Updated: Dec 21, 2019
One of my teenage crushes was Georgette Heyer's Regency romance novels. Writing in a similar vein, Anne Gracie may not have written quite as many Regency romances (yet!), but I was somewhat spoilt for choice when it came to deciding which of her novels to pick - not unlike being faced with a large selection box of your favourite chocolates! There is something special about being swept up in the drama, glamour and emotions of a well-written Regency romance: it's a little bit decadent and self-indulgent, but what the heck, it's Christmas!
Anne Gracie first came to my attention at the Romance Writers Australia Conference held in Adelaide in 2016. While I hadn't read any of her novels back then, she was highly regarded and enthusiastically recommended by a publisher friend of mine. She was a 'good egg' and what's more 'a great writer'. At the RWA conference, it soon became clear why Anne was regarded with so much warmth and respect by fellow authors. Attending her workshops on plotting, even when battling against what looked to be bordering on flu, I was impressed by her wealth of knowledge and writing experience.
When Anne first started writing romance for Mills and Boon back in 1999, there was a distinct lack of interest from Australian publishers and she was forced to look overseas to find a publisher for her books. Nowadays, happily, the romance writing industry appears to be thriving here in Australia.. I've had a couple of opportunities to talk to Anne this year, most recently at the Historical Novels Society of Australasia, where she was one speakers.. She is invariably gracious with her time and happy to share her knowledge. Although it may still be something of an uphill slog, the attitude towards genre fiction, and romance in particular, seems to be slowly shifting. Some of this, I believe, is thanks to the success and advocacy of authors such as Anne.
Calla Wahlquist wrote a great article for the Guardian recently explaining the plight of Australian authors:
'A 2015 survey of the Australian book industry found that the average amount earned by Australian authors for their creative works each year was $12,900. Authors of genre fiction, including romance, were among the top earners: 13% earned more than $101,000 in the year the survey was conducted.'
Interestingly, Anne Gracie featured as one of the success stories - not so well-known in Australia, but most definitely making an enviable living from her writing. You can read the Guardian article by Call Wahlquist here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/aug/16/more-than-story-bonking-story-why-youve-never-heard-of-australias-best-selling-authors?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook&fbclid=IwAR1SIp2YboxHnRwjYTmotO3NYe7Xc1Hd1DX02XF_6eiqrQ3gPEY02F_nj24
And you can read on about the Australian book industry by clicking on the following link: http://www.businessandeconomics.mq.edu.au/our_departments/Economics/econ_research/reach_network/book_project/authors/1_Key_Findings.pdf
So, when it comes to talking about romance novels beware of assuming a 'superior than thou' attitude. It may not be your bag, you may find examples that leave you feeling frigid (as you may in any genre), but romance is one of the most successful genres in the Australian writing industry. We should applaud and support its champions, such as Anne Gracie, and celebrate her as Australia's own Georgette Heyer..