Episode 10: A Romance?! No!

Transcript

Carrie: Alright, welcome back lit nerds. This is your weekly podcast, and today… love hurts. 

Forest: Love hurts real bad!

Lane: It hurts a lot.

Carrie: Reading about love hurts a lot because… romance novels? [smacks teeth] They’re somethin’ else, let me tell you.

So, uh, my name is Carrie. Um, I read Dawn’s Promise by A.W. Exley, and let’s just say, historical fantasy romance with, uh, creepy elemental sex. 

Lane: That’s a thing!

Carrie: What about you, Leigh Ann?

Leigh Ann: I am reading an Amish romance called A Simple Prayer by Amy Clipston. 

And let me say: it subverted all my expectations by being much worse than I thought it would be. 

[Laughter.]

Forest: I’m Forest, and I’m reading Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren, which is a–I suppose

you would call it a contemporary romance fiction. Um, yeah. And, you know, this one: the nerdy

girl gets a makeover, ends up being with a very, uh, rich hot man, so…

You know, exactly like real life. 

[Laughter.]

Carrie: Exactly!

Lane: And I’m Lane. And I read The Fireman Who Loved Me by Jennifer Bernard. 

And it’s also a contemporary romance novel, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was still painful–

[Laughter.]

Lane: –but like, at least there’s a fireman. And a dog, so. 

Forest: I’m sure the dog made everything better. 

Carrie: Yeah, had to have made everything better. Okay. 

Leigh Ann: She’s just covering her face.

[Laughter.]

Carrie: Okay. Let’s just get–let’s just get down to brass tacks. Um, I don’t know…I don’t even know where to begin, uh, because it’s so painful. No. How do some of these books get published? [Banging on table for emphasis.]

Forest: Right, we don’t know!

[Laughs]

Leigh Ann: It’s trash! They, they were aiming for the trash can but it accidentally got–It landed in the outward-going…

Forest: Publishing box.

Leigh Ann: It completely missed the trash can, went out the door, and landed in somebody’s box that they were walking by, and they were taking stuff to print, and it got printed!

Lane: Yeah, there’s a lot of speechlessness going around this table right now, just because—

Carrie: Let me, let me read to you a passage, okay?

This is like, like, middle of my book, okay? Middle of my book: 

“She couldn’t stay open to your advances without remembering how he’d pressed her to the wall, the feel of his naked chest under her fingers, his tongue exploring her mouth. 

“She had never discussed men with her mother except as an abstract idea, and now she wondered what exactly she had just agreed to. Then she remembered her vow to grasp whatever life sent. It appeared she would have the chance to grasp–” [chokes off in laughter.] “Lord Seton.”

I can’t even get through it! 

[Laughter]

Forest: I’m sorry, to be fair, I started giggling because [laughs]… that passage! There’s so many innuendos in there.

Carrie: I know! I know.

But keep in mind, this is supposed to be a very proper, Victorian young woman. She’s like, I think 18, maybe 20. Of course, right, she’s like, she has a heart condition. She’s been kept inside all of her life, and her parents tragically die in the very first chapter. [Laughing as she talks.]

Forest: God, that poor girl. 

Carrie: She’s never, she’s never engaged with anybody outside of her home. 

[Suppressed laughter.] 

Leigh Ann: How did she get out? 

[Laughter.]

Forest: She’s got a lot of grasp.

Carrie: Well, her whole entire–She’s got a lot to grasp! I mean–

Leigh Ann: It’s so hard. 

Carrie: I mean. I mean…Lord. Okay. 

The funny thing about that is, is Lord Seton is an Earth Warder, so he turns into a stone gargoyle. 

[Raucous laughter and thumping on the table.]

Lane: So yeah. I need to borrow that. 

[Chuckles.]

Carrie: I’ll let you borrow it. It’s worth it. I mean, there’s only one little sex scene, but it’s not very salacious. 

Lane: Oh, I’m crying. 

