“What We Did Mattered” with Kate Elliott: Episode Notes

Welcome to episode 24 of the Hot Nuance Book Club, where it’s time for us to sit down with author Kate Elliott and talk about everything involved in a career of writing science-fiction fantasies since the ‘80s. There are some wild twists and turns in this story!

Every author and book book mentioned
Kate Elliott – The Labyrinth Gate; trilogies: The Highroad Trilogy, The Crown of Stars, Crossroads, Cold Magic/Spiritwalker, The Court of Fives, Black Wolves; The Golden Key (Kate Elliott, Melanie Rawn, & Jennifer Roberson); Servant Mage; The Keeper’s Six; The Unconquerable Sun; The History of the World Begins In Ice (essays from the Cold Magic universe); Secret Journal of Beatrice Hussey, Beryl Hall;
Catherine Asaro
Algis Budrys
Megan Lindolm / Robin Hobb
Roger Selazny
Tad Williams
Katherine Kerr
Laurell Hamilton
Marjorie Liu
Jennifer Roberson
Barbara Hambly
C.J. Cherryh – The Foreigner; The Morgaine Cycle; Downbelow Station
Tanya Huff
Fiona Patton
Mercedes Lackey
Anne McCaffrey – Crystal Singer, The Ship Who Sang, Dragon Riders
Gregory Benford
Ursula Le Guin
Nora Roberts / J.D. Robb
Monique Patterson (executive at Bramble)
Brandon Sanderson
George RR Martin
Robert Jordan
Rebecca Yarros – Fourth Wing
Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Thorns and Roses
Jacqueline Carey – Kushiel’s Dart
Tamora Pierce
Bonnie Garmus – Lessons in Chemistry
Marion Zimmer Bradley – Sword and Sorceress anthologies
Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – This Is How You Lose The Time War
Kit Rocha – Beyond series, Mercenary Librarians
Stacey Abrams

Artists & Illustrators
Tommy Arnold
Emmanuel Shiu
Julie Dillon
Lee Moyer
Jody Lee
Kekai Kotaki
Wendy Shu
Jessa Salome
Cynthia Show
Charles Tan
Tom Canty

Check out other FARM podcasts
Wheel of Time Spoilers: https://www.spreaker.com/show/wot-spoilers-podcast
That B*tch Is Always Late: https://www.spreaker.com/show/tbial
Black Girl From Eugene: https://www.spreaker.com/show/black-girl-from-eugene

Check out Ali’s other podcast
Wheel Takes: https://www.spreaker.com/show/wheel-takes

Transcripts by Anna
Art by Bree
Produced by Aradia | Fox And Raven Media

== Follow Us ==
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hotnuancepod
Website: https://www.hotnuancebookclub.com/
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/TheHotNuanceBookClub


Interview with author Kate Elliott

0:00:10 Introduction, welcome, and Patreon thanks

Ali: Welcome to the Hot Nuance Book Club, a podcast in which a novelist, a screenwriter and a podcaster walk into a book, diving into its craft and impact in their mission to bring nuance back. I’m Ali and I’m a screenwriter, most recently for the TV show Rugrats on Paramount Plus. Coming sometime soon. And I’m also the co-host of the podcast Wheel Takes and the creator of the Grinwell Cup, an upcoming March Madness thing that’s happening on Twitter in which we vote for the definitive hottest character in the Wheel of Time.

Aradia: I am Aradia. I am one half of the Wheel of Time Spoilers podcast, currently reading Knife of Dreams, as well as the podcast producer for Fox and Raven Media.

Bree: And I am Bree, one half of the bestselling sci fi fantasy romance author Kit Rocha. And as many of you know, this podcast started when I Kool-Aid manned into one of the many conversations about how the Wheel of Time series was, quote unquote, ahead of its time in the nineties for depicting so many strong women with interesting plotlines. And I always Kool-Aid manned my way into conversations like this, because I am one of those lucky readers who is reading epic fantasy by women in the nineties, and they were out there and they were prolific and they were writing amazing stories about women. And so I really, really want people to remember that always. And one of my dreams for this podcast would be to get to talk to some of those women. And so I am so excited today that we have a special guest with us. So please, join me in welcoming Kate Elliott to the Hot Nuance Book Club!

Ali and Aradia: (general rejoicing and welcoming)

Kate: Do I have to say something about myself now?

Bree: I will – Yes. We want to hear all about you. Basically, this is usually the time in the episode where we get into my time machine and we’re usually going back to 1994 because I think you know, we’re reading the Ruins of Ambrai right now. But today, we would like to go back to whenever you, Kate Elliott, decided that you wanted to start publishing and your publishing journey. So please take us back there and tell us, how did you start publishing and what is your adventure like?

0:02:40 Kate’s Publishing Time Travel Adventures

(swoosh noise)

Kate: Wow. Yeah. So I have been around for a long time because I have been publishing for over 30 years. I want to say that whatever I – and I’ve been publishing science fiction fantasy, and science fiction fantasy that had women in many different roles in the stories, even though we all know that that was invented by men, in epic fantasy –

Aradia: (laughs)

Bree: Yes!

Kate: But yeah, so it’s interesting though, because there’s this weird dichotomy between saying, Yeah, I’ve been around a super long time, but then being worried that that means you’re stuck back there, right? You’re always that old person. Because of course, I’m still writing and still writing stuff that I hope is – I don’t want to, I don’t know. I don’t want to say “up to date”, because that’s a terrible way of saying it – still stuff that speaks to current readers, not just old readers.

Bree: Yes.

Kate: So it’s weird. It’s a weird journey – I mean, I guess the journey we’re all on all the time. But yeah, I always wanted to be – I actually wanted to be an astrogator, to use that very ancient term from the sixties science fiction. on like an interstellar mission. And then I wanted to be an astronomer. And then I found out that you had to actually do a ton of math. And it’s not that I couldn’t do the math, but I didn’t enjoy it. So I thought, Am I going to spend years in college and grad school doing math that I don’t really enjoy doing? Or should I just write stories instead?

Because I had already been drawing maps since I was 10, 11 years old and making up stories since I was 12, 13. I wrote my first novel when I was 16 and then another one when I was 17. Sometimes I think about that one that I wrote when I was 16. I think about cleaning it up and just doing it secretly under a pen name, because it’s totally – it’s so written by a teenager. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just so written by a teenager. And then finally I wrote – So I wrote multiple books, and my first published novel is actually the fifth novel I wrote, and it was published in December 1988. So the tail end of the eighties. It is called The Labyrinth Gate, published by, of all things, Baen Books, which is funny now.

Bree: Wow.

Kate: Right, right.

Bree: Baen is definitely – I don’t think Baen had that reputation then.

Kate: They did not. They were a small independent publisher back then that was kind of pushing against the bigger conglomerate ones. And then things changed. But – and then I published a trilogy with what was then called Bantam Spectra, a space opera trilogy with a lead female character who did martial arts and was very kick ass, I guess. So that was in 1990, that whole trilogy came out.

Bree: You mean women could fight in the nineties?

Kate: Women could fight in the nineties.

Bree: Amazing.

Kate: Yeah, I know. And then I wrote the Jaran books, and then I wrote The Crown of Stars series and then I wrote the Crossroads trilogy. Then I wrote Cold Magic, slash Spiritwalker trilogy, The Court of Fives young adult trilogy, the start of Black Wolves, which is a whole contracting issue, the first book came out and then the second two were –

Bree: You know, the cover for that book is one of the things that lives in my head, that was a really amazing –

Kate: The guy?

Bree: Yeah, somehow it was the most beautiful cover.

Kate: And then the cover for book two is better.

Bree: Oh, no!

Kate: I know. It kills me that that will never be published. It’s better. And what else? Anyway, I’ve written, I’ve published a couple of novellas ,and now The Unconquerable Sun series, which is a gender swapped Alexander the Great, a space opera. And a mystery duology that is complete, that is coming out next year but hasn’t been announced yet, because that’s how publishing works and I’ve been sitting on it for a year. Oh, my gosh. Oh, God, I hate publishing. I hate publishing. I love writing.

Bree: When you have the great secrets and you can’t tell anybody that is a writer life.

Kate: Well, you know, for months I just do it and talk about it. Now I just say it hasn’t been announced yet, so I can’t say anything more than that. And then whatever else I’m working on, right, because I’m still working on, juggling eight things. I always feel like I have as many ideas now as I did 30 years ago.

Maybe I have more ideas now because I’m better, because I’m a better writer, so I can look at an idea and more quickly figure out whether it’s worth writing or not and execute it better. So it’s more feasible for me to say, This idea no, these three ideas yeah, I could do those. If I ever had time.

So that’s kind of – that’s the really short version. And then the other thing I want to say is that I started, I got online in 1990, so my first book came out when I wasn’t online and the World Wide Web hadn’t even been – I mean, it was being structured at that point.

Bree: Yeah.

Kate: The biggest thing in kind of like, living as an author terms, the hugest shift has been first online and then email and then being able to send your manuscripts by email and not have to send paper in like, Oh my God.

Bree: That’s what I was going to ask you because I started publishing in 2008. So I feel like I came in just as everything was shifting. There were a few people I knew who were still getting edits mailed to them, but for the most part, people were like starting to shift like Word, and track changes. So I never had to mail anything to anybody. I emailed everything in 2008, but like, you know, what was that like? You having to – I can’t even imagine it. Like querying or like, anything. I mean, you’re literally talking huge stamps in huge envelopes, sending things everywhere. Like, I can’t imagine it.

Kate: So, to be political a minute – I mean, we’re always politically, right?

Bree: Please.

Aradia: Always.

Kate: One of the things that drives me craziest about social media, that frustrates me about it, is that people want instant solutions. Well, I was started publishing when you would put something in the mail and you wouldn’t – you knew it was going to take a week, ten days to get where it was going, and then however long they would take to respond. And then that time back, you had no way of knowing unless you called on the phone. And that would be rude, unless you were really, you know. And it’s also a reason that agents were so valuable at that time because it was so hard to communicate with people. But they were like, my agent was right there in New York and they had relationships with editors and publishers and had a means to contact them in a way, you know, they could contact them about one person and say, Oh, by the way, you know, what’s up with X?

So you just – the expectation was it was just going to take a while. And this idea that things can happen instantly is – to my mind, there are moments when things have to happen fast, but generally people need time to think, right? So that aspect is frustrating to me. But the main thing I think about was just the hassle and the expense. Because if you’re going to mail your manuscript, first of all, if you don’t have a printer, or even if you do have a printer, you’re still probably going to have to go to Kinko’s, as we used to – That was the whole chain, right? I think that’s gone now. It was eaten up by FedEx – and make a copy, but then you have to make a second copy for yourself because what happens if you send it and it gets lost in the mail, then your only copy of the manuscript is gone forever. So you have to keep that other copy for yourself. And so the expense, when you don’t have that much money anyway, of these – you know, and back in the day, that might be like $60, which doesn’t seem, which in today’s money would probably be like $200 – well, it wouldn’t be this expensive. But anyway, but so you had to juggle all of these things and take the time to go do that and had all this paper. I mean, one of the first things I did when decent laser printers came far enough down in price is, I’ve always had a laser printer, so I didn’t have to go to the coffee shop anymore. You don’t even need a printer anymore, theoretically, but I couldn’t live without it. So that’s all I can say.

Bree: Oh, I didn’t have one for like five years just now. I’ve been fine without it.

Kate: I couldn’t live without a printer. I would be too anxious.

Bree: Do you edit on paper or do you?

Kate: I do both. I’ve learned to edit. I don’t love track changes, but I can use it now. But I always print out and I do at least one editing pass on paper.

0:11:40 Conventions and fandoms

(notification sound)

Bree: Oh sorry. I think my computer has beeping at me.

Kate: No, that’s me, I think that’s my discord.

Bree: Mine was going off too.

Aradia: I was like, I know that thing!

Bree: Discord buddies.

Ali: Oh the discords. Yeah, exactly. We’re all on the discords, they’re always wanting our attention. Speaking of the immediacy of social media and communication.

Bree: Yeah, authors are definitely expected to be a lot more accessible these days, which is, you know, one of those things I have mixed feelings about. I sort of think that a time before the Internet and everybody could find you to tell you exactly what they think of your book? You know, for better or worse, maybe that might have been a little more peaceful for me. But I do love that I had the chance to, like, meet other authors like you. So, I mean, it’s very much the networking. I think you told me once, you were definitely networking with other people early, in the early Internet, like other authors and stuff. What were they like?

Kate: GEnie.

Bree: Yeah, GEnie!

Kate: The early bulletin boards. You know, the thing is that back in the day you had to go to conventions to meet people, or you had to live in a place where there were other people who you could meet and hang out with. And the whole fraught situation of how conventions were back in that day. They were deeply sexist and racist and, you know, ingroup outgroup.

So you had to come in and trying to find people. You had to find your safe people, and then you had to find your people that you felt you needed to meet, you know, and then you had your hopeful people you might want to meet, and then the people you always stayed away from. And I didn’t come in – I never attended conventions before I was published, so I was never part of fandom. I came in as a published writer, which is its own weird thing, because there’s a whole dynamic in science fiction fantasy conventions that I don’t think is true in other places. I feel like romance is much more welcoming to the idea that readers should be there too, and that there’s less maybe of a – there can be some weird, there’s a lot of weird dynamics in the science fiction fantasy community that are hard to explain.

