As I type, it’s Saturday night and I’ve just spent over a day with 200+ lovers of romantic fiction in Melbourne for a weekend of talk, gossip, laughter, info, books and general merriment at the Australia’s very first Romance Readers Convention. As a veteran of writers conferences, I was prepared for a slightly different experience – and boy, is it ever! Driven as I am by deadlines, I find I don’t spend as much time reading for pleasure and this weekend gave me back that simple joy of discussing reading (as opposed to plot, character arcs, GMC yada yada). Plus it’s a great way to meet readers who love your books and meet new ones.
So, let’s start at the beginning. I flew into Melbourne on Thursday and checked into the lovely Jasper Hotel, our venue of choice. After getting over the shock of my blood-red hotel walls (each floor is different – lime green, bright blue…), I scored a jackpot – dinner with the conference organizers and Mary-Janice Davidson, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Grant and Dianna Love! :D We ate at a great Greek restaurant on Londsale Street, I broke my shoes and we stumbled back to the hotel to rest up for the big day tomorrow.
Friday was spent shopping (Borders was an obvious stop!) then Friday night and the welcome reception soon rolled around. A few hours of greeting old friends, chatting to new ones and I was ready for bed (unfortunately my roomie Sandra and I spent a few more hours gossiping and watching The Wedding Crashers…)
Saturday – and a hilarious opening welcome speech delivered by Mary-Janice Davidson. That woman does have a way with words and soon had the whole room in stitches. The mood was contagious, with our local academics discussing “what they really think about romance”. I moderated a panel on “Aussie Voice – why the whole world loves our accent” and then ate a way-too-quick lunch before jumping into a hilarious talk on where authors get their ideas, featuring Liz Maverick, Amy Andrews, Mary-Janice Davidson and Susan Grant. (and good news – all sessions were taped so everyone can enjoy the ARRC!) Then came the fabulously attended book signing. Despite the massive queue for Sherrilyn Kenyon, everyone was so happy to be there and Sherrilyn smiled all the way through.
The Awards Dinner was heaps of fun, with awards for 2008 given to:
- Sherrilyn Kenyon’s ACHERON for Best Paranormal Romance
- Anna Campbell’s UNTOUCHED for Best Historical Romance
- Melanie Milburne’s THE MARCIANO LOVE CHILD for Best Series Romance
- Biana D’arc’s LORDS OF WERE for Best e-book
- Stephanie Laurens for Best Romance Author
Tomorrow should be another full day with lots of talking, industry news and laughter – and of course, books! The buzz overall is one of joy and camaraderie, with everyone thrilled to be talking about romance books. The organizing committee have done a wonderful, professional job considering they only had around a year to plan and put on this event.
Now, here’s a question for you – if you could meet your favorite author, who would it be and what would you ask them?