From retreating to emerging! Charney and YALC

As a writer and mum, I don’t get out much. So to have two massively exciting events in the same week was almost a bit overwhelming for me – which is why it’s taken me another week to recover and feel up to writing this post!

First, there was the annual ‘retreat’ with the Scattered Authors’ Society at Charney Manor in Oxfordshire (handy for me!). I think this was my fourth Charney, and I always look forward to it and mourn it when it passes! Twenty-three children’s authors in one place, laughing, sharing plot problems, whingeing about their sales and gossiping about the latest publishing news.

Book devotees and generally crazy imaginative people, including Celia Rees, Katherine Langrish, Sheena Wilkinson, Jonny Zucker, Adele Geras, Lee Weatherly, Kelly McKain
Book devotees and generally crazy imaginative people, including Celia Rees, Katherine Langrish, Sheena Wilkinson, Jonny Zucker, Adele Geras, Lee Weatherly, Kelly McKain

I went to sessions on writing issues and creative inspiration, as well as holing myself up in my room to finish editing my latest novel (which I managed, by the skin of my teeth, hurray!). I also ran an improvised comedy workshop one evening, for the second year running, which was a LOT of fun. To my annoyance, I came down with a stinking cold on the first day of Charney, so my head was all woolly, but Doctor Theatre sorted that out for another evening of tummy-aching laughter 🙂

Jonny Zucker and Joe Friedmann improvise a scene - modesty forbids me to explain what was going on!
Jonny Zucker and Joe Friedman improvise a scene – modesty forbids me to explain what was going on!
Sheena Wilkinson, Jackie Marchant and Penny Dolan take a trip to the dentist's in the 'sit, stand, bend' game
Sheena Wilkinson, Jackie Marchant and Penny Dolan in the ‘sit, stand, bend’ game
Possibly the least flattering photo of me ever taken, with my able assistant, Joe Freidman, who I insisted on referring to as 'Debbie McGee' throughout
Possibly the least flattering photo of me ever taken, with my able assistant, Joe Friedman, who I insisted on referring to as ‘Debbie McGee’ throughout

At the end of the Charney week, I went home to spend two nights with my family before heading off again for a weekend in London at the very first Young Adult Literature Convention. Many thanks to my husband for being prepared to hold the fort while I was away!

IMG_8807

YALC was mad. Really, properly bonkers. It was part of the London Film and Comic Con, which meant that there were a LOT of people who were die-hard superhero/fantasy/sci-fi fans, many of them dressed up in amazing costumes.

It was hot, it was loud, it was all a bit much for many of us who are used to quieter author events – BUT it was also massively exciting (and Sunday was quieter and more comfortable) to have so many people involved in Young Adult books in the same place at the same time.

James Smythe, Sarah Crossan, Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness
James Smythe, Sarah Crossan, Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness

I went to panels on graphic novels, ‘regenerating the Doctor’, crossover novels, and ‘sisters doing it for themselves’.

The audience for one of the panel events
The audience for one of the panel events
Graphic novels: Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli, Ian Edginton and Sarah McIntyre
Graphic novels: Marcus Sedgwick, Emma Vieceli, Ian Edginton and Sarah McIntyre
Superfans unite! Andy Robb, Tim O'Rourke, Lucy Saxon and Rainbow Rowell
Superfans unite! Andy Robb, Tim O’Rourke, Lucy Saxon and Rainbow Rowell
Regenerating the Doctor: Charlie Higson, Steve Cole, Marcus Sedgwick and Andy Lane
Regenerating the Doctor: Charlie Higson, Steve Cole, Marcus Sedgwick and Andy Lane

I also went to the fringe event on the Saturday evening, organised by the lovely Sophia Bennett

Lee Weatherly, Sophia Bennett and Hilary Freeman
Lee Weatherly, Sophia Bennett and Hilary Freeman

which was designed to bring authors and bloggers together and was a really lovely occasion. Plus the raffle (to win YA books, of course!) raised nearly £200 for the Siobhan Dowd Trust, a fantastic amount 🙂

The brilliant bloggers who are responsible for so much buzz about YA books!
The brilliant bloggers who are responsible for so much buzz about YA books!
The authors who love the bloggers!
The authors who love the bloggers!

It was a great weekend, and I came away with mixed feelings about the suitability of holding YALC at LFCC but also completely convinced that it DEFINITELY needs to happen again. Many congratulations to Malorie Blackman, who spearheaded the development of YALC, and to the rest of the team involved in making it happen.

And now I am facing the school holidays with reduced writing time – but hopefully the effects of Charney and YALC will keep me going until I can get stuck into my next project!

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