Rank #1: 321. Royals Both Real and Fictional, with Lindsay Emory
This week I’m chatting with author and podcaster Lindsay Emory about royalty - both the royalty in her new book The Royal Runaway, and about the way many many people are interested in contemporary royalty around the world. We talk about why so many people are curious about royal families, and how it’s a slightly different kind of celebrity culture to follow - and we talk a bit about celebrity encounters we’ve had. We also discuss her new book, her creation of a country in which to place her royal family, and the research she did into the world of royalty. Plus, we try to compose romance plots about the royal timekeeper. You know, for fun.
Rank #2: 302. The Value of Talking To Book People: Amanda Reports on BEA and BookCon 2018
Fresh from the fresh hell that is the Javits Center, Amanda and Sarah chat about Amanda’s adventures at BEA, better known as Book Expo America, and BookCon, which happened last week. Sometimes I can record, edit, and produce an episode in a few days, and I’m lucky to be able to do that this week. We talk about what BEA and BookCon are, what the differences are between them, and what or, more specifically, who each one is for. Amanda talked about some of her experiences at BEA and her experience at BookCon, the wonderful and the execrable. We answer some fun questions, such as: What’s the difference between BEA and BookCon? What comics and books did Amanda learn about this year? How much does Sarah dislike the Javits? Will cats interrupt the podcast? What bookish Brooklyn-based vendor did Amanda fall in love with? And why is Sunday the best day of BookCon? We also talk about a book Amanda loved so much, she’s pretty sure it’s her best book of 2018. Yes, it’s that good.
Rank #3: 257. Bitches Assemble: Our Favorite Recommendations and the Expectations of Tentacles
Sarah, Elyse, Carrie, and RedHeadedGirl gather to talk about successful recommendations we’ve made to new and curious readers interested in trying romance. From curating a broad selection of books as an introduction to specifically pimping books we know have a multi-level appeal, we talk about our favorite recommendations, books that seem to entice many different readers, and which books we love just for sheer crazy sauce. We also discuss how many readers are introduced to romance by a person who gives them a brown paper bag full of books. “Bag full of books” is among our favorite word combinations. And because we’re, well, us, we talk about weird sex scenes we’ve read, wonderful and funny sex scenes we’ve loved, managing chronic pain and reading BDSM stories, and interesting female inventors in history. Plus, we discuss at length (heh) the expectations of tentacles, and what new books we’re going to end up recommending frequently. Note: Elyse is a little fuzzy, and I think she might have been in a wind machine.
Rank #4: 341. The Self Care of Unapologetically Massive Happy Endings: An Interview with Adriana Herrera
Today I’m chatting with Adriana Herrera, whose debut book American Dreamer is out this week! We talk about so many things, y’all. So many. We discuss the Afro Latinx cultural experience in her life, her work, and in her books, and the unique homesickness that comes when you’re from a Caribbean island and you live in New York City and it’s below freezing. We talk about all the places she’s lived - she and her husband did international relief work around the world. We also discuss: - Embracing and representing various lived experiences in a story: “It’s like seeing something in a museum, then taking the glass away and being able to touch it.” - Moving from being in the community as a reader to being a debut author - The layers of meaning in the names of characters in her series - The occupational hazard of writing food p0rn - How writing romance began as an exercise in self care while she completing her master’s degree in social work, and how she balances writing with her MSW - How she focuses on making the “yes” of consent in a romance real and structurally sound - What to means to level up characters so they are ready for real, committed relationships And of course, we talk about what she’s working on, and what she’s reading. Thank you to Leigh for her questions! When I asked the Patreon community for their ideas, Leigh wrote, “I am super excited Adriana is coming on the podcast! She is the loveliest and I'm so excited to read American Dreamer.” TW/CW: Please be aware that because Adriana works with domestic violence, we touch on that topic a few times throughout the interview, particularly when we discuss writing consent and power dynamics and her work as a social worker.