Bree: I think the fact that there’s a fan Hugo has always been interesting to me, because it feels like there’s the semi-pro and then there’s the fans, but they also have that – That is almost inherently a hierarchy, that’s something that I don’t recognize with romance. Romance is readers and authors. But the authors often operate as readers, you know, in convention spaces.

It’s not like we’re not authors, but when I’m online, as more often than not, I’m not talking about author stuff, I’m talking about books that I love. You know, like hanging with the readers as another romance reader, or as another sci fi fantasy reader, which is what I do in the Wheel of Time fandom. You know, I just love that.

Kate: What does – I think that mostly most people don’t know about the science fiction fantasy, niche community. It’s not that big. Maybe, I don’t know, 20, 50, 100 thousand, whatever, people worldwide who would consider themselves really like in a niche community, maybe bigger than that, but it isn’t that big. I think most people don’t know about it and frankly, don’t care about it because why would they? But I’d be curious to know what it looks like from people – I mean, I didn’t belong to any, I’m not a natural convention goer because I don’t like lots big crowds. It takes a lot out of me as an introvert.

Ali: That’s very valid.

Kate: I’d be curious to know what it looks like from the outside. Besides all the screaming about Hugos that goes on every year.

Bree: Do either you guys want to say anything? What do you think? Because I feel like I’m like borderline. I know a lot of the inside drama just from following people, so.

Ali: I mean, I don’t know if coming in as a podcaster is an entirely normal experience at a convention either. Just because, you know, you get weirdly recognized by your voice, which is fun, and also weird.

Aradia: Yep, yep.

Ali: I guess it’s a cool opportunity to meet the people that are behind everything that you speak so passionately about and are so excited about all the time. And I love the communities that rise up around conventions and being able to, you know, see each other year to year. It kind of reminds me of going to film festivals on the executive side.

You have all these friends that you never see in real life, but you see them, you know you’re going to see them once a year at a convention, or a couple times a year at a convention. And so you start to build relationships with these people that are kind of outside of your normal day to day. But you’re always looking forward to having those touchstone moments with them.

And obviously the Internet makes it so much easier to stay in touch. But yeah, I guess the excitement as an introvert of getting to have one weekend where I get to feel like an extrovert? And then also there’s the neurodivergence on top of it, in these fandoms, I feel like so many people have that hyper fixation, neurodivergent quality where you’re like, If I need to go stim in a corner for a minute, nobody’s looking at me funny. So it feels like I find my, like you said, my safe people to be around.

Aradia: Yeah, I never was part of any kind of fandom or wanted to go to any kind of convention or anything like that, until I found the Wheel of Time fandom and even then when I found that it was through the one podcast, which I then became a co-host of, like I started out as a fan, I was a listener, and then I became a frequent guest, and then I became co-host. And then I started connecting with the other content creators, and then I finally was like, I guess I’ll go to a convention being started up by a bunch of content creators, because we all want to hang out and that was like, I am not the kind of person who would go to a convention, but for that specific niche community. But talk about niche, Wheel of Time content creators who know each other? Like there is not a lot of us.

Ali: Yeah, it’s a tight group.

Aradia: So it’s an incredibly niche within niche within niche community. But definitely, you know what you were talking about Bree, with the romance community being like the boundary between writers and readers being really blurry. Same thing with the content creation, because like, I can’t listen to all the podcast, but I have dabbled in listening to all the podcasts and watching the shows, and yeah, people – like Ali said, you know, they recognize you. You’re talking, and then someone comes up from behind you like, Oh my God, that’s what you look like, you know, because they heard you from across the room and it’s really fun to have that blurriness and that interaction with people because, you know, they’re listening, but then you’re also responding to them. But also, I have nothing to compare it to. Like I’ve never been part of another – even part of the larger Wheel of Time fandom, like I am in such a narrow niche. So it’s like I hear you guys talking about all these places in the world that I have never been and will never probably go, because I am such an introvert. It’s an interesting thing to listen to.

Ali: Yeah.

Bree: I’m going to tell you guys, I do think that the Wheel of Time niche of fandom overall is – and I’ve told you this too, Kate – it is weirdly wholesome. It is an absolutely bizarre subset that I feel like does not have a lot – I mean, I’m not saying we don’t have drama, we are a group of people and there’s always fandom drama.

Ali: Always.

Bree: But it is really weirdly wholesome. I think that these cons are probably, you know, when I when I think about, like, the Hugo stuff unfolding right now, of course, that’s – You try to explain to people who are used to these cons like JordanCon, what the world sci fi fantasy structure is, and how the Hugos work. And everyone’s like, What? Because it’s so specific and esoteric, I can’t even tell you how it works. I don’t know. And I’ve read a lot of stuff. Like you say Kate, from people who don’t participate directly and like the governing board and voting and stuff, probably have no clue why this Hugos drama is happening. Everyone’s like, Well, can’t the oversight committee do something? And it’s like, you can’t explain to them, No, this is like something founded by – I don’t know, I think somebody called it libertarian anarchists, in the thirties or something. And it’s – Oh, I’ve got another dog trying to crawl up here with me. It’s thundering outside now guys.

Everyone: Ohhhh.

Bree: So, dogs, chaos.

Ali: Babies!

Kate: Yeah, I’m looking. Mine is downstairs. So he’s not – he knows when I put these on, put the headphones on, he’s like, Don’t pay attention to me for an hour.

Ali: Oh really? So when I put these on, it’s like a moth to a flame, like they all want to be in my space at the same – they’re truly entertainment animals. They’re like, Are we on camera? Oh, I didn’t –

Aradia: Taking after their parents?

Ali: Exactly. Oh, I’m just the personality hire of the podcast. Yeah. They want to be involved in our space when we are recording, everything we do. It’s hilarious. I can’t do a zoom call.

0:21:44 Music break. Sexism then and now.

Kate: When I started, I was told by my then agent, who is no longer my agent, that you had to go to conventions to promote your book. Because it was the only place that you could promote it. And furthermore, there weren’t all these different places where reviews could show up, so the few reviews anybody would get were all curated through these very gate kept – you know, there might be a magazine that came out once a month that someone had a review column and they reviewed five books a month. Well, that meant that’s five books a month, right? That got reviewed there. So you could have a book come out and get no reviews, even though it would be in the bookshelves, and there was no way to buy books online, obviously. So I quickly figured out that the important thing about conventions was that you made friends and that you met colleagues, and that you go back not to promote your book, but to hang out with your buddies. And I have to say, I mean, the old – I wouldn’t go back to that time for anything. It wasn’t better. It wasn’t better. It was much more, it was so hierarchical in all those little ways, you know. Are you are you enough? Are you, you know, are you –

I mean, it’s not that this has ended. It’s not that the way people interact changes over time, but coming into this field as a young woman, I was 30 when my first novel was published, which was young for that time. There was none of this, you know, people saying that if you’re not published by the age of 24, you’re over the hill and it’s too late. You know, which is like mind boggling to me, that’s such a change from my youth. So to be 30 was actually to be kind of young, but to come in without, you know, you’re not like the glamor debut. And there weren’t – debuts weren’t important. They were considered kind of like, Well, okay, we’re going to bring out ten debut novels this year, one of which is going to get touted as being an important book. And the rest are just people who will either sink or swim and they might have a career. We don’t know. Right? So you were, so if you came out as one of those other people, it was just like, well, this person might be here in two years and they’re not important anyway, so what do we care? And it would depend on whether it was a paperback original or a hardcover debut. And, you know, and do you matter enough that the literary critics within the field want to consider you important enough to deal with? And so how you fit in that hierarchy when you came in, you got pegged pretty quickly. Maybe not pegged that way, but I’m sure that was also available.

(Everyone laughs)

Kate: That was something else about the field that was so deeply sexist.

Ali: Well, you know, convention, being what they are.

Kate: Conventions well, actually – and, you know, we laugh, as we should – but it was also pretty grotesque. And not a good space. You know, there was the whole whisper network, you knew who to avoid if. Well, if you found out.

Bree: If you were in there. Yeah. That’s always the problem with whisper networks.

Ali: If you’re a part of the whisper network, then you know.

Kate: Yeah. Then you could find out. And if you weren’t, then too bad. I’m no longer married, but at that time my then husband was – he was a police officer for about, I don’t know, five or eight years. But when I started in the field, he was a cop and I deliberately put a photo in my wallet of him. I had like my kids, my babies. And and then there was one of him in his uniform holding a shotgun. And I put that in my wallet. So if I needed to show anyone pictures, if by ever needed to, I could kind of let it fall, say, Oh, here’s my kid’s – picture of husband with shotgun. Just so I could use that, right? That was a way to say, if there was any asshole guy: Hi! Fuck off! Because you couldn’t say that, I mean, the dynamic just didn’t work like that.

Bree: It’s, then you’ve said it and then you’re the bitch who said that, and…

Ali: Yeah, I do that with my 82 pound pit bull. I just will find a way to casually mention that I have a pit bull at home.

Aradia: Work it in.

Bree: Oh look, it’s a Petey sighting!

(dog shaking noises)

Kate: That was an amazing entrance.

Ali: I’m telling you, they’re entertainment animals. They know somehow, they’re like, Oh, am I needed?

Kate: Oh, yeah. So I would not go back to that time for anything. It was terrible. You were always like, negotiating, will people ignore you? I was, you know, I’ve been snubbed by people, been introduced to people who immediately, who could barely bring themselves to shake my hand because they had someone more important that they needed to watch walking past, you know, than to meet me and say anything to me.

I mean, this happened to me. I just got used to it, which meant two things happened. I mean, one was that I determined that I was going to do my best to be nice to newcomers going forward so that they wouldn’t feel like shit, righ,t when they came in and just feel so condescended to, that there would be someone who was nice to them who maybe had, you know, was an established figure. I thought, if nothing else, I can be nice to newbies. This is just because – Wow, it was like.

And then it also made me really appreciate the upside of social media, which is starting with GEnie, which was a bulletin board, which is that you could meet people online who you hadn’t met in person, but that meant that you had a chance to meet them in person later, and that then began to happen. I have so many friendships that started online, real friendships, serious friendships, multiple friendships of decades long now, friendships with people who I met first online. And then it’d be like, oh, we’re both going to be at, you know, Philcon, let’s meet. I once was walking into Philcon – this would have been in the mid nineties – and I had chatted online with an individual who I had never met before, and she was as yet unpublished – Catherine Asaro in fact, she’s now multiply published for a long time – We had chatted online. She’d said she was going to be there. I’m walking in, along this huge concourse and I looked over and I saw a woman standing by a door in the concourse, and I swear, my brain went, Bing! I had never seen a photo of her. Nothing, nothing. And I just went bing. And I said, It’s her. And I went over and said, Are you Catherine Asaro? And she goes, Yeah.

Aradia: Wow.

Kate: Yeah. That happens to me a lot because of online, I love online because now conventions for me are a place where I can meet people who I’ve only met online, people who I’ve known for a long, I don’t know. I just find conventions a lot more rewarding now because I don’t feel like I’m on – like this, you know? Do I have to dress right? Do I have to be introduced to a man who can say, Oh, I didn’t know you were a babe! Which happened to me, you know?

Bree and Ali: Oh, my God. Ugh.

Kate: Oh, yeah. You know, victory, I’m a babe now, right? You know. Or the the time I was wearing a short skirt to a convention, and I was on a panel with Roger Zelazny – who was a very nice man, as far as I know. I mean, publicly, I don’t know anything about his life, otherwise – Algis Budrys and Megan Lindholm before she was Robin Hobb, I was in this room because they were on the panel. There were all these people. The room was packed with like 200 people. And I get there, and it’s a flat room and then this dais up there, and there’s no table and no skirt. So I am sitting – and I was wearing kind of a short skirt, because I have legs – and I’m sitting there, I had to do a whole hour sitting, like really being careful, because I’m on a lounger, right? And like, whatever, you know. But I had to be really careful. And so I got through it without any embarrassment, as far as I know. And when I came down to the thing, I swear I had this line of men come up to “talk to me”. That was the way it was there.

Ali: (exhausted noise)

Kate: I was just wearing something I liked.I wasn’t trying to like, whatever, but that was just the whole thing there. I just. Oh, I could go on and on about. I won’t go on and on about what an unpleasant place it was to be a woman of any kind, because either you got attention for looking the right way, or you didn’t, or being important enough or not important enough, you know, And, oh, it just – what a little hierarchical place with all these petty layers of hierarchy. And it’s not that new places, not that people aren’t like that all the time, but I just think there’s more space now and better spaces now.

Aradia: Yeah, the internet broadens things, so that way we can make our niches and our little bubble universes off to the side and it just happens.

Ali: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank goodness

Kate: We can find our people.

Aradia: So much more easily! Yeah, yeah.

Kate: And we can find more of our people, right?

Aradia: Yeah. We can build lighthouses and attract them.

Kate: Yes, I love that analogy.

Ali: Yeah. I mean, it’s the double edged sword of like, you can attract more of the people that you’re looking for, but then also you encounter the people you’re very much not looking for and who are not looking for you.

Aradia: Yeah, that does happen.

