Transcript: Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

C: Welcome back to Not Now, I’m Reading, and your one-stop shop for all things genre. My name is Chelsea.

K: And I’m Kay.

C: And today we are here to finally do another one of our patron poll books. It is one that Kay has been very, very, very excited for us to talk about for a long time.

K: I love this series. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles are so good!

C: They’re wonderful. Today we are talking about Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.

K: And I think it’s pronounced reedy.

C: Is it reedy?

K: Because that’s how they say it on the audiobook, but I have always said Wrede, so sorry. [Laughs]

C: No disrespect cause these books are fantastic. And they’re the first book in the…Enchanted Forest Chronicles, right? That’s the name of the whole series? So yeah.

K: There’s four novels and then a collection of short stories.

C: But as always, before we actually talk about our book of the fortnight, we’re gonna go ahead and talk about what we’re currently reading. I’ll go first this time. I devoured this book so fast and then spent like a solid week just telling every single person that I knew that they should go and read it immediately.

K: This is one of those ‘I need to go evangelize everyone I know’ books for Chelsea.

C: Uhuh, yeah, hardcore. It’s Ship It by Britta Lundin. Britta Lundin writes for Riverdale and so has roots coming from…

K: Britta knows fandom.

C: Yes, Britta knows fandom and this is a book about fandom in case the title didn’t quite give it away. Ship It is about a girl named Claire who writes fanfiction fora show called Demon Heart.

K: It’s a Supernatural sendup.

C: It’s pretty much a straight Supernatural dupe. Yes. [Laughs] It’s about an angel who falls in love with a demon who can’t feel, but his name is Heart and he learns to fit in.

[Kay laughs]

C: It’s pretty much a Supernatural dupe and it’s wonderful.

K: I still need to read this.

C: It’s so good and Claire is like a very pretty much well known fanfic writer within the fandom who goes to a con that the show is having cause it’s trying to get picked up for a second season and she asks a question about queerbaiting that causes Forest, who’s one of the actors on the show, to kind of put his foot in his mouth and dismiss her in a way that gets the fandom really flared up really fast.

K: Which I’m assuming that’s based on some IRL…cause I know that Supernatural has had some issues with actors saying some…I don’t know if it’s straight up homophobic shit, cause I’m not involved enough in it to have ever looked at the quotes, but…

C: It’s very much so this, I’m making air quotes, inadvertent homophobic through dismissal, like I don’t think anybody involved meant it to be homophobic, but intent isn’t impact. But! To cover up this kind of PR glitch that Forest has caused to happen they invite Claire to come on their little mini con tour. They’re doing two or three kinda cons up and down the Seattle, Pacific Northwest area so they invite Claire to go and tweet from the road.

K: I assume Vancouver because everyone films in Vancouver on their low budget shows.

C: Mmhmm. So she does that and opens up this whole kind of world and meanwhile she’s working out her relationship with this girl named Tessa and she’s pansexual and genderqueer and all the aspects of gender presentation that align with this question of representation for queers on TV that’s going on and so Claire goes on the road with them and kind of goes con hopping with them and about their relationship and her relationship with the show. I really like it a whole lot, guys. There are…some scenes that I know are problematic and that kind of rubbed against people the wrong way. There’s a scene that rubbed against me in a super not great way that had specifically to do with addressing the definition of bisexuality versus the definition of pansexuality and so…it was not a big enough scratch from me to keep me from really loving the book, but if that is someone…

K: If you are someone who identifies as bi you are used to hearing some shit. [Laughs]

C: As a bi person I was like yeah, that’s how, that’s the unfortunate dichotomy of definitions that most people abide by. So it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t the worst case of bi rep or pan rep that I’ve ever seen in terms of the differences between those two things but I do know it was a problem for some people so I do wanna mention it. I just really like fandom books, guys and I really like that thread that runs through so many fandom books I read that is about the difference in identity between your IRL person and your online persona and how those things can be different.

K: I just have real iffy experiences with representations of fandom in mainstream media. Like I know everybody fucking loves Rainbow, but I hated Fangirl so much.

C: I didn’t hate it. It meant a lot to me when I read it. But with time and more reading the problems with it only become more apparent. I have not reread it since the first time.

K: I’m also clocking this right now because Rainbow, who is, I’m not saying she’s a troll, but.

C: She’s a fandom troll.

K: She just announced the Carry On sequel.

C: Carry On My Wayward Son?

K: It’s Just Wayward Son.

C: Is it just? Okay.

K: Clearly she’s not trolling Supernatural fandom, but she’s basically trolling Supernatural fandom.

C: Which like, we won’t link to the cover and you can google it or it’s rolling around on Twitter.

K: Yeah.

C: It’s definitely like…Supernatural. Homage would be putting it generously or politely I guess. It’s fine. Kay is making a face at me right now, guys. But I guess I don’t ever think of Fangirl.