Rank #5: 273. Sex Toys, Self Love, and Erotic Romance: A Very Bawdy Podcast with Thien-Kim Lam
Grab your earbuds for this one. Nancy C suggested this interview in the comments to a recent episodes, and I’d been eager to set one up as well because, well, several reasons. Today I’m talking with Thien-Kim Lam, founder and owner of the Bawdy Bookworms subscription box service, which pairs erotic romance with sex toys and accessories. Thien-Kim recently attended a trade show all about sex toys in Vermont, and brought samples and new products to show me. So while we’re talking about sex positivity, toys, accessories, and general bawdiness, we also do some show and tell. Do not worry, I have pictures! You don’t want to miss the unicorn part. There are a number of unintentional puns, a lot of discussion of misinformation about sexuality and intimacy, and a lot of toys to talk about.
Rank #6: 189. Romantic Suspense and Erotic Confections: An Interview with Author Lisa Marie Perry
Sarah interviews author Lisa Marie Perry about her latest book in a romantic suspense/sports romance series for Kimani. They discuss several of her books, the inclusiveness of her characters, the challenges and victories in balancing multiple sets of expectations, and her newest series, which may involve nipple tarts and buttercream. Finally, the question you’ve been asking all your life will be answered: Should you eat an entire chocolate penis in one sitting?
Rank #7: 186. Come As You Are – Sexuality and Romance: An Interview with Emily Nagoski, PhD
Amanda and Sarah interview Emily Nagoski, who is the New York Times Bestselling Author of Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, and is currently the Director of Wellness Education at Smith College. She’s a sex educator and also a new romance author whose first book will be out in June. In the interview, they discuss wellness education for undergraduates, sex education, arousal nonconcordance, what romance gets right - and wrong - about sex, and about the power and rebellion inherent in representing women’s sexuality the way it is.
Rank #8: 243. Discovering Romance and Navigating Approval: An Interview with Faith Salie
Sarah chats with author, speaker, and television and radio journalist Faith Salie about Authorized, her Audible program on Sex and Romance in which many of our favorite romance authors are featured, and about the CBS Sunday Morning segment in which Sarah appeared. They talk about Faith’s book, Approval Junkie, which is out in paperback this week. There are new words to learn, discussions of measuring your own success, and behind-the-scenes details about the production of television segments. Plus, they have a rather meta conversation about listening and interviewing. (There’s an entire chapter in Faith’s book on interviewing and listening, and it’s incredibly thought provoking and engaging.) There’s also a fair amount of mutual admiration. And! I'm giving away four copies of Approval Junkie, Faith's book, now out in paperback. Head over to SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com/podcast and enter to win a copy! Open until 27 April 2017.
Rank #9: 220. New Books and Deep Dives into History: An Interview With Loretta Chase
Sarah interviews New York Times bestselling historical romance author Loretta Chase. They discuss Chase’s new books, writing horrible, dreadful, men, and where she starts in her writing. They also talk about historical details and research, museum exhibits, and deep dives into rabbit holes in history - plus the books that live on her keeper shelf. Most of all, we learn the power of building smoochies.
Rank #10: 213. The Books That Made You Romance Readers, and Super Honest Brave Sharing Time
You left voicemail messages! You recorded voice memos! You shared the books that turned you into romance readers! That’s so awesome. I’m sharing your messages, plus two reader messages about romance history, and a very, very honest and important letter from Linda, who was inspired by our episodes with Emily Nagoski to share her history with vulvodynia and vaginismus. So we’ve got books and history and sexual health, all in one.
Rank #11: 296. Acting, Narrating, and Writing: An Interview with Julia Whelan
Today I’m interviewing Julia Whelan, author of the new book, My Oxford Year, which just came out this week, on April 24, 2018. This is a full score production: dogs barking! Car horns! The street sounds of midtown Manhattan! We cover her start as a child actor, and how she moved through acting to audiobook narration to writing screenplays and then a novel. Among the topics we discuss: What makes a good narration? What are the differences between screenplays and novels? How does being an audiobook narrator and actor influence her writing, and vice versa? I also ask some vague non-spoiler questions about the characters in My Oxford Year, and we get a teeny sample of her performance of the audiobook and some of the key characters. We also discuss my very strange idea that Gone Girl and YA have some elements in common, and of course, I ask what she’s reading. I really enjoyed this interview - I almost titled it English Major Nerds Talking. I hope you enjoy it, too.