Forest: There’s only one?!

Carrie: –There’s only one! Right, and it’s, it’s all very, like…the wrong–Okay. I have to tell you, okay. Before you even start reading, the book says, “This book uses British English.”

[Laughter.]

Carrie: And I didn’t realize that that was a thing, but that’s a thing. I just thought all English was English, but apparently, you know, it’s not.

Forest: No, it’s a whole other—It’s like how we have, like, different dialects. And so, like, in Texas, you walk through and everybody’s saying like, “y’all” and “you’d’ve” [extra nonsense syllables], all those, you know, [unintelligible]–contractions that are like, all together, and you’re like, “what did you just say?” And that’s if you’re not from Texas.

And even if you are from Texas, somebody throws a bunch of words together and you’re like, “What in the actual hell?”

Carrie: Yes.

Lane: It’s the same thing. Yeah, but it’s just the British version of that English.

Forest: It is!

Carrie: I realize that the author is trying to write a gothic romance, right, like, very high style, high diction, but it just feels…stilted against the backdrop of historical fantasy romance.

Forest: Hifalutin. 

Carrie: Hi–it’s hifalutin. It is hiiiiifalutin.  

And I didn’t know how to spell that word until a couple of weeks ago. 

[Laughter.]

Forest: For a group presentation. 

Carrie: For a group presentation, yeah. Um. So what I see a lot in here is misrepresentation and toxicity. 

Forest: Speaking of that, I wanna, I wanna read this passage because I, I was flipping through and I found it. Uh, so in this part, the eventual boyfriend is talking to the girl, and he says to her,

“It’s not weird that you watched it,” and they’re talking about porn. It’s not weird, in the middle of a restaurant bar, where everybody can hear them. Not in a whispering tone because it doesn’t describe that. It says, 

“It’s not weird that you watched it. It’s weird that it’s the start of a conversation. I just–I’m still getting used to this. Before Project Hot Chick, I just knew you as the dorky little sister. Now you’re this porn-watching woman who had a breast reduction and develops theories about hymen restoration. It’s an adjustment.”

[Silence.]

Forest: That–that’s not even…I’m not even a third of the way into the book.

Carrie: Our collective mouths are on the table. Like…[gasp.]

Leigh Ann, incredulously: What? 

[Laughter.]

Carrie: Yeah. I don’t understand. 

Forest: And this is, you know, this is after her parents tell her–because she’s a grad student working on her PhD in the, in the science field. So clearly you have to spend a lot of time doing sciency things, watching stuff grow, you know, stuff like that, right? So it’s justified why you would be spending twelve hours a day in a lab. 

Carrie: Right, yeah. 

Forest: No, that’s not normal, apparently, to her family. And her father is a scientist. 

Carrie: So what the actual– 

[We playfully make a long bleep noise.]

[Laughter.]

Forest: It’s real bad. Very toxic, yeah.

Carrie: I…don’t even know what to say. 

Leigh Ann: That’s–all, like, this toxicity!

Especially–I feel like it’s especially prominent in romance novels, and there’s a whole thing where if you look at the author–I was honestly surprised that all of these authors tonight are women. Because generally when you look up the author it turns out that it’s a pen name, and it’s a man using a female pen name to write romance novels. It’s like–I forget the statistics on it, but it’s, like, almost as prominent as women using male pen names to write sci-fi in order to be published. 

Forest: I mean, it makes sense because if you think about it, when you pick up a romance novel if a male is the author how terrible would his life be because people are going to make fun of him for writing romance.

Carrie: True. 

Forest: And so I feel like that’s the reversal of, you know, what we’re kind of talking about. Like this, this… Well, I mean, it’s toxic masculinity, like. 

Carrie: Yeah. 

Forest: It’s so terrible, but I mean, I get it. But it’s the same thing if a female wants to write, you know, a full-length novel based on an alien, and it’s super in-depth, like, sci-fi fiction. She can probably never get published. [She devolves into laughter over the last sentence.]

