Episode #119 Transcript: Surprise Twist

Episode Number: 119
Episode Title: Surprise Twist (listen to this episode)
Transcript by: Susan the Great
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Ana: Hi friends! I’m Ana.

Renay: And I’m Renay.

Ana: And you’re listening to Fangirl Happy Hour.

[music break]

Ana: Winter has well and truly arrived here in the UK. There is an Arctic cold front here. And I am in a perpetual state of freezing and forgetting to layer up like a goddamn amateur; even though I have been here for almost fifteen years. How are you doing, Renay?

Renay: The other day I wore a t-shirt outside.

Ana: Oh, shut up.

Renay: Climate change!

Ana: Listen, speaking of climate change: there’s a group of Brazilians now, they are called Flat Earthers. So they just hired a boat to go around the world to prove that the world is flat. They are going around the world. [laughs] I love these people. It’s hilarious.

Renay: [laughs]

Ana: Anyway, today we’re going to recap what we’ve been watching, finally discuss Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Renay has a special interview with a special guest: author C.L. Polk.

Renay: She is so, so lovely.

Ana: And then after that we will share what we’re obsessing over this week and there’s gonna be a surprise there.

[music break]

Ana: We did have our annual survey last year, but we were so busy and tired and we didn’t get to talk about it a lot. However, Renay, the survey nerd, still has a lot to discuss. Don’t you, Renay?

Renay: The big survey nerd is here. There are no really big spoilers this year. We read a lot, we like podcasts, and only one person broke the space bee pledge about no negative self-talk. Don’t neg yourself in our form, space bees. Only talk about how you are awesome.

So some takeaways from the survey this year: thanks to Galactic Suburbia for once again being the folks that brought most of our listeners to us. We appreciate you very much. R2-D2 is the most popular robot pal, so congrats R2. Most of you who are listening started listening in 2015, and then it falls from there, which means our relevance is fading.

Ana: No negative self-talk! Just got you.

Renay: I have decided that local activism and democracy is not important so I’m now dedicating my life to this podcast.

Next up, most people enjoy segments about what we’re reading and watching, with Vaults being a close second. And y’all will be very happy because those things are happening on time, all year, unless I am dead. And one of the last questions on the survey was: I asked that space bees leave an anonymous message. A bunch of space bees did leave an anonymous message!

Ana: How nice!

Renay: The first one was, “I said yes to too many projects at work and I’m really feeling the pressure from that. I’m hoping things ease up by the end of the month, but nothing is guaranteed.” Dear space bee: this was in December, so I really hope that your work pressure has lessened.

Ana: We both know the feeling.

Renay: Oh yeah.

Comment number two: “SPACE BEE WORLD DOMINATION! First, we built the hives, next we installed rockets. Third, we taught the bees how to power the rockets. Fourth, we destroyed all the bee endangering pesticide. Fifth, we counted down to launch. Sixth, we built bee colonies in space. Seventh, the bees came back to Earth, ready for us.”

Ana: Awww!

Renay: They wrote us a little science fiction story! That was so sweet!

Ana: I love it.

Renay: Comment number three is, “Check out Smash Fiction Podcast. They’re great. They aren’t as popular as they should be,” so space bees, there’s a rec for you. Smash Fiction Podcast.

Comment number four: “I hope both of you and all your family, friends, and listeners, have a wonderful luck from now on. I’m sending you all good vibes.”

Ana: Awww.

Renay: Thank you, space bee! Comment number five, “Please encourage indie writers because the indie publishing scene is the closest you will come to fanfic quality works when it comes to books.” I’m trying to think if I’ve read any indie authors recently. I don’t think I have.

Ana: That is actually very true. I love a lot of the people that I published. and a lot of them came from fanfiction.

Renay: Space bee, if you’re still listening to us, if you want to email us some suggestions for indie authors to check out, to fangirlhappyhour@gmail.com, please do! If anybody else has indie authors that we should be reading, you can also send us an email. We would really appreciate the recommendations.

Ana: Just another excuse for Renay to make another list.

Renay: I see your shade and I’m going to disregard it.

Ana: [laughs]

Renay: Comment number six is, “I always look forward to new episodes and new recs, keep it coming.” Yes. Yes, I will. Keep it coming for you as new episodes will come out on time unless I am dead.

The very last question was for each person who took the survey to say something nice about themselves. This is really, really hard. A lot of us are not necessarily trained by society to be kind to ourselves. To find value in our existence; to recognize our achievements; or to celebrate the positive things that we bring to the world. I struggle with this constantly. I have a small notebook and every week I have to write one positive thing about myself for my therapy homework. It’s hard every single time. It does get easier with practice.

Ira, one of my friends and our show artist, talks about positivity and negative self-talk as little grooves that we wear into our sense of self. We have the negative grooves, but with practice we can cut new positive grooves to fill in and replace the negative ones. I’m really happy for the people who did this even though it was really hard and even though they could have put anything in the form to continue.

But one person didn’t, and if that one person is still listening, I wanna say that I understand that self-deprecation can feel comforting, but in the long run, it’s not the healthiest way to talk about yourself. I hope that you know that you’re a person with value and you’re deserving of love and respect, especially from yourself. Putting negative things about yourself into the world, even in an anonymous form that doesn’t seem that important, is really much less than you deserve.

Otherwise, thanks to all the space bees who took the survey this year. I always really appreciate reading your thoughts about the podcast and how we can continue to make it better, so thank you.

[music break]

Ana: This week we will be talking about what we are watching. What have you been watching?

Renay: I watched a Star War over the holidays. So one of the family traditions that Zach and I are going to start is watching all of the main Star Wars films during December.

Ana: And to think that before we started this podcast, and I forced you, you had not even ever watched these movies in their entirety, much less all of them. And now, it’s a thing in your life. You’re so very welcome, Renay.

Renay: Yes, Ana, thank you so much. So this means that we’re watching the prequels, and then Solo, which I actually sort of liked?

Ana: Nooooooooo! I just feel like Darth Vader coming out of his thing and then looking at his body going, Nooooooooo!

Renay: I did not like the beginning.

Ana: I know, right?!

Renay: I was very mad. Anyway, Donald Glover’s Lando was perfect.

Ana: That was the only good thing about this movie.

Renay: Chewie was great.

Ana: Also a good thing about the movie.

Renay: I really liked the little romance/past friendship thing and I liked that in the end, she’s like, “Peace.”

Ana: I thought the movie was so unbearably boring; completely unnecessary.

Renay: I could see how you would think that. I just ended up liking it for what it was. It also helped that I watched it earlier, because once I got toward the end, because obviously after Solo, Rogue One, we went to like the original series. Once I got to the very last movie in that series I was just like, “Oh, I’m so tired,” and Zach has the weird copies where at the very end, Anakin’s force ghost returns as Hayden Christensen. Fuck off, George Lucas.

