courtney: – was sort of alternating these so that I’d have books that went back and forth. So this one is sort of like a little happier? A lot happier, I should say?
Courtney: And it, it’s not that the other book isn’t happy, but it’s not, it’s, it doesn’t feel as, like, connected to sort of like our current apocalypse, you know? And so I needed something that was going to be a little bit of a break from it. So this one’s getting released first because it got finished first, but yeah. That’s, that’s kind of what happened. I just, I just needed something, because the other book was, it was, it’s hard. It’s emotionally hard to engage with it on a regular basis.
Sarah: Oh, of course, because it’s a, it’s a feeling that’s right there.
Sarah: You don’t have to reach for it.
Courtney: And you, and you don’t get away from it is the other thing. It’s like –
Courtney: It’s like it, a lot of things, it’s like, I, I’ve written books that have, like, this high level of angst before, but when I put it down I can get away from it, because it wasn’t in my face all the time, and it felt like the kind of angst that this was, was, it felt so connected to what I was seeing in the world that I couldn’t get away, and so I needed something to get away.
Sarah: Right. Now, are these two books related?
Courtney: No, not in any way, shape, or form, except for the fact that they’re both sort of like other sides of the Taiping Rebellion?
Courtney: So in this book, the heroine’s mother, who is Hakka, was involved in the Taiping Rebellion to the extent that when the Taiping Empire had its imperial examinations, then she took them and did well and was a chancellor in the state, and then the Taiping Rebellion was overthrown, and she became a fugitive, and she and her family left China very, very rapidly to sort of –
Courtney: – get away from that. And she left China pregnant with my heroine. It effects sort of like the diaspora of my heroine in that sense, and I think –
Courtney: – the same is true in The Devil Comes Courting, although a little more differently. The heroine’s birth mother in The Devil Comes Courting kind of gives her up to English missionaries when she is sort of a, a, a refugee of war. It’s a background thing in both books.
Courtney: I think it would be very difficult to write about China in this era without having any sense of this massive civil war that happened, so –
Courtney: – you know. I think it’s like, it’s like, it’s like writing a Regency romance without ever mentioning Napoleon, except more people died in the Taiping Rebellion.
Sarah: So it’s sort of like a pivotal point in both of their backstories.
Courtney: Yeah, it, I would say it’s a, it’s a, it’s a backstory point. I don’t think the story is about it in either book, but it is a –
Courtney: – backstory point, and it is a, sort of like a shaping of where they came from.
Sarah: Right. So what are you walking on now? Claudia wanted me to ask you if you had specific plans for this series, ‘cause you have one book and another book, or are you not planning much and just seeing what happens next?
Courtney: My plans are my plans! [Laughs] No, wait –
Courtney: – that sounds terrible! Look, I, I don’t think it’s possible for me to write a book, and I think people will see when they read it that there are some characters who just have giant, like, Pick Me Next signs over their heads? I think so?
Courtney: You know, so, like, I mean, shockingly, I, it’s not like I did that on accident, but I, I, I kind of enjoyed the, the being able to write without people’s, feeling people’s expectations, and so –
Courtney: – I don’t think I’m going to say anything about the next book until I have a draft done.
Sarah: Good plan! Absolutely not required!
Courtney: Yeah. But if you do see that giant Pick Me sign over someone’s head, don’t be like, oh, Courtney’s never going to pick her! Or him.
Courtney: Just, it’s just, just so you know, yeah.
Sarah: So I have two related questions from Malia and Olivia. Malia said, I’ve seen Courtney talking on Twitter about using different kinds of narrative structures in romance to avoid the Bleak Moment, and I’m curious to hear more about that. In particular, the prevailing wisdom seems to be that conflict drives romance. Do, do you think that’s true, or are there other ways of imagining what compels the reader to stick with the story?
And Olivia C. wrote, “Ahhh, Courtney Milan! Her books got me through the first, scariest part of the quarantine!” So thank you for that. I remember a while back when you were discussing Yuri on Ice, she mentioned she was pondering ways to create tension in a romance without having a Bleak Moment, and I’m wondering if her thoughts on this have developed. I imagine you have one or two thoughts on this.
Courtney: I do have maybe half a thought.
Courtney: So I think in the Yuri on Ice podcast, I talked there about the narrative structure of, structure of Kishōtenketsu, which I have to say I was introduced to by Corey, Corey Alexander –
Courtney: – and we had a little conversation about it, and I, I – so, sidebar: I’m just really devastated that they’re not here anymore –
Courtney: – but it’s a narrative structure which doesn’t rely on conflict. And that doesn’t mean that conflict wouldn’t exist in narratives that use Kishōtenketsu; it’s just that it’s, it’s a, a way of understanding, and I think once I sort of like really started thinking about it, it’s a way of sort of like figuring out how fiction works on our brains, okay. So if you think about what conflict is doing, like the little microcosm of conflict in your brain, what it’s doing is, like, books that are all conflict, no resolution really suck, right? Because –
Courtney: – they grab you, and you’re like, oh God, I can’t wait to see how this works out! And then it just doesn’t work out and you’re like, what the fuck is this shit? Right?
