Rank #1: Episode 38: Problematic Gay Stuff
Content warnings: This episode references potentially triggering topics, including abusive relationships, gaslighting, murder, cannibalism, sexual assault, violence, incest, Real Person Fan Fiction, and age differences--a lot of triggers that constitute "dark" or "problematic" fiction. While we don't dwell on many of these subjects, they are referenced, and people may want to protect themselves accordingly. Also, there are mild spoilers for Hannibal and other pieces of media referenced.
Don't miss the very important announcement about the future of THR and our other podcast ventures! We have exciting news to share and want feedback from our listeners to give you the best experience possible.
This episode, we head over to the Dark Side of queer publishing and fan fiction (and give you several more TED Talks). Austin and Amanda think that the widespread use of content and trigger warnings in fandom and queer fiction give readers the ability to curate their own experience and examine their reactions to fiction in ways that mainstream media doesn't typically allow for. Amanda talks about her own journey through dark media and how she's drawn and redrawn her own lines, and Austin does the same. Ultimately, both hosts believe there is no consensus as to what constitutes "good" fiction versus "problematic" fiction, that policing other people's engagement with media is impossible and reductive, and that humans are complicated and messy by nature.
Killing Eve (TV show)
KJ Charles - The Henchmen of Zenda
Anthony Hope - The Prisoner of Zenda
Aliette de Bodard - The Citadel of Weeping Pearls (Xuya Universe)
Margaret Killjoy - The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion
Kelly Robson - A Human Stain
The Clarkesworld Podcast
Rich Larson - Carouseling
Rich Larson - God Decay
The Verge: Listen to one of the best short science fiction podcasts right now
Robyn Bennis - The Guns Above: A Signal Airship Novel
Heather Rose Jones - Daughter of Mystery
The Exorcist (TV show)
My Favorite Murder (Podcast)
Poppy Z. Brite - Exquisite Corpse
CS Pacat - The Captive Prince Series
Kurt/Blaine (Glee TV show)
Madeline Miller - The Song of Achilles
Hannibal/Will [Hannigram] (Hannibal TV show)
Brokeback Mountain (Film)
Boys Don't Cry (Film)
Kylo Ren/Hux [Kylux] (Star Wars films)
Clint/Coulson (MCU films)
Goodreads: Popular M/M dark books (couldn't find an F/F equivalent--let me know if you do!)
Rank #2: Episode 20: The Captivating Pacat
Content warnings: The Captive Prince series contains dark subject matter, including sexual and physical abuse, so please proceed with caution as we briefly discuss some of those elements.
The Captive Prince started life as a free online serial and became a best seller. Author C.S. Pacat talks process, plotting, her influences as a young queer person, what the 80s covers of the books would look like, Amanda's thing for icy blonds, and the delight that is Yuri on Ice in THR's longest episode to date. (We all had a lot to say about who we romanced in Dragon Age.)
Stay tuned for the bonus content after the credits!
Rank #3: Episode 12: There Goes My Anti-Hero
Villains, antagonists, and anti-heroes are the topic of the day. Austin and Amanda critically run through a roster of their favorite queer or queer-coded villains in media. Cartoonish homophobia and transphobia, coded Disney villains, the lack of female villains, how queer villains are seen as especially evil for their sexuality, redemption stories, how a main character can be the antagonist of their own story, and bisexual murder pits are all discussed.
Amanda has a revelation about how straight people consume media while discussing Lex from Smallville, Austin recounts the suffering he endured while watching Downton Abbey for Thomas Barrow, and the two roll around in their general love of villainy.
Finally, Amanda's running a collection call with LT3 all about enemies to lovers! Get your villain on:
Please review the submission guidelines thoroughly.)
Rank #4: Episode 34: Manic Pixie Scottish Banana
At the top of the episode, Austin and Amanda briefly address the ongoing revelations of misconduct and abuse within queer publishing. We stand with authors.
Austin and Amanda go digging for comedy gold in ancient Harlequin blurbs, then get serious and talk about how damn hard beginnings can be. Amanda talks about what she typically finds missing in beginnings as an acquisitions editor. The hosts take a moment to address the diversity in romance publishing statistics released by The Ripped Bodice and chat current reads and Disneyland pipe dreams. Finally, it's Amanda's turn to have too many emotions over a D&D podcast.
Riptide Publishing: Statement on Santino Hassell
Riptide Publishing: Statement on Sarah Lyons
The Ripped Bodice: The State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Report
Kai Ashante Wilson - A Taste of Honey and Sorcerer of the Wildeeps
Kij Johnson - The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
Helping Writers Become Authors: Story Structure Database
The Adventure Zone Podcast
Rank #5: Episode 26: Gay Elves and Sexy Lizard People
Fantasy and speculative fiction is the topic of the day! Austin and Amanda throw around some loose definitions, give examples of their favorite queer fantasy (send Amanda more gaslamp manuscripts!). and writing fantasy with romance in it vs writing romance in a fantasy setting. They answer some questions from Twitter and wonder why people bother to transplant real-life oppression into fantastical settings.