K: I mean, I’ve never been a fan of Rainbow’s in general, so the fact that she wrote a fandom book I hated just makes it, like…I roll my eyes automatically whenever anyone mentions her. Which is not particularly generous of me.

C: That was never a book I’ll usually recommend to people because I do not think it has stood up to the test of time.

K: Which is hilarious, because that book is not that old. [Laughs]

C: It’s really not. Eliza and Her Monsters is amazing. Grace and the Fever is amazing. So like, I feel like even since Fangirl came out in the last five years books about fandom that focus more specifically on…

K: There have been triggering things in every single one of them where I wasn’t gonna read it. So, okay. Can someone just write me a fluffy fandom book that I can read? Please?

C: Yeah, I mean. Fluff is not a word I would necessarily use to describe any of these.

K: No.

C: Ship It comes close. Ship It comes pretty close, but guys Ship It is lovely. Ship It, if nothing else, gives a really hardcore intense fan gratification moments to, it’s uh, I would compare it to almost The West Wing in the way that sometimes it just feels really, really good to see your ideals positively affirmed on the page.

K: See, and Chelsea and I have very different feelings about…

C: Liberal wanking is a different thing we can talk about in terms of that.

K: …The West Wing. [Laughs]

C: This book made me feel in a similar way but in particular relation to fandom and the way my fandom ideals align with the book. There is some stuff in here about RPF that gets a little squicky. We talked in our last episode about how we both feel about that. That’s probably the only other kind of uh not triggering but potentially uncomfortable thing if you’re gonna consider picking it up.

K: I just like a real, real solid opaque fourth wall, y’all.

C: Yeah, that’s where we go with our feelings about it.

K: Never the twain shall meet.

C: Cause like when I came into fandom that’s, as a fandom old, that was one of the hardcore rules.

K: I don’t even know if that’s a fandom old thing. I think it just has to do with your entire attitude towards fandom in general.

C: I guess.

K: Cause there’s different ways of interacting with fandom. Cause there’re fans our age who are super fine with breaking the fourth wall.

C: Oh, I guess, but in my fandom experiences that was always rule number one is like you don’t involve…

K: Please don’t @ any of the actors or creators. Please don’t. Just please don’t.

C: You just don’t ever even if it’s just the most.

K: Benign.

C: Gen, complimentary, you just…

K: And there’s a difference between showing them fanart and sending someone fanfic, too, and you can argue all day about that. But almost everyone is fine with cool fanart of a thing as long as you’re not sending them erotica.

C: Explicitly drawn content.

K: But…

C: Obviously people and creators and receivers of that are all gonna feel differently, but for the kind of Not Now, I’m Reading official stance on the matter, we are strong believers in the fourth wall.

K: We love the fourth wall, please leave it there.

C: Guys, can you tell we haven’t recorded in a while?

[Laughter]

C: Cause we’re talking so much. That was Ship It by Britta Lundin. If you love fandom books, if you love queer rep books, if you love books that talk about queer rep on TV in ways that very, very specifically addresses queerbaiting, this is a book worthy of checking out. So go see if your library has a copy.

K: Alright, so I kind of obliquely mentioned that I was reading this on Twitter, but didn’t actually officially link to it. I mentioned that [Laughs] a writer I follow had posted a fic literally titled Enemies to Lovers and I was like yes. Here for that. Basically none of you are in this fandom. I continue to be sorry about reccing DC Universe stuff. [Laughs] But it’s a thing that happens cause I follow a couple people who post DC Universe stuff.

C: Cough cough, susiecarter.

K: susiecarter, yes, who is wonderful and amazing. Guys, I clocked it a couple episodes ago that there was hardly anything in the Superbat Reverse Bang that I liked. I didn’t realize they were doing rolling posting. So there’s more stuff in it and not just one thing I like. There’s still not a ton of stuff that I like, but there’s more than a thing.

C: Some is better than one.

K: Apologies. Apologies, fam. This one is just under 30,000 words and it’s a bunch of…these tags. [Laughs] I normally would not read this. The tags are: unplanned pregnancy, angry sex, unsafe sex, bad decisions, fuckbuddies, mutual, communication failure, angst with a happy ending. This is not my usual jam.

C: You lost me with the unplanned pregnancy, dude.

K: Yeah!

C: I would’ve back clicked so hard at the first tag.

K: Not my normal jam. But basically Bruce accidentally knocks up Clark and then they play house and it’s very much more angsty than I normally read, but susiecarter’s stuff is achingly lovely and the art for this is gorgeous and you should just maybe give it a try anyway. Also I really love this version of Alfred and Diana as side characters in this. So susiecarter’s characterizations of this are great, as always. So again, just under 30,000 words, Enemies to Lovers by susiecarter.

C: Alright, and then my next two books that I’m gonna talk about are both rereads. Guys, you can probably hear in my voice the giant ridiculous grin that I’m wearing on my face. I love these books so much. These are maybe tied with Spindle Cove and the Beyond books.

K: Wow!

C: My favorite romance series.

K: Whoa!

