You Cannot Be Serious

Actions Panel

You Cannot Be Serious

In this panel discussion we will be asking brilliantly successful rom-com authors, why should we take romcom seriously?

By Brighton Book Festival

When and where

Date and time

Sat, 24 Jun 2023 17:30 - 19:00 BST


Brighton CCA 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton Brighton BN2 0JY United Kingdom

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event
Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

About this event

  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Mobile eTicket

Rom-coms and romances are among the best-selling and most lucrative novels in publishing and yet the genre is continually stereotyped as trashy, basic or formulaic. In this panel discussion we will be asking our brilliant panel of successful romance and rom-com authors, why should we take these books seriously? What value do they bring to us as a society? We will also be discussing issues around representation in rom-com and romance and the experiences of authors writing from the perspective of marginalised identities.

We are delighted to be joined by phenomenal authors Talia Hibbert and Ore Agbaje-Williams alongside the brilliant Maame Blue who will chair the discussion and audience Q&A.



Talia Hibbert is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes indulgent, diverse romance because she believes marginalised people deserve joyful representation. Talia and her many books reside in the English Midlands.

Her latest book is a laugh-out-loud YA novel about a quirky content creator and a clean-cut athlete testing their abilities to survive the great outdoors - and each other. Could you brave the wilderness with your highly suspicious and unfairly cute ex-best friend? Bradley Graeme is pretty much perfect: he's a star football player, manages his OCD well (enough) and comes out on top in all his classes...except the ones he shares with Celine Bangura.

They used to be best friends, until Brad decided he was too cool for conspiracy-theory-obsessed Celine and abandoned her for the popular kids' table. (At least, that's how Celine sees it.) These days, there's nothing between them but insults and academic rivalry. So when Celine signs up for a two-part survival course in the woods, the last thing she expects is to find Brad right beside her. Forced to work as a team for the chance to win the grand prize, Celine and Bradley must trudge through not just mud and dirt but their messy past. As this adventure brings them closer together, they start to remember all the good parts of their history. But has too much time passed or just enough to spark a whole new kind of relationship?


Ore Agbaje-Williams is a British-Nigerian writer from London who has written for gal-dem, Glamour and Wasafiri. She is an editor and wrote her debut novel The Three of Us during lockdown. It was originally submitted to editors under a pseudonym.

Full of intrigue, idiosyncratic wit and a healthy dose of wealth and snobbery The Three of Us is part-suburban millennial comedy of manners and part-domestic noir that will leave you wondering: whose side are you on?

A nice house, a carefree life, a doting husband, a best friend who never leaves your side. What more could you ask for? There’s just one problem: your husband and best friend love you, but they hate each other.

Set over a single day, husband, wife and best friend Temi toe the lines of compromise and betrayal. Told in three parts, three people’s lives, and their visions of themselves and one another begin to slowly unravel, until a startling discovery throws everyone’s integrity into question.


Maame Blue is a Ghanaian-Londoner and author of the novel Bad Love, which won the 2021 Betty Trask award, and was shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize. In 2020 she joined a scriptwriting team to remix a Venezuelan telenovela for African audiences, and her short stories have appeared in Not Quite Right For Us (Flipped Eye Publishing), New Australian Fiction 2020 (Kill Your Darlings), and Joyful, Joyful (Pan Macmillan).

Maame is a recipient of the 2022 Society of Authors Travelling Scholarship and was a 2022 POCC Artist-in-Residence. Maame contributes regularly to Writers Mosaic and has written pieces for Refinery29, Black Ballad and Society of Authors Magazine. She regularly runs creative writing workshops and has partnered with organisations including Arvon, Spread the Word and Renaissance One.

Bad Love tells the story of a Ekuah, a young woman living in London. Ekuah loves deeply and loves hard, yet with each romantic encounter she is left feeling increasingly unmoor and adrift. She struggles in her love for Dee Emeka, a gifted musician, who is both passionate and distant in the way he loves her back. Confirming her worst fears about the unstable foundation of their relationship, he suddenly disappears from her life.

Heartbroken, she is left to pick up the pieces, while searching for new validations and preoccupations from others. But when, against a backdrop of enigmatic, poetic, nights in London, Venice, Accra and Paris, she finds an unexpected new love in the form of Jay Stanley, Ekuah re-focuses on her journey to meaningful love. She is determined to feel deeply again, but can she handle the vulnerability and forgiveness that comes with falling in love?

Hosted in association with Brighton CCA

Brighton CCA is a centre for contemporary arts, open to all, hosting world class exhibitions, projects, commissions and research by international emerging and established artists.


The event will be hosted at the Sallis Benney Theatre inside Brighton CCA, at 58-67 Grand Parade, Brighton BN2 0JY.

Please use the entrance on Kingswood Street.


Brighton CCA and The University of Brighton are committed to being open and accessible to all. Brighton CCA has step-free access throughout its public spaces. The venue is wheelchair accessible.

There are two accessible parking bays available by the side entrance to the quad. Please get in touch with Brighton CCA to find out more about their exact location and to organise entering the building.

There is an accessible toilet and a gender-neutral toilet.

Comfortable seating can be organised.

There are quiet spaces for which access can be arranged.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your visit please contact Polly Wright on 01273644716 or email and they will do everything they can to make sure you have a positive experience here.

About the organiser