Rank #12: 218. Ghost Stories and Romance (Readers): We Discuss All Books Creepy and Good
Carrie, Elyse, RedHeadedGirl and I chat about ghosts, ghost stories, and reading creepy scary stuff. Some of us don’t think ghosts are real, some of us do - so we talk about it. We also talk about empathy, sensitivity to emotions, and reading for catharsis and vengeance. There are a LOT of book recommendations, too - scary books, horror, romance, and mystery, plus a discussion of the fact that mortality is a stubborn romantic conflict.
Rank #13: 250. Being A Writer, and Being Yourself: An Interview with Sara Flynn and Meg Tilly
Sarah chats with romance author Sara Flynn and Golden Globe winning actress Meg Tilly - conveniently the same person! Sara attended RT for the first time, and was the emcee for the awards ceremony. We start by talking about identity, about being yourself, and investing your own energy in things you value. We also talk about her experience at RT, her writing, her process, and how acting may have informed her writing style. We also talk about her new book, Solace Island, and learning to write romance when it’s something you truly, truly love. Trigger warning: 48:25 - 48:35 min Earlier books published under the name Meg Tilly deal with child sexual abuse, and she mentions the plot of one that may be upsetting. So skip ahead if that might upset you, k? I want you to feel safe.
Rank #14: 281. Alyssa Cole and Alisha Rai: Romance and the Resistance from Politics and Prose
Hooray! Thanks to Politics and Prose on the Wharf, I have the audio of the November 29, 2017, panel with Alisha Rai and Alyssa Cole. We talk about their favorite scenes in one another’s books, and which character is an homage to Alisha’s dating life (heads up for the Alisha Rai Dating Story Fans, we have a great one in here). We also discuss joy, romance, and the ambition of happiness as elements of resistance, how to persevere with happiness when things around you are bleak, and what happens when you Google “sexy grilled cheese sandwiches.”
Rank #15: 229. Romance, Dating, and Very Real Expectations: An Interview with Alisha Rai
Longer-than-usual, in person conversation with author Alisha Rai! Yup, a live recording, and of course we start by talking about my “professionalism” as a podcaster. Over brownies and tea, we discuss sexxytimes romance, her new series with Avon, and how reading and writing romance informs and influences her dating life - because sometimes you meet people who you *know* you’ve read before. She talks about the pressure on women to meet expectations in various stages of life, and the old accusation that women harbor “unrealistic expectations” because of romance. As a bonus, my cat interrupts a discussion of inclusivity, sensitivity readers, and portrayal in literature - you know, a typical podcast.
Rank #16: 206. Proving Love: An Interview with Dr. Chuck Tingle
If you’re not familiar with Chuck Tingle, prepare to have your life irrevocably changed. Dr. Tingle is the author of world-famous books such as My Billionaire Triceratops Craves Gay Ass, Pounded by the Gay Color Changing Dress, Pounded in the Butt by my Book, “Pounded in the Butt by My Book,” Slammed in the Butt by My Hugo Award Nomination, Feeling the Bern in my Butt, Pounded by the Pound: Turned Gay by the Socioeconomic Implications of Britain Leaving the European Union, and Pokebutt Go: Pounded By ‘Em All. His bio is equally diverting: Hugo Award nominee Dr. Chuck Tingle is an erotic author and Tae Kwon Do grandmaster (almost black belt) from Billings, Montana. After receiving his PhD at DeVry University in holistic massage, Chuck found himself fascinated by all things sensual, leading to his creation of the "tingler", a story so blissfully erotic that it cannot be experienced without eliciting a sharp tingle down the spine. Recently on Twitter, he did an AMA wherein I asked if he’d be a guest. To my complete shock and utter joy, he agreed. Tingle’s books and his online persona are surreal and fascinating, and so is this interview. I had a number of questions from podcast listeners and Patreon supporters, plus several questions of my own, and Dr. Tingle was kind enough to answer all of them. We talk about Tingle’s mission to prove love and prove that love is real, and dealing with people who are not on your wavelength. He talks about educating buckaroos, how one becomes a buckaroo or a lady buck, and why he doesn’t want to write about famous women in the news and in current events. Dr. Tingle also mentions his GoFundMe, to help people avoid thinking about the man with wieners for hair and benefitting the Billings Public Library, and we discuss his experience with his Hugo nomination, and what books he is working on now. SPECIAL NOTE: I know many people listen to podcasts at 1.25 or 1.5 speed - I definitely do. I want to encourage you to drop the speed down to normal levels for this episode because of the way Dr. Tingle speaks. He has a unique cadence to his speech, and if you listen at regular speeds, you should be good.
