14 July 2023

Romance is booming in the Riverina with readers invited to share the love

| Chris Roe
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Lady with book

Mel Fattore from the Riverina Readers Festival Committee at the Ambo. Photo: Supplied.

According to Mel Fattore from the Riverina Readers Festival Committee, romance is on the rise in the Riverina, at least, it is in literature.

“The rise of romance fiction has honestly been something that has gone through the roof; it’s seeing its biggest boom in 10 years!” she said.

“I believe romance gets people reading and offers a moment of respite in a world that sometimes feels overwhelming. The power of romance novels can be highly underrated.”

Mel is familiar to readers across the Riverina as a bookseller and through her blog, Mel Reviews Her Books.

Together with a group of local bibliophiles, Mel is working towards staging the landmark Riverina Readers Festival in Wagga next year and as a bit of a preview, they are holding ‘A Romantic Evening of Books’ on Saturday at the newly completed Ambo Gallery on Johnston Street.

“Romantic fiction is no longer being ignored in Australia and it is growing rapidly,” she said.

“We have so many fantastic Australian romance writers and I wanted to be able to bring some of that to the Riverina.

“We thought, what’s something that we can put out instantly because we want to get this ball rolling and show people what kind of events we want to put on and what we’re hoping to provide to the region in July of next year. ”

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The festival is a work in progress but the team is excited about bringing readers from across the Riverina together.

“From my time with Collins Booksellers, I could just see how diverse our readers are within our community,” Mel explained.

“Our biggest sellers are genres like crime fiction and mainstream commercial fiction, romance, women’s fiction, country romance, as well as children’s fiction.

“So, we as a committee wanted to be able to provide something that was accessible and diverse to accommodate a broad variety of readers that we already know in the region.”

Four authors will share the story behind their books at the Ambo

Four authors will share the story behind their books at the Ambo. Photo: Supplied.

Saturday’s event invites book clubs and keen readers to hear from bestselling romance authors, Karina May (Duck a L’Orange for Breakfast), Clare Fletcher (Five Bush Weddings), Emma Grey (The Last Love Note) and children’s author Brooke Hill (You Two, You Two).

With a lineup of established and emerging romance authors, Mel said they decided to include Brooke Hill to show that love comes in all forms.

“She’s actually a children’s author from the Southern Highlands and we wanted to throw that diversity in there to show how love can be familial,” she explained.

“Her book is about the familial love between twins and it’s just a beautiful children’s storybook.”

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Reflecting on the romantic fiction boom, Mel suggests that social media has played a surprisingly big part.

“And I think it’s largely due to things like ‘Bookstagram’ where people are sharing their thoughts about books instantly online and ‘BookTok’ has become such a trending movement that some books have even been rereleased lately,” she said.

“In the past year or two, books have appeared with stickers on the front that say, ‘This book went TikTok viral’ and all of those are in the romance genre.

“It’s been one of the largest growing sections for us in the bookshop in Wagga for the past two to three years.”

You can find out more and book a ticket to Saturday’s event here.

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