Shelf Love

078. Romance Curious: Bridgerton So Hashtag Diverse (with Jodie Slaughter, part 2)

Short Description

Will Bridgerton inspire romance curiosity for a new generation? Jodie Slaughter became a romance reader by way of Twilight and Twilight fanfiction. When newbies take their first clumsy steps into romancelandia, will they be welcomed with the benefit of the doubt or shunned for arriving at the HEA gates too late?

Part 2 - listen to episode 77 for part 1.


fanfiction, genre discussions

Show Notes

Will Bridgerton inspire romance curiosity for a new generation? Jodie Slaughter became a romance reader by way of Twilight and Twilight fanfiction. When newbies take their first clumsy steps into romancelandia, will they be welcomed with the benefit of the doubt or shunned for arriving at the HEA gates too late?

Part 2 - listen to episode 77 for part 1.

Show Notes:

Don't miss part 1, 077. Twilight Fan Fiction: Climbing into a Can of Worms with Jodie Slaughter (part 1)

Shelf Love:

Guest: Jodie Slaughter

Twitter | Instagram | Check out Jodie's Books

Cans of Worms:

Jodie on Shelf Love episode 061

Twitter thread referenced in this episode: Elle McKinney on Literary Blackface


078 Jodie Slaughter

[00:00:00] Andrea Martucci: Previously on Shelf Love ...

(super dramatic, cinematic music score with short clips from last episode)

Jodie Slaughter: Bridgerton

Andrea Martucci: Bridgerton

Jodie Slaughter: I want Twilight. I want Edward and Bella, but I also want the fucking

And a lot of that really drew me into fan fiction.

So when I'm filtering on these sites at even 15 years old, to specifically put "romance" in the filter, in my head, I'm still not reading romance fiction.

Andrea Martucci: he smells her blood and he's like (makes a sound) , like he's going to bust.

Jodie Slaughter: I hate you.

that's 8,000 cans of worms

Andrea Martucci: that's a harmful narrative.

Jodie Slaughter: I'm going to watch this because it's hashtag diverse.

there are no Black people in these books

Andrea Martucci: I don't think that's actually the takeaway most people have.

You can't just change the cover. It does not actually change the story and this is the can of worms I don't want to get into, when you change the race, it starts adding another layer of cultural complexity to the character choices.


Hello and welcome to episode 78 of Shelf Love , a podcast that unpacks romance novels with nuance. In conversations with scholars, readers, and other experts, Shelf Love contextualizes, the popular romance genre within the broader critical discussion of identity, culture, and love.

   I'm your host, Andrea Martucci and my guest today is Dame Jodie Slaughter, author of novels, such as White Whiskey Bargain and All Things Burn.    

Will Bridgerton spark romance curiosity in a new generation? And how will romancelandia handle those newbie's first clumsy steps into our world?    

Marker [00:01:34]

Jodie Slaughter: What I'm guessing from the critiques from the show is that they did not add any nuance to the show or much, I guess.

Andrea Martucci: What's going to happen is people are going to walk into their bookstore and they're like, Oh, I just saw this on TV. I liked it. Maybe I'll pick up this book.

That's what they're hoping will happen.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Is this a questionable decision given the choices on the show, given the actual text it was built from? Is there something deceptive about putting the characters from the TV show on the cover of this book?

A question for another time.

But I think there's certainly some synergy there where, because it is very much a topic of conversation and it's going to be recognizable, even digitally. They'll be on Amazon and they'll see the cover pop up and they'll be like, that's familiar. I liked that. Maybe I should read this.  I'm sure Julia Quinn's book sales are up.

But does that translate into other [00:02:30] romance novels? And how does that translate into what gets adapted after this?

Marker [00:02:34]

I understand that there are a lot of other adaptations that are in the works right now. And I don't want to speculate on what exactly is coming out, but I also wouldn't be surprised if what people clamor for is more regency specifically.

And I have much longer thoughts on what happens when you adapt romance novels to the screen. That's another can of worms I don't want to get into, but I'm curious if there's a way to leverage the interest in Bridgerton to bring people into romance and to get them to understand - and this is where I'm very much like "this is a learning opportunity for people."

Like, how do we get people to open up their takeaway to not just be like  "I guess what I like is Regency romance." Right?