Leigh Ann’s stomach just growled really loud. 

[Laughter.]

Leigh Ann: I haven’t eaten today, so yeah. 

Forest: Yeah, it’s just all this toxicity, yeah. 

Carrie: And, like, so we just read about feminism in our, uh, contemporary literary theory class. And like…[Laughs.]

Holy…

Leigh Ann: … moly. 

Carrie: Yes. I mean, I don’t see an ounce of, like, female, like, empowerment. 

[Sounds of agreement.]

Lane: Within the first, like, ten pages–I almost said minutes–ten pages of my book…It was so dumb. The grandma was trying to set the main character up by going to one of those bidding shows, where you like, buy a date. 

Carrie: Oh my god! With the fireman? 

Lane: Yeah. 

[Overlapping comments.]

Lane: It’s literally an auction they come out and they’re like, shirtless, 

Forest: Like half-naked? [Laughs]

Lane: Yeah! And anyways, within the first, like, ten pages, the grandma is calling one of the other women at the auction a skank. 

[From Carrie, a dramatic gasp and laughter.]

Lane: And that is how they refer to her for the rest of the auction. Yeah. And I was like, “Really? We’re starting off with that? Okay.” 

Leigh Ann: Hypocrisy at its finest. 

Lane: Yes. 

Forest: I mean…

[Silence.]

Leigh Ann: You know, toxic–You can participate in a toxic culture. Doesn’t matter who or what you are, you know. You can participate in a culture. 

[Agreements.]

Leigh Ann: Misrepresentation is also, like, a really big deal, like, in these books, especially for me. I had no idea when I picked up this book that it was going to talk about disabled characters. So it does talk about disabled characters, but they are completely misrepresented, okay. So…

And this one really, like, blew my mind. 

So the main female protagonist was in an accident when she was, when she was four years old. She hurt a leg, so–And it’s a psychosomatic disability. She had surgery on the leg, it’s actually fine, it’s healed. But when she’s very anxious or stressed, she walks with a limp, which, you know, that is a psychosomatic disability. That basically–John Watson from Sherlock, he got shot in the shoulder and he walked with a limp. That’s psychosomatic. 

[Laughter.]

You know. 

But so she’s telling–Linda, the main character, is telling Aaron, the male protagonist, about what had happened when she was little and how she was disabled. So she tells him that her uncle and aunt had told her that she was disabled, and Aaron was “stunned by her words. Anger boiled inside him as he thought of her uncle. How could he have convinced her she was disabled?” 

You know. And then later he tells her, “You’re pretty and you’re confident, both–both at the bed and breakfast and here. I never thought of you as disabled.” Yeah. 

And that’s this whole idea. I have had people tell me, “Oh, you’re too pretty to be deaf. Oh, you’re too smart to be deaf. Blah blah blah blah.” It’s this dissociation of having…of any kind of personality if you’re disabled. 

[Leigh Ann struggling to express something.]

Lane: Because your disability is supposed to define you. 

Leigh Ann: Yeah, right, right. 

Lane: And if you break out of that stereotype, then you’re not disabled.

Leigh Ann: You overcame your disability. Like, that’s what that is. And then, like, the main–the male protagonist’s mother had a stroke. That’s the whole reason he came back to the community. And the only time he enjoys her company is when she stops trying to talk and just listens to him.

[Loud gasp.]

Lane: Oh my god!

Leigh Ann: She’s had a stroke! Of course she’s going to struggle to speak. She’s in a wheelchair, she can hardly speak. She can communicate, it just takes her a little bit longer to communicate. And they’re acting as if she has lost her identity. She’s not a person anymore, she’s handicapped.

Lane: I’m literally crying. 

[Laughter.]

