Recap

London Film & Comic Con and YALC Recap, Part 2

YALC

Time for Part 2 of my recap! I posted Part 1 last week – on 12th July 2014, I went to London Film & Comic Con and YALC, where I met up with various book bloggers and saw lots of exciting people!

I think the combination of the crowds, which made it really difficult to get ANYWHERE, plus the ridiculous heat just made me, well, less interested in looking at stuff. Honestly, we spent the large majority of the day queueing. I spent an hour in the queue to get my book signed by Malorie Blackman, who was absolutely lovely. She made a comment about how well thumbed my copy of Noughts and Crosses was, and how she liked to see that – so I explained I’d had it since I was about ten, and that both me and my sister had read it multiple times.

Malorie Blackman
Malorie was lovely!

After this was another queue to see Kristian Nairn. The photo shoot started about half an hour late, so we were queueing for about an hour total. It was all very quick, although that of course made the system very efficient and meant that lots of people could have their photos taken, but it was kind of annoying after queuing for so long. When Kristian saw that both me and Kerry were having our picture taken together, he just held out both his arms which was really cute!

After meeting Kristian, we were going to head over to the other building which held the games and comic book areas, but after seeing yet ANOTHER hour long queue… we gave up. Which is a shame, because after walking through a crowd that took twenty minutes to pass, then realising we’d have to queue to get back into the building we’d just left, I didn’t really have the time (or the patience…) to go and say bye to everyone. I did see Amber and Tatum again before I went, in the queue (UGH) for Rainbow Rowell, which I wanted to join but… queues. We managed a quick chat but I’m sad that I didn’t get to talk to Amber as much as I’d hoped to! And also before leaving we bumped into Claire again, along with Hanna.

Hodor
Hodor

Whilst I enjoyed my day, there were a few problems. The air-con was apparently broken, and on one of the hottest days of the year, in a hall with thousands of people it was NOT ideal. It was absolutely boiling in there, everyone was sweating and I was constantly thirsty. Of course I drank the water I’d brought with me in no time, and there was naturally ANOTHER queue for any of the cafes – and then everything was over-priced. I got so sick of queueing, fed up with all the crowds and people constantly bashing into me and bashing into other people and I was starting to feel a little anxious.

BUT I got to meet some of my awesome blogger friends. Although I didn’t get to spend us much time with any of them as I wanted (I hung out with Claire the most), it was nice to finally meet people, however briefly. YALC definitely needs its own space next year, I think they would sell enough tickets to make it worth it. I also feel that YALC on its own would be a much calmer atmosphere.

We did also spot quite a few celebrities apart from the ones mentioned above: Paul McGann (my 4th Doctor Who cast member!), George A. Romero, Isaac Hempstead-Wright (who towered over us, embarrassing), David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Anthony Head, Adjoa Andoh (my 5th Doctor Who cast member!) and Summer Glau. I was a bit sad that I didn’t get to really see Lena Headey or David Wenham – or Stan Lee, but there was definitely no chance of that! And my gosh, if Michael Fassbender was there then I’d buy tickets in a heartbeat. There was also some SERIOUSLY amazing cosplay there, from such a wide variety of fandoms!

George A. Romero - I'm surprised there wasn't a bigger queue for him?
George A. Romero – I’m surprised there wasn’t a bigger queue for him?

In conclusion: a good day but hampered by the heat, the QUEUES and the lack of time with blogger friends!

Recap

London Film & Comic-Con and YALC Recap, Part 1

YALC

For much of June and the first part of July, you may have seen me chatting on Twitter about LFCC/YALC, also known as London Film and Comic Con and Young Adult Literature Convention. I’ve always liked going to conventions, I’ve been to the London MCM Expo quite a few times, and I went to Bristolcon last October. So me and my friend Kerry (my frequent companion on these sorts of things, we also went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and the Doctor Who Experience together) decided it would be a great thing to do before I went off to university. We eagerly bought our tickets to LFCC, and then to my delight I discovered there was a new addition to LFCC this year: the Young Adult Literature Convention. And not only this, but many of my blogger friends were planning on going!

Cue weeks and weeks of Twitter chat, WhatsApp conversations and much fangirling. Then finally the big day arrived, and after getting our train at 8.05am, we reached Earl’s Court at about 10.15. And OH MY GOSH, THE QUEUES. Claire had been there since about 8.30, and had already warned us of the queues – but we thought that by the time we got there, on the end of the Early Bird ticket slot, the queues would have died down and we’d be fine. Oh, how wrong we were… the queues, of which there were many and it wasn’t entirely clear which one we were supposed to be in, snaked around and around Earl’s Court. Luckily, the Early Bird queue was constantly moving – but it still took us a good forty minutes to get in, which gives you some idea of how crazy it was. Not to mention that it was an absolutely boiling hot day, and there was no shade.

