22 July 2015

Curtis Brown Creative at YALC 2015

by Wei Ming Kam Events

With the recent release of a new book by Catherine Johnson, our Online Writing for Children course tutor, and ex-CBC student Maria Grace‘s debut YA novel White Petals, our reading has been very YA focused recently. Perfect timing then, for us to head off to the second Young Adult Literature Convention (or YALC, as most people call it), which took place on 17 – 19 July as part of London Film and Comic Con.

Saturday began with CBC following various people in costume towards the YALC venue (our favourite was the baby in a Wonder Woman t-shirt and cape), and getting quite excited whenever we spotted authors, some of whom were themselves in costume. Once we got inside, we headed upstairs and were immediately given free YALC tote bags, in order to better carry this entire table of free book-related goodies:

Well, maybe not the whole table. We did, however, pick up a few badges and this rather lovely White Petals promotional card – our first CBC student spotted at YALC.

Once the raid on the goodie table was over, we wandered round all the publishing stalls and stopped by the Firefly Press table, which, in addition to the card pictured above, had stacks of Maria Grace‘s book waiting for the YALC crowds.

 After that, the day started in earnest, kicking off with a panel featuring the next generation of YA writers. Incredibly, their ages ranged from just 15 (Helena Coggan) to 24 (Taran Matharu), which, along with their publishing savvy, made us feel inspired, but also almost decrepit. Of course, you don’t have to be young to write, as proved by the wonderful Judy Blume, who was in conversation later that day with Patrick Ness, talking about the subjects of sex in YA, censorship and her tips for becoming a writer: ‘I was a reader. That’s the best advice if you want to be a writer: Read read read read read.’

Due to an ill-advised venture downstairs at peak lunch hour, we missed the stellar panel for Carrie Hope Fletcher‘s YALC Book Club, during which the likes of Samantha Shannon and Holly Smale recommended  various books, including a recommendation for our Online Writing for Children course tutor Catherine Johnson‘s books from the one and only Malorie Blackman.

The Saturday ended with us spotting many The Art of Being Normal tote bags in the queue for the lifts:

It’s possible that Lisa Williamson now has the coolest book merchandise out of the current published Curtis Brown Creative students.

Sunday was the busiest day out of the whole YALC weekend, as there were so many workshops and panels we wanted to attend. The first event was an author and editor workshop headed by A. J. Grainger and Non Pratt, both authors with experience of editing within the publishing industry (tips included the evergreen advice: ‘Don’t just write when you want to’ and ‘Be amenable to suggestions from your editor.’)

Highlights from the rest of the day included the hysterically funny but very important Bringing Sexy Back panel, featuring Louise O’Neill, Lucy Ivison, Tom Ellen, Non Pratt and James Dawson (contender for best costume in his ‘Daenerys from Game of Thrones‘ outfit), all discussing the topic of sex in YA, and the LGBT panel, which included Lisa Williamson talking about the transgender characters in her debut.

The day ended with us racing to the publisher’s stalls after hearing rumours of end-of-the-weekend sales (books for £2, what a bargain), and then collapsing on bean bags in the Reading Area. It was a weekend that demonstrated the breadth, complexity and quality of writing in YA, as well as the overwhelming passion from readers, publishers and authors alike. There were panels on almost every single genre you could think of, from horror to fantasy to post-apocalyptic, and on popular issues such as feminism. If there’s an indicator of the increasing demand for YA, the Young Adult Literature Convention is it.

As well as expert teaching from published authors, all our selective three- and six-month novel-writing courses offer dedicated modules on submitting your novel to literary agents – and include sessions on writing a synopsis and preparing a covering letter. Click for more information or to apply for our creative writing courses.

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