Banner for Ep.38, What Eyes Can't See - Paulette Stout Interview. Pictures of (l to r) Y. M. Nelson, host, What Eyes Can't See book Cover, Nerdy Romantics Podcast pink logo, and Paulette Stout, guest

Ep.38 What Eyes Can’t See – Paulette Stout interview

Nerdy Romantics Podcast host and romance and romantic women’s fiction author Y. M. Nelson talks to romantic women’s fiction author Paulette Stout about her new release What Eyes Can’t See, Book 3 in her Bold Journeys series. We discuss writing diverse characters, racism in the workplace (especially THIS workplace), and why we want Sebastian to be our next book boyfriend.

Topics We Discuss (Click to jump to transcript’s section) :

About the book:

Barbara’s fairytale life has hit a brick wall. Worst part, she didn’t see it coming.

Barbara navigates the NYC corporate world as a confident Black lawyer, balancing sky-high career goals with heavy family expectations. But while her career thrives at 31, her engagement crumbles, leaving her heartbroken-and stuck with a non-refundable destination wedding.

Arriving at her island paradise, Barbara is swept away by Sebastian-a hazel-eyed lawyer with a snake tattoo and a mysterious past. Their connection is so deep, Barbara feels seen for the first time in her life.

For Sebastian, time stops when he’s with Barbara. It doesn’t matter that she’s rich, and he grew up on food stamps. That her clothes are designer and his hide old gang tattoos. Even that he’s white, and she’s Black. None of their differences matter until he’s handed the job meant for her.

Jobless and stripped of her family’s wealth, Barbara digs deep to find herself and her voice. Suspecting she faced racial discrimination, Barbara challenges her boss in court. It’s a decision that puts Barbara and Sebastian on opposite sides of a battle they long to fight together.

As their love and convictions are put to the test, one crucial question remains, how much are they willing to risk to find justice?

Multi-award-winning author Paulette Stout returns with a bold and spicy story of love, social justice, and belonging that’ll stay with you long after the last page. It’s fast-paced contemporary fiction for lovers of strong heroines with something to say about the world.

About Paulette Stout:

Paulette Stout is the multi award-winning—and fearless—author of fast paced contemporary fiction that tackles social issues often ignored. Her latest release, What Eyes Can’t See, was called a “highly recommended love story of justice, redemption, and struggle” by Midwest Book Review. You can usually find Paulette rearranging words into pleasing patterns while wearing grammar t-shirts at her home in Acton, Massachusetts.

Website: www.paulettestout.com

Paulette Stout’s Social media:
Picture of Paulette Stout, women's fiction author, laughing

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Episode Transcript

Intro and my FOMO story

[00:00:00] Y. M. Nelson: Howdy Nerdy Romantics! Today’s episode is going to be with Paulette Stout and she is the author of What Eyes Can’t See. We’re going to talk about this book. We’re going to talk about some of her other books and a lot of other juicy stuff. So stay with us. 

This is the Nerdy Romantics Podcast and I’m your host, YM Nelson.

[00:00:47] Y. M. Nelson: Okay. All right. Okay. So hi, Paulette. How are you?

[00:00:58] Paulette Stout: I’m so excited to talk to you in real [00:01:00] life.

[00:01:01] Y. M. Nelson: I know. I feel like we’ve known each other forever. I’m telling my audience that I actually read your very first book, and now you’re on book three, and I read your very first book for review and actually the reason why I wanted to read your very first book is I had a little bit of FOMO because I, I, did, I had a little

bit of FOMO, I saw, yeah, I saw an unboxing and you had sent it to another author that we know And it came in a nice, pretty pink package. And the book that I’m talking about, her first book, is Love, Only Better.

And

[00:01:54] Paulette Stout: This is the 

[00:01:54] Y. M. Nelson: that’s the This is the first cover. How about I got the, first 

[00:01:58] Paulette Stout: you got the first cover. You’re [00:02:00] 

[00:02:00] Y. M. Nelson: The new cover. Yes. 

[00:02:02] Paulette Stout: OG. Yes.

[00:02:04] Y. M. Nelson: Yes, I am. And I’m happy about that right now. But, I have to say, so I had a little bit of FOMO because I saw the packaging that your art came in and I was like I’m just, I was just blown away by the packaging. So that unboxing did, did it

[00:02:23] Paulette Stout: It worked! It worked! It got you hooked!

Here you are, three years later.

[00:02:29] Y. M. Nelson: exactly. Exactly. And I still love the packaging. I love the branding. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that for, for this book that you have out now that just came out at the beginning of February.

And some cool stuff for that. Because I had to do my own unboxing and give everybody else FOMO for this one So I did that on tiktok. Yeah, so We know each other Very well But for our audience who may not know [00:03:00] you actually i’m gonna read bio. How about we do 

[00:03:04] Paulette Stout: go ahead. Yeah, that’s fine. Yep.

[00:03:08] Y. M. Nelson: kind of how you got started on this journey. So you’re the multi. Award winning and fearless author of fast paced contemporary fiction that tackles social issues that are often ignored. Paulette’s latest release, What Eyes Can’t See, was called “A Highly Recommended Love Story of Justice, Redemption, and Struggle” by Midwest Book Review. Nice. And yes you can also find Paulette rearranging words into pleasing patterns while wearing grammar t shirts at her home in Acton, Massachusetts. Cool. So, just a little bit about you there.

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How Paulette Started Writing

But I want to ask you a little bit about your journey. So outside of that bio, y’all Paulette has [00:04:00] three books out, and we saw Love, Only Better. Her second book is What We Never Say, and her third book, which we’re gonna talk about the most, is What Eyes Can’t See, and I want to talk about how you got to, and these are what I call women’s fiction with romantic elements or romantic women’s fiction, which you know I write romance right now, but I also write romantic women’s fiction.

So I connected with these as well. And I want to know how you got to this point where you’re writing women’s fiction with Romantic Element.

[00:04:41] Paulette Stout: I think that 

[00:04:42] Y. M. Nelson: is this the start of your journey?

