It felt fitting that our final episode of Season 2—during which we celebrated so many of the vintage romances that blooded us—would be with someone we could fully geek out with! We are thrilled to have Steve Ammidown, romance nerd and archivist at the Browne Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University, with us today to talk about Vivian Stephens and early category romances. To prepare, all three of us read some of the earliest American category romances, and wow were they a ride! We’re talking women who work, marriage in romance, older heroines, the impact of Vietnam on 1980s romances, and more. Strap in!We’re on hiatus for the next three weeks, but you’ll hear some great alternative content on Wednesdays — including crossover episodes and interviews we’ve done in other places. Thank you, as always, for listening — we hope you’re having a great (and safe!) summer. While we’re apart, if you are up for leaving a rating or review for the podcast on your podcasting app, we would be very grateful!Oh, and did you know Sarah has a new book out? Daring & the Duke is officially here! Get it at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Books-a-Million or from your local indie, or order it signed from the wonderful independent bookstore, Savoy Bookshop in RI, where she is through the end of July!Show NotesWelcome Steve Ammidown, the Manuscripts & Outreach Archivist at the Browne Popular Culture Library at the Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.Vivian Stephens was one of the original founders of RWA and one of the most important editors in romance. At the Browne Pop Culture library, there is a special Vivian Stephens collection. Vivian was instrumental in bringing category romance to America and created the Candlelight Ecstacy Romance line, which put sex on page in a new way. She also created the Harlequin American line.Vivian recruited a series of authors who changed the face of romance: Jayne Castle/Jayne Ann Krenz, Sandra Brown, and later Beverly Jenkins. Here is an early interview with Vivian about her work and the world of romance.At the last RITAs ceremony--in the future, it will be the Vivians!-- there was a great video of romance firsts. You should watch it.Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women was a 90s era collection of romance essays by romance writers to combat a lot of not great academic research on romance.The late 70s and early 80s were a tumultuous time in American history: the return of Vietnam soldiers, a finacial crisis, and a huge divorce boom.The mall bookstores, B. Dalton and Waldenbooks, were alive and well in the 80s. The buyers at these bookstores, including Sue Grimshaw, were powerful gatekeepers who had a great amount of power over the romance genre.Kathryn Falk and Romantic Times and Flavia Kngightsbridge was a famous RT columnist, and at RT conventions there was something called the Mr. Romance Competition, and everyone who has ever seen it is like...whoa.Marisa de Zavala, whose real name is Celina Mullan, also wrote as Ana Lisa de Leon and Rachel Scott. See more about Marisa on this great thread about her from Alexis Daria!Entwined Destinies was one of the first category romances with Black characters by a Black author, Elsie Washington writing as Rosalind Welles. Although it's very difficult to find a copy of Entwined Destinies, but BGSU has a great photograph of Vivian and Elsie together.0 LIKES
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