Ali: And they want to tell you, they want to tell you right away that they’re not looking for you. But yeah, for me, I guess conventions have become this wonderful thing of, you know – certainly there are moments like that, where you kind of go, Okay, I’ve been snubbed or, you know, I’ve encountered someone that I have to tell I have a 82 pound pit bull at home, just in case. But I mean, it’s kind of been cool about about the community that we’ve encountered is, you know, I’ve been very open about my neurodivergence, and I have a lot of people come up to me at conventions, which is like my favorite thing on this planet and say, Because of you, I’ve been diagnosed, which has been very amazing to experience.

Kate: Oh, wow.

Ali: So yeah, you know, it’s become a very safe space for me. But I can’t imagine the bravery of going into those things, not knowing anyone and just kind of starting from square one. That would scare me.

Kate: Do you want to hear my most hysterical story?

Ali: Please! I would love it.

Kate: So, so so first of all, I am quite an introvert and I hate – like one of the things I personally most find most daunting and terrible and I’ve never gotten over it, is having to go into a space where I don’t know anyone and I’m not sure I will belong or fit in, right? It’s just a nightmare to me. And so I did go to my first convention, which was – I was living in the Bay Area at that time. I went to a convention and I met a few people. It was fine. And I had met two people because my publisher had set up book signings for me. So I met Tad Williams and Katherine Kerr that way and they both were very, very supportive.

I became very good friends with Kit over time, and Tad was a very supportive person. So that made me – that gave me the courage, like a year late,r to go to Westercon, which was then – I don’t know if it’s still going, but it was then an annual convention that would move around different places in the West Coast area, west of the Rockies, I guess. And so I went to – it was at a hotel at Sea-Tac, in the Seattle, Tacoma area. And I must have been on GEnie by then, because I had – so I have my eldest child and then I had twins, so I was still nursing the twins.

Ali: Oh my God.

Kate: So it must have been March, it was March 1990. Oh yeah. So the first of the space opera had just come out, because it came out in February 1990. So I decided to go and I made plans with two people who I had never met before except online, to share a room with them. Lke you do, right? Yeah, but I have pretty good radar, so they seemed like good people. So you have to understand that I’m nursing preemie twins. And so because for reasons that I won’t bore you all with, I had this huge machine. Basically it was a milking machine.

Bree and Ai: Yeah. Yes.

Kate: It was like, it wasn’t as big as a portable Singer sewing machine, but it was close. So I didn’t want to lose my milk supply for the three or four days that I was going to this thing. So I took it with me. Okay, so I get to the hotel. I haven’t met anybody yet, and we don’t have cell phones, so we have no way to hook up with them. Right. So I go to the desk and I explain whatever, they say, Oh, yeah, here’s your room. They give me the keys. I take my suitcase and my milking machine up to the thing. I go in and I see that there’s already suitcases in it. Okay, They’ve already checked in. I haven’t met them yet. That’s cool. So I get my stuff and put my stuff down. I go into the bathroom, and it’s kind of odd because they are two women and there’s no makeup in the room, none. But I’m like, Okay, whatever.

So I go in, I milk. Well, you know, they throw it out probably, because I would put myself in. And I go out, I do some stuff at the convention, I register, whatever. I still haven’t met the two people. Go back with my key, open the door into the room, and there’s four guys, like college age guys, with a big pizza.

And I’m like, Hi. And they’re like, Hi, who are you? And I’m like, You’re not these two people, and they go – It hadn’t been their room all along. They gave me the wrong room number.

Bree: Oh no!

Kate: All I could think about was, what if they walked in while I was –

Aradia: Yeah!

Kate: So I took my stuff. I’m sure they never figured out what that SInger sewing machine was. I went back down to the desk and said Hi, you gave me the wrong room, and they fixed it. And then the two people I was rooming with were perfectly nice. We had a great time. I don’t know what happened to them later on, in later years.

Ali: Nightmare.

Kate: Anyway, that’s my –

Aradia: Wow.

Bree: Oh my gosh.

Kate: So, that was what it was like back then.

Ali: Oh, my God.

Aradia: Yeah. And now when we show up to conventions, we are like, discord messaging to coordinate our Ubers together at the airport. Like, we’re sending 18 selfies an hour. Like, Oh, my God.

Kate: Okay, I’m still on Twitter primarily for direct messages.

Ali: Yeah.

Kate: Because they are still – with this, Bree and I arranged this, originally the start of the arrangement started on DMs.

Bree: Yeah, yeah.

Ali: It’s so interesting because there is such a weird thing around – You talked about how you don’t want to pick up the phone and call somebody back then, when they had your manuscript, because that’s rude – and now it’s like, sliding into DMs, yes or no? Because sometimes, sometimes, yeah, absolutely yes. And then other times people will just send me a script on LinkedIn and I go, That’s a no. It’s hard to figure out when when it’s cool to contact somebody and when it’s not, when they are so accessible, like you said.

Kate: That’s right. It’s easy to – I could be emailing people every day, but I don’t, because nobody wants to get an email every day or a direct message every day.

Ali: Yeah. My nightmare is the, Just circling back emails, that start at the beginning of January, and then go through February.

Kate: Yeah. So overall, better now. Much better now.

0:38:15 Music break. The reputation of DAW

Bree: One thing I had, I’ve often told people, because we have these discussions. I’m always like, you know, There were so many women writing in the nineties, and they’re all like, Well, why didn’t we hear about them? And I was like, Because the publishers decided who to talk about, who to tell you about. Or like you said, these one or two review outlets or something. There was not – you know, you couldn’t build your own mailing list or build your own social media platform to tell people about your books. And I mean, it really feels to me – and this is something you’ll have to tell me – publishers were just not supporting women, even when they succeeded. Like we’ve talked about this, like Melanie Rawn’s Dragon series. When I think about how that is like – That’s the original Game of Thrones to me. Like, you know, she was she was writing these huge, sweeping political epics with dragons and like, murdering everybody you’ve ever loved, before George R.R. Martin ever thought about it. And she vanishes from imagination. And that’s one of those things that drives me crazy.

Kate: So what’s interesting here is, I think Melanie was supported pretty well by DAW, and she was definitely in the bookstores and people were reading her. She was a huge seller. And there were other writers like her. So to me, there’s two things going on here. One is that the establishment at that time kind of looked down their nose at people like her. So people like her and people like Laurell Hamilton. That was like, well, that stuff, right? You could – look, I was on a panel once where, inadvertently – Oh, God, I’m sorry. I just, you know, one of the great things about getting older is that I just don’t put up with this shit anymore, right? It’s so there’s a lot of stuff that if that happened to be now, I would react totally different than I did when I was in my early thirties and in a very different position. I just don’t give a fuck anymore. So we’re on a panel. This is a Worldcon, I think. I didn’t go to that many Worldcons actually, back in the day because I thought it wasn’t for me, and part of it was just the atmosphere of like, who counts and who should be there and not, you know. And so there was like a guy, and a guy, and then somebody, and then me, another woman and me at this end, and this one guy that was answering the question, he says, Well, we don’t write romance like “that end of the table”.

Aradia: Woooow.

Kate: He was a hard science fiction writer. He was an important writer. And I mean, and I said, I didn’t even write romance, per se. I just had, I might have love stories in my plots. Right. But, the taint of romance.

Bree: Oh, boy.

Kate: Among the – just there were, in the nineties, some romance writers who wrote romantic fantasy or romantic science fiction, tried to join SFWA, and it was – it was disgusting. It was disgusting, the way people mocked and belittled them, and drove them out because of the sheer ugliness of the way they treated these people – who, I quickly figured out once I joined, I think Novelists, Inc, that the romance writers were by far the most professionally and business savvy of the writers that I knew. Not the science fiction, not the techie science fiction bros, right. Not by a long shot. And it’s like, I quickly realized that if the romance writers were doing something professionally or publicity wise or business wise, they were the ones to look at, because they were the cutting edge. So just that condescension towards what someone like Melanie – so, she could be outselling almost everybody and being supported by DAW, who was also looked down on – I can, oh my gosh, I could tell so many stories.

Bree: I wondered, because like, I feel like almost all of the books I loved were DAW. And so that seems like that means they were publishing stuff that people didn’t respect because I loved all the stuff people didn’t respect.

Kate: No, that’s SOME people –

Bree: Okay, yes.

Kate: That got to be the gatekeepers in science fiction and fantasy didn’t respect, and that the techie, hard sf, guys didn’t respect and their opinions were considered more important than the opinions of other people, or the opinions of, I don’t know, readers, who spend their money on the books. Right? I know someone who was in the process of -his first few novels – Well, first of all, he was a guy, right? But his first few novels were published by DAW, and then a couple of editors started up, I don’t know. I can’t remember which publisher it was before, which publisher was eaten by which other publisher and conglomerated. So a new editor was starting a new science fiction fantasy line with a new – one of the big conglomerates. And she headhunted him, and he said, she later told him she was talking to (sarcastic voice) one of the academic men of the field who is still writing today. So I won’t name names, but there was only like three or four that it could be, at a convention. And she said, Oh, yes, and another person, I’m excited, I just bought a new book by them, is this guy, right? And the man pauses, and he looks at her and says, But he’s a DAW author! Just like that.

Bree: Oh!

Kate: Oh no, no, no. He’s a really good writer.

Bree: Aah!

Kate: Oh, I met that same man. I was introduced to him some years later, and he said, Oh, that’s right. You write for DAW.

Bree: Imagine.

Kate: And this is after I had been writing for other people, I had published with other, but only DAW counted. Because if they wrote, if you wrote for DAW in the nineties, that meant you were a inferior writer. I mean, that was the impression that was given. So that’s part of the thing. And then the other half of that with the Melanie Rawns, is the forgetting, right?

Aradia: Yeah.

Kate: Who do we keep talking about? Now I’d be first to say that the Game of Thrones HBO series did a huge amount to expand the epic fantasy audience to a global, worldwide audience of people who would never have considered reading epic fantasy before that. Maybe not even – Well, actually, I’ll say the Peter Jackson films of Lord of the Rings first. But even they didn’t have as much of an impact as that HBO series. Right? And people love to talk about the influence of George Martin on everything that came after him. And I’m not going to say that he didn’t have an influence, but the Game of Thrones , the first book wasn’t as big an immediate hit as this story seems to say it was. Melanie Rawn was still probably selling better than Game of Thrones at that time. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know the respective numbers. I know that Game of Thrones was – they tried to treat the hardcover. The hardcover did badly. It had a terrible cover. It didn’t work. So they gave it a more genre cover for the paperback.

And it didn’t, I think it didn’t really start moving until the second or third book. But then then the HBO series hit, and that’s what blew it up to the huge level. But this idea that Melanie Rawn couldn’t have influenced anybody, you know, I’ve said for years, for years I just assumed that my career had – you know, I had published these books and whatever, people had read them and whatever, nothing had happened. And that’s fine. I had no influence on anything that happened. Nobody had ever read them and said, I want to tell a story or anything. And that’s fine. We don’t all have to have any kind of influence. We never know, right, where our books are going to go, what our podcast are going to do, whether people are going to go get diagnosed because of something we said, right, which is amazing.

And then I think one man had said to me, Oh, I really loved your books. You know, because men didn’t really want to say that to me back in the day because I was just a DAW girlie writer.

In 2015, when Court of Fives came out, Little Brown sent me to Comic-Con, and at Comic-Con I had three different interaction with the generation lower than me of women writers. And the first one, I had just walked into the concourse at Comic-Con and you know, it’s huge and there’s all people in cosplay here, and I was like, Wow, it was amazing. And it was a little overwhelming. So I’m walking, kind of looking around, and a woman in perfect Agent Carter Cosplay walked past me. And I was like, Wow. I mean, it was just, Oh my God, there was a Sega, a little family mom, dad, and their baby dressed like little Sega with the – I took a picture of them. I mean, I asked them to take a picture. So I walk it along and I see this booth. One of the small booths, and Marjorie Liu – who is a stunningly beautiful woman, I just want to say – standing there with some books, gamely speaking to a lone man who clearly has the star struck like, Oh my God, this is one of the three most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my life, look on his face. I don’t know if he had ever read her books or whatever. And I thought, Oh – there was no one else in the line. I thought, Oh, if I go stand behind him, then he’ll feel he has to finish up and go.

Ali: Oh, that’s so good of you.

Kate: And anyway, it was Marjorie Liu, who did all this – so this was 2015. So she had done all this really interesting work early on, right, with her romances?

Bree: Yes.

Kate: And I appreciate, I consider her a bit of a groundbreaker in that sense. So I went and sit behind him, and he noticed. I give him credit, he noticed and he finished up and left. And then I stepped forward and I said, Marjorie Liu, I just want to tell you, you know, I just want to introduce myself. I’m Kate Elliott, I’m just such a huge admirer of your fiction. And her face changed and she got tears in her eyes. She goes, Oh, my God, I’m such a fan of your work. We both started to cry.

Ali: Aww! Oh my God!

Kate: I kid you not, I just suddenly thought, Holy shit, it matters!

Aradia: Yeees!

Kate: It mattered that I published, it mattered that I published under a woman’s name.

Bree: It mattered.

Kate: What I did. And we were both so overwhelmed, we were unable to keep speaking. I actually had to leave. And then I met – I had two other interactions with women in the generation below me that were the same at that convention. And I suddenly thought, Wait a minute, it did matter! And what makes me so mad about Melanie Rawn’s career is that her career mattered, in a huge way, to readers and to writers. She changed things, but she just gets, she just got dropped off the cliff of influence, right? Because we talk about George Martin and we ought to talk about George Martin. But we also ought to be talking about Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson and and Barbara Hambly, you know, and C.J. Cherryh, who’s like one of my huge influences. Huge.

