Review: Scotland’s Inaugural Romance Festival

Megan Amato reviews First Date: Scotland’s Inaugural Romance Festival.

Romance, as a genre across all forms of media, is often dismissed for having predictable (see: happy) endings and a formulaic plot. 

But every genre has its tropes and beats, and despite how ‘easy’ it may seem, it takes a lot of skill to keep your readers engaged when they know how their protagonists will likely end up. 

It’s a genre that’s never in stasis. It is continuously in development as it adapts to become more and more inclusive.

Lighthouse Books, in collaboration with the Scottish Storytelling Centre, gave fans of the ever-growing genre a treat as they hosted First Date: Scotland’s Inaugural Romance Festival.

Tables were covered with new releases by a diverse range of authors from big publishers, small presses and even self-published books. 

‘This is Romance: transcending genre boundaries’ was the first panel, discussing the blurred edges of romance and those who write about love but might not quite fit into the romance genre. 

Romance literature is ‘nuanced, revolutionary and thriving,’ said moderator Lynsey Rogers and authors K. Patrick, Tab Kimpton and Rashika Sanghani proved that point with their diverse takes on love outside of heteronormative expectations of what a happily-ever-after means. 

In the second panel, Feeling Good is Freedom: the radical potential of romance writing’, Lex Croucher discussed taking creative liberties in their ‘fantasy historical’ novel Gwen and Art are Not in Love with Edinburgh-based journalist Anahit Behrooz and delighted the audience with their signature wit.

The last panel was with none other than Scotland’s favourite romance writer, Jenny Colgan, as she launched her newest book, The Summer Skies. She talked to Glasgow-based writer Amna Saleem about writing a relatable character in what may be unrelatable situations, why she doesn’t set her books in real small towns and the security and comfort that rom-coms bring to her and her readers.

‘Books and reading do all sorts of things – you don’t necessarily have to be challenging your inner intellectual discord,’ Colgan said. 

‘The world of books is a world full of doors and windows and mirrors as part of the human experience.’

Romance readers go into their book knowing it will end well – but are taken on a ride that can be just as full of twists and unexpected turns.

Read more news on Scottish Field’s news pages.

Plus, don’t miss the July issue of Scottish Field magazine.