NYA Lit Fest

On Saturday, I had the utter joy of going to Preston for the second year of the NYA Literature Festival. (We’ll forgive the fact I had to be up at 5am and that there was some SERIOUS train anxiety going around coming home… I did get home at the time I was expecting, do not fear!) 

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I did a blog post a few weeks ago about all of the panels, and it was even better than I thought it could possibly be! It was a jam packed day of my favourite authors, some brilliant blogger friends and just a lush environment of book love!

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When we got to Preston, we got to the venue (a change from the venue last year and a massively better venue!) and were promptly given a stamp and told to go and have a root around. We went straight to the first panel, which saw Will Hill and M.A Bennett talking all things thriller books! That was a great panel to hear Will and M.A talk about their books and what they think makes a good thriller book. Exciting news when they both filled us in on the fact that there will be 5 S.T.A.G.S books and Will told us the synopis for his new bookdrug cartel, Mexican city and a missing family member. I’m looking forward to this massively!

If you haven’t read After The Fire, then PLEASE DO. It is incredible. I have prompty added STAGS to my TBR list!

Next up was one of the panels that I was most excited for: Feminism in Fantasy featuring some of my absolute favourites. Melinda Salisbruy (duh!) was chairing the panel featuring (the absolutely gorgeous) Laure Eve, (always brilliant) Samantha Shannon and debut author Rose Edwards. What ensued was an incredible talk all about feminism in fantasy, the different ways it is shaped and some great moments. A particular highlight was when someone asked the old “strong female character” question – many laughs were had around the room (for those who aren’t sure about this, check out Samantha Shannon’s twitter… she has THOUGHTS about this trope!) Promptly after this panel, I had to go and say hi to Mel (as usual, she had one of the longest signing queues!) 

I would whole heartedly reading anything by Mel, The Graces and The Curses by Laure Eve and, if you’re looking for something pretty epic, The Priory of the Orange Tree will keep you busy for a while! I’ve added The Harm Tree by Rose to my TBR too!

After the signing, it was time for a little spot of lunch. A massive change from the last time I was at NYA Lit Fest was that the university cafeteria was open, so we were able to have some food! I had the curry and it was delicious. Once I’d finished my lunch, I managed to sneak into the Inclusivity panel with the brilliant Aimee Felone – of Knights Of fame – talking to a fantastic mix of authors about all things diversity and inclusivity. It was fascinating listening to Non Pratt, Mel Darbon, Bali Rai and A.J.Hartley talking about their books and the issues their books deal with.

I would definitely recommend picking up Non’s books – they’re just so brilliant. After this panel, I’ve added a few books on my “to borrow” list from the library!

The second last panel of the day was brilliantly name Shame-less in YA. The gorgeous (and very pregnant) Katherine Webber was chatting with Laura Steven, Tamsin Winter and Melvin Burgess about all things shame. Shame is such a complex emotion, so it’s brilliant that it’s discussed in books in different and interesting stories in YA. I really enjoyed listening to the different interpretations of shame in their books. It was so insightful listening to the different authors talk about how their characters deal with shame and what it means to be “shamed”. One of my favourite takeaways from this panel was that (as Katherine Webber rightly said) we need two different words: one for shame the innocent feel and one for the shame that the guilty SHOULD feel. 

Again, I would COMPLETELY recommend both of Katie’s YA books (Wing Jones and Only Love Can Bread Your Heart) and you DEFINITELY need to get on The Exact Opposite of Okay and A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven. 

The final panel of the day came about and I was not ready for how emotional it would make me feel. Lisa Williamson was chatting with Sara Barnard, Alice Broadway, Akemi Dawn Bowman and Alexandra Sheppard about mental health in YA. I loved that there was representation for fantasy books, contemporary books and funny books on this one panel – so often we think of only contemporary books talking about mental health. This panel was just exceptional: talking about authors mental health, the importance of normalising the talk about mental health and the representation for everyone in books. I definitely did a little cry during this panel.