Leigh Ann: And it’s just repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly talking about her as though she’s not there. You know. She has a nurse that comes and takes care of her every day, and it’s like, that’s great and all. And he’s renovating the house so she can get in and out of it now. But it’s like…

They’re treating her as if she’s no longer a person, as if she’s no longer a mother, a wife, a daughter, you know, a person. And it’s just so angering, especially because the author, in her bio, mentions that her father suffered a stroke. So it makes me wonder how they were treating her father after this. 

[Sounds of sympathetic agreement.]

Leigh Ann: Because she mentioned after my, like–She’s talking about her husband, Joe, in the bio, and then she said, “I met my husband Joe three days after my father’s massive stroke.” Never mentioned her father again after that! She goes on to talk about how happy she is with her husband Joe, and like, well…Is he no longer your father at this point? Like. And it just bothers me that in a Christian fiction–in a Christian bestseller–that disability is portrayed this way, because it just goes to show how a lot of people think about this stuff. 

It’s like… yeah.

Carrie: We’re like, totally floored and speechless right now. 

[Agreements.]

Carrie: And like…Like, I wish there were, like, a camera on my face so you could see the incredulity like, written across there. 

Forest: I keep laughing out of pure astonishment. 

I just–I can’t, I can’t believe that, like. Number one: these books got published. 

Lane and Carrie: Yes. 

Forest: Like, and number two: that somebody just sat down and thought, “You know what. I’m just gonna…I’m just gonna write a book today.” And this is what they came up with. Like, it…

Carrie: It’s clumsy. 

Forest: Yeah. 

Carrie: And haphazard.

Forest: And, like, if we wrote this for a class…

[Horrified exclamations of “oh my god!” and laughter.] 

Forest: We would fail. 

Carrie: Yes! If I submitted this as my final project, they would be like– 

Forest: They would be like, “What are–What–Are you okay? Are you…?”

Carrie: Yeah! They would be like, “Uh, no, sorry. You can’t graduate and get your degree.”

Forest: Like, “Is that what you were spending your whole time doing? Like, no. Chunk it out the window and start over.”

Carrie: Start. Over. 

I mean, in…Like, for my project, I want to write–I want to write YA. I want to write a YA novel that explores trauma and catharsis, right. That’s what I would love to do because that’s like, you know. They said find your passion and that’s what I’m passionate about. But like, this right here, I think they would tell me like, “Sorry, you’re no longer a St. Mary’s student.”

[Laughter.]

Forest: Right? Like, some of this–some of the stuff that’s in these things, just from what we’ve, like, talked about or mentioned in our group text message, and what we’ve, like, kind of briefly discussed with each other in the time in between that we’ve seen each other since reading them, like, it blows my mind. Literally blows my mind. And my eyes are going so far back into my head–

[Laughter.]

Forest: I just, I don’t…I understand how it took me only three hours to read 600 pages. 

Leigh Ann: It took me days to finish!

Lane: Yes, it took me days as well. I was about to, I mean, I don’t know. They all sound pretty horrible to me, but talking about how did they get published and why…I understand wanting to write, but my author had a few terms that she kept using throughout, and each time, it would be like…I would get like, I’d read it and then I’d be like [frustrated yell]. And I’d have to put it away just for a little bit. 

[Laughter.]

Lane: No, no, no. Okay. You want to hear how gross this was? “Her flaming clitoris.” 

Leigh Ann: What?!

Carrie: Ohhhhhh…

Girl, that’s an STD!

Lane: And she used it at least four times that I can think of. I was like, no…

Forest: I think if anything is flaming down in that area you should definitely go see a gynecologist. 

Carrie: Yeah! Yeah, I mean, like “flaming” indicates, like, itching and burning, right. Like, that’s a UTI at best!

Forest: Unless she was trying to maybe go for, like, passionate? I don’t understand how she could describe the clitoris–She could have been passionate?

Lane: She could have said pulsing, pulsating. 

Carrie: Yes. Yeah, yeah, pulsating. 

Forest: Passionately pulsating clitoris. 

Carrie: Right. 

