Romance at Booktopia’s Nine Naughty Questions: Travel Edition with… Simone Elkeles

While travelling through the U.S.A, Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash has been catching up with some of America’s best romance authors. In Chicago, Haylee got the chance to meet with the bestselling, and hilarious, author of Young Adult and New Adult romantic fiction, Simone Elkeles.

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A Romance Specialist’s version of Nashville

Acting as our US Romance Correspondent, Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash stops into Nashville to sit on a Bookseller & Librarian Panel for the members of the Music City Romance Writers…plus some other stuff…

A week and a half (and several additional kilos) into my American tour, I stopped in the gorgeous historic town of Franklin to meet with the Music City Romance Writers of Nashville, a dynamic and successful chapter of the Romance Writers of America. A couple of other brilliant things  happened too, like a karaoke evening, drinks with a Grammy nominated artist and a restorative lunch at Chili’s.

Here’s the recap – in pictures – which will give you a far better idea of my experience of Nashville than any written blog I could possibly string together. Feel free to fill the blanks between photos any way you like.

Many thanks to the Music City Romance Writers, specifically Susan Bickford for the tour of Franklin, and Monica McCabe for the lift home, Kim Law and C.J. Redwine for inviting me to the panel and Nashville for having us!

Haylee Nash is Romance Specialist at Booktopia and, by now, is about 80% Mac and Cheese.

Romance at Booktopia’s Nine Naughty Questions: Travel Edition with… Zoe Archer

While gallivanting around the American countryside, Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash is taking the chance to catch up with some of the USA’s great romance writing talent, the first of which is Zoe Archer, author of paranormal, historical and adventure romance.

On my first less-than-scorching day in Los Angeles, I got the opportunity to meet with the lovely Zoe Archer. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of hailing a cab (which, I have since learnt, you DO NOT DO) and, after spending my shopping, eating and boozing allowance on the fare, turned up to Zoe’s apartment over an hour late.

Thankfully, Zoe was forgiving and after having some cuddles with her super friendly, and fluffy, cat Whiskey (which were much-needed as I was, and am still having, serious pet withdrawals), we got down to business.

Many thanks to Zoe Archer and her equally lovely husband (and fellow romance author) Nico Rosso, for inviting me into their apartment, for the interview, and for the ride home!

When not working on increasing her waistline through sampling gratuitous amounts of America’s fine food and liquor, Haylee Nash is an unabashed romance fan and all things fluffy.  Haylee is also the Romance Specialist at Booktopia.

Booktopia’s Controversy Corner – Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Alissa Nutting’s Tampa has been one of the most controversial books of 2013. An erotic tale of a hebephilic, sociopathic sexual predator isn’t for everyone.

Some Booktopia Blog regulars take a look and share their thoughts.

Haylee Nash

“Tampa is an enjoyable story when read as just that – a story. Celeste is a character that, despite her obvious moral turpitude, the reader barracks for, as we are brought into her world of falsities, compulsions and addictions. At no point does Celeste experience guilt or hesitance, and while the reader knows her desires are destructive and her actions reprehensible, the forbidden nature of her dalliances and the explicitness of Nutting’s descriptions result in a rather erotic text. In this way, Tampa is similar to its inspirational text, Nabokov’s Lolita.

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Join experts from Booktopia at The 2013 Sydney Writer’s Festival

Looking for things to see at The Sydney Writer’s Festival?

Come along and hear some experts from Booktopia chat about the wonderful world of books…

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Rebel Without A Clue – From Booktopia’s Head of Romance Haylee Nash

Booktopia’s Head of Romance Haylee Nash ponders her vicarious rebellious streak.

When I was small, I was the good girl. My parents love to recount how, even as a baby, I was always content. They would go out to dinner with friends and happily take me along, knowing I would sleep quietly in my carrier (once so quiet that they nearly left me there). When I got to talking age, I would happily sit up and chat with the adults, content in their company. When my sister came along, I looked after her (mostly) without complaint, cleaned up her toys, got her ready for school. I was good.

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Real Girl Romance – From Booktopia’s Romance Specialist Haylee Nash

You may find this difficult to believe given the glamorous creature I am today, but once upon a time, I was awkward. Not fairy tale awkward (long-limbed, unusually-featured girl turns into supermodel à la The Ugly Duckling) and not rom-com awkward (girl in overly-matching outfits with quirky sense of humour wins the heart of the secretly smart and soulful school jock), just plain awkward.

No surprise then, as mentioned in my first blog post, that I turned to Mills & Boon romances at an early age. It wasn’t just my lack of male interaction that led to my dirty paperback obsession, it was the chance to read about women who were beautiful, graceful and effortlessly elegant (at least from the hero’s perspective).

These women never burnt their foreheads while using the iron to straighten their hair. They were never confused for being a lesbian due to their lack of boyfriends. They had never felt the cool rush of air on their bare behind after ripping their new sparkly denim skirt in a less than sensual bend-and-snap dance move (on the same day they decided to debut their beige coloured g-string). So you can see the appeal.

As I got older (left high school, learned to tame my hair, speak to boys and apply liquid eyeliner), I found that I was open to different kinds of romance. Books in which the girl doesn’t always get it right in front of her chosen guy. Books with women who didn’t have enough cash, patience or care factor to look awesome all the time, but who could look quite lovely on occasion. Women who weren’t necessarily sexy, but told a helluva dirty joke. Women I could relate to.

Women like Kristan Higgins’ Faith Holland – a jilted, twenty-something year old with a penchant for food, gay men and spanx.  Certain episodes of my life would fit perfectly into one of Higgins’ books: that time where I fell up the stairs on a shuttle bus (en route to an evangelical church) and shouted a curse word.

That night when I fell on stage and almost into the arms of my crush, flashing most of my undercarriage to the world. That date when I confidently took the unopened bottle of red wine, only to push the cork into the bottle with such force that I wore most of the contents of said bottle all over my clothes and face.

That’s why I love Kristan Higgins’ books. Not just because she writes a damn sexy hero, or the kinds of romantic situations you can both laugh at/with and swoon over. Mostly, I love her books because I feel like they could have been written about me but with a guarantee happy ending – something we’d all like to have.


Haylee Nash has been reading and raving about romance for 15 years. She has previously worked as the Publishing Manager at Harlequin Australia and during her time there launched the Harlequin Teen, Harlequin Spice and local acquisition programmes, as well as Harlequin’s digital-first romance imprint, Escape Publishing. Haylee is now the Romance Specialist at Booktopia.

You can follow Haylee on twitter at @HKretrospect


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