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.

 

 

 

Upcoming Event: Children’s Book Launch in association with Born Free

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Independent children’s picture book publishing duo, PatrickGeorge, are teaming up with international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation to promote their latest book ‘Animal Rescue’, with 50p from the sale of each book going to support Born Free’s wildlife rescue and conservation work around the world.

The Launch

Date: 18th February 2015 from 11am
Location: The Powell-Cotton Museum, Kent, UK.
Info: For further information and to attend this event, which is open to the general public, especially children and their parents see www.quexmuseum.org.

Born Free Foundation President, Will Travers OBE, will attend the book launch taking place at the award-winning Powell-Cotton Museum in Birchington, Kent on February 18th. The launch will include a book reading and signing, an opportunity to hear from Will Travers about Born Free’s animal rescue work, and a fun interactive animal rescue activity for children.

The Book

Animal Rescue is a book in which you become a rescue hero. Simply turn the transparent page and rescue the animals! It’s fun, it’s simple and it’s a gentle introduction to the importance of animal welfare. There are no words in this book so you can choose the words which are right for you.

There are eleven spreads portraying animals in need and an acetate sheet between each double page spread which, when flipped from right to left, serves to rescue the animal in need off the page and place it back into its natural environment.

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Image and synopsis taken from PatrickGeorge.com

Born Free

Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, founded by Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers following their starring roles in the classic film Born Free. Today, led by their son Will Travers, Born Free is working worldwide for wild animal welfare and compassionate conservation.

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Born Free supports and manages a diverse range of projects and campaigns. The charity embraces both compassion and science in setting an agenda that seeks to influence, inspire and encourage a change in public opinion away from keeping wild animals in captivity, while in the short-term working with governments, the travel industry and like-minded organisations to seek compliance with existing legislation and improving the welfare conditions. This has included the development of ABTA’s Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism.

Through its Compassionate Conservation agenda, Born Free provides protection for threatened species and their habitats across the globe. Working with local communities, Born Free develops humane solutions to ensure that people and wildlife can live together without conflict. In 2013, the Born Free Foundation received the World Tourism Award, for its commitment to conservation.

For more information please visit: www.bornfree.org.uk

Welcome to The House of Mirrors…

Frog Music Book Launch 30.03.2014

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I had a really great time at the book launch for Emma Donoghue’s new book Frog Music on Sunday, which may or may not have something to do with all the free booze.

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When we arrived we were handed a delicious cocktail in a tin cup, ushered into a rather unsafe looking lift and entered The House of Mirrors.

Donoghue did two readings as Blanche La Danseuse, the second accompanied by an actress playing Jenny Bonnet. They did a really good job, making me wish that I myself had read the book with such pzazz!

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Miss Polly Hoops definitely stole the show though, with her awesome Hula-hoop routine.

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There was a constant supply of wine (always good), some nibbles, (even though I definitely ate something mushroomy by mistake ugh!) and we topped off the evening by rummaging through the fancy-dress box. What could be better!?

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You can read my review of Frog Music here.

Out Now!
Goodreads
Amazon

Many Thanks to Picador!