There, I co-presented a workshop, entitled Chick Lit: Beyond Bridget Jones, with fellow author Laura Greaves - and got to mingle with 300-plus other writers and publishing professionals. Par-tay!
With the conference fresh in my mind, I’ve put together a list of the top 6 trends in romance fiction currently, as below… Romance fiction addicts, you've been warned ;)
- Biker romance. Blame Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy (who’d also been tipped to star in Fifty Shades), but romances involving bikers – sometimes reformed ones – are white-hot right now. Maybe it’s all the throbbing between the legs and the growl of the engines, too. Try US authors Stephanie Tyler, Joanna Wylde, and Kristen Ashley on for size. Aussie rural romance queen Rachael Johns also has one out, entitled Fire Me Up.
- Serials. Nope, we’re not talking about that hugely popular podcast from the creators of This American Life, but the fiction form – serialised romance. Meljean Brook did it with her eight-part steampunk Iron Seas series, also now a full-length book, The Kraken King. And more romance authors are dipping their red-painted toes in the water. Violet Vaughn, author of the Called By The Bear series, says each installment takes about an hour to read and is like watching a TV ep. “There is one story arc that is completed, while there are also multiple story arcs that take a few books to complete and overlap with each other.” Also try Aussie Elle Carmichael’s Spin Me Round series.
- Tattoo artist romance. Celebs like David Beckham and P!nk have made them cool again, and the reality shows, surrounding them, often centre on the ones people have had they later regret. Yes, tattoos! It was only a matter of time before the ink trend infiltrated the romance fiction world, from Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series to Jay Crownover’s Marked Men. Melbourne also has its own tattoo-artist romance queen in Sarah Mayberry with her Brothers Ink series.
- Rock star romance. The leather pants, the unbuttoned shirts, the sex-god stage presence… who hasn’t fantasised about a rock star? Queenslander Kylie Scott has become a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author courtesy of her racy Stage Dive series, centring around a band of the same name. Also give authors Nalini Singh and Lexxie Couper a spin, like a rock LP.
- Male/male. Movie Holding The Man recently had a boy-meets-boy love story playing on cinema screens around the nation. And male/male romance – often written by straight women for straight women, interestingly – is also kicking goals in the fiction arena. Sometimes two men are just better than one. Female scribes writing in the subgenre include KJ Charles, Ginn Hale and JL Merrow, and then there’s Perth lad Daniel de Lorne.
- Alternate points-of-view. You read her story? Now it’s time for his version. It started with Midnight Sun, the unreleased companion novel to Twilight, written from the perspective of Edward Cullen – Stephenie Meyer put it on hold when preliminary chapters were leaked online. Then came Grey (Christian Grey’s version of Fifty Shades). As Aussie author Elle Carmichael puts it: “The beauty of these books is you later get to see what the hero’s feeling at a certain stage of the story and why he acted in a particular way.” Get in her head, then his, with SC Stephens’ Thoughtless series and Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Wait For You books.