C: Yeah. Yeah, I like these books a lot. The first one I’m gonna talk about is A Rogue by Any Other Name which is the first book in the Rules of Scoundrels series by Sarah MacLean. Not only does Sarah do wonderful punny titles of which this series is champion, but the whole basic kind of concept of this series revolves around four fallen angels or fallen male members of society and their kind of path to redemption or their path to realizing they don’t necessarily need to be redeemed and I just love them so much they are full of so much angst and male drama and male camaraderie as they deal with having stupid, stupid feelings and not knowing how to process them.

K: Guys, can you tell that these books are Chelsea’s jam, or not?

C: They’re so much my jam. The first one is about the Marquess of Borne, who basically when he was a wee babe of a young man at just twenty-one.

K: [Laughing] A wee babe of young man.

C: I’m pretty sure we have decided that a white man isn’t a man until he’s at least fifty.

K: Yeah, that’s how that works.

C: But anyway, Borne basically loses all of his holdings all of his entail all of his money in a card game and then he has to deal with that and he of course vows revenge on the man who took that from him. Fast forward a handful of years and his childhood friend is on the marriage market, Lady Penelope Marbury, and her father has won Borne’s land in another card game. The guy who won it from Borne won it and Penelope’s dad won it and now Borne is going to marry Penelope to get it back and he’s going to shame the man who took it from him. Only there’s so much more to it, guys. And there’s falling in love. And there’s realizing that maybe revenge isn’t all it’s cut out to be and there’s also what I love about these books for Sarah is that underneath this on top aspect of gentleman’s club is this lady’s club that runs parallel to that so every story is in some way about feminine realization about power and desire which of course is a big what romance is about on the whole but these books very specifically about that through the physical space of the female club. So great! You guys. So that’s, again, A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean, the first book in the Rules of Scoundrels series.

K: Okay, next up, guys. Guys. Old school. Old school! And I was never into this ship when this show was airing. But! Post A Year in the Life some of us got all up in our Rory/Jess feels. [Laughs]

C: Wowwww.

K: Never shipped that when the show was on, cause garbage, but also this au is delightful.

C: I have been wrestling lately with the desire to go back and…I used to watch that show on a loop.

K: I have unfortunately watched that show a lot.

C: I have not seen it since A Year in the Life came out and that.

K: Here’s my thing, I can still enjoy that show, but they’re all really terrible, toxic people and the way that people talk about it, they don’t really mention that. No. They’re all horrible people. Very unhealthy relationships with each other.

C: Me can still retroactively enjoy the thing.

K: You can not put them on a pedestal and still watch and enjoy. The only good person on that show is probably like…Sookie and Lane? And that’s pretty much it.

C: Yeah, that sounds right. Maybe Jackson? For what it’s worth. Maybe.

K: But this au is fantastic. So Jess’s mom gets married to some rich dude and he’s going to Chilton as the same time as Rory.

C: Ohhhhh.

K: And they become bros.

C: Okay, okay.

K: It is super charming. It’s also just under 30,000 words. It’s called this is all addition by subtraction by missgoalie75.

C: It’s a good title.

K: Who’s written a bunch of Gilmore Girls stuff if you’re looking. You know.

C: Never hurts.

K: My diehard ship for this fandom’s mostly just Rory/Paris, because there’s no reason it shouldn’t have been canon the way they wrote that show, frankly.

C: The only possible het ship on that show I could ever get behind is maybe adult Rory with adult Jess, but even then I kinda feel like adult Jess is too good for adult Rory.

K: Yes. Cause Rory’s garbage and Jess actually gets his shit together. [Laughs]

C: But maybe that is the only one I could see even coming close. Unless you’re gonna do it like this where it’s a total au cause this sounds, I would read that. Cause I do love…which, who doesn’t have a soft spot for a hardcore Jess Mariano style bad boy.

K: Their banter is really good and he’s that asshole with a heart of gold.

C: Their banter always was really good on the show.

K: You guys, Alexis Bledel seems like a lovely person, but she’s not a very good actress. She’s still not a very good actress. But she and….

C: Milo Ventimiglia?

K: Always had really good onscreen chemistry. Which I think he just has good onscreen chemistry with everyone.

C: Cause he has it with Mandy Moore and I love Mandy Moore, bless.

K: Same. Adore Mandy Moore, not an amazing actress. I just watched the episodes of Grey’s Anatomy that she was on and she was fine, but put her up against the other people she was in scenes with and you’ve got Miranda Bailey Miranda Baileying all over the place.

C: Well you can’t put anyone up against Chandra Wilson.

K: But again, this is this is all addition by subtraction by missgoalie75 and it’s delightful.

C: Alright, continuing on. Notes on a theme, I’m gonna go ahead and talk about the second book in the Rules of Scoundrels series. I vaguely alluded to this either in the last episode or the episode before that, because I said Sarah MacLean had written my favorite male redheaded hero of all time. Do not roll your eyes at me! I reject your scorn. That’s this book, guys.