Bree: Oh, yes. Tanya Huff writing like the queerest books back in the nineties.

Kate: The queerest books in the nineties. And Fiona Patton, Right?

Bree: And I do just want to tell you, Kate, you said before that one of your things is to always be nice to newcomers. And I have told these two that my rule is Never meet your heroes, unless your heroes are Kate Elliott.

Kate: Aww.

Bree: Because you, like the whole romance thing, it’s so real. I came in as a writer dealing with sci fi people for the first time, like as a writer, as a romance writer. And it was like, Wow, everybody I’ve ever loved thinks I’m shit! It was really – I almost broke up with the sci fi fantasy community because of how much it – like, it hurt to see what they thought about romance. And then I met you and I was like, Oh my God, Kate Elliot, you know? And I have told people, like, I told you this, I think when I was first on Twitter and I was like, Kate Elliot’s talking to me. When I lived in Austria, one of the only books I had in English was The Golden Key, which you wrote with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson. And so I carried that thing around, just rereading it because it was the one of the only fantasy books I had in English. So yeah, it just was so amazing to come online and be able to talk to you and then to be able to like, you know, strike up a friendship with you. And I get to talk about the Wheel of Time TV show and, you know, fun things. So, yes.

00:51:24 Let’s talk a bit Wheel of Time, why not

Kate: And I watched that TV show mostly because of you.

Bree: I loved it. I loved – And for people who don’t know, because we do have a lot of Wheel of Time listeners, Kate has not read the books, but she did enjoy the TV show. And I kept telling her, you know, I get annoyed when people say that Robert Jordan invented women, but he was trying. He may not have gotten their interiority down, but he gave them plotlines, and this TV show has taken that and run with it so hard. And I think it’s one of the most fascinating things on television, because there are so many women, and women over 40, who get to do amazing things and where are we seeing that in the epic fantasy that gets supported and gets huge, million dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at it as a budget, like, that’s not a thing.

Kate: It’s not a thing. And and it’s the thing about Jordan is, even if the – as I said, I haven’t read the books – even if his women maybe aren’t great portrayals in his books, the TV show wouldn’t support all these women if the basic foundation for it wasn’t there. You know, I tried to watch the Sword of Shannara, and my understanding is Terry Brooks is the nicest man, like the nicest, genuinely the nicest man. I have heard that from people who wouldn’t just say that. Right. But the TV show couldn’t really, in my mind, couldn’t really support a TV show, because the depth of characterization wasn’t there. You got to have – to me, that’s what a TV show supports, as a multi series one. So Jordan was doing something that could support that. And it’s amazing to me to watch this show with all these women in every possible role they could have. And many of the roles have nothing to do with whether they can be fucked or give birth to the heir. Right? And that’s , yeah, it’s incredible, to me. I love it.

Aradia: Yeah. A serious attempt was made, a serious attempt.

Ali: Yeah, that they’re real people. And I feel like on the other side of it too that they’re not these like, you know, flawless or hypermasculinized women, that they’re like, people, that they’re just people with flaws. I’m always looking for women who have realistic flaws, who aren’t just there to be an archetype.

Aradia: Right. Same thing in the show visually, that’s one of the things that stuck out to me costume wise, it’s a show where the costumes are neither just male costumes with women in them, or scanty nothings. They’re just women’s clothes. They’re just clothes that are practical to the task and not excessively revealing and like, it’s just, aaah.

Ali: I’m going to need Amazon to start selling some of those costumes.

Aradia: For real, though!

Ali: Because there have been a couple like, pantsuit things that I coveted, like truly coveted, in that show.

Aradia: So, so much.

Kate: The costuming is so good, because like you said, they do everything. They do the incredible weird stuff by that – I’m sorry, I can’t remember people’s name. That weird, creepy kingdom?

Aradia, Bree and Ali: The Seanchan.

Bree: Or the Sea Goth. You can call them The Sea Goths.

Aradia: The Americans. You can just call them the Americans.

Kate: The Americans. I mean, their costuming is fabulous, right? But then you also have the practical gear, which is fabulous, you know, and everything in between.

Ali: Because if you’re a woman and you’re riding a horse for that long, you’re not going to be in a skirt. I’m sorry. It’s just not going to happen.

Aradia: Skirts divided for riding!

Ali: Thank you for the skirts divided for riding. Thank you so much. Because it just makes sense. Or if you’re a woman. This is my thing with, like I’m saying, Moiraine usually has in the book this jewel. And I’m like, Okay, but she’s not going to have that while riding a horse. That’s going to hit her in the head over and over again, it just makes no sense!

Aradia: Yeah.

Ali: I’m just appreciating it.

Kate: Bump, bump, bump. Yeah.

Ali: Right? For hours and hours, it’s like, eventually erosion would start to happen.

Bree: Yeah. And that that those are the tiny details like I was missing from those books. So that’s why I loved Wheel of Time. And I loved it because it was always like a group activity for me. Because I was friends with a bunch of boys who wouldn’t read my girl books, my quote unquote girl books. So those are the books I could read with friends. But the books that like, felt real to me were the books that like, you know, the books that really got to me were always the books that I was reading that were written by women. By you, Kate, by Melanie, Mercedes Lackey. You know, even Anne McCaffrey, who, you know, much older, she’s another generation back. And so some of that has aged very badly. But you know I just reread the Crystal Singer, a couple of the Crystal Singer books and you know, it’s amazing that this was – she was writing these in, I don’t know, the seventies or eighties?

0:56:50 What women want (to read)

Kate: The seventies, in the seventies. Yeah. And women doing – even Dragon Rider which is so problematic, but it was a big deal when it came out because it was less a story, you know, and there is a lot of problematic stuff in it, but it was her – I mean, that was going to come with the territory at that time. And I don’t mean that as a way to say it was okay, but it just was, right. But it was focused on how – Yeah, I read a lot of the early ones, I stopped later, but I read a lot of her early work because she was there. She was doing it.

Ali: I’m so curious, because now it feels like so much that female written fantasy and, you know, romance and romantasy – as you know, they’re calling the genre blend of the two – is having such a moment, you know, online. And now – I used to be the only member of my family that would ever touch fantasy, and now it’s like, I was at a family reunion recently where all of my cousins were reading romantasy books and were excited to talk about it. Once – you know, there was a little bit of a caution like, So I’m reading these books and they’re about fairies, and then everyone went, Which one? You know, it was really exciting. And so I’m curious, as somebody who’s kind of been through so much with, you know, the lack of respect that’s shown things that women like – things men like are, you know, valuable and things women like are trash – how does it feel to see this kind of momentum happening behind it now?

Kate: Well, I mean, it’s nice to see it, right? It’s nice to see that – partly it was, when I was young, science fiction and fantasy was still very niche. Right. The movies that came out were very niche. I would say that Peter Jackson pushed that hugely. Winning the Oscar for the that trilogy was a big deal. It was a huge deal. It either had to be like, important science fiction like Blade Runner could get that, could be serious, but it still didn’t have a huge audience. But over that period in the last 20 years, science fiction and fantasy has literally mainstreamed, and now half of everything seems to have that science fiction or fantasy element. But even then, the rise of romantasy – which is just kind of a dumb name. But whatever, it’s fine. It’s fine – It’s just like, I don’t know, I kind of enjoy the frustration of the people who are like, (sarcastic man voice) But my important work is being ignored now! Because like, whatever, they tgot the boost at a time, and now we’re talking about what people are reading. And part of that I think of is at the fault of this kind of extreme capitalism we live in. So if people are buying it, then we’re going to talk about it because we want more people to buy it. Right? So part of it is just a change in generational expectations.

So, you know, my parents generation, who I think of as a World War II generation, science fiction fantasy just wasn’t really part of their world. I mean, obviously they read, if they were readers they would have read Homer, right. And they wouldn’t think of that as fantasy, even though it’s obviously fantasy. Well, not obviously fantasy, but you know what I mean? It has fantastical elements, right? So there was like serious stuff and then there was that kid stuff. And you still see that in some older people will treat if it’s not serious, you know, it’s not a real book. If it’s genre, it’s not real, unless it’s mystery, that’s okay, because that can be real because I like it, right? I see that in a lot of – I see that in some people who I deal with, right. But now I would say that with millennials and Gen Z and Gen Alpha, there’s just no – there’s no boundary anymore. Science fiction, fantasy, literary, literary fiction – which is its own, which is a genre thing, not a real thing. Right? Whatever – mysteries, it’s all just fiction now. And I don’t think that they – I think there’s this less idea of there’s this hierarchy of worth, I mean, that still exists in certain areas. You know, who is The New York Times Book Review going to review? But but beyond that, I think people just – it’s exciting that that boundary is is kind of much more blurred now.

Ali: Yeah. Speaking of people who, you know, are getting upset because their books aren’t getting the same level of attention anymore. They’re serious books. There was a serious male author who is, I think, on a panel recently or something, and he said, Yeah, now people just want to read books about people in relationships.

Aradia: Pfffff. (snickers). Wow.

Bree: Oh no!

Aradia: Such a niche concept!

Kate: They never did before!

Ali: And male writers have never written about relationships.

Bree: I think that’s so revealing, though, because the thing is, they don’t think about them as relationships between people. They think about as their hero having a love interest. She’s not a person, Right? That’s not a relationship. That’s just the prize.

Kate: What do they think Tolstoy is? I mean, come on.

Ali: Exactly. I mean, Chekhov. I mean, Chekhov is all relationships all the time. I mean, Shakespeare. It’s all relationships. Yeah. So that cracked me up. I just was like, I love the inherent bitterness behind it, and also just the ridiculousness.

Kate: What he really wanted to say is, They just want to read books about people fucking. That’s what he wanted to say, but he couldn’t bring himself to say. So Relationships is like a code word.

Ali: But this is my thing too, is we’ve always read books about people fucking. It’s just that now it’s a female centered fucking.

Bree: Yeah, the women are having orgasms, and that’s not cool.

Aradia: There’s female pleasure? We draw the line at female pleasure.

Ali: We draw the line really hard around female pleasure and having to hear about what women think is nice.

Kate: You know, remember, I told you that story about meeting Catherine Asaro. So she was a champion early on because her books all have love stories in them. And she has a Ph.D. in like, I don’t know, theoretical physics and math, and she can out physics and math basically anyone, right? So she really championed the love story with this very argument. She said, people should – and this is back in the nineties – she said, We shouldn’t be denigrating romance, because romance – and women were doing it, too. There was a whole, oh my God –

Bree: Oh, they hurt me more than anyone.

Kate: I’ve been snubbed by second gen – second gen or third gen. I can’t remember. I can’t keep my feminist generations straight – for having a love story in my book, right? Because that was like, whatever. And she said, We need to see romance as empowerment of women because it brings women’s desires – and I hate the word agency, but I’m going to use it here – You know, their choices and their pleasure to the forefront. So that, exactly that, yeah.

Ali: A hundred per cent. It’s so funny to me when people just so clearly denigrate – I mean, talk about the Barbie movie, right. They just love to shit on the things that women are excited about, and things that center women or are for women. And I just yeah, I got interrogated at a party recently about whether I thought Barbie or Oppenheimer were better. And I was just like, why are we comparing them? They’re completely different movies. They’re completely different movies. And then when I eventually said, Well, Barbie, I liked Barbie better. You got it out of me. I did not feel a lot of joy about watching somebody develop the atomic bomb. It didn’t really exactly make me excited about being a person. And Barbie did. And then they were like mad at me. And I was like, You asked!

Aradia: This is what I’m noticing in this whole conversation is, it’s like, so you’re mad that a lot of people don’t actually like your stuff. The system was rigged to give you an artificially inflated sense of how important your work or your opinion was. And now that we’re democratizing it and spreading it out and allowing people to actually have a meaningful vox populi and you aren’t on top, you’re mad? You’re butthurt? I’m sorry, but the math is mathing. Like, people want to read about relationships. Women want to hear about what they’re experiencing, you had it wrong before. It’s not that people want to read about it now. It’s that they weren’t being able to get to it at the same volume. Argh!

Ali: Yeah, they didn’t have the access. I mean, the majority of people consuming books, consuming movies, consuming art in general are women at this point.

Kate: You know, even in the nineties there was a rather famous and quite amusing – Gregory Benford and maybe one who was a very important part science fiction writer. Very, very, very improtant.

Aradia: Oh good!

(all laugh)

Kate: I met him once and I gave him a point, because he was an identical twin and I have identical twins. So that always makes me, I don’t know. But anyway, he and maybe another guy wrote an article and that was published in – cause there were these magazines like, Amazing and Science Fiction Fantasy, and another one – they published an essay in that about how “fantasy was ruining the genre”. And what the root of it really was, it’s getting marketing money that should be going to us. And then these books are selling better than ours and that’s wrong because they’re not important. So some friends, some people I know wrote, some four women wrote a rebuttal to it, but whatever, that was published in the next issue. But that’s exactly what you say.

Ali: I should say, by the way, I liked Oppenheimer as well. I just was like, Why are we even, why am I being asked to compare?

Kate: Exactly.