Ana: [laughs]

Renay: Fuck off. I mean, he did. He sold it Disney and fucked off, so: thanks!

And then I got to watch the new ones, which are wonderful. Like, I love them so much. I love them unconditionally. They’re so good.

Ana: I have only watched The Last Jedi once at the movies. I haven’t watched it again. I really need to do that.

Renay: Listen, I have the Ewok movies. We did not watch the Ewok movies, although Zach tried it.

Ana: [laughs]

Renay: He tried it.

Ana: I would rate the Ewok movies above the prequels and Solo. Don’t @ me. I said that without having watched the Ewok movies for like thirty years. [laughs]

Renay: FYI Patrons.

Ana: No!

Renay: If someone wants to suggest an Ewok movie!

Ana: No! [cry-laughs]

Renay: You’re welcome, Ana. You’re welcome. I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be a Vault poll post going up on Patreon soon, suggestions can go there. Unless you wanna use your slot for something else, which is understandable. But I’m just gonna throw it out there.

The next thing that I watched was a few episodes of the new Marie Kondo show. I will admit: I have never read her book, and what I knew about her was like, “cut up your books that you wanna keep something from them.” But I don’t think that’s accurate, that’s not what she does. I really like her method, I think it’s very nice and kind. I did watch the first episode where I was of the opinion that the lady wasn’t finished, once she had finished tidying, because she hadn’t thrown the whole goddamn husband out the door—

Ana: [laughs] Did you feel like that relationship will end in divorce at some point? Did you feel the tension? I did feel so much tension in that relationship there.

Renay: I felt a lot of tension, but maybe the dude will watch the episode and see how much of an asshole he was, and maybe fix his ways. Who knows?

Ana: Unlikely.

Renay: Stranger things have happened. Solo got made.

Anyway, I watched the next episode with the family, I think, in California? They were so lovely and charming! I loved watching all the family members realize how much pressure they were putting on their wife and mom, and get better about taking care of their own business. It was so heartwarming!

I don’t know. I find this show so calming, and also feels very much like mindfulness. I know there’s something that she’s using: animism? But to me, it really feels like the mindfulness that I practice with CBT. Of just being present with the things that you own, and like saying hello to your house. I really like that. It kind of feels embarrassing, too, but at the same time I’m like, “Oh, this is so nice!” But I also think that introspection and feelings and that type of spiritual mindfulness is something that US culture sort of shames, and so I’m trying to unpack all my embarrassment when I watch her do that, because I think that’s a failing in me.

Ana: Actually, yesterday, my favorite pair of boots died on me. It was raining, and then I realized there were two holes. And it’s my favorite pair of shoes, and I’ve had them for almost ten years now, and I kind of like, well not “I kind of like,” I did. I did say thank you so much for being there for me all these years and I said goodbye, and I threw it out. I thought of Marie Kondo when I did that.

Renay: It also makes you more aware of—I want to say money, but that’s not the right way to think about it. Money might just be like a way to conceptualize the thing where you spend money on something, and it’s in your life. Not only did you spend money on it, but your work, your effort, your productivity, your time, to earn the money to buy that object. So not only are you thanking that object, you’re actually thanking yourself for the effort and the time you put in to purchase that product and bring it into your life. And I really like that idea of thanking past me.

Ana: What she makes me think of is of wastefulness, too, and how much we spend on things we don’t need. When I moved recently, I realized that I had pieces of clothing that I just bought just because and I hadn’t worn them for years, sometimes. And I’m trying to be much more aware and mindful of the things that I purchase and the things that I consume.

Renay: The rest of my things are also on your list so what have you been watching?

Ana: I watched the new Spider-Man movie, Into the Spider-verse. I had no idea this was actually coming out, and I remember when I first heard about it was on the week that it came out when people started talking about it. And I was like, “There’s a new Spider-Man movie?” and then I realised it was actually an animation from Sony, so it wasn’t an MCU movie. And I was a little bit dubious about it, but the reviews were just so awesome: all saying how this is the best Spider-Man movie ever.

I went and I watched it. I caved and I watched it, and my god. It was just such a brilliantly made, beautiful animation. Amazing soundtrack and the storyline was just superbly well done. It was fantastic, I really really loved it.

And then very recently last week, a new show came out on Netflix called Sex Education, and it’s with Asa Butterfield and Gillian Anderson plays his mother. Gillian Anderson is a sex therapist and her son is in secondary school. And it’s set in England. And from the trailer it seems like the silliest comedy YA show, because Asa Butterfield becomes a sex therapist to his high school friends. But the trailer is just so misleading and the show is so thought-provoking. It’s the most diverse show I’ve seen recently. It does things so very naturally.

For example, Asa’s character’s best friend is a Black gay guy who likes to sometimes dress in drag. Asa dresses in drag together with him, and they go out together and the mum’s like, “You look fantastic.” It’s really good. I really enjoyed the show. It’s kind of like the best of the best YA contemporary novels into a show that has the most amazing soundtrack.

I also loved the optics of the show. It just looks like a show set in the eighties. In fact, in the first episode with the soundtrack and the way that people were dressed, you think the show is not set in our times. Nobody had a mobile; like nobody has a mobile here, so this is not our times. But the very last scene the character pulls a mobile out of his pocket so it is our time, and it’s not like an old mobile or anything. It’s a smart phone. I read it as an alternate universe contemporary YA and Gillian Anderson is amazing in it.

Renay: One of our patrons recced this to us.

Ana: Yeah, I watched it one Saturday.

Renay: Well, congratulations, Daniel. Ana took your recommendation.

Ana: Yes, it was just so good. Finally, and this is gonna come as a surprise to everybody! I’ve played a game.

Renay: Yes! Ana played a video game! I’m so excited!

Ana: So I’ve been commuting now about six hours a day, so I asked Renay for recommendation of an easy game that I could play on my Android phone. She found and recommended Monument Valley. And we both downloaded the game, and we played it together, and we really, really enjoyed it. It’s a beautiful game. I played it within four hours altogether? It was very relaxing. And even though it’s about geometry and really cool, mind-bending—how would you call it, Renay?

Renay: Yeah, it plays with perspective.

Ana: Yes, exactly, with perspective, and it makes you really have to concentrate, but in the way that is really soothing rather than stressful. It was really good and it had a really nice story too about a little girl who has to go through portals and in the end to do something that was good for that particular world.

Renay: The story is one of my favorite parts, because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect the little story that it came with. The story isn’t prescriptive, you can really take away from the story what you want. I played it in about two hours, two to three hours. I actually spent more time on the very last level than I did on the whole game combined, that last level was—

Ana: —was super hard.

Renay: It was super hard, but it was also beautiful, oh wow. And the music is great. Also, in the middle there, there’s like heart-breaking—

Ana: Oh my god, it was traumatizing!

Renay: Am I crying over a block?! Yes! Yes, I am.

Ana: A little block friend.