[00:04:44] Paulette Stout: Yes, this, well, yes. Cause, well, way back, everyone’s like, you start reading books and you’re like, I can write a book better than this! , so you sit down and you start writing and you’re like, oh, this is super hard. So, you know, I My first book, Lovely and Better, took me like over 17 years because [00:05:00] first of all, I had to get my craft where it needed to be, but then also, you know, this book touches on women’s intimacy in a very personal way, like it was semi autobiographical, and I kind of didn’t want to be like the orgasm lady on the sidelines at soccer, so I kind of waited until my kids were grown, and I had my own business, I was my boss, I’d have to work with my boss coming and being like, what’d you write about?

So So, like, I had that freedom to do that and, you know, now that I’ve, you know, starting writing in earnest, it’s just, like, this is where I belong. It’s my why, it’s everything, and I wake up with little stories dancing in my head and then I run to write them down. It just, it’s bringing me so much joy that it’s, I feel like this is gonna, this is gonna go on for a while now.

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Love, Only Better … and orgasms

[00:05:46] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. And , you just touched on it a little bit about Love, Only Better is about essentially about a woman discovering her pleasure [00:06:00] and a woman discovering pain. How she can achieve her sexual pleasure or the road to orgasm, as I say

[00:06:10] Paulette Stout: yes.

[00:06:11] Y. M. Nelson: so that’s a topic that you don’t see , a lot of in women’s fiction and in romance, you just see that it happens and it’s like I don’t know if mine is like that, but

[00:06:25] Paulette Stout: Yes, yeah, you know, like little spotlights coming from above, that whole thing.

[00:06:29] Y. M. Nelson: Exactly, exactly, exactly. So this is a topic that a lot of people don’t talk about, don’t hear about, and don’t really know about. Even if they are women, we don’t hear about it, and we don’t know enough about it, really, a lot. So what, and, and this is just the first y’all just, just the first of some hard topics that Paulette actually talks about in her books.

[00:07:00] So what made you want to, A, about the women’s or a woman’s orgasm and B, start on this journey with these hard topics?

[00:07:13] Paulette Stout: Well, this one was such a deeply personal book because it’s something I struggled with. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing in the bedroom. I was raised by a single dad who , told me nothing, and I didn’t know what I was doing and I just felt like I was missing out, you know, I grew up in Manhattan and you’re walking by bus shelters and everyone’s looking like they’re getting some and I’m just like, I can’t go anywhere.

You watch movies, you read books like everyone’s getting some and I’m like, okay, I’m missing something here because this is not happening for me. So I went on this journey to kind of figure out my own body. And then once I kind of came out on the other side, literally, I was like, yeah. Okay, I can’t be the only one having this problem, you know, and I just, when I was going through it and I was looking for books, they were either super clinical and scary or [00:08:00] super kinky and also scary, so I felt like approaching it in a novel was a way to make the subject matter really approachable and wrapping it around a romance story in there made it like an easier way to consume the information.

So if you were having trouble in the bedroom, like you can maybe get some tips. If you’re not having trouble in the bedroom, you can kind of just go for the ride and enjoy the read. So I felt like this was a little bit , of a void for information for women. And I felt like this was like a really nice way to present the, the topic.

[00:08:36] Y. M. Nelson: Okay. Yeah. And I agree. It is. It, for me in this book, you find kind of comfort a little bit in reading somebody else’s story and saying, Hey, , Maybe I’m having this issue as well, or hey, , finally somebody I can relate to or something [00:09:00] of that nature. 

[00:09:00] Paulette Stout: Yeah, and I was doing the book tour for that originally, like doing interviews and things. I did a lot of research on the topic, and it’s like only 37 percent of women finish in the bedroom. And that compares to 75 percent of men. So if you’re not on the same page at all with the man or your partner in your life, that’s Probably why?

Because you’re not experiencing intimacy in the same way and women’s got a headache and the guy wants some, you can understand why everyone’s not feeling the same thing. So I had the opportunity to go to, , a masturbation coach and like a renowned one who’s like in the Museum of Sexton, like is some kind of pioneer and has been on Goop tV show and whatever, but like most people don’t have that opportunity. So I felt like this was an opportunity to bring some of that information to whoever was interested in reading the book.

[00:09:53] Y. M. Nelson: Right. And so everybody, this is bold journeys book one Love, Only Better. [00:10:00] Right.

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Racism and What Eyes Can’t See

Y. M. Nelson: And so we’re already starting off with some kind of hard topics, but the one that we’re going to talk about today, what eyes can’t see is, A really hard topic and not just , a hard topic to talk about for women, but a hard topic to talk about in general for the society. We have a hard time bringing it up. We have a hard time actually understanding and having empathy, and that topic is racism. So here it is. What eyes can’t see and of course it’s behind Paulette as well, if you’re looking at this on video and Paulette, give us a little bit of what this book is about.

[00:10:45] Paulette Stout: So I wrote this amazing diverse character, Barbara Washington. She’s a Black woman. She came from an affluent family. And that was something that was very important to me in all my stories was to have a diverse cast. I grew up in Manhattan. There’s people of all backgrounds and gender [00:11:00] identities and all over the place.

So that’s what I grew up with. And when I read women’s fiction, I felt like Where are all the Black professional class characters like I just feel like a lot of the characters I was seeing romance does a lot better sci fi fantasy does a lot better but women’s fiction specifically as a genre, you know, if there are Black characters, they feel like they’re supporting characters are on the brink of like financial ruin or something or they live in urban centers, but I’m like, where is everybody else?

So I felt like this was a great opportunity to bring it. Barbara as a leading lady into a story. I felt like she deserved her own story as a best friend character from a couple books. And I felt like having her take a racial identity journey would be interesting, especially if I can juxtapose that to someone of a different background, like Sebastian, who was white from a single parent, really impoverished home.

And like, how does that all You know, mesh up together where you [00:12:00] have, you know, who would be presumably a privileged white man, but comes from a super Humble gaming involved background and you have a super affluent privileged Black woman who is still butting up Against all the barriers in society. So I just felt like that was kind of an interesting dynamic to play around with Yes 

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Is it Romance or Women’s Fiction?

