Welcome to our Halloween episode! Romance has always been big business and these days there are plenty of subgenres. Despite its popularity, however, some snobbery still exists, often dismissing romance as “women’s fiction.” But if romance is really so terrible, why does it sell so well? Are the female characters in these books still the swooning, bodice-ripping heroines of the Barbara Cartland days, or have we moved on? We are joined by paranormal romance author, Alice James, for a cosy Halloween chat about necromancy, zombies, vampires, werewolves, damsels *not* in distress and the place of feminism in contemporary romance.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • The Nanny (series)
  • The Poldark series by Winston Graham
  • The novels of Georgette Heyer
  • Ever After (1998)
  • Three Wishes for Cinderella (1973)

Alice James was born in Staffordshire, where she grew up reading novels and spending a lot of time with sheep. She was lucky enough to have a mother who was addicted to science fiction and a father who was fond of long country walks so she grew up with her head in the stars and her feet on the ground. After studying maths at university and training to be a Cobol programmer (!), she became a writer instead, working in academia and finance and finally in travel, which allowed her to develop her love of photography and become a member of London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

She began writing novels to get the weird people in her head to go somewhere else. She likes whodunits, science fiction, fantasy and horror, and is a huge fan of graphic novels. She now lives in Oxfordshire with a fine selection of cats, fulfilling her teenage gothic fantasies by moving into a converted chapel with an ancient spiral staircase – and gravestones in the garden. She likes reading, travelling, cooking and yoga. Alice writes roleplaying scenarios in her spare time; her poor PCs have recently been forced to play American frontier sharpshooters battling aliens and vampires (though not at the same time) and medieval French monks fending off demons and the envoys of Lucifer. Her go-to comfort dish is a big plate of dumplings, her number one cocktail is a Manhattan and her favourite polygon is a triangle, though she has a soft spot for concave rhomboids.