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Romancing the Festival

Amy Andrews

Amy Andrews

Byron Bay Writers Festival will reveal the realities of writing romance with multi-published and award-winning authors Amy Andrews and Jennifer St George in discussion with, and at the mercy of, local celebrity comedian Mandy Nolan, says Festival Director, Edwina Johnson.

Chairing the session Be Still My Beating Heart: Writing Romance, Nolan will explore the world of romance writing and discuss what it’s like to be a contemporary romance author.

Amy Andrews is the author of over 40 romance novels with five different publishing houses, including Harlequin Mills & Boon, US e-publisher Entangled and HarperCollins, and has sold over 1.6 million copies of her stories worldwide. ‘There are many myths that surround the genre. Romance, like country music, is a genre which no one admits to listening to/reading but everyone has an opinion about,’ says Andrews. ‘This panel will be able to debunk these and explain the realities of the modern day romance novel.’

Andrews, whose recent novel Holding Out For A Hero won Australian Romance Readers Association Best Contemporary Romance award, believes the key to longevity in publishing is diversification. ‘Authors have more choice than ever before. Digital publishing, self publishing, traditional publishing. And you know what? You’d be mad if you didn’t explore all your options.’

Local author Jennifer St George is thrilled to be teaming up with Nolan again. ‘Mandy launched my book Sweet Seduction at Mary Ryan’s last year. I laughed so hard, I could barely answer her hilarious questions. She got people so excited, the book sold out that night.’

St George says many people are unaware of the enormous popularity of the genre. ‘Romance fiction generated over $1.3 billion in sales in the US alone in 2013. It was the top-performing category on the best-seller lists in 2012 across the NYT, USA Today, and PW lists.’

Nolan can’t wait to talk heroes, heroines, love and sex. ‘Romance is to love what pasta is to sauce. It’s a delicious combination, but in the end too much makes you fat.’ The author of Boyfriends We’ve All Had (and Shouldn’t Have), Nolan writes about ‘real ordinary’ love. ‘I tell the truth about love. That’s why it’s funny. Most of us never really tell the truth.’

‘People have told me that my book is really honest – that I have been very frank – almost disarmingly so,’ says Nolan. ‘I find that a bit shocking. People were quite comfortable with Fifty Shades of Grey – a book fantasising about bondage and being tied up by a bloke in a suit- it was sold in Coles and read by women as young as 14 and older than my grandmother. I don’t get it. I don’t even mention sex dungeons. I don’t have one. I have a two car garage. It led me to this most astounding conclusion, that writing about pornographised S&M was more easily accepted than writing about ordinary, flawed and often hopeless sexual encounters.’

Be Still My Beating Heart: Writing Romance will be held on Festival Sunday.

The Festival runs at North Byron Beach Resort from 1- 3 August with workshops commencing on 28 July. For more Festival information or to purchase tickets visit byronbaywritersfestival.com or call 1300 368 552.

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