[00:12:19] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. So that, that kind of goes into my next question. So Barbara was who you started with that, that was the character that spoke to you in the beginning. Yeah. And so you talked a little bit about kind of how we don’t necessarily see. A character like Barbara in a lot of women’s fiction. I tend to agree with this. As a woman of color, I will also say caveat here. And this just me audience. Y’all know how I am. Caveat here. I, I feel like also there are a lot of women’s fiction [00:13:00] books out there written by Black women that have Black women main characters that are not categorized as women’s fiction, like a Terry McMillan, she writes women’s fiction, y’all, a Victoria Christopher Murray book is women’s fiction. A Kimberla Lawson Robey book is women’s fiction, and they are not categorized as women’s fiction. And therefore we don’t see them on the shelves with the Elin Hildebrand. We don’t see them on shelves with the Jennifer Weiner. And to me, all of these should kind of be in the same, well, of course women’s fiction is not 

[00:13:41] Paulette Stout: And I would, I would also say that someone like Kennedy Ryan, even though her books are like super romance y, I would say she writes women’s fiction because some of the topics that she takes on are heavy topics that you wouldn’t necessarily see in most romance books. It’s [00:14:00] not like it’s a rom com or anything.

So I would kind of put her in that Lists too and I was so happy to discover her work because I’m like this is like right up my alley

[00:14:11] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree. I totally agree. Kennedy Ryan for me is definitely in the women’s fiction category, especially with kind of the series that she’s doing now. It’s very much women’s fiction as much as it is romance but I agree in that you don’t see a lot of these female main characters in the mainstream, these female Black main characters in the mainstream, I, and I like that.

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How to Write Diverse Characters

Y. M. Nelson:  and I like how you’re doing this, especially I like that, as Black women, we know our experiences and we have varied experiences, but everybody, Paulette is not a Black woman. And she actually says this in the front of her book. But [00:15:00] approaching this from a woman who is not Black trying to write a Black character. Tell me a little bit about kind of how you made Barbara an authentic Black woman. Because she definitely resonates with me.

[00:15:20] Paulette Stout: That’s so wonderful to hear, Y. M.. Thank you. I, I, you know, I, I’m a brown woman, so I, there are certain experiences that, Barbara goes, you know, being watched in a store, being like the only person of color in a workplace, like some of those types of experiences I have. So that kind of gives me a little bit of a foundational place, but I would never pretend to be a Black woman.

I really tried to be super transparent about that so people can make informed choices about the books they choose. So what I did to kind of get it right was I started by learning. I interviewed Black women about their experiences, their workplace, their concerns, their lives. I [00:16:00] talked to Black family members.

I, read books, I listened to podcasts, I listened respectfully in Black social spaces just to kind of hear about the conversations and the concerns that were being raised. And after that, then I put pen to paper. And I, built out the story and I gave, I had two sensitivity readers that took this journey with me, Black professional women who read the book in 20, 000.

We’re chunks and we went scene by scene. What’s right here? What’s not right here? That would not happen in my family. This is this would happen, but it’s a little bit different. This is a subtle thing, you know, so we went through scene by scene multiple times. To make sure everything was right and then at the end I brought in another Black sensitivity reader to read it fresh because I didn’t want my other gals because now they’re invested in the story and I want someone to kind of read it fresh and then let me know what they thought and she was like I you know, I’m feeling that she didn’t really have any other feedback I also gave it [00:17:00] to non marginalized readers just to kind of see how it was landing with them and Everyone felt really like I appreciate it.

I felt like it’s an eye opening story. I get to feel this woman’s experience, and this is something different than my own background, but I can be more sensitive to this in my life, so, you know, lots of people, I’ve heard this eye opening for me, which, you know, it’s good that it’s eye opening, but it’s sad that it’s eye opening at the same time, you know what I mean?

[00:17:25] Y. M. Nelson: Exactly. Yes.

[00:17:27] Paulette Stout: know what I’m saying? So yeah, so I did a lot of care and as I’ve been marketing the book I’ve taken very special care to be transparent about my background, not to use, you know, hashtags like Black book, not to market it as a Black book, not to participate in Black History Month promotions.

I’m really trying to be respectful of the audience and readers and not so that there’s no confusion that I’m trying to kind of sneak one over on people. I’m just trying to be really transparent about my background.

[00:17:55] Y. M. Nelson: Right. And, we definitely respect that, by the way. Thank [00:18:00] you. And I mean, even with myself, right now I’m writing interracial romance and that’s not Black romance. those are two different things, and so you definitely have to be transparent with that. And you, you’re saying that the reception that you’re getting from this by being transparent and just by writing the book has been well received. Now we do have a few writers in the group, although this is readers, podcasts, we do have a few writers out there that are listening. I would love to. From your experience, would love to know if you have like any tips or anything that kind of came out to you or came out from this experience that you would like writers to know that are writing people of different backgrounds that are, or backgrounds that are different from their own,

[00:18:54] Paulette Stout: Thank you for that question because I’m really passionate about this. I think as writers we need to [00:19:00] come to the page in a humble place and we need to understand that we don’t know what we don’t know and I’ve spoken to some writers because I’m a huge advocate for using sensitivity readers. I used it in my second book and I’ll give you an opportunity.

I think some people are afraid That someone’s gonna come in and be like wagging a finger at them and telling them you’re doing this all wrong, You’re an awful person but what they don’t understand is that they’re missing the beauty of opportunity of finding out about a culture or a background that’s different than theirs learning themselves and being changed with from within by themselves and also bringing that Experience to the page.

So I’ll give you an example in my second book, What We Never Say. I had a therapy. I had a therapy kind of plot line with one of the characters. So I gave the book to a therapist. I’m like, how does this look to you? Does this feel right and authentic as like a therapy situation? And the person said to me, you know, cause I had written the therapist as kind of like a stereotypical kind of Sigmund Freud type [00:20:00] of dude like old, old white guy with glasses or whatever. And she’s like, you know, people who do this one on one coaching, are young. They are working more peer to peer than like a senior to someone younger. So I completely rewrote the character and that’s a super easy example, but I just want people to not be afraid to reach out to people because if you’re going to take the time To write a character that’s different than you because you feel passionately that that person deserves to be on the page, Then you should take that next step as well and do it right because what often happens is people Try but they cause more harm. I can’t tell you how many books i’ve had to put down because i’ve been offended about how the way people of color were represented, of how with larger bodies being Represented, and it’s like if you had just talked to someone In that community, you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble and saved your readers some anguish of spending money on a book that they can’t enjoy.

