Fated Mates

The fabulous Adriana Herrera is here for her fourth time to talk about Joy! We had a great time with one of the greatest people this week — talking about the American immigrant experience, how hope and bravery make for beautiful love stories, and listing a huge number of books that we love.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Next Thursday, November 5th, we’ll be recording our 100th Episode LIVE on Zoom, and we want you to be there! Join us and special guests, for games, laughter, romance recommendations, and as much joy as you can handle. Come on…you know you want something to look forward to next week! Let it be this! Sign up here.

We’re putting read alongs on hold for a bit to spend the next few weeks hanging out with some of our favorite people and talking about books and tropes that give us joy, so we hope you’ll join us and keep a pen handy so you can add to your TBR list as needed!

Thank you, as always, for listening! If you are up for leaving a rating or review for the podcast on your podcasting app, we would be very grateful!

Fated States!

Join us this Saturday, October 31st at 3pm Eastern to flip the country blue! It’s easy, not scary, and there will be prizes! Sign up at the link, watch the video, and come hang out!

Remember: "Despair is not a strategy."

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Text bank

Phone bank

Vote early by mail if you are planning to vote by mail. At this point, the USPS is so slow that your best bet is to drive/walk/bike/rollerskate your ballot to the nearest polling dropbox rather than put it in a mailbox.

Vote early in person if your state has early voting.

Stay fired up!

Show Notes

Welcome back, Adriana Herrera! She’s been on a few times so far: Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, the food romance episode, and she and Jen talked about trauma in romance. This week, her March 2020 release American Sweethearts appeared on the Publisher’s Weekly Best of 2020 List.

Normalize pegging at all costs.

If you’re going to come to the phone bank this weekend dressed as a romance heroine, might we suggest you drape a mantilla over your head and carry a pistol? You’ll be a dead ringer for Jessica Trent from Lord of Scoundrels. Sarah was on a panel with Loretta Chase a few weeks ago, and I guess the only blessing of these Zoom times is watching these things online. IS THERE A LINK TO THIS?

Adriana has written a few pieces about immigration in romance, one for Bustle and one for Remezcla.

Just a quick primer, because we didn’t clarify these definitions on the podcast and it’s complicated, because both terms are widely used to describe the same group of people--American-born children of immigrants. While Sarah grew up thinking of herself as "first-generation," many modern academics & the Census label her as "second-generation." Here's a cool article on all the terms, and how they've evolved.

Also, it’s useful to know the difference between push and pull factors that drive immigration.

If you want to read a terrific immigrant superhero story, Jen recommends a graphic novel she teaches to her 7th graders, The Shadow Hero by Gene Yang. She’s also really loved his recent release Dragon Hoops.

Adriana loves the podcast On Being, hosted by Krista Tippet. The episode with Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, features some interesting discussion of his own immigrant story.

We do not recommend reading American Dirt, but you should know the story of how and why it was published, some ideas about why publishing was so eager to sell this particular story from a variety of Latinx authors and thinkers.

When Adriana mentioned “the fun kind of thrust” she is referencing Jenny Nordbak’s best advice for finding a sex scene in a book: search for the word “thrust.”

Diacritical marks are symbols added to letters which tells the speaker how to correctly pronounce the word. In The Bride Test, the same words have diacritical marks when spoken by Esme, a character newly immigrated from Vietnam, but do not have them when spoken by Vietnamese-Americans. Also, language loss in the children of immigrant families is a well-documented phenomena.

The Worst Best Man has recently been optioned as a movie!

Take a look at the cultural iceberg.

Nigeria and SARS and what you can do about it.

Jeannette Ng’s piece, Critiquing Cultural Appropriation in Books That Are Kinda Meh, is about the pressure to research and how it undermines the lived experience of #OwnVoices authors.

Jen mentioned a piece in Kirkus called 100 books by Cynthia Leitich Smith, which argues “Before trying to write any character outside one’s lived experience, I recommend reading at least 100 books* by authors from that community. To start.” By the way, Smith is the author of a terrific YA novel called Hearts Unbroken if you’re interested.

Trujillo was terrible! Don’t steal Adriana’s idea to write a story about the Japanese-Dominican people who were living on the border of the Domenican Republic and Haiti.

Ethiopia and its capital Addis Ababa are fascinating places. Adriana and her partner lived there for five years. Also, the lions of Ethiopia are genetically distinct from other lions.

When it comes to holiday shopping, October is the new December. Sarah wrote a long thread of some of her favorite local indies that carry romance. Support them if you can.


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Fated Mates is a romance novel podcast co-hosted by author Sarah MacLean and critic Jen Prokop. Weekly episodes include romance novel read-alongs and discussions of the work of the genre, highlighting the romance novel as a powerful tool in fighting patriarchy…with absolutely no kink shaming. This description is from Fated Mates.

Fated Mates is a romance novel podcast co-hosted by author Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop. Weekly episodes include romance novel read-alongs and discussions of the work of the genre, highlighting the romance novel as a powerful tool in fighting patriarchy…with absolutely no kink shaming.


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