Thursday, July 23
K-Books Time at #YALC 2015: Day 3 - Sunday
After a very tiring Saturday at #YALC I was so glad that the evening was better than Friday evening. I actually slept well and I was super excited for this day. Sunday was the day when the most events that I wanted to see was on. I knew I was going to have to make some sacrifices as there was just too much I wanted to do to be realistic. But anyway I was super excited and me and Laura arrived at Olympia just after 9; time to put our cases in the cloakroom and sign up for the workshops that we wanted to.
Just before I get on telling you all about Sunday I totally forgot to include this on Friday and Saturday's posts. I met one of my very first bookish and blogging friends. The amazing Mara aka The Book Marauder. I was so happy and excited to meet her in person so here she is. If you don't already, make sure you follow her on twitter @bookmarauder
She is so awesome!!!
Anyway check what was on the schedule for Sunday... too much awesomeness to handle!
On Sunday there were 3 panels I really wanted to go to and I did end up going to 3 but one of them was not on my original plan. I'll explain a little bit more about this later.
Panel 1: Mental Health in YA featuring Matt Whyman, Brian Conaghan, Annabel Pitcher and Holly Bourne, chaired by Imogen Russell Williams
Mental Health in YA was the first panel of the day and one of the ones I was most looking forward to. Mental Health included in YA novels has been on the rise in the past year or so, especially in UKYA and one of my favourite authors was talking on this panel, Holly Bourne. I was so excited to get in early enough to get a seat quite close the front. They spoke about mental issues in real life as well as in their novels and it was really interesting.
When talking about the books that they read when they were teens Annabel Pitcher said that she didn't remember mental health issues being addressed in the books that she read. Matt Whyman and Brian Conaghan noted that the characters in books they read that had mental illnesses were usually villians. The bad guys tended to have 'issues' whereas Holly Bourne said that reading Jacqueline Wilson's books depicted mental health issues well.
Matt used to work as an agony aunt for a teenage girls magazine but was faced with lots of mail from teenage boys. He got a medical question from a boy in one letter where he clearly felt that he couldn't turn to anyone but a stranger in a magazine. Holly also worked as an agony aunt for a teenage magazine and she was actually trained up by Matt.
When turning towards fiction in Holly's most recent release she depicts a character with OCD and she said that she really wanted to make sure that she got the depiction of OCD right. To show it was more serious than just being 'clean' or 'tidy'. She interviewed many teens with OCD anonymously as research. She claimed that it's a difficult condition to research as it manifests itself so differently in each individual.
Brian Conaghan says that he wanted to be respectful depicting Tourette's syndrome which is a difficult condition to live with. Brian himself was diagnosed with Tourette's while in his 30s.
Annabel Pitcher said that she never set out to write about mental health issues. She is interested in the gap between who we feel we are and who we feel we should be and that mental anguish came into that interest.
Holly went on to inform us that we all have mental health - it's just like physical heath. We all have it and all characters will come in and out of difficulties with that mental health. She says that it is important to remember potentially vulnerable readers. For example, when writing The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting her main character self-harmed but Holly made sure that we were never 'in the room' when that happened. Annabel then drew on this to say that it was important to talk about the issues but to also include that there is hope; there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Panel 2: Bringing Sexy Back featuring Non Pratt, Louise O'Neill, Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivison and chaired by James Dawson.
The Bringing Sexy Back panel was the panel that I 100% could not miss and it turned out to be my favourite panel of the day. It had my favourite author Non Pratt talking and the legendary James Dawson, who came in dressed as Danerys Targaryn I just adore him. They talked about the rise of Sex in YA novels.
Lucy said that sex is still a big deal in YA as it should be. It's still a big deal to have sex and still matters to lots of people. Louise added that sex isn't just still a big deal in publishing but in the movies as well. Violence seems more acceptable yet sex is natural and human. Non added that young people are quite desensitised to sex across visual media as there's more access to it through the internet. YA books, however, help connect the emotional and the physical experience of sex. When it's so easy for people to access porn on the internet, books are giving a 'real-life' depiction of it rather than the glamorized versions in porn.
James says that there are still issues with parents, librarians and teachers when it comes to sex. Lucy, who works as a school librarian, says that the backlash mainly comes from parents. Non's book had been banned in her school library for example due to the teen pregnancy theme and the fact that it is know as the 'sperm book'. Non says that all it takes is for one person to say 'my child can't read this' for no-one to then be able to read it.
When talking about sex scenes in their books Non says that she writes for 14-year-old-Non to be honest in the sex scenes and write them realistically rather than 'fade-to-black'. James pointed out that Louise's books don't portray sex as pleasurable and she says that she thinks sex is sometimes a performance. She says that the media constantly pitches women against each other in a way it doesn't with men. Non agreed and stated that women are portrayed as rivals even in YA novels. Friendships between the girls are rarely the focus.
