About This Podcast

 

On Hot & Bothered, we encourage people to write Romance novels as a sacred practice. Vanessa Zoltan, co-host of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, interviews one of her friends who is writing their very first romance novel. We've asked every writer to pick a romance novel trope to center their novel around. Julia Quinn,  Vanessa's favorite Romance novelist, gives weekly assignments so listeners can follow along in the process.

We want to demonstrate that anyone can write a Romance novel. We want to encourage people to find joy and stretch their imaginations. We want to find meaning in the mundane, treat the secular as a sacred, and build communities of supportive and creative friends.

 

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Episode 1: Justice for Dragons

Vansssa Zoltan thinks that happy endings are the best part of romance novels. Bryce Gilfillian is writing his first romance novel and refuses to write a happy ending. This week on Hot and Bothered, we explore the trope of “Updated Fairytale.” Bryce sets out to write the gay fairytale he never had growing up. Meanwhile, Vanessa wrestles with her own princes, witches, and dragons. Along the way we get a little help from Professor of Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University, Maria Tatar, and receive our first writing assignment from our own fairy godmother, #1 New York Times best-selling author, Julia Quinn.

Episode 2: Dump Him: Alyssa Cole

Haven’t finished the first writing assignment? No problem! We know writing takes time, so you’ll have two weeks for each of Julia Quinn’s assignments. In the meantime, Vanessa and her friend Julia Argy will buy you some time and turn to Reddit romance questions to offer their unsolicited (but solid) dating advice. This week’s advice? Dump him.

As Vanessa and Julia consider how power and money work negatively in real relationships, Vanessa turns to award-winning romance novelist Alyssa Cole to explore why it is she likes the power imbalances in Cole’s love stories - as well as feminism, bailing on dates, and the restorative pleasure of masseuses on planes.

Episode 3: Best Friend Lady Pirates

Ariana Nedelman wants to write a romance novel, no matter how much it hurts. Vanessa Zoltan loves her friend Ariana, and doesn’t want her to do things that hurt! This week on Hot&Bothered we explore the trope “Enemies to Lovers.” Ariana confronts her own enemy, writing, in hopes she may grow to love it again. Vanessa reckons with letting a toxic enemy near her dearest friend. Additionally we get some guidance from Professor Stephanie Paulsell of Harvard Divinity School, and our next writing assignment from writer’s-block-busting, #1 New York Times best-selling author Julia Quinn.

Episode 4: No Such Thing as Too Many Romance Novels: Margaret H. Willison

Another week to work on your next writing assignment? You’re welcome! This week, Vanessa and friend Julia Argy offer more unsolicited advice to a romance-fraught Redditor caught between the love she has in her arms and the love she’s read about in books.

Torn between fantasy and reality, Vanessa turns to librarian, pop culture expert, and America's Next Top Best Friend Margaret H. Willison to discuss the power of fantasy, and how imagining the love we *could* have helps us get the love we deserve.

Episode 5: We All Hate Kokomo

Vanessa has been faithfully holding onto her old love letters. Her friend Sejal, however, has decided to burn her own memorabilia and never look back. Which one is right?

This week on Hot & Bothered, we explore the trope “Reunited Lovers.” Sejal has made peace with her past and seeks a vicarious happy ending for two fictional former flames. Vanessa, on the other hand, is forced to confront the reality of a former toxic lover and what it means to doctor the evidence of her romantic history.

Along the way, Rev. Dr. Matthew Potts weighs-in on how much of forgiveness is forgetting, and we get our next writing assignment from #1 New York Times best-selling author, Julia Quinn.

Episode 6: Divorce Him: Emily Nagoski

This week, Vanessa and friend Julia Argy offer their support and unsolicited advice to an especially distraught Redditor wondering what to do with a husband who claims he’s no longer sexually attracted to her because of her past trauma.
In addition to the obvious answer (divorce him!), Vanessa turns to sex educator and NYT best-selling author Emily Nagoski to better understand the nuances around attraction, sexual connection, and how to live confidently and joyfully in our bodies.
Don’t forget to check out Emily’s new book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle https://www.amazon.com/Come-You-Are-Surprising-Transform/dp/1476762090

Episode 7: The Conundrum

It’s no secret Olivia and Molly would love to have a baby. Vanessa thinks she might want a baby, but isn’t so sure. This week on Hot & Bothered, we explore the trope of “Secret Baby.” Olivia and Molly have been patiently hoping and working to bring a baby into their life. In the meantime, they craft their own vicarious happy ending, baby and all. Vanessa considers her ambivalence about having a baby, and invites a chorus of loved ones to weigh the pros and cons of her bringing a child into the world.
Additionally, we get our next writing assignment from #1 New York Times best-selling author, Julia Quinn.
Follow along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and send us your romance advice questions for future episodes to hotandbotheredrompod@gmail.com.

Episode 9. A Helpful Scam

Vanessa and her sister-in-law Suzanne agree: love-at-first-sight is questionable at best. Even still, Suzanne wants to explore a love-at-first-sight romance novel while anticipating the birth of her first child.

This week on Hot & Bothered, we explore the trope “Love at First Sight.” Suzanne considers how a parent’s “supposed” to feel upon first sight of their newborn child, and how love grows and evolves over time. Vanessa considers the limitations of love-at-first-sight stories in a world full of bad men. Along the way, Vanessa’s friend Sasha weighs-in with her own high-risk, high-reward experience with love at first sight, and we get our next writing assignment from #1 New York Times best-selling author, Julia Quinn.

Follow along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and send us your romance advice questions for future episodes to hotandbotheredrompod@gmail.com.
Next week: More love advice and a conversation with feminist and religious scholar Amy Hollywood.

Episode 10: A Questionable Man: Amy Hollywood

This week, Vanessa and friend Julia Argy fight over the appropriate unsolicited advice to give a Redditor who just discovered his girlfriend lied to him about her virginity.

To make sense of their conflict, Vanessa turns to feminist and religious scholar Amy Hollywood. Together, they explore the religious history and origins of virginity, and the implications of how virginity is portrayed today.
Send us your own romance advice questions for future episodes on our website at https://www.hotandbotheredrompod.com/advice

Episode 11: In the Next Exam Room

Vanessa and Brigid share everything with each other - their thoughts, their feelings, even their endometriosis diagnosis.
This week on Hot & Bothered, we explore the trope “Friends to Lovers.” In her writing, Brigid reckons with the way love changes in the transition from friendship to partnership. Together, Vanessa and Brigid wrestle with what they share with friends, what they share with their partners, and the intimacy born from shared pain.

Along the way, Rev. Dr. Matthew Potts returns to shed light on how we ask for care from our partners, and we get our next writing assignment from #1 New York Times best-selling author, Julia Quinn.
Follow along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and send us your romance advice questions for future episodes to hotandbotheredrompod@gmail.com.

Episode 12: It’s Eyeballs: Meredith Goldstein

This week, Vanessa and friend Julia Argy marvel over their favorite Reddit dating advice question yet: a girlfriend curious about her boyfriend’s LOCKED DRAWER containing a secret object he refuses to divulge.

For insight into the most mysterious relational secrets, Vanessa turns to advice columnist, entertainment reporter, and paranormal romance novel reader Meredith Goldstein. Together, they explore the boundaries of privacy, paranormal intimacy, and what we keep in drawers.
Send us your own romance advice questions for future episodes on our website at https://www.hotandbotheredrompod.com/advice

Episode 13: Mom, Don’t Listen

Marissa Martinelli is writing a real sex scene. Vanessa is READY. This week on Hot & Bothered, we explore the trope “Mistaken Identity.” As Marissa tries to write a good sex scene for her mistaken characters, she and Vanessa explore the vulnerability of explicit sexuality, and wrestle with the freedom and the oppression of coded sexual language.

Vanessa turns to writer, romance-novel reader, and co-host of Thirst Aid Kit Nichole Perkins to understand what we talk about when we talk about throbbing members. We also get our next (steamy!) writing assignment from #1 New York Times best-selling author, Julia Quinn.

Episode 14: Monogamy Isn’t Working: Katie and Pam Mingle

This week, Vanessa is joined by Katie Mingle from 99% Invisible. They explore this week’s Reddit question written by a woman in a 10 year relationship who’s experiencing feelings for another man.

To find an answer, Vanessa and Katie call Katie’s mother, romance novelist Pam Mingle. Together, they revisit a question from earlier in this season: whether love at first sight exists. Pam, Katie and Vanessa consider the difference between romantic love and motherly love, the failures of monogamy, and whether Pam will write another romance novel.
Send us your own romance advice questions for future episodes on our website at https://www.hotandbotheredrompod.com/advice

Episode 15: A Really Solid 60% Guy

Elizabeth and Vanessa’s parents both got married fast, and fell in love after. 

This week on Hot & Bothered, Elizabeth writes about the trope “Marriage of Convenience.” She’s taking this opportunity re-write her parents failing marriage with a happy ending. But the more Elizabeth writes, the more Vanessa wonders if Elizabeth is carrying some of the worst parts of the trope into her own life. She and Vanessa explore: how parents can inform our own idea of love, what it means to settle versus what it means to compromise, and what exactly is a happy marriage? 

We also get our next writing assignment from #1 New York Times best-selling author, Julia Quinn. 

Follow along on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and send us your romance advice questions for future episodes to hotandbotheredrompod@gmail.com. 

Next week: More love advice and a conversation with writer and columnist, Steve Almond.