When we FINALLY got inside, Kerry went straight to the queue to buy tickets for a photo shoot with Finn Jones (Ser Loras Tyrell in Game of Thrones. I took this chance to go and hunt down some book bloggers! I headed straight for the book area, where I spotted Amber and Tatum, and had a brief chat with them before they had to move on. It was already so packed in there, and absolutely boiling, and it was going to get much, much worse… I then found Claire over at the bean bags, and we grabbed some swag from the freebies table (Egmont tote bag, a couple of badges, a few samplers and some postcards) before meeingt up with Natalie quickly, and Claire gave her a ticket to the Dystopian panel (where Amber and Tatum had gone) because she didn’t feel like going.

Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)
Claire & I take a sneaky shot with Adam Brown (photo taken by Claire)

Then it was time for a wander! We didn’t really go too far because it was just so cramped – they’d definitely let far too many people in, there were queues everywhere for various photo shoots and autograph sessions, not to mention the crowds around the dealers stalls – but we did manage to grab a sneaky photo with Adam Brown, who plays Nori in The Hobbit! We also bumped into Asti briefly! Mostly we just checked out which celebrities were nearby and tried to look at the stalls we could actually reach… We met up with Kerry again, who managed to get a ticket for Finn Jones, and also bought a ticket for me and her to meet Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor in Game of Thrones!

The three of us wandered around looking at the stalls, and when I went I was prepared to go in and pretty much spend all my money (‘sorry Leiden, I can’t pay tuition fees now, I spent all my savings on comic book merchandise and books’), but actually… well I only ended up buying the one thing: a Tyrion Vinyl Pop figure (I was going to get Magneto but he doesn’t exist…).

Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!
Mostly freebies, the only things I paid for were the Skittles and the Tyrion figure!

That’s the end of the first part of my recap, look out for the second part next week! Otherwise I think this post would get a bit too wordy…

Recap

A Trip Through Time And Space

Doctor Who Experience

Warning: this post will be image heavy!

On Saturday 21st June 2014, me and my friend Kerry went on an adventure through time and space… we took our space transport/Kerry’s car across the galaxy/Severn Bridge, passing many obstacles/the £6.40 toll on the way – until we finally reached the strange land known as… Cardiff. After a long and arduous journey through the cosmos/down the M4, we came upon this terrifying sight:

Daleks Ahead!
DALEKS AHEAD!

Following the signs warning us of Daleks (perhaps a foolish choice?) we eventually reached our destination: the Doctor Who Experience in Porth Teigr, Cardiff. Words cannot describe how happy it made me to see more and more people sporting their Doctor Who t-shirts and costumes as we got closer and closer. As we got there quite early, we decided to have a browse in the shop first. It was actually a LOT smaller than we expected, and much more reasonably priced than the Harry Potter Studio Tour shop, although some items were still a bit pricey. Anyway, when we finally queued up, we were told that there was no photography in the first bit of the tour, which has an interactive element to it.

Eeek!
Amazing artwork in the lobby. That you’ll probably forget about.

I don’t want to tell you much about the interactive part of the tour because I want it to be a surprise for anyone who is planning on going. However, if you don’t mind spoilers, then click under the cut to read about my favourite part. [spoiler]One room was pitch black as we entered – then suddenly some of the lights came on really quickly, and there were a couple of Weeping Angels littered around us. Then the lights flickered and the Angels had ‘moved’! AHHH I WAS ACTUALLY TERRIFIED. It was so well done![/spoiler] Overall, the exhibition was actually quite a bit smaller than we’d expected, but it still had a decent amount of props and costumes. Now to share some photos!

doctor who experience doctor who experience

Some of the amazing costumes on display – a mix of original and replica.

doctor who experience doctor who experience

The first and fourth TARDIS consoles.

doctor who experience doctor who experience

That oh so familiar sign, and the infamous scarf!

doctor who experience doctor who experience

Creepy Peg Dolls, and the Face of Boe.

doctor who experience doctor who experience

OOD! and the Silence – wait, what? What was I talking about?

doctor who experience doctor who experience

I made a new friend, he didn’t like my offer of a Jammie Dodger though; got my eye on you…

doctor who experience doctor who experience

I was strangely disappointed by this Weeping Angel… there was only one.

doctor who experience

Genuinely sad that I couldn’t go inside.

The whole tour and experience didn’t actually last too long: we were in there for about an hour and a half (basically as long as it takes to drive there), but I suppose you can spend as long as you like in the main exhibition bit. So after leaving the experience, we decided to do some sightseeing around Cardiff. Spoilers for Torchwood below.

ianto ianto

The fan-made shrine to Ianto Jones in Mermaid Quay (by the ‘official’ Torchwood entrance), with the plaque the BBC put up afterwards.

torchwood

The secret Torchwood entrance by the Millennium Centre!

cardiff cardiff

It was a gorgeous day, so we finished off with some sight-seeing of the city, including the Millennium Centre, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay and an open top guided tour bus!

