Hi everyone! I hope you’re all keeping safe and well!
Due to Coronavirus (a sentence I’m sure you’ve read countless times by now) the annual book festival, YALLWEST could not physically take place. They decided instead however to go virtual, conducting panels with authors via the infamous Zoom under the name, Y’ALLSTAYHOME. I thought this was a lovely thing and I was especially pleased because it meant that international readers like me could also take part. I just thought it’d be nice do a write up of what was a lovely event but first I’d like to thank all the authors and organisers for ensuring it could happen!
Modern Magic World Building Panel with Melissa Albert, Francesca Flores, Adalyn Grace, Frances Hardinge, Margaret Rogerson, Tracy Wolff and moderated by Ransom Riggs.
This was the first panel I tuned in for and it was a really interesting one! These authors are primarily fantasy writers and in discussing why they gravitate towards fantasy, Tracey Wolff (Crave), pointed out that being able to create your own world and define the rules can be inspiring especially in a world where things often seem out of control. Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) then steered the conversation to discover how the authors build their fantasy worlds acknowledging that he doesn’t start with any specific agenda. Francis Hardinge, author of Deeplight, begins with ‘weird concepts’ whereas Adalyn Grace (All the Stars and Teeth) said she is a strict outliner but also added that it’s not until the end of the first draft that she knows the story she is telling. Author of Sorcery of Thorns, Margaret Rogerson admitted that she can get so lost in the details of her world that she has had to train herself to create her characters and plot first to ensure there is a plot at all. The discussion changed again to talk about whether gaps in world building are good or bad. Melissa Albert (The Hazel Wood) thought good, saying that the gaps are what intrigue her to keep reading a story with Adalyn Grace adding the convincing argument that a fully formed world is unrealistic in fantasy considering people do not understand all aspects of the world we live in.
Truth Talking in Tough Times Panel with Becky Albertalli, Cecil Castellucci, Traci Chee, Romina Garber, Sarah Watson and moderated by Nic Stone.
The panel opened strong with a discussion of how friendship can save us, a theme explored in many of the authors books. Sarah Watson, author of Most Likely, a book about the first female US President, outlined that women become who they are due to the girl friends of their youth. Traci Chee’s novel (We Are Not Free) features 14 protagonists, all linked by love. After this, there was a short interval courtesy of Becky Albertalli’s cat who appeared on screen. Romina Garber then discussed how Tomi Adeyemi inspired her latest novel, Lobizona which was a book she had previously written only to be told by publishers that no one would be interested in reading about Argentinian culture. I’m really glad Adeyemi convinced Garber to try again because I’m so excited to read this book!
Facing the Enemy: Hope, War and Revolution Panel with Hafsah Faizal, Isabel Ibañez, Jordan Ifueko, Victoria Lee, Danielle Paige and moderated by Victoria Aveyard.
In this panel I learned that Isabel Ibañez designed the cover for her book, Woven in Moonlight which is so beautiful! The book itself is inspired Bolivian politics and history. I honestly need to read it right now. She described how her family are living through the contentious political climate in Bolivia currently and writing the book helped her feel less helpless. Victoria Lee also discusses how immigration is explored in her books which resulted in her books being an accidental critique of contemporary policy as she had written the books prior. Victoria Aveyard prompted that hope is a theme in YA literature to which Victoria Lee also responded to saying that hope is something you create yourself and that this was the message to be taken from The Fever King. Jordan Ifueko’s book seeks to explore themes of trauma that is inherited by ancestors in her book, Raybearer which also sounds amazing.
That concludes all the panels I ‘attended’ on Saturday. I also listened in for quite a few on Sunday so I’ll be writing another post for those.
If you attended any of the panels on Saturday (particularly ones I didn’t get a chance to join) I’d love to hear what you thought! Thanks again to all the authors, moderators and organisers who made this event happen. We all appreciate it!
See you next time!