Aradia: It’s a false equivalency to be like, one or the other, you have to – and there’s no objectively right thing too. Art is art, and people are going to respond to it differently. And not all art is for all people, and that’s okay. And like, yeah, the hierarchical echoes of the thing, in this awards is a no. Yes. Yes. The answer is yes.

Ali: Yeah. I just think it’s so funny that things like, you know, I write for animation and children and that of course, is also – it’s so fun to have conversations with people sometimes. And I also write comedy, right? And so it’s so strange to me all the time, where I go, These things that are profoundly enjoyable. Like, I think that Pixar is telling some of the most amazing stories. I mean, their storytelling is unbelievable. They are considered frivolous. I just find that so interesting that like art that is enjoyable, like sci fi, like romance, like fantasy is frivolous. Where I just, I think that’s so dumb. I just think it’s all so dumb.

Kate: Didn’t Ursula Le Guin once say that people – I think it was Le Guin who said that, something, I’m paraphrasing – that people talk about it being just escapism, but the only people who don’t want you to escape are jailors.

Aradia: Hmmmm. That sounds like a Le Guin mic drop.

Ali: You know, Ursula should write. Ursula should write, I think. You know?

(all laugh)

Kate: Yeah, she should write something.

Ali: That was a good one.

Kate: And I met her once, she was –

Bree: Oh, that’s awesome.

Kate: Actually, I was on two panels with her, which was probably the most daunting thing that I have ever experienced. And it was, you know, it was hard to live up to my heightened expectations for Ursula Le Guin, but she met them. So she was she was exactly who I thought she was, and I mean that in the best possible way.

Ali: This sigh of relief that the three of us all had when you finished that sentece was very real. I think we all were like, We all have very high expectations for her. That’s so amazing. How did you, how were you able to speak in her presence? I find that – I mean, not that you, just –

Kate: I was on two panels with her. I don’t know that I spoke with her outside of the panels, but I was on the panels. So you have to, you know, the panel is a panel. And in fact, that was the same convention with the breast milk machine.

Bree: Oh, so you started that one strong, and then went straight to –

Kate: That was the first year of the preemie twins’ life. And I actually don’t remember that much of it. But I do remember that.

Bree: I bet.

Kate: Because it made such a huge impression on me.

Ali: So you had preemie twins and a toddler all at the same time, and you were writing and attending panels. Women?

Aradia: Women.

Ali: Are unbelievable. That’s all I have, women.

Bree: Yeah, we need that gif. Women.

Ali: Yeah, that’s unbelievable to me.

1:10:10 Music break. Romance readers are everywhere

Bree: Yeah, I was thinking about the romantasy thing, and I think that that part of the problem is, romance has always sold more than sci fi. It’s just they got to ignore it until it was in a category with them. And now they’re like, What the fuck? And I’m like, Sorry, y’all. We’ve always sold circles around you for the most part. I mean, Nora Roberts is potentially one of the bestselling fantasy and sci fi authors of all times. And like, people don’t know that, both under her name and under J.D. Robb. Like, every time I point out that J.D. Robb is a futuristic sci fi writer, and it’s also Nora Roberts, my Twitter would just collapse for days.

Kate: And she has whole, like, fantasy series, trilogies.

Bree: Yeah!

Kate: You know, I mean, because she’s a machine, for one thing. But of course she’s not sold into the SF – I mean, that’s part of the problem, right, part of the problem with the core SF community, what I would call the fandom community – and I don’t say this about individuals it at all because they’re fantastic readers. And of course, all of my readers are the very best readers who ever existed in the universe.

Bree: Absolutely.

Ali: Of course.

Kate: But among some elements of it, there’s this sense that What we read is right, and this gets back to this hierarchy thing.

Bree: Yes.

Ali: Mmmh.

Kate: Our science fiction, our genre is the right genre, but if someone writes it outside of our field, it isn’t really. So what Nora writes can’t really be fantasy or science fiction. It’s got to be something else, right? And that something else is always that little sneer, that little condescension.

Bree: Yup. Oh, honestly, having to drop our three romance books, watching people’s brains sort of start to smoke? Really, really, really kind of fun. I mean, not when they text like they would, you know, at me: Since when does Tor publish porn? And I was like, Y’all better not read our other books. because those were tame. Those had some of our readers –

Kate: And now they have that whole line!

Bree: Yeah.

Kate: Now they have a whole line.

Bree: And it’s not just sci fi romance. Bramble publishes like all romance. It’s not just like sci fi and fantasy. So. And Monique Patterson is over there and she, you know, she knows what romance can do. So, I mean, I think that’s going to be – I think it’s super interesting and it makes sense for them. They’ve had a horror line for a long time, and I really am interested actually, in how people are going to respond to Bramble. I mean, I think that the fandom collectively, not the wonderful individuals, are probably just going to write that off. My experience wasn’t great having a romance published from Tor, just from that fandom. The outside people still treated me fine because, you know, romance people are going to romance. But yeah, I mean, it wasn’t terrible, but there were points where I was like, Yeah, you really don’t understand it. Everyone’s like, I wish these books would stop talking about people liking each other. And I’m like, Well, they’re not going to. I’m sorry.

Kate: You know, I have to say. So the Spiritwalker series, which starts with Cold Magic, has a very strong love story that spans the entire trilogy. So it’s a fantasy, you know – I want to make my pitch for it. Hold on. Let me collect this – “Afro celtic post-roman ice punk regency fantasy adventure with revolutionary women, well-dressed men, and lawyer dinosaurs”.

Aradia: Nice.

Kate: That’s my pitch.

Bree: Okay, everybody, go buy it.

Kate: So Cold Magic is the first one. But when Cold Magic came out and it’s – if I must say so myself, it’s a really fantastic alternate earth history with a huge fantasy element that can’t be ignored. So it’s not true alternate history, because that wouldn’t have that element, it wouldn’t have the magic in it. But it’s a really interesting alternate history, and I was really excited when it came out. But the science fiction fantasy community kind of ignored it, but it got discovered by the romance readers who, first of all, read way more. They read more widely, more diversely, across a wider range. They’re less like – they’re more ecumenical readers, I guess, is how I would say it. Whereas the sf/f reader – not all of them, but a certain number of them – was like, Well, I’m not going to try that. Or, Well, this had a romance in it. It wasn’t even an explicit, there wasn’t even any porn in it. Right?

Ali: Well in that case, I’m out. No, but – (laughs)

Kate: Yeah, but it had that, it was like the girl cooties, as people –

Bree: Yup.

Kate: Yeah. So it was kind of like, well, okay this was interesting but – but. There’s always that But there. So the fact that, in any way in which that trilogy did decently, is because it crossed over to the romance readers. So they are to me the reason that that got any traction, and I will always be thankful for that.

Bree: And that’s one of the things I think people forget, because like you said romance readers read outside the genre. People never think their audience, like non romance people, they think they can talk shit about romance because they never think their audience includes romance readers. But everybody’s audience includes romance readers because they, you know. And so we’re always everywhere. And that’s why romance has this reputation for popping off and coming at you if you talk shit. Because none of us like to just be like, hanging out, you know, enjoying one of our favorite hobbies and suddenly have someone say, Yeah, you know, dumb romance housewives, which is –

Ali: Oh, that’s a whole thing in itself.

Bree: Oh, mommy porn, that was the 50 Shades of Grey. 50 Shades of Grey, they called it mommy porn. And let me tell you, I do not miss the 2010s.

Kate: No. You know, I didn’t read – I read the opening of Twilight and it wasn’t for me. But you can see a book and say, this isn’t for me. And also, I saw people who never read fantasy – adults who never read fantasy, and probably didn’t read that many books every year – read Twilight. It a huge impact, you know.

Bree: And some of them went and bought more books.

Kate: Yeah.

Ali: Lots of people discovered their love of reading with Twilight.

Kate: And they’re reading romantasy now, right?

Bree: Yeah, it’s happening right now with Fourth Wing. Fourth Wing is bringing people into fantasy, because Fourth Wing is accessible, I think.

Ali: Fourth Wing, Acotar,…

Bree: Yeah, that too, it’s accessible to people. It’s you know, it’s a great starter thing because it’s fun and they’re like quick paced – Fourth Wing is very quick paced and it’s, you know, you could just – the first page tells you everything you need to know about the story. And so you know, that’s well-written, that’s well designed. And so whether or not you like it, and I’ve seen so many criticisms of the writing, and I’m sort of like, Guys, you know, the writing is fine, the writing is fine. It’s not unique. If you’ve read widely in sci fi and fantasy, yeah, you’ve seen these tropes before. And you’ve seen them done lots of different ways, but if you haven’t, it’s revelatory. Because this is the first time you’re experiencing this. And you know, even worst case scenario, if you think Fourth Wing is terrible: shut up, tell them, Oh wow, did you love that? Here’s my favorite fantasy. You should read that next!

Ali: Let People Like Things 2024.

Bree: And invite them in. Don’t punch them in the face and say, Well, if you like that, you’re not a real sci fi fantasy reader, so we don’t want you.

Kate: And don’t offer them a book that is impossible to get into unless you’ve been reading SF/F for ten years. Offer them something that, like this, is like the next step of accessibility.

Bree: Stop recommending Brandon Sanderson to literally everybody, 2024 Challenge.

Kate: Well, he’s actually pretty accessible.

Bree: He is, but like –

Kate: But in a different way.

Bree: If somebody is asking for romance, do not give them Brandon Sanderson.

Kate: No, no, no. He’s not the one. He’s not the one.

Bree: It’s a meme.

Kate: If they’re looking for romance, not George Martin either.

Ali: No. Oh my God no.

Bree: And stop recommending Jacqueline Carey without content notes, guys. Like, okay, I love her. Those books are like – I mean, I did a panel with her, talk about doing a panel with someone intimidating.

Kate: (sounding envious) I’ve never met her!

Bree: During 2020, the Zoom release era, we did an event with her, and we had this great conversation about writing a character who was a magical masochist, and the ethics of that and what it means to have a character who, when men hurt her, that’s her superpower. Like she could turn it against them and they can make it into a weapon. But that’s a really intense book to just tell someone who said – I saw someone the other day who was like, I really likd Acotar. Can you recommend me some more book with some hot sex? And everyone was like, You have to read Jacqueline Carey, it’s the only quality one. And I was like, You guys, you’re just sending her in here to read this wildly intense extreme kink content with no warning. Stop doing that, people.

Ali: Also to say, that’s the only one of quality. I’m like, let’s stop, please, stating opinions as facts. Let’s again, can we please stop? Right? I just never to the same extent see people criticizing the quality of male writing like I do – Whenever there’s a popular female book, it’s always, Let’s tear down the writing as soon as possible. I feel like I count to 100 and it’s already done. Like there’s already somebody going, Oh, the quality of the writing! I’m like, Sometimes things are fine.

Aradia: Right?

Ali: Sometimes things are fine. And crafting a really good story is just as difficult as writing beautiful prose. Like, just, urgh! There’s allowed to be different kinds of focuses in people’s writing. Sometimes it’s stories, sometimes it’s prose, and oftentimes it’s both. But like, I don’t know, it just one of my pet peeves.

Kate: And it’s forgetting that Jacqueline Carey got a lot of criticism for being too horny.

Bree: Yep.

Kate: Why are you doing this? Why are you doing this explicit sex in your book? You’re supposed to be writing serious fantasy. She got a lot of criticism when that first book came out, when Kushiel’s Dart came out, but it was doing something really different, really different. And, you know, good for her.

Bree: And that is actually why we signed with Tor, because her editor is the one who we were going to be working with, and I was like, Okay, at least I’m not going to freak you out, because you have edited Jacqueline Carey, so I’m going to be okay with you. And she is, to her credit, no matter what people think, she never asked us to like tone down sex or do anything or be – you know, it was fine. And I, you know, really enjoyed working with her. So. Though I am going to come back and say, Brandon Sanderson apparently recently said that Melanie Rawn was one of his big influences.

Aradia: Oh, really?

Bree: Yeah. Somebody told me that because of the podcast. And I was like, Yeah, that’s that does not surprise me at all.

Aradia: That does make sense.

Kate: Doesn’t surprise me at all. No, she was a – I think people were reading her that wouldn’t admit they were reading her also. Yeah. She was huge in the nineties! Anyway, I’m still mad –

Bree: I know.

Kate: – that she dropped out of the historical, because that’s that thing. Right. You, if you get dropped out of the historical conversation, then it’s like you didn’t exist. Within two generations it’s like, you vanish. Even though I bet those Dragon – I assume they’re still in print.

Bree: Oh yeah.

Kate: They’re still in print and I assume they’re probably still selling decently. Maybe not as well, but, you know.

Bree: Yeah, I think so. They’re also in e-book. And they recently started, they’ve recently produced the audio, like in the last ten years. The first three have horrifying covers, but the second Dragon trilogy has great covers.

Kate: Oh, in the audio version?

Bree: Yeah, yeah. I actually tried to get one of the audio. Sioned had a Scottish accent and I immediately stopped it and I was like, What’s going on? I can’t listen to this. I have had this in my head for like 30 years. It’s like, I can’t, I can’t listen.

Kate: Oh, oh. That’s, yeah, that’s hard.