K: Guys, I love a good redhead, but. [Laughs]

C: This is Pippa. I love Pippa so much.

K: Yes.

C: So much, guys. This is the book with Pippa Marbury, Lady Philippa Marbury wears glasses, she is a scientist, she loves to read, she never says the right thing, she is interested in botany and biology and anatomy and she’s so, so incredibly awkward and she is the heroine of my heart and she wants to get married and she wants to understand basically the carnal side of marriage. Pippa operates best with facts and knowledge and being prepared basically by learning so she wants to learn basically all the ways of ruination and what goes on behind the passion of the marriage bed and she can’t think of anyone better to ask than her new brother-in-law’s brother and friend, but Cross. And Cross is tortured and ginger and dealing with so much family backstory and family guilt. I love it so much. This book has a scene where he talks her through an orgasm in the library of their gambling hall and he doesn’t touch her within an inch and it is the hottest scene I have ever read in a book. This is one of those scenes that people in the romance community will talk about. I saw it mentioned several times in the RomBookLove memorable sex scenes hashtag day or whatever. So, guys, I just really think you should read the Rules of Scoundrels series. This is my favorite one out of the whole series. I have talked before about how I am super in love with a trope that doesn’t show up super often, but it is basically the idea of like sex for science or it’s like I must engage in sexual activity in order to better understand the ways of the human condition or human procreation or xyz. This also happens in A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare, my favorite in the Spindle Cove series. If you guys know more books like this please DM them to me or shout them out to me on Twitter because I want them and need them. But yeah, that’s One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, so there’s a punny title again. The second book in the Rules of Scoundrels series by Sarah MacLean.

K: Alright, my next rec is called lion man by spqr. I dunno if that’s actually something you’re just supposed to say like it’s a word, I just always say s-p-q-r.

C: I don’t know what word it would be.

K: I mean, speaker. Maybe. But I got [Laughs] who knows!

C: I’m really bad at those figuring out what everybody’s license plate says games, too.

K: The summary is: “Charles,” Raven says. “Seriously, are you okay?”

Charles is fantastic, really. “I’m fantastic,” he says. “Really.” He’s just a bit sore, is all. Also, exhausted. Also, thinking rather too much about a certain blue-eyed ginger to whom he has spoken approximately two words. “Do you know an Erik Lensherr?” This is a modern no-powers ice skating au in which Charles is training again to go back and be a figure skater and Erik is a recently retired NHL player who’s coaching local hockey at the local rink that Raven runs. And guys. It’s fucking delightful. [Laughs] It’s just under 10,000 words. And I don’t really wanna give too many spoilers other than what I already said. It’s really cute and you should read it. lion man by spqr.

C: Or speaker, cause who knows. So that is the end of my book recs so I am gonna go ahead and switch to talking about fic. Both of these.

[Kay’s laughing]

C: I know, you need to calm down.

K: I recced these to you literally a million years ago.

C: I know, but I didn’t re-rec them to myself until The Rec Center did their…

K: Royal Wedding?

C: Royal Marriage AU Rec Center list thing I did. Which was so fantastic and so well timed.

K: I have read basically all of them already cause I’m trash.

C: I have not, but most of them were in my marked for later so I had to go back in and find them.

K: And I wonder why they were in your marked for later. I wonder why they were already in there.

C: So this first one is called Anarchy in the UK by Yahtzee. And it is also a Erik/Charles fic. The summary is: “Good God, Erik thought. The Prince of Wales is gay.

Charles lives in the unceasing glare of the public spotlight, yet keeps his sexual orientation a closely held secret, afraid he could lose his throne and force his deeply troubled younger sister into a role that would crush her. Erik, journalist and world traveler, has been a loner most of his life; he has little patience for closet cases. But a chance meeting in Kenya brings these two opposites together and sets in motion a love affair that will challenge the British monarchy — and their most deeply held beliefs about who they are, and who they should be. Guys, it’s so good.

K: Only one of them is a royal, if you didn’t pick up on that.

C: But the other one is a reporter!

K: Lots of warnings for various stuff, including references to self-harm, cause Raven has severe mental health stuff she’s dealing with.

C: My next warning was you need to check your tags because there’s a powerful…one of the things I love most in this is the sibling relationship, but that sibling relationship comes wrapped up in a whole host of mental health concerns, depression, self-harm, all of those things. It’s also an incredible slow burn. It’s not a short fic. It’s 162k.

K: If you’re looking for something slightly shorter in that fandom, Yahtzee has written a million things that are great in X-Men and some of them are shorter, so.

C: I haven’t read those. I read this and it was great.

K: Just go read everything Yahtzee’s ever written and you’ll be good. [Laughs]

C: That’s fair. One of my favorite things is two of the tags are curtain fic and but with the finest curtains in all the land. And I just…that was a delightful, if you’re gonna get me to read curtain fic that’s a good way to do it, so again, that’s Anarchy in the UK by Yahtzee.

