Jodie Slaughter is a twenty-something romance author who spends most of her days hunched over a laptop making fictional characters kiss. She loves love, so she writes romance novels full of heart, passion, and heat.
We talked with Jodie about her new novel Bet on It, writing a romance that centers mental health, and her fascination with the American Bingo Hall.
How did you first get interested in writing romance novels?
I’ve always been a huge fan of romance as a genre. Romantic films and television shows, books, etc. I dipped my toe into writing romantic fiction when I was young but it was all fanfiction. It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I truly realized I could crate my own romantic worlds where I made the characters and controlled the stories. This is where my love affair with writing romance novels began.
In Bet on It, the main characters Aja and Walker are working on healing from anxiety and trauma as they navigate their feelings for one another. Can you talk to exploring mental health within a sexy, romantic comedy?
I wrote Bet on It while finally attempting to openly explore my own mental health issues. It can be a struggle to get a diagnosis for a mental illness and not immediately feel like everything in the world is bleak. Starting this book helped me work through my fear and anxieties surrounding not only my own health journey but ideas of love and relationships as they related to those struggles. Ultimately, I wanted to write a romance novel that centered on certain things I wanted for myself and other people who struggle with their mental health – a full life full of caring friends and an epic love story.
Bingo takes center stage in the book, with Aja and Walker making a bingo-based sex pact as they attempt to control their attraction to each other. Are you a bingo player? What inspired you to incorporate it into the book?
Book ideas honestly come to me in kind of a weird way. I envision characters before I see the hook. So I had Aja and Walker – in some premature form – in my head. One day, I was having a conversation with an family friend who was telling me about her most recent experience at bingo (she’s an avid player) and it all just…came together. I can’t say I’ve played much bingo but I do find the dynamics within the American Bingo hall to be so fascinating, fun, and unique.
Was there any aspect of the story, as you wrote it, that surprised you?
Is it cheating if I say all of it? I’m a pantser all the way, which means that extensive plotting before I write is not my strong suit. Over the course of writing this book, more things surprised me than not.
What was your favorite part of writing Bet on It? Or your favorite part of the book in general?
At its core, Bet on It is deeply Southern. It’s the first book I’ve written where I really got to dig deep into small town Southern life and I think, aside from the unfolding love story, that was my favorite part. The food, the personalities, all of it was an incredible joy to write as my little love letter – and often critique – of Southern culture.
What are you currently reading? Are there any upcoming books that you are really excited about?
My current read is one I can’t share much about but is a stunning, riveting historical by Diana Biller called Hotel of Secrets. My most recent favorite read outside of that Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Presley. What can I say, my fellow SMP authors are freaking incredible.
What can readers expect from you next?
Readers can expect more from Greenbelt. My next two releases with St. Martin’s are set in the same small town and will involve some familiar faces. I’m incredibly excited to expand on this little world I’ve created and make readers fall in love with my characters.