Saturday, 30 July 2016
I am standing behind Rey in a lift. I don't know whether to tell her that Bandai is on my foot. I decide not to, it's not heavy. This is my first experience of YALC. Encouraged by Comi Con downstairs I have made a half hearted effort to dress up, I look like something from my mother's era; Dark blue denim roll up's, a secret cinema Dirty Dancing Kellerman's t-shirt and a head scarf. There's a lot of pastel hair and piercings. I have pastel hair envy. I dyed mine pale pink using Bleach London the day before. It washed out and didn't cover the grey.
I'm a middle aged mother writer in a sea of teen girls. There are others of my clan, you can spot them eagerly clutching notebooks, business cards and neatly typed synopsis for our yet-unpublished novels. I put mine back in my bag and decide to just enjoy the experience.
Young Adult is written for teens and not by teens so why is it so popular? Maybe it's the authenticity. For the same reason I used to rush home from my secondary comp to watch Grange Hill, it's more of the same - seeing other characters experiencing what I was experiencing. Jenny McLachlan (Star Struck)in the talk ' She Who Laughs Last Laughs Laughiest' agrees:
'No matter how bad your day, something worse has happened to one of the characters in my book.'
'Failing is so important, all interesting people fail.' Heartened I decide to stay on for the agent 1-2-1 anyway and meet the lovely Gemma Cooper of The Bent Agency. We spend most of our five minutes discussing my Kellermans t-shirt, but I manage to pitch my novel Girl In The Box and get a contact. I pick up as many freebies as I can carry, bump into an ex-Birkbeck MA colleague and buy her book, (The excellent The Otherlife - Julia Gray), she signs it for me and I coo at her baby, meet up wtih Kathryn Kettle for the Golden Egg Academy and then head home.
If you're a writer of YA, give YALC a go, it's good to see what else is out there, enjoy the community of writers, workshops and talk and the teen fans, after all, they are your audience. Just don't try dying your hair.