K: Alright, so I recently listened to a book I had read before. It’s called The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. It’s narrated by Fiona Hardingham if you get the audio. If you are familiar with Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand it was this author’s bestselling debut and this is her second book and I liked this much better than I liked Major Pettigrew. Major Pettigrew is set modern and it’s just kind of lit ficcy. This is historical fiction, if you couldn’t guess by the title, it takes place in East Sussex in 1914. So it’s basically the end of the Edwardian summer and it’s one of those sprawling kind of domestic-facing historical fiction. It’s all taking place in one small town. So you get to know most of the people in the town. And those either go really well or really badly for me. I either think they’re super boring or I love them. This one lends more towards I loved it. I feel like I should warn for burying your gays, but also it’s World War I so lots of people die, it’s not like only the queer characters in this die.

C: I tend to not call it burying your gays unless it has specifically to do with their queerness and their gayness as part of why they’re buried. War novels or serial killer novels?

K: I don’t think that Helen Simonson specifically killed off these characters because they’re queer, but some of the main characters that do die are a Romani child and several young queer men.

C: Not great.

K: Not ideal.

C: Counterbalance to that it’s a novel about war so a lot of characters.

K: The main queer character in this who gets killed off gets many, many amazing scenes throughout the book.

C: That’s good.

K: You know, is a fully realized character and is not just used for…trauma drama. But be aware that that is, you know, a thing that’s gonna happen. It’s really long. [Laughs] I think the audiobook was 16 or 17 hours.

C: Wow, that is long.

K: It’s pretty long. You know, sprawling historical fiction doesn’t tend to be short.

C: That’s a 5, 600 page book, man.

K: Yeah, it’s right around there. But it’s lovely and I really love…it’s hard to say someone’s a main character in a book, but I think Beatrice would probably be considered the main character and she’s wonderful. She’s from a well-off family. She traveled around with her itinerant professor father for a long time. Most recently they were out in the American West, but then her father got ill and went home and basically betrays everything they ever do and signs all his money over to a trust. So she’s living off of basically nothing and has to get a job as a teacher because her aunt and uncle are assholes. So that kicks off the action because she’s coming to this small town to be a teacher and everything happens from there. I love her. She’s one of my favorite heroines in a long time. And there’s a really lovely…there are several lovely little romances in this too. It’s not a romance novel, but there are great romantic subplots in it. So again, that’s The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, narrated by Fiona Hardingham.

C: Alright, so my last fic rec is another one that came from the Royal Wedding Rec Center list can you tell I’ve been kind of working my way through that a little bit? Guys, I didn’t think I was gonna care and I just woke up and I still don’t care about the actual royal wedding, but I do care about seeing most of the world getting to be happy about a thing for like day. And that’s great. I’m all here for that so I got a little swept up in that and then this rec list came around and I was like I want all of these feelings to continue and boy howdy did they. I loved this fic so much so spoiler alert I still have not seen the canon.

[Kay laughs]

C: From whence this fic doth come. It’s Merlin. It didn’t really seem to matter.

K: Nah. yeah. You’re good.

C: Modern au. Didn’t seem to.

K: Don’t worry about it.

C: Here’s the thing, if there was something missing now, I wouldn’t have…

K: I would’ve told you if there was something you desperately needed to watch before reading this.

C: But the summary of this one is: A Modern day Merlin AU set at the University of St Andrews, featuring teetotal kickboxers, secret wizards, magnificent bodyguards of various genders, irate fairies, imprisoned dragons, crumbling gothic architecture, arrogant princes, adorable engineering students, stolen gold, magical doorways, attempted assassination, drunken students, shaving foam fights, embarrassing mornings after, The Hammer Dance, duty, responsibility, friendship and true love…And it is all of those things and even more.

K: If you’ve ever even briefly been in that fandom, you’ve already read this.

C: Or if you’re like me, a kind of continually tragic sucker for a really good college au or  late high school au I just like…guys I grew up with a really deep love for British boarding school novels and I seem to not get over it even in fic. This is Merlin fic. It’s an Arthur/Merlin fic, it’s called The Student Prince by FayJay. It’s another long one, where’s…it’s 145k so this is another long one to kind of sit yourself down into. But it’s so much fun, you guys, and it really does go so fast when you’re reading it. The author’s note at the beginning said it was inspired by Prince William of Wales Max von Hapsburg actually going to University of St Andrews, which is a lovely place to start from in this au. But I just really, really, really loved it, so if you are looking for a little bit of your school novels in the summer I would definitely recommend picking this one up it’s another slow burn that I think everybody will love.

K: Alright, and my last one is say hey if you’re gay by decideophobia.

C: Hey! [Laughs]

K: Why are you like this?

C: I’ve been waiting for this moment since I saw this, I’m sorry, go ahead.

K: say hey if you’re gay.

C: Hey.