I’d recommend ALL OF THE BOOKS from these authors. I could be here a while listing them… so go and treat yourself. There’s something from all of these authors for everything! 

After this panel, there was one last signing and then we trotted off to the train station to catch out (very delayed) train home!

A massive massive congraulations to the organisers for this event. It was run so brilliantly and I was SO SO HAPPY to see so many of my favourite authors and some of my favourite bookish people in the same building! I can’t wait to see what the next NYA Lit Fest will look like! Bring it on!

Did you attend NYA Lit Fest?
What’s your dream panel to listen to?
If you could organise a bookish event, what would it be?

Talk to me! (Well done for getting though all 1000 words of this! You deserve a star!)

S x

NYALitFest

This past weekend, I attended a bookish event in the North. Listen again, A BOOKISH EVENT IN THE NORTH. (I know, I know, they’re becoming more frequent BUT IT’S SO NICE TO BE SOMEWHAT NORTH AND CELEBRATING THE BOOKS).

I was attending Northern YA Literature Festival, which was held at the University of Central Lancashire. It promised to be an interesting day, filled with incredible talks and even more amazing authors. Big shout out to my friends Charlotte and Cora for putting up with ALL DAY. Loved spending the day with #NorthernBookBloggers too!

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First up was a great chat about getting into published. Anna Day, Teri Terry and Danny Weston chatted all about their routes into publishing, writing and gave out some pretty stellar advice! 

“You don’t need to study creative writing to be a writer!” – Teri Terry
“Read your work aloud” – Danny Weston
“Get someone else to read it and give you feedback” – Teri Terry
“I get my dad to proof read your work” – Anna Day (this caused quite a giggle… with the rest of the panel asking how much he would charge!)

Next up was Feminism in YAa talk I had been REALLY looking forward to hearing! There was a surprise little 5 minutes from Laura Steven (author of the incredible The Exact Opposite of Okay), who retold the famous Monopoly board story (if you’ve not heard it, hit me up!) and talked about feminism in her book (it’s brilliant, please read it!). She introduced Katherine Webber, Matt Killeen, Annabel Pitcher and Lauren James. It was a brilliant panel talking about what it means to be a feminist and why we need to keep talking about the issue.

“You can’t be a bad feminist” – Katherine Webber
“Being a feminist means giving people the freedom to do whatever it is they want to do” – Annabel Pitcher
“Feminism in The Loneliest Girl came from feeling like an imposter during my science degree” – Lauren James
“If you want something, it’s OK to ask for it” – Katherine Webber
“You don’t have to write every day to be a writer” – Lauren James

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Next up came Alwyn Hamilton, who was originally going to just talk to us about the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, which I love BTW, but she managed to convince Samantha Shannon to come on stage and ask her a few questions! I could’ve listened to Alwyn talk about Rebel for hours. It’s a series I love…A LOT. 

“Not knowing the ending to your book is like reading a map without knowing your destination” – Samantha Shannon
“When wrtiting, don’t think about it being original, think about it as being creative” – Alwyn Hamilton
“Use your background, knowledge and passion to help you with your ideas” – Alwyn Hamilton

The final event of the day was Samantha Shannon chairing a talk with Holly Black, who I must say has the most incredible hair ever. Her passion for fairy tales and faerie spurred me on and I definitely will check out The Cruel Prince now. The highlight of this chat was most definitely Holly talking to us about her favourite fairy tale: the White Cat. The entire audience was gripped! A funny, interesting and charming chat. I really enjoyed it! 

“Never astral project” – excellent advice from Holly Black’s mam
“Getting the right name for your characters can give them a completeness and just feel right” – Holly Black

Take a peek at some of my other personal highlights of the day: drinking a Desperados in the train station, watching Melinda Salisbury’s unboxing of FairyLoot, chips in the train station, Taken Moons candles, chocolate and having reserved, front row seats like VIPs!

