YALC UK – Day Two

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If you missed my Day One post, click here.

On Sunday we arrived at Earl’s Court a bit more refreshed and prepared for what lay ahead compared to Saturday. We took solace in the fact that we actually had tickets and knew where everything was this time. We were also hoping to explore a bit more of the LFCC in between the book talks and signings.

The queue was still ridiculous but thankfully a lot more organised, and we got in after about an hour. We got tickets for all of talks that day but thought we might skip one or two to explore the rest of the comic con. When I say explore, I mean stalk Peter Peter Petrelli, the Game of Thrones cast and keep checking if Giles returned. He never did. 😦

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Murder Most Magical

With Ben Aaronovitch, Paul Cornell and Suzanne McLeod

The first event we attended was actually on the LFCC schedule rather than the YALC one, and it was all about crime fiction with a magical twist, based in London. Despite not having read any of the author’s books I really loved this talk. Dora is a big fan of Ben Aaronovitch, and after the talk we headed to the signing area to get one of her books signed.

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How to Get Published

With Phil Earle and Sally Green, chaired by Ben Horslen (Penguin Books)

This talk on how to get published was a great opportunity for any aspiring writer such as myself. I picked up some great tips, and felt pretty inspired to be honest. It’s been a long time since I thought about the novel I’ve been working on (or not) for years and this really put some wind back in my sails again.

Sally Green, author of one of this year’s biggest YA debuts, Half Bad, came across as really lovely, but I couldn’t help be envious of her story. Everything just seemed to fall into place for her quite easily.

On the other hand, Phil Earle shared his experiences too, and he seemed to have had more of a struggle with the publishing process so it was good to get that different perspective. The talk was chaired by an editor from Penguin too, and he gave some valuable insights into the editor/author relationship.

Crossover: Not Just for Kids

With Matt Haig, Anthony McGowan, Nick Lake and Meg Rosoff, chaired by David Maybury

After having a wander, and debating whether it was worth spending £20 to hug Peter Petrelli (we decided against it), we got back to catch the end of I’m too Sexy for This Book which was a talk we weren’t too bothered about but on hindsight I wished we’d stayed for. They talked a lot about LGBT sex in YA fiction and it sounded like an interesting discussion.

The next talk, about YA being a crossover genre was the one I was most looking forward to that day, and oh my, it did not disappoint. It was definitely the most controversial talk of the weekend, mainly thanks to Anthony McGowan playing devil’s advocate.

I don’t even know where to start, firstly he offended quite possibly most of the audience by saying that adults should be ashamed to read YA. He then went on to say how terrible Twilight and The Hunger Games are and that all YA fiction should be realistic and based in high school…what the hell?

It wasn’t completely serious though, there was a lot of banter, and the other panelists did a good job of shooting him down, but I was slightly miffed. I liked how Nick Lake went on a rant about why he thinks Twilight IS a great book.

One of things that came up in this talk and had been popping up in a lot of the talks, was about the term YA being relatively new. They posed the question of if The Lord of the Flies was released now, would it be classed as YA? They put it to Anthony that most of the books he considers classics would be classified as YA today. It managed to shut him up for a while.

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Read the bloody books you want to read!’

-Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now) was brilliant.

‘It’s a desperate fallacy that a book has to be complex to be worthwhile’

-Nick Lake (Hostage Three)

Sisters Doing it For Themselves

With Tanya Byrne, Isobel Harrop, Julie Mayhew, Holly Smale and Sarra Manning

This was another one of the talks that on paper, I wasn’t too bothered about but I’m really glad I attended. There was a lot of talk about how the likes of Katniss are great characters, but present an unrealistic view of girls. They asked the question, why do we have to be physically strong to be a heroine, or thought of as a strong female character?

I thought the authors did a really great job on this panel, not to mention that they managed to sneak in that perfect Joss Whedon quote. Tanya Byrne especially won me over, talking about how she is careful to never describe her female characters as thin or beautiful and just letting the reader picture them however they wish. I must read her books!

Holly Black & Sally Gardiner in conversation

The closing talk of YALC was all about fairy tales and magic – perfect! I was particularly excited because I love Holly Black a little bit. I feel like me and Holly Black need to be friends, and this only confirmed it all the more.

Afterwards we just had time to grab some free books (YAY) and head over to Holly’s signing table to get my copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown signed. She was lovely, of course, and she liked my unicorn t-shirt. We’ll be BFFs before you know it.

Random Happenings:

  • GILES NEVER CAME BACK 😦
  • Following Peter Petrelli around was pretty fun
  • I didn’t realise how popular T.J Thyne (Bones) is, his signing queue was constantly huge
  • It’s really heartbreaking when you see some people with massive queues, and others with none. I felt really sorry for them.
  • Someone gave me a free ticket for a Michael Madsen photo shoot which would have been hilarious, but clashed with the Holly Black talk so I had to give it away.
  • Free Sci-fi books? Oh, OK then!