[00:20:58] Y. M. Nelson: Right, right, exactly. [00:21:00] I totally agree with that. And I love that you said that. I mean, a sensitivity reader is not somebody, is not the police. The second thing I like that you did was you had a sensitivity reader read it, but you had a different sensitivity reader read it after. So you know, as Black people, we’re, and for some reason I said this yesterday to somebody as Black people, we are not a monolith, you know, and as, as brown people, you’re not a monolith, right? And because we don’t have enough representation, we tend to kind of group, right? We tend to forget that each person goes through life no matter what their skin color and has a set of experiences. And it [00:22:00] needs to, to render true, but it also needs to render as this is a person and this is their experience.

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Race, Wealth, and the Workplace

Y. M. Nelson: And this is not everybody’s experience. So with that I like the fact that Barbara, you made Barbara. Affluent. She’s from a privileged family. She has a trust fund, if I remember correctly, yes?

[00:22:29] Paulette Stout: She doesn’t, but does. Yeah. 

[00:22:31] Y. M. Nelson: She does, right? You know, she’s not old money, but She’s a lot more privileged than I am, I’ll tell you that. But I like that you wrote her in that way. Because, A yes, affluent Black people exist and have affluent. And we don’t see that enough. We don’t see that side enough. And that is the whole point of [00:23:00] representation in my opinion is to to show not just one side, not to show a stereotype, I guess is the word that I’m looking for. And was that your conscious decision to make her affluent and to have her go through that struggle? Cool. Also it really, I will say this before you answer, I will say this. I like the fact that she’s affluent because it also brings to mind that race, a lot of times this country, race is looked at first and money is looked at second. It brought me back to the vandalism that happened, I believe that was at LeBron James L. A. house where L. A. Where he had some vandalism happen. And it’s like, this guy has a mansion, it has gates, and you’re still going to put racial slurs on it? [00:24:00] So it just shows, and it’s so shocking how racism is so pervasive in our society. So you–

[00:24:10] Paulette Stout: was extremely intentional. Yes. It was very intentional. One of my good friends growing up. was like crazy rich. They were, Black family and they, I was like single parent home sleeping on, in the living room with my dad. Like, like, we had like nothing. I would go on a visit and play at her house.

It was like going to like F. A. O. Schwartzer or some kind of really upscale toy store cause she had those like 12 foot giraffes. Like she had those, you know, and it was like that kind of money. So, Like, I’m, I had that experience and different, you know, other families of color and professional class people that were colleagues of my parent and my dad and I was just kind of like, where are all these people in the book?

So that was extremely intentional.

[00:24:54] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah.

[00:24:56] Paulette Stout: Because, I mean, she’s already been established as a character of means in the first [00:25:00] two books, so that was consistent. But you didn’t really know much about her background. So I wanted to show that as like a multi generational successful family. You know, not like a first generation success. This is a multi generational successful family. So that was very intentional. 

And I think that, The contortion exercise and I’m going to be speaking here about Black women. I am not a Black woman, but just from my research of working with and interviewing Black women. There’s a huge contortion exercise that has to go on in like corporate circles to fit in and. It was like, you know, she’s navigating these white spaces where they’re the only Black families and she’s not butting up against a lot of other Black people. So she’s kind of living in a bit of a bubble too. Like she’s trying to fit in. They think they fit in and she finds out what the truth is like later on, in the book, both for her and for her father.

But, that’s like a super hard place to be so I felt like that was an important journey for the character to take because that’s a journey that people [00:26:00] face every day in terms of living this existence where you’re just trying to fit in and you kind of just don’t feel like you do and people try to make you feel like they do but then how they don’t invite you out after work and it’s You have a multi generational home maybe at home and you have other responsibilities that other people don’t have and it makes it harder for you to go out after work and there’s just some other things that.

Or pervasive in different communities that aren’t necessarily the same, and I think that there’s not enough understanding for that when it’s, when you set up these, you know, where all the good conversations happen at the bar after work versus in the workplace, and not everybody can be there.

So it puts, sometimes it puts a lot of workers of color at a disadvantage.

[00:26:44] Y. M. Nelson: Mm hmm. Yeah, I, I agree with that. And in two, there’s a double consciousness that happens with a lot of Black people in the corporate world that you do kind of bring out here with Barbara’s [00:27:00] character you know, she wears her hair a certain way. She, has a certain way of Speaking and things like that to, keep that professional IE white kind of demeanor, and keep the confrontational kind of element down, that happens in those spaces. And well, as a woman of color, does that happen? For you as well or is that something that you learned along the way?

[00:27:32] Paulette Stout: It’s interesting because I’ve definitely felt myself masking at times, in my professional life. And it’s just, you know, one of those things that you just feel like you want to fit in. So I don’t necessarily like I might like hold my body differently when I speak. I might You know, change my eye con-, there’s just there’s things you do to try to fit in and feel confident and like represent. You kind of do [00:28:00] have that extra burden of, you know, wanting to represent.

Well, you know, if you’re the only woman, the only woman of color in a room, you want to make sure that you’re representing. So for instance, I just like in the last year, stopped getting super dressed up when I went to like, A department store or bank or whatever because I just it’s you just want to be treated with respect when you go places and it isn’t anything that like working on this book I started talking about this more with like relatives and family members were like they didn’t realize that I was doing that and but I’m like yeah I just I want to be treated respectfully when I’m in spaces you know so that’s just something that That I had always done.

So that’s just a few examples.

[00:28:48] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. I will also say, I feel like it’s a generational thing. I feel like the younger generations are Younger than me, Gen X are being more [00:29:00] authentically themselves and and demanding that you meet them on their level, so I love that that happens but , it’s just so, in that corporate space, it’s, it’s Navigating that space is wild. It is- 

[00:29:19] Paulette Stout: I think the other piece of masking is also overlooking when colleagues say insensitive things. Not, not responding of like, ooh, or not challenging those perceptions and just kind of having to let them go. And that’s masking too, because an authentic self, like you just said, Gen Z press would be like, what the hell do you mean by that? You know, and it’s 

[00:29:41] Y. M. Nelson: Right. 

