Back in March, I was lucky enough to attend the Northern Literacy Young-Adult Festival in Preston. It was the third time that the festival had taken place and I have to say it, this time was the best one yet! Not only getting to see a fantastic line-up of authors, check out various book stalls being able to go to a bookish festival so close to home is great as it means I also get to meet up with other bloggers and friends.
This time I travelled from York, getting up at five in the morning to catch the early morning train to Preston, bringing along my friend from uni, Tia! Which meant that despite the train journey taking more than two hours, the time went by fast with the inclusion of breakfast, episodes of Golden Girls and practising sign language. Arriving in Preston was another matter as despite having perfect instructions on how to get to the event building, somehow we both got ourselves lost while it was pouring rain.
Though we weren’t lost for long as we bumped into others who were a bit lost and soon arrived at the event in plenty of time to browse stalls and catch up with friends before we headed into our first panel of the day!
At NYALitFest I attended four of the five panels which were happening throughout the day. These were perhaps some of my favourite panels of all time that I have ever attended and completely enlightening into so much of the publishing world.
Feminist Fantasy Panel
The first panel which I went to was the Feminist Fantasy Panel which was chaired by Melinda Salisbury and featuring authors Samantha Shannon, Laure Eve and debut author Rose Edwards. This panel was hilarious and I think I will never forget Laure Eve demanding to be taken back to the time of dragons which was wonderful. I love panels which are chaired by Melinda as she always ensures that everyone has equal time to answer questions but she also makes it all flow so naturally that it appears to be a normal conversation.
Inclusiveness in YA Panel
Chaired Aimee Felone Co-Founder of KnightsOf, featuring authors Non Pratt, Bali Rai and Mel Darbon this panel was hugely enlightening to the disparities which often occur in publishing and within YA. Some of which I had no idea, and it was clear that although progress is being made in fiction concerning inclusivity it just isn’t enough and that we have such a long way to go.
Chaired by the wonderful Katherine Webber – another author who I adore when chairing panels as like Melinda she finds the balance between panellist conversations and it flows easily. Featuring Tasmin Winters, Laura Steven and Melvin Burgess, it was fascinating to hear how the authors involve shame being featuring in their books and the efforts to tackle it. Laura and Tasmin, in particular, I found how they consider shame and use it within their work to be interesting and fascinating hearing how these two authors consider it. I haven’t read Tasmin’s book but I know that I will certainly pick it up now.
Mental Health Panel
Featuring Alice Broadway, Alexandra Sheppard, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Sara Barnard and chaired by Lisa Williamson this was a brilliant panel. The need to address Mental Health particularly in YA fiction and hearing how these authors considered it and involve it within their works of fiction. It’s something that needed to be talked about and to understand and something which I do think YA fiction is actually tackling and talking about.
Books and Merch
Of course, when at a book event there is one thing that you must do and that is buying books, accept any proofs which interest you and purchase book merch! Now, this was hard for me as I was on a budget (weep) so I wasn’t able to pick up everything that I wanted.
I was excited to see that Fiona was there with her shop Felfira Moon Designs and she was selling her gorgeous pins and sticker which I have had my eye on since she opened her shop! Which is why I ended up grabbing three of her gorgeous pins and some stickers too, I think my favourite has to be the Tontoro one!
I was very proud of myself for the fact that I only purchased two books while at the festival which I think could be a personal record for me! I’ve had my eye out for Summer Bird Blue for the longest time and cannot wait to read both of Akemi’s books now as I am sure that I will really enjoy them – especially after hearing her speak at her panels.
Although I was able to hold back on my book buying, there were so many proofs on offer but the one which got me incredibly excited at the chance to read was Furious Thing by Jenny Downham who is one of my all-time favourite authors!
Did you go to NYA? What did you most enjoy?