Back in March, I attended the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Convention, where I had the pleasure of chatting to a bunch of attendees and a few authors.
The convention is a biennial event run by the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA), which I thank for helping to facilitate the conversations featured below.
I went to the convention seeking to explore the idea of romance as a much maligned literary genre, and wanted my interviews to show why it doesn’t deserve the reputation that it has through the perspectives of people who love and read romance fiction.
The things I discovered through my research and from talking to various people at the convention were both expected – that romance is a rich and complex literary genre adored by a large slice of the book reading public – and troubling. The troubling aspect came in the form of learning that some of its devotees have had to hide their participation in and advocacy of romance, because of the impact that truth might have on their family and employment. It astounded and saddened me that mainstream society’s perceptions about romance fiction could be so damaging.
On a brighter note, it was a delight to talk to Heather from the Executive Committee of the ARRA; erotic romance fiction author and Head of Marketing and Chief Buyer at Booktopia John Purcell. I also spoke with Sylvia Day, the author of the New York Times bestselling series Crossfire.
Heather helped set the scene by defining romance fiction. We discussed the diversity of the genre, romance fiction trends, and wrapped up by discussing what was on at the conference and the aims of the Australian Romance Readers Association.
John Purcell is the author of the bestselling erotic romance trilogy The Secret Lives of Emma. He published the books under a female pseudonym, Natasha Walker, but after seeing the mainstream’s acceptance of the somewhat scandalous Fifty Shades of Grey books, decided it was safe for him to reveal his true identity. (The extra publicity boost didn’t hurt, either.)
We talked about men’s relationship with romance fiction and John’s decision to out himself as Natasha Walker, but I started our conversation by asking John how he felt about being one of only 7 male attendees (out of 245) at the convention and the only male romance fiction author.
The Secret Lives of Emma trilogy is published by Random House.
Sylvia Day has published over 45 books in just over a decade, including more than 20 novels. Her most popular books is the Crossfire series, which has sold nearly 17 million copies worldwide. In this extended conversation with Sylvia, we covered possessiveness as a quality of male romance fiction protagonists, Sylvia’s role as an advocate for romance fiction and erotic romance writing, and what function erotic writing serves, and ended with Sylvia’s reflections on her success.
We started off by talking about Crossfire’s Eva Tramell and Gideon Cross, who aren’t your typical romance fiction protagonists.
The Crossfire series is published by Penguin.
Interviews broadcast on ArtSound FM.
Air date: 5 April 2015.
With John Purcell (left) and Sylvia Day (right).