[00:29:42] Paulette Stout: know, it are, but especially if you’re at like a higher level in the organization, you’re just not, you just don’t want to make waves on that. You don’t want to be perceived as difficult. You know, that stereotype of angry Black woman is a real thing. And, people like to hang that on people, label people as if difficult and.

My [00:30:00] research showed that oftentimes Black women who are ascending in their careers get less rigorous mentoring and coaching because people are afraid of the angry Black woman stereotype, so they won’t give the constructive feedback that person needs to improve because they’re afraid of that conversation, and that’s because of the stereotype that many managers hold, against Black women workers.

[00:30:24] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. Yeah, very much so, very much so. And And it, it, it’s so funny because Barbara is so not that. She’s not the, she’s not the aggressive Black woman at all. She’s so not that. But The other thing that I wanted to talk about in relation to, the corporate kind of environment that you put here is this particular place. Is horrible. It just, it made me think, Wow, imagine [00:31:00] a world with no EEOC affirmative action policy for the workplace. It would be this place. I mean, was that, consciously done? And you know, were you like, I want to make this CEO, the worst CEO and, and the most loopholes I can make here. I mean, it’s a bad place y’all.

[00:31:27] Paulette Stout: I think that there are I think that a lot of companies are doing better, but I feel like they’re doing better because the stock exchanges are making them and because the federal government is making them, but like in their hearts and in their private moments, they probably are Marshall Barr, which is the name of the boss in the book, y’all.

So I, I feel like it might be truer than we want to believe. In terms of the heart and [00:32:00] intention behind some companies and some leaders, even if they’re saying the right things and the companies are doing the right things, I think that in the quiet moments there are a lot more Marshall Barrs on there than we want to acknowledge.

[00:32:12] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. Not to call you out or anything, but as part of this personal experience,

[00:32:18] Paulette Stout: Well 

[00:32:18] Y. M. Nelson: say no, you 

[00:32:20] Paulette Stout: it’s, it’s so interesting you said that because I, in many ways, you know, I’m, you know, biracial, I’m, you know, Puerto Rican, I’m Jewish, you know, Russian, like, no one knows what I am, looking at me, and I’ve just been trying to, like, bop along and fit in, and I, you know, some of my age grew up in, like, colorblind society, so I was always trying to Not make a big deal about my background, and just take me as I am, deal with me as I am, but don’t worry about who I am from a genetic and, you know, genealogical perspective, like, just that doesn’t matter, but I, in working on this book, I’m reflecting on my life, I’m reflecting on [00:33:00] workplace experiences, and I’m like, hmm, you know, I wonder if, you know, me not getting as readily, you know, advanced as others, Had anything to do with that.

I wonder if because, you know, I went to an Ivy League school. I have an MBA I’m extremely accomplished and it just feels like sometimes I’m not getting my stuff Which is I think one of the reasons why I work for myself now, and I’m really happy doing that But I you know, I think entrepreneurship is a great opportunity for people who, you know, can make it work for them.

But reflecting on my career made me wonder if there were certain inflection points when things happen, you know, unconsciously, consciously, whatever, if that was a factor. So I can’t point to a specific episode, but I’m just, it makes me wonder a little bit about my own life too.

[00:33:53] Y. M. Nelson: Right. Exactly. Exactly. Sometimes, I’m looking at a situation that’s happening in, in book and I’m [00:34:00] thinking, wow You know what, now that I look back on this thing that happened in the past this might not have been the best way to handle this, or I wonder if this was a coping mechanism that I did, or something of that nature. You just kind of re evaluate as you learn more, which is why I love that you advocate for people doing research, especially in topics like this with sensitive issues with societal issues that writers research, because it’s not really just about, although it’s a big part about meeting that reader where they are, but. You expand your own knowledge of who you are and how you deal with situations and those kinds of things. You really just expand yourself as a writer when you do that. And I love that you advocate for that.

[00:34:56] Paulette Stout: Thank you. My books take longer. I know some people publish faster [00:35:00] in the self publishing space. Mine take longer because the research takes time and the reader review takes time. And, for me, I just want to get the books right. So thank you for saying that.

I put a lot of work to get this right because I know that there is a sensitivity around writing outside your own experience. But I’ve gotten some really great feedback from readers who are like, this is how you do it right. You know, so that means a lot to me when I hear that. Ha ha 

[00:35:29] Y. M. Nelson: and the fact that it is a novel, the fact that it is Barbara’s experience really kind of really emphasizes that. She doesn’t say, Hey, Black women go through this. Those blanket statements are not there. Y’all that’s, that’s what I love about it. it’s that Barbara is having her own awakening. 

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Sebastian as a Character

Y. M. Nelson: But speaking of awakening on the other side of things, Sebastian has his own kind of awakening as well. I mean, he, he [00:36:00] has his own like, oh, wow, you know, this may not be what life is all about. Maybe I really need to rethink this, thing. So it’s almost like they’re on parallel journeys, in a way. And I like the way that you did that. So you almost have- everybody, if you haven’t read women’s fiction, , like how romance has a formula, romance has certain things that we have to hit, with women’s fiction is also a certain. What categorizes it as women’s fiction and that’s the character emotional journey and the character emotional arc and Both of these characters they start in one place Emotionally and they grow and both of them have an emotional arc did that just kind of happen for you and Or was Sebastian just, [00:37:00] we needed a hot guy in here and then he grew to be more. I mean, how did that actually come

[00:37:06] Paulette Stout: I don’t even know where Sebastian came from. Well, I mean, I grew up in a single parent home. I was not gang involved, but I worked at a youth center for years with gang involved youth. I lived in the Lower East Side where Sebastian lived, you know, so like certain those places Those are familiar to me, and I just thought it was an interesting juxtaposition of race and class to tackle that theme of belonging because, everyone wants to belong.

Everyone wants to find a place where they fit and.

I think that on the surface, you would look at Barbara and Sebastian and say, oh, these people are opposites, they have nothing in common, but inside, in their hearts, they are both seeking to belong, they’re seeking for love, and I think that that journey together made their individual journeys more powerful because they were changing for themselves, but they were also changing to be the best version of themselves for the other person as well, and to, [00:38:00] fulfill their own potential.