Austin and Amanda are big nerds who cry at Lord of the Rings, call out Mass Effect Andromeda, and demand more gay elves.
Authors and books mentioned in the episode, as well as some others to check out:
Sam Argent - Sebastian (Family of Lies)
KJ Charles - A Charm of Magpies
Cassandra Clare - Infernal Devices
Kirby Crow - Scarlet and the White Wolf
Lynn Flewelling - The Nightrunner Series
Rachel Haimowitz - Song of the Fallen series
Jesse Hajicek - The God Eaters
Ginn Hale (includes Lord of the White Hell, Wicked Gentlemen, and the Rifter series)
Jordan L Hawke - Whyborne & Griffin
Ellen Kushner (includes Swordspoint and Tremontaine, which also features Racheline Maltese and Malinda Lo)
C.S. Pacat - Captive Prince trilogy
C.M. Spivey - From Under the Mountain
There's also some Goodreads lists like this one, fantasy with gay MCs.
Rank #6: Episode 22: Kill Your (Peter) Darlings
Co-host Austin Chant's novel Peter Darling was released in February, and Amanda and Austin break down the editing process over many months and three recording sessions. Hear them stress over deadlines, complain about talking whales and Hook's outfits, give props to the Captive Prince trilogy for various inspiration, discuss the versions of the book that weren't, and totally contradict themselves from session to session!
The episode is an in-depth look at what it takes to bring a novel from first draft to publication. It does contain spoilers for the book.
Books Austin and Amanda read:
The Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat
Wanted, A Gentleman by KJ Charles
Downtime by Tamara Allen
Documenting Light by E. E. Ottoman
The Summer Palace by C.S. Pacat
Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica by Xan West
Rank #7: Episode 31: A Peach by Any Other Name
Content warning: part of this episode discusses a fictional relationship between a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old.
THR returns with a semi-revamped format! Austin and Amanda talk about the future of the show, delve into some of the realities of freelancing from their own experiences, and spend the last two-thirds of the episode talking about Call Me By Your Name and their wildly disparate reactions to it. (Warning for book and movie spoilers. There's a head's up in the episode when we get to spoiler territory as well.)
Stay tuned after the credits for the oft-mentioned recording of the hosts and friends watching CMBYN's most infamous scene.
Call Me by Your Name - Andre Aciman
Call Me By Your Name audiobook narrated by Armie Hammer
Call Me By Your Name soundtrack
The Shape of Water
Rank #8: Episode 9: Boy Meets Earl
Content warning: There is a mention of an ethnic slur in the episode, as well as some discussion of historical racism (including slavery).
KJ Charles joins THR for episode eight, "Boy Meets Earl". Author of historical fiction and historical fantasy, and an editor, KJ describes her methods of research, discloses fun facts about Victorian and Edwardian body modification, and discusses not wanting to belabor period-accurate racism, sexism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism.
The group talks about why sidelining queer romance and other so-called 'niche' romance categories is unacceptable—and makes poor money sense on the part of publishers and distributors.
Also, Amanda asks pervy-minded questions about the Society of Gentlemen series and reads aloud embarrassing texts about her and Daria's excitement for the upcoming conclusion to the trilogy.
The Hopeless Romantic is on Patreon!
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Rank #9: Episode 35: The State of Things
Content warning: This episode references sexual abuse and harassment, and generally a lot of toxic behavior and boundary crossing. None of it is explicitly discussed, but please take care of yourself if you might be triggered.
Austin and Amanda get serious and address racism, gatekeeping, abuse, amateurism, and other broken elements in queer publishing. Another major problem discussed is how a lack of boundaries can lead to those in the industry with power (authors, publishers, editors, etc.) transgressing against those with less power. There's some call-outs for publishers to pay fair wages to editors (including sensitivity editors) and some advice for authors to be wary of predatory contract clauses and author mills.
Rebekah Weatherspoon's Tweet re: a racist editorial director
Xen x Cole McCade: On Sarah Lyons and Why I Ended My Relationship With Riptide Publishing
Riptide Publishing: Our Statement on Sarah Lyons
Absolute Write Water Cooler
Rank #10: Episode 18: You Only Liver Once
Content warning: Austin and Amanda are tipsy/drunk in this episode. They also discuss the TV shows Hannibal and Attack on Titan briefly, which feature morbid subject matter. (Amanda's generally a creep, too.)
It's THR's one-year anniversary! In celebration, Austin and Amanda got drunk and talked about abandoned projects, tried and failed to plot a project, and discussed how Korean dramas are basically just serial romance novels. Lots of inappropriateness was had.