To be like, "what I really liked about this was the romance. And I don't have to limit myself to just Regency romances. There's a whole world of romances out there that, I would say, do a much better job of representing diverse people. (Jodie cackles) And there's also a much bigger world of like other worlds that are not just a very short period of time in history that is steeped very much in colonialism, imperialism and extreme privilege for a very small group of people.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Then again, billionaire romances are super popular.

Jodie Slaughter: So that's true, too.

Andrea Martucci: Who am i?

Jodie Slaughter: That's an interesting question. I truly don't know. I think you're definitely right.  People are gonna be reading the books. Are they going to keep reading Regency romances period? And then are they going to branch out?

And I think that's another issue with the diversity, is like, there are plenty of people who watch this show, who, they enjoyed it because it was like, I can have Black people on screen, but I don't have to think about them being Black.

And so when we talk about them, branching out into romances that do a better job of like displaying actual diversity, is that something they're interested in?

Andrea Martucci: I think that's a good question. I think that's, I mean I definitely think most people would not be able to articulate that either they are looking for, or not looking for that.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: I'm sure that lots of people would have sort of like "nah, I'm just not that interested in that."

But like we went through  the journey of Jodie Slaughter and Twilight and everything. I want to be realistic about [00:05:00] how people get into these things  and where they go. We did see, I think, after Twilight and after 50 Shades of Gray, which is Twilight fanfiction. (Andrea makes a "yikes" noise and Jodie cackles "ahaha!") We did see people come into the romance genre and actually, part of the reason you and I started talking about this was I asked the question, like, how did you get into romance?

Cause I was thinking about this and you were talking about Twilight and a lot of people have stories like that. Oh, I got really into it from Twilight or 50 Shades of Gray. And then I found my way to the things that now I know I actually like.

And I assume it's like a funnel, right?

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Like the total audience of 63 million people who have seen Bridgerton so far, 63 million people are not going to start reading romance novels.

Jodie Slaughter: Right.

Andrea Martucci: Absolutely.  How many of them are going to read Julia Quinn's books? How many of them are then going to go to other Regency romances that are being recommended as similar on every media platform in listicle form?

Jodie Slaughter: Right . (laughs like an adorable goose) 

Andrea Martucci: How many of them are going to branch out to other sub-genres of romance? How many of them are going to become dedicated romance readers?

Jodie Slaughter: Ooh.  I think what you're  circling is like, how do we  make room for these people in our community when we're gatekeepy as fuck?

Marker [00:06:13]

You know what I mean? I think this comes up every time people talk about like the romance canon and every single book and author they talk about is not someone that I have read. And it's not someone I'm interested in reading.

And that that doesn't mean that like my personal romance canon is like any better than theirs. But I think that we definitely have to have room for people who came in via like , people who started watching fucking Daredevil and thought Matt and Electra's chemistry was off the charts and somehow found their way into whatever and so they didn't come in reading anything really.

You know what I mean? Like there, sometimes your romance canon doesn't start with books. At all. Sometimes it doesn't start with like romance novels at all. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it starts with romance novels that are not good.

Andrea Martucci: Problematique.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. Problematique. Sometimes it starts with some that are shitty.

  There are a million entry points. Each one of them,  it is what it is. And we have to have room for people to come in and put their feelers out and explore what this shit is like without necessarily, [00:07:30] telling them that Oh, you watched Bridgerton. Whatever, whatever.

Now, like I said, I am not going to watch it for reasons that we don't have to get into here. I also was never going to watch it because I'm not interested in Regency romance.

Andrea Martucci: And also, because you don't need it. This is the same reason I don't like a lot of TV.

It's not like I think there's anything wrong with TV. It's that I know I prefer the romance I can get in romance novels. So why would I go to something that I know doesn't hit that for me, because I know what I'm looking for.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. And I'm, I love TV so much and I'm soaking it in and as a writer, I'm soaking in feelings that I'm like, Oh, I'm going to put this in to books and characters and stuff.

Like my own romance fan and my introduction to romance is like shitty and it's racist and it is Based on like white supremacist ideals of like pro-life ideals and written by a Mormon woman who didn't even want to like possibly make side characters in the movie be people of color. That's my entry point into romance.

