HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Drop everything. Seriously.

Why is the fab and brilliant Jenna Blum wearing a snood?

We have the blockbuster bombshell life-changing amazing inspirational awe-inducing (and all the other applause-creating words) answer today.

She was challenged. She was terrified. She persisted.

And she succeeded.  Listen to this.

The Scariest, Most Thrilling Thing of All: Writing in New Genres
Jenna Blum

So you know how as writers, we work our whole lives to perfect our writing in one genre? I’ve been writing since I was 4 years old, when my memory’s soundtrack my journalist dad’s typewriter, and all I ever wrote was stories. Short stories, then novels. I wrote my first book when I was 11, sending it to Random House and expecting a Publishers Clearing House-sized check to arrive. That didn’t happen, but I kept writing. I won Seventeen Magazine’s Fiction contest when I was 16. I worked in food service for years while submitting to lit mags. In my early thirties, I sold my first novel.

You’d think I’d want to stay in lane, right? As Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft in which nobody is a master.” I believe every career writer puts out a couple of masterworks, several competent books, one or two nonstarters. If it’s a lifetime journey to be capable in one genre, why would a writer ever switch?

Because. Somebody asks.

In spring 2022, my friend and New York Times mega-bestseller Jane Green, a.k.a. The Fount From Whom All Good Things Flow, asked if I wanted to write a podcast script for a women writers’ series she was producing with Emerald Audio: legit audiodramas with actors, sound effects, music. Like the radio plays from days of yore.

I’d written a screenplay for my first novel, which was fun and had taught me I wasn’t a screenwriter. I’d never written a podcast. I’d never written historical romance, which this podcast would be.

Of course, I said YES.

I wrote a treatment (basically a one-page synopsis) of THE KEY OF LOVE: in Boston’s tony Back Bay in 1943, when the war is raging, a chambermaid with a beautiful voice, working at the historic Fairmont Copley hotel, is torn between two men, a blue-blooded composer and her fiance, a photographer shooting the war at the front. (I cackled the whole time I wrote this.)

A scriptwriter named Tommy Lombardi broke the treatment into 8 parts; then we Zoomed to game out necessary beats—each episode’s dramatic arc, cliffhangers.

Tommy wrote a first draft, transposing the story into dialogue and sound effects. He kicked it over to me. I wrote the second draft, third, fourth. The production team cast KEY with actors, created music—and taught me things like a montage, which works in fiction/screenwriting, is much harder to do in audio. I rewrote again.

I was a little terrified. What if I’d done an awful job? What if everyone snickered at my foray into historical romance? KEY had started as a lark, and then I’d fallen in love with my characters. I was invested now.

Finally, two days after KEY became available, I popped in my earbuds while walking my dog and….listened.

Here’s what I learned: I can’t listen to THE KEY OF LOVE anywhere but inside my apartment. Because to hear the story brought to such vivid life by actors, with knock knock knock/ warplane/ vacuum cleaner sound effects and gorgeous music—it made me stop in the street and yell: “THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!”

So….if you have a chance to switch lanes, I highly recommend it. Risk is often rewarded by expansion. Try something new. Why not? You might just fall in love.

HANK: Well. I am in AWE! What about you, Reds and Readers? What are you thinking right now? Questions, comments, general adulation? WOW, right?

And you can hear THE KEY OF LOVE wherever you hear your podcasts! 

(And Jane Green--you are INCREDIBLE! What a brilliant idea.)

Jenna Blum is the NYT and internationally bestselling author of THOSE WHO SAVE US, THE STORMCHASERS, and THE LOST FAMILY; memoir WOODROW ON THE BENCH, and original audiodrama THE KEY OF LOVE. Find Jenna at and THE KEY OF LOVE wherever podcasts are heard. New episodes drop every Thursday.