Bree: So, yeah, but, you know,I love that, you know, we got to start this podcast and, you know, some of the people out there actually – and they are fans of yours as well – from her original bulletin board found the podcast And so I have gotten to like find all these like old Melanie Rawn fans who were, you know, in the nineties. I lurked on the bulletin boards, but I was scared to talk to people because, you know, I’m a shy little introvert. Until Twitter came around. For some reason, Twitter was my place.

Kate: I love – see, I’m the same. Twitter? On a bulletin board it was much harder for me to think about posting, but on Twitter, it’s like, it was so ephemera. And the character limit was so short that you couldn’t be, Is this pithy enough? Doesn’t matter. I only have 140 or 280 characters, right? So you could just throw away stuff, and you didn’t care. And that’s what I loved about it. It was less intimidating. Now, a moment silence for Twitter. The passing of Twitter.

Bree: I really do miss it and I am sad. And Elon Musk killed it for all of us. And you know, boo hiss to that. I guess, join Bluesky, guys.

Ali: Here’s the thing about Bluesky.

Kate: Yeah, I’m on Bluesky. It’s just a different vibe.

Ali: It’s such a different vibe. Yeah. I feel like I’m shouting into a void right now, but I’m hoping that the void will start shouting back at me.

Kate: Oh, I should! If you – do, put your – Wait, where’s mine?

Ali: Are we going to share each other’s Blueskies? I’m freaking out.

Bree: Yes.

Kate: Put it in the chat and I will follow you.

Ali: (timidly) Okay!

Kate: Yeah.

Bree: Actually, I woke up this morning with the texts from Donna, like, Kate just solved my writing problem on Bluesky! And I was like, Well, good. I’m going to talk to her later. But she’s already –

Kate: (laughs heartily)

Bree: Yeah, what you posted this morning about, like, enjoying the journey, really hit us. Because we had a rough go with this last book, just health stuff. And you know, sometimes when you’re crushing a deadline and everything’s going wrong and everybody’s sick, you cannot enjoy – I mean, this is a job at the end of the day, even if it’s a creative one.

Kate: Yes.

Bree: And sometimes you forget to have fun writing, or you can’t have fun writing.

Ali: Oh, facts.

Kate: And if we’re not having fun writing, then why are we doing it? I mean, for money? Because I don’t have other skills at this point and I don’t have any other tools I can monetize.

Ali: That’s so real.

Bree: Because it’s not the publishing part!

Kate: Yeah, it’s not the publishing part that –

Bree: Yeah, the writing has to be fun to make up for the publishing part, or you just can’t survive, because the publishing part is a lot. And I’m glad to hear that it is less of a lot now, or at least a different type of a lot because, you know, I can imagine – well, actually, I’m not even sure I can. I’ve heard tales even from the late nineties and early 2000s, of women attending these conferences, you know. So early nineties, late eighties scares the crap out of me.

Kate: It was bad. It was just – but it was just, it was in the air and the water, the toxin – I mean, it’s still there, but the toxin was in the air and the water in a different, it was more parts per million, you know. And so you just, the thing is, is that in a situation that, you learn early on how to cope with it and then just swim. So you do things that I wouldn’t do now, but I don’t look at what I did then and say, Oh, how terrible. You weren’t pure and didn’t object because I don’t think that that option was really viable. You know, the whole, You should have done this, you should have done that. Well, I don’t know that. Easy to say, because you’re not there. Right? So you just you learn to cope, you know, when you’re in a traumatic or abusive situation that you can’t get out of. And these isms are, you know, societally, we’re kind of often in different degrees, right? You just learn to cope, if you want to be in that space, because that’s really the only way you can. And some people can’t do it, which is one of the reasons it’s so bad, because it forces people out through no fault of their own.

Aradia: Right, right, right.

Kate: But for the others of us who could find ways with our pit bull, pit bull way, you just learn it and then later you look back and you go, What the hell.

Kate: Right.

Bree: Yeah. I think about – and Neil deGrasse Tyson has his own problematic issues. But once I saw an interview with him where they were asking about, basically trying to use his presence as proof that there wasn’t racism .

Aradia: Oh, I know this quote. Yeah.

Bree: And he just said, you know, I think I made it through. But I think about the blood on the tracks.

Aradia: The blood on the tracks, yeah.

Bree: The people who got hit by the train.

Kate: Yes.

Bree: And, you know, that is what I think about a lot, like the people who didn’t make it through or the people who, like Melanie, sort of got erased. It’s why I wanted to start this podcast. But it’s also why, like, every time, as much as I love this Wheel of Time show, every time I see Rosamund Pike saying that Robert Jordan was writing, doing something that nobody else was doing at the time, I’m like imagining all of you out there having to read these interview quotes over and over and over as if you literally didn’t exist. And it makes me so mad. And so, you know, that’s one of – I think that like, it radicalized me. You know, I want to just run around screaming, No, there were women writing fantasy in the nineties! There were lots of them.

Aradia: And then I was like, Will you hold still long enough to be in front of a microphone, because we can make this go.

Kate: Yeah. And in the eighties and in the seventies.

Bree: Yes!

Kate A little bit in the sixties, although that’s when it just started to cross over.

Bree: I remember – what was her first? I think The Ship Who Sang, Anne McCaffrey, like that was one of the earliest ones.

Kate: Yeah, that was the late sixties.

Bree: That one stuck with me for a long time. And yeah, it’s so infuriating and so many people had to put up with so much bullshit. And even today they’re still trying to hit us with sticks, get back in the box. You know, we need that Barbie gif, you know, Jezebel, get in the box!

Kate: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ali: Jezebel, get in the box!

Kate: Didn’t the Oscars just come out, and Gerwig didn’t even get a best director nod?

Ali: They snubbed her and they snubbed Margot Robbie.

Kate: Yeah.

Bree: Yeah. I just want to shout out to poor fucking Ryan Gosling, who was just trying to get through this awards season as they throw awards at him and he’s like dodging them and –

Ali: Yeah, the fact that I’m just Ken won best song at the People’s Choice Awards over What Was I Made For by Billie Eilish, that was –

Bree: And they said he was going to accept the award and he refused to get up and do it. He was just like making faces in the audience.

Ali: He was just like, he was shocked. And then he got nominated for best actor, best supporting actor, and then Margot Robbie didn’t. America Ferrera did get nominated, which is good.

Bree: Thank God.

Ali: It was still a little like, so Ken got nominated and not Barbie.

1:30:20 Music break. Be the constructive toddler.

Aradia: I’m thinking too – I’m outside of the world of publishing and writing and all these things. But I was raised by very aggressively feminist parents who were like, You will read girl books, you will read things by women, you will listen to music by women. Like that was very much – and I’m a millennial. So that’s the nineties and the 2000s, really when my parents had full control over what was being aggressively thrown at me and, it’s so few.

Despite their efforts, despite their desires, it’s like, Tamora Pierce and Anne McCaffrey and Alanis Morissette and nothing else. Nothing else is sticking out to me. Everything else that I can remember is like – and then I shifted to male media, for whatever reason, male created media. And my parents were trying and I mean, I read the entire young adult section of my local library, like, the entire section. So, I mean, I read a lot of women authors by virtue of that, because statistics. But it just frustrates me how much you were fighting on your side. And then my parents were fighting on their side and like, there’s so little in the middle. And I don’t know if any of you guys have read Lessons in Chemistry, but that’s – I book clubbed through it with my grandma, and that was a theme I kept seeing was like, It takes so few people to gum everything up for everybody else. It takes so few people to just pinch this little thing. And then on either end of that interaction, there’s these masses of people trying to connect, trying to make cool things happen. And this one small minded hierarchical little MAN is just in the way and it’s just we all get robbed, you know?

Kate: Yeah.

Ali: Yeah, but if I may, as a message of hope moment, I mean, I think that we forget, too, that as individuals, people who are listening to this, right, we have a lot of power. I mean, that’s the one nice thing about capitalism is that it will bow to the pressures of the public at points where it’s profitable. So you have an ability and a power to seek out Melanie Rawn, and not let Melanie Rawn be forgotten, mention Melanie Rawn when, or start podcasts about Melanie Rawn, right. It’s easier than ever to grassroots something that needs to be seen. I mean, the most recent kind of famous example that I could think of is Elemental. Pixar’s Elemental was kind of touted as almost like a element version of Zootopia and was failing in the box office, was not doing well. And then everyone who saw it was like, No, this is actually a really important allegory for immigration and what it’s like to be raised by immigrant parents. You need to go see it. And literally just the amount of people just talking about it continuing to boost Elemental and make sure that Elemental was not being overlooked, made it so that it became a box office success. So there is a lot of power in people coming together. The way this was marketed was not our personal favorite, and this is actually something important and that needs to be seen. And I made Gus watch it with me recently, and both of us were weeping uncontrollably. So this is my grassroots effort to make sure that everyone sees Elemental.

Kate: I had only vaguely – I mean, the name is like, vaguely familiar, and now I’m going to watch it because my mom’s an immigrant.

Ali: Please! And this is the thing, too. Yeah. So keep talking about the people and the things that matter to you, because actually, the more that we do this and the more that we have these conversations, the more a Melanie Rawn TV show could very well happen!

Aradia: Well, and see, here’s one of my other things is like, why do people put so much energy into hating on stuff? There are only so many hours in the day. Don’t you want to spend all of that on putting oxygen on things you want to see? Like the amount of water people throw on fires, when you could be blowing on the fire that you actually want to see go and just let the best bonfire burn or however this metaphor plays out. Like, just why can’t more people create podcasts about things they love? You know.

Kate: Why? Yeah, why do people get so much interaction from anger and the hating on things.

Bree: And mockery!

Kate: And mockery.

Bree: I do not – when someone tells me they heard about me on a podcast. I’m like, I’m not going near it until you tell me if they’re making fun of the sex scenes, because that is how a lot of people read our books, to make fun of them, you know, make fun of sexy stuff. So I just wanted to say, like, to all of this, like how easy it is now, because I’m like a little bit older than you guys. And so I was doing a lot of my trying to find books before there was an Internet, practically speaking. I mean, I’m a Geocities era of Internet, so I could not go to a website and find all of the fantasy written by women.

Kate: Right.

Bree: So you know what I would have to do, I would have to go to used bookstores and an old problematic lady would find Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress anthologies. And I would hunt them down, because they were never – I could never get them new, because they were there and then they were gone off the bookshelves. And I would hunt them down. And that is where I found female authors. I’m like, that is what I had to do. That was the effort I had to go to to find women to read in this time period. And so, yeah, it was so frustrating and now it’s so easy. So yeah, let’s please, please give oxygen to the things you love. Like as an author, I’m begging you, because that’s word of mouth, man. That’s what saves us sometimes.

Ali: Yeah. And it’s so easy to do. It’s easier than ever before. But I mean, like even other famous examples, like, It’s a Wonderful Life was not as successful, was not a hit, and was actually investigated for being communist propaganda at the time that it came out. And now it’s a beloved Christmas movie. So it’s like, just something does not get the oxygen initially. If you love it, then you are the marketing, everyone’s the marketing for what they want to see.

Aradia: Be the Bigolas Dickolas you want to see in the world.

Ali: Be the marketing, yes.

Bree: The Bigolas Dickolas, yes. Oh God.

Ali: Exactly. The Bigolas Dickolas you wanna see.

Kate: You see.

Aradia: I’m literally going to read that book with my grandma for our little two person book club because it’s been on my TBR ever since that moment happened. And like she, was like, you have to pick the next book. I picked the last four books. You have to pick the next. So I’m like, Aaah, viral moment. Join me in being part of the Internet. So we’re going to read that next.

Kate: Yeah, one of the things that that social media and of course, our current political climate too, is, it’s very much the frustrated toddler hitting down the blocks someone else has built. So don’t be the destroying toddler. Be the building toddler. Pick it up.

Aradia: Yeah, yeah. We’re all still just toddling along, but at least we can be constructive.

Ali: Yeah. Be the constructive toddler.

Kate: Yeah we can be building something.

Bree: Which, I do want to – I’m going to put the disclaimer in here, even though I would think on our podcast it’s not necessary. Y’all know what we’re not talking about. Don’t say that something is racist or sexist or homophobic or transphobic.

Aradia: Yes.

Bree: That is not what we’re saying, because, yeah, sometimes we have to say, Whoa, you just wrote a wildly crazy racist book. Please don’t do that. But if you just think that the writing in Fourth Wing is bad, and some people think that it’s pro-military propaganda, some people don’t like the disability rep. Talk about that. But like, yeah, I know you love it, Ali, because it’s like your –

Ali: It’s mine! It’s my disability!

Bree: But some people don’t like it. And I think there’s value in like talking about why. But don’t just say, Yes well, she used the word stone on page one, so it’s trash. And I literally saw someone do that.

Ali: Oh my God.

Bree: Echoes in this paragraph. And I’m like, Oh my God.

Ali: Okay, so she’s supposed to bust out a thesaurus and figure out a fancy word for stone every time she, like, a new word for stone? We’re going to –

Bree: We’re going to tank a book over echoes on page one. Okay.

Ali: Alright, relax. There’s hundreds of pages. Hundreds of pages! For those people I’m always like, You try it then, you try it. You put your work out there and say, Judge me. Like, it just takes a lot of fucking bravery, especially as a woman in this day, I have so many feeling, especially as a woman in this field, to put your work out there, especially in a like a niche genre, and be like, Please judge me, here’s my child I birthed into the world that I spent frickin years of my life on. Please tell me how I used stone twice on one page.

