Courtney Kae and Falon Ballard, local authors, partnered with Barnes & Noble in Valencia and hosted a weekend-long festival for romance lovers of the Santa Clarita Valley.
The festival featured three days of panels consisting of authors with their own unique takes and approaches to the romance and young adult genres — both of which are the best selling genres of books in the world.
Kae said romance resonates with a lot of people because the genre’s themes are so universal. It also has the ability to explore, in-depth, the complicated emotions that run in tandem with love.
“I think romance leaves people to feel deeply and have empathy and understand things from a different perspective,” said Kae. “And that is the power of romance.”
Kae’s authoral debut came last year with the book, “In the Event of Love” and its sequel, “In the Case of Heartbreak” being released on Tuesday. Kae said creating an inclusive space where both authors and readers feel comfortable to talk about anything is key to setting the tone of the event. Kae believes the “vibe” of the festival is why it had such good attendance all weekend.
“A lot of these people are my friends. So it’s a community,” said Kae. “If you get authors that people are really excited about and they’re doing really innovative things in their field and in their work, if you give them a diverse group of authors as well, people are excited to come support and be involved.”
Kae hosts a podcast with Ballard called “Happy to Meet Cute” where they both discuss romance and young adult novels. Both Ballard and Kae wanted the panels to feel like a podcast discussion but with a live audience. The panels themselves were more than that, though. The audience was able to participate, ask questions and be acknowledged by the authors themselves.
Ballard, a Santa Clarita native and graduate of Hart High School, said carrying over a podcast platform into this environment was what she and Kae aimed for.
“I think because we are both authors,There’s just a sense of comfortability and camaraderie. We all know that we have this same shared experience … knowing that the person that you’re having this conversation with has been through (the publishing process) themselves and understands the emotions and all of the highs and lows of the experience. We have found that it just makes everybody feel comfortable.”
Both Ballard and Kae were very candid about the book industry as well. Most of the authors invited, and most authors in general, are “mid-list,” meaning their works aren’t best-sellers.
Authors in this category usually pay for most things, such as book tours, out of pocket, just for a chance to be able to interact with their readers, while doing some promotional work as well.
Kae said organizing and participating in these types of events comes from a place of pure passion — especially since there’s not a lot of, if any, money to be made by doing it.
“We’re doing this because we love it … when you’re putting on something like this, and you get to talk to readers and hear how much they’ve enjoyed your books or connected with something in your books like that, it’s just like the best feeling. That’s the main reason why we do what we do,” said Ballard.
For a full list of the authors who participated in the event, visit bit.ly/45avrfW.