Monday, 12 November 2018

The Rise and Rise of Aussie-Based Thrillers

by Tory Hayward

Its fair to say that one of the few areas in which Australian cultural cringe has been quietly thriving is the genre of Aussie-based suspense, mystery, crime and thrillers. It's always felt a bit daggy somehow. A bit try-hard.

Australian romance, especially rural romance is a different matter entirely. Loved to the level of iconicism, these stories are enduringly popular. Australian horror is similar. But when it comes to police investigations, conspiracy, murder and elite agents... aside from a couple of stand out authors, well, its just never taken off as a genre.

This has always bemused me somewhat. Its always seemed that Australia would be a perfect base for this kind of story. While we may be a small nation, culturally we have everything required for a 'westernised' thriller, but with the added interest of being Asia-Pacific based, with a tyrannical environment that can add isolation and complication at every turn. In a genre heaving with US and UK based FBI / CIA / NCIS / MI6 etc etc stories there is so much freshness to be found in Australia as a location.

So thank goodness Aussie based thrillers are starting to follow their romance and horror based cousins out of the doldrums and into the spotlight.

This slow growing popularity reached a tipping point in 2016 with the novel The Dry, by Jane Harper, and the hugely successful Canberra based tv mini-series The Code. Since then there has been a dignified but persistent scramble by publishers to acquire Aussie based crime and thrillers.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer, The Nowhere Child by Christian White, Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra, The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey, and Crimson Lake by Candice Fox followed on the heels of The Dry. Award winning and hugely popular, these novels have all started to define the genre and in doing so have piqued the interest of scriptwriters globally.

I, for one, am excited to see what local writers produce over the coming years (decades?!), and to watch them take ownership on the worldwide stage.

Love to love: a cup of tea!
Love to Laugh: at life!
Love to Learn: about what the future holds!

Take care

Monday, 5 November 2018

Who Reads Romance Novels?

Who Reads Romance Novels?

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Romance novels have been outselling every other genre for many years. The most recent figures I found cited Romance/erotica sales as being at US$1.44 billion dollars and Crime coming in at second spot with sales of US$728.2 million. According to the Romance Writers of Australia website, of 10 million books sold each year in the United Kingdom, greater than 7 million are romance novels, and there is a Mills & Boon sold every three seconds in the UK!

So, who are all these voracious romance readers and is there a ‘type’ of person who’s more inclined to read romance?

In a fabulous article for Huffington Post, (see link below), Maya Rodale quoted facts and figures to dispel the notion that “It is a truth universally acknowledged that romance readers are single women in possession of cats and in want of a man”; “younger women who use them as emotional porn”; or “middle aged women who are bored in their marriages and want to fantasise about hard, chiselled men”.

A study of 2000 romance readers, published by the Romance Writers of America found that contrary to all the negative stereotypes, the basic demographic of the romance reader is a well educated woman aged from 25-64 years. 82% of the romance readers surveyed were female and 18% were male. A 2016 ARRA survey revealed that of 275 respondents, only one was male, and 78.1% said that 50% or more of the books they read were romances.

Now, on some level statistics may be interesting—particularly to publishers and authors who are trying to determine the emerging trends in the marketplace. To focus on these figures, however, is to overlook the essence of what makes a romance reader.

I believe the gender, sexual persuasion or age of the romance reader doesn’t matter, nor does their educational level or marital status. As far as I’m concerned, it’s of no consequence as to what sub-genre of romance he or she is likely to enjoy or whether they love billionaires, shape-shifters or cowboys. 

The crucial commonality is that all romance readers love to feel an emotional connection to characters as they read. It’s the emotional journey undertaken by the characters that the romance reader empathises with and finds satisfying. There’s your answer to the question ‘Who reads romances?’

Romance readers are generally compassionate people who feel deeply and possess great empathy. They’re usually positive people who love a happy ending, and have a knack of making others around them happy.

Sound like emotional claptrap? Well, just attend any romance reader event and see the friendships, the shared laughter and the sense of community! It's great to be part of the world of romance reading.

Who reads romance novels?

I do, and I’m betting if you’re reading this, so do you!

Love to love: Romance novels!!
Love to Laugh: Romance novels make me laugh just as much as they make me teary. It’s that satisfying emotional journey that counts!
Love to Learn: What other romance readers are reading and enjoying, especially finding a new author, so leave a comment below and perhaps make a recommendation of three romance novels you’d recommend to someone discovering the genre.


Monday, 29 October 2018

Inspiration: 15 Ways to Get It Happening

by Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of giphy

Where does my inspiration comes from? Everywhere and Anywhere. If your muse has gone missing, you might like to try some of my favourite 'creative juice' feeders.

1. Read books. To be a writer, you have to be a reader. If you read only romances, try something different for a change. I bought a book of Celtic tales recently which has prompted an idea for a new story.

Image courtesy of

2. Read magazines for real life inspiration. Mags like Women’s Weekly have fabulous stories about people from all walks of life. Even headlines on covers are fodder for fresh ideas.

3. Watch movies. Sometimes a piece of dialogue will grab me, or an unusual setting will get me thinking. Movie trailers are good for that, too.

4. Listen to Music. Not just while you’re writing, but any time. I find many song lyrics and themes emotionally evocative.

Image courtesy of giphy

5. Have a life outside of writing. Get out of your cave and into the real world to observe what’s happening out there. People watching is endlessly fascinating and snatches of overheard conversation can stir up ideas. Places like airports have an inbuilt emotional ‘feel’ to them which can prove a jumping-off point for the creative process.

6. Travel. Discover new places, meet new people. Learning about different cultures can open up a whole new way of looking at things.

7. Dream. Sometimes the best ideas come in the middle of the night. Or you can daydream or meditate. Give yourself time to do nothing except to let your mind wander.

8. Go for a walk or a run. Fresh air is not only good for the body, it also stimulates your brain.

9. Human-interest pages on Facebook, Humans of New York for example, are well worth following for unique characters.

Image: author's own photo

10. Keep a notebook to jot down thoughts about an interesting character you’ve met, or to capture that utterly brilliant piece of dialogue that you just came up with. My inspiration for Falling in Love Again came from a note I made about opalized fossils after a visit to Lightning Ridge.

11. Write longhand. It doesn’t matter what you write. Don’t think about it, just do it without pausing for 10 minutes or so. Even thoughts that at first seem crazy can hold a gem of an idea.

12. Brainstorm. Free those ideas bubbling away in your brain. Even if those ideas are only half-formed, at least it’s a start.

13. Awaken your curiosity by playing ‘What if…?’ Or take 2 disparate ideas and make them fit together; cross-pollination can lead to original and intriguing outcomes. Cinderella + Hooker with a Heart did pretty well at the movies. 😉

Watercolour by Marilyn Forsyth

14. Be creative in a way other than writing. I like to paint and draw; using my hands instead of my brain allows my mind to roam.

15. Internet sites that feed your passion are a must. I follow a heap of Medieval-interest sites that constantly provide me with food for thought on characters and settings. Write with passion and you’ll always have fun with it.

There you have it: 15 ways to get inspiration happening. If your muse is giving you grief, I hope one of them works for you.

I never wait for inspiration to strike - I get out there and look for it. How about you? Do you wait for it to hit you over the head or do you go in search? 

Love to Love Kate Forsyth and Sarah Mills' Word of Mouth TV interviews with Aussie authors. Catch up on past episodes here.

Love to Laugh at the Graham Norton Show. Love seeing celebs being themselves.

Love to Learn how to improve my craft with feedback from RWAus competitions. For those interested, the Emerald and Emerald Pro close November 19th.