Have you visited the Doctor Who Experience?

Recap

Glamour Book Club with Laini Taylor & Lauren Owen

On 30th April I had the privilege of attending Glamour Book Club, held in a very swanky private members club in London and featuring Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen!

If you’ve not heard of either of these lovely ladies before, then Laini Taylor is the author of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy which comprises of Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight and Dreams of Gods & Monsters. Lauren Owen has just released her debut novel, The Quick.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor days of blood and starlight
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor The Quick by Lauren Owen

I was excited before attending the event, because not only was I going to meet some wonderful authors, but also some fellow bloggers! Asti from Oh, The Books!, Kristy from Book Nerd Reviews and Daphne from Winged Reviews were all going to be there. Me and my friend Emily got there first, and I recognised Asti and approached her in my awkward way, and she introduced me to Kristy. We then proceeded into the event and got our free cocktails (gin and tonic). Daphne turned up a bit later, and we hung around chatting for a while – next to the goodie bags, trying to work out what was in them… – before the event proper started.

Thoughts from Laini Taylor:

  • Laini said she was currently reading the Expanse series of books by James S.A. Corey, which I was happy to hear as I recently read and reviewed the first book, Leviathan Wakes.
  • She has a new series and new standalone planned. And some science fiction – eeek!
  • When asked about how she starts to write, Laini said she starts writing in the middle of the book and works from there.
  • We spoke a little about the film adaptation of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. It hasn’t officially been given the green light yet, but Laini was off to meetings about it a few days after the event, so maybe we’ll hear more soon. She said she doesn’t think it would be fair to speak about her fantasy cast, mostly because no guy could ever live up to Akiva’s looks!
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone came about when Laini was avoiding writing her current book at the time: a book about ballerinas in space!
  • She said that you just have to make as much time as you can to write – and don’t procrastinate too much!
  • Apparently Laini hasn’t had a single negative fan experience. Let’s hope it remains that way!
Me, Asti & Kristy!
Look who I found! (l-r) Myself, Asti & Kristy. Daphne disappeared off somewhere when we snapped the photo! I’d been walking around London since 10am so was pretty exhausted and flustered…

Thoughts from Lauren Owen:

  • Lauren said she was currently reading The House of the Vampire by George Viereck. I’ve not heard of this one before, it’s a Victorian Gothic horror novel.
  • She’s currently writing a sequel to The Quick. This was actually her original idea for the book, but she sort of ended up working backwards.
  • Lauren won a prize for her dissertation, and her professor then referred her to an agent who approached her interested in her work.
  • She urged budding writers to go out and talk to people, and discuss their experiences.
  • Her favourite books include Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and Watership Down.
  • She has mostly stopped herself from reading reviews online as she finds the constantly changing viewpoints and criticisms confusing – if one person loves part of the book and another hates it, I guess you don’t know what to do either way!
  • She did a lot of research to prepare for her book, and admits that sometimes she got distracted by it.

After the talk, we got the chance to meet the authors and get stuff signed. It didn’t take too long, as it was a fairly intimate gathering, and I had my photo taken with Laini:

Me with Laini Taylor!

They were selling books there, and I didn’t really want to buy The Quick at the time because I’m not a hardback person at all. I’m going to wait for the paperback to come out, so I asked Lauren to also sign my copy of Daughter of Smoke & Bone (as I had nothing else for her to sign) and basically made a huge, flustered fool of myself, and did not explain in any eloquent manner that I WILL be buying her book once it’s out in paperback. I still feel embarrassed when I think of that moment. Ugh. I’M SO SORRY LAUREN.

Guys. I'm forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??
Guys. I’m forever going to be awkward when it comes to meeting authors. How on earth do you keep your cool??

And that was the end of a great night! Me and Emily had to go and catch our train home (I live a ninety minute train journey from London) so we couldn’t hang around for too long, especially as our route back to the station was made difficult by tube strikes. But it was a great evening, despite the embarrassment I caused myself – I got to meet some awesome bloggers and fantastic authors, and the goodie bag was most definitely worth the ticket price! It included three books (Angelfall by Susan Ee, Dracula by Bram Stoker and Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little), some great headphones that I’ve already used lots for gaming (I like to immerse myself), some Hotel Chocolat chocolates, a candle, nail polish and some other beauty samples. I would definitely be up for attending another Glamour Book Club event! The only downside was when me and Emily received one of the dirtiest looks ever from a member of staff at the club for no apparent reason… probably because we’re not paying members, all dressed up for dinner!

