Past Features, Recap

Weekly Roundup #32 + meeting Mary Beard!

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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.