cover art for 608. Women as Shields and Scapegoats: Talking Kate Middleton with Melissa Blue

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books: A Romance Novel Podcast

608. Women as Shields and Scapegoats: Talking Kate Middleton with Melissa Blue

Ep. 608

Mel Blue was my guest when we discussed Spare – which has become one of my most listened-to episodes – so I asked her back to talk about the narratives of PR, why the weird stories around Kate Middleton grabbed attention worldwide, and why so many people were and are paying attention.

On one level it’s a story that originated in gossip about rich and powerful people in an archaic power structure being weird. But it’s also a story of misinformation, propaganda, and a complicit media system, and we deal with that over here in the US, too.

This was recorded on Wednesday, March 20, and we did a follow up this week following the announcement late Friday, March 22, that Kate Middleton is undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. So there are two parts to this episode.

A few content warnings: Discussion of self harm, disordered eating, suicidal ideation, and child abuse and exploitation.

Please visit the show page for all the resources used for this episode, including news articles, Instagram live recordings, and Twitter threads.


More episodes

View all episodes

  • 620. 620. Romance and Kickstarter with Oriana Leckert

    Oriana Leckert is the Head of Publishing at Kickstarter, and works with the many, many authors who are finding community support on Kickstarter. They’re hosting a celebration all this month, Heartstrings & Hardbacks: Kickstarter and Romance, so we connected to talk about successful romance projects, strategies that work and don’t work on Kickstarter, and the evolution of fandom (a topic I’m always curious about).Oriana has worked in publishing for a long time, and applies her entire employment experience to her current job. She’s also the author of a book called Brooklyn Spaces, and it sounds like it was a really cool project.You can find Oriana Leckert on her website, and on Instagram.We also mentioned:Heartstrings & HardbacksMonopsonyEpisode 507. Romance Kickstarters with Lucy Eden and Katee RobertMy post on book title SEO madness
  • 619. 619. RT Rewind: September 2002 Reviews

    We asked our Patreon community to vote on this month’s issue, and September 2002 won by a wide margin. So let’s dive into the book reviews, shall we?There are strange subcategories and overlapping genres, and also color-conscious aliens and amnesia, too. Plus, we talk a bit about one of the best lines Avon ever produced.Don’t miss the visual aids, because some of the covers are something.We also mentioned:Avon True RomancesA thread from Ashia Monet on the shift away from story arc to story trope (Twitter)Carrie’s review for How to Manage a Marquess, where she talks about soap bubble books
  • 618. 618. The Romance Reader’s Handbook with Steve Ammidown

    In June 1989, Kathryn Falk published The Romance Reader’s Handbook, a 354 page spiral bound collection of everything a romance reader would need to know. Steve Ammidown leads us on a brief tour of this artifact of romance history.  There’s a collection of over 2000 pseudonyms, plus a directory of where to contact authors, lists of bookstores that love romance, and recommended reads. And of course, advertisements from authors inviting readers to correspond with them. This is early social media for authors and readers, and it’s a fascinating time capsule. A PDF scan of the pages we talk about is available for downloads at SBTB.You can find Steve Ammidown at, and on Instagram @RomanceHistorian. 
  • 617. 617. A Romance Soundtracks Sampler

    In episode 611, we talked about the ads and features in the April 2005 issue of Romantic Times, and there was an ad on the back cover for Romance Soundtracks. We could not find anything about them, but Malaraa in our Patreon sure did!We’ve got samples! We’ve got MUSIC that you’re meant to read with, and Amanda tries to identify the genre/album the music was from.MASSIVE THANKS to Malaraa for finding this treasure trove!We’ve! Got! Links!Episode 611. Romantic Times Rewind: April 2005 Ads & FeaturesThe Wayback Machine copy of the Book Soundtracks Website – thanks to Malaraa!Pure Moods!Music LeagueThrowback Trivia TakedownMedieval Fantasy MusicMusic:
  • 616. 616. Reading Rubrics with Shana

    In a review for Never Cross a Highlander, Shana came up with the ACAB scale, or the Alyssa Cole Anti-Slavery Book Scale, which ranks how central the horror of slavery is to the storyline. I asked her to tell me all about it, and Shana, kindly, said yes.Our conversation grows (of course) to include the field of narrative therapy and bibliotherapy, other evaluative rubrics for reading, and the subgenres, professions, settings we can, and cannot, relax into.NB: I had a cold when we recorded, so apologies for my very low voice.You can find Shana here at SBTB, and on Instagram @BlackBabeReads.We also mentioned:Shana’s review of Never Cross a HighlanderCarrie’s review of Ana María and the FoxMy interview with Erica Ridley about her Winchesters series Music: purple-planet.comSpecial offer from Lume: New customers get 15% off ALL Lume products with our exclusive code and link. Use code SARAH15 at
  • 615. 615. RT Rewind: May 1994 Ads & Features

    Amanda and I are traveling back in time to May 1994 and taking a look at the ads and features inside Romantic Times Magazine – oh, it’s a time.We have questions – and answers!Are Eric Braeden and Victor Newman the same guy? Is Kathryn Falk writing celebrity gossip and outing people? Are there Lorena Bobbit jokes? Were Glamour Shots™ very well represented among author headshots? We had a great time looking at the reviews, and the ads & features do not disappoint.Don’t miss the visual aids. Seriously. There’s crooning.Thank you to Mari the Romance Girl for this issue!Music:
  • 614. 614. Dollar Princesses and Marriages of Convenience with Harper St. George

    Harper St. George joins me to talk about The Stranger I Wed (look at that gorgeous cover) and the dollar princesses of the Gilded Age. We talk about transactional marriages, the power dynamics of marriages of convenience – and Harper has a few recommendations of her favorites!You can find Harper St. George at her website,, and on Instagram @HarperStGeorge.We also mentioned:Clayton, the preserved home of the Frick family in Pittsburgh, PAAlmina Wombwell Herbert, Countess of CarnarvonHistory Tea Time with Lindsay Holiday – YouTube – Dollar Princesses
  • 613. 613. RT Rewind: May 1994 Reviews

    Amanda and I are traveling to May 1994 and taking a look at the book reviews in this edition of RT Rewind!We’re answering many questions, including:Why does five stars mean something is a classic, but one star is acceptable?What do CS, RM, VR, and F stand for inside Contemporary and New Reality?What grade did Dreaming of You receive?There’s so much Fabio, a telepathic cat, blaming tornadoes for murder, and a lot of time travel.But my gosh, golly, gee whiz, do not miss the visuals for this episode!Music: purple-planet.comControl Body Odor ANYWHERE with @lumedeodorant and get 15% off with promo code [SARAH15 ] at! #lumepod
  • 612. 612. Poetry in Scots with Len Pennie

    Len Pennie’s book of Scots poetry poyums is out in the US this week, and you might have seen my post about her book launch earlier this week. Len is my guest today and we’re going to talk about:Poetry!Healing from trauma and abuseThe subversive revolution of teaching a word a day in a minoritized languageUsing humor to overcome the “cultural hangover of linguistic oppression”More poetry!TW/CW: discussion of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse, depression, stalking.Music: