Last week I took part in a panel discussion on Diversity and Mental Illness in YA, at 7pm at Leeds Waterstones. The other authors were Martyn Bedford, Annabel Pitcher and Kim Slater. Each of us had written a book or books that had diverse characters and/or characters suffering with mental illness, and we had a great (somewhat rambling) discussion about our own personal reasons for writing about this, how we develop and research characters, and why diversity and the portrayal of mental illness or non-neurotypical people was important to us. Here's a reminder about my position on that from the archives, for interest's sake.
There was a great mix of people in the audience, and I was heartened that so many of them were young people (including some very focussed young writers). We were initially meant to each do a short reading of our books, and I had the first chapter of Barefoot on the Wind queued up on my laptop, but we ran out of time. I was equally relieved and disappointed! We did have time for questions from the audience, though, and I hope we gave out some helpful advice on how to get published.
As per usual, I forgot my camera (everytime! EVERY. TIME.) but thankfully the lovely Darren from Bart's Bookshelf was on the job, and he took these lovely shots:
That's the always wonderful Martyn Bedford on the far left, Annabel Pitcher to my immediate left, the delightful bookseller who arranged and ran the event on my right (I think her name was Tanya - I hope I'm right, comment and smack me if not) and Kim Slater on her right. And yes, I am making my usual selection of strange and awkward faces and gestures. It was a great time, and I'm very pleased to have been invited.
But wait, there's more!
This is a reminder that if you missed the panel at Leeds, there's still the UKYA Extravaganza, where no less than thirty other fab authors - including Martyn once again, and some of my other very favourite people! - will all be gathered on Saturday the 10th. Tickets are free, but you do need to call the store to get one (I'm told there are still some available).
Please do come to this if you can, Dear Readers. It's like no other big book event you've ever been to; authors wandering around chatting to bloggers, bloggers making friends with readers, readers nattering to authors. It's totally friendly and informal, everyone should get a chance to meet and talk to everyone, there are loads of panels, and we're all bringing cakes and other food from home. And it's in a bookshop! Honestly, what more could you want?
The line-up has changed slightly since the last time I posted this, so here's the poster again:
In other news, I finished and returned my Barefoot on the Wind edits last week, so right now I'm mid-dive back into research (library fines, my lovelies. So many library fines) on my Mulan re-telling, and hope to start work on the actual drafting next week. Wish me luck! This book is going to be a huge challenge on many levels, but I've had such lovely support from people who really want to see this story told and I'm super excited. Anyone who would like to check out the book's Pinterest board can do so here - and this is the book's newly minted playlist!
This'll evolve and change as the characters begin to really come to life in my head, but it's what I'm going with for now (for some reason in this embedded player the songs have organised themselves in kind of a weird way, so probably best to listen on random).
Read you later, cupcakes. And remember, requests for future blogposts on any topic, or questions you'd like answered in a Reader Questions post are always welcome in the comments :)