Kate: Fuck you.

Ali: You write a book then and let people judge it and see what your Goodreads says.

Bree: You can pick anything if you want to.

Ali: I had a feeling.

Aradia: Yeah. And that’s the thing too, is like conflicting opinions with facts, right? Like, oh, you actually wrote a really interesting thing, versus you wrote a thing that I have very strong emotions about. Right. It’s just a matter of debating the content versus your feelings in terms of laying down objective truths.

Kate: Or people who begin a book thinking it’s going to – they have this expectation of what they want the book to be. And then it doesn’t turn out to be that thing, because the author had something else in mind. And then they’re mad about that, and that means it’s a bad book. All it means is it’s not a book for you. I actually do not finish probably a third of the novels I start.

Ali: Life’s too short.

Kate: Maybe, some years, more. And it’s not that they’re bad. I mean, some of them, I might think aren’t very well-written, but they’re, it’s just aren’t for me. A lot of them just, it’s not, there’s nothing about the book. It’s just the book isn’t for me. And that’s okay. It doesn’t need to be for me. And I’m not going to tell if I tried to read a book and I didn’t care for it, and I see someone talking about how much they loved it, I’m not going to jump in and tell them they’re stupid. Because I’ve had that happen to me.

Ali: Yeah.

Kate: I’ve been condescended to for these reasons and I don’t need to give that to someone else.I loved your rant about Fourth Wing.

Ali: Thank you!

Kate: I mean, that’s how it is. You know, the stuff I love, I love and the stuff other people love, they get to love. Again with caveat, Bree, about, you know, there is stuff that is –

Ali: Yeah, there’s legitimate criticism versus, it just wasn’t for me. And I go, There’s such a difference between those two things, that I’m just like – the way it was less about Fourth Wing, you know, like Fourth Wing or don’t like Fourth Wing, whatever. It’s no skin off my nose. I just get so mad. As somebody who writes, right, and who knows how hard it is and who knows how many notes you get and how hard, just hard it is to even just sit down and do the thing that you’re supposed to do every day without, you know, talking yourself out of it.

I think it’s so easy for people to judge when they’ve never tried to put themselves out there like that. You know what I mean? And it’s so easy for someone to say something is bad or low effort when they’ve never made that kind of effort in the first place. And so that’s what always drives me nuts, is I’m like, You do it and see how hard it is. See how much goes into it. Just writing a story from beginning to end, let alone writing a good one, you know?

Aradia: And then people who are cool, you get to be on the other side, like Kate was saying earlier, and be that welcoming person to be like, Come into the circle. Like, it’s okay. That’s the other side of it, instead of tearing people down, you can be like, No, you try it, you’re trying it. Good job, you’re trying, you come here, sit with me. You’re trying it. That’s awesome. It doesn’t hurt us to have more colleagues. It’s not a bad thing.

Ali: Right? And sometimes it takes five books, or more or a never. And like, you know, it’s such a worthwhile endeavor anyway. And yeah, why do we get keep success and why do we judge people who are successful? I don’t know.

Aradia: Because apparently success is pie and more for you means less for me.

Ali: Truly.

Kate: And yeah, and why do we make ourselves – why are there people who can only make themselves feel better by tearing down other people as opposed to making things feel better by embracing, right, and widening their circle of concern? I don’t know.

Aradia: Yeah. I’ve had much more success with widening my circle. I have friends now because I’ve been so open and excited about having the professional companionship and it’s – yeah, I can’t imagine going around, nitpicking other people until I have three people left in my circle. That sounds miserable.

Ali: Ii does sound miserable.

Bree: Yeah, I am going to quote another viral tweet here, which was basically, Did you really hate that book or did you try to order a milkshake from Home Depot?

Kate: Oh, yeah yes.

Aradia: Sir, this is a Wendy’s.

Kate: That’s perfect.

Bree: Sometimes, if people try to read our books and they’re like, they don’t like romance or fantasy, I’m just like, You probably came to the wrong store, and it’s okay to not – for my books to not be your thing. But don’t say that I wrote it wrong because I put too much romance and fantasy in it, you know? No, that was the point. I did what I planned and, you know. Yeah. So, yeah, it is – what a wild career we’ve chosen, as three writers.

Kate: Wild!

Bree: And Aradia, getting –

Aradia: I’m in awe of all of you. I just want to produce podcasts.

Ali: I think about it all the time. Still a wild career to pick. I mean, truly it’s – and I appreciate it, Kate, you sharing that it was your fifth novel that got published. Because I think a lot of people don’t realize, too, that it usually isn’t your – It’s weird and you’re kind of a freak if your first thing is the thing that gets published or gets produced or gets made.

And to me, what’s so impressive is not actually the person whose debut novel gets published. It’s the person who does write the fifth novel that gets published, or the 10th novel that gets published, because it’s like, that is the career stamina that I think you need to be successful in this industry. You need to be constantly pushing yourself to get better and not worrying about that initial – Yeah, you have to push through that initial – like you’re not going to be writing the things that you envision your head. It’s always so much better in your head and then you put it on the paper and it’s like your skill needs to evolve to the point where things get published. And maybe you are skilled right off the bat, right? I’m sure, Kate, you were you were skilled immediately.

Kate: No, I wasn’t. And my early novels are not as good. I got better.

Ali: Exactly!

Bree: And that’s so important.

Kate: Because I kept writing and working to improve. I mean, in my first novel, didn’t make a splash, barely got reviewed, and, you know, I haven’t even reread it. They were supposed to start with a magical sex scene that I didn’t have the courage to put in in full. It’s suggested if you read it and you know, you can figure it out, but – And I’m sorry about that now, but I also understand why I did it then. I just want, I just need that to be out there because I thought about it.

Ali: Well, I think you brought up another important point that always amazes me about people who do put romance in their books. We went on this rant about Saltburn the other day, because my friend was talking about how she was at a party and everyone was being rude about it and she was the only one who liked it. And so I went on this rant about – because she said, Oh, they were saying there was nothing interesting in it. And I said the thing that was like, so inspiring and amazing to me is that it was a woman going, I don’t care what my neighbors think, I don’t care what – you know, I’m not going to worry about like my parents picking this up and looking at it.

I’m going to write like what I want to write and what I’m excited to write and what’s my truth and how I see the world or what – Or just, you know, write something that to me is like bold and risky and daring. And it’s like, it’s hard, I think, as women, because that can be something that we get pushback for. And so I’ve definitely also had things where I’m like, I want to write this like, you know, kind of raunchy scene that I back out of, because I’m like, What will my parents say or whatever, you know, or What about my neighbors?

Bree: Do you want the answer? My mother, I told her, I begged her not to read our Beyond series, which is the post-apocalyptic queer kinky army, like, orgies, like. I begged her not to read it, and she read Beyond Shame and she texted me, I read your book, and then she didn’t text me again for two weeks.

(hilarity ensues)

Bree: I was like, I told her, This is going to happen!

Ali: Beyond Shame is not the one to start with!

Bree: Yeah, that is, that’s the –

Kate: So funny.

Bree: You thought the Tor books were porn. Please watch out. But yeah, you know, I’m going to tell you guys, legitimately, writing sex and putting it out there in the world – one of the worst things about it is that people think you can’t be sexually harassed anymore.

Kate: Oh.

Bree: Because if you are willing to talk about, if you’re willing to write about sex, you should be forced to talk about sex with who wants to do it at any time in any manner they think is okay. And if you complain, they’re going to be like, Well, what about your book? You know, this is what you put out there. And it is really kind of fucked up. People sexually harass romance authors in weird, creepy ways. So I don’t blame people who flinch, because it does, once you do it, it is I mean, everything from like – fucking Stacey Abrams goes on the Colbert Show and she begs him not to read one of her sex scenes and he just keeps doing it over her begging him to stop.

Kate: Oh, Stephen!

Bree: I know, I never thought about him the same way, because I viscerally recognize that feeling of someone who wants to make fun of you picking up one of your books and looking for a dirty scene to read it at you. It happens all the time and it’s so – And even if you’re Stacey Abrams, you can’t escape it.

Kate: Wow.

Bree: And you know what, I’ve got such a thick skin at this point. You know, because I did write the really, really dirty books and I self-published them. You cannot get more sneered at on the hierarchy of publishing than self-publishing erotic queer romance. You’re basically like – so like, yeah, I don’t give a shit anymore. I hit my do not give a shit stage at 35 or something. And I’m glad I hit it because now I’m just like, Yeah, fuck off.

Ali: That’s what I love about talking to other women who write. It’s just like, very early you have to just be like, Yep I don’t – Especially once – you were writing in the nineties, you just had to, it had to be so tough and I think it’s incredible. That’s why, I just get so defensive of all women writers. Because they’re just like, it’s so – the game is so different. The rules are different, and the things you have to think about are so different. And I don’t know, I just think, I think you all are amazing people and I’m ranting now and rambling, but it’s only because I’m like, I can’t believe I get I’m allowed to talk to you. So that’s all.

Aradia: I love being a fly on the wall for this.

Bree: I still don’t believe I get to talk to Kate all the time. Kate, you’re awesome.

Ali: I’m just like fangirling to – I fangirl talk to Bree all the time. I’m always, like, running to her going, Bree, I’m having a panic attack about X. And she goes, Yeah, that’ll never stop. So you just get used to that.

Kate: You just, yeah.

Bree: I’m never sure if that’s helpful or not, but I’m like, Yeah, you know, everybody I know who’s like, fucking winning New York Times Notable things is also having a panic attack today. You know, it doesn’t go away.

Ali: So when Bree’s like, I’m bringing someone on who I’m fangirling over, I was like, You need to calm down, because I am fangirling. You need to be strong for us because I won’t get through this otherwise.

Aradia: This has been a lovely, lovely fangirl convention here.

1:51:08 What’s new with Kate Elliott? Books to pick up!

Bree: Yes. And we have kept you for two hours, Kate, so we’re going to –

Ali: Oh, my gosh, I’m sorry.

Bree: Yes. You have been so generous.

Kate: You guys are so fun to talk to, though.

Aradia: Yay!

Bree: Yeah, I know, this has been the most fun. But I want you to tell us a little bit about your most – since we’ve made you relive the past. Can you tell us about your most recent release and your next release?

Kate: Oh, boy. Okay. So many books over so long.

Bree: I know this is a torturous question for publishing.

Kate: Yeah, Yeah. So much going on. So for people who haven’t read me before, I recently published two novellas with Tor.com one called Servant Mage, and these are both standalone novellas. And it’s a fantasy about – anyway, it’s a fantasy. I’m bad at, I don’t have a good pitch for it. But it has a fantastic Tommy Arnold cover with this huge dragon clutching this glowing thing. And it’s actually not a scene, it’s actually a thematic cover. The cover is nothing that happened – the cover doesn’t represent something that happens in the book, but it’s exactly perfect for representing the thematic content of the book. So it’s about a young woman, it’s set in a magic world. I actually really like it. And then I have another novella called The Keeper’s Six, which is a portal fantasy that begins in this world, which has a grandmother who’s 60, whose adult son gets kidnaped by a, basically multi dimensional dragon boss like, you know. And so she has to go rescue him, and she has to call her crew back together.

Bree: Oh, my God.

Kate: So it’s kind of a, it’s not quite a heist, but –

Bree: Ali, this is written for us!

Ali: I have written it down. It’s in my phone. It will be the – I’m ready.

Kate: It has another great cover by a different artist. So that one was Tommy Arnold. This is Emmanuel Shiu, S H I U, it’s got a fantastic cover that is perfect. And then the other thing that’s out now are the first two volumes of the Unconquerable Sun series, which is gender swapped Alexander Great as Space Opera.

Ali: Aaaah? Hell yeah.

Kate: Which a big, huge, really epic cast of thousands of – really has been both really fun and incredibly challenging to write. It’s very fast paced and it’s a lot because it’s big.

Bree: Oh, we’ve got Wheel of Time fans in here. You guys are ready. You’ve been training for this. Go.

Kate: Yeah, actually, if you’ve been training for that, you can – Yeah, Wheel of Time people, this is nothing. I mean, compared to the scope. And then I have the thing I can’t talk about, which is kind of a romantasy, but it’s a duology coming out next year. But I can’t talk about it because it hasn’t been announced yet.

Bree: I think I know about this one.

Kate: You do know about it.

Bree: I’m excited.

Kate: It’s finished, I’m just waiting to revise it. I’m waiting for my editorial notes, forever. And then I’m working on the third Sun book right now, which will finish the trilogy. And then I have five million other ideas that I’m poking at, like I do. Oh, wait, wait, wait! There’s one more thing. So if you have, if anyone here has read the Cold Magic books, I am with a small press finally, finally bringing out a collection of all the short stories in that universe, and some essays, and those short stories include the Julie Dillon illustrated Secret Journal of Beatrice Hussey, Beryl Hall, which is 28 black and white illustrations.

Bree: Oh my gosh.

Kate:And then because of that, I also commissioned – out of my own pocket, so that’s draining my savings account – one black and white illustration for each of the stories from a different artist.

Bree: Oh, that’s amazing.

Kate: And, so, see if I could even get this line up. Lee Moyer, Jody Lee has promised one –

Bree: (overwhelmed shouting)

Kate: – and Jody Lee is going to do an illustration for the smut chapter, which will be a separate chapbook. And she said to me, No one’s ever asked me to draw erotica before.