Leigh Ann: Pulsating, aching. 

Forest: Aching is a good one, yeah. 

Lane: Look, in— 

Leigh Ann: I would even—

Forest: I wish they would’ve said swollen.

All: Yeah!!!

[Agreements and overlapping talking]

Forest: I wish somebody would have sent us that manuscript before it got published. 

Leigh Ann: Because if this is the stuff that’s getting published what is worse than this that’s coming across their desk and they decide

[Overlapping talking.]

Leigh Ann: –that this is the cream of the crop? 

Forest: I would be interested in going back to the bookstore and, [groan] like, looking for the worst possible one–

Carrie: Mm-hmm. 

Forest: –that we could all find and reading it. And comparing because, for all we know, this could be literally, like–I know my authors won, like, several book awards. And they write YA fiction as well as romance. And I’m curious to know as to what they are representing in their YA fiction and what these kids are reading. 

Carrie: I wonder sometimes if those book awards aren’t made up. 

Forest: They might be. 

Lane: Oh yeah. 

Forest: They very well might be. 

Carrie: Like, and like, I keep thinking of when we went to go pick these up, the lady who was, like, constantly referring us to, like, books. She’s like, “Oh, you got to read this one! Oh, you got to read this one! Oh, this one’s hot! This one’s spicy!” And it’s like, it’s like she had read–

Forest: Every, everything. 

Carrie: –everything, and I’m like…

Forest: She picked the one that I read. 

Carrie: Yeah!

Forest: She, she literally said–I think somebody had pulled out a book and, like, said an author, and she’s like, “Oh no, you don’t want to read that. Let me go get you something else.” And she pulled out this, Beautiful Player. And like, you know this woman was probably about my grandma’s age, maybe like, mid to late 60s. If my grandma walked up to me and handed me this romance novel, I would be questioning what she does in her free time!

Leigh Ann: I feel like these books appeal–are meant to appeal to a very specific audience. So like, maybe like older conservative women who have never experienced an orgasm. And they want to live vicariously through these characters, you know? 

Carrie: Maybe they need to know where their flaming clitoris is. 

[Laughter.]

Forest: I mean it’s true though.

Carrie: Flaming, ugh. I can’t get over that, I’m sorry. 

Forest: It was just so gross!

Lane: That was really my main thing about it. I was like, okay…

Leigh Ann: So it’s appealing to women with very limited vocabularies as well. 

[Intense agreements.]

Carrie: It’s the same words over and over and over!

Leigh Ann: Very repetitive. 

[Sounds of agreement.] 

Forest: Not as distracting adjectives. Like, if you find an adjective that you don’t really necessarily know the meaning to, you might–well, I don’t know, that might be saying something about a different kind of person, but like that you go and look up what that means. 

Leigh Ann, quoting Princess Bride: “Inconceivable!” “You keep using that word but I don’t think you know what it means.”

[Laughter.]

Carrie:  Yes! So, okay. So I’m a little conflicted. One, because, um, my mother learned how to read through romance novels, okay. So, um, growing up, she was not a big reader. Um, she, um, she had a really hard life, but she grew up–well, she didn’t grow up, but as an adult I got her…Um, she had started to, when she went on disability and she was at home all the time, she was really bored. And so instead of, like, like, doing something that could have, like, I don’t know, like, led her to, like, depression or whatever, she went to the library. And then she started picking up Danielle Steel books, which I don’t–I’ve never read a Danielle Steel book, so I don’t know, um. But those are like, those get sold a lot. Like, they’re, like…

Danielle Steel is like a major…

Lane: A household name. 

Carrie: A household name, right. Um, but she would read those romance novels, um, and she would look up words that she didn’t know so her vocabulary expanded. Um, and her, um. If, like, Danielle Steel was talking about a place in the world that my mother had never, like, seen before, couldn’t picture it, she would go and look it up, right. Um, but that was, like–that’s, like, a little different, I think. 