Rank #17: 313. Tracking Changes: An Interview with Bowling Green Browne Pop Culture Library Archivist Steve Ammidown
In this episode, I’m chatting with Steve Ammidown, who is the Manuscripts and Outreach Archivist at the Browne Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green. We talk about what Steve’s job means, what he does, and what the Browne Popular Culture Library has within its collection. Board games, liquor decanters, promotional items, pogs, pins, cookbooks, marketing ephemera, books, and many, many other cool things live in the Pop Culture Library. We discuss some of the most interesting parts of the collection (Fanzines? Yup) and the parts he’s developing currently. March 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the library, so they’re also looking at what more they can do in the future, including focusing on their romance collection, which is hella substantial. (That’s an official library term, btw.) We also discuss the challenges of being an archivist in a digital age, and how the idea of a manuscript collection is changing with all the changes in the way in which we write. We also talk about the library’s RWA collection, their category romance collection, their manuscript and papers archive from about 45 different romance writers, and, obviously, their romance genre collection as well. Plus, Steve tells us about romances he’s reading, and his impressions of the genre as someone who discovered it as an adult. In one of the library’s recent tweets, Steve quoted Elizabeth Designer, who said, “It is a feminist act to preserve stuff that women have done and written.” I entirely agree, and would love to visit this library someday. So let’s take a road trip, shall we?
Rank #18: 209. Billionaire Playboys, Virgin Stable Girls: An Interview with Sharon Kendrick
In an interview recorded at RWA in San Diego, Sarah chats with author Sharon Kendrick, author of 100 books for Harlequin and Mills & Boon. We discuss the particular dynamics of Harlequin Presents, the essential absolute elements Harlequin Presents hero, and the unique connections between people, and between characters. Sharon reveals how she got started writing for Presents and how much she loves her job. (Spoiler: a lot!)
Rank #19: 182. Historical Costumes and Historical Clothing: An Interview with RedHeadedGirl
RedheadedGirl and Sarah discuss historical costumes, and historical clothing - and how they’re not the same thing. They cover the costumes from Reign, The Tudors, Rome, and Outlander, as well as Jessica McClintock prom gowns from the 80s, clothing in the Regency and other eras, and what it’s like when you see a costume and you think, I bet I can make that. We also have a very candid discussion about contemporary uses for panniers, women’s undergarments, the truth about togas, and undercarriage comfort solutions. Note: we talk about lots of pictures in this podcast, so if you're out and about, you can check the podcast entry at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast to see panniers like you have never seen panniers before.
Rank #20: 224. Earl Had to Die: Sarah and Elyse Discuss Dr. Strange, Heroine Rage, and True Crime
Sarah and Elyse talk at length about why Elyse was mad at Dr. Strange, and what they liked and didn’t like about it. The discussion is pretty spoilery (especially for 30 seconds at about 5 minutes in), but the hope is that it’s been enough time since the film came out. They also discuss, in depth, the concept of female rage, all the “girl” books, heroine revenge, female rage horror stories, and supremely pissed off heroines in romance. They also mention true crime podcasts, and other random topics, and there’s some dog interruption - all the professional touches you know and love about this podcast. Because this episode talks extensively about the endings of movies, books, and tv shows, it’s pretty spoiler-tactic. Alas, it’s nearly impossible to discuss vindication and catharsis in fiction without discussing the ending that makes it so. ALSO: Trigger Warning for rape and discussion of criminal justice system failings as pertains to rape victims. Plus, after the outro, a rather inappropriate outtake wherein they rag on a former quarterback and on dick pics in general. Listener discretion advised.