 A lot of people talk about, them having to each get their crap together to them be able to get back together at the end. And I feel like that’s, that’s pretty, that’s pretty, that’s true in that regard.

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Sex in Women’s Fiction

[00:38:12] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to give too much away or anything like that, but they are, hot and heavy in the beginning, but then it’s like, oh my gosh, stuff is now happening and I really need to focus on myself I feel like Barbara, me even more so, , but both of them are like, I need to focus on myself and hey, I’m not all the way together here.

But part of the reason, and I think this is why for me, this is the closest you’re coming so far to it being like a romance, Like y’all, Paulette is like, right here. It’s almost like women’s fiction and romance are right here. Because without this romantic relationship, this book doesn’t happen. Like [00:39:00] this, their transformation doesn’t happen. And two It’s spicy, y’all. It’s

spicy .So are you going more towards romance as you’re writing? Is it just, , this is how this story needed to be told? Yeah. What brought this on,

[00:39:21] Paulette Stout: It’s kind of funny because as I When I wrote the first book, obviously it’s like super Open door, this is what I got, I’m here. And then, the second book I’m like, oh, women’s fiction people, they don’t like, the open-door intimacy as much, and blah blah blah. 

So I wrote the second book, which has it, but, , it’s like a slow burn thingy, and they’re the same couple, so it’s not a romance, y’all. I like it, but it’s not a romance. 

And I found, like, once I found my mojo, like, I don’t want to leave that go. I feel like that’s an integral part of the human experience, and I feel like intimacy bonds the characters together at another level. [00:40:00] And I feel like that just adds another layer of, you know, character development with the relationship piece if there is intimacy involved.

And I think that some people write intimate scenes and it’s very kind of like this is here and this hand’s here and that kind of thing, but I feel like intimacy is also a powerful way to show the emotional connection between the characters. What are those characters feeling? How are they transcending themselves and how are they bonding on another level through the intimate scenes? I feel like they’re a powerful tool that can be used to advance the relationship piece of a story. And I think that because I enjoy writing intimate scenes, I’m gonna, like, keep them in there.

I think I am shifting a little bit more towards the romance end because I feel like the stories can benefit. I think the reader appetite is for people are liking Spice and I feel like if people can take that kind of women’s [00:41:00] fiction journey with me and understand that peace is going to be there.

But as they kind of go through this relationship and have like the book I’m writing right now, I guess you could characterize the second chance. You know peace between two characters that already know each other but have been like apart. But I feel like that’s, it’s a powerful tool. I feel like if more women had better experiences in the bedroom then they would be more welcoming of intimacy in women’s fiction.

So I think I’m a little bit also trying to push the barrier against intimacy in women’s fiction because I feel like it’s a really important part of the human experience and I feel I feel like it’s missing something if it’s not there.

[00:41:41] Y. M. Nelson: I think that’s also kind of why Women’s Fiction is a really crappy title for that because with women’s journeys and with [00:42:00] relationships with women’s journeys, not actually talking about women in the bedroom, not talking about women being fulfilled in a relationship kind of way, kind of takes away from the whole women’s part of it. You know what I mean? 

[00:42:20] Paulette Stout: Yeah, I do. And I think it also, it kind of is limiting in terms of as, as creators, our potential audience, because, like, for instance, with What We Never Say, Kyle’s journey is like front and center in that, and it’s about a man, and it’s about like a whole guy thing, and I have a lot of men who really enjoy this book, and You know, I’ve had husbands and boyfriends steal their wife’s books. Where’d the book go? My husband took it. I’ve had that happen, you know, so I feel like we’re limiting our opportunity as creators to reach a wider audience with the title. 

So that’s why I like to talk about myself. Yes, I’m women’s fiction, but I feel [00:43:00] like I’m also, I like to say I’m contemporary fiction because that’s where I’m set and I feel like that gives me maybe a wider platform to reach people who, maybe aren’t traditional women’s fiction readers.

[00:43:11] Y. M. Nelson: Right. To me, you’re kind of in that category and I like the category maybe, so that’s why maybe I’m trying to put you in that category, but you’re in that category with Jennifer Weiner to me, with the contemporary fiction, contemporary Farrah Rochon I’m probably butchering her name, but she calls her books, well, she calls her new series, she calls it Relationship Fiction.

Like the Boyfriend Project was Relationship Fiction. She called it relationship fiction, which is basically women’s fiction as we know it, women’s fiction with romantic elements, and I think that’s kind of where, we all are in that, is that it’s relationship fiction [00:44:00] and that’s a better moniker for it.

But kind of getting back to the, exploring the part about being able to embrace the sexual side in women’s fiction is, you know,

[00:44:13] Paulette Stout: Yeah,

[00:44:15] Y. M. Nelson: It’s

[00:44:15] Paulette Stout: I hope so. I hope so because, I mean, there are great stories out there that have no intimacy that explore different types of relationships, mothers and sisters and, you know, intergenerational sagas and things like that. But there’s, I feel like there’s a void. You know, when it comes to intimacy in women’s fiction, because you have these people with all these relationships, and, like, why can you only show the intimacy in romance?

Like, why can’t we show the intimacy in women’s fiction? Like, why do I have to hem myself in that way? So, I think that that’s one of the So, I think that that’s one of the Beauties of, of being independently published is I can explore all these controversial topics and I can do them in a way that I think readers will enjoy and I can focus on the [00:45:00] reader experience and the readers aren’t necessarily as concerned with some of these labels

[00:45:04] Y. M. Nelson: No, they’re not. 

[00:45:05] Paulette Stout: can only do this here and that there. They just want to have a really juicy experience. So I feel like if I just focus on the juicy experience, I think I’ll, hopefully we’ll be okay.

[00:45:14] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah, I’m the same way. There’s some things that are, that are definitely more romance that I’m writing or whatever, but, that component of having that emotional journey is, for me as a woman, that’s integral to the romance experience or to just relating to someone on that level, you know?