K: Kay. Now I was prepared for it. It’s by decideophobia, it’s a Teen Wolf fic. It’s just super charming. These tags: pining, Alive Hale Family, which I’m always here for alive Hales, get together, 5+1 things, and it’s a human college au, so Chelsea needs to read this.

C: Yes, please.

K: The summary is: Five times Stiles says hey, plus one time when Derek finally gets it. [Laughs] It’s so charming. I just…it’s really cute. Derek has a shirt that says ‘say hey if you’re gay’ and doesn’t realize he keeps wearing it when Stiles shows up. And he has this really crushing crush on Stiles and doesn’t realize it’s mutual.

C: That sounds wonderful.

K: Go read it, it’s just over 7,000 words. Again, that’s say hey if you’re gay by decideophobia.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

C: Alright, friends, and those are all of our currently readings, so we are finally going to talk about our book of the episode, which is Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede.

[Kay squeaks]

C: Which was so good and the only thing I’ve been able to say since I read it is I’ll just be forever sad that young me didn’t get to read it because as much as I love it now, I also read it with the knowledge that eleven-year-old me would just have been so overwhelmingly enamored with this book because it’s so good.

K: I think it first came out in 92, maybe? So I did actually read this at the appropriate time, which is fantastic.

C: I would’ve been four at the time but by the time I was actually old enough to get around to reading, to me this very much so, although in my opinion it’s better, fits in with the Alanna books that I read or some of the very, very early Ursula Le Guin books that I read in terms of that general genre, that particular age group. The book is about Cimorene.

K: A princess of Linderwall.

C: Who is everything.

K: It’s a very boring, normal kingdom. She has a very nice, boring family who wants her to be nice and boring and she’s just not having it. Yeah.

C: She doesn’t want to do any of that. She wants to speak Latin and learn and have adventures and meet a dragon and become a dragon’s princess.

K: She doesn’t do that on purpose. She’s one of those people who trips accidentally into adventures because she’s trying to not be bored all the time. She takes the advice of a not-enchanted frog, but a frog who picked up some tricks from some enchanted frogs. [Laughs]

C: Just like.

K: It’s just so funny and charming. All the little…it takes fantasy stuff and twists it just a little in a very entertaining way.

C: One thing I do think that is delightful that I don’t know I would’ve necessarily picked on as much as a younger reader is this book can get very meta about fairy tales.

K: Yes.

C: There’s one in particular moment that I laughed at so hard and it’s when they meet the stone knight.

K: The stone prince?

C: And he’s talking about how he went to prince school with all these other princes and one of the other boys is named Art.

K: You haven’t read that book, yet, have you?

C: No, I haven’t read any of the others.

K: There’s, in one of the future books, they go find an adventurer’s school, basically.

C: That sounds wonderful. And the stone knight went to adventure school with a boy named Art who eventually went home to pull a sword out of a stone and a boy named Jack who went back to his farm and ended up meeting and slaying a giant so there are all of these very clear meta-signalings to fairy tales and folklores and the tropes of those things are delightful at any age is extra delightful.

K: The wink wink nod nod worldbuilding stuff in these is fantastic and does reward rereading, even for older readers. I’m really looking forward to Chelsea reading the rest of this series, because this has one of my favorite romances in a series for young readers.

C: Interesting!

K: She eventually does get married.

C: Really! It’s gotta be a special prince who’s gonna win Cimorene’s heart.

K: The King of the Enchanted Forest. Who has a magic sword that helps….

C: Spoilers!

K: Whatever. It’s pretty old.

C: That’s the thing, I don’t feel like the intrinsic plot developments are necessarily the thing I am reading for when I am reading them. They are delightful and the pacing is very quick they’re not very long the book does, I listened to it on audio.

K: I did not love the audio.

C: The audio has a full cast production.

K: it’s very old-school.

C: Does not hold up super well. Gets a little tinny, a little buzzy, and that’s just on the straight production end, that doesn’t even get into the voice acting it’s just…it felt a little bit like when you used to check out the book from the library that had the book and the tape in a bag together.

K: This definitely used to be that, yes.

C: But that being said, I think I am in general a bigger fan of full cast audio in general than you are.

K: Yeah, I generally am just not a fan.

C: That’s also how I listened to The Golden Compass. Maybe it’s just middle grade books I missed out on in middle grades.

K: And I am more willing to listen to a full cast radio play than I am a full cast audiobook. There’s just something about, you know.

C: Unless you can do it like Disney does where we’re talking about highest end. Which I know you still don’t love.

K: It’s fine.

C: But that level of production quality usually is gonna need to come along with it. These are not that, they’re a little older, but I still loved it and it’s really quick. The audiobook’s only four and a half hours long or something.

K: Can we talk about the amazing female friendships? There continue to be more amazing female friendships.

C: We can, because that’s the flip side of my thing. I love that every male in this book is a giant doofus. Every boy in this book…

K: Big ol’ fail whale.

