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ARR2020: wrap-up

16 April 2020

ARR2020 wrap-up

In March we held our second series of Romantic Rendezvous events, this time visiting Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Our special guests were Darynda Jones and Susan Donovan. Darynda and Susan were absolutely lovely and I had so much fun travelling with them. (Susan unfortunately had to return home mid-March, as her daughter, who was travelling with her, became ill. She ended up missing the Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide events.)

In the week before the events started the COVID-19 situation started to worsen, which meant we had a few cancellations from authors in each city. Despite that we still had a great line-up of authors signing in each event. Ticket sales for readers had also stalled because of the virus, and they (not surprisingly) did not pick up again. In all we ‘sold’ 246 tickets for the events, but in the end we only had 169 attendees. So it was potentially a record number of readers, but in the end attendance numbers were only average.

The first event was held in Brisbane on Friday 6 March. The Brisbane venue (Brisbane Square Library) was really great. The size and layout of the rooms worked very well and the staff were so helpful with the setup and anything else we needed. The talk with Charlotte Nash interviewing Susan and Darynda went very well.

Signing room in Brisbane

Author talk in Brisbane

Due to our partnership with the library, the tickets for the Brisbane signing and talk were free, which mean we had the highest number of ticket ‘sales’ in Brisbane (87)—which was a big turnaround from the poor numbers in 2019. Unfortunately we also had a record number of no-shows (43!); this meant that some people who would have come to the talk missed out.

The Sydney signing was on Sunday 8 March in the afternoon. That morning we held a high tea, and Fiona McArthur interviewed Darynda and Susan. The high tea was a lot of fun; the talk was very interesting and the food was lovely.

High Tea in Sydney

Author talk in Sydney

The room for the Sydney signing was a new venue for us. It was a really great size and allowed us space for a collection of chairs in the middle of the room where readers sat and chatted between visiting authors. We sold 45 tickets for this event. The lower number meant readers and authors had the opportunity to chat at their leisure. We’re looking forward to using this venue again in the future.

Signing room in Sydney

The following weekend we were in Melbourne on Saturday 14 March. At lunch Donna Maree Hanson chatted with Darynda. For the signing, we used the same room as last year, but with a few more tables to accommodate a higher number of signing authors. We only sold 51 tickets for this event; authors and readers had a good time, despite this lower number.

Author talk in Melbourne

Signing room in Melbourne

From there it was straight to the airport for our flight to Perth. It’s a long flight (four hours), but because of the three-hour time difference for daylight savings we got a lovely sleep-in on Sunday morning.
We had gone for a completely different venue this year in Perth—the Pagoda Resort and Spa in Como. The Perth venue was lovely, in particular the Historic Ballroom where we held the signing. This large light-filled room had plenty of space for the 17 authors who were signing. We sold 48 tickets for this event; readers really appreciated the time spent chatting with all the authors. We thought this venue was perfect and we would love to use it again in the future.

Shona Husk and Darynda Jones

Signing room in Perth

Our flight to Adelaide wasn’t until the Monday afternoon, so the lovely Linda Christie took us on a whirlwind tour of Perth in the morning. After a quick drive along the river we walked through King’s Park to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, and then we headed to the coast to check out some beaches. Darynda and her sister/assistant, Annette, loved the opportunity to see some of the sights, particularly the beach. They couldn’t resist going for a paddle.

Darynda and Annette at King's Park, Perth Darynda and Annette at City Beach, Perth

Then it was off to the airport for the flight to Adelaide. As we lost time heading back east we arrived in Adelaide after dark. We stayed in the historic Treasury Building, which was right next door to Town Hall where the signing was held. As it was an evening event, we took advantage of a free morning to head to Glenelg, take a walk on another beach, and have an intimate high tea.

The numbers for the signing in Adelaide were always going to be low—we knew it was a gamble, as we have very few members in Adelaide. In the end we only sold 15 tickets, but the readers were really thrilled for the opportunity and they spent ages talking to all the authors there. It isn’t likely we will include Adelaide again next time, but I’m glad we gave it a chance.

Room in Adelaide

Author tables in Adelaide Talk in Adelaide

We were also thrilled to catch up with two of our award winners (Samantha Marshall in Melbourne and Juanita Kees in Perth) and present them with their trophy.

Samantha Marshall with her award trophy Juanita Kees with her award trophy

A huge thank you to everyone who helped to organise the events, the signing authors, the committee members who came along to make sure everything ran smoothly, all the readers, the authors who hosted the talks (Charlotte Nash, Fiona McArthur, Donna Maree Hanson, Shona Husk and Suzie Hindmarsh-Knight) and our special guests—Darynda and Susan.

[This article originally appeared in the April 2020 newsletter.]

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