And maybe that’s what that woman was doing, but like…I don’t know–

[Pause.]

I don’t know how you can be–Okay. I’m gonna tell on myself here. I read a lot–If I need a palate–what I call a palate cleanser, because I’ve just come off reading Salman Rushdie’s Shame or Midnight’s Children or something that just, like, blows my mind, right, and I’m just like, “I can’t. I can’t. I don’t understand magical realism. It’s just like, it’s too magical and real for me at the same time. I need a palate cleanser.” 

So I can blow through, um, a fantasy, um, romance novel in literally two to three hours. Right. Um, and as a Kindle user, Kindle subscriber, I get, like, tons free. And so now, instead of getting,

you know, like, like, recommendations with little literary merit I get a lot of recommendations

that are about like paranormal fantasy romance because that’s what I’ve been gravitating towards. They’re fun, but a lot of times I’m like, “Oh skip-skip-skip-skip-skip-skip.” I like–I can literally scan. I don’t have to, like, think about it, so it’s kind of like a commercial playing for me, but it lets my–or like smelling coffee beans, like, when I’ve, like, smelled too much perfume. Um, but I don’t know. Like, if I were a publisher and this was my job, or an editor to read these novels, I would quit. 

[Sounds of agreement.]

Carrie: I would straight quit. Because this, I could not. It’s like–

Lane: It’s like–It’s the same concept as like when we get really tired of reading these, uh, you know, novels that we’re supposed to go in-depth in and really kind of pay attention to. It’s like when, when they read this, this crap that’s hitting their desk over and over and over and over. And there was so many romance books when we were walking through the bookstore. 

Carrie: Like they had, like, two or three sections for it.

Lane: It’s like, imagine you literally have to read, like, probably…I’m gonna say because of how big the publishing industry is nowadays, like a hundred books a week. And that’s maybe not even counting eBooks. 

Carrie: Yeah. Which eBooks can be self-published. They don’t–yeah. So, like, there’s like this flooding of the market with stuff like this. And worse. Like, trust me, I’ve read it. 

[Laughter.]

Leigh Ann: Like you just said, it’s probably–Maybe another reason why they’re being published is because of the self-publishing. They’re flooding the market, and now they’re trying to compete

[“Ohhhhh.”]

Leigh Ann: Like, “Put them out, put them out, put them out. Sell, sell, sell.”

[Sounds of agreement.]

Forest: I mean, I don’t know. It’s just, I feel like I got through mine so quickly because it was so unsavory. 

[Sounds of sympathy.]

Forest: And like, I couldn’t imagine reading anything…more unsavory than mine was. And I don’t… I give props to that woman because–that we met at the bookstore–

Lane: Oh yeah. She read it.

Forest: Because she’s–She, she was very knowledgeable. 

Leigh Ann: She could have guest starred on this episode. 

Carrie: She could have, I know. She was delightful. 

Okay. So a couple more things that I just–I just can’t with these books. Obviously they failed the Bechdel test hands-down. Okay. 

If you don’t know what the Bechdel test is, this is the–When you have two female protagonists, can they get through a conversation without talking about a man? And the answer for these books is no. Hell no. They can’t. They straight fail it, right. 

Um, and then, like, that test, right, is really crucial if you want to have a strong female character.

Right? And like, I’m sorry, as a woman I want a strong female character. Like, even my husband–Even my husband, right. He would prefer to watch something with a strong female character because he’s okay with having a strong woman. I mean, he married me!  

[Chuckles.]

Carrie: Right, let’s be proud. 

Lane: You got him. 

Carrie: Right! Um, but not only that, we have clumsy writing; we have, like, Netflix and Chill, like that, with hookup culture going into all this. 

Leigh Ann: You don’t even–you, you just open the Netflix app. You don’t even play anything. You just open the app and you’re at it. 

[Laughter.]

Carrie: Background, yeah, yeah. But like those previews are in the background. 

[Loud laughter.] 