Renay: Monument Valley: you can play it on iOS and Android. Also maybe Windows phones now? And there is a sequel called Monument Valley 2. It is four dollars.

Ana: I think it was £3.99.

Renay: It’s not very expensive and it’s a hundred percent worth the price of admission. It’s so beautiful. If you’re between books; can’t decide what to read; want something relaxing to do before you go to sleep at night, yeah, I would highly recommend.

Ana: Agreed.

Renay: I got Ana to play a game and she liked it!

[music break]

Renay: Back in December, C.L. Polk, author of Witchmark, was kind enough to sit down with me and chat about her work. I loved Witchmark. In fact, I was looking at novels that I wanted to nominate for the Hugo and I’m like, “I didn’t read enough novels to nominate anything,” but Witchmark is there so guess what’s going on my Hugo ballot? I loved it so much, so I was very excited to sit down and chat with her for a little while. So if you have not read Witchmark, there may be a few major spoilers. I highly recommend you check it out, because there is a sequel coming. So let’s go ahead and listen to my interview with C.L. Polk.

[music break]

Renay: We so Ana and I read your book, Witchmark, earlier this year. We really liked it! We often get in fights about books, which is a good sign, but also fought about your book, because that’s what we do, we fight about books.

C.L. Polk: Oh awesome, so what did you fight about?

Renay: We had this very long, intense discussion about Grace.

C.L.: Oh! Okay! Awesome!

Renay: And whether we liked her, whether she was a good example of morally grey character—I cut it out of the actual episode, but I mentioned to Ana that there was gonna be a sequel which was gonna feature her. Ana let out this sound that was so loud that I had to rip my headphones off.

C.L.: [laughs] It’s kind of funny. I knew that Grace was gonna be kind of contentious for a lot of people; that people were either gonna like her or they were gonna wanna drown her in a bucket.

Renay: I liked her as a character. She was really great, but I was like, “Do I like you as a person right now? Hmm. Maybe we need the sequel for this.” And Ana made the point that it’s nice to see female characters like that, period, because we don’t often get that. Okay, first question: why alternate history?

C.L.: Because I had this vision of this city in my mind. It wasn’t New York. It wasn’t London. It wasn’t Chicago. It wasn’t turn of the century gold rush Vancouver—it was all of them smushed together. I couldn’t actually sit down and say, “Well, I’m gonna set this in a magical New York,” or “I’m gonna set this in a magical Chicago.” I wanted the Triangle building, which is really weird seeing as it’s published by Tor, which is in the Triangle building. And I wanted an extensive parliament and a great big palace and all this other stuff that you’re actually gonna see more of in the second book. I wanted this area of the southern end of the city to be like my hometown, New West Minister, British Columbia. I kind of mashed them all together in my head and I was like, “East to west geopolitics, the further east you live the poorer you are, and that follows across the entire city.”

Very simply put, because the city was just so vibrant in my mind, there was exactly no way I could make it an Earth historical fantasy, so I said to heck with it and developed Aeland. I developed Kingston. I figured out what their government was like; how it was like the British parliamentary system; how it was like the US House and Senate system. I went into all of this detail entirely inside my head. I didn’t write any of it down. When it came time to actually write it all out it kind of came out in this way where I rushed through it because the story was so vivid in my mind that I was literally typing as fast as I could to keep up with the images in my head. The first draft was a nightmare, and I thought, “Well, can I make it a twentieth century earth city now?” and I was like no, no way. So it’s all Aeland’s fault; too long, didn’t read.

Renay: No, your city is great. It feels like somewhere you’ve been. It’s very vivid when you read. It’s like you know the feeling of that city and so you did a very great job of bringing your vision to the page.

C.L.: Oh, awesome, thank you.

Renay: Because when I was reading this book I was like ,”I wanna go here,” because it sounds like – well, number one a little horrifying, but number two: fascinating.

C.L.: I think it’s two things. They’re both kind of imaginary things. I don’t have real life examples for either these things. But one is the idea that the bicycle craze of New York of 1895 never died, and so bicycle culture has taken over. And there is such a thing as a car, somebody invented it, it’s huge, it’s luxurious, it is heavy and it’s incredibly expensive, and the only people who can afford them don’t like them because they run on aether.

Renay: Whoa! I didn’t even know there was a bicycle craze in New York.

C.L.: Yes! There was totally a bicycle craze, it was actually the bicycle craze of the late nineteenth century, it happened in New York—it happened in Minneapolis. It happened super super a lot in Minneapolis, they put down citywide bicycle infrastructure, separated bike lanes, across all of Minneapolis, and then it was just this craze.

Especially in New York, which was what I read where they would have social rides, and if you went for a first there it was a bicycle ride with somebody, and I did that except lesbians. Basically what happened was because bicycles were so popular, people who were selling bicycles found a way to mass manufacture bicycles, so they became cheaper, so poor people could buy them—and then the bicycle craze ended, because of classism. And I decided that wasn’t cool, so I decided that people in Aeland were like, “Well, you ride this standard bicycle that they pump out by the hundreds, and mine is ultra-fancy and that’s how you know I’m rich.”

I really, really wanted the bicycle culture of Aeland, because I am a transportation bicyclist. I have my very own Dutch-style step-to bicycle. I ride really slow on Calgary’s really nice paths along the river and stuff to get to where I go. I have literally been that girl with the flower bouquet hanging out of my basket, coffee cup in my drink holder on my handlebars. It’s very bougie.

Renay: That sounds amazing, though. I would love to live somewhere that had bike culture.

C.L.: Ours is kinda neat, because it’s very much like, you have the people who just ride on the pathways and that’s all they do. That’s me. And then you have the people who are really lobbying hard for city planning to put down like separated bike lane—bicycle infrastructure—and then you have everybody in this really huge city full of suburbs that drive cars who are super mad about it.

Renay: We have those here, but they get mad about sidewalks.

C.L.: Mad? About sidewalks?

Renay: Yeah, they don’t want sidewalks in the neighborhoods.

C.L.: Jane Jacob’s spinning in her grave right now! Spinning! In her grave! Counter-clockwise! [laughs]

Renay: Sidewalks are a huge issue here. It’s been pretty contentious. Here, you created this whole big city, because you created this whole world, do you know what’s outside of the world of Kingston? Do you know what else exists? Do you ever plan to visit those places?

C.L.: I’m currently having a debate over whether the—I know the Simindin Archipelago, which is where the Simin people come from—they’re the people who invented writing and mathematics, and sailing and navigation. They literally live all over the planet, but they have—their home country is an archipelago of islands.

I, of course, know all about Linear, although I don’t mention it very much in the book, because Aeland goes to war with them and by the time I start the book the war with them is actually over. So I know that they have this really complex social society that can jump you up social classes, if your astrology chart is really really good. [laughs]

This is a confusing thing to say, but they have a very stratified social caste, but everybody when they’re born has their horoscope done for the moment of their birth, just like our own version of astrology. And they read the omens basically about—they decide when the child is on their fifth birthday—they read the omens in the sky on their fifth birthday and it determines whether they get to rise above, whether they get a better education, to have a better set of military training, whatever.