YALC UK 2014 – Day One

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At the weekend my friend Dora and I attended the UK’s first ever Young Adult Literature Convention which took place as part of London’s Film & TV Comic Con at Earl’s Court (more details here). It was amazing and manic and painful all at the same time. But totally worth it.

Here’s my run-down of day one:

I had been a bad friend and hadn’t booked the advanced tickets in time so we had to go and queue to buy tickets on Saturday morning. We got there at about 9am, slightly hungover and very tired from a late-night outdoor Labyrinth screening the night before.

When we saw the queue we wanted to cry. It was so busy, and unorganised, and the closer we got to the door, the more people were trying to push in. The Rage set in. But we amused ourselves by admiring all of the costumes, and there was a nice man and his seven year old Spiderman son in front of us who were lovely.

There were also some guys promoting the new book by Joe Abercrombie, ( which is on my wishlist) by giving people rides on their Viking Wheelbarrow which was amusing.

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After just over 2 1/2 hours, a lot of standing, and some sunburn later, we made it inside. And oh holy hell, it was not a good place to be with a hangover. People EVERYWHERE. Hot, sticky and no air. But luckily we had the forefront to ask the guy on box office where the YALC area was so we knew where to aim for – otherwise we may never have found it. It was worse than trying to get to the barrier at a festival.

The good news is that we made it, and there was a bit more breathing space that end. The bad news was that we’d missed the first talk were hoping to attend, The On-going Appeal of Dystopia. Instead we collected tickets for the other talks that were available and checked out all the book swag, and the publisher’s area including the Hot Key Books’ book swap which was a genius idea.

Going Graphic: From Novels to Graphic Novels

With Ian Edgington, Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli and Sarah McIntyre

 
The first talk we attended was one that we actually weren’t too bothered about initially, we just wanted to sit down to be honest but I’m so glad we went, it was great. Sarah McIntyre chaired the event in an awesome cosplay and discussed the process of adapting a novel into a graphic novel.

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Marcus Sedgwick was the only one on the panel whose work I was familiar with, and I’d been wanting to get a hold of his graphic novel Dark Satanic Mills for ages, so it was lovely to hear him discuss his experience of writing it, compared to writing a novel.

Emma Vieceli, was full of enthusiasm for her work on illustrating The Vampire Academy graphic novels (which I really, really want now!) and talked about her new web-comic Brakes which she has written as well as illustrated.

It was really interesting to hear the panel talk about how to turn classics such as Pride and Prejudice and War and Peace into a graphic novel.

After the talk I wanted to buy a copy of Emma’s Vampire Academy but they didn’t have it, however both Dora and I bought one of her Manga Shakespeare books (we’re easily converted) and headed over to Emma’s signing table to get them signed. She was so lovely. I couldn’t resist telling her what a good job she’d done with Dimitri – Manga Dimitri is so hot, you guys.

We also headed to Marcus Sedgwick’s signing, and he was the nicest man ever. He chatted away to Dora about Poland (where she’s from) as he’d lived there for a while, and was planning on taking his partner there this summer. I got my favourite book by him signed, and he drew a coffin in it – he knows me so well already!

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Bring me my Dragons: Writing Fantasy Today

With Frances Hardinge, Amy McCulloch, Jonathan Stroud and Ruth Warburton, chaired by Marc Aplin

 
We didn’t actually have tickets for this talk but we got back just as they were finishing the introductions and there were still some spare seats so we sat down. After that I’m not really sure what happened to be honest. There seemed to be a lot tangents going on, and definitely no talk of dragons. The early start and sunburn perhaps got the better of me.

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Heroes of Horror

With Charlie Higson, Will Hill, Derek Landy and Darren Shan, chaired by Rosie Fletcher

 
Thankfully we managed to perk up for the final talk, because two of my favourite British writers were on the panel – Darren Shan and Derek Landy, and it was hilarious as well as interesting!

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A lot of the discussion revolved around how much is too much in YA Horror. And the answer? You can get away with anything, apart from decapitating mothers! Both Landy and Shan also discussed the beauty of publishing long series and how you grow as a writer, alongside your characters, from book 1 to book 12.

Random Happenings:

  • I knew Rainbow Rowell was popular but woah! Her signing queue was INSANE. They were everywhere, and most people had like four books to sign. Crazy!
  • I really wanted to go and talk to Lucy Saxon who didn’t have anyone in her signing queue when we got there, but I couldn’t justify buying another book. I really enjoyed her book Take Back the Skies, despite the ending, and she looked awesome, but it’s not really the done thing is it…just walking up for a chat with nothing to get signed!?
  • I was proper fangirling over the fact that Juliet Landau (Drusilla from Buffy) was there, and half way through the day they set up a place for Anthony Head (GILES) next to her but he was never there 😦 I was totally willing to spend £20 to talk to him. GILES!!
  • While we were waiting for the first talk, Stan Lee walked past us to get to his Photo Shoot area. It was pretty cool.

Don’t worry if you missed YALC, look out for my post of Day 2, and I’ll also be posting a gallery and links to the best news coverage of the event – you’ll feel like you were there by the end of it.