Non claimed that teenagers have often had more heartbreak and experience of friendships than sexual relationships going on to say that she has only ever had her heart broken once and it was by a close friend and nothing to do with a boy.
Another interesting fact that was mentioned was that co-writers Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison used to date and Tom went on to embarrass Lucy during the panel.
The next panel that I wanted to see was 'Between Fantasy and Reality' but I missed it due to signings but I knew that I would have to make some sacrifices to fit everything in.
Panel 3: LGBT in YA featuring Lisa Williamson, Liz Kessler, James Dawson, Den Patrick and was chaired by Julia Bell
Okay this is the panel that I really didn't plan to go to. I've always been a bit reluctant when it came to LGBT books but I ended up going to this panel and I am so glad I did because it really changed my mind about LGBT books.
James Dawson says that as authors, we are trying to paint a portrait of real life and why wouldn't they write about LGBTQ characters. They are people who exist in the real world.
Liz Kessler wrote 'Read Me Like A Book' around 15 years ago but publishers didn't want to publish it due to the LGBT nature but times have changed now.
Lisa Williamson says that authors have the power to help kids see themselves. By writing about these LGBT characters then we can help these teens that are experiencing these types of things every day.
James says that the special thing about LGBT in books is that you can read it in secret. Unlike adult books that are classified in book stores under their genre all the YA books are together and you can easily find an LGBT book mixed in with other genres, for example a fantasy book.
Den says he would love his books to be stocked in libraries so that all young people can find solace but sadly he doesn't think they will be. Liz adds that libraries do stock them but they receive complaints about children being able to find them. It's hard to find a balance. Lisa added that she found some schools supportive while others refused to even have an LGBT conversation. This is why books like these are badly needed. Lisa isn't transgender but she feels that we have a joint responsibility as authors to write about diverse characters.
Liz states that it isn't always about same-sex romantic relationships, seeing same-sex friendships is just as important.
Straight after the Mental Health in YA panel was one of the signings I was most excited about. As usual I headed out of the panel when they opened up for audience questions to start queuing in Holly Bourne's queue. And I'm so glad I did. I wanted to see the next panel the most and her queue became enormous so luckily I was quite close to the front. Before seeing Holly we were sat waiting for her to appear and while talking to my roommate about one of Holly's books I met Charlie. Charlie ironically is in a facebook group that I'm also in as we are both huge JLA fans so naturally after the signings I just had to meet her... we are fast bookish friends now...
Anyway I was soon at the front of the Holly's queue and she was just as awesome as last year. I reminded her who I was. She calls me Ruffle Girl as up north we have these awesome sweets called Raspberry Ruffles that Holly loves so last year I brought her a packet. We had a great conversation and then she signed the copy of her new book which I am oh so excited about and we even got a picture together. She is so awesome! Definitely one of my highlights of the day.
After the Holly Bourne signing I jumped back into the panel area to get a good seat for Non Pratt's Panel - Bringing Sexy Back and it was as hilarious as I thought it was. When the panel opened for questions I once again jumped out so I could go join Non's queue for her signing but not before hearing that Non's new book that she is working on features an asexual character which I am so super excited for. Anyway I couldn't be more excited about seeing Non again. I love her and if you read Friday's post you'll know how much of a big fan of hers I am. Anyway I was 4th in the queue for Non and when I got to the front she recognised me immediately and we had a long chat which included her asking how Billingham is... that's right she even remembered the small town in Teesside where I live... she's so awesome like that! She told me that she was writing the long version of the tagline in my copy of Remix and after signing mine and me getting a picture I was waiting for Laura to get her copy of Trouble signed in which she told Non she thought she better buy it before I heard her. Non replied that I'm just vocal when it comes to her books and that she approves. While signing Trouble for Laura she mentioned that the thing she doesn't like about Remix is she can no longer draw a sperm in the books. I told her she could in my copy if she wanted so here we go guys my copy of Remix is super special...
After Non's signing we jumped into the enormous queue of James Dawson. When I got to the front Rosi from Hot Key Books was there and after telling James that I was one of their bloggers he said 'yes I know I recognise Kayleigh' I totally fangirled at this point. The legendary James Dawson knew who I was. He was super hilarious as per usual and posed for a picture as he always does. I just love him!
By the time we were finished with James Dawson's queue the fantasy panel was already 15 minutes in so me and Laura decided to skip it and start queuing extra early for the next signing we wanted which was fantasy author Melinda Salisbury. We were like third in the queue so we knew we would have enough time before heading off to the blogger workshop. When Melinda came out of her panel she stood on her chair to take a picture of her queue which can be found on her Instagram. She said that she didn't think anyone would be waiting for her and she'd be able to come out and have a cup of tea before anyone would be there. She was so cool and sweet. I can't wait to read her book.
