On Friday Booktopia’s John Purcell and Andrew Cattanach (yours truly) made our way to Canberra in the name of romance.
The 2015 Australian Romance Reader’s Convention was on over the weekend with hundreds of devoted Romance readers descending upon our nation’s capital to chat about the love of love.
Australia’s favourite romance authors were there as well, folks like Kylie Scott, Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Amy Andrews, Cathryn Hein and Rachael Johns, joined by international superstars Sylvia Day, Nalini Singh, Kelley Armstrong and Victoria Dahl.
Booktopia were sponsors of the event for a 3rd time. We loaded up the car with goodies and set off on a road trip brimming with sensuality.
A blissful drive was ruined by the distressing amount of roundabouts that needed to be negotiated before getting to our hotel. At one stage the phrase ‘not this roundabout, the big roundabout running around this roundabout’ was shouted. Already the trip had a distinct Griswold vibe to it.
After several minutes of frantic lane changing and finger pointing, we arrived at our destination, and joined some early bird romance devotees for a drink and a chat, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. John and I selflessly ate most of the canapés. And then it was time for bed, a big day was around the corner.
Waking early to a sky of hot air balloons, we pinched a trolley and loaded it with free books, gift hampers and lots and lots of lollies, heading to the convention hall to set up our booth and waiting for the lovers of love to arrive, and they didn’t disappoint. Hundreds piled into the space, keen to chat about all things bookish and Booktopia. It was exhilaratingly exhausting, and we couldn’t get enough of it, talking books all day, in-between bagels and coffee, of course.
The stage was set for a HUGE author signing event in the afternoon, a logistical effort that hurts my head thinking about, the folks at the ARRA doing an incredible job.
— booktopia (@booktopia) March 7, 2015
As Saturday wound to a close, it was time to suit up and head to the Romance Readers Awards, a swank affair with a Great Gatsby theme. Some of the efforts were remarkable, the room swelling with excitement as the night kicked off.
The big winner for the night was Kylie Scott, taking home awards for Favourite Cover, Favourite Continuing Romance Series, and the big award, Australia’s Favourite Romance Author, presented by Booktopia!
The rest of the night consisted of drinking, dancing, the famous ‘bling off’ competition, and posing with a lifesize cardboard cut-out of Fabio. Pretty standard.
Sunday was the final day of the convention, some dusty heads and bleary eyes greeting us for our morning coffee, with a little sadness that the weekend was almost over. In the afternoon we opened the floodgates and gave away all the merchandise we’d brought down. And by 4pm, as bestselling author Sylvia Day commenced her closing address, we were packing up our booth, sad to say goodbye to a great weekend for book nerds like us. The opportunity to talk to readers and authors is one we never pass up.
Thanks to everyone at this year’s Australian Romance Readers Convention, from the organisers, to the authors and of course the readers. The weekend was a joy, and left us in no doubt that reports of the demise of the book, and the death of romance, are greatly exaggerated.
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog and was shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
Follow Andrew: Twitter