I love the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. It is always a fun weekend filled with books, music, food, and art. It does a wonderful job bringing authors and reader together. Whether you're a non-fiction or YA fan, there is something for everyone. Well, that is unless you are a romance reader.
It wasn't always like that. In the 5 years that I've gone, there has always been a romance conversation. But when you take a closer look at the authors that are speaking in the "romance" conversation, not all of them are traditional romance authors. Additionally, the conversations each year are pretty much the same Happily Ever After topic. After 2018's lackluster schedule, I thought it would be interesting to sit down with the LATFOB schedule/platform to find areas where romance could be included and how they could improve the conversations.
Now like I said, there have been some fantastic romance conversations that have included such as Tessa Dare, Julia Quinn, Julie Ann Long, Julie Ann Walker, Sylvia Day, Melody Ann, and Beth Yarnell. However in the past 2 years, I've noticed that the topics were usually the same and the number of traditional romance authors have dwindled. What used to be 4 romance authors turned into 2 romance authors and 1 non-traditional romance author. In 2018, it felt more like a women's fiction conversation under the guise as romance. In fact, this was the first year I decided to skip it. Don't get me wrong, I love women's fiction and I want to read two of the author's books, but going by the topic, it didn't feel like there was going to be anything new.
Let's take a look at LATFOB's schedule. There are different sections that cover a wide variety of genres. Fiction & literature. Science fiction. Thrillers & mysteries. That's what I'm going to work with. I'm not going to add any sections, nor am I going to rename any. Let's see where romance can be included.
Fiction & Literature
This is probably the most obvious area where romance can be included since this is where they already have their romance conversation. Instead of having just one, why can't there be 2? For example, let's have a traditional romance conversation and a women's fiction conversation. Or historical romance. Or new adult. The possibilities are endless here.
This one might be a bit of a stretch, but paranormal romance could fit here. Urban fantasy? Magical romance? Or how about a conversation that includes all 3? How do they differ? Is the writing process different from contemporary or historical?
Thrillers & Mysteries
If they had a romantic suspense conversation, I would be first in line. There could be a topic on how to include sex and a relationship in a romantic suspense book. How to keep your romance readers invested in a suspense book? How to keep your suspense readers invested when there is sex?
It's not difficult to include more romance into the schedule. It might take a year to get it off the ground, but I know romance readers would go in droves. One of the reasons why most tend to stay away is because we're never really included in large book festivals. And if we are, it's usually a very small representation. In past years, they didn't even sell the books from the romance authors they did have. It was only when The Ripped Bodice and Los Angeles Romance Authors started attending that romance books could be purchased. They sell books for every other attending author, with the exception of the romance authors.
As a romance fan, it hurts to see us not being represented. As much as I love the Festival of Books, there is a lot of room for improvement. I know that I will still look forward to next year's event and have my fingers crossed that the romance conversation will be fabulous. And please have a romance reader moderate the conversations!
What do you think? Is there room for more romance at large book festivals? Do you like going to book festivals? Which ones do you go to?