Hey everyone, welcome to Queerly Recommended the podcast where we recommend all the queer media that you could possibly hope for. I’m Tara and I review queer women’s fiction at The Lesbian Review, Lambda Literary, and Smart Bitches Trashy Books.
And I’m Kris Bryant. I’m a contemporary romance writer with a lot of books under my belts, about women loving women, and I write for Bold Strokes Books.
So if you would like to support the show, we have a link to our Ko-fi in the show notes, or you can visit ko-fi.com/queerlyrecommended that’s K-O dash F-I.com/queerlyrecommended. It is absolutely not necessary, you can just enjoy the show. That’s no big deal. But if you would like to support us, we would be happy for you to do so. I also want to give a couple of thanks to folks who have supported us recently through Ko-fi. Marie S supported us with the note: I’ve been a listener since the very first one.
Thanks for the great content. Marie, thank you so much for following us for this journey. I’m so glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed it. And LisaBookie shared: I just wanted to send a little thank you to a couple of my favorite queer content creators. Thank you, Lisa.
We really appreciate you
You were in Ptown. How was Women’s Week?
Okay, so Women’s Week was amazing. It was so good to get back to some sort of normalcy. And see my friends, to meet new readers. We actually had quite a few new readers.
So that was nice. The week was a little thin, the actual week because a lot of it happens on the weekend. So a lot of people come in like Thursday night, and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday. And so we had a big turnout on Saturday for books, buying books and things like that. So I was on a few panels. I did a Brown Bag with Melissa Brayden and Georgia Beers. And we did a Brown Bag. And I think almost all the videos. I don’t think that one. I don’t know if that recorded or not. But all of the panels that we did are on the Bold Strokes Books YouTube channel. So you can go back and watch them, for the people who weren’t able to make it. But it was fantastic. I such a great time. It was wonderful. It was great.
Well, you are missed. But hopefully in the meantime, folks enjoyed the bonus episode that we released instead of a regular episode with our commentary track for your favorite movie, Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Why did you make me do this?
Because neither of us likes horror movies. And we were doing something for Halloween and you are going to Ptown and we wanted to get another episode out.
I know. So the good news is so now that it’s getting into the holiday season, I’m going to make you watch a bunch of Christmassy gay movies. So get ready. Turn about, it’s fairplay. Just saying
Should we? Should we say? If any listeners, if there is a super queer Christmas movie that you get especially excited about, let us know. You can tweet at us you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, you can hit us up at any of our social channel DMS.
And if you love it, maybe we can do a commentary on it.
Yes. Or if we hate it. No, we love it.
So I think we’re one and one. I think we loved Ocean’s Eight. And then this one was like, two hour too long.
Yeah, you hated it. And I love the first hour and hate the second hour. I have complicated feelings about this film
Exactly. I feel like after one hour, it should have stopped. And that should have been the end. But the end dragged out to something that was well beyond my ability to appreciate. Because it was just too much. It was too much for me.
Well, that’s one too that like- so we were completely sober when we were doing it. And I’m actually not sure that not being sober would have helped.
Exactly we should next time, we’ll have to have a cocktail.
We should call it The Cocktail Commentary. Cocktail Commentary.
That’s a good name.
How do I make that queer? I don’t know.
I don’t know. Again if you have ideas, reach out to us.
Yes. I love alliteration. And if we’re gonna go with Cocktail Commentary, let’s try to keep it Queer. So let’s try to come up with a word that fits in that, but I don’t know. I’ll let our listeners be creative.
Mm hmm. Yes, please do. Speaking of listeners, it’s actually listener question time and there are a couple specifically for you. So yurific wants to know, “Does Brit Ryder have plans to bang out another hot book?”
Probably not for a couple of years, I am obligated to write four other books in the meantime. So I have to get those books written before I actually consider another Brit Ryder book. But yes, I mean, I love the responses to Brit Ryder, but I also need to pay my bills and contemporary romance does that. So erotica is gonna have to wait.
So if you were- follow up question from me, not yurific. If you were to write another Brit Ryder book, would you- because your first two are very, very tied to each other?
Would you write another one in that same, like with those same folks? Or would you branch out to totally different people?
I would branch out because I am not one who can do like a trilogy, or like the world building where people can do like a four series books. I can’t do that. Like I was surprised I did Shameless and Not Guilty. Like that, that that impressed- I impressed myself by being able to do that. So I can’t imagine tagging on another book with these characters. I just, I don’t know where it would go. So I would have to start fresh.
Alright, and what public place will your characters bang it out?
Um, I don’t know, I have to think about that
You have four book to consider.
Right? Right. During this time, as I’m editing and writing, I will think about what I could do, what Brit Ryder could do next? I’ll give it some thought.
Somewhat related, thematically I guess, KB asks, “Did you write the love scenes in Against All Odds? We know how much you like writing them. So I thought I would ask. I love this book”. And for people who don’t know, first of all, “What is Against all Odds? And why would people ask you that?”
Okay, so Against All Odds is a book that I wrote with two other Bold Strokes Books writers, Maggie Cummings, and M. Ullrich. And what it is, it’s kind of a thriller, where we have three points of view, the three of us each picked a point of view, and wrote a book about a serial killer who goes into a bridal shop to kill everybody, because he got rejected by his fiancee, and two survivors end up hooking up. And so his goal is to have 100% on this kill and so he goes after the other two characters who have since created- they formed a relationship and then they started it, you know, they started a relationship more than and friendship.