Recap

My Trip to Hogwarts, Part Two

Last week I shared the first part of my trip to Hogwarts, aka the Warner Bros Studio Tour. Now, as promised, it’s time for part two! Firstly these images which didn’t want to work last time:

SAMSUNG CSC SAMSUNG CSC

The pendulum was pretty hypnotic… and remember this??

It’s the Riddle gravestone, as featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. After spending forever in the first area of the tour, we came to the outside bit – which of course meant Privet Drive, the Knight Bus and BUTTERBEER!

Butterbeer

It was surprisingly tasty – it reminded me of Iron-Bru a little bit.

Privet Drive and the Potters’ house in Godric’s Hollow.

The next section of the tour was to do with ‘movie wizardry’ – anything to do with special effects, animatronics, CGI etc. For example, this selection of goblin heads and mandrake plants…

It was smaller than the first area, but there was once again just so much stuff that you wouldn’t notice on screen. It’s insane how much effort and dedication the people who worked on the films put in, considering that most of their work would barely be noticed. It just goes to show how truly passionate and enthusiastic everyone working on the Harry Potter films was.

Baby Thestral!; you go around the corner and ARAGOG IS HANGING ABOVE YOUR HEAD AAHH

Then it was onto the next part of the tour, another part in which I could have just stayed all day… Diagon Alley. When you watch the films you really don’t see enough of this place. There is so much stuff in EVERY shop window, and once again the set designers and prop creators and everyone else went above and beyond to create this amazing set.

Gringotts; a shop I don’t even remember seeing once in the films but they made the shopfront and filled up the window anyway. Amazing!

Ollivander’s wand shop; Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment with Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in the background.

Florian Fortescue’s to the left, including the table on the roof; Eeylops Owl Emporium, my dream shop.

I WANTED TO GO INTO FLOURISH & BOTT’S SO BADLY; Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes! I never even noticed that the man had a body before…

Fred or George, or both?; this was so cool, the ‘sick’ actually came out of her mouth (that sounds really weird out of context…)

Quality Quidditch Supplies, I don’t like the look of that Beater stick in the bottom left of the window…; loving the mannequins in Madam Malkins.

You too could own a Pygmy Puff or Kneazle!

Then it was onto the last area: concept art and scale models. If you’ve not looked at any Harry Potter concept art, then I strongly advise you to do so; there’s such an amazing array of different styles and interpretations, all of it absolutely stunning.

The architect that designed Hogwarts (does anyone remember seeing this statue in the films??); a paper Burrow!

Now, this next bit – which was also the final part of the tour – made me feel really emotional. It was beautifully set up – you walked into this dimly lit room, and there was a HUGE scale model of Hogwarts, with the main themes from the films playing in the background. It was pretty much the highlight of the experience for me, and brought on this massive rush of nostalgia. I wanted to shed a few tears there and then for this series that has, and always will have, so much meaning for me.

Can I buy a replica of this scale model please? Thanks.

The absolute last part of the tour (before the shop, of course) was the interior of Ollivanders – but each wand box had been individually labelled with the names of the cast and crew. It must have taken forever! It was, combined with the amazing tear-inducing Hogwarts scale model, a perfect way to finish the tour.

As for the shop… well we had every intention of going in and stocking up on some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, and maybe another souvenir or two. These plans were scuppered when we saw the price of them – £.7.95 a packet. Um. No. Everything in the shop was hideously expensive, which I suppose shouldn’t have been a surprise, so we actually didn’t buy anything… maybe next time, as we’ll be more prepared. The only disappointing part of an amazing day!

And that’s it for my account of the tour! Have you visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour? Which was your favourite bit? If you haven’t, what would you like to see?

Recap

My Trip to Hogwarts, Part One

Warning: this will be an image heavy post!

All through January and half of February, you may have seen me getting a little bit excited about visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour on 19th February. Me and my best friend had been meaning to go for a while (well pretty much since they announced it, although we have been prepared for this since the age of nine or ten…), so I said I’d take her as a birthday present. After a LOT of trying to work out when we could both go (we work totally different hours), we finally settled on a date and booked it. Only to realise that it was half term week, arrgh! Meaning that the tour would be full of annoying little kids… And then the other problem – getting to Watford Junction without breaking the bank. Although we live only an hour and a half from central London by train, the prices were suddenly incredibly steep, not to mention the getting from London Paddington to Watford Junction itself. Thank goodness for the National Express, is all I can say.

Giant chess pieces outside the main entrance!

When the day came I had some fears – I thought the tour might be ruined by all the little kids running around, as we’d inadvertently booked during the school holidays, and just the thought of taking THREE coaches to get there left me feeling tired. But luckily, the tour was full of people from all age groups, which was really nice. People like us who’d obviously grown up with the series, younger fans and small children, older fans, families. Basically, everyone there was a huge nerd for the series and it felt like one big Harry Potter fan party, which was pretty awesome.