Preview: The Hamstead & Highgate Literary Festival, Sept 15th-17th

The Hamstead & Highgate literary festival is now in its 5th year. I managed to catch a few events at last year and really enjoyed it so I thought I’d highlight some of the great things coming up this September. The festival takes place in Ivy House, London NW11 7SX and you can book online or call 020 8511 7900

Top authors and celebrities scheduled to appear include Ruby Wax, Nick Ross, Maggie O’Farrell, Tracy Chevalier, Sathnam Sanghera, Gill Hornby, Marcus Burkemann, Shelina Permalloo, Miles Jupp, Charlotte Mendelson, Mark Billingham, Countess of Carnarvon, Daisy Waugh, Kate Figes and Baroness Gillian Shephard, to name but a few.

Returning author Tracy Chevalier said; ‘Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival has the feeling of a local event, yet with national players. I am very pleased to be returning.’

Here is my pick of events:

Sunday 15th Sept:
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Like Mother Like Daughter
Deborah and Lottie Moggach talk to John Crace
£7

Deborah Moggach’s new book, Heartbreak Hotel is a warm, wise and funny romp in the Welsh countryside, which will appeal to the legions of fans who enjoyed the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Lottie Moggach’s Kiss Me First is a moving coming of age story hidden within a harrowing mystery. While Lottie explores a lot of dark territory-suicide, alienation, innocence betrayed–she has also written an unexpectedly warm-hearted novel.

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Almost English
Charlotte Mendelson talks to Claire Armitstead
£7

In a tiny flat in West London, sixteen year-old Marina lives with her emotionally delicate mother and three ancient Hungarian relatives. Imprisoned by her family’s crushing expectations, traditions and un-English pride, she knows she must escape. But at Combe Abbey, an English public school, she realises she has made a terrible mistake. Man Booker nominee Charlotte Mendelson talks about her perfectly balanced observations of human nature captured in all its hideous glories to Guardian Books and News Editor, Claire Armitstead.

Monday 16th Sept
Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath & life before Ted
Andrew Wilson talks to Henry Kelly

£7
Fifty years after her death, Andrew Wilson explores the life of Sylvia Plath before her marriage to Ted Hughes, in an intimate portrait of the brilliant and tragic literary enigma based on her early poems, letters and diaries. Drawing on exclusive interviews with friends and lovers and using previously unavailable archives and papers, this is the first book to focus on the early life of the twentieth century’s most popular and enduring female poet.

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The Complexities of Motherhood and Family Life
Gill Hornby & Hilary Boyd talk to Lisa Jewell

£7
Gill Hornby’s The Hive is wickedly funny, but is also a fascinating and subtle story about group politics and female friendship. In Hilary Boyd’s Tangled Lives a happily married woman in her early 50s, with three grown children, guards a dark secret. And in Lisa Jewell’s new novel, a tragedy tears a family apart but something happens that calls them back to The House They Grew Up In …

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The Detective
Mark Billingham & Robert Ryan

£10
Complex individuals both alienate and inspire those around them. In the Sunday Times, best-selling author Billingham’s, The Dying Hours, Detective Tom Thorne, having stepped out of line once too often, is back in uniform and he hates it. Patronised and abused by his new colleagues, he is forced to investigate alone. In Robert Ryan’s new book Dead Man’s Land, Dr John Watson, Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick, is finally forced to take centre stage. Ryan’s Watson must for once step out of the shadows and into the limelight if he’s to solve the mystery behind inexplicable deaths.

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This year the organisers, the London Jewish Cultural Centre in partnership with the Ham&High, have also added a Kidsfest on Sunday 15th September with a host of ‘kid for a quid’ events and activities designed to engage and entrance young readers from 6+.

Here’s my pick:.

Ruby Redfort and Other Friends
With Lauren Child

Kid For A Quid – £1
Adults – £5
Age range: all ages
Bestselling author Lauren Child talks about her latest creation – Ruby Redfort, the thirteen year-old, super smart secret agent who is always cool in a crisis, as well as some of her other favourite characters, including Charlie and Lola as well as Clarice Bean.

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Horrible Histories Paradoxical Panel
with Neal Forster, Laura Crowe & Ben Willbond

Kid For A Quid – £1
Adults – £5
Age range: 7+

Meet the producer and performers of both the stage and screen shows of Terry Deary’s much loved Horrible Histories. Hear how these stories are brought to life; the challenges of turning facts into fun and the different techniques used in adapting them for screen and stage.

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Judith Kerr’s Creatures
Judith Kerr celebrates her life & work with Julia Eccleshare, tea & jam sandwiches!

Kid For A Quid – £1
Adults – £10
Age range: 8+
In celebration of her 90th birthday, Judith Kerr, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and many other iconic books, talks about her life and work with Guardian children’s book editor, Julia Eccleshare.

Through her lavishly illustrated new retrospective, Judith tells her own story, and of the ‘creatures’, that spring to life from the pages of her books.

All of that and loads of creative writing workshops to boot. If you live in London I highly recommend it. Visit the website here.

Thanks to Sara Miller at the LJCC