Queens­land falls in love with this genre

Our laid­back life­style leads us into a love of books about love

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - BY Letea Ca­van­der

IT SEEMS Queens­lan­ders don’t mind get­ting a bit hot un­der the col­lar. The Sun­shine State is one of the big­gest con­sumers of ro­mance nov­els in the coun­try.

Seven of the top 20 sales out­lets for Mills and Boon are in Queens­land.

The north­ern­ers’ ap­petite for sen­sual page-turn­ers is shown by sales of more than 155,000 Mills and Boon books in the past year in Queens­land – more than a quar­ter of to­tal sales across the na­tion.

Pub­lisher Har­lequin’s head of in­ter­na­tional and se­ries pub­lish­ing, Lilia Kanna, who has been in­volved in the ro­mance genre for seven years, said the strong Queens­land reader numbers had been known in the in­dus­try for some time.

Ms Kanna said one of the rea­sons for it may be that the Sun­shine State was a more re­laxed place than other states.

“Peo­ple who know how to en­joy life live in Queens­land,” she said.

“The pace of life is one that lends to read­ers be­ing open to en­ter­tain­ment, open to treat­ing them­selves and en­joy­ing their life and reading goes hand in hand with that.”

And in an even stronger trend, pub­lish­ers have also mon­i­tored the rise of the ru­ral ro­mance genre.

Har­lequin de­fines the genre as ro­mance set in small Aus­tralian towns.

Top au­thors in­clude Rachael Johns, Tri­cia Stringer and Mandy Ma­gro.

Their pop­u­lar­ity has grown ex­po­nen­tially, with to­tal sales across the three au­thors close to 600,000 copies.

Ms Kanna said the trend had been won­der­ful for Aus­tralian au­thors.

“We’re find­ing read­ers in ru­ral lo­ca­tions, as well as read­ers who are not in ru­ral lo­ca­tions, are at­tracted to reading these sorts of sto­ries,” she said.

One of the rea­sons for the trend was a gen­eral feel­ing of pride in our coun­try that en­cour­aged read­ers to pick up a book set in ru­ral Aus­tralia. Many other ways to en­ter­tain our­selves did not have a ru­ral set­ting.

“A lot of city-based women don’t know a lot about ru­ral liv­ing,” Ms Kanna said.

“They have an idea of it but re­ally want to ed­u­cate them­selves and learn a bit more. And the best way to do that is through en­ter­tain­ment.

“Peo­ple who are ru­ral-based and reading sto­ries set in ru­ral Aus­tralia are ones reading for the sake of reading some­thing re­lat­able.”

And for any­one who wanted to write a ru­ral ro­mance, Ms Kanna had the fol­low­ing tips:

BE AUTHEN­TIC – “You can­not write a story about ru­ral Aus­tralia if you know noth­ing about ru­ral Aus­tralia,” she said.

“Don’t as­sume what it is go­ing to be like. The read­ers of this genre are par­tic­u­lar. They do want an au­thor who is writ­ing true to ex­pe­ri­ence or through a lot of re­search.” SET­TING THE SCENE IS RE­ALLY IM­POR­TANT – “The town is a char­ac­ter, the land­scape is a char­ac­ter,” Ms Kanna said.

“These are all im­por­tant fac­tors in ru­ral writ­ing. It’s not just about a cou­ple or a ro­mance.” The 26th Ro­mance Writ­ers of Aus­tralia con­fer­ence, Love Gone Wild, is on this weekend in Bris­bane. Next year’s con­fer­ence will be held in Syd­ney. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to ro­manceaus­tralia.com.

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