The Australian Romance readers conference 2009

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!  😀  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:

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?


23 Responses to “The Australian Romance readers conference 2009”

  1. February 22, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Paula – that sounds like so much fun! Heh I wish I could go to a convention.
    As for favorite author/who I’d like to meet? 😛 I say none of them, because I’d have no idea what to say. I’ve seen comments where readers say “if I got to meet X author, I’d cry.” Well, I wouldn’t. I’d be the one hovering 15′ away, hiding behind a pillar or a potted plant. (Its doable!)
    And/or if I got dragged over by a kindhearted friend, I’d just say something inane like “hi” and be silent the rest of the time. lol I’m pretty sure that’s how it’d play out.
    Otherwise, I’d love to meet Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and/or Lisa Kleypas. And yes, I still stand by what I’ve said, even though everyone says how nice and affable Lisa et al are.

  2. 2 azteclady
    February 22, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    One author? can’t possibly choose!

    But man, do I wish I could be there! The energy must be something, huh? (Take pictures?)

  3. 3 Sandra
    February 22, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Wish I was there too, Paula. One of the many cool things about being a writer and going to conferences is that I’ve now met many of my favourite authors – Suzanne Brockman, Susan Elizabeth Phillips (does smiling at someone in an elevator count?), Jenny Crusie, and of course the wonderful Desirabelles. So maybe I’d have to say Jane Austen, or Georgette Heyer or the Bronte sisters – they’re where my love of romance started. Although, like Limecello I’d probably be at a loss for anything to say. How many times can you gush “I love your books” without coming across as a complete idiot?

  4. 4 Sandra
    February 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Especially to a dead person.

  5. February 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Sandra- HAH! If we’re going dead people – I’d say the exact same authors – maybe throwing in Elizabeth Gaskell, and Baroness Orczy. Only I’d be your silent partner in crime – hiding somewhere in the room.

  6. 6 azteclady
    February 23, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Sandra: “I love your books!!!!”
    Dead person: “Thank you, dear. I love your life–could I have it?”
    limecello: “I’m not here–this is not a live person, it’s a potted palm tree, see?”

    (I think I need coffee)

  7. February 23, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I’ve actually met my favourite author, Linda Howard, twice. First time it was part of the literacy signing in Reno and she’d long run out of books but was happy to talk to fans (don’t recall that I managed to say anything memorable except for introducing myself and passing on the regards of a fellow NZ author with whom she was on more than nodding acquaintance.) Second time was again in Reno at the Harlequin authors’ party when another author friend introduced her to me properly because she knew how much I admire her. Of course in that massive party environment there wasn’t a great deal I could say but I know I didn’t want to wash the hand she’d shaken for ages! LOL! Given the opportunity to meet her again, in a more conversational setting, I think I’d ask her what the best advice was that she ever received in relation to her career and, if she had to do it all over again what would she do differently.

  8. 8 Rachel Bailey
    February 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Great report, Paula, thanks! The whole event sounds like it was heaps of fun. I’ll have to go next time! 🙂

  9. February 23, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Paula, you did well to post this on Saturday! I was at ARRC both days, and I am still trying to get my thoughts together to do posts! Maybe tomorrow night!

  10. February 23, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Paula, sounds like a fabulous weekend! MJD is a fav author of mine. Would’ve loved to have met her. My all time, I’m-in-awe-of-you, author would have to be Stephen King. I’ve often wondered what I would ask if I ever had the opportunity, but I’d be so nervous, I doubt my mouth would work! Maybe, Is there anything more you’d like to achieve? He’s pretty much done it all!

  11. 11 Karen H in NC
    February 24, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Sounds like a great time was had by all.

    I would love to meet Stephanie Laurens but I don’t have a clue as to what I would say to her or what I would ask her. I can only hope that any author I would ever have a chance to meet would be a conversation starter because I am not.

  12. February 25, 2009 at 4:58 am

    I think I’m in the minority in not wanting to meet favourite authors because I always feel mildly stalkerish. BUT I’d love to chat with them informally, which is what I got to do at ARRC. I also met new authors through random conversations, which was fantastic. And that reminds me… I kept interrupting you when we were chatting about erotica. I’m so sorry! I don’t think I fully got your take on erotic romance because I was busy ranting and hoarding goodies from the snack plate.