But now, onto the tour itself!

The main lobby is pretty cool – loads of photos of various characters around the walls, the shop entrance which is SO enticing, and the Ford Anglia! And a Starbucks, which seemed kind of… surreal. We got there a bit early for our slot so were tempted to go into the shop first, but one of the staff members advised us to line up first as we’d end up in the shop anyway – of course. And it was good advice, as the line moved pretty quickly.

The entrance lobby, featuring character photos and the Ford Anglia.

After queuing up, you enter a small room which features posters of the films from all over the world – it was fun trying to spot the different languages and countries. There, one of the guides explains the tour to you (and the rules – no touching of the exhibits, boo!), and then you go on to a little cinema where you watch a film about the creation of the studio tour. Which is in stages J and K, funnily enough! And then… into the Great Hall. I could’ve spent HOURS in that bit alone, but unfortunately that’s the only part where your time is limited. Here are some snaps I took of the Great Hall and various props and costumes within:

Hufflepuff uniforms; the Slytherin table; Slytherin uniforms; Gryffindor uniforms; Hagrid, Fang and Filch; Dumbledore and his owl lectern; wider shot of the Great Hall.

I barely heard what the tour guide was saying when I was in there, I was feeling pretty emotional and just soaking everything in. I’ve quite literally grown up with the Harry Potter series: I read the first book not too long after it came out, when I was eight or nine, and fell in love. The first film came out when I was eleven, meaning that I was the same age as Harry, Ron and Hermione with each film. It’s always been a series that I’ve absolutely loved and followed, the excitement of each book and then film was almost too much every time! So you can imagine how it felt, to be in this place that was so familiar from my childhood – to actually be there. Unfortunately, our time in the Great Hall came to an end, and we were moved on to the main area, which you can walk through at your leisure. Here are some of my favourite bits from the main hall:

The ice sculpture from the Yule Ball, from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Dumbledore’s office; tapestry from the Gryffindor common room.

The Potions classroom.

The Burrow, home of the Weasley family.

SAMSUNG CSC

Amazingly detailed Death Eater mask; the fountain from the Ministry of Magic.

All the Umbridges; AWESOME CASE OF THINGS THAT I WANT AND NEED IN MY LIFE.

Wizard money that you never actually see in the film but they made it anyway (how awesome is that?); book heaven.

I’M SO SORRY I CANNOT STOP WITH THE PHOTOS. It is really difficult narrowing down the things I want to show you all, I took almost 350 photos whilst we were there. I’ve decided to split this post into two parts, meaning I can show off MORE pictures and not have to worry quite as much about loading times. So this is it for now, next week I’ll post about the outside area onwards (which means Butterbeer!) Next week I’ll post the rest, and round up my feelings about the whole thing (SPOILER: IT WAS AMAZING.)

Have you been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour yourself, or would you like to go? What is your favourite thing about the series, or is there something you REALLY want to see from the films – be it a prop, costume or set?

Past Features, Recap

Weekly Roundup #32 + meeting Mary Beard!

weeklyru_16

My ‘Weekly Roundup’ is where I share the books I have received in the past week, whether bought, gifted, borrowed etc.

Bought

  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – I think I first spotted this one through following Felicia Day on Goodreads. I’m not sure how romance-y it is, so I don’t know how much I’ll like it, but we’ll see! It is about an assassin after all…

Won

  • She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick – I won this from Goodreads. I’ve seen it around a lot recently and heard some good things about it.

On Sunday, I got to meet Mary Beard!

I also just wanted to quickly share some photos from this Sunday, when I met Mary Beard at Cheltenham Literature Festival. If you’ve not heard of her before, she is a classicist and a Don at Cambridge University. She’s written some fantastic books and made some wonderful TV shows, and I really, really admire her.



Her talk was about her recent book, Confronting the Classics, and how the ancient world is often presented in the modern day. It was really fascinating, and I plan on getting hold of her book at some point – sadly the hardback is £25 and I can’t really afford it right now. I told her that I’d studied ancient history and archaeology, and my plans for the future: I want to be a museum curator. It was so wonderful to meet a big role model of mine!

I got her to sign my copies of Pompeii and It’s A Don’s Life, and she even added in an extra message after I told her of my plans! Now all of the books that I own written by her are signed – when I was working at the festival last year I picked up a signed copy of All in a Don’s Day. That was also the last day of the Cheltenham Literature Festival – now to look forward to next year’s line-up!