And so I wrote- since we all wrote a different character, I wrote one love scene. And then when we never say who wrote what, like, I mean, people probably know who wrote what character but I wrote a love scene. And then one of the other writers wrote a love scene. And for sure, I was like, red penning it. “No you can’t write this, nope you’ve got to elaborate more”, you know, I was I was very, teacherly about the whole love scene, sex scenes and the books because you know, they need to be good. Not that they weren’t already, but it was just, you know, I, you know how I am. I’m such a bossy cow. I’m a bossy cow, but it was a great experience. So I did write at least one of them, possibly two. And I wrote it four years ago so I’m not quite sure, I haven’t revisited the book.
But it’s a lot of fun. And I love writing sex scenes, because it’s like having sex in a way.
Uhhhhhh, well I feel like can you do elaborate on that? I know, you’ve talked about this before we have talked about in a past episode, but there might be people who haven’t heard it. Why do you like writing sex scenes? Why do you say it’s like having sex?
Well, it’s, it’s new and it’s fun and exciting, especially the very first scene between characters. You know, you build up this tension this whole time, you’re building up tension between these characters. And then when they finally do get together, it’s okay, what are they going to be like? They’re two different characters, they have two different sets of emotions, feelings, ideas behind sex. And so trying to write the perfect scene between these characters is very challenging, and I really enjoy it. I love it because it’s- they’re new characters, they’re new, quote, unquote, people. So writing the scenes, you know, I’ve written some scenes that where they didn’t get it, right, you know, where it’s kind of messy and awkward, which sometimes happens in real life. And then I’ve written scenes where it’s like, seamless and smooth, which how we all want sex to go. And sometimes they really do happen where we, you know, everything falls into place. And so I just like seeing if these characters really hit it off right away, or if there’s gonna be a little bit of awkwardness and so it’s just getting there. I just love to build up.
What is harder to write, the first sex scene or the first kiss?
You know the build up for first kiss is hard. It really is hard. Because you just can’t kiss, there has to be consent, there has to be, you know, like, “Why are these people kissing in the first place?” I mean, when they get to sex, you know, they’re having sex because they are at that point in the relationship, where that’s where they’re at. But the kiss, you never know, if, you know, the character makes a move, if it’s gonna be the right time, the right place you just don’t know. And I love it when it just comes together. Like I had one- I had characters have sex in a book that happened way too soon, I was not ready for them to have sex. And they did.
So that was in Whirlwind Romance,chapter nine. It’s a big one.
Now I have another question. This is going to turn into the Tara interviews Kris Bryant, author, podcast apparently. So are you a pantser? Or are you a plotter or an outliner?
I am 100% a pantser. I have no idea what’s going to happen. And it upsets my editor in chief so much because I turn in proposals that are like, not even a page long. And she’s always like, “Hey, where’s the conflict?” I’m like, “I don’t know.”
We’re gonna find out.
Right we’re gonna find out and like, and it’s so funny because she always taught- I cannot believe that there are people like this, like me, this this much like me, that get away with it. Because you know, Sandy’s very, “Okay, like, I know that you’re gonna have conflict, and I know that you’re gonna have angst, but you need to give me something.” And I’m like, “I don’t know, you’re just gonna have to trust me”. And it’s like, and like the ending I- they’re gonna- I always say, “And they end up happily ever after” in all my proposals because I don’t know how they’re gonna get there and when I was in Ptown, on one of the panels, we were discussing, getting to the end of the book, and my book Forever, that I just turned in for edits. I didn’t get to the ending until three days before it was due.
Oh, my God. Was that stressful?
It was actually- Oh, my God. Yeah, but I trust myself, I’m always like, “You’re gonna find it, just let it happen”. And so when I get to that point, instead of continuing to write, because I’m just filling, I just have to step away and just let my brain think about it. And I’ll watch like something mindless some cooking show, and all of a sudden, like, “I got the ending, there it is”.
So it happened three days- it was actually two days before it was due. But I turned it in a day late.
It was- yeah, I just, that’s I don’t even know how to do an outline. I would never follow an outline. Because I’m so it’s the character. I’m character driven. So the emotions and the it’s not necessarily the actions of the character. It’s not necessarily like what they do for a living or the plot. It’s all emotion. It’s character driven. So I have no idea what’s going to happen. Like no clue. I don’t know what the angst is gonna be. I don’t know what the conflict is going to be. I just don’t know.
That’s pretty fun.
It is. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it. So far, so good.
Yeah. Okay, so we have a question for both of us.
Sheena from The Lesbian Review asks, “What’s the scariest thing you have ever faced? Like ghosts, etc. Not real world stuff. We don’t need more real world- That’s hard to say real world bullshittery. Bullshittery is a word I can say. It’s a word. So what about you?
Um, okay, so I had to do a lot of thinking because I don’t have a lot of scary stuff in my background. I used to be terrified of dogs. I don’t think that counts. It’s a it’s a phobia that I conquered. So I kept thinking and something that you know, that I don’t think I’ve ever revealed to the listeners is that when I was a kid my parents took up a hobby.
I love this. I love this so hard.
I was probably nine the first time they took our whole family for War of 1812 Reenacting. That’s right, we drove all over Ontario. We went into Michigan, Ohio, we went to Ohio a lot actually, there’s a historical fort there. We went to New York State once. And we probably did like 10 weekends a year or something like that. That was just with the kids. Sometimes my dad would go on for other ones as well. That was like, it was my dad’s passion. My mom had enough friends and she had fun and it was fine. And I had friends but I hit a point I think when I was 16 when I could finally put my foot down and say “I’m not going I am not. I am not going I’m staying home. Fuck this. I don’t want this. I’m not doing this. You all go live your lives. I’m not doing this”. And so yeah, Kris has seen the photos.
