Patrick Ness Release Premiere @ Curzon Soho – Be more LA, YA! #BookLaunch

Last Wednesday was the premiere launch event for Patrick Ness’ new release, Release, and I was there (not to rub it in or anything), but yayyyy!

For any of you who don’t know, Patrick is the author of several (amazing) YA books including The Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, and A Monster Calls which was adapted for the screen recently. He also penned the BBC series Class which has ties to the world of Doctor Who.

The night consisted of an on-stage interview with Patrick, a Q&A with the audience, and a signing. We also got pretty amazing goodie bags (see bottom of post) not to mention the new book a week before its release. *Happy Dance*

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

 

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

 

Before I get into some of the topics discussed, let me just say that it’s all paraphrased by me as I didn’t take notes, and my memory is pretty terrible at the best of times, never mind after a tipple or two 😉

Firstly, Patrick discussed  the new book, Release, which is a day in the life of Adam Thorn, ‘the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything.’ 

Patrick talked about being sick of reading gay YA books where the climax of the relationship is two boys holding hands under a tree. It’s not real. Real teenagers have sex. Yes, even gay ones. A great discussion about sex in literature ensued, with Patrick saying that he needed a book like this as a teenager; where gay sex is portrayed in a tender, sweet, and honest way. For books to omit loving, gay sex is damaging. Teenagers think there’s something wrong with it (them), and they turn to other things to explore like porn and Grindr.

He talked about hating the phrase ‘coming to terms with your sexuality’, explaining that he doesn’t think it’s something you have to come to terms with because it’s just who you are. It’s the world’s problem if they can’t handle that. Feel the fear, but do it anyway.

 

 

The discussion about how LGBTQ teens are represented in literature then turned to a broader look at diversity, and Patrick talked about his (many!) nephews and nieces, many of whom are mixed race and multi-cultured. And that’s what the world looks like, if that isn’t represented in books, then it’s not realistic.

Diversity shouldn’t be a tick list, but if that’s what it takes to make sure all people are represented then so be it. He talked passionately about the importance of stories being a mirror. I can’t remember who he said the quote came from but it was that in all good stories, the protagonists are like mirrors – all readers should be able to see themselves in the character – but I whole-heartedly agree with him when he said that it’s only people who are always represented who think everyone can see parts of themselves in characters. And that’s why he didn’t hold back in this book, and The Rest of Us Just Live Here. Recognising yourself in a story is magic… and the world is screaming out for more diverse stories, just look at Angie Thomas’ current success with THUG.

He urges everyone to write their story. If you are not mirrored in the books you read, write that story. Don’t ask permission. Write anyway. Writers don’t just write. They write anyway.

We were then led to the age old YA Vs Adult fiction debate. His definition for the genres was so perfect it made me jaw-drop:

 

YA tends to be about exploring boundaries. Adult tends to be about being trapped by those boundaries.”

 

The book snobbery surrounding YA was mentioned and I loved Patrick’s response. He believes it shouldn’t be a battle. YA shouldn’t be fighting against Adult Lit. There is good stuff everywhere. If you can’t admit that there’s good stuff in other genres you sound like a cult leader (LOL!). His analogy to LA always being slagged off by New Yorkers cracked me up too. Does LA give a shit what NY thinks? Nope. LA says ‘no worries man, come on over and have a good time anyway. Maybe you’ll leave with a different attitude.

Be more LA, YA. Be more LA.

While I agree with him completely, I do get exasperated having to explain the Young Adult genre to people. I work in a prison library and I’m constantly trying get prisoners to engage with reading. I think YA would be perfect for them, but they look at me like I’m mad. But why would you/I read that? It’s for children. Sigh. But no more, I’m going to be more LA, too!

There was lots more discussion, but those were my favourite parts. I’ve also been left with the need to read Mrs Dalloway, and Forever by Judy Blume -both of which inspired Release, and both of which have passed me by.

After the talk and Q&A, my friend Dora and I (and the other 200 -that’s a guess- people) queued to get our books signed. And this is where I feel the need to apologise. The queue was long. I had plenty of time to come up with something great to say to Patrick Ness as he signed my book…

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© Alex Dimopoulos for Walker Books

I could have told him what I’ve just told you about being more LA at work. But no.

I could have told him I loved The Rest of Us Just Live Here so much because it reminded me of a Buffy spin-off show concentrating on the minor characters at the school who aren’t in the know about Buffy and the Hellmouth. They witness all the weird shit, but aren’t let in on the big secret. But no.

I could have asked him how he could possibly enjoy redrafting more than getting the story down initially. About how I splurge out all these stories but find it impossible to transform them into a not-hot-mess. But no.

What did I say,  Readers?

I said *dons voice of stupidity* are you bored yet? I mean really. What a Knobular. I can only apologise. Patrick was of course extremely sweet regardless.


Thanks to Walker Books, Waterstones and Curzon, (not to mention the wonderful Patrick Ness himself), for putting on such a great night!

Photographs my own unless otherwise credited.

 

 

 

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Online Writer’s Circle – Join me!? #Writing #WritersWanted

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I’m trying to write more and blog less at the moment…if you know what I mean. I have so many unfinished short stories, picture book ideas and one disaster of a YA novel and I think joining a writer’s circle/ group would be really useful, for motivation if nothing else.

This is where you guys come in. Does anyone want to join a casual, online writer’s circle (before I trawl the wider internet)? It would be really great to share work and get feedback from fellow bloggers instead of total randoms. If you’re interested leave a comment or email me (see contact page) and we can discuss it from there! 🙂 

 

The Almost King by Lucy Saxon

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Title: The Almost King
Author: Lucy Saxon
Series: Take Back the SKies #2
Edition: Digital ARC, 400 Pages
Publication Details: June 2nd 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre(s): YA; Steampunk
Disclosure? Yep! I was provided with a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

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In the second book in this sprawling saga, Aleks is the youngest of four brothers, each with his future predictably mapped out. But Aleks wants more than a life in his father’s shop. So when he hears his parents worrying about money, he decides to save them the cost of his keep by running away.

Aleks joins the army—but when that doesn’t answer his problems, he breaks the law and deserts. Wanted and alone, he heads north, where he stumbles into love, adventure, and a skyship he might be able to call home . . . if he can evade the soldiers pursuing him.

Prepare for another sweeping adventure by nineteen-year-old Lucy Saxon in a series that seamlessly blends genre elements and a compelling contemporary voice.

Review

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Take Back the Skies considering the very mixed reviews it got, and I knew I’d need to continue with the series after a surprising, infuriating ending, so I was pretty thrilled to get approved for the second book.

The Almost King is set in the same world, but isn’t a continuation on Cat’s story,to my dismay. I was dying to know what that crazy ending was all about, but nooooooo!

However,The Almost King is about Aleks, the youngest boy in a large family who feels like he’s always in his older brother’s shadow and wants to do something that will set him aside from them.

Alexs’ solution is to join the military, which we know from Take Back the Skies is not as it seems.

I’m gonna throw it out there, the start of this book was written terribly. It was wooden, felt disjointed and was just very writing 101. I had expected the first book to be like that but it wasn’t, so I was really disappointed that this one was.

But saying that, it got much better after a chapter or two, and I really enjoyed it. I longed for it to meet up where the first book left off but I think it’s kind of more intriguing that it didn’t.

So all in all, I found this book to be a mixed bag, but I’ll deffo be looking forward to the next instalment.

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