Thanks for dropping by! NYALit Fest was SO SO GOOD. I can’t wait for next year!

S x

 

Q&A with Katherine Webber!

Katie Webber is one of my favourite authors, one of those MUST BUYS MUST TRY TO ACQUIRE BOOKS FROM. Wing Jones is one of those just incredible books that comes along and smacks you in the face. When I was asked if I’d like to do a Q&A with Katie as part of the NYA Literature Festival celebrations, I JUMPED AT THE CHANCE
Enjoy guys! 
1. Where did the inspiration for Wing Jones come from?
The idea of writing about a girl runner had been bouncing around in my brain for years. I ran track and cross country in high school  and while I loved parts of it, I also found it very difficult! I used to fantasize about being a naturally talented runner, and it just coming effortlessly. So when I finally sat down to start what would become WING JONES, I had all these questions about this girl runner character. Who was she? Why was she special? Why was she running? Why didn’t she know she was a talented runner? Wing’s brother Marcus came next, and then her grandmothers, and the whole story went out from there. 
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2. What is your writing process? Do you go for a set number of words a day? Or do you just write as and when you can?
It depends if I’m drafting or editing! When I’m drafting I try to just get as much written as I can, but when I’m editing it is a slower process. Sometimes it will take me days to perfect a certain scene, and most of that time I’m just thinking and trying to work it out. I like to write at home in my office or in my living room with writer friends or at the British Library. 

3. There’s an incredible sense of “believe in yourself” in your books, is this a message you want your readers to take from Wing?
Absolutely! My biggest message would be to believe in yourself, and that you are stronger than you think you are. I hope this comes across in my next YA book too. 

4. You’ve written for children and young adults, how were the two processes different?

It was a completely different process! I really enjoyed doing something so collaborative. Working with my husband Kevin was a lot of fun, and I think for this particular project I couldn’t have written it on my own, so it was great to have a partner.  The whole process is very different from how I write YA, and I think it was good for my brain to work a different way. It is definitely difficult at times co-writing it, but worth it in the end! 

YA is where my heart is, but I loved writing for a different age range. And it was really great to work on something so collaborative. And I LOVE having a book with illustrations.

The planning process is very different. Writing collaboratively requires a lot more structure. Kevin and I spend a lot of time brainstorming and then we write a very structured outline that we don’t deviate too much from. For my YA novels, I rarely have an outline, and when I write a first draft, I tend to see where it takes me. I’m writing to find the story.  After my first draft, sometimes I’ll make an outline or write a synopsis that I can use as a reference while editing. My YA books require more rounds of edits, and SAM WU requires more planning and outlining. 

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5. How has your debut year been?

I’ve had the best debut year! I’m so grateful to my wonderful publisher Walker books, to all the readers who have supported the book, to all the authors who have been so welcoming and wonderful! And of course to all the amazing bloggers who shouted about the book and got behind it–it makes a huge difference to a debut author. I’m so grateful to be an author and try to enjoy every part of the experience. 

6. What’s next?
My next YA novel is out this August with Walker books. The title is ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART and it is set in the Palm Springs desert. It’s about a beautiful, popular girl named Reiko Smith-Mori who has secrets and cracks in her heart, the boy who thinks she’s perfect, and what happens when they both want something the other one can’t give them. It’s about family, friendship, and finding yourself. 
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As a reader of all of these 3 books, I can say that they are all wonderful in their own ways. I would recommend them HIGHLY. The kids at school are loving Sam Wu, and I know so many of my blogger pals are a fan of Wing Jones. I can’t wait for them all to meet Reiko!
Northern YA Lit Fest

Northern YA Literary Festival

University of Central Lancashire, in association with their new BA in Publishing, are hosting The Northern Young Adult Literature Festival on Saturday 24th March 2018 at 53 Degrees in Preston. Doors open at 10am, with the events staggered throughout the day. Best of all, it’s free!

S x