Recap

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2013: Sarah J. Maas, David Levithan & Maureen Johnson

On Sunday, as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, I attended a panel called ‘The American Dream’, featuring three American YA authors: Sarah J. Maas, David Levithan and Maureen Johnson. I was so excited for the event, having just read and absolutely loved Sarah’s Throne of Glass series. I somehow also managed to bag a front row seat, right in the middle…
 
As with yesterday’s event, each author briefly introduced themselves and their newest releases: Every Day by David Levithan, Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas and Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson.

Maureen had laryngitis, but that didn’t stop her from making funny quips and comments! I’ve not actually read anything of hers, but may look into it now – she has a wonderful sense of humour and seems like a very warm person. She apparently has a big Twitter presence, which she often referred to (I’m now following her!) and one audience member asked her about her Coverflip project. 
 
The basic premise of the Coverflip project is to re-design a book cover, as if the author was the opposite gender. Maureen mentioned that she had noticed a certain ‘type’ of cover, depending on the gender of the author, and asked her Twitter followers to compile some opposites. She had a massive response, and Huffington Post have actually put together a gallery of the results. My particular favourites are A Game of Thrones (written by a ‘Georgette R. R. Martin’), Stardust (which really does not capture the book at all and I think works so well in the constraints of the experiment) and Heist Society (completely and utterly the opposite). Someone even did a grungy looking version of Throne of Glass, which Sarah said she absolutely loves!
 
Sarah signing away!
 
Sarah spoke about how she has been working on her series since the age of sixteen, so for eleven years now, professed a love for fanfiction and her gratitude for her fans that have been following her since she first posted on Fiction Press. She cites Garth Nix, author of Sabriel/the Abhorsen series as one of her influences, which was exciting as I absolutely love that series and have done ever since I first read it at the age of twelve. And just to top it off, Sarah is a self-professed geek who often felt alone in her interests until she found people with the same enthusiasm online – much like myself.
 
David spoke a little about how he has often had trouble with his books – banned, pulled off shelves, censored – often just because of the title (a previous novel of his is entitled Boy Meets Boy, and his newest release is called Two Boys Kissing). Which is shocking, as I believe he is a prominent author in LGBT literature, and people should not have that sort of support taken away. He said he’s been told by many people that the presence of the books alone, books about people like themselves, has made them feel represented. What I didn’t realise was that he has done a lot of editing – including for Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games.
 
Sneaky picture of David. Maureen was never quite in my sight!

We discussed social media – the host asked who in the audience had interacted with the authors some way online, and a lot of us raised our hands! As I said previously, Maureen is a frequent Twitter user, whereas David much prefers Facebook. In fact, he uses his Twitter so infrequently that his Book Lovers Dictionary project that was supposed to take four months has taken two and a half years, and he’s still only on the letter G! 
 
Sarah told us a funny story about her early experiences with social media and blogging platforms – when she was a teenager she started using Livejournal, blogging about her everyday life and writing down absolutely everything. This went on for a while, until a girl at her school told her to ‘keep a lock on her diary’ – all her classmates had been reading her Livejournal, and placing bets on who would be mentioned next!
 
Another of the topics of conversation was the stigma that comes with young adult fiction. It’s surprising how many people look down on it, or the authors, and see it as a ‘lesser’ genre because it’s aimed at teenagers. Yet Maureen made a wonderful point when she said that she thinks the young adult readership are better readers, because we accept so much within a story – we don’t go into a book expecting one thing, and one thing only, to happen. Genres can get mixed up and we’re fine with that. We’re also more likely to be vocal about things we’ve loved and hated, which is great for the author. It doesn’t matter what you read or write, it just matters that you are reading or writing.
 
There was just so much wonderful conversation, and the three authors worked really well together. I didn’t take notes this time so most of this is from memory, and to avoid a wall of text I shall move on to the signing!
 
 
I spoke to David first, and told him that I loved Every Day and that I thought it was a really unique story – my five-star review of the book is still to come. I like the little message he wrote for me, and will be looking out for Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing. Two Boys Kissing isn’t released in the UK until April though, sadly – I’ve already read some wonderful reviews of it by bloggers from over the pond.
 
 
I didn’t actually get anything signed by Maureen – I didn’t have any of her books and the queue meant that you could go between authors rather than going past each one at a time. But they were giving out some pretty promotional postcards and little badges for her new book, which you can see above.
 
 
And then I got to speak to Sarah! I told her that her books were my favourite books of the year, and she asked me to sign a hardback copy of Throne of Glass whilst she signed my books. She’s been taking it round on tour and getting fans to sign it, which I think is a lovely idea. I mentioned to her about some blogger friends of mine (Paola and Charlene!) who had been to her Crown of Midnight launch party in LA, and brought Finnikin of the Rock for her to sign (as she is a big fan of the book, and so are they). She remembered them (yay!) and said she felt almost like she was defacing the book, haha! I also told her that her writing playlist is basically exactly the same as my reading playlist, and she recommended the Oblivion film soundtrack to me.