Your birth chart rules your life in this country. It even happens among the royal family, where if someone was born—by our standards—say, twentieth in line from the throne, if they have a better birth chart than everybody up to the fifth person in line, then they’re sixth in line. They don’t do anything – they don’t do contracts when the moon is full, of course, they are very very set on their astrology to guide their lives and their spirituality and all this other stuff, so I know that.

And I know Idara, the nation that immediately neighbors Aeland. Adara took over Aeland’s land thousands of years ago, ruled by the witch kings of Idara, who still rule by the way, but Aeland broke apart in a succession war where one woman, Queen Agnes, decided that she was gonna raise an army and take her territory back. This society’s always been very suspicious of magic, even though the royal knights have been magicians all along. I’ve put in some weird little contradictions and hypocrisies in my world building because I didn’t think that everything should be terribly, terribly tidy and for people to get mad at.

Renay: Uh, I’ve got some bad news: I want books about both of these places now.

C.L.: [laughs] I don’t know if that’s bad news necessarily.

Renay: You’d have to write them.

C.L.: It’s true. I would have to write them and I would have to figure out how related to Aeland they would be and how and whether would they be like completely separate or if it’s a book of global proportion or whatever. But the next book idea that I have in my head I’m debating over whether or not it happens on the same planet as my Witchmark books. I don’t know. I’d have to actually sit down and decide once and for all.

Renay: Do I get to have a vote? [laughs] Obviously, I’m biased.

C.L.: [laughs]

Renay: It seems like you did a ton of research for this book.

C.L.: Yeah, I gave myself about six weeks to do all the research. Now remember: I don’t have a job. So that equates to like a full work day, of researching and messing around. I gave myself six weeks to basically ask myself questions about Aeland’s religion, its cosmology, its material culture, its celebrity life. Whatever question of the day was I would ask myself that question and then I would jump down a rabbit hole for the day and just indulge myself in clicking whatever links or looking up whatever books or doing what I wanted to. And then in order to make sure that it was very fluid, I only wrote the most basic pieces of it down unless I wrote it in the book, and then I put that in my continuity bible.

Renay: That sounds amazing. That’s living the dream right there.

C.L.: It totally was living the dream.

Renay: Days and days, like days and days of just Wikipedia holes.

C.L.: Yeah, it’s like, “What poison can I use to murder this reporter? Oh look, arsenic! Old faithful! That’s awesome!” [laughs]

Renay: You said that your first draft was a mess, which all first drafts are, and that’s all they have to be. Thank you first drafts! But how did that first draft change between developing and putting it down on the page and the final draft that you sent off into the world?

C.L.: I would have to look at the novel and the first draft side by side, but I’m willing to tell you that there are probably only paragraphs that survived the first draft that were not changed. One I know for sure is the beginning of chapter five that begins, “Beauregard’s Veteran Hospital was a building half in-mourning, fashioned from grey stones and black-framed windows, the kind with many panes pieced together to make a larger whole.” Wow. That’s a long-ass sentence. I got away with that. That was in the first draft. This is my favorite paragraph in the entire book.

And there’s a couple of things: there’s some scenes that stayed, that I didn’t have to change. When Tristan and Miles break into Nick Elliot’s apartment, all of that stayed. That was in the first draft. I think that’s about it. There’s some things that survived, but really this book is different. Really, really different. I know one of my friends wanted my first draft to complete her collection because she has the unbound manuscript, the advanced reader copy, and the final, and I will not give it to her. I will not. It is a hot, steaming mess.

Renay: It’s okay, first draft. we still love you.

C.L.: [laughs] We do love you, but no one gets to see you. You have to hide over here.

Renay: So the bicycle chase that you wrote—which was amazing by the way—was that a later addition?

C.L.: Yes, that was a later addition. One of the things that I was looking at when I was doing the revision was that I didn’t have the moment to really say, “This is not just a couple of dudes who wander into rooms, have conversations with people, and walk out with new information, only to walk into the next room.” I needed something to show that this is actually dangerous. I had to decide where I was going to have a kind of an action scene. I picked a spot and I was like, “I’m gonna do a bicycle chase. I’m gonna have these people mash through the streets of Kingston and have people like swearing at them and stuff like that, that’ll be awesome.”

Renay: Your book deals with bonding. Not to spoil anything, but bonding comes up multiple times in different contexts, in the book and then also at the end of the book. I’m in fandom, so I read a lot of soul-bonding stuff, and I like it, no shame.

C.L.: [laughs]

Renay: I was predisposed to be like, “Heck yeah!” but then I was also very torn over it because, “Wait, this whole book is about bonding, and it’s not great because there’s no consent!” Ana and I had a pretty heated debate about the bonding in this book and what it meant. When you decided to include this in the book, where did you get that idea? Where did that come from?

C.L.: It came from fandom! [laughs]

Renay: Oh, did it?! How great!

C.L.: It did! I’ve had many an argument over certain fanfic tropes and conventions and things that we all understand about our fanfics, and one of the things that I wanted to talk about was the fact that—the idea of my magic system, as far as I’ve actually described it, is that people can actually meld their powers together in order to do a third thing, because everyone has a very specific bent to what they can do with their magic.

When I came up with the idea for the Storm-singers, one of the things that I wanted to do was I wanted them to overreach with their power. That ever since they started out that they were trying to make sure that they could keep this really chaotic weather system that runs through their country under control. And in order to do that they decided that what they really needed to do was they needed to bind anyone who wasn’t a Storm-singer in order to use their power. They needed it literally to survive, but as they learned how to use this Storm-singer power, how they continued to develop it, strengthen it, figure out how to configure linking—which is temporary—and to be able to link to a bunch of people at once. Which the Amaranthines think is crazy because they link one person at a time, maybe two, but after that it just gets completely out of control, because everybody wants to be the one driving the bus, so you can’t really do this.

The Storm-singers will link literally hundreds of magicians together in order to work storm magic. They discovered that they could do a lot if they had somebody who was just basically there as a battery to kind of pump power into them so they could shape it in order to control their storms. But as time went on and they developed it better, they used it to improve their harvest. So Aeland has a population of about six million people but is not a very big country, and they’re almost completely self-sufficient in agriculture and animal husbandry because they control the weather.

They decide, “Okay, we’re gonna stop—we’re gonna make sure we’re getting enough sunlight in order to stop frost on this day, so we can get two harvests in. And we’re gonna make sure that we have enough sunlight that we’re not actually getting a hard frost until this late in the year; so that we have all this food; so we have all of this abundance.” And then they import stuff like spices and coffee and tea and chocolate, and all the other things that we take for granted in our modern lives that we can’t grow in North America. They got greedy. Where they could have just basically controlled the storm and done what they would, and allowed the mages who don’t have Storm-singing powers to be free, they decided that what they needed to do was to expand and get more. I’m basically saying, guys, this is uncool.

