First love. All the feels. All the awkwardness. At a time in life where you are just getting to know yourself, how do you approach opening yourself up to others? Alice Boyle (Dancing Barefoot), Nina Kenwood (Unnecessary Drama) and Leanne Yong (Two Can Play That Game) have each embraced rom-com tropes in their latest novels, though there are some significant shifts from Hollywood’s clichéd version of a love story. These are fresh stories with subplots that explore identity, belonging, anxiety, and cultural and generational clashes. Discover how these authors have both embraced and refreshed the genre with Jenna Guillaume.

Leanne Yong (Australian)

Leanne Yong

Leanne is an Asian-Australian author of Singaporean and Malaysian heritage who loves writing the diaspora experience into fiction. She started her career as an IT business analyst and is now an escape room creator who has designed internationally recognised games with her partner that weave unique puzzle mechanics with narrative. Two Can Play That Game is her debut novel.

Alice Boyle (Australian)

Alice Boyle

Alice Boyle is a teacher and author living in Naarm/Melbourne. She has written for SBS Voices and the Stella Prize, and her short story The Exchange was published in the Black Inc. anthology Growing Up Queer in Australia. In 2019 she was highly commended for the Wheeler Centre’s Next Chapter program, and in 2021 she won the Text Prize for her debut novel Dancing Barefoot.

Nina Kenwood (Australian)

Nina Kenwood

Nina Kenwood is the author of the YA novels It Sounded Better in My Head and Unnecessary Drama. It Sounded Better in My Head won the Text Prize and was a finalist for the American Library Association’s William C Morris Award, as well as being shortlisted for numerous Australian literary awards, published in six languages, and optioned for film. Nina's second novel Unnecessary Drama was released in 2022, and has been shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards. Nina lives in Melbourne.

Jenna Guillaume (Australian)

Jenna Guillaume

Jenna Guillaume is the author of YA rom-coms You Were Made For Me and What I Like About Me and the novella The Deep End. She also writes about pop culture, body positivity, and mental health for publications such as The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC, Junkee, and BuzzFeed, and works on social media for brands like Netflix. In her spare time she binges too many TV shows, obsesses over BTS and naps as much as possible.