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10 Questions for Maya Rodale

Best-selling and award-winning writer Maya Rodale discovered just how great a romance novel can be while in college when her mother insisted that she read one. Now the author of more than a dozen romances, a selection of novellas, and the nonfiction work Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained, Maya is a proud advocate for the genre. Her writing about romance novels has also appeared in such literary venues as NPR, The Huffington Post, Bustle, and Women’s Health. Maya is currently living out her own happily-ever-after with a devoted husband and adoring dog. Here she talks with us about her passion for reading and writing romance fiction.

 

Who is Maya Rodale?

Proud romance novelist!

 

Tell us about your new book, Duchess by Design.

The impoverished duke of Kingston travels to Gilded Age Manhattan intent on finding an heiress to wed. Instead, he falls in love with Adeline Black, an impoverished but ambitious seamstress. Classic tropes in a new setting with a feminist twist!

 

How did you get started writing romance fiction?

Years and years ago, I was working on a Serious Novel when an agent told me I needed to be writing romance right now because I loved reading it so much. I asked if she’d represent a romance novel when I wrote it and she said yes. So I told her I’d have a manuscript for her in three months—and I did!

 

What three words best capture the flavor of your writing?

Smart, sassy, and fun!

 

Duchess by DesignIn addition to your novels, you have written a nonfiction book, Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained. What are the origins of this book, and what have you hoped to accomplish in writing it?

When I was in college pursuing an English degree, my mom told me that she started reading romance novels and I laughed at her. Terrible, I know! But the question of how I knew to laugh at her nagged at me, so I started studying the genre and its perceptions. Dangerous Books For Girls draws strongly on my master’s thesis, which examined the history of the genre and why there has been a stigma against it.

I wrote the book for the romance readers who are made to feel ashamed of the books they love and who feel guilty for taking pleasure in these feel-good books. This book shows them why romance reading is nothing to be ashamed of. I also wrote it to change the conversation about the genre to one that focuses on its modern, empowering aspects (though if I were writing the book today, I would definitely write more about the reckoning of diversity and inclusivity the genre badly needs).

 

What five romances would you suggest for someone who has never read a romance novel in order to give them an idea of just how truly amazing the genre can be?

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase, Fever Pitch by Heidi Cullinam, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare, and After The Wedding by Courtney Milan.

 

Can you speak a bit about the role of feminism in the romance genre?

I can speak A LOT about feminism in the romance genre! The romance genre is probably the only popular medium where women are predominantly the authors and readersand where the female characters consistently speak (in 2017 in Hollywood, women only had 34% of speaking roles!). In fact, romance is probably the only space where female characters are the story and they always win. This doesn’t happen in Hollywood or even other genres.

Will every romance novel be a perfect example of feminist values? Maybe not, but on the whole, this is a terrific and powerful space for women to talk amongst themselves, lift each other up, and provide a compelling image of the status quo changing.

 

You are hosting a literary dinner party and can invite four authors (alive or dead). Who would you invite to your soiree and why these four writers?

Dangerous Books for Girls The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, ExplainedJane Austen, George Sand, Collette, Kathleen Woodiwiss. It would be a very interesting mix . . . we will probably need wine!

 

What is next for you as an author?

I’m working on the second book in my Gilded Age Girls Club series—Some Like It Scandalous will be available summer 2019!

 

How can readers learn more about your books and best connect with you?

The best way to find out about me and my books is via my website or on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter! (I’m @mayarodale).

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About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

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