It's not good.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. And I think that some of the places where there's discourse about these things, I think that if you imagine that Twilight came out now and you were like I'm going to age you up in this scenario, just so that you're not like a child, but like say you're like an 18 year old who just got into Twilight and there's a conversation happening on Twitter and you're like excited because you want to talk about this thing that you love with other people, and you have a take that is perhaps unsophisticated, that is perhaps problematic.  How does one react to that?

Because is it helpful? Like this isn't me saying excuse racist takes, this is me saying, is there a way to engage productively with somebody in that situation?

Jodie Slaughter: I think there is, but I also think that the person on the other side also has to be willing to be... (sighs) 

Andrea Martucci: It's very complicated, right? Because first of all, are you as an 18 year old receptive or - and I don't want to turn this just into age, but are you on the other side receptive to this?

Jodie Slaughter: I think you have to be open to being challenged in that way. It's hard to , and I think this can come with age, but it's hard to separate - so much of us are tying so much of our like identities with the things that we are interested in, they become a part of us, the people too. It's like stan culture . anytime someone critiques, [00:10:00] Beyonce, and you are a Beyonce Stan. And even if it is a critique that isn't based in like mysogynoir , if it's just I didn't like this album, it can feel like. You're critiquing -

Andrea Martucci: This album is my identity.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes and she is a part of your identity and it feels like someone is attacking you.

And I think that's a huge issue in that it makes people less receptive to critique because, I think that this can be an issue like in the Romans community is that we make it our entire identity and we all do this. And I think that this is something that like, I don't know -

Andrea Martucci: Speak for myself, I don't do this. (joking)

Jodie Slaughter: Oh please. I don't know why we do this. I don't know that it's just based on like our human, r want to connect to something. And when we find a thing that helps us connect to other people, it becomes everything. I don't know, but I do know that once we make it so deeply ingrained in everything that we are, it becomes harder to accept criticism.

And I think that when you're new and you're being so swept up in this hype and all of these feelings that come with, say an 18 year old, if Twilight comes out now.  I remember how I felt about Twilight. I wasn't out holding up signs, like trying to get Robert Pattinson to spit on me, but I -

Andrea Martucci: were you wearing the t-shirt that you're wearing right now?

Jodie Slaughter: No, but I was first in line for  the first showing of Twilight at my movie theater behind ropes, like waited in line after school. So - and I would not do that for anything now. I was like, I can wait. It doesn't, you know what I mean but I don't know that, even if I had been 18 at that time, I don't know how receptive I would have been to critique.

So I think it's like we should lend people grace, but what do we do when people aren't necessarily acting -  it's hard to say that they're acting in bad faith. And I don't like to infantilize people and say that they don't know what they're doing, but I do think that a lot of times people aren't aware of how much they've made a certain thing their identity and how it's a really sore spot to like touch on it because, there needs to be a little more introspection and whatever. So I don't know.

Andrea Martucci: So let's talk about this with Bridgerton, right?

The romance community heard Bridgerton was coming out and we're identifying this as a romance adaptation. And I think that what I saw happening was people conflating any criticism of Bridgerton as criticizing romance adaptations, which then became, [00:12:30] we can't be critical of this because we want this to be successful so that other romances can get adapted.

So tying it all together. It's tying the idea that we need this to be successful to open the door for others. And, you know I'm critical of the idea that Bridgerton opens the door for others period. And specifically for others that are very different from Bridgerton. But it's a bit like, who are we having this conversation for?

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: That's what we saw with the content warning around the sexual assault that prior to it coming out, it was unclear. And now that it's out, we know that there is a sexual assault in episode six, and it was incredibly hard to nail people who had seen screeners down to acknowledge that there should be a content warning for episode six.

And there is an argument that like the conventions of a content warning or trigger warning are different between romance novels and TV shows. Like these are different conventions and so maybe media reviewers don't have the same ideas about what they need to warn people about in a preview type review.

But I think that's where we start getting into how the adaptation, it's not a romance novel then.

Jodie Slaughter: It isn't.

Andrea Martucci: However, romance readers, especially the ones in the discourse that I saw talking about this at least, are going into it seeing it as, because this is adapted from a romance novel, this is a romance novel on screen.

