Guest romance authors presented readings at MU Reads “Valentine’s Extravaganza”

The Marshall Library’s MU Reads program presented a Valentine’s Day extravaganza with guest romance writers, a valentine’s card making station and the chance to go on a blind date with a book.

Attendees had the opportunity to create valentines for the Huntington Veteran’s Affairs Medical Hospital and the Golden Girls Group Home, a nonprofit home for victims of sexual assault. The librarians disguised popular romantic and love stories in brown paper for guests to check out for a ‘blind date’ and various poems folded into envelopes to take home.

The two authors, Tobi Doyle and Rebecca Barray, had their books for sale, gave away some copies in a raffle and Doyle spoke about her newest book and the escapism romance novels provide for readers.

“We love writing romance, because there is a lot of fun in the fantasy of fiction,” Doyle said. “Real life is overflowing toilets, bills and laundry. Sometimes you just want to believe that you could have a night with a billionaire. It’s total escapism. Romance when you read it, is more than just kissing. Like all reading, it gives the reader a chance to live in a world outside their own.”

Amy Deal, community member and writer, saw the event advertised on social media and wanted to attend. She said she was most looking forward to listening to the guest speaker.

“I also write romance; I’m a reader and a writer,” Deal said. “I was interested in hearing what other writers have to say. I haven’t (read them before), but I’m excited to read something new.”

Doyle and Barray have written books together for about six years, and Doyle has been writing on her own for almost a decade. Both are local authors living in Huntington. They call their romance novels “happily ever afters with heat.” Doyle also writes young adult books under the pseudonym Doyle MacBrayne.

The pair met during National Novel Writing Month, a nationwide event that encourages authors to write a novel in the course of a month. There are local chapters of the program where writers can meet to discuss their progress.

Tera Henry and Leeann Hesson, MU Reads staff members and librarians, organized the event, but they said their events are always the collaboration of many different people.

Hesson came up with the idea for the valentine’s craft making station.

“I like crafting, so I felt like making valentines would be a good fit, and I thought it might encourage more people to do it,” Hesson said. “Also, it’s nice to get the word out and do some good for other people.”

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected]