Love affair with books set to blossom at Write Here Festival

Published on 18 May 2023

Author Michelle Douglas

Things get a bit steamy when local author Michelle Douglas dreams up her next Mills & Boon romance novel.

That’s because Douglas, who will share the secrets of romance writing at this weekend’s Write Here! Festival in Lake Macquarie, comes up with some of her most passionate prose in the shower.

The veteran writer also turns to that timeless romance staple of a long walk on the beach when she’s trying to overcome writer’s block.

These are clearly effective strategies.

Douglas has more than 35 Mills & Boon books to her name, has taken out coveted romance-writing awards and has had her stories translated into 24 languages.

She will host a Saturday ‘Secrets to writing romance’ workshop at Belmont Library as part of this year’s festival, to be held Friday 19 – Sunday 21 May at Lake Mac Libraries branches across the city.

Many of Douglas’s titles hint heavily at the content within: Unbuttoning the Tuscan Tycoon, Singapore Fling with the Millionaire, and The Aristocrat and the Single Mum, to name a few.

She readily admits that relationship tropes are vital in romance fiction, but insists it’s a genre that can be hugely empowering for women.

“Romance is the only genre of fiction that puts women’s concerns at the forefront of the narrative,” she says.

“It’s a woman’s concerns, it’s what she needs and wants that are at the centre of the story, and I think that’s an important and empowering element of a romance novel.”

“Also, very few genres deal with the emotion of joy, but the ending of a romance novel is unashamedly joyful. To write a book that leaves a smile on someone’s face and helps them feel a little more hopeful about the world is a wonderful thing to be able to do.”

Douglas’s first novels only ever included “closed door” romances, where close physical interactions were implied but never described.

“But the overseas markets have been requesting for some time now that the line I write for includes some spicier scenes,” she says.

“And with the sweeter end of the market now being serviced by faith-based lines, we’ve expanded our repertoire and I now include fully realised love scenes in my novels.”

That’s handy, because one of the topics Douglas plans to cover in Saturday’s workshop is how to write about sex and kissing in romance fiction.

“Because, of course, a love scene is never just about the sex,” she says.

Other topics she’ll cover include writing about emotion – why it’s important and how to generate it, myths of the genre, and the importance of romance tropes.

Elsewhere in the festival, almost 30 authors, including Todd Alexander, Kaz Delaney, Candice Fox, Janette Paul and Pamela Hart will feature across 15 talks, Q&A panels and workshops.

Alexander, whose bestselling memoir Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga was long-listed for three industry prizes, will present his latest book, Over The Hill & Up The Wall at a 2.45pm session at Belmont Library on Sunday.

Lake Macquarie City Council Lifelong Learning Coordinator Kirrily Anderson says the festival is a place for both writers and readers to be inspired.

“The authors in this year’s line-up come from all walks of life and write about all sorts of things, so there really is something for anyone with an interest in reading and books,” she says.

Some festival sessions are free, admission to others is by gold coin donation, while others range in price from $8-$40.

Bookings are essential. Go to for more information and bookings.

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