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This week we’re joined by Courtney Milan, an award-winning and bestselling author of historical and contemporary romance. Her most recent release, Hamilton’s Battalion is a trio of short romances set during the Revolutionary War written with Alyssa Cole and Rose Lerner. We chat about her fabulous story in Hamilton’s Battalion and how she developed two such interesting characters. Other fun highlights from our wide ranging conversation include:
- Her fascinating journey from math degree to theoretical physical chemistry to law school to law clerk to law professor to romance author (!).
- She decided she was bad at writing when she started college, and was fascinated by math, so she majored in math. One of my favorite quotes from this episode: “I ended up not being able to disprove all of modern mathematics, but I did have a lot of fun!”
- As a lawyer, she served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, and others before becoming a law professor. The reactions from the law community to her writing romance ranged from heartwarming (Justice Kennedy!) to infuriating.
- We dig in to her intriguing writing process, which she describes as chaotic, like building a snowflake from the outside edges in. There’s something really romantic about the way she handwrites everything, relying on instinct and inspiration to find the story without getting caught up in word count…but you can probably hear Sarah and I start to twitch at the idea of handwriting the whole book!
- How her editor has to give instructions a specific way because Courtney can’t be told what to do.
- How she essentially trained herself to like olives–and how that strategy didn’t work with dark beer.
After sitting across from Courtney for an hour, it was clear that she is brilliant, humble, and kind…but what we didn’t learn until last week is just how brave she is. In the episode, she references a federal judge who forbid her from reading romance novels during her dinner break. Last week she came forward with five other women to expose Judge Alex Kozinski’s sexual misconduct while she was working for him as a clerk. The Washington Post broke the story, but Courtney’s own statement is powerful and worth a read. Standing up and exposing behavior like that takes incredible courage. Courtney has cemented herself as not only one of our favorite authors, but now one of our feminist heroines.
*Books mentioned in this episode:
Hamilton’s Battalion by Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Rose Lerner
A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold
Thunder and Roses by Mary Joe Putney
Serving Pleasure by Alisha Rai
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
*The above links will take you to The Ripped Bodice website where you have the option to purchase the print books from the only exclusively romance bookstore in the US. We love them–please consider showing your support to such a wonderful small business! If you’re in the LA area, definitely go and visit the store–it’s magical!
Special thanks to our Editor, Chris Willett!