Yeah. Yeah, it was a thing. And so when I was thinking about it’s like, what’s the spookiest? I like I can’t say anything like legitimately scary happened, right? But probably the spookiest thing that I can think of for like my life if we’re leaving real world bullshittery out of it. Like-
how can you can say that and I can’t?
I don’t know, man, I’m special I guess.
Real world… see I have a hard time. Real world, real world, world world.
We’ll see. Maybe it’s an accent thing.
Maybe? All you accented people.
Yeah all of us. It’s all of us. It’s not you.
Well, Sheena asked the question. It’s probably like rolls off her tongue. In a sexy way, of course, right?
In that amazing South African accent.
Ah so probably the spookiest was we did a reenactment at Fort Niagara in New York State. And what made this reenactment different than anywhere else, is that we actually got to stay in one of the fort’s buildings.
And so it’s this, like, you know, well, at that point, it would have been nearly 200 years old. We’re reaching back quite a bit now. So it’s more than 200 years old at this point. But it’s like gigantic stone. It’s cold. It’s dark. It’s creepy, because usually we’re staying in our own tents. And like, for sure this place was haunted, right? I don’t even know that I actually believe in ghosts. But like, if a place is haunted, that place is. It’s fucking haunted. It’s like, it was one of those like, in the middle of night. Did I want to have to get up and use the bathroom? “No, thank you, ma’am. I will wait until it is morning. And there is light. And I don’t walk anywhere. Because fuck this place, fuck everything about it.” So yeah, that is my story. I feel like I’ve revealed the most embarrassing part of my childhood now. So you’re all welcome. What about you? What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever faced?
Okay. So this is a hard question for me because I have an older sister who my whole entire life has scared the living shit out of me. Like at every chance, every turn she could, she was always constantly scaring me. So I have actually, like, now as an adult, it’s everybody’s like, goal at my work is to scare me because I have for years, I have completely internalized all of that, so that I don’t get scared visually outside, you know, nobody can like scare me. They just yeah, it’s just one of those things where my sister has scarred me for life.
So you know, and I used to, we used to crawl around in the old castle ruins. You know, in Germany when I was a kid, and I would get stuck behind. I was small. I was teeny tiny, thin when I was a child. And I could slip through the bars and nobody else could I could go in these castles. And anyways, that was kind of cool. And my sister would like, “Oh my God, there’s somebody behind you”. And of course, you know, I’m panicked tried to slip through the bars. That was one thing. But this is kind of a funny story. And it was scary. And it happened. It was just weird. It was a really weird story. And I can’t believe I’m sharing this with you. But I’m going to and I feel like I’ve shared this story with somebody recently. So hopefully it wasn’t already on our podcast, but so it’s a little embarrassing, but I was as the very first time I ever masturbated. Thank you. This is a masturbation story that is also very scary.
We’re getting vulnerable.
I know, very vulnerable. So I’m sitting there and like, I have the house to myself, obviously. I think I’m a young teenager. I’m not quite sure how old I was. Anyway, so like, I’m like, I’m masturbating. And I’m like, this kind of feels good. And I’m like doubting everything in my life. Should I be doing this? And I asked the question, “If this is wrong, to do give me a sign”. And I’m not even joking. I’m not even lying like this still carries to this day. Several years later, the smoke alarm went beep.
Yeah, my smoke alarm beeped, and it wasn’t like, it just failed right then. It wasn’t a like, you know, when the battery goes out, like every two minutes or whatever it could be. It just beeped once and it never beeped after that and so I like didn’t masturbate my whole entire teens after that.
Yes, this is a true story.
That is wild. That is one judgy fucking smoke alarm.
And now look at me. I love sex. I’m writing about sex. I write books about sex. So like that kind of backfired on whoever was warning me not to do that. Yeah, so.
Yeah, that would be terrifying.
It was very terrifying as a as a young adult. Yeah, not even young though. Teen, I really don’t know. We were in our house, so I had to have been about 13, probably.
I thought when you were doing the lead in talking about your sister, it made me think of my favorite story about your sister ever.
I have so many.
I know, stories about your sister on this podcast have been just a gift to me personally, I don’t even know- I don’t. I hope other listeners are enjoying them. But for me, like my favorite thing ever is you talking about how she tricked you into going to see The Ring.
That romantic comedy?
Yeah, so my sister’s a total brat our whole lives. She’s always been a total brat. And we were constantly pranking my parents. And when we first moved to United States, we lived in a townhouse, which was like townhouses here are tall, narrow, they have like three different stories. The bedroom story. Like upstairs, there was three bedrooms and the bathroom. The middle section was you know, the dining room in the living room, the kitchen. And then the lower was like a bedroom, washroom, bathroom and just like a like a, like a family room. And so three stories, so as at the very, very top and I was putting on- I’d gotten out my bedroom. I was putting on roller skates. And my sister was washing dishes and my mom was downstairs, washing laundry. So we’re on all three levels. And my roller skate fell down the stairs. My sister comes running, she was like, “Oh my god, I thought you fell”. She’s like, “Oh, let’s pretend like you did!” She goes “So go down the stairs and like, you know, sit backwards, with your legs up on the stairs and like your back all crinkled up”, and she goes “And we’ll just pretend like you fell”. And she’s like, “I’m gonna go get ketchup. I’m gonna get ketschup and I’m gonna tell mom you fell.”
So she’s like, ketchup up in the ear. So I got ketchup in my ear. And then my mom comes, she races downstairs at you know, my mom hears noises all the time. Like, it’s we’re always like roughhousing it just-
And so my mom comes upstairs. And you know, my mom, God love her. She has put up with so much crap from us. You know, she’s screaming and hollering and like, I had to laugh. You know, I just I couldn’t hold it any longer. But yes, yeah. So yeah. So we’re, she’s very, she’s very creative. My sister is extremely creative. And she loves to scare, like I said, and yeah, so she gets me going with The Ring. “Hey, let’s go see a romantic comedy. It’s called The Ring”. Sure, okay.
I just imagine there’s just like a little part of her brain that’s governed by a demon.
It’s truth. And then she loves to. She just loves scary movies and everything about scaring me and I’m like, I’m like for her to get me to scare me now it takes a lot. It takes a lot. But what she does, she celebrates hard.
I bet she does. Oh, my God. All right. So what have you been reading or watching recently?
So since I was gone for so long, I fell behind on everything. So my DVR was like full. I didn’t even know where to start. So you know, I’m watching all the The Walking Dead, The World Beyond, Fear the Walking Dead. The actual Walking Dead. I’m all caught up on that. I started The Great British Baking Show. They have a new season. But here’s the shitty part. It’s the week. Every week they drop a new episode. It’s like Ted Lasso. So it’s like come on, just drop it all at once. So I could binge watch the shit out of it for eight hours. And then I can move on. But no, I have to try to remember that it’s on every week. I forget. Yeah, I don’t like it. You know, the pandemic has has made us all hate that. Because everything is so readily available that now when new shows start- Oh, yeah. Survivor. I’m watching Survivor, which is also a weekly show. And it’s just hard. It’s hard to get back into that. I am angry. I’m angry about it.
All right. Well, yeah. Listen, media companies drop it all at once.
Okay, so what about you Tara, what have you been watching or reading or playing or any of that?
So I have been playing a game on our PS4 like it is a job and it is not queer but it should be. It’s called Persona 5 Royal it is a turn based JRPG. Almost when you play it at the easiest level, which is what I’m doing, because I don’t want to die and have to start over again. I’m very much of the Fuck That School of Gaming. So the idea is that you are this teenager who gets arrested because you stop this dude from forcing a woman to get into his car. It’s very clear. He’s going to like take her home and rape her and I’m like, fuck that. Fuck you. And so this kid gets arrested and for some reason gets sent to some other town for probation. It’s like he can’t stay where he is. And this all takes place in Japan, and he gets there. And basically, kind of like ends up with a group of friends. And it’s- The theme, basically, maybe this is a better way to say it, the theme basically, is that the kids are all right. It’s the grownups that are the problem. And so it’s them kind of along the way dealing with like, corrupt adults, predators like that kind of thing, one by one taking them on by going into what they call The Metaverse, which is why it was particularly hilarious to me that Facebook rebranded, and they’re like, “We’re gonna own the whole metaverse”. And I’m like, “But that’s where you go to steal people’s treasures and change their hearts”.
Well, that’s kind of true.
Well, on Facebook, yeah.
Yeah. Right. We’re gonna steal all your monies, and we’re gonna poison your hearts.
Right? Change your mind on things.
Oh, my God, we’re gonna turn you into QAnoners. Uh, yeah. And that’s sort of the like you, you basically go into this other world that’s kind of layered on top of the real world. And in there, you’re kind of finding this, it’s like, what is the thing that this bad person most desires, and you end up like reforming them by taking this metaphysical version of that thing. I recognize that as I’m explaining this, it sounds stupid. So the better proof point is that I have played 124 hours of this game in the last month.
Oh, my goodness.
Yes. I took the first full week of October off, and I think I put 55 hours in just that week. Like, I played it like, it was my job. And I was working overtime.
Right? That’s like 10 hours a day. What are you doing?
Yeah, it is so good. And honestly, so my only real complaint is that it’s not queer. And it absolutely should be queer, because there is a dating element to it. So you can date- you can basically date any of your female friends. There are also some adults you can date even though you’re a student and I’m like, “No, no, I’m not gonna do that”. Like, again, the the ethics of this world are a little iffy to me in some cases, but I wish he could date the boys because I ship him with one of the villain boys. Oh my God, they have such amazing chemistry. And although Neil was like, “Wouldn’t it be problematic though, if like, one of the bad guys is gay?” And I’m like, “Yeah. True”. I mean, if he was the only gay character, then I think it would be a big problem, but I don’t think it’s that bad. Like if he can date any of the boys. Wouldn’t that be an amazing twist, though?
Like, he has this like super big, awesome energy. They have amazing chemistry and they’re dating and then Dun Dun Dun! He’s a bad guy. I thought that would be incredible. But they didn’t ask me what I think so.
No, they didn’t.
Once I finished playing I will probably go and dive into some fanfic and see- I can’t be the only person whose thought this. There’s a 0% chance that I am the only one. In terms of what we’ve been watching. So we’ve started watching Mystic Quest, which is on Apple TV. It has- one of the leads is one of the guys from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the brother with the dark hair. Rob? I don’t know how to pronounce his last name.
I’ve never watched it.