Whereas in Amaranthine culture, when you really, really—are really, really into somebody. If you want to bond with them forever or however optimistically long you think you’re gonna do that thing, then you do a bonding where you’re bonded to each other. And it isn’t done to take your partner’s magic. It’s not for that. It’s for where that other person is. All the time. You kind of have an empathic bond with each other, all the time. And you don’t necessarily have to have that bond in order to be considered a long-term couple. There’s actually very few instances of people doing this, but one of the things that I wanted people to think about was the fact that they are relatively young, they are in love, and they are very silly right now. So they have gone ahead and done this very impulsive thing. Of course, Tristan had bonded to Miles for a different reason in the story at the end, but yeah. That was just basically their big, doe-eyed idealistic romance kind of coming to an end, is that they consented to do this.

Renay: I’m a big fan of the romance in this book.

C.L.: I have a lot of fun with the whole, “I want to – but I can’t!” tension, so I kinda had a good time writing these moments where like the slightest little thing happens and it’s just like “[gasp] Miles called Tristan by his first name!”

Renay: Yep, it was pretty good! I read a bunch of fanfic, and now when people be like, “Wow, I really want some like original fiction that kinda reads like fanfic,” I want to be like, “HERE!” Because I think it hits all the same kind of beats and it’s just really really good. Highly recommend, too, which I’ve been doing. You wrote it, I can’t recommend it to you, but I’ve been recommending to everybody else.

C.L.: I started writing long works of fiction in fanfic, specifically in Supernatural. [laughs] I was specifically writing Dean/Cas fics, where I did a little bit of the experimenting of like messing around with universe alteration and doing stuff that was just a couple of steps away from canon, but what I really loved to do was I really loved to do alternate universe stories with them where they’re not hunters, they’re not angels, they are whatever it is that I decide that they are. And then just giving them aspects of their personalities and kind of that whole fandom idea of no matter what universe you put them in, no matter who they are, whether they’re a kindergarten teacher or a tattoo artist or a cop or a supernatural hunter, they are destined to be in love. Yeah, I was that sappy about Dean/Cas for a long time.

Renay: Same! I never wrote Dean/Cas, publicly, but I did read a lot of it, cause one of my friends was super into the fandom.

C.L.: Yeah, I didn’t write a lot of fics. I think probably about ten, but I had a really good time doing them. And then as I was writing my universal alteration story I kind of had this idea for another story in my head and I was trying to fit them into it and I realized that they didn’t fit—that the characters that I was think about were not variations of Dean Winchester and Castiel, they were entirely different people.

I keep a journal for my writing, where I wake up in the morning and I talk about what I’m gonna write that day, what I’m thinking about, what I’m concerned about, what I’m worried about, what I’m happy about, whatever. And so I have about six months of me saying, “I don’t know who these people are? Who are these people? Where did they come from?” And gradually kind of developing Miles and developing Tristan. Okay, can I tell you and every single listener of your show a secret about Grace?

Renay: Yes!

C.L.: Fiona Grace Hensley, Miles’ little sister? She was originally Finley Linburgh Hensley, Miles’ little brother. And when I wrote the first draft, it was with Finley. I was like, “This book is sausage party, and it needs to stop. I need a sister. I need Finn to be Miles’ sister.” I got completely excited over it, because she’s a younger, she’s the favored child, she’s powerful, ambitious, like “I’m gonna do what’s best for the country” kind of very patrician traditionalist, and not afraid of wielding or exercising, having, enjoying power. I made a very very deliberate choice in that I went through the draft, I read every single word, and I changed Finley’s name to Grace, and his pronouns to her, and that is the only thing I changed. I kept everything, including the fact that she’s six foot three.

Renay: Whoa, I missed that! Really?!

C.L.: Miles never says she’s six foot three, but there’s a point where he says, “When did she get so tall?” and that he has to look up at her. And there’s a point in the story where right after Miles has a bad thing happen to him, Grace actually picks him up and carries him.

Renay: Oh! I do remember that now!

C.L.: I kept all of it. I thought that that was super important and one of the things that I keep wondering is: would people hate Grace if Grace was still Finn?

Renay: That’s a very good question.

C.L.: I think I will wonder forever.

Renay: I don’t think I would, but then I have recognized my problems with really powerful female characters where I have to check myself, because I’m like, “I don’t like this character” then I’m like “Wait, Renay! stop.”

C.L.: Yeah, it’s like, “Well why don’t you like her?”

Renay: Then I unpack it and I realize wait, go back, try again.

C.L.: I think that there’s kind of an interesting subconversation going on over what women are allowed to be in books. That we’re having and we have had. We’ve been having this conversation for decades, but I think it’s super loud now. I noticed it particularly while I was writing this story. I noticed it because somebody sat me down and made me watch the Lego Movie. I didn’t want to watch the Lego Movie. It was just this thing. I watched Lego Movie and I was just like, “That is completely on-beat Save the Cat, it’s structured perfectly, there’s nothing I can say against it, but why is he the hero if she’s better than him?”

Renay: Yup. So would you say that Grace was your favourite character to write?

C.L.: I am not sure if Grace is exactly my favourite character, right. Like of the main three, I think that I had the most fun with her, particularly in revisions where she’s bossy and she is pretty sure that she knows best and that her ideas are great ideas, all the time, and I liked her like the best of the three. But in the entire book? I kind of feel like—and this is kind of a shame—but I kind of feel Alice Farmer, just kinda leaped out of my pen. She was just an Athena of a character, she was exactly who she is. In the end that I knew so much about her even as I was writing her she was just a small part character, you see her like twice in the entire book, and she was exactly who she was. It was really amazing to me, to write her.

Renay: Well all your characters are really vivid, they all stand out on their own.

C.L.: Well that’s good.

Renay: I think that’s one of the reasons that the world felt so intense while you’re reading the book. Because everybody felt so distinct.

Okay, last question: what are you reading right now?

C.L.: Right now I’m reading an unpublished manuscript. Actually, I’m having a great time with it. It’s a fantasy novel, but it’s a romance novel at the same time. It is the story about a man who’s in dire financial straits. His family, who is a prominent member of the wool merchant’s guild, has had a lot of misfortunes, to the point where they are very, very broke, and they need money so he’s going to marry money.