And so I'm going into this with expectations of a romance novel. My expectations are very different from somebody who's going into this as a TV show and has no concept of the source material or the source genre.

Jodie Slaughter: I think that's, obviously that's a very good point. Wow. So we're like, so -

Andrea Martucci: we're having different conversations.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. And I guess this goes, if this does go back to the bubble. I think we would do ourselves a favor if we would think about who was this created for, and -

Andrea Martucci: not us (whispers) not us,

Jodie Slaughter: It's not created for us. It's not created with romance readers in mind because,  I'm not saying they just threw it all out the window, but it wasn't.

They wanted to reach the largest audience possible because they wanted to make the most money. And the largest audience possible is not - not people on Twitter who talk about romance novels.

Andrea Martucci: Catering to people-

Right? Yeah, definitely not people who talk about romance novels on Twitter. But even although we know that many people read romance novels, even in the grand scheme of TV and [00:15:00] film , the total audience size for TV shows is much greater than the number of people who read romance novels.

Jodie Slaughter: Drop in the bucket, yeah. That's definitely something that we have to put into perspective as well.

Andrea Martucci: So  for these people who might be romance curious, I think that there's like a similar way of thinking about that and engaging with those people. And first of all, probably shouldn't go out and pick fights with people who are not coming into our spaces, let's say.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: When people wander into the spaces of this discourse, the romance novel discourse of a new thing like this.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: I think that there's like a, what are you hoping to achieve? Type question. Like does this person want to learn? Is this person just like unaware of the conventions of the genre?

And they're not, we're not talking about the same thing here. And, there's a pragmatic side of this. There's like a maturity side of this, like pragmatically, what are we hoping to achieve?  Do we want to like scare people away because they're not ready for this?

Jodie Slaughter: To be honest, I think that a lot of people won't admit it. I think that there is a part of us that enjoys being insular.

Andrea Martucci: Oh yeah.

Jodie Slaughter: A huge part of us that enjoys being insular. A huge part of us that isn't open to newcomers. And that's for a myriad of reasons, like whether that'd be like people who know that they will thrive better in a community that is small.

Because they can be like big fish, small pond types of people, but also it feels safer

Andrea Martucci: because you don't have to engage with viewpoints that are vastly different from your -

Jodie Slaughter: yeah.  I don't like to end these sort of like philosophical  conversations on like well there's no changing it but I don't know. I think it's just going to be up to those of us who are willing to like, take on the work, to do the work and to, not worry so much about - because I think there's no changing the minds of some people in the romance community about like letting other people in. You know what I mean?

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. You mentioned the word gatekeepers before. I think that's very apt. It's like the hipster mentality . Oh, I knew about the band first.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. As a former hipster, I can assure you that's exactly what the fuck it is.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah. If you don't have the authority or knowledge that I have about this topic, you don't get to say anything and you need to be schooled by me on this topic.

Jodie Slaughter: And, but who is like [00:17:30] quantifying. What does it mean? I guess I don't under - like - (heavy sigh/groan) like, when we're talking about like knowledge of romance, what quantifies you being the most knowledgeable person? Is it years spent in the community? Is it number of books read? What

Andrea Martucci: which particular books one has read?

Jodie Slaughter: How are we determining who or who is not qualified to speak on romance issues?

Andrea Martucci: There is literally nobody pure enough of heart and mind and tenure or whatever.  Because I think that we also saw like Oh, I don't care what that person said, because one time they said blank.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Is that a criticism of their argument? Or are we just saying,

Jodie Slaughter: being petty?

Andrea Martucci: Are we just saying that person doesn't get a say, because I don't agree with everything they say? Or that, that person's point is invalid because I don't agree with everything they have said ever,  or this person. Yes. This person doesn't have a deep enough experience with romance to say this. And it's like, how about we just engage with the points. Like, if there's an argument against the points let's stick there. Let's start with the actual problem with the points they made.

And I think that's the opportunity to educate people. And I think that too often in the romance discourse, people accept the premise that the other person starts with.

So like romance novels are trashy. How dare you, romance novels aren't trashy. And it's like maybe a better question is what do you mean when you call something trashy? What are you actually talking about there? Are you talking about a hierarchy of taste and how some literature is highbrow and some is lowbrow, and maybe the problem is the hierarchy? Not that we need to position things that are seen as low brow as high brow. The problem is, why is high-brow better than low brow?