C: Some in a lovable way, like, you know, the stone prince is a lovable fail. But he’s still a fail. And then you have your highly toxic masculine gross wizard folks that are fail whale in a different way. This book is full of awesome ladies and really dippy dudes.

K: And they’re all super different and we don’t talk shit about them for being traditional. Cimorene does not dislike the princesses for being traditional princesses.

C: Not at all, it’s super rad. One of her kind of services in the book that she forms is for princesses who want the traditional saved by a knight experience she helps facilitate that.

K: She’ll send the knights in the right direction.

C: Of a princess who wants to be save cause Cimorene’s having none of it. She kind of invites into her dragon other princesses who are not…

K: Elianora is great.

C: I love ’em so much. Can we talk about Morwen and all her cats?

K: I have for a long time talked about how I aspire to be half as no-nonsense as Morwen when I become an actual adult someday.

C: Which was hilarious, because I was talking to Jenny and Di on Twitter about this book, and I’m pretty sure Di said Morwen is who she wants to be when she grows up, still.

K: There’s a reason Di and I are friends.

[Laughter]

K: But I want that sign.

C: Yeah, I just really, really want her.

K: None of this nonsense, please.

C: It’s just so good in this book, you guys.

K: And I love that there’s so much value placed on domesticity as well as adventurousness for the female characters in this book. They take pride in the domestic things that they do. Cimorene is great at organizing things and cleaning and cooking. Morwen makes her own cider and all sorts of stuff like that. And those are things they take pride in just as much as they take pride in their magical shenanigans.

C: Things that come in handy! Cimorene’s attention to detail and able to take well attuned notes actually becomes important in plot developments throughout the course of this book. I also just really, really appreciate the way, or the kind of, teacher to student or mentor-mentee relationships set up between the dragons and their princesses. We see a lot of male to male mentor-mentee fantasy relationships but not nearly as many female to female ones.

K: Can we talk about how [Laughs] Cimorene is delightfully confused by the difference between King and Queen of the Dragons? Because no, no, no those are totally different jobs. Nothing to do with gender. No one’s even been Queen of the Dragons in ages [Laughs] cause it’s a really boring job nobody wants.

C: She’s talking about how, what’s her dragon’s name?

K: Kazul.

C: Kazul, she wants to run for King of the Dragons and Cimorene’s confused, because Kazul is a female and wouldn’t you be the queen?

K: No! Different job.

C: No, that’s boring, nobody wants to be queen. It’s boring. And she’s like the current King was a boy, but that doesn’t matter.

K: Coincidence!

C: Fucking awesome. Just so rad to me. I love it now as an adult, I would’ve loved it then as an eleven-year-old. I really loved this book, guys.

K: There are so many lovely little things in this that just make it really special.

C: All packed into 200 pages.

K: I would love to give this to young readers that I know and other readers our age that I know who have not had the opportunity to read these. And the entire series is great and charming. And there’s wonderful overarching plot stuff that happens. There’re characters from this who keep popping up. It’s so good.

C: I could not, I will not lie, I could not help trying to compare and contrast this to the Pern series which I did read when I was older than this, a teenager, the only comparison there being dragons.

K: I was gonna say, I’ve managed to never read those.

C: Obviously they are very different. Did not end up actually being able to compare man comparisons outside dragons. But it makes me think harder about the way we’ve imagined dragons in the manner of narratives. Because they’re every important to different books in different ways and the personification of dragons is much more harmonious in this book.

K: The dragons in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles are very distinctly dragony, but also they’re people. So take that how you will. You just need to read it, guys.

C: It’s so good guys.

K: It’s a very quick read. Your library will almost certainly have a copy. And if not, you’ll definitely be able to find cheap paperback copies somewhere because they’ve been very popular around the world for a long time. I just love these.

C: You said there were four novels?

K: And a short story collection.

C: I’m on hold for the second.

K: The fourth novel Cimorene is hardly in it, but the first three she’s basically the central character. The fourth one is about her kid.

C: Okay.

K: Going on an adventure.

C: I’m all here for that. That works.

K: Hold on, I’ll read the titles here. So the first one is Dealing with Dragons. The next one is Searching for Dragons. That’s the one where Kazul goes missing and Cimorene has to track her down. Then Calling on Dragons, in which they have more difficulty with wizards who are trying to take over the Enchanted Forest and it’s not cool, man. Not cool. Then you’ve got Talking to Dragons which is about their child. And Book of Enchantments is the collection of short stories. There’s ten short stories set in the Enchanted Forest, including one about Queen Cimorene’s frying pan of doom, which is just. It’s really good. Just delightful. I hate the cover of Book of Enchantments, and I think throughout the ages they’ve had really good covers on most of these.

C: I was gonna say, I really like these cheesy 90s fantasy covers.

K: They’ve had a lot of different versions and I’ve liked almost all of the cover art they’ve gone through, but Book of Enchantments has a really middling cover and that’s too bad cause they’re pretty fun.

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

C: Alright, friends, thank you guys so much for coming and listening to us just gush nonsensically.