Courtney: You know, and I don’t just mean, like, and I’m not just talking about happy endings, because, you know, without any kind of resolution it’s like, well, I might as well just stay in reality, where just, like, bad shit happens and noth-, nothing ever happens about it, right?
Courtney: So, like –
Courtney: So, you know, so, so the little, the little cycle of, like, conflict – rising conflict – release does a specific thing to your brain, right? And it’s one of sort of like the dopamine pathways, where it’s like, is something going to happen? Ooh, it happened! Right. Like, so in microcosm, like, this is one of the reasons why social media is so addictive. You’re like, is someone going to reply to me? Are they going to reply to me? Oh yes, they replied to me! Whoo! Right? You know, and, like, this is like a very tiny thing, but, like, when that happens, the, the, the fear and the expectation and then the release, it triggers a dopamine cycle in your brain. That’s kind of one of the things fiction is doing, is it’s giving you a way to give you sort of like controlled hits of dopamine, right?
Courtney: And conflict is not the only way to do that, because if you start paying attention to when your brain gets that dopamine, there’s, like, a couple of different ways that it happens. So, like, when you start talking about narrative structure, one of the ways – like, all narrative structure is driven around, like, how do we make it so that people experience that dopamine hit, right? And so –
Courtney: – another possible way is – and you see this, this is not just Eastern fiction; this is in Western fiction – another possible way is sort of like – [sighs] – I’m trying to figure out how to explain this without spoiling a book. I think I’m going to have to spoil a book, okay. And actually, oh, I am blanking on the name of the book right now, so I am going to describe the book, and you’ll know which one I’m talking about. It’s a Kresley Cole book, okay, and it’s a book –
Courtney: – where the, the guy is a demon, maybe, and she’s, like, the queen, and she’s the queen of something, and I forget – I, I’m so bad at remembering details. I remember the exact ending of this book because I was like, this is brilliant, right. But in any event, he’s, like, this guy, and he’s, like, super straight-laced, right, and he, like, doesn’t like doing anything wrong, blah-blah-blah, and she’s, like, this queen, and she is, like, bad and doesn’t care about it at all, right. And at some point in the book he lies to her about something to get her to do something, right, and he spends the entire book, like, being just like, fuck, why did I do that? and I feel so bad, and then they start falling in love, and he’s like, and our love is built on this lie, and it’s so shitty, and I hate it so much, right? And then at the very end, so, like, this book is going on, and I’m reading it, and I’m like, you know, you’re waiting for the blowup because it, that’s what always happens; it’s like conflict, conflict, conflict, release, right?
Sarah: Yeah, of course!
Courtney: And, and then, like, conflict escalating into further conflict, you know, followed by whatever, and so you get to the end of the book, and finally, you know, and I’m reading this, and there’s like three pages left, and I’m like, what the fuck? Right? And so I get to, like, page, like, two, there’s two pages left in the book, and he finally tells her the truth, and she’s like – you know, and this is the woman who, you know, has been cast throughout the entire book as like, I literally don’t give a shit about your stupid morality – he tells her, and she’s like, oh my God, babe. You lied? For profit? That’s amazing! I love it!
Courtney: And I got there, and I sit there and I stare at the book and I’m like, holy shit, that’s amazing! This is like my favorite thing ever! Right?
Courtney: And the reveal and the swap and the, like, the way that you were told throughout the entire book who the characters were, coupled with your expectations, I just loved that, right? And so that is, I think, like, this perfect little hit of dopamine, and it’s not for the reasons you would think. The, the dopamine is coming from the reveal that the conflict is false. It’s this really cool setup. There’s a handful of other places, not – way more than a handful of other places – there’s a lot of other places where you can see this. So, like, the anime Your Name it’s called in English –
Courtney: – there is a twist halfway through – which, by the way, does not de-escalate the conflict in any way, shape, or form, because the twist is, like – I don’t want to ruin it for any-, I don’t, I, I, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
Courtney: But the twist is really, you’re like, ohhh, shit! That means, whatever.
Sarah: Is this like episode ten of Yuri on Ice?
Courtney: It’s, it’s, so episode ten of Yuri on Ice is, in fact, like, an example of the same narrative structure, where it’s like –
Courtney: – you have a thing you’re worried about, and you realize, it, it shows you that the thing you’re worried about is completely the wrong thing, and this is what it actually is. So Yuri on Ice is a de-escalating twist, right, and Your Name is an escalating twist. Like, all of its little – so, so Your Name, the premise of Your Name is that there’s a boy who lives in Tokyo and there’s a girl – these are like, you know, I want to say high school senior age – and there’s a girl who lives, like, in the middle of Bumfuck, Nowhere, in northern Japan, right? And the girl in Bumfuck, Nowhere, is like, I don’t want to live here anymore; it sucks! And the boy in Tokyo’s like, yeah, you know, just going to my stupid part-time job, biding time, and they start switching places, and so she wakes up in his body sometimes, and he wakes up in her body sometimes. And they start leaving little notes for each other on their phones so they can figure out what’s going on. She works at his job; he yells at her ‘cause she likes going out to cafes and buying pastries and –
Courtney: – like, stop spending my money! And she’s like, it’s my money too! I have to work for it! You know, and like, she, he get, he goes and he gets in trouble when he’s in her body because she’s much more, like, obedient, and he’s like, fuck it, why am I even here? Right? So it’s, you know, it’s this cute little show. It’s, it’s adorable, and, you know, there’s lots of little bits of conflict, and she starts, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s really cute, and then this thing happens, and you’re like, oh, holy shit. This is a, an entirely different story has been being told under my nose, and I did not know it.