Jodie Slaughter: I think that's exactly it. I was. Oh goodness. So I don't know if you know The Try Guys. They're on YouTube. Okay. Their wives have a podcast called The Try Wives.

Andrea Martucci: I assume that's what they would be called.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. And one of their wives, Ned's wife, Ariel. My younger sister is really into them, so she listens to the podcast. And my younger sister's 19. We talk about romance, like she's not even a reader, but I'm just like talking at her. And she was like, Oh, you should listen to this part because Ariel talks about being into romances.

And so I turn on this part of the podcast and she's like I love [00:20:00] romance novels. And the first thing she says is that she's like, Oh, they're so trashy. They're so bad. And my hackles are raised, but I'm listening to her talk and she fucking loves romance novels.

Like she loves them. She reads them all the time. She is a fan, but she is also -

Andrea Martucci: indoctrinated. She's been indoctrinated into a culture that says that these are trashy. And so she is acknowledging that she knows that everybody else thinks they're trashy and is being a little defensive.

But I love that you can read between the lines and parse out, instead of saying, how dare you call them trashy.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Yeah. I'm like, I know why you're saying this. We've all been told. Every single one of us has been told , this shit sucks. It's trashy. It's just smut. It's whatever. And even though we've reclaimed these terms in community, and we have an understanding that like, when we say something is smutty, when we say this shit is trash, I love it.  We have an understanding that like, okay, but if someone outside who we consider to be outside, says the same things, I don't know that we give them the grace to be like, let's unpack that the way that we've unpacked that.  Right

You're saying romance novels are trashy. Everyone's told this person that romance novels are trashy. Because we love romance novels so much and because we're all just like beautiful, brave souls who have like , I'm not going to be embarrassed by this and fuck society. Doesn't mean that like everyone else is there yet?

Because they are still surrounded by family and friends and partners and wherever they are, who if they were to say yes, I really love this romance novel, everybody in the room would spend 10 minutes shitting all over them. So

Andrea Martucci: So, it's a learned reaction. Okay. I need to preemptively tell you that I'm aware of what you think of these books and what you think of me as being a reader of them. I know they're terrible, but I like them anyways. And please don't yell at me.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. And as a writer, as a romance writer, I have my hackles up. Every time I tell, every time someone asked me what I write and they are outside of the community , I have to prepare myself to like have to defend it.

Andrea Martucci: You have to spin it. You have to spin it for your audience.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah! And now I've gotten to the point where I can be like, I write romance novels, but when All Things Burn came out, I was like, Oh, it's [00:22:30] like a thriller (we laugh) about a guy and this girl... do you know what I mean ?

Yeah I think that like everyone isn't where you are and we do have to obviously, if someone is like acting in bad faith, that's a different conversation, but I don't know that it's good that we assume that everyone is acting in bad faith just because they use words.

Andrea Martucci: They do words that we are highly sensitive and attuned to, however, these are words that don't mean the same things to everybody. And yes, I think it's being aware of our audience and being aware that people say things and they don't know the meaning of them and we can either use that as an opportunity to see if the person is open to learning. We can always ignore them.

Jodie Slaughter: That's what I'm saying. I'm not someone who is like, I'm not a teaching spirit, and so that's what I tend to do, is I just ignore the person. If I'm not in a mood to be like, let me educate you.

But the impulse to just like automatically - and it's just creating like a bunch of shit and drama on the timeline that like simply does not need to be there. If we're just talking about Twitter specifically.

Andrea Martucci: We're usually just talking about Twitter.

Jodie Slaughter: There it is. But  I don't know. There needs to be like some grace, there needs to be like some lowering the hackles and like thinking critically about like just because you started reading romances when you were nine and you found them in your mom's book chest, which is great, that we're not all coming there.

A lot of us are coming from a place where we spent our adult lives in like no, romance is shitty. I don't read romance, because everybody told me romance is bad and it's not cool. And it means I'm not smart. And whatever, that happiness is bad essentially. And then, you get in there because oftentimes because you have people who are there to

Andrea Martucci: guide you?

Jodie Slaughter: Guide you. and not jump down your throat.

