Tag Archives: Publishers

The Bookchat Roadshow

I am so excited to announce the first ever Bookchat Roadshow!  It’s been a long time in the planning and came about as part of my desire to help and encourage parents in supporting their children with reading.  Parenting is hard work, endlessly rewarding of course, but so often we don’t have time to do all things we’d like to for our children, especially when it comes to reading.

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My first YALC!

Attending YALC for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect. As part of the London Film & Comic Con, YALC has been running since 2014, created with the support and encouragement of the then Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman.

It was, quite simply, FANTASTIC! A veritable feast of YA authors spoke on a variety of topics from Resistance & Protest in YA Fiction to Humour in YA.  Authors from both the UK and US were in attendance.  I particularly enjoyed the YA Book Prize Panel featuring Sarah Crossan, Jenny Downham, Catherine Johnson & Lisa Williamson who shared insights into their wonderful shortlisted novels and writing in general.  I also loved the conversation with Frances Hardinge, Philip Reeve and Tanya Landman.  The New Voices authors gave a wonderful insight into being the new kid on the block.

“Once you’ve written a book, it’s almost like the characters aren’t yours anymore – everyone is emotionally invested” Lisa Williamson

“Read everything!”   “You want to write something that’s the you-ness of you!”  Catherine Johnson

“Writing for unheard voices – you’ve got to be passionate” Deirdre Sullivan, author of  Needlework, Unheard Voices Panel

“Be prepared to let go of the things that aren’t working and learn from them”  “Stories are really organic; they grow; they’re like a collage”  New Voices Panel

“I can convey more about the real world through fantasy than with what might be considered ‘realistic'”     “I am allergic to unfairness: it brings me out in literature”   Frances Hardinge

“Everything you read, everything you see, everything you’ve done feeds into your writing”  Tanya Landman

“The job of the author is to write the story they want to write”  “I like inventing worlds”  Philip Reeve

Author panel discussions are a brilliant way to find out more about the writers behind the pages, the inspiration for their novels and a thoroughly enjoyable way to see how authors respond to questions from both the host and the audience.

The major publishers of YA fiction were out in force, with fantastic displays of current and up & coming books.  Their stalls were manned by lovely book-ish folk – one girl I met was an intern with OUP and was clearly having a ball: what a great internship to do!

There were some self published authors working hard to promote their books, who I thought were incredibly brave and I really hope they had a good response.  It’s not easy putting yourself out there amongst what might be considered the ‘big guns’.  I know exactly how that feels! For me, it was an amazing opportunity to network and meet new people, bump into new friends again, sharing my love of reading with all. I had some really great chats with people about books, my work, their work and reading in general.  It definitely gives you a boost to be amongst like minded people. I was also fortunate to have my ‘bag man’ with me, ready at a moments notice to take pics etc! Thank you Mr Book Activist. Except on the Sunday, where I had to do the selfie thing, with minimal success!! Trying to get your arm at the right length away from you body, without pulling some weird grimace is not easy – I clearly need to practice more…

Taken courtesy of Mr Book Activist!

There was something very special about seeing so many young people enthused about reading; getting excited about seeing their favourite authors; clamouring for autographs; taking full advantage of all the fantastic freebies.  And on the last day there was this wonderful moment where I looked around and there were young people sitting on the floor, just reading – totally engrossed in their new purchases. If I could bottle that enthusiasm and pour it over everyone I meet, like a love potion for books, I would.   If these wonderful YA advocates of reading are able to share this with their friends, then there is definitely hope for all those young people who haven’t discovered the magic of reading, isn’t there?

Branford Boase Award 2016 Shortlist Reviews

I’m very excited to have been invited to review The Branford Boase Awards Shortlist 2016.

“The Branford Boase Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honours the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent. Now in its sixteenth year the Branford Boase Award is recognised as one of the most important awards in children’s books with a hugely impressive record in identifying authors with special talent at the start of their careers. Meg Rosoff who has just been awarded the world’s biggest children’s book prize, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, won in 2005 with How I Live Now, while Frances Hardinge, who this year won the Costa Book of the Year Award with her children’s novel The Lie Tree, was named Branford Boase Award winner exactly ten years ago.”

Branford Boase Shortlist 2016v2

The 2016 Shortlist is full of fantastic fiction and I’m a little relieved I don’t have to pick the winner – it’s going to be a tough decision. I’ll be posting reviews on the Bookshelf over the coming weeks. The winners will be announced on Thursday 7th July at a ceremony in London.

Lindfield Arts Festival

Taking place in September, the Lindfield Arts Festival has been running for six years. I’m delighted to have been invited to join the committee this year and support the programme with a range of reading and creative writing workshops.

As part of my desire to support and encourage reading for pleasure in the local community, this is the perfect opportunity to get involved in a fantastic event celebrating creativity in all its forms. I am looking forward to announcing shortly some of the participants for 2016, who I am sure will inspire festival goers. Watch this space!


Raising Literacy Standards, Policy UK 2016

Raising Literacy Standards, Policy UK Event, London 08/03/2016

Organised by Policy UK (www.policy-uk.com), whose remit is to bring together government representatives, organisations, charities and businesses to discuss policy reform, this event was a fantastic opportunity to hear the views of those working for key reading and literacy organisations.

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