Courtney: So, yeah, and, and that specific moment, the moment when you realize that the story that’s being told is not exactly the story you thought it is, it’s also a moment of dopamine hit.
Sarah: Oh yeah!
Courtney: And so I think the trick is, then, to try and figure out how to use that in sort of like modern romance convention. It’s not that you get away from conflict, but it does mean that that moment of turn, that moment that you feel, like, the biggest, like, oh, here we are! Bam! Doesn’t have to be structured the way we did in order to get that same feeling of, like, the dopamine hit –
Courtney: – in my – and, I mean, like, I don’t know. This is sort of the first book where I really feel like I have tried to do what I envisioned, and as such, like, it’s the first attempt? I’m not sure it’s going to be the best I ever manage. I hope it isn’t, but I am very happy that I, with what I did. I’m, I’m personally happy with how it came out, and I don’t know if other people will like it? Some of them appear to so far; some probably won’t, ‘cause it’s a book and nobody agrees on anything one hundred percent?
Courtney: But yeah. I’m sorry. I’m giving you, like, these lengthy answers. Amazing.
Sarah: I, I like those? That’s why I have a podcast?
Courtney: The next, the next answer is going to be yes or no. That’s it, you get yes or no! [Laughs]
Sarah: The answer is, green!
Sarah: But it sounds like examining and applying this narrative structure to romance has really invigorated your way of approaching the genre.
Courtney: Well, okay, so, I mean, the reason I started thinking about this in the first place is because I feel like conflict – and I don’t want to speak for other people or other authors on this, because I am sure that someone is going to do amazing things that I cannot – but I feel like some of the traditional conflict-driven structures start breaking down – for me, not for anyone else – when you start being more inclusive. So as an example, if you take some of my prior books, like, some of the things, some of the conflict structures you have in that, like, I just could not do that if – like, so as an example, Proof by Seduction, my first book, and I don’t think I would do this anymore, period, no matter who the characters were, but I especially could not do it. So, like, the conflict at the end, and I’m going to spoil this because I don’t think Proof by Seduction’s my best book, so if I spoil my least-best book then I’m cool with it, right.
Courtney: So the con-, at the very end, you have a woman who has been pretending to be a fortune teller who is a bastard, and you have a guy who’s a marquess, and the conflict is essentially that he thinks he’s better than her, right? And if you can imagine doing that where one of the characters isn’t white, it becomes incredibly fucked up, right? It is fucked up, period, but it is incr-, like, like, it’s not, it’s, I don’t think it’s recoverable, right? And so the addition of some of these power dynamics, social power dynamics, even if you as an author don’t state it explicitly, readers are going to be bringing that to them, and so I started thinking about it, and it’s like, you know – or even something like The Countess Conspiracy, in which, like, I had to walk this really delicate balance with Sebastian and Violet in that Sebastian is taking credit for Violet’s research, and that is, like, weird and icky, and it had to be, like, fully with her consent and with her driving the bus on that or it was gross, right?
Courtney: But if you imagine adding in a racial element to that? Whoo! Right?
Courtney: That gets, it gets so sticky so fast, and so it’s like, okay. So I, I’ve been, I’ve been thinking about, you know, the impact of conflict and, and how it makes me think about story and what to do when sort of like the natural, like, high conflict thing is just highly problematic.
By the way, I say this doesn’t apply to all authors, but I do think there’s a little bit that kind of applies, that I wish more people would think about whether high conflict is always good? Like, I think this is why you get people who are like, I want to write a slave owner plus slave, because look at this great conflict! It is great conflict, but, like, fuck, you can’t come back from that.
Courtney: You know, and so I do think that to some degree, we have to stop talking about story as being purely conflict-driven. That much is true. I, I don’t want to say that stories can’t be conflict-driven, because obviously I don’t think that’s true, and I don’t think this story is not conflict-driven. Conflict is a tool, right, but it’s not the only tool, and I think we need to be smarter about the tools we use and not just be like, is conflict present? Then it is story!
Sarah: Right, and, and that the characters follow the conflict, and their behavior follows the pattern of the conflict.
Courtney: Right, and also that the conflict is not – I mean, like, so the other thing about sort of romance is that if you’re doing harm to characters, then part of what’s happening in your brain when you read that is that, to some, and to, to a lesser degree, that harm is being done to the reader as well, right.
Courtney: And, you know, there’s a lot of research where they have people, like, read fiction and see what it does to their brain, right, and –
Courtney: – you know, they find that if you’re reading about smells then, you know, the smell center of your brain activates, even though there’s no smells in the room. Everything that is being done is being done to your brain in sort of like minute detail, right, and so it’s one of those things where if you’re going to be doing this to the reader, you have to make it right, and if you’re doing something to, the things you’re doing aren’t the same for all readers, right. Like –
Courtney: – if you are Jewish, a Nazi romance is not going to feel the same for you as, you know, if you’re a Nazi. [Laughs]
Sarah: Can confirm. Yes.
Courtney: Yeah. No, no need for anyone to validate this with actual experiments.
Courtney: I, I think it’s just a matter of trying to think about who your readers are and thinking about what am I doing to my readers, and am I going to make it right? Can I make it right? Is this, is this something where I understand what is right?
Sarah: And with the Bleak Moment and the structure of everything is nearly lost and, and the next step is very obvious, diverting from that structure also forces almost an examination of why that structure is the structure in the first place.
Courtney: Yeah. Yeah, and I don’t think it is, right.
Sarah: Right. Or it doesn’t have to be.
Courtney: Correct. You know, I, I don’t think it has to be. I think that, that, that thinking of the structure of a novel more broadly as, you know, a structure of, like, a, a, a specific amount of dopamine hits –
Courtney: – makes a lot more sense. Then the question is, okay, how am I going to deliver this, this, the, the release of a feeling of dopamine right at the end? And not, like, okay, how’s he going to grovel? Because the grovel is a mechanism to get to the dopamine; it’s not the actual dopamine.
Sarah: Right, it is the, it is the mechanism for the delivery; it is not the, the, the item itself.
Sarah: I do have a book, before I forget, if you are curious. Oddly enough, this book was written by my best friend from kindergarten –
Courtney: Oh my gosh!
Sarah: – who, who went on to become a professor of Cognitive Science at Case Western Reserve, but she wrote a book called The Elements of Surprise: Our Mental Limits and the Satisfaction of Plot.
Courtney: Whoa! Okay. Cool!
Sarah: And it is all about cognitive science and how, how our cognitive biases, mental shortcuts, and quirks of memory conspire with stories to produce wondrous illusions and provides a sophisticated how-to guide for writers to interact between plot and cognition.
Courtney: Okay, that sounds really cool, and I have to read that.
Sarah: It was really cool. It was real-, it was really, really interesting.
Sarah: I did a whole interview with her about it, ‘cause, you know –
Sarah: – I had an, I had an in: we were best friends in kindergarten. She couldn’t say no!
Sarah: She was unable to decline my request! But yeah, it, it is really interesting when you think about the structure of romance. One of the reasons why I think there are so many attorneys writing romance is that when you learn the legal language – like, my theory is everything is language, and you pick up different languages –
Sarah: – in different contexts, and law school is effectively a giant language and structure school. You’re learning –
Sarah: – to communicate in a specific structure, and so –
Courtney: That’s correct.
Sarah: – if you’re writing – right, exactly! – so if you’re writing a brief or you’re writing an argument or you’re writing a document, there is a structure you have to follow, and the creative bullshittery you do inside that structure is part of your skill as an attorney, but you follow the structure. This part, this is here; this part is here. These things must be present.
Courtney: Oh my God.
Sarah: And so you have sort of like a scaffolding, and then what you put inside there, that’s all up to you; you can go wild. But the same is true with romance: we have a structure that, as readers, we expect; what goes on inside there is what makes the book exemplary or something I’ve read before.
Courtney: [Sighs] Yeah, so speaking of the structure, so I have a piece that is coming up for the Michigan Law Review in April of 2021?
Sarah: Wait, there’s going to be a 2021 for sure? You know? Awesome! Thank you!
Courtney: I can’t guarantee that; I’m sorry.
Sarah: Damn it!
Courtney: [Laughs] I should not have –
Sarah: Hey, hey, the Law Review said so! Sooo we’re going with it!
Courtney: I, I, I just have to say, first of all, there is probably going to be a 2021, and second of all, that may not be a benefit.
Courtney: No guarantees!
Sarah: It’s true!
Courtney: No guarantees! So in any event –
Sarah: It’s true.
Courtney: Yeah. I actually thought a lot about sort of like the standard structure of law review pieces and how they –
Courtney: – how they’re, how they’re typically structured, and which of the things I was going to engage in and which I wouldn’t.
Courtney: Yeah, so I had a lot of fun. One of the things is the star footnote, which is at every law review article there’s a footnote with a star, and then it, it goes beneath that, and you get the person’s biography, and also that’s where they thank people, which has turned into this, like, gratuitous exercise of like, I would like to thank all the famous people who have given me comments on my piece, however tiny those comments were, just to show that I know people, right?
Courtney: And so, like, I thought really hard about what my star footnote was going to be, because this is usually where you sort of like, I don’t want to say brag? But yeah, you brag. Right?
Sarah: You definitely brag.
Courtney: And so, so my star footnote was, Courtney – or Heidi Bond, ‘cause I’m writing it under my real name – Heidi Bond is an author of historical and contemporary romance, period.
Sarah: Fuck yeah! [Laughs]
Courtney: And I had to think a lot about whether I was going to do that or if I was going to do the, you know, Heidi Bond was a professor and she did this and then she – and it’s like, no. No. If we’re going to flex, this is, this is the flex I choose to, to make.
I promise the next question I will answer yes or no. [Laughs]
Sarah: Okay. Now I have to come up with a yes-or-no question!
Courtney: No, no, no, just ask whatever it is and I’ll answer yes or no!
Sarah: Catherine wanted to know if you have a recipe for the Unnamed Sauce?
Sarah: Awesome! See, I came up with a yes-or-no question! Go me! [Laughs]
Courtney: Well, I actually, okay, I, I actually have a full food glossary on my website. I, I’m, I’m about half done with it right now, but I, I’ve made all the recipes, and I have pictures; I just need to write everything up – she says.
Courtney: So, like, yeah, like, literally everything they eat in the book is on there, and it includes a recipe for Unnamed Sauce.
Sarah: Oh my gosh!
Courtney: Which you can make using sort of like ingredients you can buy either from an Asian grocery store or off of Amazon. I have links so you know what I’m talking about. I also was going to do a version where I fermented my own broad beans, but let me just tell you I tried, and I actually failed like twice, and so I’m not trying anymore!
Courtney: Like, and also, I’m afraid that, like, if I do it wrong I will, like, kill myself. So –
Sarah: That would be bad!
Courtney: – like –
Sarah: That would be very bad!
Courtney: – like, I, I don’t know; I think the limits of my fermentation right now is, like, bread.
Sarah: So every recipe in the book, you have tried, you have pictures, and you’re –
Sarah: – going to do a whole food glossary.
Courtney: Yeah. I spent, I spent the entire time I was working on this book making recipes over and over so I would know how, how they were supposed to be made and, like, how I like them best, and etc., etc., and so forth. So, yeah, this was, like, a really food-heavy book for me.
Pele: Bark, bark, bark!
Sarah: Hi, Pele!
Pele: Bark, bark!
Courtney: Pele! Good boy!
Courtney: Are you driving away the mailman?
Courtney: Good job!
Sarah: Oh, he’s so up!
Sarah: He shows up every day, that guy!
Courtney: I know; if Pele weren’t here, he would just invade the house. Yeah.
Sarah: So Shana wanted me to ask you: I recently reread Hold Me, which was delightful, and I wonder what your plans are for revisiting the Cyclone series. I’m also curious if you find it easier to write or read contemporary or historical, especially since the present is so chaotic.
Courtney: Yeah, that’s a great question. Okay, so the things that are definitely following in the Cyclone series are Find Me and What Lies Between Me and You, and Find Me is the continuation of Tina and Blake’s story, and What Lies Between Me and You is, like, is Adam Reynolds’ story with –
Courtney: – someone who I think is obvious at this point, but who I’m not disclosing yet, because there’s an obvious problem with this person being a protagonist of a story, which is that this person is dead.
Sarah: That does make it difficult.
Courtney: So in any event, when I first started writing that I thought the hardest problem I’d have to deal with is the happy ending when he’s dead, and I figured that one out after about three months; it’s not that bad. The biggest problem was that, like, fucking billionaires. Fucking billionaires! Like –
Sarah: Yeah, it’s a problem!
Courtney: – I mean, so here’s the thing: like, I had this whole thing, like, the, the plot for What Lies Between Me and You, like, they’re a computer company. There was going to be this whole thing with, like, people planning, like, this way to, like, hack into a – not just hack into; somebody had built a back door into, like, the Cyclone systems from the beginning and they were hacking into the systems, it was going to be this whole thing, and, like, fucking reality. [Huffs] Fucking reality.
I’m sorry; I’m using the F word a lot, but I just, I, there is no other word. I’m talking about Adam Reynolds; if I can’t use the F word what, what even is reality?
Yeah, so, like, I can’t just, like, go on pretending that this is just going to be, like, this mild story about billionaires, can I? He has sixty-six billion dollars. Like six – do you know what you can do with sixty-six billion dollars? It’s, like, so fucking much, and why isn’t he doing any of this? Why is he not the villain of the story, right? He is! He is; he has to be his own villain. He, I mean, he is his own villain in many ways. He already was. But yeah, like, sixty-six billion dollars! This guy has sixty-six billion dollars; what am I going to do with him? How do I make this work? Yeah, so long story short, capitalism got in the way –
Courtney: – and, you know, I went through this period where I was like, okay, I have to figure out how to fix capitalism, and then, like, I realized (a) I don’t think, I think you need more than sixty-six billion dollars for that.
Courtney: And (b) like, if the end result being is okay, so this white billionaire fixes everything, then, like, that’s just, like, a fucking worse story! Now it’s, now it’s just like the stupid savior narrative, so I was like, okay, so that can’t be the answer.
Courtney: So, so yeah –
Pele: Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof!
Courtney: – like, I, I’ve kind of – really!
Pele: Bark, bark, bark!
Courtney: Big dog!
Pele: Bark, bark!
Courtney: Why so many barks?
Pele: Bark! Bark! Bark!
Courtney: Pele! Are you done?
Courtney: Of course not! Okay, so, what was I going to say?
Sarah: It turns into a savior narrative –
Courtney: It turns into a savior narrative –
Sarah: – if the white guy fixes everything!
Courtney: Exactly. And I didn’t want to write that. So I, I had to figure out how to fix stuff, and I think I know how to fix it, but there’s a, I mean, like, Adam’s book is so long; I’m so sorry. Like, like, I think my typical book is somewhere between 85- to 105,000 words, and Adam’s book is going to be like, totally like, all told together, like 260? It spans like twenty-five years; it’s so much! There’s so much in it! So.
Sarah: Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s going to complain.
Courtney: No, are you kidding? Have you met people? [Laughs]
Sarah: Well, no, that’s, I take that back; you are right. [Laughs]
Courtney: So, yeah, it’s, it’s a long story – obviously: it’s 250,000 words! – and it’s not finished, and I have to go back and, like, do a lot of fixing, and the editing is going to take some time. I’m, I’m still working on it. I didn’t forget it. The, the stupid fricking present bollixed everything.
Sarah: Yep. On one hand, I think that the core messages of romance are so strong and resilient and very, very relevant, but there are a lot of elements to romance, as a genre and all of its subgenres, where the minute you introduce a tiny piece of factual reality, a lot of it falls apart.
Sarah: And that is a lot to struggle with as a reader. I know that that has, that has done a number on my ability to read and accept narratives that prior to, you know, the last few years I would have been like, oh, oh, okay! Okay! All right! That’s where we’re going. Now I’m like, no! Hard no! Not doing that! Mm-mm! Cannot, sorry, no.
Sarah: And that, that makes it difficult, especially when you have such an established concept like the comfort and security of enormous amounts of resources!
Courtney: Yeah. Although, to be fair –
Sarah: To be fair –
Courtney: – you don’t need even one billion dollars to be extremely secure, so.
Sarah: It’s true! That’s very true.
Catherine was also wondering how authors such as yourself are approaching contemporaries now that COVID has basically colored everything and changed everything? And I know that authors are talking about this on large and small scale. Is this something that you’ve thought about, especially because you personally grappled with it? And I’m glad that you are feeling better.
Courtney: That’s a great question, in large part because there are time – so, so the contemporaries that I’m writing, I’m calling them contemporaries, but there are time things that are, are tagged to very specific historical events, and so my –
Courtney: – the contemporaries that I have in my, under my belt are all set pre-COVID –
Courtney: – you know, and so I, I, I hope that people might believe that post the end of the book, that maybe we don’t quite go down as far as we did, millions of people in the US having COVID, half the country in complete lockdown, the other half wandering through Targets raging about masks, right?
Sarah: Yeah! Mm-hmm.
Courtney: But that’s going to be up to individual readers. I actually have a really hard time reading contemporaries right now for that reason, that it just, it, it feels like it’s being presented as a contemporary, but it feels very much like an alternate reality?
Sarah: Yeah. It’s almost fantasy.
Courtney: Which is, I think, explicitly what I have, I have been writing in Cyclone anyways. So, I mean, Cyclone has always been, like, a little bit, like, very mild alternate history, because I invented a giant corporation with a huge market cap that has –
Courtney: – pushed technology along in a couple of different ways, some of which will become more obvious after you get Adam Reynolds’ book, so it’s always been a bit of an alternate history, and so I hope that – you know, I mean, like the Brothers Sinister was as well.
Sarah: Rhode R. wanted me to ask: I’m wondering how her internal writing voice or landscape changes depending on whether or not you’re writing historic or contemporary. Is it a different headspace? Is one more fun or relaxing than the other? Now, you’ve sort of answered that question because contemporary comes with a whole new set of problems that –
Sarah: – have come into sharper focus, but internally, is writing contemporary and writing historical a different mental headspace for you?
Courtney: Yes. So every book is a different mental headspace.
Sarah: That’s true! That’s very true.
Courtney: I mean, so I talked about that when talking about The Duke Who Didn’t versus The Devil Comes Courting –
Courtney: – that, just the headspace I had to be in for The Duke Who Didn’t mean, or, or for The Devil Comes Courting, meant that I had to be doing something to get me out of it so that I wasn’t continually there. I, I don’t know about contemporaries broadly speaking, because I only have one contemporary series, but yeah, I think that the Cyclone series is kind of in a different headspace. It’s very much sort of like, like, it, it has so much of my dorky side in it?
Courtney: Like, and, like, specifically, like, geeking out about tech gadgets and sort of cool stuff, and also, you know, trying to be realistic to some small degree about what it means to make those things. Yeah, it’s, I mean, it’s all a different headspace.
But, you know, I, I just have to say, it’s all under auspices of my head, if that makes any sense. Just, it’s like –
Courtney: – it’s like, it’s like, it’s, it’s a large space; I just camp in different parts of it.
Sarah: [Laughs] That makes a lot of sense.
Shana wanted me to ask you: did you watch the Hamilton movie, and what did you think of the critical response to it?
Courtney: Okay, so I did not watch the Hamilton movie, which may surprise people because I really obviously like Hamilton. And why didn’t I watch it? Because I don’t have Disney+.
