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Northern YA Lit Fest 2019

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Saturday the 16th was Northern YA Lit Fest again. I went with my partner Lee again, across to Preston. We set off really early but didn't manage to make it in time for the first panel, so when we arrived just after 10am we wandered round the stalls for a bit. This year the fest was in a different building at UCLan, so there was a big space for around ten stalls. I again had Christmas and birthday money left over so I had made sure to take that with me.

The first panel was Feminist Fantasy with Melinda Salisbury, Samantha Shannon, Laure Eve, and Rose Edwards. I'm not much of a fantasy fan but when I do read it I like it to be overly feminist, so this was ideal. I really liked it, I thought they were all engaging, and Lee said he thought it was the best panel of the day.

Straight afterwards were signings. We were lucky to get pretty close to the front of the queue. I use a walking stick these days and when we got to Melinda she said, "Oh, if you need to push in to the front of the queue ask a member of staff, no author minds if you do that!" I thought this was a really good thing for her to tell me as I hadn't thought about it - I'm just getting used to asking for early access to gigs so this wasn't on my radar yet.  I did ask a couple of times later in the day, and at the very end Lee stood in the queue for me because I was in so much pain. But altogether this venue and organisation were much more accessible than last year's.

I got books signed by Melinda, Laure, and then found Will Hill who had been in the first panel. I read his excellent book After the Fire on Kindle, so don't have a paper copy. I apologised and asked Will to sign my journal instead. I told him that I liked the book especially as my undergraduate degree was in Theology. Cults really are so fascinating; I'm sad we missed the first panel.

It was lunchtime at this point, so Lee and I went into the cafe just next to the stalls, which was ideal. They had quite a few choices and it was cheap, and there were tons of seats. Then we had another wander round the stalls and I bought a few books. We were also offered a few free books, so I picked up Rose Edwards' novel The Harm Tree and then went back to the signing area for her to sign it.

The next panel was Inclusiveness in YA, chaired by Aimee Felone, with Non Pratt, Bali Rai, Mel Darbon, and A J Hartley. I loved this panel, I thought Bali Rai was speaking really passionately about diversity, and I like Non Pratt anyway. In the signings afterwards I had a nice conversation with Bali (and he was being very complimentary about another blogger, I love it when authors love us) and with Non.

2.30 saw us back in the main lecture hall for a panel on Shame with Katherine Webber, Melvin Burgess, Laura Steven, and Tamsin Winter. I was SO excited to see Melvin Burgess - I am sure that I write YA myself partly because of his books. I told him this in the signing and he was so encouraging about my writing which was really nice to hear.

The lecture theatre was a good venue, but I wish there had been a notice to leave one of the front rows for disabled people as going further up really wasn't good for me. The last panel was Mental Health in YA, chaired by Lisa Williamson with Alice Broadway, Sara Barnard, Akemi Dawn Bowman, and Alexandra Sheppard. I took books I already owned to be signed, and bought a bunch more.

It is a fantastic conference, just big enough to feel big and small enough to be cosy. It was well organised. I can't wait for next year!


Feminist Fantasy panel


Inclusiveness in YA panel


Shame-less panel


Mental Health in YA panel


These were all the books I came home with - I bought five of them, and I got The Harm Tree, Watch Us Rise, and the one with the girl on it in the left middle for free! I can't wait to get to these!

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