Yesterday the Emerging Writers’ Festival hosted a Twitter conversation on genre fiction (hashtag #ewf11). It was a very passionate discussion about writing and reading genre fiction. There was the usual snarkiness around Mills and Boon, but on the whole I think the romance readers in the chat did a great job of questioning some of the typical assumptions around romance.
The EWF also featured a romance panel at the Wheeler Centre called Get Into Genre: Romance, featuring Haylee Kerans (Mills and Boon Australia), Matthew Lang, Stephanie Laurens and hosted by Meredith Tucker-Evans.
I wasn’t there, but Twitter pulled through with @SnarkyWench, @E_K_Vollmer, @philipthiel, @marymasters and @WritingJordi all tweeting from the audience. Snarky Wench (who also blogs at Bosoms and Beaux) asked a question on my behalf—on pushing boundaries in romance—though I must say that Stephanie Laurens’s reply was a tad…disappointing.
I got the impression that many of the attendees were a little shocked at the impressive sales figures for romance, and particularly for Mills and Boon. According to Kerans, one in five books sold in Australia is a Mills and Boon. (I’m assuming this includes their non-category lines, but I can’t be sure.)
Some of the more interesting discussion points (via Twitter):
@SnarkyWench: Stephanie: “we don’t work on this stage, we work on that one” lack of recognition of Aussie rom writers as they are pubd overseas
@E_K_Vollmer: challenges faced in writing romance. Quality of work and standards, new fresh ideas and narrative. 1/5 books in Aus sold by MillsBoon
@SnarkyWench: Haylee: “you can have a Miles Franklin and romance will still sell better than you.”
@philipthiel: Don’t write physically impossible sex scenes guys.
@SnarkyWench: “the word penis is weird in a sex scene” as is “fluttering anus” … Oh my
@EmergingWriters ‘Balls should not bang together’ – sage advice from @mattlangwrites
@E_K_Vollmer; prediction for future trends: AUS – crime romance, young adult move to compt away from paranormal. US dominated market no prediction
@SnarkyWench: Haylee: farm-lit becoming huge. Rom occurring in outback Australia
@SnarkyWench: Haylee: “paranormal was really hot, now lukewarm”
@SnarkyWench: SL: rom readers are forefront of digital reading. Her books have been read in digital form since 2002.
@SnarkyWench: ML: royalties on e-books much better.
@SnarkyWench: rom readers won’t pay more than 9.99.
@SnarkyWench: SL: I think we’re going to see 3 years of general upheaval in e-publishing
@E_K_Vollmer: expect romance to be cheaper via ebooks. 3 years of upheaval in the market
@SnarkyWench: SL: “genre isn’t about pushing boundaries. It is about entertainment and emotional experience”
@E_K_Vollmer: Do readers care about non-romantic elements e.g. Farming. Yes, for the real, believable, interactions with characters and surrenders
I didn’t agree with everything I saw on being quoted on Twitter, but my overall feeling about the event was very positive.
Were you at the romance panel or participating via Twitter? Did anything strike you as particularly true or odd or interesting? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If anyone blogged about the event, feel free to leave a link below!