Rank #11: Episode 23: Amnesia and Peril and Cowboys, Oh My
Content warning: There are a few mentions of racism and a mention of rape in this episode.
THR talks tropes! From their favorites (ask about Austin's love for cowboys and Amanda's for arranged marriage) to their least favorites, when a trope can be neutral, and when it can be potentially harmful. They also cover some tropes that intersect with or differ from those in fan fiction.
Also, for some reason Austin attempts to say some stuff in German. Tune in to find out how that goes.
Rank #12: Episode 11: Disability Representation
Tracy Timmons-Gray, the director of Gay Romance Northwest conference, joins THR to discuss characters with disabilities in queer romance. The gang shares recs, talks about tropes, including the love interest grappling with the reveal of their partner's disability, the narrow span of disabilities portrayed, the sanctification of disabled people, and how often disabled fiction is inspiration porn. The conversation tackles sex scenes, A/B/O, disabled characters in fandom, and resources for writing disabled characters.
Amanda, Tracy, and Austin try their best to be positive despite being Cranky Fans. Also, Tracy details GRNW's inception and history and how the conference will change going forward. (Fun fact, GRNW is how Amanda and Austin met!) Tracy and Amanda talk about the upcoming GRNW conference and the charity anthology "Magic & Mayhem."
(Pssst, put GRNW 2016 on your calendars! 9/24/16 at the Seattle Public Library! It's freeeee.)
Follow GRNW on twitter: @gayrom_nw
Book recs mentioned in the episode:
Gives Light by Rose Christo
Think of England by KJ Charles
Mnevermind by Jordan Castillo Price
The Adrien English Mysteries by Josh Lanyon
Speechless by Kim Fielding
Brute by Kim Fielding
Winter's Bees by E.E. Ottoman
Dead Ringer by Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler
Glitterland by Alexis Hall
Support The Hopeless Romantic on Patreon!
Rank #13: Episode 13: Heidi Below the Covers
Content warning: This episode of THR contains frank discussion of sexual assault, sexual violence, and similarly dark, potentially triggering subject matter.
Heidi Belleau joins the show and Gets Very Real with THR about her history of writing grimdark fiction and the growing pains of leaving some of that behind. She talks about the perils of using the same penname for drastically different works (romcoms and dark fiction like The Flesh Cartel), what her personal limits are, bringing humor into darker material--and when it's best to pull back.
Heidi compares the process of growing as an author, in public, to the reality of contemporary teenagers growing up on tumblr. (Anyone with a defunct Livejournal and a long fandom history can probably relate.) Most authors can probably relate to the quandary of growing as an artist in such a public sphere.
The important and validating realization for Heidi, and maybe for other authors who feel pigeonholed into a darker genre, has been that she can write lighter stories and people will also appreciate them.
Follow Heidi on twitter! @HeidiBelleau
Rank #14: Episode 36: Chekhov's War
Content warning: We discuss (though not in any detail) Amanda's current ear infection and a staph ear infection Austin had a few years back, as well as general health/medical stuff. Skip to 9:38 if this is a potential trigger or squick for you. There are also some spoilers for The Ring/Ringu and the video game Until Dawn.
(First off, apologies for Austin sounding like he recorded in a toilet. Podcasts are hard.)
This episode focuses on craft, specifically on how Amanda and Austin wrangle their stories and write what they want to write—which involves tuning out the voice in their heads that tells them to make only Serious Fiction. But first, they chat recent life and medical shenanigans, Austin talks comics, Amanda gives fic recs and quizzes Austin on his rudimentary Star Trek knowledge, and there's a discussion of horror tropes and how to subvert them a la The Ring/Ringu.
Everybody's Gone to the Rapture
Alternating Current: On Being LGBT+ in Rural Areas and LGBT+ in the Deep South anthology calls
Beyond comics anthologies
Noora Heikkilä - Letters for Lucardo
Space Battle Lunchtime vol. 1
The Adventure Zone: Here There be Gerblins Graphic Novel
yeaka - Inside the River
whochick - Leave No Soul Behind
Marcel Proust - Swann's Way
Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club
astolat - Peacemaker
wordplay - The Luckiest
Vonda N. McIntyre - The Entropy Effect
K.W. Jeter - The Mandalorian Armor: Star Wars Legends
Rank #15: Episode 24: Hopeless After Dark #1
Content warning: this episode (briefly) mentions fisting and choking, calls certain Overwatch characters Daddy, and generally features a lot of irreverent filth.
Welcome to Hopeless After Dark, a new subset of THR that isn't exclusively dedicated to queer romance. We reached out to Twitter to ask some of our listeners what they'd like to hear us talk about, and we tackled Overwatch and Austin's burgeoning obsessions, AUs of Peter Darling and the origins of Coffee Boy, and finally failed to create a Captive Prince coffee shop AU.
We hope you enjoy our strange venture. If not, the next episode of THR will be back on brand.