Tag Archives: london

The Bookish Community

29 Jul

Hello everyone! It’s been a little while. I would I’ve been busy, but now I’m on summer hols (mwahahaha) I can’t claim that as an excuse.

One thing I have been doing lately is engaging a bit more with the bookish community in real life, rather than online. Yesterday I went to my fourth ‘Super Relaxed Fantasy Club’, a meet-up/book-reading for fans of fantasy and sci-fi. There are lots of lovely authors, readers, bloggers and publishers who attend, and it’s a nice space in which to meet people and talk about great books! I’ve discovered a few new authors through the event, and it’s always interesting to hear from them in person about why you should pick up their work. Not all the authors are YA/children’s, although some are, and not everything is to my taste, but it truly is a relaxed environment so it doesn’t really matter. The event is held on the last Tuesday of every month at the Grange Hotel in Holborn. I can’t attend all the time because it’s quite a trek from school, so I definitely appreciate having the chance to do so during the holidays.

Of course, last week was also the second Young Adult Literature Convention (or YALC), which I blogged about last year. I attended on Saturday and Sunday and had a similarly brilliant time. This year, the set-up at Olympia meant we had our own area, which was far less frenetic and terrifying than the crush at EC. There were some great deals on new releases from a wide range of publishers, so I’ve stocked up on some promising paperbacks. I also picked up a huge amount of swag for decorating my classroom! Once again, a range of interesting panel discussions were held, and the big space allocated for this meant the awkward ticketing system was dispensed with. I saw talks on feminism, sex, fantasy, LGBT+ and troubled teens in YA, as well as taking part in the Hunger Games quiz, chaired by Caesar Flickerman himself.

Another interesting strand was the Agents’ Arena. Molly Ker Hawn’s discussion with Kat Ellis about the agent-author relationship was fascinating, especially as it revealed the amount of work on both sides that goes into submission. I also had another chance to take part in the Agent 1-1 sessions. As my (awesome) convention buddy Soizic noted, such sessions are really sought after and expensive at other events. What a privilege for us to get it included!

Speaking of Soizic, it was very nice to meet her for real for the first time. We have corresponded for a while ever since I happened to meet her boyfriend through a friend of my boyfriend (yeah, it’s confusing). It’s definitely helpful to chat things over with a fellow writer who understands the struggle…!

This year I decided to dress up, just for the hell of it. It was actually a really fun experience! My Saturday costume, Gansey from The Raven Boys, was super comfy and I found myself getting more into relaxed ‘boy mode’ as the day went on. I even had one photo request! On Sunday I dressed as Julie from Code Name Verity, which really changed the way I moved and felt. Wearing red lipstick and heels made me feel and act in a more feminine way, but it was definitely harder to sit down in!

Only 50 or so weeks to decide on next year’s costumes…

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YALC Round-up!

18 Jul

Last weekend saw the inaugural Young Adult Literature Convention, held as part of the London Film and Comic-Con at Earl’s Court. I ended up attending both days – and I had the *best* time.

Saturday was a little overwhelming. I arrived at Earl’s Court at 11am clutching my pre-paid Standard Entry ticket, only to find a mass of people and a host of different queues. By a stroke of luck, I managed to join a fairly fast-moving one and got into the building in about ten minutes. Inside it was a bit of a crush, but eventually I managed to make it to the Book Zone, which was a an oasis in the insanity!

Immediately, I was struck by the range of visitors. There were lots of older YA fans, like myself, but also a lot of actual teenagers (some visiting as part of the Siobhan Dowd Trust scheme). I even ran into a couple of ex-pupils in the Rainbow Rowell queue, which was so lovely.

Everyone was incredibly friendly – because I was there on my own, I decided to be brave and strike up conversations with the people around me. I made some great friends on both days, including book bloggers, authors and even a couple of dedicated mums helping their daughters collect signatures.

It took me a while on Saturday just to get my bearings, so I was a bit slow on the uptake for talk tickets, meaning I only managed to get one – for the Doctor Who panel featuring Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness and Marcus Sedgwick amongst others. It was interesting to hear about how they approached the task of writing for such a popular show, especially their individual takes on each Doctor. I also took some time to gather a lot of book swag for my classroom display and chat to the publishers on their stands. It was also great to get some autographs and signed books from authors like Will Hill (of the Department 19 series), Natasha Ngan (The Elites) and Patrick Ness. Patrick’s queue was enormous (I think I was in it for an hour and fifteen minutes) but totally worth it – he’s so nice. In a little non-book detour, I met one of my favourite actors, Jamie Bamber from Battlestar Galactica. He was incredibly sweet and also very tanned!

Sunday was much calmer and I felt a bit more like I knew what I was doing! I went straight to the ticket table and picked up a docket for the last talk of the day, a conversation between Sally Gardner and Holly Black. It was awesome – both are very interesting ladies with a lot to say about fairy tales, mythology and the power of the oral tradition. I also signed up for the ‘Meet the Agents’ workshop and was lucky enough to get a place, meaning I got the chance to pitch my work. It may have gone pretty well…

The best thing about Sunday, however, was getting to meet Meg Rosoff, Sally Green, Sally Gardner and James Dawson. They were all lovely and wanted to know about my writing and were then very supportive. In turn, I was able to tell them how much I have enjoyed their books! I also took a quick celeb-spotting recce round the actual con, only to notice that Edward James Olmos (also from BSG) had no queue, so I nipped in to meet him and pretty much died when he blew me a kiss. I turned round to go and realised I was crying – didn’t know I was that much of a crazed fangirl, but obviously I am!

Overall, it was a fabulous weekend. It was wonderful to be sharing my love of books with so many other fans, and encouraging to see as much enthusiasm for authors as for the many film and tv stars at the con. I only hope there will be another edition next year.

Londinium

20 Feb

I’m having the most wonderful week writing every day. I’ve been visiting my absolute favourite cafe here in sunny (I lie, rainy, very rainy) South London and consuming a heinous amount of chai latte. My WIP is going well – on track to hit 40k by the end of the week! Sweet!

Anyway, writing this novel has brought its fair share of new challenges. Not only am I writing a boy for the very first time, and in First Person Present (which I resisted for a long time), I’m also writing something contemporary, and absolutely grounded in the real world. For someone whose ideas usually contain at least an element of the speculative, this is something a bit scary. I can’t hide behind made-up maps and invent convenient forests anymore.

On the other hand, because my novel is set in London itself, even taking a short walk becomes inspirational. I’ve had certain ‘London set pieces’ I was dying to write for ages, because I knew they would be evocative for Londoners and outsiders alike – for example, ‘The Tube Sequence’. For a long time I didn’t know which tube station(s) I wanted to use, and it has been the subject of some quite heated debate amongst my friends: which tube station would be the most exciting setting for a thrilling chase scene? There were many suggestions, including the rather futuristic Westminster, which I might have to save for another book because it’s awesome.

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As for which station made it into the book, well, hopefully one day you will be able to read it and find out…Let’s just say it’s one I know very well indeed.

I’ve tried to cover a large swathe of the city, from the suburbs all the way to Piccadilly Circus. This reflects my experience as a born and raised Londoner. Writing about my home city has given me the chance to include my own most memorable spaces, making the book a patchwork of my own experiences. Although I live in fear of someone pointing out a disastrous geographical error, I love that I can draw on the London that I know and adore.

What do you prefer, creating a new world or staying in this one?