MELBOURNE will host Australia’s first-ever festival of queer romantic fiction this weekend, following the success of similar festivals in the US and the UK.

Queermance brings together writers and publishers of LGBTI relationships in fiction for three days of workshops, panel discussions and events exploring the world of queer writing and publishing.

Author and festival director Matthew Lang told the Star Observer the explosion of interest in queer romantic fiction overseas helped him realise a festival like this could be successful here.

“The market is massive overseas, and here it’s still very new and a bit underdeveloped. I guess people aren’t really aware that [queer romantic fiction] is even here,” he said.

Lang said when it came to the overseas festivals, most people who attended were straight, middle-aged women, many of whom cut their teeth writing erotic fan fiction online. He said for many of these writers, those online communities were a safe space to learn foundational writing skills.

Lang hoped Queermance would be able to provide practical support and information for people wanting to get their writing published. One panel, called Giving Birth — The Art of Getting Published, will put festival-goers face-to-face with people in the industry.

“We’ve got representatives from some of the publishers locally who are really the ones who will look at queer fiction, the ones who are always looking out for authors. One of our panellists is also working for two of the big American publishers as well in the queer space,” Lang said.

He added that the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey had increased demand in romantic fiction for depictions of kink and BDSM. A session in Queermance on sex toys looks to provide practical advice for writers on how to incorporate accurate descriptions of toys and their uses into their writing.

Although most of the events running as part of Queermance are targeting authors of LGBTI romantic fiction and those who want to get into the industry, bookshop Hares and Hyenas is hosting nightly events for anyone who is a fan of queer fiction.

The opening night will see the launch of the first Queermance anthology, and the weekend culminates in Queerbaret, an evening of performance and spoken word.

Queermance is running from 5pm Friday, March 21 to Sunday, March 22. To book tickets for the whole festival or for particular sessions visit


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