And so I’m always going to have that component. I’m always going to have that women’s fiction component or relationship fiction component in there. Also integral to that is, the experience that you have with that person that’s unique to having that experience, which is a sexual experience. That’s part of the

whole conversation. [00:46:00] Otherwise you’re just not having the whole conversation,

[00:46:03] Paulette Stout: Thank you. I, couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t agree more. Cause, I feel like you’re just chopping off a huge part of life if you don’t have, and some people they just don’t like to read spicy books and that’s fine. But I think that It’s almost like a little bit of a throwback to like a puritanical approach to women and, us being empowered everywhere in our lives.

Like, why can’t we be empowered in the bedroom as well as outside of the bedroom? So I like to explore that as well in my books.

[00:46:34] Y. M. Nelson: I’m glad. Yay! 

[00:46:35] Paulette Stout: I’m like, I finished the scene, I’m like, where’s my husband?

[00:46:40] Y. M. Nelson: Right.

[00:46:41] Paulette Stout: And it was like, oh, he’s at a conference call, how annoying.

[00:46:46] Y. M. Nelson: I love it. I love it. Oh, gosh. So, we’ve been talking a lot about the book. We’ve been talking a lot of heavy stuff here that We don’t usually talk about. But I feel like, A, it’s needed and [00:47:00] B, that’s what your book is about.

[00:47:01] Paulette Stout: It is 

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Rapid Fire and what’s next

[00:47:02] Y. M. Nelson: But, it’s really needed. And at this time, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Y’all get educated, make educated choices, especially this year, Americans. That’s all I’m going to say. And because it is as we’re recording this, it’s February, it’s Black history month. And even though you do have a heavy romance element in here and I write romantic women’s fiction as well, I wanted to make sure that we talked about this on the podcast. I know we’re usually fun y’all, but this is just going a little bit serious. 

However, I do do a rapid fire kind of question and answer thing anytime I do interviews. So that’s gonna hopefully be a little fun here. So we’re gonna have a little fun at the end of this. So, okay. First thing that comes to mind or first thing you can think of.

I’m gonna do some rapid fire here.

Ready? 

[00:47:59] Paulette Stout: [00:48:00] yeah.

[00:48:01] Y. M. Nelson: All right. So, what is the first women’s fiction book that you read and you thought, this is what I want to write?

[00:48:10] Paulette Stout: I wouldn’t call it women’s fiction. I, Nappily Ever After, I just really loved that book. I think like those Waiting to Exhale books, those were just like, this is the empowering women in these ensemble casts and things. And both of those made really big impacts on me when I read them. So I probably, those two because there were other books I like. But, you know, maybe they weren’t as lasting as maybe those were.

[00:48:39] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. Cool. Very, good recommendations. And yes, y’all. So this kind of goes back to what we were saying about women’s fiction and about the racial component in it and that it’s not brought up. Yes. I totally agree that those are women’s fiction and they are not advertised as such. Yeah. Okay. [00:49:00] So next question, what is your favorite trope to read

[00:49:07] Paulette Stout: I tend to like enemies to lovers. I feel like there’s always this, like, it’s just like there’s kind of tension from the very beginning in that trope versus other ones. I think. For its proximity sometimes has that same type of tension because like these people are just kind of like they may not like each other but they’re stuck together so it’s almost a little bit the same so probably those do I have this pillow over here with all these tropes all over it I should be like looking at it and taking trips but I think those two I think those are my favorite

[00:49:42] Y. M. Nelson: Oh, cool. What? I’m, I’m gonna usually this is book boyfriend, but you can answer a book boyfriend, but I’m, gonna just make it general. What’s the best character so far that you’ve written that you just, like, love and go back [00:50:00] to?

[00:50:02] Paulette Stout: that’s so hard yeah that’s a hard question because I I love you some Sebastian I’m sorry I I love Sebastian. I love Barbara too, but I really love Sebastian because Sebastian is just like I love how he lives life and how he’s just like, you know He’s kind of what Kyle wants to be when he grows up, you know?

Lots of people love Kyle. Like, a lot of people love Kyle. They love his sensitivity. He’s very sensitive. Like, they make love in a very sensitive way. But like, when I wrote Sebastian and Barbara, like, they just, they’re more Aggressive, bold people, and they make love that way, and it’s, you know,

[00:50:45] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah.

[00:50:46] Paulette Stout: I don’t know. Yeah, everyone loves Sebastian. That’s why I put the little snake tattoos in the book boxes. I think you got one, 

[00:50:52] Y. M. Nelson: Yes, I did. I was like, oh my gosh, I love this sticker. But then I realized, oh my gosh, I said this wrong. This was a [00:51:00] tattoo and this is so 

[00:51:01] Paulette Stout: Ha ha ha ha 

[00:51:03] Y. M. Nelson: like, oh my gosh, this is so cool. Excuse me. I’m not into snakes. They scare me, but I love the fact that it’s a tattoo. It’s so awesome. Oh gosh. 

[00:51:16] Paulette Stout: have those special made, had to 

have those special may, y’all.

[00:51:20] Y. M. Nelson: Oh, they they’re great. They’re great. So you have a little nerdy bent. Yes. I’m thinking. 

[00:51:31] Paulette Stout: I do like, I do like science fiction. I’m not like as much, I think, into you, but I did my Star Trek and all that kind of stuff. My Lord of the Rings and all that kind of, I do like all that stuff. So

[00:51:43] Y. M. Nelson: Oh, you know, and I was, I was, um, there. There you go. I was gonna say, what’s your, what’s your little favorite nerd out? Yeah. What do you like nerding out about?

[00:51:54] Paulette Stout: yeah, definitely like, I, I, Probably, well, I mean my husband [00:52:00] always reads Lord of the Rings, he always has it on the nightstand all the time, so when I’m out watching the movies, I love Aragorn, I love that character, you know, sorry, 

[00:52:11] Y. M. Nelson: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:52:12] Paulette Stout: mhm,

[00:52:13] Y. M. Nelson: All right. L O T R. Yes. Yeah. Okay. We’ll leave it there.

[00:52:19] Paulette Stout: I’ll fan myself a little while you get to the next question.

[00:52:23] Y. M. Nelson: Oh gosh. Okay. So the last, last question here is what’s your favorite book to write so far? What’s, what’s been your favorite book to write so far?