Bree: Oh my God, if Jody Lee is going to get into sexy – Listen, and I would like you to tell Jody Lee this. I wouldn’t, I could never talk to Jody Lee, I would die. I think Jody Lee made me bisexual. Okay? Her covers?

Kate: I love her covers.

Bree: Her covers are the other look of my childhood, like just in my teens. I love them so much.

Kate: Yes. Yes! I love her. And she and I actually knew each other before we became professionals, by the way. So I’ve known her forever. Who else is on it? Oh, there’s a maybe who I can’t say. Kekai Kotaki. Oh, my God. Wendy Shu. Um, ah, ah – Jessa Salome, who works at Among others, the company who does Among others – Cynthia Show. I’m missing people. Charles Tan. I have a whole list. There’s more. It’s got. Anyway, I have some of them in, and they’re already fantastic.

Bree: That is so amazing.

Kate: And I have, I am apparently getting a Tom Canty cover.


Bree: Your art is going to be – this is going to be the most beautiful book ever.

Kate: The stories are all written and everything, but I’m so excited about the art. It’s going to be, it’s with Fairwood Press, it’s coming out – we just got moved from August to October because of printing issues, and there’s going to be an e-book, a trade paper and a deluxe hardcover edition with a very tiny print run, which will have two color prints by Julie Dillon, I hope, will be bound, and we’ll include the smut chapbook.

Bree: Amazing.

Kate: – which isn’t actually in the – Yeah. Anyway, so I’m super excited about that and really anxious about it because I, you know, I’m not a self publisher normally, so I just worry that no one will buy it. So that’s my next thing coming out, will be a collections called The History of the World Begins in Ice – Stories and Essays from the Cold Magic Universe.

Aradia: Ooh. Very cool.

Bree: Honestly, for people who like the alt history, sort of Game of Thrones, like Song of Ice and Fire. Honestly, you guys, go pick this series up. And the audiobooks are good. I’m pretty sure listened on audio. I’m like 90% sure.

Kate: The audio books are good. I don’t adore – she’s a good voice actor. I don’t quite adore the way she did Cat, because it’s first person and Sat to me has a – it’s always hard for me, because I have a distinct way of thinking about how Cat would be speaking and she’s a little too perky for my taste, but I don’t think it would bother other listeners.

Bree: I remember loving them. So yeah, it was one of my series that –

Kate: So yeah, but I think she’s very good. She’s, she’s very good and she’s very clear, you know everything is, and just, yeah. Anyway, so that’s my next publication and I’m very excited about that, especially as the illustrations are coming in now. So I get to see them there. Yeah, it’s a little daunting.

And for people who haven’t read Called Magic, you could pick up the collection because all the stories are written to have a beginning, a middle, an end. Some of them are separate enough from the main trilogy that you could read it without knowing anything about the world. And then even the ones that will have more resonance if you’ve read the books, still work as stories. It’s just they’ll have more resonance if you read the book. There’s a really funny Rory story in it that is funnier if you know more about him. But anyway, things like that. Yeah. So I just wanted to sell enough – anyway, I’m very nervous about that aspect of it.

Aradia: So everyone who’s listening to the podcast, there will be links in the description. You go and do all the follows and all the everything’s to make this work.

Ali: Yeah.

Kate: It’s not up for preorder yet. But it will be, someday.

Ali: Well, when it is, let us know. We’d be happy to shout it out on the pod.

Kate: Yes, I will. Hey, you know what? I can even get you, I can probably get you guys review copies.

Aradia: Ooooh?

Ali: Are you serious?

Kate: Oh, yes. Hold on, hold on, hold on. I got to find my page. Well, I’m going to write it on a separate piece of paper.

Bree: That would be awesome.

Aradia: And so links to everything else will be in the description. And then you all just have to wait for the retweets from us on this latest thing. I guess.

Kate: Okay, I will. I’ll put that in my – I have a page where I’m putting all the stuff, because I’m not – I don’t usually do this. I usually – this is one reason I published traditionally because I’m not good at all this other stuff.

Bree: Well, you know, you can slide into those DMs that are the only reason we still have Twitter.

Kate: And thank you. Thank you for offering. So I will, you guys, I will put you on the list. I know the publisher is going to ask me who I want review copy sent to so.

Ali: You are amazing. Kate. Thank you so much. Seriously.

Kate: No, thank you.

Bree: Okay, before we go. Would you like to shout out –

2:00:40 Back to the Wheel of Time show: A Feast of Women

Kate: Oh, before we go, I want to say something about the Wheel of Time show.

Bree: Okay, yeah, do it.

Kate: I don’t remember anybody’s name. First of all, I thank you so much for suggesting, for being so clear to me that you thought I would like it, because I love it. And absolutely my favorite character is, what’s her name, with the two boyfriends?

Aradia: Alanna!

Kate: Alanna. And the two boyfriends? What are their names?

Aradia: Ihvon and Maksim.

Kate: Thank you.

Aradia: Oh, she’s great.

Bree: She is amazing. In the show, like, the actress, who’s playing her?

Aradia: Her presence on social media is amazing.

Ali: Yes.

Kate: Oh, I didn’t know she was on social media.

Aradia: Oh, yeah. She’s constantly posting pictures and – she’s just Alanna.

Bree: Oh, yeah. You have to find her on Instagram.

Aradia: She just is Alanna, as far as I can tell. It’s great.

Ali: Yeah, she’s so cool.

Kate: But I love everybody. Everybody’s great.

Ali: Yeah. There’s not a weak link on that show. It’s unbelievable.

Kate: Who’s the blonde bad one?

Bree: Liandrin.

Ali: Liandrin, Kate Fleetwood, yeah.

Kate: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So in the first season, I was like, I was like, okay, she’s fine. She’s fantastic in season two!

Ali: Have you seen her in – There’s an adaptation, a movie adaptation of Macbeth, and she plays Lady M, with Patrick Stewart.

Kate: No!

Ali: It’s so stupid good. That’s what I knew her from originally. And so when people are like, Oh,Kate Fleetwood, I was like, Just wait. Just wait.

Kate: Wow, that blows my mind.

Ali: It’s really good. It’s really, really good. You should definitely check that out.

Kate: Wow. Okay. Yeah.

Aradia: I’d never seen before in anything, but the way that the show writers and Kate together turned a two dimensional mustache twirling villain into a compelling, fleshed out character that I can’t help but root for is just, mwah.

Kate: Yeah.

Ali: Yeah, she’s a powerhouse. I love her as an actress. Yeah. And her Lady M is something else. It’s something to see. And just her jawline is unreal. Yeah.

Kate: Her jawline is unreal.

Ali: Un. Real.

Bree: Yes. Amazing. And this is the thing. Like, you could just keep going, because there are so many roles for these women who are over 30 and, you know, just killing it, just awesome.

Ali: Sophie Okonedo, Rosamund Pike. Yeah. I mean, it’s just a cornucopia of incredible actresses in their 40s, 50s or 60s.

Kate: Amazing.

Ali: I mean, they’re so good and I’m just like, It’s a crime really, that Hollywood, like after you turn 35, all of a sudden they’re like, Who? Because I’m like, You’re getting even better. Like, you’re not, you never peak when you’re 35 in terms of your ability as an artist. I mean, my God, they’re so unbelievable.

Kate: Yeah. It’s such a, it’s just like, it’s when I watch it, I just feel so – I feel like I’m at a feast.

Aradia: Yeah, right. Yeah.

Kate: I mean, the all the actors are good, but it’s just this feast of women, and they’re older women and they’re all so good and – I have never seen a show with so many older women on it ever, ever.

Ali: And they’ve all got – to use a term you hate – agency, they’re all doing things, they’re all different, like they all have different personalities, different things that they’re doing.

Aradia: Different kinds of clothes.

Ali: They all may or may no be (pause) evil.

Kate: Or just complicated.

Ali: Yes! And that’s the thing that I love, too, is they’re really going into, I mean, isn’t it all very complicated when we’re at the end of the world? What is good and what is bad, who’s a monster and who isn’t, you know. And what you’re wrong about that, the consequences can be dire.

Kate: Yeah.

Ali: Yeah. So cool. I love it. I love it. And I love that you love it.

Bree: Yes. I was so excited.

Kate: I’m all for fantasy and science fiction TV, but it isn’t always what I want. And this one, and this is.

Bree: This is also like one of the reasons where, like, you know, like some of the guy fans will, like, get on after an episode. They’re like, Well, I want to nitpick this lore change and this lore change. And I’m like, Shut the fuck up. I just watched like seven women over 40 do political scheming. You go watch a different fantasy show. This one’s mine.

Ali: This one’s for the girls, gays, and theys. Get your own show.

Aradia: For sure.

Bree: Always plug in the Wheel of Time TV show. The books are a complicated mess that we love to, you know, dive deep on. But the TV show just gives me a lot of joy.

Ali: Can I also just say as a random aside, because obviously, the disability community is very near and dear my heart, that they had two women who were dwarves on this season, without like that being their plotline? Yeah, they just were there.

Aradia: Little people that just exist.

Ali: Hanging out. I just was so excited by that. I was like, first of all, usually you’d be the only one. And it’s like, that’s your whole reason for existing, and they just are there, hanging out, having a good time doing their scheming. And I love it. I just – Yeah, I love it.

Kate: Yeah.

Bree: Good job.

Ali: Makes me happy.

2:06:05 Wrap up, a big shout out to C.J. Cherryh

Bree: Before we go out, Kate, would you like to shout out any other women who were awesome, that you think maybe have not gotten enough attention or who might have faded from memory in a way that is not cool?

Kate: Oh, I wish you’d given me warning! But I’m going to, I’m just going to take the easy way out because it takes me too long to think. And I’m just going to say C.J. Cherryh, who never – I know she finally got named Grandmaster SciFi, but I don’t feel like she’s ever gotten the credit for being an incredibly groundbreaking writer who did stuff nobody else was doing, who opened the path for – she was doing a wide variety of women who were just people in her weird universes, her weird approach, just amazing stuff. She is a huge influence on me. I haven’t read actually anything by her in probably 20 years for whatever reason, I don’t know why, but I read so many of her books before I was published. And her stuff can be difficult. Her writing is very convoluted and dense, but it repays, to my mind, it repays reading – if you can find the one that speaks to you, because she’s written so many different things. Downbelow Station is the one she’s best known for. Might not necessarily be the best one to start with. Maybe her current Foreigner series. There was the Morgaine series is really – which I don’t remember the name of the first one. And then there’s one related, there’s books related to Downbelow Station and I’m completely blanking on the name, but I’ll get it to you so you can put it in your show notes, which is, I think, an easier one to start with. But it’s set at the same time as Downbelow Station, which is kind of this epic – which is the thing I want to say about Downbelow station is, it opens in a space station where refugees are flooding in from a war, and the point of view character is a young man who’s, but whatever. But anyway, the main force of all this is this, this fleet admiral or captain named Signy Mallory. And I swear, there had never been anyone like this woman written before in SF, because she is a powerful, very unpleasant woman who you totally believe as a character. And I just had never read anyone like her before. And she was, just to me she was like a, I don’t know, like a trope exploding character. At a time when I needed to read that as a young reader who myself was starting my journey of what I wanted to do. So I just, I’m a big fan of hers, even though I know she can be hard to read because of the density of her prose. But she should be shouted to the rooftops.

Ali: That’s a great recommendation.

Aradia: I will have her information and every other author that we mentioned throughout this entire episode will be listed in the show notes. So don’t worry everyone who has who has no term memory, the show notes got you. All the names are there.

Ali: The neurodivergents among us thank you.

Aradia: We are an accessible podcast, dammit.

Kate: And will say, she has a lot of neurodivergent characters, which wouldn’t have been identified that way then. But it’s obvious.

Ali: Yeah, we’ve always been there.

Aradia: Always! And we’re often the ones making the art. So I feel like, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I feel like part of the reason why I thought I was normal, or thought that I could be normal, was because all the art I was consuming was by not normal people, and they were all doing the same thing. I’m like, Oh, but just just a little off, just a little bit different and just this one little thing and it’s like, Oh, neurotypical people don’t write compelling novels that I get sucked into. Got it. Okay.

Ali: I mean, listen, not to speak to broadly, but I do think there has to be something wrong with you to want to be an artist, just like a little.

Kate: I can’t argue with that.

Ali: Just like a little bit.

Bree: The lack of object permanence in ADHD really does help you survive publishing. You forget how bad the publishing part is. You just keep going back to the writing part.

Kate: Yeah, exactly. Like terrible things will happen that will be horrible. And then three months later, you’re like, But I have this, oh, here, let me go, I got this new idea, right? And it’s like, it happened then, but now we’re-

Ali: But now is now. Exactly. Yeah. It’ll be different next time, somehow.

Aradia: What is insanity?

Kate: Yeah.

Bree: We wouldn’t know.

Ali: ADHD writing.

Kate: All right, I do actually really have to work. I have to finish this third book of this trilogy, but thank you. Fantastic.

Aradia: Thank you so much for being with us.

Bree: Thank you.

Ali: Thank you so much for listening. If you want to keep gabbing with us, our social media and contact details and also all the details for the episode are in the episode description. Until next time, have very nuanced day.