Andrea Martucci: Give up on you immediately. When you make your first mistake and like  - boundaries are good. I think it's fine to place a firm boundary of like yeah, we don't like the word trashy because of this. And create that boundary. And if somebody has been told and they keep crossing the boundary, like that's a thing that happens.

And I think there's like different strategies for dealing with it. But yeah, like maybe this person doesn't understand something and this it's a culture.

Romance is a culture and there's definitely a learning curve with romance. You have to learn what the conventions are and then you have to learn, as you were describing to sort of own what it is you enjoy given that the [00:25:00] cultural messages about it are that it's the worst.

There's so many learning curves here, and I love the idea, specifically the word grace giving people a little bit of grace, not a carte blanche to do or say whatever.

Jodie Slaughter: Right right

Andrea Martucci: Maybe just benefit of the doubt sometimes.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. The B O T D like. And it's, like I said, I'm not a teaching spirit. So I doubt you will ever really see me in people's mentions being like, let me sit you down and that's fine if you aren't, but you can also just walk away. I can assure you, you can just block and move on. And if you are the type of person who is a teaching spirit, feel free, but you also, you know when people are behaving in bad faith, I think, or rather, you need to be better at discerning when they are behaving in bad faith. And when someone can be educated or someone can just be guided down, Hey go look at this, go do this. Even if it's not like here's a lesson plan. Just pointed in a different direction or just asked a question like , What do you think you're saying?

Andrea Martucci: Or like what are you really talking about? And I think that sometimes look, I have conversations with friends where I'm like, what are you saying there? And, but that's the benefit of the doubt, is that I trust that my friend maybe isn't saying what I heard. And so I'm asking clarifying questions to be like, Do you really mean this?

And look, I do that on the podcast all the time where it's kind of like , Hey, you said this, do you mean this? And I think that  language is so imprecise and we have to acknowledge that despite the fact that one sits down to Twitter and supposedly thinks about what they say before they type it and press send, let's be honest. It's a very brief, unnuanced form of communication. And I would love to spend more time talking about how words mean things.

Look, Jodie, you and I have been talking for literally four hours.

Jodie Slaughter: Oh my God.

Andrea Martucci: Dear listener of this podcast. You're not going to hear four hours of our conversation. We warmed up.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah. Literally - that's not hyperbolic. It has been four hours.

Andrea Martucci: It has literally been four hours. So Jodie, I'm going to let you live your young swinging single life, but swinging single life. (we cackle)

Jodie Slaughter: Oh my god!

Andrea Martucci: Do you like me? Like old fuddy duddy? I'm like, I'm going to go clean my kitchen after this!

Jodie Slaughter: I do! Young whippersnapper and all that jazz .

Andrea Martucci: I'm gonna make sure my child knows I still exist.

Jodie, you had kind of a big thing happen fairly [00:27:30] recently. Why don't you share that with our listeners and tell people when the big thing will come to fruition?

Jodie Slaughter: So for a second, I was like, wait

Andrea Martucci: what happened?

Jodie Slaughter: So I recently signed a three book deal with St. Martins Press. (Andrea: woot woot) And I will be releasing well not - they will be releasing the first book in a three book series. The first book, the title as of now is Either Way Up .

It's bingo based. It's a small town romance but I loathe to call it a small town romance because -  when people are like, I'm looking for a small town romance, I don't think that what I'm giving them is what they're looking for. So it is set in a small town in South Carolina.  It's a male, female, interracial romance with a Black heroine who has generalized anxiety disorder and  a white. hero who has complex PTSD. And they are just trying to figure their shit out and also like accidentally falling for each other. And they go to like bingo games and there's like a sex pact and it sounded much better  when I was pitching it.

Andrea Martucci: A gamified sex pact.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes, a gamified sex pact and love possibly. It's a romance novel, so yes, love.

Andrea Martucci: You can use gamified sex pact in marketing. You can - share that, share that with your publicist.

Jodie Slaughter: I'm writing it down. I'm going to, and I'm so serious.

Andrea Martucci: And so A when does the book come out? B, is the book written?

Jodie Slaughter: The book is written. I'm actually, after we hang up, I will be editing, I will be finishing up edits because some edits are due on the 15th. But the book will be released 2022. We don't have an exact date yet, but that will be, it'll probably be spring/summer 2022. So that's to be announced.