After that, I wished her the best of luck and that was the end of the event – and how brilliant it was. I loved the chatter and found each of the authors easily approachable. Now I look forward to Charlene and Paola’s Finnikin readalong, and maybe if I meet Sarah again I’ll take that one along too!
 
 
I also bought myself an amazing book covers poster. I couldn’t decide which cover I wanted, so I did the best thing and got one with ALL the covers.

Recap

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2013: Patrick Ness & Meg Rosoff

Yes, yesterday I was lucky enough to meet both Patrick Ness and Meg Rosoff at the Cheltenham Literature Festival! I live about twenty miles from Cheltenham, and worked at the festival last year, so it’s just wonderful to have such an amazing event only a bus journey away. Today I met Sarah J. Maas, Maureen Johnson and David Levithan, but I’ll do a post about that event tomorrow.
 
Patrick and Meg were there to talk about their new books, More Than This and Picture Me Gone respectively. I originally wasn’t planning on picking up More Than This straight away – I tend to wait for the paperback – but when Patrick read the first chapter I just knew I had to get myself a copy! 
 
When I saw this photo on my phone, I was convinced I could see myself. High res on my computer showed otherwise… if Patrick had turned the camera just a tiny bit to the left then I’d have been on his Twitter!

Both authors briefly introduced their new books before reading the first chapter. This was then followed by a discussion session lead by a lady who works for the Guardian newspaper (I completely missed her name). They are both very witty people, capable of turning an anecdote into something very entertaining, and it was so nice to be able witness that – there was a real sense that they were there for their audience and fans, to talk to us about what we wanted to know, rather than just there to promote their next book.
 
Meg told the story of how her new book came into creation – she said she’d lied to her editor for months and months about having a story, and even came up with a name for the main character: Mila. Then one day, whilst walking in the park, a Bedlington terrier came bounding up to her and when she checked the nametag, it was called Mila. And so the story started from there, the character even tells the reader at the beginning of the book that she was named after a dog!
 
The book is actually a mystery, with Mila tracking down her best friend’s missing father, and Meg cited Sherlock (both Conan Doyle’s original, and the more recent BBC adaptation) as inspiration, and also mentioned that she loves adventure stories about nineteenth/early twentieth century explorers.
 
Meeting Meg! The only photo where we’re both looking at the camera too…
 
Patrick revealed that More Than This is the story he has been waiting to write since he was nine or ten years old. He’s had the idea for a long time, and said Seth is probably the closest character to himself that he has ever written. 
 
He’s now trying his hand at script writing, including scripts for Fox and Warner Brothers, and a film of the Chaos Walking trilogy is in the works, with a script written by Charlie Kaufman. He was hoping to give us some more updates on the film, but at the time of the event he wasn’t allowed to reveal too much, so I guess it’s just a case of keeping an ear out for as and when! What he could reveal, however, is that A Monster Calls is being adapted for the stage.
 
Me and Mr. Ness!
 
What followed was a mish-mash of discussion topics. One that we stayed on for a while was the topic of privacy and technology. So many people publish their every move online, and whilst I’m not a fan of posting about everything (I don’t post on my personal Facebook much), I share a lot of information when it comes to book-related topics – even now, I’m sharing images of myself for all to see. Meg said that she was working with a young man recently, and she Googled him – and couldn’t find a thing. She said it was a shock to realise that she actually found his lack of online presence very cool, the fact that he had no small space on the internet for himself was something rare and unique. One fan teased Patrick about his frequent selfies, and he shared his disdain for Snapchat.
 
Meg also raised an interesting point: people lament the death of the written letter, saying that children in this decade never hand-write letters. But back in the nineteenth century, people would have sent out short letters with the past day’s news: now we do it a different way, through text and email, through Twitter and Facebook.
 
As well as discussion on the potential films of the Chaos Walking trilogy, which sadly Patrick couldn’t tell us too much about, Meg discussed the new film adaptation of her novel How I Live Now. I first read this book when I was thirteen or fourteen, and I remember really enjoying it – it was quite a harrowing read at a time when I hadn’t read any sort of dystopian fiction before. Apparently the film process has been going on for a while, and Kristen Stewart was originally lined up to play Daisy, the protagonist. But then she went off to film the Twilight movies and they lost their lead. Kristen Stewart, then an unknown, was perfect for Daisy in Meg’s eyes. She admitted that Saoirse Ronan (who plays Daisy in the final version of the film) is not as she imagined Daisy, but that she has done a great job. She also said that the film isn’t quite as she imagined it – but that if she had done her own version, it probably would have been in black and white, with subtitles and had a total audience of six people! 
 
