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Book blogger spotlight: Romancing the Social Sciences

Dani St Clair brings her unique perspective as a social and political scientist to her blog, Romancing the Social Sciences. ‘I was inadvertently analysing everything I read recreationally, and my friends were sick of me expounding on gentrification in small-town romances or the gender dynamics behind the trope of the socially awkward heroine,’ she explains. St Clair spoke to Books+Publishing for our ‘Book blogger spotlight’ series.

Describe your blog in under 50 words.

My blog is called Romancing the Social Sciences. I blog primarily about romance novels from the perspective of a social and political scientist, but nonfiction reviews, general literary criticism and social commentary also make appearances.

What makes your blog unique?

I think it’s the combination of a few things. I review and discuss a wide, slightly eclectic range of books—including many with diverse characters or settings—so there’s something to appeal to a variety of readers. My posts also often make explicit links to concepts and theories in the social and political sciences, as well as coming from a feminist and Antipodean perspective.

The online romance community is wonderful, and produces lots of thought-provoking content, so I’m far from the only one tackling any of this stuff, but I hope that I bring a little something extra to the conversation and help fill a small, specific niche.

When and how did you get started?

I started blogging in February 2015. I’d been thinking about it for a while, because I was inadvertently analysing everything I read recreationally, and my friends were sick of me expounding on gentrification in small-town romances or the gender dynamics behind the trope of the socially awkward heroine. However, the catalyst came when I read a book that I absolutely could not keep quiet about. I thought, if I was ever going to do it, now was the time.

How do you find out about new books?

Generally, I find out about new books from other members of the romance community through social media, usually on Twitter, Goodreads or via a mailing list. I am on NetGalley, so I browse and request ARCs there, and I am sometimes directly approached by publishers or self-published authors to review ARCs.

What audience do you reach?

The biggest percentage of visitors to my blog come from the US, followed by Australia, but I also have surprising numbers of readers from other countries, such as the Philippines, France, Germany, the UK, Canada, Russia, Hong Kong and New Zealand. In a good month, when I’ve consistently posted varied content, I usually get around 1000 unique page views. I’m a relatively small fry, but I like the freedom that gives me.

What other book blogs do you regularly follow?

I keep up to date with big romance and romance-friendly blogs like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Heroes and Heartbreakers, Dear Author, Book Riot and Happy Ever After, as well as smaller ones like Wendy the Super Librarian and Romance Novels in Color. On the Australian scene, I love Book Thingo and the Australian Women Writers Challenge blog.

What has been your most popular post?

My most popular post was a review of a historical romance set in the American-occupied Philippines, Under the Sugar Sun by Jennifer Hallock.

What’s your favourite social media platform, and what recent trends in social media have you noticed in book blogging?

I think that’s a tricky question, because different social media platforms serve different purposes. I really enjoy following and interacting with #Romancelandia on Twitter. A lot of important discussions take place there, and it’s always great for recommendations and new releases. My other favourite would be Litsy, which is an Instagram-like app for readers. You post a picture, usually of a book, and tag it as a review, quote or a general post about the book. It’s a lot of fun, and, although it’s still a relatively small platform, that gives it an intimacy that you don’t find on other types of social media.

In terms of trends, podcasts and vlogging have become increasingly popular, but who can say if that’s a trend or simply part of the changing landscape of social media.

What are you reading now?

I always have one fiction and one nonfiction book on the go. At the moment, I’m reading Joanna Bourne’s historical romance Beauty Like the Night and Marina Warner’s Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale.



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