Andrea Martucci: That's a long time. Look,

Jodie Slaughter: you're helping me.

Andrea Martucci: I'm still going to be excited when it happens. And will anything else be coming out from Jodie Slaughter. Dame Jodie Slaughter. By the way, if anybody's ever, like, why does Andrea call Jodie Slaughter Dame Jodie Slaughter.

On own whim. (over pronounces "wh") 

Jodie Slaughter: On a whim.

Andrea Martucci: I - was it when I was doing like the intro for episode 61, which is the first time you came by or in social media or something, I don't even know.

Jodie Slaughter: I think you said it in an Instagram in a video. Yeah. I think you were like, I'm editing this episode with Dame Jodie Slaughter. And I was like yeah, that's sticking.

Andrea Martucci: I love it . And I had to look up, I was like, [00:30:00] what is a Dame? And apparently it is a woman who has been knighted by the queen.

Jodie Slaughter: Yes. So I'm like Judy Dench. We're basically the same.

Andrea Martucci: Exactly.  So Dame Jodie Slaughter, will the Dame be releasing anything self pub in the next 18 months?

Jodie Slaughter: So I have, I will be having an indie cause I was signed with an indie publisher. So my third book in that contract was turned in earlier this week. That'll be a novella,  it's actually set in quarantine.

It's a Black romance. It's got like a sculptor and a very burnt out PA who is realizing that she doesn't know what she wants for her life. In terms of just like career and she doesn't know what her passions are because she's never really been encouraged to find any, and they're all figuring this out, over quarantine in the middle of the desert.

It's short. It's like smutty, it's not super high concept. I just wanted something like people with just sort of like talking and fucking.

Andrea Martucci: Sounds good to me.

Jodie Slaughter: But  I don't have a specific release date for that yet either, but that'll actually be in the next few months probably coming out.

Andrea Martucci: Yay. Get out faster to the masses who are clamoring for Just One More Jodie Slaughter. (heh heh)

Jodie Slaughter: Oh my god. Wow.

Andrea Martucci: I also would like to state for the record that (giggles) I had occasion to speak of "culling the herd" earlier in the conversation. And I said, "Cullen the herd," it's a Twilight...

Jodie Slaughter: Just so you know what kind of like humor we're working with when you listen to the show? Just like the cutest little like corny Gumdrop of a person.

Andrea Martucci: After that I released the, "I just have a lot of feelings" episode, I was talking to you and I was like Oh gee, I just feel so vulnerable, expressing feelings like this. And do you remember what you said to me?

Jodie Slaughter: No. What'd I say?

Andrea Martucci: You said something along the lines of like yeah, we already knew you kind of had a soft

Jodie Slaughter: Oh yeah.

Andrea Martucci: Gooey center or something

Jodie Slaughter: Absolutely! Like you know those like chocolates. I don't like candy, but by the end it's like the cherry that's like so runny. That's - That's you.

Andrea Martucci: Oh a cherry cordial chocolate.

Jodie Slaughter: Yeah, but it's not like the thicker.  It'll like run out of the chocolate.

Andrea Martucci: Yeah.

Jodie Slaughter: That's actually, your center is (Andrea snorts) very soft, just so soft.

Marker [00:32:29]

[00:32:30] Andrea Martucci: Jodie. Thank you so much for coming today to unravel the mysteries of the universe with me.

Jodie Slaughter: Thank you. Did we crack, did we bust that nut?

Andrea Martucci: We busted this not wide open.

Jodie Slaughter: Thank you for having me. Anytime you need me on the podcast to help bust open a nut. I'm here.    

Marker [00:32:50]

Andrea Martucci: hello, Shelf Lovelies. I hope you enjoyed part two of my conversation with Jodie Slaughter. I mean, Dame, Jodie Slaughter. If you somehow listened to this without listening to episode 77 first, you were probably a little confused. Even with the "previously on" recap at the beginning, doing such a great job of highlighting the salient points from part one.

So go back and listen to the setup in part one, episode 77, if you haven't already, I promise it'll make a lot more sense.

Jodie and I recorded these episodes on January 9th, 2021, and I wanted to give a little update on the commercial success of Bridgerton since it is now, as I record this, January 29th.