Both authors agreed that, whilst film adaptations of their novels are wonderful, it’s good that it is never quite as they would have done it – because that specific work is theirs, whereas the film is someone else’s vision.
 

After the event came a signing session, and I managed to get fairly close to the front of the queue so the wait wasn’t too long. I grabbed photos with both authors and chatted to them briefly. I told Patrick that the Chaos Walking trilogy made me cry at the end, and he told me that was good – it’s always fantastic when a book makes you feel so strongly about the characters and events. Meg asked me if I was going to see the film of How I Live Now, to which I replied that I wanted to but I wasn’t sure when – she misheard me and thought I said I didn’t want to, so of course I had to hastily correct her!
 

Overall a fantastic event, with some brilliant authors and lively chatter! Both were more than happy to engage with and chat back to the audience, and it felt like a really close gathering.

 
Recap

Last few days of the Cheltenham Literature Festival 2012

Well, the festival is finally over, and I really wish it wasn’t! It was such a fantastic two weeks that seemed to fly by, and there was never a dull moment. I last told you about the events of Tuesday 9th October, so this post will cover from Wednesday until the very end.

Wednesday got off to an exciting start: we met Dan Snow, who has presented many history TV programs, and got a team photo:

I also caught a glimpse of Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn, who work on the TV show Wartime Farm (and are archaeologists, yeahhh!). As I was working the early shift, I missed the evening events which included Adam Hart-Davis, Pam Ayres, Andrew Marr, Hilary Devey, AA Gill, Nigella Lawson and Mark Haddon.

Thursday was my day off, but notable guests included Lucy Worsley, John McCarthy, Tom and Henry Herbert (the Fabulous Baker Brothers), Ben Fogle, Caitlin Moran, Gunnar Staalesen, Stephen Mangan and Victoria Pendleton.

Welly boots signed by Caitlin Moran (apparently all guests were signing wellies – I don’t know why!)
 
Friday’s guests included Sinclair McKay, Michael Smith and Julian Baggini, all of whom I managed to see; as well as Robert MacFarlane, Rose Tremain, Erica Wagner, Sandi Toksvig, Kirstie Allsopp, Alan Garner, Dom Joly, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Paul O’Grady.
On Saturday, I saw Kathy Reichs (creator of TV show Bones) and Val McDermid (creator of Wire in the Blood), and then met Larry Lamb in the afternoon!

Larry Lamb – more like Mick Shipman than Archie Mitchell 😉
 
I also had to stand next to Ian Rankin whilst he was signing books, to stop any over eager fans from invading his personal space. One man there was obviously a massive fan – he brought practically the entire back catalogue with him, and couldn’t stop shaking whilst talking to Ian! Whilst we were waiting for Ian Rankin to turn up, I heard a customer saying he couldn’t find any T.S. Eliot – so I showed him where the books were, and he spent a good ten minutes explaining why everyone should read Four Quarters, and that your life is not complete unless you have. It was so nice to see someone so passionate about it. Later on both Jeremy Vine and Ben Miller were just wandering around the tents, browsing – I got to speak to Jeremy Vine.

Sunday, the last day of the festival proper, was just as eventful. A.C. Grayling was signing in the morning, and I took some stock over for him to sign and had a chat with him – he was lovely, and took a real interest in my degree. He was so polite and came over and personally thanked me when he left. I also saw Ian McEwan when he was doing his signing, but the biggest event of the day (at least when I was there)? David Walliams.

He signed so much – 240 stock copies before the event even started, then whatever customers took him! The queue was massive, and there were crowds of people taking photos and hanging around the signing area. He was lovely, making people laugh and chatting with them, posing for photos and just being an all round friendly guy. Finally, the last guest I saw was David Mitchell. I apologise for the awful photo…

His publicist was very stern though… me and a colleague were just about to get a photo with him when she whisked him away. I did manage to grab one of a friend with him though, so that’s something! I got the impression he was happy to be there, signing what people wanted, but his publicist wanted him to sign only his autobiography.

Autographs from Larry Lamb, Polly Findlay and Christopher Eccleston.

Yesterday was packing up day. Boxing up books, taking down shelves, tidying up the mess… and it was so fun. It was just all of us temps together, and at one point we had run out of boxes to pack books in, so had nothing to do. Instead, we sat around on the beanbags in the kid’s tent chatting for a bit, which was really great.

Meerkats surveying the clearing up…
 
This was all such a fantastic experience and I will definitely be applying to work again next year! I actually find it quite hard to write about the festival properly. I can tell you all about the famous people I met, post some photos, but honestly the bit that was the most fun was meeting new people: colleagues and customers. Meeting people who share the same passion as me: books. And it would be really hard to write those experiences down, and make them interesting to others, so I’m just going to keep them all to myself =)