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.

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.