[00:52:34] Paulette Stout: Hands down, this one, what eyes can’t see. Like, this is the first book that I’ve written and technically this is my fourth book, because there’s one in the drawer that shall never be seen, where I never got tired reading it. You always hear authors talking about, Oh my god, I have another edit, I can’t look at this again.

Like, I never got tired of reading this book. I was editing it, I get sucked in and I’m like, Oh crap, I’m supposed to be editing it and I have to go back and do it again because I [00:53:00] was just reading the story.

[00:53:02] Y. M. Nelson: Yes.

[00:53:02] Paulette Stout: I love this book, and this was the first book where I was, like, I want people to love it, but I love it even if they don’t love it, and that people are really loving it just means so much because

[00:53:15] Y. M. Nelson: That’s

[00:53:16] Paulette Stout: I’m just all about it.

[00:53:19] Y. M. Nelson: Yay!

[00:53:20] Paulette Stout: What 

[00:53:21] Y. M. Nelson: We are all about it as well. Yes, we’re loving it as well. It is, it’s great y’all. Y’all

[00:53:30] Paulette Stout: I mean, audio! People, if you like audio,

[00:53:34] Y. M. Nelson: say.

[00:53:35] Paulette Stout: The audio is ridiculous. The audio is Ridiculous. My narrator is a great creator of color. She was, you know, she The sex, like, just breathing, like, people. It’s like a performance. 

[00:53:50] Y. M. Nelson: So, for those who haven’t picked it up yet, where can they get it?

[00:53:55] Paulette Stout: First off it is available now y’all It’s available now, you [00:54:00] can go, to any indie book store and they’ll order it for you, or you can get it, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Plus, Apple Books, you can read it at your library on Hoopla, you can request it at your library if they don’t have it on the shelf you can read it internationally if you’re listening, outside of the U. S. Bar Box, and, all kinds of places. So, if you go into a store and they don’t have it, please ask for it.

[00:54:24] Y. M. Nelson: All right. Great. And what do you have coming up next that you can talk to us about?

[00:54:31] Paulette Stout: Oh, so my next book, What We Give Away, is already on pre order. It’ll be out February 2025, I think, or March. I’m not sure yet. It is going to be tackling the issue of weight and body size. I have gone on my own, like, healthy at every size journey, and it’s gonna be featuring Leslie and her Second Chance Jude Evaristo.

They’re both kind of Puerto Rican backgrounds. So I figured my mother’s like, Why don’t you ever write Puerto Rican characters? I’m like, I’ll write [00:55:00] more Puerto Rican characters. Sorry. So there. so it’s going to be, you know, he’s a chef and, you know, he’s like a large body, like delicious man. And she’s kind of going to go through her own thing.

And I feel like this book, like. She’s gonna just kind of be doing a little bit like what I did. She’s gonna be like gaining weight and feeling her body and just like what is it all about and why is thin good and fat bad and where you know all that stuff like you like you talked about in your episode like when you have your panel on if you ever so people go listen to that episode if you haven’t listened to that episode it was a really good episode talking about like large body characters and bucks so go look at that episode of the podcast anyway but yeah like something like that same type of vibe and Finding herself and there’s like a kinda, she’s a journalist and she’s like on TV some so there’s a little bit of like media like their role in some of this.

They’re still figuring some of it out. But two characters on their journey, second chance, they already know each other but they’re not together until I write them that [00:56:00] way.

[00:56:02] Y. M. Nelson: All right, and that one’s already on pre order. Yes,

[00:56:05] Paulette Stout: It’s on pre order the e book is on pre order in a couple places but

[00:56:10] Y. M. Nelson: All right, cool. So some something for now and something for later. Oh, I love it. I 

[00:56:18] Paulette Stout: I also have lots of free stuff on my website. So I have a prequel for Book 1. I have a prequel for What Eyes Can’t See called “The Break Up,” which is what you get to see what happens between Barbara and Joe when they break up and why they break up and that whole thing. So, go check that out. I have sample chapters.

I have sample audio. So just go look at paulettestout.Com and go to the free reads page, and there’s all kinds of good stuff there.

[00:56:46] Y. M. Nelson: right. Great. And yeah, we will have in the show notes, we’ll definitely have all your contact stuff in the show notes. And if you’re watching this on YouTube, it should be down below in the description . But [00:57:00] other than your website, where else can we connect with you, Paulette?

[00:57:04] Paulette Stout: I’m all over social probably too much, so I am on Instagram, I am on Facebook, I am on TikTok all at Paulette Stout Author. No punctuation, just all together. I’m still on X [Twitter] Stout content, I’m on LinkedIn too so just follow me there and, you know, I’m happy to engage with folks. And if you have a topic you want me to take on another book, I’ll be thinking about it.

I’m also thinking of taking on the issue of women being kind of like expected to marry, a couple, maybe they don’t want to. So that might be in a future book.

[00:57:43] Y. M. Nelson: Oh, I’m, I’m definitely wanting to read that. You know, you’re going to have to , just keep me on your ARC reader list. I’m on the ARC team. Just keep me 

[00:57:53] Paulette Stout: are. 

[00:57:53] Y. M. Nelson: Yes. 

[00:57:54] Paulette Stout: Thank you. And thank you so much for your support from the very beginning. It means so much.[00:58:00] 

[00:58:00] Y. M. Nelson: Oh yeah, of course, but you know what? I can only support books that I’m really loving and I think that are really done well. And you’ve done that. You’re keeping me reading. So, we had to have you on the podcast. I mean, I can’t keep all this wonderful goodness to myself. So so Paulette, thank you so much for coming on and sharing with us and talking with us.

[00:58:27] Paulette Stout: My pleasure. Thanks so much. 

While that’s the end of our discussion, it’s not the end of the story, so to speak. We now have premium episodes, which you can get in your feed, wherever you listen to podcasts, or in your inbox, if you listen on Nerdy Romantics. And if you want to know more about the nerdy romantics world, sign up for our newsletter.

Visit my website at [00:59:00] nerdyromanticspodcast. com for more details. Now that’s the end of the story. Until next time, thank you for listening.

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