As if a weekend of YALC wasn’t quite enough for me, on Friday I travelled back down to London (which is slowly becoming a home away from home, dare I say) to attend a marvellous event with V. E. Schwab and Samantha Shannon. The event was chaired by Lydia Gittins (Titan Books) and held at the magnificent Waterstones Piccadilly (if you’ve not been, add it to your must visit list NOW!).
2017 has been a year where I’ve tried to go to more of these events but finding ones I want to go to during times when I can go has proven to be quite tricky with a 2+hr commute involved so I was beyond delighted when I saw that I could attend this one. I am a HUGE fan of V. E. Schwab (as you will know if you’ve read any of my reviews of her books) and I think she is such an inspirational person and a fantastic role model. Although I haven’t read The Bone Season yet, I do follow Samantha Shannon on Twitter and have met her at previous book events and heard her speak so I knew we would all be in for a treat on this one.
Luckily for me the lovely Nicola was also going to the event and managed to snag me a seat in the front row – look how close we were!
I had seen V. E. Schwab in a panel at YALC the weekend before but I was still super excited when her and Samantha Shannon took their seats and the conversation started. There were some GREAT questions from Lydia and really interesting discussions. I thought that both Victoria and Samantha were very engaging, entertaining and interesting to listen to.
Both ladies made very interesting points when questioned about being female writers of fantasy, with Schwab sharing that the reason for her gender ambiguous pseudonym was that she wanted her readers to enjoy her story and didn’t want the decision of whether or not to pick up her books to be made purely because of her gender. Samantha and Victoria both shared their own experiences of being sat on panels full of men and some of their uncomfortable moments. Victoria said she still gets readers who are suprised to discover she is not a man! I thought this opening question was really interesting and there were certain moments where gasps were audible from the audience, making everyone laugh!
Another favourite moment of mine from the discussion was the importance of fashion/costume in their novels. Both authors agreed that the fashion in their novels was of importance and both had their reasons behind certain aspects of the costume. Victoria shared with us the secret of Kell’s coat and it BLEW our minds (those of us who hadn’t figured it out!). Samantha based the colouring of the costumes in The Bone Season around the tradition of wearing different coloured carnations to sit exams during her time at Oxford – I hadn’t heard of this before and thought it was really interesting. When asked why costume was so important, both authors agreed that without a key costume piece (eg. Kell’s coat) it can be much harder for a reader to bring the characters to life in their mind.
Writing tips! I do love when authors are asked to share some writing tips and I mainly enjoy this question because I think it’s fun to see how different they all are. As I’ve heard many authors say, there is no one way to write or to write a successful novel. It is about finding something you’re passionate about and sticking with it. As Victoria told us, if writing brings a warmth to your heart and soul that cannot be replaced with anything else then write. It’s a long, hard journey for writers to get published and so your heart, mind and soul have to all be in it if you are going to succeed. As Samantha reminded us there are many, many ways into publication. She even gave a little shout out to the New Voices panels from YALC which were two of my favourites and definitely showed us that not everyone follows the same route into being published.
There were lots of other fantastic questions and points made during the panel including the use of a historical point to ground their books in the real world, portal novels and world building. I felt that I learnt a lot from both Victoria and Samantha as well as sharing a lot of laughs with others in the audience too.
After the chat was over there were the signings. As I didn’t have my copies of The Bone Season with me I queued to meet V. E. Schwab and get my books signed. It was a fairly long queue but that didn’t matter (I even missed my train and ended up getting one an hour and a half later but I didn’t mind!). Once I got to the front I was equal parts nervous and excited to talk to Victoria as she is a person that I hugely admire and as I’ve mentioned before, I just adore her writing. She was ever so lovely and easy to talk to. We had a nice chat and then I absolutely had to fangirl over the incredible shoes she was wearing. She kindly signed my books and then we had a photo together.
This was a fantastic panel and it gave me lots to think about as well as giving me the chance to meet and talk to one of my favourite authors. Memories that will last a long time!
What has been your favourite bookish event of 2017?
Which author would you love to meet / see in a panel?