Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday - YALC Edition!

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

At YALC (see below! :D), I bought new books. :D So I started reading More Than This by Patrick Ness, and devoured it in less than a day. It's so gripping, and goes in directions I never expected (I'm pretty sure it defies genre). So. Good!

I finished Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve, which blends genres in a really interesting way. 

I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which I also got from YALC. Wow. o.O I'm still not sure what I thought, but it certainly gripped me hard (and gave me a book hangover!).

Now I'm reading Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman.

What I'm writing

I spent most of last week in the editing/proofreading cave with my Darkworld books. Now I'm back in the editing cave again with my MG fantasy. Getting closer...

What inspires me

YA is definitely inspiring me this week, especially with the success of the UK's first YA Lit Con! It was sooooo awesome to see so many people who love YA in one place, and that the event was such a success - hopefully there'll be many more to come! ^_^
What else I've been up to

Well, on Saturday, I went down to London for the UK's first YA Lit Con! :D I met up with  Cole, and also saw Laura and Sophie throughout the day. YALC took place within London Film & Comic Con, and it was PACKED - I've honestly never seen so many people in one place (and I've been to London Expos before!). But as I set out ridiculously early (which involved getting up at 5 a.m. o.O), Cole and I managed to get inside before the queues got totally insane...
 ...and found the book section. Obviously. Freebies! :D

 And a bookshop, where I caved into temptation, as you can imagine...

...there were quite a few people there. Just a few. o.O

But it was amazing! :D Seeing so many people in one place who loved YA, meeting "our people", wandering around the Comic Con and spending money... 

I also went to the two panels I was really excited for, the first of which was called Bring Me My Dragons, a discussion of contemporary fantasy with Ruth Warburton, Amy McCulloch, Frances Hardinge (who was absolutely hilarious), and Jonathan Stroud.

There was a really interesting discussion, first on the definition of YA, in which the panelists agreed that YA isn't just an age category - which is why you can, in some cases, have older/younger protagonists and still be classified as YA. Some adult books have teen protagonists, too, but YA books have a certain outlook. Jonathan Stroud said he writes books to appeal to all age groups, and that "young adult" is a grey area, seeing as so many people of different ages enjoy YA. Frances Hardinge writes "coming of age stories with revolutionary tendencies", and with a YA frame of mind and a readiness to question. Amy agreed that YA is a state of mind rather than an age category, and Ruth said that YA has a tendency to be more fearless and open than adult fiction.

There was also a brief discussion on violence in YA, and how YA deals with the same level of violence as adult books but in a more considered, thoughtful way.

Then they discussed the qualities of the hero in YA, and the panelists all had interesting things to say! Two things I picked up on were that YA heroes must have the capacity to change, and that they must be a kind of "everyman" (identifiable to the reader) but also have some special quality that makes them unique. Then they discussed villains and complexities, and how in middle-grade there seems to be more of a tendency to separate characters into good and evil. With YA, there's more opportunity to explore shades of grey and challenges from within the characters - for instance, in Amy McCulloch's novel The Oathbreaker's Shadow, the hero and villain start off as the best of friends. Thought-provoking stuff!

There was an open Q&A, and one person asked if the panelists had any tips for writing fantasy for young adults. The two main tips were to research the world thoroughly, and have a set of rules and stick to them!

Up next was the "Heroes of Horror" panel with Charlie Higson, Darren Shan, Will Hill and Derek Landy. Topics discussed included violence, and the panelists made a very good point that up until fairly recently, YA didn't exist and teen readers went from reading Roald Dahl to reading Stephen King. So YA caters for the "in between" stage, generally with the same level of violence as adult books but with a less bleak, cynical outlook. Having read Darren Shan's gripping Demonata series...yep, that's definitely gorier than many adult books I've read! Derek Landy talked about YA horror as a "gateway drug" to adult fiction.

My phone (which I was using to take notes) chose that moment to die a tragic death, so I didn't get as many notes as I'd have liked to, but I was thrilled to get my new copy of Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman signed! I met the Children's Laureate and the genius who created this event! ^_^

And then it was time for the long journey home. With all these fabulous goodies!