This is absolutely without a doubt I’m pretty sure the author would say yes it is a tribute to Swordspoint, where he needs a best man, and in this world, a best man is a professional sword duelist. The best man’s duty is to stand for the groom in case anybody challenges a marriage. So they fight a duel and if the challenger wins the duel then the marriage is off and they get to push their suit on the bride or the groom. It’s all fair. We know at the beginning of this story that this marriage is definitely going to be challenged by somebody who is absolutely convinced that he is in love with the bride. This main character has to scrape together the high fee for an excellent sword fighter to be his best man. He winds up having to celebrate with some friends in a tavern, and he has to buy the most expensive port in the tavern and he’s really stressing out about this and I’m like, “Oh this poor man, oh this poor man.” And then he bumps into a guy who drops a package. Basically they get jostled around to the point where the man with no money but in a very expensive coat, steps on the package, and it’s a watch, and in this time watches are extremely expensive, so he has to give out part of the money he was gonna use to pay his best man to pay the expense of the watch and now he’s worried that he doesn’t have enough money to have a good swordsman, to not have his marriage challenged.

He goes to contract a swordsman, and the guy’s like, “I got a new person who can’t actually command a good sum, but he’s actually a really good fighter, do you want to meet him?” and it’s the guy with the watch. He was scammed.

Renay: Oh wow, that sounds amazing.

C.L.: That’s their meet-cute, and I’m like, “Oh my GOD!” I have been reading this story which is delightful not about the fate of the world. It’s about the fate of one family and I’m so involved in it.

Renay: Well, since it’s not published yet, you can’t tell us the name, but when it comes out please send us an email so we can promote this book to our listeners.

C.L.: I will do this. I was really, really pleased to actually get a hold of this manuscript. I can see the similarities between—it’s a fantasy novel, but it’s got a romance element in it that’s really strong, which is quite like Witchmark. Although I think the romance element in this book is even stronger than mine.

Renay: Oh interesting! Because yours isn’t subtle!

C.L.: Oh no, not at all.

Renay: Which is a plus.

Thanks so much to C. L. Polk for coming on Fangirl Happy Hour to talk with me about her book. You can get Witchmark at your favorite independent bookseller, or download an ebook from your retailer of choice. If you’d like to keep up with C L. Polk’s work, you can follow her on twitter at @clpolk, or you can check out her website at clpolk.com. We’ll include her information in our shownotes so you can stay up-to-date on what she’s up to.

[music break]

Renay: Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first Spider-Man movie in the MCU, came out nine million years ago and I finally watched it this year.

Ana: I have been waiting on tenterhooks for you to watch this because I want to know how you feel about your favorite and his relationship with my favorite. Tell me, Renay! I can’t wait any longer. I just—you have to tell me.

Renay: I liked this movie a whole lot.

Ana: Oh, great.

Renay: We did not need another Spider-Man movie. We did not need another Spider-Man movie.

Ana: I disagree with that.

Renay: We didn’t need another one. We didn’t; it was not necessary. However, if we had to have one this is good.

Ana: [claps] Yes, I agree with that! When I first heard that there was gonna be another Spider-Man movie I was like, “What? Why?! We do not need it!” And then he showed up in Civil War. I dig this dude. I dig this! I dig this! And then this movie I thought was so brilliant. It is by far my favorite Spider-Man and one of my favorite MCU movies, period.

Renay: It’s so hopeful. I really like Tom Holland as Spider-Man. I think he does a great job. And don’t get me wrong; Tobey Maguire’s first Spider-Man I liked that too, it was more dramatic and a little bit darker than I think would fit the MCU today. I never saw Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man, so I have no—

Ana: Yeah no. Ehhhh. Bleh.

Renay: Now we know Ana’s opinion about the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man, although I feel really sad because Andrew Garfield was always very excited, because he dreamed about being Spider-Man as a little kid.

Ana: Aww, Renay, don’t. Did you just say that to me? Now I feel like such a fucking jerk.

Renay: I mean it’s not his fault that the people making the movie were crap. But I still have never seen those movies. Maybe I should fix that one day. One day! However.

Ana: Tom Holland is awesome as Spider-Man. That’s what you were gonna say, because there is nothing else left to say. Goodbye. Good night. This is our episode for today.

Renay: I was very charmed by Tom Holland’s turn in Civil War as Spider-Man. I don’t know who wouldn’t have been charmed. I understand because it feels like a trick, a ploy, and yeah, I get that it definitely is. But also he’s just so fucking good in this role. He’s so good at it! I also loved that they cast Aunt May correctly. Marisa Tomei in this role is wonderful.

Ana: Cause she’s his aunt! She’s supposed to be our age! God.

Renay: Pause for Ana having an existential crisis about her age.

Ana: [laugh-cries] Okay, I’m back.

Renay: Your real question here is, “What did you think of Tony Stark and Peter Parker?” and I had some feelings about it.

Ana: Oh no. Were they good feelings or were they bad feelings?

Renay: They were complicated feelings.

Ana: Oh my god. Okay.

Renay: Tony pulls Peter Parker into the whole Civil War thing, which was silly and ridiculous, but the movie handled it as best it could, and then Spider-Man also handled it as best as it could by doing like a little video diary, which was so cute, it was so Gen Z. I loved it.

Ana: He’s so earnest. One of the things that I like the most about this incarnation of Spider-Man is how earnest he is. He likes his powers and he wants to do good with it. We don’t often get to see that in superhero stories. And I love that they skipped the whole, “How did he get his powers?” completely because we did not need another origin story and it’s just about him wanting to do more.

It works together with Ms. Marvel really well because they are the same age, both sixteen year olds who just became powerful people and they are trying to help their neighborhoods. And in the case of Peter Parker, he actually wants to help the whole world. It started off with him being given the opportunity of being an Avenger. How do you take that back from him, right?

Renay: Well they did, and we saw what happened, right? So Tony gave him all of this power, I guess you would say, power and influence to be involved in this situation, and then dumped off, gave him a babysitter, and just left him to his own devices, and then got mad at him when he wouldn’t do what Tony wanted. I found this to be parental but very bad parental, and this is another reason why I just hate the fact that the MCU made this decision to have Tony pull him in, because it also then turns Tony into this hands-off asshole who gives Peter this suit with a baby monitor program, and just lets him loose.

He is running around trying to solve this petty crime, but also making more problems than he solves. He’s trying to prevent a bank robbery, but he ends up destroying a really important cultural place in his neighbourhood. He tries to do all these good things and gets into all this trouble, that would be totally averted if he had an actual mentor, which he doesn’t, cause Tony just foists him off on Happy, and Happy’s just not interested.

Ana: But in a way, this is also a recurring theme of the MCU, because it’s not only Spider-Man that’s doing that, but the whole of the Avengers are doing that, too, to the point that that’s exactly what led to Civil War. Because they were trying to solve one problem, and when they tried to solve that problem, they created bigger problems like destroying this whole country.