Oh, I don’t know if I recommend it or not. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it. I think it’s one of those shows that people either really, really love or really, really don’t love. But Mythic Quest is a completely different show. And it’s about a video game company. And specifically, it’s a game that makes an MMOs like a massively multiplayer online role playing game. And it does have queer content, because there’s these two QA testers, and one of them is a lesbian and she has a massive crush on this girl who is also a tester. And I think that girl might have a crush right back on her. I’m so early in it. They’re so cute together. And I’m really really, really, really, really hoping they get together. I think they probably will. The show is giving me vibes that it’s gonna happen.
And it’s- I don’t know, like, it’s fun. It’s funny. It deals with real world issues in video gaming, and I’m liking it a whole lot. And the other thing that I’ve been doing- so we haven’t talked about other podcasts before, and there is a podcast I’ve been listening to that I super, super love called Maintenance Phase. It is not specifically about queer issues, but the two hosts are queer and so they kind of bring that lens to some of what they’re talking about. And my way in was through recent episodes they did talking about Rachel Hollis. Do you know who she is?
Yeah, so basically talking about like, what a problem Rachel Hollis is. And I was like, “Okay, I’m really enjoying this”. And then I went back one further episode, and they were talking about Marianne Williamson. And I was like, “Oooooh. Okay. I like this very much”. And then I kind of went through and there’s actually a lot about like, fad diets and like, “What is the history of certain wellness trends?” And so, you know, they talk about the company Moon Juice, and they talk about the the history of the keto diet, and, um, that kind of stuff, but it was really- it’s, yeah, I love it. So the hosts are Michael Hobbes. He’s a journalist for The Huffington Post. And then Aubrey Gordon, who writes the Your Fat Friend column for I forget which magazine, and she also wrote kind of a book related to that. And so it’s a very- like the perspective comes across as like, very intersectional. Very aware of class issues, very aware of race issues.
So modern day problems, modern day issues.
Yes, but related to health. And kind of like how health and the wellness industry have been. And the media and all kinds of social forces have been trying to trigger- have been tricking us into really bad, sometimes dangerous choices and behaviors. And like the episode about Olestra was super interesting. Because I kind of- I do remember that phase like 20 years ago when I was like, “Here you go. It’s a no fat chips. It still tastes like chipes?
Was that the anal leakage ones?
Yes! Which it turns out…I’m going to do a spoiler on that episode. You’ll have to go listen to the whole thing to get the full goods on it,was actually not true.
Yes. Yes. So it’s like they’re debunking what we think we know about some of these things. So like, yeah, because Jay Leno was making jokes about like sharting oil, but nobody actually did that.`
That’s funny. But the first thing, it’s so weird, because I was just thinking about that, like three days ago or something. I was in the shower, like nothing to do with anything. But I was actually thinking about the movie that has the whole scene with the healthy chips and “Hey, don’t eat those because they cause anal leakage”. It was something with Jason Bateman…
Oh was it him and Melissa McCarthy?
It wasn’t Identity Thief. It was something from a long time ago. I want to say it was the one where Christina Applegate and- she falls for the oh hell I don’t remember.
I don’t think I’ve seen it.
No, but it’s pretty funny because Jason Bateman’s like “You don’t want to eat those because that causes anal leakage”. And that was about the time it was really really big, when his came out. Yeah, it’s pretty funny. So they talk about current and past?
Current and past. So you know, for example, they have an episode on Dr. Oz. They’ve just- the most recent episode. So by the time our- by the time people are listening to this, there might be one more episode out.
But the most recent one that I’ve listened to as of this recording is an episode about a book and fitness video that Angela Lansbury did.
Wow, she was eighty then.
Are you sure she wasn’t born eighty?
Yeah, she might have been born eighty, you’re right.
Oh, my God. She’s still alive. Which also I didn’t know. But she is, she’s still alive. She’s 96. Good for her.
Oh, you looked it up. I was just gonna look it up. So. So I was close she was almost eighty?
Yeah, she probably was. So I just, I don’t know, if you’re looking for another podcast where like, yeah, some of the information that’s shared can be a little dark because you know, pharmaceutical companies, right? The fucking worst. But it never feels dark. And they give really strong content warnings for the ones that might be the roughest. Like there’s an episode on eating disorders where they give a gigantic content warning right at the beginning of that. And yeah, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s been super entertaining, super informational. And I’ve just been like finding excuses to keep listening to it. So Kris.
It’s that time. What is your official recommendation this week?
Okay, so my official recommendation is the audio book of 2017’s bestseller, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. And that’s written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. So here’s the deal. So why didn’t somebody tell me about this book sooner?
Everybody told you about this book!
No. Nobody told me.
Oh my god. Lesbian Book Twitter, lesfic authors, lesbian readers have been going nuts about it forever. I haven’t read it yet.
Recently! So I missed it the time this all went down because I was probably doing something like not tweeting. And I wasn’t paying attention or I was like writing a book. Who knows? But I just I noticed recently that like, it came around again. So you and I kind of chatted last night a little bit about- because I’m like, “I don’t know how to explain this book. I don’t know how to explain this book at all without a) giving away anything and b) just coming up with the words”. So I’m going to have to read the blurb. I’m just going to have to read the blurb, so I’m gonna read the blurb. And again, my recommendation is the audio book, and I’ll explain why.
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job. No one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband David has left her and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen to write her biography. Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls – there’s another word I stumbled over. Jesus – her story from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s. And of course the seven husbands along the way.
