Anne here, writing from the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra, the capital city of Australia. And if you want to know why on earth I'm dressed like a slightly demented 1920's dowager and holding a glass trophy — you'll have to read on.
Canberra is a small city, halfway between the two largest cities of Australia, Sydney and Melbourne and is more or less a government city. It was created from scratch — a century ago there was nothing but a few farms and bushland here — as a compromise between competitive states — none of whom wanted another state to be the centre of the new federal government.
But enough of that history — this was a Romance Readers Convention, and for a full three days I've talked nothing but books and romance and writing, meeting authors and readers from all over Australia, as well as from New Zealand, the US and Canada.
There were book launches, panels galore, some wonderful keynote speeches, a regency fashion parade, a Roaring 20's costume theme for the Awards Dinner and finally a lovely, leisurely luncheon and cruise on Lake Burley-Griffin. I've had a wonderful time, and as it's only just finished and I'm still in my hotel room, I hope you'll forgive me for a shorter-than-usual blog.
The afternoon ended with a book signing and it was wonderful to meet so many enthusiastic readers — some of whom had flown from the other side of the country to attend — and remember, Australia is similar in size to the USA.
On the Saturday morning, those of us who woke around dawn were greeted by the magical sight of hot air balloons rising gently over the lake. This photo was taken by author Fiona McArthur. The building you can just see under the red balloon is the Australian Parliament House.
Saturday night was the ARRA awards dinner, which was a Roaring '20's costume theme. Not everyone dressed in costume, but everyone looked fabulous. Unfortunately the photos I took of all the fabulous costumes are on my camera because I left the download cord at home. But here's a pic I pinched from Fb of fabulous blogger and reviewer Kat Mayo with her colleague "Dumbleydore"
The ARRA awards are an annual event. I was delighted when The Winter Bride won the Favourite Historical Romance category. The full list of categories and winners is here.
You will be glad to know that historicals were very well represented in the various categories of the ARRA awards in favourite series, and favourite book, and favourite authors — not just the favourite historical section.
The photo at the top of the blog of me with my award was taken and "glitzed up" by my friend dark urban fantasy author Keri Arthur on her phone while she was sitting at the dinner table. Amazing!
On the Sunday, among the many and varied offerings were two historical panels — one called "Beyond the Ballroom, in which authors discussed the appeal (or otherwise) of the glamorous aspects of historicals and the "roads less travelled." The second panel explored the appeal of various time periods and settings.
A highlight for many was the Regency fashion parade — organised by Jennifer Kloester, Beverley Eikli and Bronwyn Parry where a number of authors modelled Regency outfits, some of which will appear in the upcoming Jane Austen Festival in Canberra. Looks like fun, doesn't it? From the left are author Beverley Eikli/Beverley Oakley (aka Lady Jane Saxby in a 1780's dress), Alison Stuart (Lady Elizabeth Kentmere 1790's), Bronwyn Parry (Lady Bellingham, 1815) Lauren Sadow (aka Miss Margaret Tallant 1816), Jennifer Kloester (Melissa Craig (Lady Mary Torrington) and Mrs Aylwen Gardiner-Garden (well known cousin of Mrs Drummond-Burrell). A detailed factual description or each gown was read out along with a delightful imaginary biography of each lady — all, of course (given Jennifer Kloester's background) arising from Georgette Heyer novels. My thanks to Malvina Yock, who took the photo.
And today we ate a leisurely luncheon on board a small cruise boat and explored the various reaches of Lake Burley Griffin — a man-made lake around which the city of Canberra is built.Here's a photo of the old Parliament House with the flags displayed of the various countries with whom Australia has diplomatic relations — arranged in alphabetical order. The photo was taken by my friend Helene Young, multi awarded romantic suspense writer, who won Favourite Romantic Suspense for the second year in a row.
So that's it for the ARRA convention. I'm off home tomorrow, hoping my puppy hasn't minded her time in the kennels too much. Thanks to ARRA members (who are all unpaid volunteers) who did so much work to create this fabulous event.
What about you — have you ever been to a reader event? Tell us about it.
Or if you went to your "ideal" reader/author event, what author from any era (i.e. dead or alive) would you particularly want to meet?
And where would you set the event?
I'm thinking Georgette Heyer in Bath. What about you?