GayRomLit 2019 is in the books and it was a tremendous weekend. The ninth annual retreat saw GRL returning to Albuquerque and it was the largest gathering of m/m romance readers and authors yet.
A quick history: The GRL origin story begins in 2010 when Carol Lynne and Ethan Day began discussing the need for a reader weekend focused on LGBT romance. With the help of a founding team of organizers, volunteers, authors and readers, they launched GRL in 2011 in New Orleans. Since then the event has grown each year.
While we missed the first year, we’ve been to every GRL since and it’s one of our favorite events each year. It’s a chance to be with a tribe of wonderful readers and authors who all love m/m romance. There are so many opportunities to interact with favorite authors and discover writers you’ve never read before. Not only are there the usual signing sessions, but there are “author lounges” throughout the weekend, which give attendees additional one-on-one time with authors, audiobook narrators and some other industry professional (including bloggers and podcasters).
There are also Q&As, readings, and “Storyteller” sessions, which take a deep dive into a topic with a group of authors.
Some of our favorite things from the weekend:
- Q&A featuring A.E. Via, Gregory Ashe and J.K. Hogan. They all write in different subgenres but had fascinating answers to questions from the audience. Hearing how they each take a different approach to planning/plotting a series was intriguing as it was quite different for each.
- In a reading, Julia Talbot, Kiernan Kelly and Jodi Payne (along with “gate crasher” B.A. Tortuga) presented their new storybook, The ABCs of Gay Romance. It’s a picture book you wouldn’t share with your kids, but would no doubt find entertaining as it presents a slightly naughty and fun take on typical gay romance elements. Kiernan, who also illustrated the book, read each entry as Jodi and Julia showed the pictures to the audience.
- Writers Layla Reyne, Victoria Sue and Jocelynn Drake banded together for a Storyteller session called “A View to A Thrill.” In 45 minutes, these romantic suspense authors got suggestions from the audience and created a short story. The session was hilarious and also showcased how three top authors approach storytelling on the fly.
- The featured narrator panel has become a highly anticipated event. This year’s lineup included Charlie David, Kirt Graves, Kenneth Obi, Nick J. Russo, John Solo and Greg Tremblay. For audiobook lovers, it’s quite a treat to see a narrator live as they perform characters and stories you’ve only heard in a recording.
- The social events are always a good time, including a welcome reception, bingo, a costume dance party (this year’s theme was “super powers”) and, of course, many opportunities to sit and talk about books!
Speaking of Charlie David, the author/actor/narrator/director attended GRL with a full film crew for a documentary he’s working on for the fourth season of his series OUTSpoken, which airs on OUT TV in Canada, Amazon Prime in the US and in other countries around the world. As he told Jeff in an exclusive interview for Big Gay Fiction Podcast, “One of my jobs is narrating predominantly gay romance. When I tell [my friends] that most of the writers are women or that there’s a large percentage of writers, publishers and readership who are women and straight women, that always makes people’s face turn into a question mark. As did mine at the beginning. That’s what provoked me to think this would make a great documentary. If I’m curious about something and a lot of other people show curiosity around it, then I think it’s worth diving into.” (If you’d like to hear the full interview with Charlie, you can find it at BigGayFictionPodcast.com)
In 2020, GRL will be in St. Louis for its tenth annual gathering in mid-October. If you’re a fan of m/m romance, consider becoming part of the tribe and spend a weekend with some terrifically enthusiastic book people. You can learn more about the retreat at GayRomLit.com.