Forest: Playing on a loop over and over again. 

Carrie: Like my character, she–I think I mentioned this–she had like, never, like, met a man before. Like she was homebound, essentially, right. She, her parents died. She goes out, and she’s, like, you know, doing the horizontal tango with Lord Seton within a week. Within a week! You know.

Forest: There was one time where there was this, uh, app that had caught my eye, and I think it’s called, like, Galactica or something like that. And it’s like this eBook platform, and they release a chapter every day at a certain time for, like, multiple books. And there was one book that I had gotten really into, and it was about dragons and a princess and a kingdom. And so, you know, I started to read it. And then it turns out that the twin dragons, they kidnapped the princess and they have threesomes with her. And then I just, I gave up reading on that app. 

Carrie: I think I read that!

[Shocked laughter.]

Carrie: I think I read that book!

[Laughter continues.]

Forest: I read up to the dragon threesome, and I was like, “All right. No. No, I’m done, can’t do it. Goodbye.” That’s a whole ‘nother level. 

Carrie: I don’t know if this is the same book or not, but in my book the princess was a virgin.

Forest: I want to say yes. 

Carrie: Okay. 

Forrest: From what I remember—. 

Carrie: Okay, and I don’t know if it’s the same book or not, but in my book, not only was the princess a dragon, but when she was a dragon—but the princess was a virgin but when the dragons had sex with her they turned into men. 

Forest: Yes.

Carrie: Oh my god it’s the same book!

Forest: And it was like a black dragon and a gold dragon. 

Carrie: Yes!

[Laughter.]

Carrie: Oh my god. 

Forest: Yeah. 

Carrie: Wow! I did not read it on that app. I think it was published to Kindle. 

Forest: Was it really?

Carrie: Yeah, yeah. 

Forest: They were only releasing one chapter, like, every day, and so it was, like, this whole thing, but weird. 

Carrie: Yeah. Or maybe it was a completely different author. And, I mean, I–I don’t, I don’t know. 

Okay, let’s talk about that because literally all of these books have the same plot line.

[Sounds of agreement.] 

Carrie: They are the exact same plot line. And every conflict is solved by a deus ex machina.

Lane: I don’t know about y’all’s, but there’s just so much that went on in my book. And it’s like, why? I know to create drama, but like why can’t you just hook up and then just, like, live your life? 

Carrie: Right?!

Lane: Just constantly all this stuff going on. Like there was…My main character in my book worked at a news station, and there was a woman who is a, like, the um, I guess broadcaster. And then she was fighting to be with Melissa’s, the main character’s, fireman, and just all this stuff going on. 

And then the fireman’s ex-wife came back into the picture. 

Carrie: Oh, lord. 

Lane: And she was pregnant with another man’s child, and she was living with him. 

Forest: It sounds like my high school, to be honest. 

[Laughter.]

Lane: It was like, what is going on? And just crazy stuff. And it was like, why do we need all this extra stuff? You could have shaved off, like, 200 pages. It’s just–easy. 

[Sounds of agreement.]

Leigh Ann: I do have one flaming question.

[Laughter.]

Forest: Nice. 

Leigh Ann: What about the dog? 

Lane: What about the dog? Um, he is a cute dog. He was not in enough of the book. Um, it was very sad that he would just, like, be in the background. And they’d be like, “Oh, we need to feed the dog.”

Leigh Ann: And they put him on the cover, right?

Carrie: Yeah, yeah! They put him on the cover! Yes, they did.

Lane: Yeah, and that’s why I chose it! Because I thought, “Oh, there’s gonna be a dog.”

[Laughter.]

Leigh Ann: I mean, it’s not Twilight.

[Groans around the table, then laughter.]

Carrie: The groans!

