Interview with AusRomToday

Today’s interview is with J’aimee Brooker, publisher of the AusRomToday website. The site celebrates the Australian romance literature industry and community, representing all romance sub-genres and stories of all lengths and showcasing Australian romance writing to the world.


AusRomToday badgeWhat, if anything, do you think makes Australian romance writing distinctively Australian?

I think Aussies are instinctive storytellers, whether that’s a yarn around a campfire, the story that gets progressively bigger and better with each recounting at the local pub, or in the form of the written word.

Aussies have a profound way of massaging a story to suit a particular audience, of embellishing just enough to make it interesting, and to carry it all off in a not-taking-myself-too-seriously manner. That attitude and demeanour absolutely transcends to the reader.

Romance of all kinds, including queermance and erotica, seems to be going through a bit of a boom lately. Is that your perception? And if so – why do you think it’s happening?

I do think that romance is experiencing a spike in popularity of late, however I do believe that romance has always held its own in that regard. There are many factors that contribute to this latest resurgence though and many pertain to the changing ways in which we now read.

E-publishing has been a catalyst for many changes, both for the industry at large and for readers. Price, convenience, instant gratification, and buyer anonymity form significant advantages for readers and these factors are not exclusive to reading; these are aspects of buying trends that apply to almost all industries. That the publishing industry is now able to present these benefits to their consumers (readers) is a progressive step forward.

E-publishing aside, there is also a shift happening that can be attributed to authors like EL James who have in their own way released works that have shed some of the stigma or taboo attached to reading erotica. I recall at the height of Fifty Shades of Grey madness, hearing about the book every single time I turned on the radio, TV, social media etc… It was everywhere! One radio host on a local Gold Coast station even went as far as to have his elderly grandmother read it on-air! That kind of stripped away the taboo of reading the book and even though there was a lot of parody/satire (and criticism) surrounding the book, the attention made the book very mainstream and in doing so made it somewhat ‘acceptable’ to read the book. There are many readers whom I’ve talked to who’ve said that after reading FSOG they became avid devourers of erotica and romance. There’s something in that, I think.

There are so many other factors, however, I’d need thousands of words clearance to get them all out! Instead, I like to think this is the new normal for romance and it will only continue to grow.

What are the most interesting developments you’ve seen in romance writing in the last few years? (In terms of themes, or styles or whatever.)

I think we’re seeing more diversity in characterisation and plot development. No longer is the heroine a shrinking violet in need of rescuing, she is instead the CEO of a multi-national company, a housewife with spunk, or a spanking hot dominatrix. And, readers love that!

Interestingly, Sandra Antonelli is a genius when it comes to smashing through heroine stereotypes, specifically with her focus on an older-woman central character with all the gusto of the average woman of that age bracket. No longer is the older woman simply a secondary character, she’s the lead and she plays it with passion! Kudos to Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing for giving this new trend its start.

We’re also seeing more ‘plus-size’ central characters and fundamentally I believe this is a positive thing in terms of diversity. If we could get to a point where a woman’s (fiction and in real life) body wasn’t part of her characterisation I think we’d truly show progress as a society. I don’t believe that will happen any time soon though, so I do think the inroads that authors specialising in plus-size characters are making are important and vital to societal conversation.

What are the big AusRom Today events coming up in the next 12 months?

We have a massive twelve months planned which actually kicked off just last month (October) with a revamp of the website. The site is now more interactive and far more visually pleasing.

Content-wise, we now theme the site monthly and have introduced monthly features such as My Ten Must-Haves, Small Talk, Cover Lover and a special spotlight feature (last month was Monica McInerney, this month is Leah Ashton).

2015 will see bigger competitions and giveaways, greater opportunities to interact with AusRomToday, and more promotion of Aussie authors to readers worldwide.

If you were trying to convert someone to a love of romance novels, what three works/writers would you recommend?

Though not Australian, I must mention the great Sidney Sheldon who solidified my love of reading. They didn’t call him the master storyteller for no reason; the man could seamlessly weave adventure, travel, suspense, drama, politics, and romance like no other before or since.

Another hot pick for me is independent Australian author, Rachel Amphlett. Her writing is superb. Detail-rich, captivating, and with viable and flawless plot development. Her characterisation is always spot-on. I always recommend Amphlett.

Lexxie Couper and Sami Lee also are notable mentions; these ladies create solid storylines and smoking hot romance and erotic-romance each and every time. It’s always fab to read a book that comes with a warning, and Couper’s and Lee’s always do!

About J’aimee Brooker

headshot_jaimeeJ’aimee Brooker publishes the hot new website, which celebrates the Australian Romance literature community which aims to draw attention to the achievements and acclaim of Australian writers. The key goal is to showcase the published Australian romance industry to readers worldwide. Readers, writers, and spectators are all welcome!

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