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In February 2009 history was made at the inaugural Australian Romance Readers Convention held in Melbourne. Two hundred and eighty enthusiastic readers and authors got together to talk about their favourite genre.When planning for the convention first started in late 2007 we obviously thought it was a great idea – we just weren’t sure if it would work. We had no idea how many readers would come (100, 150, maybe 175?). We didn’t know if authors would be interested. We didn’t think we would be able to secure much sponsorship and we didn’t know how we were going to afford a deposit on a venue.But when, out of the blue, we received emails from both

ARRC09 logoMaryJanice Davidson and Sherrilyn Kenyon, who had heard about our plans and were very interested in coming to Australia, we started thinking this might actually work.  And thanks to the hard work of some very dedicated romance readers who gave their time and skills, plus all our wonderful speakers, the convention was a resounding success.  Not only did we have a program that boasted MaryJanice and Sherrilyn as keynote speakers, we had bestselling US authors Dianna Love, Liz Maverick and Susan Grant, along with the cream of Australian romance authors: Stephanie Laurens, Keri Arthur, Anna Campbell, Sara Bennett, Paula Roe, Bronwyn Parry, Denise Rossetti, Jane Tara, Angela Verdenius, Melanie Milburne, Amy Andrews, Carol Marinelli, Annie West and many many more (see below). All our speakers generously gave of their time and travelled to Melbourne at their own expense to meet with their readers. And boy were their readers thrilled! The consensus was that we have started something really special. Never before had Australian readers had a chance to meet their favourite authors or discuss romance fiction in such a public form.  From the opening session – where we were entertained by the fabulous MaryJanice and tales of her life as an author – right up until the closing session, where we got to ask Sherrilyn anything we had ever wondered, it was full-on fun all weekend long. All of the speakers were such generous and down-to-earth people we couldn’t help but enjoy every moment with them.

Thanks to the generosity of all our sponsors we were able to put on a truly first-class convention that was still affordable for everyone.  And thanks to all the generous publishers and authors (both those attending and those who couldn’t make it) we had enough goodies and prizes to keep everyone well and truly happy.  Whether you love historical romance, erotica, romantic suspense, romantic comedy or anything in between, there was something for everyone.

Some highlights

  • MaryJanice Davidson talking about her sister and her as children sitting in the back of a police car ‘yukking it up’ as their house burnt down.
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon talking about her family’s response on reading one of her books: ‘It didn’t suck’, and ‘I’m gonna need another one of them books’.
  • Stephanie Laurens’s advice on what to tell friends and relatives when they ask why we are still reading ‘those books’.
  • Liz Maverick’s ‘phases of reading’: discovery; glomming (including advanced, PhD, sainthood, and international sainthood); collection; water-cooler phase; evangelism.
  • Sue Grant explaining why she didn’t fly fighter jets: ‘Because I don’t have a penis’.
  • Hearing from Paula Roe and friends some of the Aussie terms that confuse their US editors: ‘What’s a ute?’ ‘What is fairy floss?’
  • The obsession of the romantic suspense panel with finding good places to hide bodies: Sandy Curtis thought the Grampians were ‘a wonderful place to kill people’ and Bronwyn Parry, who often thinks ‘Ooh, you could hide a lot of dead bodies in there and no one would ever find them.’

The feeling taken away from the convention was one of empowerment.  Romance readers can now stand tall and shout from the rooftops – we are romance readers, and proud of it!

Quotes from authors

  • “I want to thank the OC as a whole for inviting me. I had a brilliant time. I seriously can’t wait to come back.” ~  Liz Maverick
  • “You did an absolutely amazing job with the conference. I cherished my time with all the wonderful ladies who put on ARRC. Congratulations! Thanks for letting me be part of it.” ~ Susan Grant
  • “I so enjoyed the event and can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you and your incredible committee did … Wonderful country and great people.” ~ Dianna Love
  • “I had a wonderful time at the conference. It was an invigorating experience for me and it was fantastically organised. Keep me on your invitee list for your next ones.” ~ Toni Johnson-Woods
  • “Congratulations on such a successful convention. You did a great job and your wonderful team certainly created an event that romance readers thoroughly enjoyed. As did the panelists.” ~ Sandy Curtis
  • “Thank you for a brilliant weekend. The conference was an outstanding success. I loved every minute and feel very privileged to have been a part of it. Thank you for all the work you did in the background to make it such a wonderful experience for everyone.” ~ Melanie Milburne
  • “I just want to say WOW and what an amazing job you gals did. I hope you’re feeling proud. Anyway, just wanted you to know it was brilliant.” ~ Jane Tara

Quotes from readers on what they loved about ARRC09

  • “Meeting authors and other lovely romance readers. Everyone was very friendly.”
  • “Meeting new people with similar reading tastes.”
  • “The opportunity to meet authors and talk to people about books I love.”
  • “Meeting the authors, and I enjoyed most of it. The giveaways were fantastic!”
  • “Loved the panels, book signings, everything!”
  • “The writers were excellent speakers. The organisers did an excellent job. It was great being with so many other people who had a similar interest and I could talk about my favourite writers and books.”
  • “I thought it was great that there were so many door prizes.”
  • “The atmosphere. It was fun and friendly.”
  • “‘Speakers – wonderful, generous, informative.”

Attending authors

  • Alison Stuart
  • Ally Blake
  • Amarinda Jones / Janet Davies
  • Amy Andrews
  • Angela Verdenius
  • Anna Campbell
  • Annie West
  • Ben Wilson
  • Bronwyn Parry
  • Carol Marinelli
  • Cathleen Ross
  • Denise Rossetti
  • Destiny Blaine
  • Dianna Love
  • Elisabeth Rose
  • Erica Hayes
  • Glen Thomas
  • Jane Tara
  • Jennifer Brassel
  • Jess Dee
  • Jordana Ryan
  • Keri Arthur
  • KS Nikakis
  • Lexxie Couper
  • Liz Maverick
  • Luke Devenish
  • Maggi Andersen
  • Maggie Nash
  • Margaret Tanner
  • MaryJanice Davidson
  • Melanie Milburne
  • Michele Ann Young / Ann Lethbridge
  • Michelle Douglas
  • Paula Roe
  • Sandy Curtis
  • Sara Bennett / Sara Mackenzie
  • Sharon Archer
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon / Kinley Macgregor
  • Stephanie Laurens
  • Susan Grant
  • Tracey O’Hara / Tracie Sommers