On Thursday night my friends and I braved rain and thunder, and made our way to Penguin Random House‘s Sydney office for their Fantasy Fest evening. It was a fun night and a well put on event for fantasy romance fans. On arrival we were able to purchase books thanks to Galaxy’s pop up bookshop and a great spread of food and drinks were stationed in the office kitchen, including trope themed punch with a very magical edible glitter. In the foyer they’d set up a themed media wall with props for us to take photos (I opted for the golden crown, naturally) while set to one side was a number of prizes for a raffle later in the evening. It was really fun to mingle around and enjoy a bunch of sweets, cheeses and dips before we moved into the space set up for the evenings event. It was cosy, despite the roughly 60 people in attendance, with a small stage set with a couch and colourful mood lighting.
Meet the Authors
- Lauren Jackson is an Australian author, who was recently acquired Penguin after blowing up on TikTok. Her debut novel was Meant to Be, a contemporary romance, which was recently followed up with her vampire romance novel Die For You in October 2023.
- Lyndall Clipstone is an Adelaide based former youth librarian. She is the author of the lush gothic-romance duology, Lakesedge and Forestfall. Her third novel, Unholy Terrors, released in October.
- Stacey McEwan is a schoolteacher by day and fantasy writer by night. She is a book influencer on multiple platforms and began writing Ledge after book lovers of the internet begged her to share her story ideas. Chasm, the sequel to Ledge, was released in September.
Penguin Fantasy Fest Program
The event kicked off with an Acknowledgement of Country and an introduction to the evenings guest authors, Lauren Jackson, Lyndall Clipstone and Stacey McEwan. Following the introductions each author discussed their books within a topic they’d been asked to talk about. Stacey McEwan discussed world building and magic systems, focusing on the lining of questions writers must ask themselves to figure out what the answers would look like to then inform the direction of the plot. Lauren Jackson looked at the differences and similarities of writing contemporary romance versus paranormal and the fun details she includes in each of her books within the genres. Lyndall Clipstone discussed tropes in romance, particularly the fan favourite, enemies to lovers. Then there was a short author panel discussion about the genre, publishing experiences and the impacts of social media such as TikTok on making romance popular and mainstream.
After this discussion the authors took a break while the Penguin Sales team shared with us their upcoming fantasy books coming in 2024, and it was an amazing list of books:
- Sanctuary of the Shadow by Aurora Ascher (16 January 2024)
- The Invocations by Krystal Sutherland (30 January 20214)
- The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown (13 February 2024)
- A Fate Inked in Blood by Danielle L. Jensen (27 February 2024)
- Where the Dark Stands Still by A. B. Poranek (5 March 2024)
- Medea by Rosie Hewlett (19 March 2024)
- The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo (9 April 2024)
- Psykhe by Kate Forsyth (28 May 2024)
- Goldfinch by Raven Kennedy (3 September 2024)
After that presentation another member of the Penguin publishing team spoke briefly about the publishing process in a short session to demystify what goes into producing the books discussed during the event. From acquiring manuscripts from authors and agents to the different roles in each stage the book goes through before printing. For anyone that doesn’t work in the industry it was a great brief overview of the work and number of people involved in the process.
The talk concluded with the authors returning to the couch for a Q&A, with a varied bunch of audience questions thrown their way.
Book Signing & Raffle Drawn
After the main event everyone returned to the Penguin foyer to snap up books and line up for a signing. I had brought a copy of Die For You with me for Lauren Jackson to sign, but after the evenings talk I also purchased Ledge by Stacey McEwan, plus The Bridge Kingdom, a book that had been long on my TBR list. My friends also bought books and then we lined up to meet the authors and have them signed. Stacey and Lauren were so lovely as they signed my books, which I am now very keen to read.
As part of the evenings festivities Penguin also ran a raffle, whereby you had one ticket entered per book purchased from Galaxy’s pop up shop, so I had 2 in the draw. The prizes were really great; The Curse of Saints book with pin and book bag, an Assistant to the Villain Box with goodies, A Raven Kennedy book box with lux items and the hotly prize box of 2024 advance reading copies of books we’d been shown during the evening. Unfortunately the evening ran overtime so many had left by the time the raffle had been drawn, with all four prizes going to those who weren’t there but had left their phone numbers. It left an awkwardness in the room but luckily they announced they had another Assistant to the Villain box which was only for someone present, and the person who won it was very excited. Shortly after that we made our exit, and found a nearby bar for some drinks and dinner in North Sydney.
It was a really fun and entertaining evening, so thanks to Penguin for putting on such a night for fantasy readers. It was nice to hear from their authors about their books and their thoughts on the genre, industry and publishing experience at large. I hope it turns into an annual event, as I for one would love to have the same sneak peak of what’s coming next in November 2024. Now I’ve got far too many exciting books to add to my TBR, including these new signed copies (yay!).
If you’re an Australian reader keep an eye out on Penguin’s website for the next event near you!
Until next time,
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@wilddinosaurr Thanks @Penguin Books Aus for throwing such a fun event on Thursday! Had a lot of fun, got some books signed. A little recap is now up on my blog x #bookblogger #bookevent #penguinfantasyfest #penguinbooks #fantasyromance #romantasy #laurenjackson #staceymcewan #lyndallclipstone ♬ Everybody Wants To Rule The World – The Moving Stills