Obviously, I had to buy a Toothless and a minion. :D

So that's it! I'm so happy the event was a success - go, UKYA! I'll absolutely be back next year - I'm hoping to stay for the whole weekend next time!


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the conference! It looks like it was a blast! I especially like the idea that YA is a frame of mind rather than an age category. YES! That's exactly it! And I love the statement that YA is more open and fearless than adult literature. I would have cheered after both those points were presented had I been there.

    The copy of WE WERE LIARS that I put on hold at the library just came in, so soon I'll get to see what everyone is so excited about! Can't wait! Have a great week!

  2. Hi Emma!! Happy Wednesday! The YA Lit Con looks like it was an amazing time :)

  3. Have you filled in the YALC survey yet? Every answer of mine was like "This was the best thing ever, do it again ASAP." I definitely want to go to more panels and workshops next time.

    Toothless and your Minion look great!

    Without getting into specifics, I do feel We Were Liars could've been 10pgs shorter for maximum impact.

    Had such a great day Saturday. Hope we can hang out again soon... At another YALC!!!!

  4.'s the "less bleak, cynical outlook" that keeps me coming back to YA. Every time I read an "adult book" I am relieved to come back to YA, and it isn't because the themes are less intense, it's because you can still believe in happy endings. YALC looks amazing, though that crowd would have given me a panic attack. Worth it though! Wish I could have been there.

  5. Wow, YALC looks like it was a blast!! And the attendance...double wow!

    And your all your goodies...I have book envy...and of course Minion envy. :)

    Hope you have an amazing week!

  6. YALC sounds like it was so much fun! Hopefully I can make it there next year. :)

  7. I'm glad you had fun at YALCon. It's great that you got to meetup with other bloggers and writers. Good luck with edits. Thanks for sharing. :D

  8. Omg! So many people! It's so great to see so many book lovers in one spot! What a blast! Meeting up with other writers is the best. You're doing such a great job keeping up with your book haul. I just now (this week) got to mine. Lol! The panels sounded really interesting. I'm so glad you had a good time!

  9. Erin - You, too! :) Enjoy WE WERE LIARS!

    OE - Hi! :) It was a great trip!

    Cole - I have, and same here! :D

    Melanie - It was pretty crowded, but I still had a great time!

    Kris - Thanks! :)

    Jess - I hope you can make it, too! :)

    Leslie - Thanks! :)

  10. What a cool conference! Thanks for sharing your notes with us!

  11. YALC sounds so amazing! I'm totally jealous.

    Have a great week.

  12. Sounds like you had a great time! *Jealous*

  13. We Were Liars is so compelling, isn't it? I just loved the voice! I actually bought Ness' MORE THAN THIS ages ago, but I still haven't read it. Glad to hear that it's as good as it seems (I love the premise). Have to bump it up on my TBR list.

    I love seeing all these YALC recaps. Sounds like so much fun, and it's actually making me more excited about my con-going next week (thought it's less about books, hah). Have a great week, Emma!

  14. I loved reading about YALC! Cole posted about it as well, and it looks like it was a fantastic event -- totally inspiring. Have a great week, Emma!

  15. YALC sounds so awesome! And it's so fun that all you bloggers met up. What a great time. I have had MORE THAN THIS on my TBR for ages. It's moving up the list now!

  16. As I said to Cole (see her WUW article), I'm really pleased this event took place. It seems like the US has a monopoly on book conferences, and yet the UK has such a rich literary heritage. May there be more of these kinds of events, and often, in the UK! I'm glad it went well and you enjoyed it, Emma. :)

  17. Niki - No problem! :)

    Kate - It was awesome! Thanks! :)

    Meredith - I did. :) I'm so happy the UK finally got our own YA event!

    Krispy - I couldn't put it down! Have fun at the con! :)

    Katy - It was so inspiring and fun! Thanks! :)

    Kitty - It was so much fun! Definitely move it up the list! :)

    Colin - Definitely - I'm so thrilled we got our own event, and that it was so successful! :)