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Romantasy Genre Gets Its Own Festival

by | Apr 1, 2024 | News

One of the fastest growing sectors in publishing now has its own festival.  The inaugural Romantasy Literary Genre Festival took place at the Otherworld Theatre in Chicago on 23-24 March and featured author signings, Q&As, live podcast recordings, a drag tournament called Drag’N Brunch, and daily showings of Twihard!, a musical parody of Twilight.  Books were sold on site by local indie bookstore Women & Children First.

 

According to Publishers Weekly (PW) the festival was organized in just three months by Olivia McCoy, the publicist for the festival, who was working on the publicity campaigns for romantasy authors Samara Breger and Melanie K Moschella.  When she flagged up Moschella’s Raek Riders series to the Otherworld Theatre’s feminist sci-fi fantasy book club, the theatre was interested, but wanted the New Hampshire–based Moschella to attend in-person.  When the theatre learned that the series was launching around the same time that their Twihard! production was scheduled, organizers decided to make the weekend an entire festival dedicated to romantasy, bringing in not only Breger and Moschella, but Chicago-based authors Lana Harper, Tamara Jerée, and Megan Mackie.

 

Jerée said that they loved being in “such a unique space” in conjunction with the musical, and appreciated that the festival brought together two mediums: performance and literature.  Jerée and Breger noted with approval how queer writers were “an integral part of the festival.” Breger observed that there are two prominent strains of romantasy—one that is very heterosexual and the other that is more diverse, both in terms of sexuality and race and ethnicity. She said that she believes the latter branch of the genre is growing, “though the most-read books continue to be very white and heterosexual.”

 

PW noted: ‘During the Whoa!mance podcast recording, the authors were asked if they believe romantasy is here to stay. Moschella thinks so, noting that the authors all grew up with the works of Cassandra Clare and Stephenie Meyer, as well as the Harry Potter books, and that readers who grew up on such titles want something similar, but more adult. Jerée agreed, but argued that genre rigidity is breaking down, with more authors combining aspects of different genres into the same works.’

 

It will be interesting to see if this inaugural literary festival grows in size – the romantasy genre is certainly growing, with Sara J Maas one of Bloomsbury’s most important authors.

 

 

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