As Evelyn’s life unfolds, revealing a ruthless ambition and unexpected friendship and great Forbidden Love, Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.
Dun dun dun.
I know. And so, I really had no interest you know, just listening to the blurb I’m like, “Meh, okay.” So then one of my friends Morgan, she said, “You really need to read this book, I need you to stop doing everything and read this book. Read this book, read this book, read this book”. So she was like chirping in my ear. And I said, “Okay, look, I don’t have a lot of time right now. You know, I have a full time job. I have all these deadlines coming up. You know, I sell on eBay, I’m doing this podcast”. So I said, “Okay, I’m going to listen to the audiobook on the way to PTown since I drove and that’s 24 hour drive for me”. So let me tell you, I was absolutely captivated. Like within five minutes, I was invested. Five minutes ofan audiobook.
Yeah, I was 100% invested. And I’m really not an audiobook kind of person. You know, I like reading words. I like books. I like Kindle. I like to be able to stop and move on and do other things at the same time. But I’m so happy that I listened to the audiobook. This is three narrators, three narrators on this book, and it was absolutely magical how they did it. It blew my mind. So the reason why I did this, besides Morgan chirping in my ear is because you know, I’m a curious person. And I like gossip and who doesn’t love Hollywood and the whole glamour? And think about like, “kay, so you’re a woman in Hollywood, it’s 50s 60s 70s 80s, like, there’s so much uphill battles and just real life during that time for women”. And so I can’t imagine you know, it was probably 100 times worse than Hollywood. You know, and I absolutely I fell in love with the characters.
You know, Evelyn Hugo, she’s an unapologetic, ruthless, ambitious woman who literally clawed her way to the top. And you know, this book is all about relationships. It’s about why they happen and everything that was this book was believable to me. I believed everything the relationship whether it was mother, daughter, friends to lovers, longtime friendships, longtime lovers, business relationships, queer relationships, it was all in there. And so you know, it’s kind of like if you like heart wrenching stories that will shred you, but also empower you at the same time, you know, then this book is for you because I cried. I sobbed. I laughed. I cried some more. I did the ugly cry, you know, where it’s like, I’m driving along and I’m sure people were passing me and looking at me and I’m like, crying. I’m snotting and they’re probably like, “Oh, this poor lady. Oh, she’s got a full car”. You know, my car was packed. It was packed because I was on a trip. They probably thought “Oh, she probably just left her partner or something something bad. happened to her because she’s in her car crying”. And really, I’m just listening to this audiobook, and I’m on my way to have the best time of my life.
So, so yeah, so not only did I listen to it on the way to Ptown, but then I turned around, and I listened to it on the way home. Like, so I listened to it twice. It was that good. That good. It was amazing. So, you know, I love the story so much, because it is the kind of story that I want to write. You know, I want to write the layers and the depths and the emotions and the twists and turns and the heartbreak and love you know, I loved it as a writer from the writers perspective and how well this book was written. But a part of my soul died as a reader from this book.
Hmmm. Well, it’s so, I haven’t read it. I do want to read it. I’ve seen a lot. Especially like Rach from The Rainbow Literary Society, formerly Les River. I know she loves it. I’ve seen some authors talking about it. I’m trying to remember if it was Mahna Mahna. Why can I say this right now?
See! Now it’s your turn. HAHA.
Damn it. It’s viral. It’s viral. Monica McAllen or Haley Cass. I can’t remember which, it might have been both.
So that’s why it’s on Twitter. And that’s why, you know, I think this like group of writers reread it or started to read it. And so then it kind of leaked out and Morgan was part of that group. So I’m just like, “Okay, fine”, cuz it’s been on like bestseller lists and has like a bajillion reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. And, you know, I tend to stay away from mainstream books only because, you know, I like to support my own writers and my queer community. So I don’t like to really go there. Because there’s so much to choose from now. I don’t have to, like seek it out in mainstream. But this is a book that just like, seriously, it’s like your nagging little sister saying, “Do this, do this, do this, do this”. And so I finally said, “Fine, I’ll do it. Because I love you. And I’ll do this”. And so I did. And it was like the best advice I had received this whole month.
So my impression of it, and I’d love you can confirm or deny, is that it is not a romance, but there is a very strong romantic element to it.
Um, how do I want to say this?
Like there is a love story, but it’s not a romance novel.
It’s a journey. It’s a journey. It’s a journey of romances. It’s a journey of life. It’s a journey of just trying to live your truths and the painstaking way that you go about doing it. And I truly can’t recommend this enough. And I feel like if Taylor gets more like- if all sudden everybody runs out and gets the audiobook because I recommended it. I really want a cut.
Give Kris her nickel. No, I mean, basically what I was saying is like, because there is this perception that all lesbian books are romances, and all books recommended by lesbian Twitter are romances. Like I’m just saying, like, people should not expect this to be like a typical?
You are going to try to make me say something. I’m not gonna say something.
No, I, what I’m trying to do is set up people for the right expectations, because I think it’s okay if it’s not a romance, but I don’t want people to read it and be like, “But I was expecting- I was expecting something that I didn’t get”. Do you know what I mean? Like, I’m not saying giveaway if it’s a happy ending or not. I’m saying don’t expect-
I’m saying. I read it, and you did not. So you can’t guess what it was about. I’m just saying as a romantic person. As a romance writer. This book did not disappoint me. How’s that?
Okay, okay, that works. That absolutely works. The reason I feel so strongly about it is because I’ve seen some really incredible lesbian books get dinged in lesfic Good Reads-
Ah, Good Reads.