  13. 13 LJ
    February 25, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Great post Paula. Sarah Morgan is my favourite author so I would think to ask her where she comes up with her fabulous plots for her medical and presents line. I know all l have to do is see her name on an upcoming book and l pre order it. Pretty tame question but this is providing l do not freeze on the spot in shock of meeting her 😀

  14. February 25, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Finally back home – after swearing I wouldn’t buy books I came back with about 5kgs more 🙂

    AztecLady – yep, there’s pikkies. Just have to download them 🙂

    I’d love to meet Joss Whedon and Rob Thomas (he of Veronica Mars fame) but I have the feeling I’d just sound like an idiot, repeating “ohmygodohmygodohmygod I LOOOOOVE YOU!!!!!” a million times and flapping my hands about 😯

    Yvonne – how brilliant you got to meet Linda Howard!
    Karen H – Stephanie Laurens is a really lovely lady: gracious and extremely well-read
    Robbie – hmmm… you’d probably have to battle through all the rabid fans to get to Stephen King, I reckon. I wouldn’t mind chatting with Dean Koontz, because I believe he used to write romances under a psuedomym, which is kinda interesting.

  15. 15 Helen
    February 25, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    I don’t think I can choose just one favourite author but I had such a great time at ARRC09.
    Anna Campbell is such a wonderful fun person so easy to talk to, I walked up to Stephanie Laurens and said Hello how are you and she is lovely to talk to as well Anna introduced me to you Paula and I had a lovely talk with you. Actually I talked to everyone I could Amy Andrews Liz Maverick Michele Anne Young Annie West and lots more and everyone was wonderful I am a fairly shy person and you all made me feel special.
    Thank You all
    Have Fun

  16. February 26, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Hey, Paula, wasn’t ARRC a blast? And lovely to catch up with you, albeit briefly! Congratulations to all my fellow award winners. Oh, and Helen, you’re a sweetie wherever I run into you!

  17. February 26, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Helen – it was great to meet you! hope you like the book 🙂
    Limecello – oh, and you guys just happen to have the biggest reader conference going… RT! Man, what I wouldn’t give to be able to get to that one 😀

  18. February 26, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    LJ – I don’t think anyone’s immune to nerves when meeting an idol LOL. I’m sure Stephen King’s done it 😀

  19. 19 Sandra
    February 27, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    The cool thing about author websites is that you can almost get to ‘meet’ them in cyber space. I remember the very first time I looked up an author. I got such a shock that she didn’t look a bit like the sexy young heroines of her novels. It was kind of a ‘duh’ moment for me. Of course the authors didn’t have to be the same age as their heroines.

    The even cooler thing is that every romance author I’ve ever met has been warm and gracious.

    The scary thing is that I’m not much of a conversationalist myself (that’s why I write, give me half an hour and I can come up with something to say). Azteclady, you can just imagine how that one’s going to play out if I ever meet a shy fan at a conference.

  20. February 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Of course, Sandra, romance authors are much nicer than any other genre 😉

  21. 21 Cynthya
    February 28, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I don’t actually want to meet any of my favorites authors in person. I’m just too shy and wouldn’t know what to say except “Write faster” which I don’t think they’d appreciate! I like meeting them online, though, and getting to tell them I enjoy their books.

  22. 22 azteclady
    March 1, 2009 at 5:36 am

    I’m on the fence on this one…

    Part of me gets all wide eyed and bouncy at the idea; the realist in me knows I’d freeze and stammer and turn beet-red.

    But it seems there is a chance I’ll attend at least part of the RT convention in Orlando in April, so I guess I need to work on conquering my fears, huh?

  23. March 1, 2009 at 6:35 am

    AztecLady, I’m soooooo jealous!! Drop in and say hello to Keri Arthur and Denise Rossetti while you’re there, k?

    Cynthya – 😀 I think we all wish we would write faster… except perhaps Melanie Milburne who’s written 33 books in 6 years 😯

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