Queensland falls in love with Mills and Boon
IT SEEMS Queenslanders don't mind getting a bit hot under the collar. The Sunshine State is one of the biggest consumers of romance novels in the country.
Seven of the top 20 sales outlets for Mills and Boon are in Queensland.
The northerners' appetite for sensual page-turners is shown by sales of more than 155,000 Mills and Boon books in the past year in Queensland - more than a quarter of total sales across the nation.
Publisher Harlequin's head of international and series publishing, Lilia Kanna, who has been involved in the romance genre for seven years, said the strong Queensland reader numbers had been known in the industry for some time.
Ms Kanna said one of the reasons for it may be that the Sunshine State was a more relaxed place than other states.
"People who know how to enjoy life live in Queensland," she said.
"The pace of life is one that lends to readers being open to entertainment, open to treating themselves and enjoying their life and reading goes hand in hand with that."
And in an even stronger trend, publishers have also monitored the rise of the rural romance genre.
Harlequin defines the genre as romance set in small Australian towns.
Top authors include Rachael Johns, Tricia Stringer and Mandy Magro.
Their popularity has grown exponentially, with total sales across the three authors close to 600,000 copies.
Ms Kanna said the trend had been wonderful for Australian authors.
"We're finding readers in rural locations, as well as readers who are not in rural locations, are attracted to reading these sorts of stories," she said.
One of the reasons for the trend was a general feeling of pride in our country that encouraged readers to pick up a book set in rural Australia. Many other ways to entertain ourselves did not have a rural setting.
"A lot of city-based women don't know a lot about rural living," Ms Kanna said.
"They have an idea of it but really want to educate themselves and learn a bit more. And the best way to do that is through entertainment.
"People who are rural-based and reading stories set in rural Australia are ones reading for the sake of reading something relatable."
And for anyone who wanted to write a rural romance, Ms Kanna had the following tips:
BE AUTHENTIC - "You cannot write a story about rural Australia if you know nothing about rural Australia," she said.
"Don't assume what it is going to be like. The readers of this genre are particular. They do want an author who is writing true to experience or through a lot of research."
SETTING THE SCENE IS REALLY IMPORTANT - "The town is a character, the landscape is a character," Ms Kanna said.
"These are all important factors in rural writing. It's not just about a couple or a romance."