So, last year after not finding what we were looking for at Writers’ Festivals around the country, my friends Patrick O’Duffy, Jodi McAlister, and I put our heads together and came up with an idea. It was originally called ‘GenreThing’, and it presupposed that we were not the only ones in the country who really liked robust, deep, vigorous discussions about literature – but who would really like to have those discussions about books not normally considered for this type of discussion.
So we put together a proposal, and, with the help of the Romance Writers of Australia, we pitched it to Lisa Dempster and her committee at Melbourne Writers Festival. The idea was to pair Writers Festival kinds of discussions to genre fiction. Lisa and her committee loved the idea; we collaborated with other authors and genre fiction groups around Australia, and the result is Reading Now – 19 events (with several off-shoot events) that looks at several aspects of genre fiction, its popularity, its culture, and its stories. It covers crime, romance, fantasy, science fiction, YA, erotica, true crime, and many of the cross-over spaces in between.
I’m so proud to have been part of this discussion, and delighted to be chairing two of the sessions.
A Romantic Career – Long-time romance novelists Australian Anne Gracie and American Mary Jo Putney share the ins and outs of their writing careers. They’ll talk about how the ever-popular genre – and the way it’s published – has changed over the years. In conversation with Kate Cuthbert. Sat, 22 August, 11:30pm, The Wheeler Centre
Reader, I Married Him – Is the wedding still the expected climax for heroines in romantic fiction? What about in real life? What does (or can) our fiction tell us about society’s attitudes towards marriage? Shobhaa De, Sarah Mayberry and Fiona McIntosh talk happy endings with Kate Cuthbert. Sun, 23 August, 1:00pm, ACMI
You can also attend more romance events at the festival:
Losing It – A look at romance writing across genres, and how virginity is treated in both YA and romance novels. Romance writer Melanie Milburne and YA author Fiona Wood talk about what virginal heroines (or even heroes?) and their stories tell us about contemporary society. In conversation with Jodi McAlister. Sat, 22 August, 1:00pm, The Wheeler Centre
Historical Fantasies – CS Pacat’s and Ilka Tampke’s novels fuse historical fact with fantasy invention. Why do they set novels in different worlds, and how do they make those created worlds so believable? These two writers let their imaginations off the leash. In conversation with John Weldon. Sun, 23 August, 2:30pm ACMI
If you love genre fiction, and you haven’t found what you’re looking for at Writers Festivals, please consider attending one or more of these events – it’ll help us when we pitch an even bigger event next year!!