Sarah: Well, that’ll do it!
Courtney: And I didn’t want to get Disney+, so I have not watched it.
Sarah: Emily wanted me to ask: how are all of your feelings in the midst of all the hellscape?
Courtney: Hmm. My feelings are, you know, I was actually doing pretty well up until mid-August –
Courtney: – and then mid-August through September has been just a hellscape. Like, the, like, the, the, the personal hellscape has sort of descended? It’s okay. I think that’s sort of inevitable that you have up and down times. But yeah.
Sarah: Certainly true for me.
Courtney: Yeah, you know, it’s like one of those things where it’s like my cat died and my aunt is in, you know, hospice care and, you know, like, my mom turned seventy-seven and I can’t go see her and, like, all these things are just – [noise] – you, you probably can’t hear the noise I’m making over the thing, but –
Sarah: No, I can. I make that noise a lot.
Courtney: Yeah. You know, it’s just like suddenly, like, you know, I don’t want to say 2020 caught up with me – [laughs] – ‘cause it’s not like 2020 ever didn’t relinquish, it, it never really, but it, it’s, you know, it decided that it was, like, going to, going to remind me that it did in fact suck. It was the worst year on record.
Sarah: Well, your 2020 also started in very, very late 2019?
Courtney: Fucking 2019! Yeah, uh-huh.
Sarah: Yeah, you, your –
Sarah: – your 2020 started like the last week of December. You got, like –
Courtney: It did.
Sarah: – a terrible head start!
Courtney: I know! Like, that happened, and I was like, oh! So 2020’s going to be much better now. Ha-ha-ha!
Courtney: Oh, it’s like –
Courtney: – 2020 could not possibly be worse! And now I will never say that about any year again. Any time, I, like, every, every once in a while I’m, like, tempted to be like, oh, 2021, I’m sure it’s going to be great! And then I’m like, don’t say that! You said that in 2019, and look what we got! Global pandemic!
Courtney: Think it won’t get any worse? Just, shh! 2020 has shown you that it always gets worse! It’s like, did we have a global pandemic? Great! Now we’ll burn down the entire West Coast. Ha-ha-ha!
Sarah: Wait, wait, wait, just in case you missed that, how ‘bout a hurricane or two?
Courtney: Oh, yeah. You think it’s going to be two? Because we had –
Sarah: Yeah, it’s true.
Courtney: – we had Laura –
Courtney: – and now we have, was it, is it Sally that’s coming in?
Sarah: Sally, yep, yep, yep.
Courtney: And we are not at the end of hurricane season by any stretch.
Sarah: Oh, not by a long shot, not by a long shot.
Courtney: So –
Courtney: – yeah. Fun times! Let’s talk about something happy!
Sarah: What books are you reading that you want to tell people about?
Courtney: Oh, that’s happy! Okay, so books that I am reading that are super fun: The Hidden Moon by Jeannie Lin. I don’t know if any of you have read Jeannie Lin before, but she writes Chinese-set historical romances. But in any event, so I’m reading The Hidden Moon, which came out, I don’t know, like a week ago? Two weeks ago? Something like that?
Courtney: It is fabulous. I’m reading a book that is called, I think, Grey Dawn, and I’m looking right now to see if I can look up who the author is. Nyri Bakkalian. I have probably mispronounced that last name. I just started this book last night, and in the first chapter, the, there are two heroines. One of them is Chloe – incidentally also the name of the heroine in The Duke Who Didn’t, so I was like, ooh, another Chloe! – and Leigh are the two heroines, and the first chapter of the book is set pre-Civil War, in which Chloe discovers that some slavers are coming to try and take back some people who’ve escaped to Philadelphia, to bring them back under the Fugitive Slave Act, and so she’s like, fuck this shit. I’m a Quaker; I believe in equality, and so she goes out with a gun. And she actually shoots one of them, yay! And –
Courtney: – Leigh is the observer who is sort of like assigned to help try and keep them safe, and so those are our two heroines. And the second chapter is set in modern times.
Sarah: Oh wow!
Courtney: In which Chloe, you discover, skipped time, and there’s a specific word that the book, a phrase that the book uses for this, and it just uses it sort of like nonchalantly, like, oh, she was time-displaced! That’s what it is, time-displaced. Yeah, she was time-displaced from 1862, and now it’s 2020, right? So Chloe was –
Sarah: As you do.
Courtney: – was time-displaced, and Leigh has been reincarnated, and discovers her old former lover. She doesn’t know it yet, but she’s been reincarnated in 2020. But it’s just sort of like, so you jump to 2020, and you have Leigh meeting Chloe again, and Chloe instantly recognizes who she is, but Leigh doesn’t yet know. So it’s this really interesting – and then you go back and forth, with Chloe sort of telling the, the historical chapters and Leigh narrating the modern chapters. And it’s, it’s really, really fascinating and delightful, and also it’s just like one hundred percent, like, oh, slavers? We kill them on sight. People who believe in equality and who are like, yeah, I am not going to stop until everyone’s free. That’s what we’re going to do! So it’s really cool! So lesbian lovers who decide that they are, like, all in on abolition. It’s hard to describe, because I’ve never read anything like it before, but my brain is loving it.
