The New England chapter of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) — a national nonprofit that aims to advance the professional and social interests of romance writers — is hosting a conference at the Marriott in Burlington on April 29th and 30th. Aspiring (and professional) writers will have the chance to dabble in writing workshops and partake in editor and lit agent meet-and-greets, all in hopes of spreading the word of romance. 

Keynote speaker and New York Times best-selling author Susan Mallery chats with us about writing and reading romance. Her newest novel, “Best of My Love” comes out April 26 and she'll be signing copies in the Mariott ballroom with her fellow romance rock stars (Loretta Chase! Megan Frampton!) for the conference's Book Fair for Literacy event on April 30.

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You’re known for both the depth of your characters and for your humor. Do both come naturally to you?

Yes, I’m very lucky. I’ve always been wildly sarcastic. Though there was one time, I was in line one day and a lady, she was old and British, she patted me on my arm and said, ‘I know you think you’re funny, but you’re not.’

I’ve gotten letters from people saying ‘Your book gave me time away.’ I want to be an escape. [Readers] can pick up the book and no matter what they will have a good time. Whether they’re having a great day or a day, I’m a getaway, a safe place.

You’re very active on social media. Is interacting with your readers important to you?

I love it. I have readers name things and if I take their suggestion, then I use their last name somewhere in the book. There are Easter eggs in my books. I try to make them as weird as possible, [but] sometimes they’re meaningful. One time, a reader’s brother who died in service asked for his number to appear. Readers can download the list online and find them in the books.

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What is your response to the stigma about reading romance?

Most people who give you “the look” have never read it and are basing it on assumptions. Most women are hardwired to connect; we have a circle of friends. If we don’t have a family, we create a family. It’s down to DNA. We will take care of other people’s children; we will fall in love. And romance novels are for that.

For years and years we’ve celebrated the male coming-of-age story and romance is the reaffirmance of the female coming-of-age. That’s all it is. They’ve made assumptions. That’s fine; they don’t have to love it. The romance genre is arguably the most successful by far — a good romance reader will read 10 novels a month. Content-wise, we dominate. We’re the reason some indie authors exist. And I’m happy for that.

If you go:

April 30
1:30pm to 2:30pm
Boston Marriott, ballroom
One Burlington Mall Rd, Burlington
Public welcome, necrwa.org