I thought I'd only have time to see Melinda before heading over to the blogging workshop but after seeing the size of Amy Alward's queue I saw I could fit that in just before as well. She was super awesome and once again I was completely overcome by how gorgeous she is. She recognised me from last year which made me so happy and she joked at having to do two different signatures as I brought her new book under the name Amy Alward as well as a book from her previous series under Amy McCulloch. She was super sweet and I just love her.
After coming out of the amazing Blogger Workshop (which I'll talk about very soon) I headed for JP Smyth's signing. His book has just recently been released and is a YA Dystopia. I went to buy it at YALC and even though I think it was slightly over-priced for a paperback (£13.99 for a paperback! A hardback that I bought later in the day was cheaper!!!) I went over to see him. He had no queue so that was good for me and he was so cool and talked to me a little about his book but promised not to spoil it for me when I told him I hadn't read it yet. Might I just add I think James is very cool but also a giant because he is so freaking tall! I look like a dwarf!
After the JP Smyth signing I headed over to meet Clare Furniss. The author of Year of the Rat. I'm super excited to read this book and Clare was super nice.
In my YALC plan Clare was going to be the last signing that I went to but after I attended the unplanned LGBT panel I was so impressed with Lisa Williamson that I instantly went to buy her book and joined the queue for her signing. She was super awesome and after telling her I'd bought her book because of seeing the panel she talked to me about that being such a great thing about YALC. That you go and try books you never would have without seeing the talks from the authors and she said that she hoped I enjoyed the book. She was so super nice and I have now actually finished her book and it's one of my favourites. It's so beautiful and amazing.
I attended one workshop on Sunday which was the Taking your Blog to the Next Level. I've been blogging for 4 and a half years and yet I still really wanted to go to this as 3 of my favourite bloggers were hosting it. Follow them all on twitter they're amazing bloggers @YAYeahYeah @LucyTheReader @SerendipityViv
First of all, I didn't really hear everything that was being said as the workshop area was right next to the signing area and it got really loud. I would like next year maybe to have them a little bit more separate as the workshop got really hard of hearing but what I did hear was amazing.
There was a great discussion about star ratings. Viv hates the Goodreads Rating system with a passion and she said that if you have star rating on your blog then get rid of them as she doesn't think that they work (sorry Viv I'm not listening to you on that one; I like my rating system). They talked about the fact that buying your domain is so much better as if you're looking at being a more professional looking blog it looks better than having .blogspot or .wordpress at the end of it. This is actually something that I've been thinking of doing for over a year and just never made the leap. What these guys said made my mind up and very soon K-Books blog will be moving to my new self-hosting domain. They also spoke about just doing what makes you happy. Blogging is a hobby not a job and you don't need to be on every publicists list as that pile of review books can make you feel kind of guilty. I totally agreed with this. I've tried to really cut down on the books I accept or request for review. They don't make me feel guilty but they make me feel stressed. I always feel like I have to read a book now and if I feel like that I end up not really enjoying it. They also mentioned that if you want to make a name for yourself tweet people you reviews. Tweet the publishers your review links but Never EVER tweet negative reviews to the authors. If you don't like the book that's fine, reading is totally subjective but that's just not a great thing to do!
They also recommended proofreading all of your blog posts. Publicists will not continue to read your posts if they are littered with errors. This is something that I, myself always forget to do so because of this panel it is something I have started to do.
The Blogger Workshop was really helpful and I even had a chat with Jim about it afterwards he is so awesome and I am so sad that I never got a picture with him. Next year maybe!
There's just one more awesome thing I need to write about. After all of the events and signings I went to I noticed Non Pratt had jumped behind the Waterstones stand and was recommending books to people who went past. Naturally I went up and as she was trying to sell some other books I picked up Trouble and was all like 'have you read this' and Non told me she couldn't sell her own book so I sold it for her and got the girl she was talking to to buy it. YES! I was very happy with this and noticed that I am very very good at selling Non Pratt's books. HAHA! Anyway after that I was feeling pretty migraine-y so I just went to chill out in the reading zone for a bit and before Non left she came over and hugged me twice said it was great to see me and she hopes to see me again next year. She also said if she's up north anytime she will tweet me to let me know. AAGGHHHH! I just love her! She is amazing and the best person ever! She is definitely my favourite author ever!
My Highlight of Sunday: Everything with Non Pratt especially me getting others to buy her books and her thanking me and hugging me.
My One Regret: Within the last hour of YALC I got really ill with a migraine and sickness and so when all the publisher stands reduced their books to £2 I was too ill to go and buy some *sad face*
I hope you've enjoyed my Wrap-Ups of YALC 2015. Next week will see my end of month book haul and you can see what books I got there.
Thanks for reading and see you all at #YALC2016