On Monday 20th February I travelled my way down to London to attend the Dark Societies panel event with authors Stephanie Garber (Caraval) and Katherine Webber (Wing Jones). I was super excited for this event as I had read and loved both of these books and couldn’t wait to see these two fabulous ladies. (I probably didn’t need to point out that I love Wing Jones because I don’t stop talking about it, I even did my nails in honour of the book and Katherine loved them!)
The panel itself was hosted by the lovely Leila and it truly was a fabulous discussion. The chat was super interesting and covered various points about the books. Stephanie Garber told us how Caraval was going to be the last book she would write and luckily for us she did! Her favourite character from the book is Legend and she was inspired by Marie Lu’s Legend and some Fall Out Boy music! Stephanie also told us how she completely overwhelmed herself when writing Caraval and most of the time did not know what the outcome would be or what was real/fake in the world. I would completely agree that this comes across so well when reading the book and I LOVED that I didn’t know who to trust so it was interesting to hear that she felt the same way as the author.
Katherine Webber talked about her own journey with Wing and how her own roots had inspired her to write a book about a track runner. She also wanted to write a book about how it feels when someone you love unconditionally does something so painful. When asked about the pressure of writing a book with a dual heritage main character (Wing is half Chinese and half Ganaian), Katherine said Wing came to her fully formed but that she was mindful to work with sensitivity readers to ensure that what she wrote was not stereotypical or harmful.Katherine also talked about the importance of the sibling and family relationships in the book. She loved writing the scenes of Granny Dee and LaoLao and there were a lot of nods in the audience as she talked fondly about them.
Both of the lovely authors also talked about their own journeys to getting published which was both inspiring and encouraging. Both had received multiple rejections in the past but they urged writers to continue and to take on board the critique but to try not to take it personally. It was really lovely to see Stephanie and Katherine on a panel together as both have been friends for several years and this was also Stephanie’s very first UK event! Katherine was adorably supportive of Stephanie and on several occasions had the audience clapping for her!
My favourite audience question was related to Wing Jones but the question was for both authors. In Wing Jones, Wing has a lioness and dragon who guide her (hello magical realism!!) and the question posed to the authors was what would their animal be, if they had one? Stephanie said she would love a baby elephant and Katherine said hers would definitely be a dragon (but a dragon with a Chinese element, not like the real dragons!).
The panel was SO much fun and then it was time for the signings. I had met Katherine when she came to an event in Cardiff (read about it here) so she had already signed my copy of Wing Jones. I did something special in my journal and asked her to sign that for me instead, which she happily did. I also bought her some Wing Jones inspired presents (she is my fave) and it was really nice to catch up with her quickly and steal a few hugs! She is the sweetest. Then it was onto the queue for Stephanie Garber who was SO lovely to meet. She said she was really enjoying her time in the UK and we talked about how gorgeous the covers are of Caraval.
I had a wonderful time and would love to say a HUGE thank you to everyone involved in organising the event and to both Stephanie and Katherine for taking the time to sign for us all and be so super lovely.
What bookish events are you attending / looking forward to in 2017?
Who has been your favourite author to meet so far?