There’s another one, which was also sort of like, it, it’s a YA, and it’s sort of like also about people who skip time, and, like, the premise, like, fricking blew me away, and the writing is really good. It’s a little bleak in some ways, but the fact that it’s set up the way it is – so I’m, I’m pulling up my Kindle app so that I can tell you what it is, but I’ll describe the premise of the story first. The premise is that we learn in our society how to visit other worlds that are sort of like parallel universes to ours, right?
Courtney: But you can only visit another world if you, if your counterpart does not exist in that world.
Courtney: So that, meaning you are dead. Your other self is dead. And so this makes all the people who were born in really shitty circumstances and barely survive by the skin of their teeth extremely valuable, ‘cause they’re the only ones who can visit other worlds.
Courtney: Okay, this is The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson.
Sarah: Oh wow.
Courtney: And as you can imagine with that premise, it’s not exactly non-bleak?
Sarah: Yeah, just a, just a little.
Courtney: But there’s also sort of like a lightness to it, and –
Courtney: – it’s, it’s kind of weird to explain, because, like, my brain is just very picky right now about stuff, and sometimes things that are really happy are just, like, perfect for me, and other times I like things that are a little bleak but with a lightness, because I need to be able to sort of like find hope?
Sarah: Yep, I get it!
Courtney: Maybe not find hope, but just, like, you know, know that people get through? So yeah.
Sarah: Can I make a recommendation for you?
Courtney: Yeah, yeah, yeah!
Sarah: Zoraida Córdova and Natalie Parker edited an anthology called Vampires Never Get Old –
Courtney: Ooh! Okay.
Sarah: – and it is out on the 22nd. It is a collection of short stories from different YA authors, including Rebecca Roanhorse, Julie Murphy –
Sarah: – all reimagining vampire lore from a diverse, inclusive, queer, alternate perspective.
Courtney: Oh, super cool.
Sarah: I loved it. One of my team read it and then recommended it and then suggested it to me, because my brain is exhausted with all of the virtual learning.
Sarah: I just didn’t have the, I didn’t have the brain energy to construct a whole novel space, but a short story, I could read one over lunch, and then I’d think about it!
Sarah: And they’re so good! They’re all different, they’re all very rooted in a, in a unique perspective, and they’re really fun! Because, you know, there’s always elements of vampire lore that are familiar, like, oh, I know where this, I know what this thing is, but what’s it doing here?
Sarah: Oh, it’s really good.
Courtney: That is really cool, especially because I’ve always thought to myself that the major thing that never, nobody ever deals with with vampires is, you’ve got these, like, hundred-year-old, two-hundred-year-old people from Europe. Why aren’t they, I mean, aren’t they all just, like, flaming racists? They should all be flaming racists, right?
Sarah: [Laughs] Yes! One of the authors in the anthology is Dhonielle Clayton, so I interviewed Zoraida –
Sarah: – and Dhonielle about the anthology and also about their podcast, and Zoraida was like, basically, all the vampires are white. What’s with that?
Courtney: Yeah! I, I already just preordered it on Amazon?
Courtney: [Laughs] As we were talking.
Sarah: Oh cool!
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Thank you to Courtney Milan for hanging out with me; and thank you to Amanda, Claudia, Malia, Olivia, Shana, Catherine, Rhode, and Emily for all of your questions; and thank you most especially to Pele. The episode would not be so much fun without Pele.
I will have links to where you can buy The Duke Who Didn’t, and I will have links to all of the books we talked about in this episode – I know there were many – in the show notes at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast.
Thank you again to our Patreon community. If you are part of the Patreon and I have an upcoming interview, you will learn about it before I record, and you get to ask questions. So if you’re curious, please have a look and join us! It’s a lot of fun: patreon.com/SmartBitches!
As always, I end with an absolutely terrible joke, and this one is really, really bad, ‘cause I like it a lot.
And it’s also particularly appropriate because I finally decided to try watching The Mandalorian this week before the second season debuts, so this is very much inspired by how much I’ve been liking The Mandalorian. Did you watch it? Do you like it? Should I keep going? Tell me what you think. You can email me: Sarah with an H at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books dot com [[email protected]] or [email protected]; they all come to the same place, but I do love hearing from you, especially if you think I should keep watching, ‘cause I think I’m going to keep watching. I’m very bad at watching television.
But anyway, bad joke? Bad joke.
What did Yoda say when he saw himself in 4K?
What did Yoda say when he saw himself in 4K resolution?
“HD am I.”
[Laughs] HD am I! Considering how much time I’ve spent hunting down HDMI cables so that my kids can connect their computers to larger, larger screens for virtual learning, that gave me no end of delight. Thank you to TheFoxMaster00 for that terrible joke. I love it very much. [Laughs again] HD am I.
On behalf of everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a wonderful weekend; thank you, as always, for joining us; and we will see you back here next week!
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more outstanding podcasts to listen to and subscribe to at frolic.media/podcasts.
[nice music ends]
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.