Forest: I am ashamed to say that I was, will be, and am forever obsessed with Twilight. My copies are, like, tattered, broken-in. I bought them brand-new. I forced my mom to buy them for me when they came out, the day they came out, because we didn’t have Amazon back, you know, back in those days. So you couldn’t pre-order them. But…Back in those days like, 10 years ago! But you know, my copies are torn, there’s water damage from the tears that I’ve cried as I sat at 3 A.M. with a flashlight reading the book. I can quote the movie–all of them, all the movies–I can quote them. I own all of them. I bought those on the day they came out as well. 

Carrie: Nice. I…So my…

[Pause.]

Carrie: My…I guess my YA fantasy obsession right now, is Sarah J. Maas. I am obsessed with A Court of Thorns and Roses, like hands-down, I’ve read them like three or four times, like, not even like three, four hundred times, it feels like. I don’t have physical copies, but they would be the same way. I have digital copies, but I’m obsessed with A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I’m obsessed with her Throne of Glass series. And she has a new book dropping on March 3rd [2020], and I’m super pumped because I got a signed copy coming. 

But there are romantic elements in there but…

Forest: Yeah. Yeah, The Mortal Instruments series is, and The Infernal Devices

Carrie: –are good because Cassandra Clare—

Forest: –because Cassandra Clare is, like, phenomenal. These books, I read and thought they were a finished series, and was disappointed in myself because I try to pick only series that are finished because I’m an obsessive reader. So like, if I read something, and I like it, and there’s more of it, I want it instantly. So…

Then I wasn’t disappointed because the new book, which just was going to come out–But the new book was also, like, the final one in the series. And of course that one was like 1200 pages. 

And so I ordered it on Amazon, I pre-ordered it. It came and I read all of the pages, literally in like, 12 hours. 

Carrie: Yeah, the last book of Throne of Glass is–it’s a seven book series–the last book was 1300 pages, but like…

[Laughter] 

Carrie: Selena Sardothien, um, Aelin Galathynius–they’re the same character, right–but you don’t find that out until like, book, like three. 

Forest: Spoiler alert. 

Carrie: [Sings] Spoiler alert!

[Laughter.]

Carrie: Um. She’s so–I almost said the F-word! She’s so badass! She’s just, like, amazing! And I love her so much. 

Leigh Ann: Avoids the F-word, says ass. 

[Laughter.]

Forest: I mean, technically, it’s ana—anatomically correct. 

Carrie: Yes. Yes, right. 

Forest: I’ll be picturing the word in my head as I’m reading. 

Carrie: She’s an assassin! She’s an assassin. 

Forest: You said ‘ass’ again.

Carrie: I know!

[Laughter.]

Leigh Ann: Notice how we’ve, like, completely segued from our… romance books to books that we actually like. At 36 minutes!

Forest: That’s gonna be a hell of a thing to transcribe. 

[Laughter]

Leigh Ann: Well, as you can tell, we did not like these romance novels. 

[Laughter.]

Leigh Ann: It was like, they were so bad we changed this topic to good books. So, any of those we just talked about, we would recommend. Not the romance ones, but the ones that we were talking about with, like, smiles on our faces. 

Forest: If you’re looking for some smut…definitely pick one of these up. 

Carrie: Yeah. For sure. 

Leigh Ann: Not the Amish one.

Carrie: Um, Dawn’s Promise doesn’t have a lot of smut, but it has a really uncomfortable tree nymph/gargoyle sex-ish thing, um, and it’s the first in the series, so…

Forest: … lube!

[Laughter.]

Leigh Ann: Lube is important. I don’t care what, who are you doing it with it, what you’re writing, you need to include it—

Forest: Especially if it’s with a tree.

Leigh Ann: —because it’s how people learn how to have sex, okay.

[Sounds of agreement.]

Forest: I’m so glad that we can have this conversation together. 

[We all agree!]

Carrie: And I’m glad that we are done with this podcast episode.

Lane: And with these books! 

Leigh Ann: This is going in the trash. 

Carrie: All right, lit nerds! Join us next time as we discuss more–

[Audio cuts short on the final word, but it is complete.]


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