Sunday, 26 July 2015

YALC Panel Breakdown

It's been a whole week since the last day of YALC, and I don't know about you guys but I'm missing it hugely. So much fun, so many amazing authors and bloggers! So many fantastic panels!

So I decided to commiserate this first week of no YALC excitement to look forward to, by recapping the panels I went to last weekend. Click on the panel name to be taken straight to the hashtag I used for each panel where you'll find my tweets, plus some others!

Friday 17th July 
Apocalypse Now Panel
Gemma Malley talking to Virginia Bergin, Francesca Haig, Marie Rutkoski, Teri Terry and Moira Young.
A chance to talk about the rise and popularity of dystopia in young adult fiction
- None of the others really set out to write dystopian novels, and some of them don't even really consider their books to be dystopian. For example Marie Rutkoski considers her books to be more a human fantasy story.
- When asked if they consider dystopia to be a genre or a tool, all the authors were unanimous in thinking of/and using it as a tool.
- Some don't particularly like being labelled as dystopian, as it alienates a whole group of readers that might otherwise pick it up. "as soon as you put a label on a book it alienates a whole lot of people who would otherwise love it"
"Maybe book genres are like Harry Potter houses, but you can fit them into more than one house" - Marie Rutkoski
- Virginia Bergin really wants to see the rise of social media and the ease of communication be tackled in future dystopian novels, and to see how that develops along with the development of all the electronics and social media sites we use in day to day life.
- When asked about the 'strong female character' that seems to come hand in hand with most dystopian novels, there was a fantastic discussion from all panelists about the fact that women can often be repressed, the ones that people never expect as much of, so it's wonderful as a writer to be able to write characters that are strong and rise up against the oppression.

Saturday 18th July
Shadowhunters Panel
Cassandra Clare & Sarah Rees Brennan

The Shadowhunters panel was full of fun and brilliant lines, so my notes and tweets from this panel were mostly just highly entertaining quotes. It's always fantastic to see Sarah and Cassie together as they bounce off each other to provide a truly hilarious conversation.
There was quite a bit of talk about the new Shadowhunters tv series. Cassie has been on set and loved it, there are lots of bloopers and amusing things happening behind the scenes. She also said that that the actors are approaching the characters in a very different way so that the tv show will be a very different beast to the film.

Sunday 19th July
Bringing Sexy Back Panel
James Dawson talking to Non Pratt, Louise O'Neill, Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

This panel was in turns hilarious and thought provoking and an utterly brilliant start to my final day at YALC.
- All the authors felt that sex is still a big deal in books, and it should be discussed more honestly, not sanitized
- Films make sex a graphic visual thing, whereas books give the emotional side which is really important
- All the authors have drawn on their own experiences to try and make the sex scenes in their books honest and real
- Non Pratt commented that she writes what she feels 14 year old Non would want to read.
- When asked about her novels and her inspiration, Louise O'Neill explains that she is trying to talk about a culture that actively supports casual sexual assault and make people aware of it with her writing
- All the authors agree that female friendship is incredible important, even more so than romantic love. In a world where the media is constantly pitting women against each other it's important to depict healthy, honest, real relationships between girls and women.
- "Friendships last a lifetime, romance less so. It's so important to see more friendships." - Non Pratt
- Despite the fact that sex is something that is being talked about more in fiction, it's still a big taboo to talk about not having sex. All panelists agree that there should be more representation of asexual characters, and Louise O'Neill says that in her next book there will in fact be a prominent asexual character.
- Non Pratt talks about how even in the darkest parts of YA fiction, there is still hope and optimism.
- All panelists agree that we have to stop categorizing girls as 'good' or 'bad', where the bad girls are slut shamed and the good girls never do anything wrong. Life is not that black or white, we need to start seeing fleshed out more rounded characters that encompass all of these things.
- James Dawson really wants to see boys doing more than holding hands in future books. He wants proper representation for gay men in fiction.

Between Fantasy & Reality Panel
James Smythe talking to Ben Aaranovitch, Amy Alward, Sally Green, Frances Hardinge and Melinda Salisbury

-All the panelists felt that it's important to really ground the book in reality before they start to add in the magical elements, be it putting in real places or working on the characters and setting and any historical details before adding in the magic stuff.
-All of the panelists work very heavily with historical elements, bringing them into their own work, resulting in lots of research to get everything as correct as possible.
- The way Ben Aaronovitch sees it, you could write a story that's realistic or you could write a story that's realistic but with added magical explosions, and for him the magical explosions are infinitely more fun.
-Ben Aaronovitch got a lot of his ideas from simply taking the idea of what if and applying it to police procedures. For example, how can you lock up a werewolf without infringing on either his human rights or animal cruelty?
Troubled Teens Panel
Gemma Malley talking to Kevin Brooks, Moira Fowley-Doyle, Clare Furniss, Sarah Pinborough and Jenny Valentine

- Readers like to find themselves in books, and a lot of the darker things that happen in books will have happened to the readers. It's important not to censor and decide what is and isn't right, because you can't censor real life.
- However it isn't all darkness, Jenny Valentine feels that the darker books are as much about the light as the darkness.
"You have to go to the depths of the dark to see the light at the end of the tunnel." 
- Hope isn't the same thing as a happy ending, and hope is the most important thing to find in fiction. And contrary to a happy ending, hope doesn't have to come at the end of the story.
- All the panelists agreed that whilst they may have been labelled as 'issue' books, they aren't. They are books about life that deal with lots of different elements of living, and it's not what you write about but how you write it that is the most important thing.
- "The darker side of things are much more powerfully emotional than the lighter side of things." - Kevin Brooks

LGBT in YA Panel
James Dawson, Liz Kessler, Den Patrick and Lisa Williamson

- All the panelists agreed that these are incredible accelerated times we're living in at the moment, where a sudden surge of movement is occurring in regards to LGBT rights etc and that that is being reflected in fiction. 
- It's a positive feedback loop, the more people that come out, the more diversity we see in fiction.
- "Sexual attraction is sexual attraction, it doesn't matter which bits are involved." James Dawson
- It's so important that before anything else, before any classes or lessons taught in schools, that people who identify as LGBTQ are safe and protected, and feel safe and protected. Otherwise there is no point to any of it.

Unfortunately I was so engrossed in the panel (it was one of the best panels of the weekend) that I didn't make nearly as many notes as for the other panels, so I highly recommend checking out other twitter feeds for comments about the panel. The @YALC_UK twitter feed will have re-tweeted a lot of the tweets that came up during the panel and I really recommend checking them out!

So there you have it, my notes and links to my tweets for each of the panels I sat in on over the weekend. They were really quite fantastic, and I'm gutted I wasn't able to make it to more of them, but there were so many fantastic things happening throughout the weekend that it was impossible to get to everything. 
Were any of you there for the YALC weekend, and if so which was your favourite panel to listen to? And how are you coping with the lack of YALC this week?
Those of you who weren't able to make it, I'd love to know which panels you most wish you'd been able to go to - let me know in the comments below!

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