Sydney Writers’ Festival 2012 – I don’t even know what to say anymore

For those of you keeping track, the Sydney Writers’ Festival program has been released, and event bookings opened on Saturday.

The short of it for romance authors and readers is this: There are no panels focused on romance fiction.

There’s a panel on women’s fiction and one on chick lit:

Girl Trouble featuring Toni Jordan, Kathy Lette and Gretel Killeen:

Who took the chick out of the lit? Will we miss all those pink covers and breathless promotional prose?Have girls moved on? Maybe, gasp, become women? Kathy Lette and Toni Jordan talk to Gretel Killeen, who has never written (or read) chick lit, but is keen to find out where women’s fiction is heading.

Women On Top featuring Toni Jordan:

Whether you like the term or not, you know what chick lit means: novels usually written by and for women who love reading fiction. Easy to read doesn’t mean easy to write: writing chick lit is harder than it looks!

Join international bestselling author Toni Jordan as she explores the essentials of cool chick lit. Learn to draw intelligent and interesting female protagonists, devise a modern story and develop a voice that lifts off the page. Whether you’re a beginner or have a manuscript or two in your bottom drawer, gain a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of this elegant and under-appreciated form.

There’s also a panel on erotic fan fiction, which as far as I can tell from the blurb, features no serious fan fiction writers at all:

Erotic Fan Fiction returns for one seedy night only. A new batch of writers and performers including Andrew Denton, Zoe Norton Lodge, Ben Jenkins and Tom Ballard turn their craft to a night of smut and hilarity.

So that’s about it.

I’m underwhelmed.


  1. Keziah Hill says:

    Have they ever done anything on romance? Crime of course seems OK and YA, maybe even scfi but romance remains unspeakable. Even though Australian romance writers are probably the most successful of all the genres. Sigh.

  2. Vassiliki says:

    I too was underwhelmed. It felt stale and unadventurous. I vote we hold an unSydney Writers Festival. Romance authors, fan fiction writers, fantasy, picture book writers – all welcome. Bloggers get to chair ;)

  3. Kat says:

    You’d think in a time where there’s a focus specifically on women writers the SWF would find it in its heart to feature romance even tangentially, right?

    Ooh, that’s interesting. What would an alternative festival look like?

  4. Rudi says:

    Really? So not only are they not going to hold any romance panels, their going to be snide about Chick Lit too?

    “Have girls moved on? Maybe, gasp, become women?”

    Romance readers know we make up a huge margin of the market, publishers certainly do too, so why doesn’t Sydney Writers Festival? Especially when a bare minimum of research would reveal the large number of successful romance authors we have in Australia.

  5. Jen says:

    More like “who took the most representative demographic of readers and writers out of a freaking writer’s festival?” So much untapped potential ignored … For shame. I imagine Melbourne’s won’t be much better—we can be even snobbier.

    It’s amazing how something can be superficially celebratory/empowering yet so demeaning in the one sentence. “Have [girls] become women?” What the hell.

    I am totally for the counter-Writers Festival—honest to goodness celebration of true popular fiction in all media forms. Those who practice holier-than-thou derision will be forced to read smutty AU crossover fanfic AND enjoy it.

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