Renay: The lack of communication is the main takeaway for me here. The movies sort of deals with it, like it talks about the value of communicating with each other. You don’t solve problems or handle conflict in relationships by not communicating. People are like, “Oh, Renay, Tony’s in this, you’re gonna be so excited!” but I knew based on the fact that the way that Peter Parker was brought into the MCU by Tony, I was always going to be conflicted. Because Tony’s not a father. He doesn’t know how to be a father. His example of fatherhood was bad and then it got extra bad, because his dad was not a good father. And Obadiah Stane was whatever the exact opposite of a good father is. His examples were all terrible; so he’s taken this little kid under his wing and then just abandons him.

It’s true to his character because I mean, number one he’s not this kid’s father, he’s not. And he doesn’t have any reason to act like it, but as a mentor, he also fucking falls down, and I know that that’s part of it. It’s part of his character, it’s part of how he becomes a better leader which I don’t know how they’re gonna handle in future films, but right now I’m just kinda like…man. Because in the comics, Tony loves kids. He’s really good with kids. That’s just really disappointing to see this happen in this way.

Ana: There is a turn towards the ending and then when you remember Infinity War—they are together again there.

Renay: Yeah, I probably need to go watch Infinity War because Infinity War came after this one, so Infinity War maybe improved on this a little bit.

Ana: Yeah, I think it did.

Renay: But this one taken by itself, on that topic, Tony and Peter, like I wanted more because I know from the comics that Tony loves kids. And I understand why they had to do it, part of it was Peter’s growth, for him to get into all that trouble, they need Tony to be hands-off. I liked that at the very end, Peter was like, “Well you didn’t even come here yourself, you just sent a robot,” and then Tony steps out of the suit, that’s good. Like Tony finally steps up, and takes what he gave Peter away because he’s misusing it, and that part I thought was good. But. But. That’s all I have. But.

I’m hoping for a great reunion scene when they fix all the problems, although now I’m really scared because, like, we’re ending Phase Two of the MCU. Chris Evans is not gonna be Captain America anymore, probably Robert Downey Jr. is not gonna be Iron Man anymore, so I’m really really nervous, Ana. I don’t feel good.

Ana: This is my working theory. I think Captain America will die, sacrificing himself for the soul stone.

Renay: [laugh-cries]

Ana: Let’s just put it out there. Tony Stark will survive and continue to run the tech things, together with Shuri, but in the background, he’ll probably not show up, but you know that Stark Industries will continue to supply the tech for the Avengers.

Renay: I don’t want Captain America to die!

Ana: Who wants that, Renay? I feel like I’ll probably need to be dragged, carried away, from that movie theater if it happens, because I will cry myself into a coma. Or maybe they will surprise us.

Renay: So another great thing about Spider-Man, the movie that we’re actually discussing, is the diversity of the characters. So you have all these great kids. They were all so good.

Ana: They were amazing.

Renay: Zendaya?!

Ana: His best friend?!

Renay: I love her. I will go into battle for her.

Ana: There so many great moments in this movie, too. I liked the villain that the villain who became a villain because of the Avengers, if you think about.

Renay: Not only became a villain, for not a good reason, there’s no good reason to become a villain, but like his family? When villains have like an origin story where they just like they’ve made choices cause they wanna protect people, they’re still bad choices. It’s kinda like the “cool motive still murder” thing, but his development as a villain was as a working class guy, just trying to make a living for his family, like taking risks to make sure his family can be provided for and his daughter can go to a good school and not have to worry about money, and bureaucracy comes in and just spoils everything. It was just so natural, and it keeps escalating, one bad choice after another, until he gets to the point where he’s killing people.

Ana: And another thing that I really liked about his becoming a villain is that most of these characters? That happens because their family died, and in this case, no! He had an amazing wife, an amazing daughter, they were both alive, and we got to see him playing the father.

Renay: He was a very multi-dimensional villain.

Ana: Yes, which is a great thing. Probably one of the best villains of the MCU so far.

Renay: MCU struggles with good villains. They have Loki, which is good, and I also think that Black Panther did a really good villain. They’ve struggled as they’ve grown to create really good effective villains, and this one it’s up there, and I really think they’re maybe coming into their stride when it comes to villains, because they’re learning what doesn’t work, and they’re finding ways not only to make the villains sympathetic, but to also make their growth as villains more realistic. Instead of this like over the top stereotype like we got in Iron Man 3. Even though I love Iron Man 3. Do not get me wrong; Iron Man 3 is great.

Ana: I love all the Marvel movies, really.

Renay: I can leave Age of Ultron behind.

Ana: I actually rewatched it recently and I liked it more.

Renay: Oh no, Ana, we have to end this. We have to end this discussion immediately. We cannot go here. We’ll fight.

Peter’s friendship with Ned, there’s like a montage where they put back together the Lego Death Star. I had so many feelings.

Ana: [laughs]

Renay: I love seeing best friend relationships, and I also have a really bad habit in some media because a lot of people don’t know how to write friendship and then they just queer it. That didn’t happen here. I mean it could, if you wanted it to, but for me it didn’t happen here. I have very thick slash goggles, so I’m good at this stuff. Being there for each other? Wanting to support each other? I love it. It’s so good. It’s so hard to find like really well done best friendships in media. I mean, especially in film. In books, in comics, it’s a little bit easier but in film it’s harder because of the time constraints.

Ana: Especially when they don’t kill the best friend to create motivation for the main character. This movie completely bypassed all of these potential pitfalls by not killing the villain’s family, not killing the best friends of the hero, and so on and so forth. Nobody died, and he even saves the villain in the end. The villain is actually protecting him from prison. What?!

Renay: Turns out, you don’t have to kill a bunch of people to create good drama. Take note, writers.

Ana: Seriously.

Renay: Can you tell that I’m just super tired of character death?

Ana: Oh, we all are. Nothing in this movie felt cheap or unearned. It’s by far one of my favorites, probably together with Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther.

Renay: I laughed a lot during this movie, which for a dramatic movie, that it still had so much comedy in it that was just genuinely funny, that didn’t punch down at people. For example, they recreated the Ferris Bueller run sequence, and then mirrored it by playing the movie so you would know, for people who don’t get the reference. I was like, “I appreciate you, Marvel, thank you, thank you for that.” Cause it took me until I saw the little—the actual film footage of Ferris Bueller running through the yard to get that they were doing it, and then when I realized it I was like “That’s super cool! More of that!” with your references would be super. For those of us who just can’t remember everything.

There is another part where he’s running through backyards and he falls and trips and he lands in somebody’s yard outside a tent, and there’s these two little girls in it, and he was like, “Hey!” and his suit is doing this weird — Ana, I almost peed my pants. I laughed so fucking hard. [laughs]

Ana: Oh my god. I am so delighted by your reaction to this movie. I love it so much. I’m so happy you loved it.

Renay: I don’t usually like slapstick, because it’s making fun, but the kind of physical comedy that works is when nobody’s getting hurt, nobody’s getting embarrassed. It’s just really good for me.

