We are thrilled to welcome authors and podcasters Jessica Haines and Emma Jackson. The two of them have recently started a podcast dedicated to all things science fiction and fantasy romance, and if you’re a member of the RNA Romantic Fantasy Chapter, you may recognize them as your friendly admins. Jess and Emma, what made you first fall in love with fantasy and science fiction?
Jess: For me the first thing about it was the escape from the normal that I was used to reading. To see new worlds come to life that I’d pictured in my head before, seeing that someone else was doing it and making it appear fantastic, was such a nice thing to see. Then I saw the couples that came to life within those worlds, and I was hooked.
Emma: I love the leaps of imagination and how something seemingly so detached from real life can really make you think about humanity. Then when you bring in the romance, which to me is all about character development and relationship dynamics, the speculative element can push the love story to an epic level that is intensely romantic and thought-provoking.
Who’s the fantasy/sci-fi love interest that makes you weak in the knees? Like if readers were to pick up their first fantasy/sci-fi romance, which character would make them think, “yes, this is what I’ve been missing my whole life”?
Jess: The first book that I picked up was a little more paranormal than fantasy. It was one of the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I devoured the entire series in a few weeks, and my favourite couple that made me stop and fall in love with them were Trehan and Bettina from Shadow’s Claim. I loved his dominant side, and the way she was slowly drawn to him, especially when he gave her the heads of her enemies as a gift.
Emma: I absolutely adored the Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black. It’s full of some of my favourite elements with fae politics, twists and turns, action, and one of the ultimate enemies-to-lovers arcs of recent years. Cardan – the Cruel Prince himself – is somehow awful, tragic, misunderstood, funny, and powerful, all at the same time. And Jude is more than a match for him.
#TeamCardan. Are there any challenges specific to being a romantic fantasy/sci-fi writer here in the UK?
Jess: I think romantic fantasy/sci-fi falls into a bit of a no man’s land. Fantasy readers tend to love the world building and character portrayal and battles, while romance readers love the character development and growth of the relationship between the main protagonists a little more. We slip into the murky middle of the Venn diagram with bits of each. We just need to persuade both sides that each has good points, and together they make an awesome package.
Emma: Like Jess said, I think traditional publishing is somehow stuck thinking that if readers like fantasy, they want boys-own style adventure and no yucky feelings attached. And maybe there are SFF readers that feel that way, but we know from the success of those in self-publishing and even the big break-out fantasy series in traditional publishing, like Discovery of Witches, there’s a massive readership that want both. When traditional publishing figures out how to market to that readership, I think the tide will turn again.
What made you want to start a podcast?
Jess: It was actually one book that started it all. Emma recommended one to me called Wolf Gone Wild by Juliette Cross, and I think in less than twenty-four hours we’d both finished it and loved it. And Emma asked if I’d be interested, as we’d both been listening to various podcasts out there and never found one that ticked all our boxes. We’ve become really fantastic friends after running the RNA fantasy chapter together, and it’s turned out to be a perfect match.
Emma: Aw, yeah, definitely! I never thought I would enjoy listening to podcasts as I hate the “talky” bits when I’m listening to the radio, but Jess recommended some great ones to me, and I loved how they felt like being invited into a conversation with friends. But they were only touching on fantasy romance occasionally. We could take something we enjoyed doing so much anyway (talking for hours about fantasy romance) and share it with others in a fun way, and hopefully shine a light on some amazing authors.
How has the process of recording the podcast been? What’s been really enjoyable, and what’s been more of a challenge?
Jess: Once you get the tools in place, the process is actually quite straight forward, and Emma did a course not long before we started that really helped us find the right places to go to get the tools needed. I think, once you get over the initial worry, the best part is actually sitting and chatting with your friend about some really beautiful books. You get another perspective of what that person sees, and it’s incredible how each individual can read the same book in a totally different way. The hardest thing, for us, is keeping it short. We have a habit of digressing, then going off in a circle until we get back to the original point.
Emma: Yes, we definitely gave ourselves some challenges when it came to editing! It’s been really fun to learn new skills though – sometimes it can feel like all I do is read and write, so it’s nice to break it up and flex some different mental muscles. I think one of the other challenges for me has been re-reading the books we chose as well. I’m so used to trying to plough through my TBR, and I’m quite a mood reader, so rereading a book and taking notes on it, took longer than I was expecting it to, but it’s really made me examine the craft of the genre.
Are there any upcoming episodes you’re really excited about?
Jess: Every one is exciting for me, as I’m intrigued to see what people think of the choices we’ve made. But one of my personal favourites is Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. Kaleb and Sahara are another of my favourites couples. If you listen to the podcasts, you’ll very quickly come to understand why. We’ve also looked into having a special extra episode later in the year for monster stories after the success of some smaller, self-published books on Twitter. I’m very much looking forward to reading and recording that.
Emma: Like Jess, each one has something I really enjoyed talking about with her, and it will be so interesting to see if we can entice any listeners to try out those books, or if they picked up on the same things as us if they’ve already read them. I am really looking forward to Fire in His Blood, which is the first episode, and Wolf Gone Wild, which is the season finale, because they were such a laugh to record. The monster special is going to be great fun too I think.
This month, you’re celebrating all things paranormal romance on social media. (’Tis the perfect month for ghostly love!) What can we expect and how can we get in on the action?
Jess: We’ve got loads of things lined up for the entire month on our social media platforms. We have a #bookstagram challenge running throughout the month on Instagram. While over on Twitter we have author interviews, a competition running with the amazing @woodsandkissesclub, and a creature death match to find out which supernatural being is most loved. You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram @sffromcast. And the podcast will be running on all platforms under the same name.
Emma: There’s also a blogger spotlight the first week because we know how important bloggers are to spreading the news of amazing books, and that’s what the podcast and festival is all about to us. We’re having special themed shout-out days for different subgenres, like shifters and sci-fi and timeslip. And if we can figure out TikTok, you should be able to catch teasers of our podcast episodes there! We also have a YouTube channel, where you’ll be able to catch the podcast episodes as they’re released, as well as a trailer for the first season and the festival, which should be live when this goes out.
About Jessica Haines
Jessica is a mum of three who only started putting words onto the page when she joined the New Writers’ Scheme in 2020. She is now looking to self-publish her first book in early 2022, while still helping to run the RNA fantasy chapter and recording more of the podcasts she co-creates with her fantastical co-conspirator, Emma Jackson. She loves anything Disney and Marvel, especially when it comes to villains, and if not watching these, she’ll have her kindle in her hands. Find her on your social media platform of preference.
About Emma Jackson
Author of the best-selling romantic comedies A Mistletoe Miracle and Sleepless in Sicily, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was six years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner, and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. You can find out news about Emma via her website, by signing up to her newsletter at
www.esjackson.co.uk, or on:
You can find out all the details for the festival on Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok and Youtube.
@SFFRomCast.The podcast is being published via Anchor FM and will be available on all podcasting platforms from 12th October.
Jessica and Emma were talking to Victoria Chatfield.
Victoria Chatfield originally hails from New York where she worked as a social media manager in the fashion industry. While she started out as a ghostwriter for magazine editors, she’s now a member of the NWS, writing romantic suspense and psychological thrillers. (She loves the really bad boys.) Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @vavazquezwrites.