Newfoundland romance authors take centre stage at Winterset in Summer festival

Melanie Martin considers herself an “accidental” romance writer.


“One of the major things I realized as I was doing my research and a lot of the reading, is how important relationships were during the First World War, particularly to the soldiers who were in France, the letters, the connection to home, the connection to loved ones, and certainly to their sweethearts,” said the author of A Splendid Boy, a 2016 novel about a soldier in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

“And I realized that any story that I was going to write around a Newfoundlander being in the First World War, a relationship would have to be integral to the story.”

Love story at the core

It was the broad positive reaction, from men and women, that surprised her, and showed her just how popular the romance genre is.

“I think it’s bigger than we thought, and as I’ve said many times before, I don’t know why there has to be such a stigma attached to it,” she said. “I can’t think of one really great movie right now, blockbuster movie, that everybody flocks to see that doesn’t have at its core a love story.”

Love is in the air at the Winterset in Summer Literary Festival in Eastport this weekend, which featured a Friday panel of romance authors, called “Voices of Romance,” including Martin and Victoria Barbour, who has written several romance novels — and not accidentally — including Christmas in the Harbour and 21st Century Rake.

“I think I’ve always been intrigued by the love story,” she said.

“For me, I found escape in reading romance novels. When my grandmother passed away, I really immersed myself in all of her romance books. And when I came out the other side — I joke, sometimes, because I read a lot of historical romances — I say I read myself out of grief, one duke at a time. And that’s when I discovered the power of the escape of the romance novel.”

Barbour says the genre’s popularity globally is reflected in the province.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to go into any house or cabin throughout Newfoundland and not find at least one romance novel tucked away somewhere, whether people want to admit that it lives in their house or not,” she said.


“You’re going to find those books. It’s the quintessential summer read for a lot of people, or the winter read. It’s for some people, I think, their dirty little secret that they read romance.”

Martin noted that the province has a robust community of authors in the genre, adding that she knows about 20.

“Twenty romance authors who are churning out anywhere from two to five books a year, it’s a lot. It’s a lot being churned out,” she said.

Genre deserves respect

Barbour said the genre deserves as much respect as any other type of work.

“There’s as many badly written romance books as there are badly written mystery books, badly written fiction in general, badly written non-fiction,” she said.

“Everything that you write is a craft, and you always have to be honing your craft, but I don’t think that there’s any more poorly written romance novels that there any other poorly written things.”

Some writers have a gift, and some people work hard to hone their craft, she said.

“I’m really proud of the circle of romance writers I’ve surrounded myself, especially locally.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland romance authors take centre stage at Winterset in Summer festival

Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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