Ana: And what about when he gets trapped in the storage facility and he’s so bored and he’s at his – he does, there’s a montage, he does so many things, like [laughs] How long has passed? Like twenty minutes or something, like, “Oh NO!” One of the things that I loved the most about this version of Spider-Man is that it feels like he’s a teenager. He’s a young kid. One billion space bees.

Renay: I would give this four space bees.

Ana: What?

Renay: I’m still upset that we don’t get more Tony being good with kids, because he’s good with kids. Apparently not in the MCU.

Ana: What?

Renay: We can’t always get what we want, Ana. Four space bees. I mean, nine space bees is nothing to sneeze at, ma’am.

Ana: It should be ten. I will carry this to my grave. [sings] Spider-Man! Spider-Man!

[music break]

Ana: And now it’s time to talk about what we’ve been obsessing over the last two weeks. What do you have for us, Renay?

Renay: We’ve been here before, but I’m back again.

Ana: Oh no.

Renay: I am incredibly impressed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I don’t think it’s healthy to hero-worship public servants. I don’t think that’s like a healthy way—it’s fine to like “Yay, I like your platform, I like your policy!” but I’m in this position where I like her as a person?

Ana: Oh my god.

Renay: Cause like when the dancing video came out —

Ana: It was so cool; that dance video, I was like, “What are these people talking about? How are they using it as a weapon?” This is the best thing in the world, how would it hurt her reputation, this is the coolest video I have ever—I wish I was this cool in high school!

Renay: Somebody made this tweet about, “Is this how Baby Boomers feel when their representatives talk? Is this how they’ve been feeling this whole time?” Yeah, apparently so, because it’s amazing to me to see a representative talk about the things that I care about, like climate change and economic inequality and trans rights and health care, in this very accessible way.

The way that she handles people coming at her with like racism and sexism and double-standards and hypocrisy. I’ve been following her on Instagram and following her on Twitter, I’m just like, “I need – this is a masterclass in how to handle running your social media as a representative.”

Recently some douchebag in the UK was trying to get some trans charity’s money taken away from them. A Youtuber decided to do a fundraiser where he played Donkey Kong 64. So he did this livestream to raise money, and then suddenly Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is on the stream talking about trans rights and public policy and her favorite Nintendo system.

Ana: Oh my god. Oh no! She’s just too perfect! [laughs]

Renay: I just find her so amazing. It’s so refreshing to have things that I care about made part of a national conversation. And she has this uncanny power to move the Overton Window wherever she wants it to be. I hope she’s inspiring tons of women of color to run for office. I want more people like her in office. She’s not even my representative. She’s a representative for New York. I live in Arkansas. I’m not even moving toward her when I move. I’m moving to the West Coast.

I highly recommend following both of her Instagram accounts, both her Twitter accounts, and that is my love-letter to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The end.

What are you obsessed about, Ana? And I’m ready here. I got the popcorn. Here we go. What are you obsessed about, Ana?

Ana: So, you know how I played a game and it was something new that I never thought I would do? There was also something that I always been saying my entire life is that I can never listen to things because I can’t properly comprehend what I’m listening to, and this is why I never listen to audiobooks. But then. I started to commute.

Walking, DLR, tube, train, and more walking, then I was listening to a lot of podcasts, and they are all true crime, and it’s like, “This is getting me down.” And I have actually been paying a subscription to Scribd, which is like eight dollars a month and you can pretty much read anything you want, and they also have audiobooks. I said, “You know what, I’m just gonna try and listen to this audiobook and see how it goes. I’m just gonna give it a go.” And it was a book that I actually had to read, to review, and it was The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein.

I downloaded it and I started listening, and was like, “Oh, this is really good! This is really good! This is really good!” and then, the first thing that started happening was that I increased the speed in which I was listening. Already, on the second hour, from 1 to 1.2, then from 1.2 to 1.5, then 1.8. I still haven’t haven’t reached 2, so I’m still at 1.8. It’s still very much listenable, and the narration was so good. I was like this is amazing! This is like theatre in my ears! And I can actually comprehend things and I’m saving time! And as well as reading while walking. I was like, “Oh my god, can you believe it, this is just like a revelation?” and I can’t believe it took me forty-two years, but then after that I already listened to five other audiobooks in the past two weeks.

Renay: Amazing!

Ana: And now I don’t even want to buy books anymore because pages—they are so last century.

Renay: [laughs]

Ana: And I spend hours every day on Scribd, just adding books to my list to eventually listen to. [laughs] Like is this book coming out in audiobook? This is the only way I want to listen to this one. So thank you, Renay.

Renay: You’re welcome.

Ana: You have always said that audiobooks would change my life, and you were right. I’m obsessed with audiobooks. Who knew?

[music break]

Ana: Fangirl Happy Hour is supported by all our Patrons. We are so grateful for everyone who supports us, especially our supporters at our five dollar pledge level. That’s a small block of really good nut cheese they are giving to us instead. That’s big.

Renay: Thanks to transcendancing, Philip, Mark, Margot, and Lara.

Ana: To KJ, Karen, Jocelyn, Jen, Hedwig, and Elisa M. Thank you.

Renay: Thanks to Elisa, Dearbhla, Claire, and Brandy.

Ana: And last but definitely not least: Alicia, Amanda, Amy, and Ann-Marie.

Renay: All our patrons from the highest reward level on down are also our biggest cheerleaders. Thank you so much.

Ana: Thanks for listening to Fangirl Happy Hour. We’d love to hear from you with your thoughts about the media or topics we discuss, or any recs you may have. You can message us on Twitter at @fangirlpod or email us at fangirlhappyhour@gmail.com.

Renay: Special thanks to our guest, C.L. Polk, for making time to speak with me. You can find her on Twitter at @clpolk. Her book, Witchmark, is out now from Tor.

Ana: Our podcasting team includes our show artist Ira, and our transcriptionist Susan. Their work’s available at fangirlhappyhour.com. Our team also includes all of our patreon supporters, newsletter subscribers, and you.

Renay: Don’t forget to drink water, contact your reps, and take regular breaks from your tasks to stretch.

Ana: And if you are in Europe and experience the arctic cold: layer up

Renay: Thanks for listening to our show space bees!

Ana: See you next episode!

[music break]

Renay: It’s really hard these days because of your new schedule, and the fact that we’re six hours apart. Ana, what are we gonna do when I move to Oregon?!

Ana: Oh my god, how many extra hours would that be between us?

Renay: Eight.

Ana: [low-key screaming]


Ana: Dis – why – what are words.

Renay: [laughs]

Ana: Our podcast —

Renay: [laughs] oh my god.


Ana: Oh, let me do this altering –

Renay: Oh there’s a plane again, WHY, plane, why! [airplane hum] Plane. [airplane hum] Plane. [airplane him] Plane.


Ana: [singing] Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Will Renay like you, my man?


Ana: [singing] Renay gave you! Four stars! She is wrong! She is wrong! I’m right! The end!

[beep] [beep]