K: We love this book so much.

C: So much.

K: We love this series so much. You guys should all go pick up a copy as soon as possible.

C: Let it be a little shining light and goodness unto you, friends. Go enjoy. Be blessed. I love these books so much.

K: They’re so great.

C: Forever sad I didn’t have them then, so grateful I have them now.

K: Still wanna be Morwen when I grow up someday.

C: I’ll spend my whole life wanting to be Morwen when I grow up.

[Laughter]

C: Alright, so what we have coming up. We are super, super excited. When it rains, it pours around here, you guys.  We actually have our second ever author interview for our next episode.

K: And again, I was not there, because big girl job is the worst.

C: Stupid day jobs are the worst. So I had the chance to sit down with Layla Rayne, whose book Imperial Stout is a male/male romantic political suspense thriller action movie book. Layla and I got to talk about coming from her background in TV fandom and her love for action movies and how that translates to her writing. The overlap she also writes contemporary so we also talked about that. And of course about what she’s currently reading.

K: And I’m excited that Chelsea has someone with similar taste in angst levels so she can finally read some romantic suspense that really works for her. Cause I don’t do as much angst! So romantic suspense that I like is more like Julie James, which is good, but it’s not her jam.

C: Yeahhh. This was deffo my jam. Add to that so, we talk a little bit about this in the interview, y’all know I have this long seeded ting for Good Will Hunting. I love a good Southie. The dude in this book is a Southie. So, plus, she, coming from fandom, she talks a little bit about how she does fancasting in her head, she’s just gotten used to that, I freak the fuck out because one of the fancasts for the hero of her first book is Armie Hammer.

[Kay bursts into laughter]

C: You are laughing, but guys, when she said the name, I was literally just kind of seeing red and all my internal processors shut down.

K: There was no more listening, now.

C: So I went and bought the first four books in that series to mainline when I have a second. So.

K: Guys, I’m really glad. This worked out well.

C: I was very excited. We talked about a lot of stuff. She gives a lot of good starter titles. We do a little bit of a primer if romantic suspense is not necessarily your thing. Because for as much as I love angst, I have not read a ton of it.

K: Which blows my mind and I think it’s mostly just cause I am your main recommender.

C: My primary source of recommendations and that is one of those things. Love you to death, but having a primary source is you don’t read it, so I just haven’t read a ton of it. Which is fine!

K: I try very hard to tailor my recommendations for people, but if I don’t have it, I don’t have it. And the super angsty stuff I just…I can get you recs from other people.

C: And y’all know me. Don’t be surprised if the next deep dive well that I decide to go down.

K: 100% just gonna be really angsty queer romantic suspense.

C: I am literally just so excited to give you guys that interview. So that will be next time. Imperial Stout is not actually out, yet. We’ll have pre-order links available. Agents Irish and Whiskey is already available, if you wanna go check out a little bit of what Layla Reyne has going on. And then the episode after that!

[Kay squeaks]

C: I know.

K: We’re so bad about doing second books in series, but we’re doing the first and second books of this series this year!

C: Literally the first time it’s ever happened.

K: We somehow miss them. Always miss them! [Laughs]

C: We’ve done first and third a couple times, never done a whole, but maybe this will be the series we actually do all the books on.

K: God, I hope so.

C: We haven’t actually said what the book is. It’s A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole.

K: It’s soooo good. There’s literal clutching of faces right now, fam. [Laughs] We can’t get into it right now, cause guys. We just have to finish this outro.

C: So lots of really exciting things. You can find us at all of our various internet homes. The podcast lives at nnirpodcast.wordpress.com and patreon.com/nnirpodcast. You can find me on Twitter @anoutlawlife.

K: You can find me basically everywhere on the internet, including Twitter, @kaytaylorrea.

C: And until next time, friends, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and have happy reading. Bye.

K: Bye!

[Funin’ and Sunin’ by Kevin MacLeod plays]

Outtakes

K: Absolutely. You’re still louder than me, so it’s about right.

C: I just feel like we should stop having to state. I don’t walk in here like gravity holds us to the earth every day, so why you gotta say things we know to be true?

C: Uh, there’s definitely some —

K: Hey, you smell terrible. Please stop.

C: Can you not yell at my dog while I’m trying to say smart things?

K: It’s so, so bad.

[Laughs]

C: Then kick her out, I don’t know why you let her in here to begin with.

K: I was gonna say, you still haven’t said what the fandom is, who wrote it, or what it’s called, yet.

C: Uh, I’m pretty sure…yeah, that’s fair.

K: Who knows? Guys, who, I don’t fucking, your names are all the worst, I hate you all.

[Laughter]

C: She takes it back, she doesn’t hate you.

C: Fucking Christine Yang. Christina Yang?

K: Do you mean Sandra Oh?

C: Yes. That’s the person.

K: Guys, we also fucking love Sandra Oh. Go watch–

Both: Killing Eve.

[Laughter]

 

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