Romance reading event wasn’t for the faint of heart

Nova Swoons featured celebrities reading passages from steamy romance novels in advance of Valentine’s Day

2 min read
Drag queen in red dress standing with a woman in black shirt and pink skirt on stage with standing microphones
caption Anna Mona-Pia and Michelle Helliwell introduced book excerpts read at the Nova Swoons event Wednesday.
Megan James

“Hot dudes and puffy shirts. That’s what I love,” said Michelle Helliwell, author of the Scandalous Spinster series, on writing her romance books.

Helliwell was one of the authors celebrated at The Carleton bar in downtown Halifax with the inaugural Nova Swoons, an event that had celebrities read novels from Atlantic romance authors.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia hosted the event to celebrate something many Nova Scotians love — local romance writing.

The authors, readers and audience members at the event were representative of the female-dominated genre of fiction being celebrated.

A crowd of about 60 provided a lively soundtrack to the readings. Laughs, gasps and perhaps some curled toes were present throughout the night.

Oriana Duinker, executive director of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia, organized the event to support the work of authors.

CBC Information Morning host Portia Clark, meteorologist Cindy Day and NDP MLA Lisa Lachance read at the event from local authors Helliwell, Renee Field, Deanna Foster, Cathryn Fox, and Deborah Hale, among others.

Cindy Day read Kilt Trip by Fox and The Heart of Family by Field.

Going into the event, Day was nervously thrilled.

“I didn’t know what to expect. It’s such a unique event, something that I’ve never been part of,” she said. “I don’t know that there’s been much like it here in the city.”

“Steamy, but tasteful” readings

Day read a section from Kilt Trip, eliciting the biggest laugh of the night.

“He’s so damn close,” Day read. “I resist the urge to ask this chef if he’d like a fork and knife because dinner is served.”

Day’s described her readings as “steamy, but tasteful.” The scenes gave a sense of the characters’ initial attraction and alluded to spicy encounters. One scene involved an Airbnb, a restless woman, a Scottish man and a tick extraction.

Portia Clark was excited to be at the event.

“It’s rare that I’m up this late, never mind wearing my fishnets,” she said.

Clark read Post Mortem Management by Deanna Foster. The book is about a woman falling and working for the devil, literally. After a few passages, Clark interjected jokingly, saying the audience was about to hear an excerpt that was inappropriate for broadcast.

“That’s where I left it this morning, when I read this excerpt on the radio,” she said.

Nova Swoons was hosted by drag queen Anna Mona-Pia. They also read excerpts and kept the crowd entertained in between readings, providing inappropriate comments at appropriate times.

When asked about how she felt about her work being read, author Deborah Hale said, “I’ll let you in on a secret. As much as readers love authors, authors love readers.”

Mayor Mike Savage, councillor Waye Mason and journalist Katy Jean were on the bill to read at the event, but weren’t in attendance. The municipality announced earlier Wednesday it intended to de-designate five tent encampments, A similar move two years ago was met with criticism from the community.

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About the author

Megan James

Megan is a bachelor of journalism student from Enfield, Nova Scotia.

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