First of all, I just checked the New York Times bestsellers list and the Duke and I, which is book one of the Bridgerton series, is number one on the combined print and ebook fiction list and has been on the list for four straight weeks. Just a reminder, this book is 20 years old.

The Viscount Who Loved Me, which is book two in the series, is currently number 12 and has also been on the list for four weeks. And just like for context, I don't see any other romance novels in the top 15 right now.

Book one is also a USA Today bestseller and an Amazon fiction bestseller for five weeks in a row. On Amazon book one just fell to the number three spot after being in number one, and books two through five are also in the top 20.   

Interestingly, it looks like somebody got the memo that the Netflix series tie-in cover with the actors from the series, including the hero who is played by a Black actor.

Uh, somebody figured out that that cover was a bad move. Because when I view product listings for the paperback, it has a photo of a white woman in a Regency dress with her back to the camera, but it has the Netflix badge on it. So it's definitely a new cover.

It's a terrible cover, honestly. So it definitely reads like a slapdash attempt to cover up for what author Elle McKinney appropriately called, literary Blackface. I'll link to Elle McKinney's tweet calling this out in the show notes. She also [00:35:00] mentioned the Barnes & Noble literary Blackface incident.

It's almost like the industry never learns from their mistakes.

Jury is still out on the idea that the success of Bridgerton is going to translate to romance more generally. As predicted Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series is doing great. And Netflix has already renewed the series for a second season, which is no surprise given that as of a few days ago, Netflix reported that season one has been watched by 82 million households around the world.

Which is ahead of the previous record holder, the Witcher, which had 76 million viewers in the first 28 days.

So in the same period of time, 28 days, Bridgerton had 8 million more households watch it.

However, these are self-reported numbers and Netflix says that they measure a viewer as a Netflix profile. So one account can have multiple profiles. And a watch is counted if the profile watches for just two minutes or more.

  It's obvious that Netflix did a superb job getting people to click in to start watching. Of course, they're not going to share engagement numbers, which you know, they have.

It's clear that Bridgerton is now a household name, and it's very much on track to remain that way. What I'm going to be paying attention to is how the public, non-romance reading public, that is, conceptualizes what Bridgerton is and what it's similar to, and what they extend their love to when they go looking for more of the same. But that my friends is a whole other can of worms.

Marker [00:36:27]

  I also have a podcast update. I am taking a hiatus. I think the longest I've actually taken off between episodes since I started back in September, 2019 was skipping a week a few times. So two weeks between episodes, instead of one.

This is going to be a longer hiatus. I'm not sure exactly how long I'm going to take off, but definitely at least a month.

Honestly, it's really hard for me to take a break. I do enjoy the work of the podcast, but as you know, I have a day job that is actually quite demanding. Plus my husband and I are home with our five-year-old who is doing remote kindergarten.

I don't need to explain how draining the pandemic is on all of us, especially as we round the bend of a full year.

So as much as Shelf Love is a much needed creative and intellectual outlet for me, I need to give myself some grace and allow myself to take a break. In the meantime, please take a listen to my backlist of Shelf Love episodes if you haven't already. This is episode 78, so as you can imagine, there are many to choose from.

Also, please make sure you [00:37:30] are subscribed to Shelf Love in your favorite podcast app so that when I return, you will see the new episodes on your device.

Thank you so much for joining me today, and every day that you spend some time with me and a guest thinking critically about romance. If you have any thoughts on the show, I'd love for you to reach out to me. You can send an email to [email protected].

You can also find all of the information about Shelf Love, including transcripts for at least half of my episodes at this point on  This episode is produced by me, Andrea Martucci.

Thank you to Shelf Love's editorial advisory board members, Katrina Jackson, and Tasha L. Harrison, who fully endorsed this hiatus.

That's all for this week. Black lives matter. Stay safe, stay mad, and keep reading romance.


Jodie Slaughter: Anytime you need me on the podcast to help bust open a nut I'm here I'm your girl

Andrea Martucci: This nut has been busted. The cordial is weeping around -

Jodie Slaughter: It's dripping honey. It's all over us.

Andrea Martucci: I'm definitely leaving that in.

Jodie Slaughter: You have to.