Post Reports

Not your neurotypical romance novel: The appeal of Helen Hoang

Lisa Bonos on an author working to make the romance genre more inclusive of people on the autism spectrum. And Travis M. Andrews on why you should stop pretending to like outdoor concerts.
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Post Reports is the daily podcast from The Washington Post. Unparalleled reporting. Expert insight. Clear analysis. Everything you’ve come to expect from the newsroom of The Post -- for your ears.

In this episode

Finding love on the spectrum
When Helen Hoang learned as an adult that she was on the autism spectrum, a lot of things clicked, both in her real life and in her writing. The author, then 34, had long struggled with social interactions, practicing facial expressions in the mirror and opting to get lost in romance novels to experience the thrill of falling in love rather than talking to or touching anyone. 

The revelation inspired her to create characters who are also on the autism spectrum, a trait that had yet to be widely explored in the romance genre and has resonated with readers in her popular romance novels, “The Kiss Quotient” and “The Bride Test.”

Writer Lisa Bonos says her portrayals are a revelation for people who have never seen themselves so accurately and compassionately depicted in media, and an easy access point for people who want to gain a better understanding of finding love on the spectrum. 

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‘A place that smells a lot like beer and B.O.’
If you can mentally move past their dangerous shortcomings – distance, sound quality, ability to invoke heat exhaustion and dehydration at their mere thought – the natural inhabitants of the outdoor venue will probably still gnaw away at you. 

At least, that’s what pop culture reporter Travis M. Andrews and a whole lot of other music fans think whenever they’re dragged to an outdoor show on another muggy, sun-steeped summer day in D.C.

“Being outdoors is great, picnics are great, hanging out on the grass is great,” Andrews said. “But the cons kind of start stacking up when you think about what that actually means.”

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About Post Reports

Post Reports is the daily podcast from The Washington Post. Unparalleled reporting. Expert insight. Clear analysis. Everything you’ve come to expect from the newsroom of The Post -- for your ears.