-because it’s not a romance, even though it was never marketed as a romance. You know what I mean? Like this idea that like all lesbian fiction can only be romance or it’s going to like get two stars on Goodreads or something like that. I just think that’s not fair.
Its- I mean, it’s not your typical- Well, shit. I can’t even say that, like, I just can’t talk about it. I can’t say what it is. It’s, it’s just it was so uniquely done. And there is obviously strong romance in it. There’s so much in this, I was not disappointed. There was a lot of history, a lot of signs of the times type thing. So it’s just-
Well, how about this? Is it fair to say, you’ve never read anything quite like it before?
Is it fair to say? Is it fair to say? It’s true. For sure. It’s so uniquely written that- I mean, the story’s been told 1000 times but it was so uniquely written that it was amazing, like absolute like, truly, this is what I strive for. And you know, Taylor’s like, probably like, I don’t know how old she is, like 12 or something. She’s really young. It’s like, wow, you wrote this amazing book at such a young age. And here I am, like, “I like you. Do you like me? Let’s go out”. You know, those are my books. And so
Yeah, but you’re 24.
That’s right, she’s probably older than me. That’s true. You are right.
You’re doing the best you can and you’re just a baby.
So yeah, it was just an amazing book and and yay, to everybody who pushed it for me to actually listen to it and… and! So I was talking about it so much at Ptown that other people picked it up too. Melissa Brayden started reading it. She was actually reading the book. And so I go, I found her book on her table and I was like, “Oh, where are you?” So I like had to open up to where she was to see where or she wasn’t like, I’m like, we can’t talk about it yet. And so yeah. And so everybody always talks about like the last line of a book and like I strive for the perfect last line. And for sure, this person nailed it. Like the best last line of a book ever. I hope I’ve convinced you and other listeners to listen to the audiobook of this. And it requires, like, it’s not one of those where you can listen to it and like vacuum and do stuff, like I literally was in a car driving, hanging on to every word because every word’s important in this book, you just can’t you know, it’s not like a fluffy romance. You have to like literally listen to what’s going on.
It’s not fluffy. It’s still a romance ish. But it’s not fluffy. You stop it.
Goddamit. You got so mad. When I asked you that only to tell on yourself.
It’s not fluffy. It’s not fluffy! Is it a romance? I’m not gonna answer that. But it’s not a fluffy romance. I write fluffy romance. This is not a fluffy romance.
Some of your romances are fluffy, and some of your romance are not.
That’s true. But for the most part, they’re fluffy. Some of them are, most of them.
Your airplane romance is not fluffy.
Listen was not a fluffy romance. Listen.
Oh I love that one.
I truly love that book. And it was funny, because when we were in Ptown, I was telling people, you know, Bold Strokes Books, they brought all the books that were available for the writers who were there, but only the books that were printed in 2021. So any previous books, you had to go to a different store to get. And the different store didn’t have this- didn’t have a back only like a couple of books of like my back list. And so there’s only one copy of Listen there. And it was very sad, cuz that went fast since I was like trying to pimp it. But you know, so yeah, it was a good book. I really, I was proud of myself for that book.
Well, that’s like, honestly, as a person who lives with anxiety, that was one of the books that I read that I was like, “Nice.”
Like, I really appreciated getting to see like, it’s not- It’s not like my experiences are exactly the same, but it was still really nice to see some of my experience reflected on the page.
Yeah, I figured it was important to write, especially with mental health, you know, being such a big topic of the last five years of finally, you know, they they’re bringing it to light and how important it is and, and that I just said, you know, I’m going to do this because I feel this way and I know that a lot of readers are very introverted people too. And anxiety is a thing, you know, it really is. And I wanted to bring that to light and say that it’s okay to have it. It’s okay to have a relationship, to be in relationships with people who have, you know, extremely crippling anxiety because it is a true thing. And they, they deserve love, just like everybody else. So.
Okay, so we’re recommending two books here: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Listen by Kris Bryant.
Oh my gosh. Okay, so, enough about that. Get that audiobook. It’s amazing. It’ll change your life. I want you to listen to it, to DM me. And we can talk about some more because I need to talk to people about the ending and about this whole book in general. So anyway, so enough about that. What is your recommendation this podcast, Tara?
So my recommendation is actually a graphic novel. And it’s YA and it is Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Lisa Sterle. So I’m pretty sure in previous episodes of this here podcast I’ve talked about Maggie Tokuda-Hall and she had a YA fantasy last year called The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea. And I just- I loved it and again, completely highly, highly recommend it. Very queer. Very awesome. So when I heard the premise of Squad and knowing how much I love The Mermaid, The Witch and The Sea because she’s the writer, Lisa Sterle does the drawing. She’s an artist, she’s the artist.
So just knowing how much I love Maggie Tokuda-Hall’s writing, when I heard the premise of Squad, I actually pre ordered the hardcover. I don’t read anything in like a hard. Like, I don’t read paperbacks, I don’t read hard covers. I don’t read any of that anymore. But I made an exception here. And I am so glad that I did. I also ordered it and forgot. And then it arrived when I was in the middle of a staycation, which was the perfect thing, because I started reading it at bedtime one night, and I read the whole thing in one shot, and I stayed up way too late. And it was 100% worth it. And I was super excited. I was like, “Neilread this book, go read it”.
So the premise is that it all kind of focuses on Becca. Becca is starting at a new high school. And she’s invited to join the popular girls-
Right off the bat?
