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Photo of author Ana Huang at Spotify spicy audiobooks launch
Photo of author Ana Huang at Spotify spicy audiobooks launch
Getty Images for Spotify
Culture > Entertainment

Here For The Spice: A Q&A With Ana Huang For Spotify’s New Spicy Audiobooks Launch

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

If you’ve ever been on BookTok, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard (and blushed at) at least one spicy audio at this point. Ana Huang, author of the viral sensation the Twisted series herself, has even posted TikToks featuring steamy audios. Of her own characters, too — we’re looking at you, Alex Volkov. Contemporary romance has exploded in popularity since 2020, largely thanks to online communities of young women eager to bond over their obsessions with the latest “book boyfriend” or share spicy book recs. The result? Sexy fanart, fan castings for potential screen adaptations, fan-made movie trailers, and now, smutty audios from our favorite book boys that have us screaming and kicking our feet. 

But did you know these steamy audios are actually taken from audiobooks? That’s right: audiobooks. No longer are we in an era of borderline-elderly men with movie-trailer voices narrating novels, but sexy voice actors seducing us through our headphones, bringing to life all the sexy book characters we’ve been craving to hear out loud. Once again — we’re looking at you, Alex Volkov. The female gaze is alive and thriving. And it gets better. 

Spotify just launched their new Spicy audiobooks hub, which means premium Spotify users can literally listen to up to fifteen hours of audiobooks per month. That means those of us with student subscriptions can literally listen to any spicy book trending on TikTok practically for free. The Song of Achilles, Red, White & Royal Blue, Icebreaker, ACOTAR, Twisted Love; you name it, they’ve got it. My toes have been permanently curled since listening to Twisted Love on Spotify. Alex’s voice is literally gravelly, seductive perfection. I can’t stop listening — getting ready for bed, on the way to class, on the bus. Audiobooks are the ideal reading method for college students. 

And what better way to celebrate the launch of Spotify’s new Spicy audiobooks hub than with a Galentine’s Q&A event with one of the current queens of spice herself: #1 NYT bestselling romance author Ana Huang. If it wasn’t already obvious, I haven’t been able to get enough of her books since attending the Q&A with her last week. From writing spicy scenes in public to naming characters using babynames.com to reading mass-market paperback romance at age 11, Miss Huang spilled all her steamy writing tea, stealing what was left of our already “bleeding hearts.” 

Interviewer with author Ana Huang
Getty Images for Spotify

As it turns out, Ana Huang made her first foray into the realm of romance literature much like the rest of us: reading something, in her words, “earlier than [she] should have”. For Huang, that meant sneakily picking up “one of those harlequin mass market paperbacks” while her mom wasn’t looking, an experience not unlike what many of us had reading stories on Wattpad or AO3, which seemed to be the sexual awakening for many of us Gen Z women. 

For Huang, however, all those years of diligently reading and absorbing our many beloved romance tropes (from grumpy sunshine to enemies to lovers) translated into a masterful ability to recreate them with fresh, dynamic characters. And don’t be fooled: though her smut scenes are objectively fantastic, certainly more than enough to make you blush while listening to her audiobooks in public, Huang certainly also knows how to create stakes and complex emotional journeys for each of her characters. Not to mention, almost every one of her books belongs to a series, where each character is deeply developed, and their relationships are intricately interconnected. That’s enough to prevent you from ever being able to put your (audio)book down. 

Photo of author Ana Huang at Spotify spicy audiobooks launch
Getty Images for Spotify

That said, Huang is an icon of “spicy” BookTok and the star of the show at Spotify’s Spicy audiobooks launch for a reason. She knows how to write smut. When asked where she gets her inspiration from, though, she initially gave quite an unexpected response, immediately laughing and telling us, “I know what I don’t do. I don’t work in public anymore. There was one time I was actually writing a sex scene in public, and this poor lady, she was sitting next to me, and I just so happened to zoom in on a dirty word right as she looked over, and the look she gave me you would think I had like, killed her cat. I was like, ‘sorry!’” Moral of the story: if you’re looking to break into the spicy romance-writing scene, perhaps writing in public isn’t the best place to start.

“There is a comfort in reading a genre where, no matter what happens, how messy or how hard things get, there is always a happily ever after.”

Anna Huang at Spotify’s Spicy Audiobooks Hub Launch Event

Not writing sex scenes in public wasn’t Huang’s only interesting insight, though. She divulged that she actually saves her sex scenes, writing them all at once when she’s in the proper mood, which explains why all of her spicy scenes feel so urgent and moody. She told us, “When it comes time if I’m writing a book and I hit a sex scene, I put a placeholder, and I come back and I fill it in. I just have to be in a little bit of a different headspace to write them.” But what happens when she needs a little inspiration? That’s where those trusty erotic novels come into play. She explained, “If I’m not feeling it and I just need a little inspiration, I will read erotica just to get into that mindset.” Spicy writers read spicy books, too! And it’s certainly a lot easier to be in the mood to read spice than to write it. 

Event guests with Spotify spicy audiobooks goodie bags
Getty Images for Spotify

In fact, spicy books are having a moment right now for a reason. And it’s not only because all the Wattpad/AO3 Gen-Z girlies are leveling up to adult romance novels. BookTok, which really took off amid the chaos of 2020, not only revived a love for reading in the hearts of countless young women but also encouraged and made popular many young female authors, including Ana Huang. When asked why she thought romance was becoming so popular, Huang responded simply yet poignantly: “I think especially in today’s world where everything is so chaotic and messy at times, there is a comfort in reading a genre where, no matter what happens, how messy or how hard things get, there is always a happily ever after. I think that it’s just really comforting and kind of a solace amidst all of the craziness.” Reading romance novels is the utmost comfort to women still growing and trying to figure out their place in the world (which happens to be pretty much all of us). Yes, romance novels offer an escape, but they also offer a sense of hope and opportunity, reminding us of all the things we have to look forward to — whether it’s falling in love or listening to Ana Huang’s new spicy romance novel King of Sloth on Spotify’s Spicy audiobooks hub.

Kylee is a fourth-year at UCLA double-majoring in Communication and English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Her poems have been published in Train River Poetry, The Mandarin, Open Ceilings, and our very own Westwind (among others). She also writes feature articles for Her Campus at UCLA. In her free time, she acts, drinks way too much coffee, romanticizes everything, and buys more books than she can keep up with.