And she’s a little- pretty much right off the bat. She’s kind of baffled by this. She also makes a couple of other friends with like non-popular people, which was nice, because again, showing the idea that you can have friends with more than one group like, this can be real. But she’s invited to join the popular girls. And she learns not too long after that they’re all werewolves. They prey on other boys who are predators like sex pets and rapists, that kind of thing. I mean, no, you don’t actually see anyone, getting there is nobody getting sexual assault, sexually assaulted in this but like, basically they prey on the creepy boys. And they want her to become a werewolf too.
How do you become a werewolf?
(oddly long pause) I forget.
We all know how to become vampires. But-
um, I think it’s a- I think it’s a- I think it’s a biting situation in this.
Okay, sorry. I did not mean to interrupt. I’m gonna look, you keep talking. Well, it’s
Well it’s like a- like you get turned basically. I think. Oh, you mean like in the lore of these things. I don’t?
How does one become a werewolf?
I mean, I have to think it’s either a biting thing. Yeah.
Yeah. It says, “To become a werewolf it is necessary to be bitten by a werewolf in their wolfish form at the time of the full moon”.
Well, there you go.
Okay. Sorry. Please continue.
So choose accordingly if there’s a full moon Are you going out or-
I’m gonna be a vampire. I’m a vampire all the way.
So would you rather be a vampire than a werewolf.
For sure. Ask me why.
Okay, yeah. Why?
Because- I can’t believe I totally hijacked this. I’m so sorry.
No. Do it. Do it do it do it.
Okay, because then I could stay awake all the time. I could write more, I could do more. I would never sleep. I never go out anyway, I’m constantly on my couch with all the curtains pulled because I have a light sensitivity thing where I can’t have light in front of me. I can’t have light to the side of me. I’m a hot mess. So like, I can stay inside. Not no sun. Like I can do that. And I’m a night owl. I like to be out at night. I like to do things at night, I like to stay up late. Like I would totally be a vampire. But I have to lose 20 pounds before somebody changes me. Because I need to be in the body I’m happy with for the next eternity. So.
Well maybe this would force you to embrace the idea of radical self love. No matter what you gotta love your body no matter what size it is. It’s still a good body, still a strong body
It’s a still strong, good body. It’s a softie body and if I’m going to live with this body for the rest of my life, I am going to have to ask you to please don’t bite me until I’m ready. And you know, the next full- I’d say give me two full moons and then I’ll be at the place where I need to be.
You’ll do a quick cut.
A quick cut and then we’re good. Okay,
Okay, so back to your recommendation.
Oh my god. You don’t even want to know if I would rather be a werewolf or a vampire.
Oh, I’m sorry! You’d rather be a werewolf because you were like, “What? You want to be a vampire?”
Well, mostly because I don’t think I would want the the whole not being able to walk around during the day. So I think it would depend on like, which, which, like, are we going with traditional general vampire or- because I’m still reading The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl and in her version, vampires can go out during the day, but nobody wants to interact with them because they’re just creeped out by them. And it’s like, “I can live with that”. Becuase you could still buy stuff at the store.
Or, you can go be Twilight and be gemmafied, sparkly. Yes, you could be sparkly.
I mean, we’re already queer. Why not be sparkly and queer?
I want to be the sparkly vampire. Like when I’m in the- when I’m in the bed of flowers and the sun shining on me. I don’t burn. But instead I sparkle like that. That to me is-
I think it’s perfect.
I think so too. Okay.
It’s perfect. So why do I like this? I really liked the writing, I found it really compelling. It’s, you know, tackling some complex issues in a kind of different and interesting way. You know, there’s a lot of patriarchy smashing that’s at the center of this, like, it’s very much a deliberate choice of who they’re going to go after, when they need to hunt every month. And it turns into some really kind of interesting conversations later in the book where there’s a question of like, “Are we losing our way? Are we losing kind of are the ethical core at what we’re doing?” There’s also some stuff there about Becca’s relationship with her mom. And you know, as a mother, reading that, like it felt kind of like a little tender, a little raw, like I can see how it gets that way. Like I remember what my relationship with my mom was like, when I was in high school, and I’m already not super looking forward to that stage where, you know, my daughters are pulling away emotionally because that’s a part of growing up. And there is also you know, Becca does end up- she has a crush on one of her friends. And what does she do with that? You know, she knows she’s queer. They don’t know that she’s queer. How is that going to go? I goes pretty well.
Well, look, it’s giving away spoilers now?
Listen, I don’t care.
I know this book is. So this. Is this a new one? This is new.
Yes It’s quite new. It came out October 6th or 7th I think? The art is great. And kind of the color palette reminds me of almost like an 80s or 90s- Like not, not a fluorescentty?but more pastelly? I don’t know if that makes any sense with like the blues and the pinks and the yellows and all of that. Like, it’s just- it’s so good. If you have a teenage queer in your life, definitely pick it up for them for Christmas. If you would like to read it for yourself, pick it up as well. I’m glad I got the hardcover like this is gonna be one that it’s worth going back to and I cannot wait for my kids to be old enough to read it. So I I think that’s it. That’s all for this episode. Thank you so much everyone for joining us. If you enjoyed the show, like we said we have a ko-fi link in our show notes. Or just honestly hit subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you can get notified whenever we release an episode. And if you have a friend who you think would like the show, please please please tell them all about it. Because we would love for more people to get the queer media recommendations they’re looking for.
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