Feminism in YA // hollys bourne & smale, cj daugherty, and anna james

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I had been very excited about this event ever since I bought tickets. Feminism and YA are two of my favourite things! So, obviously I arrived super early, despite the fact that I had CCF earlier… Yes. Can you tell I was enthusiastic?I had a lovely chat with the lady  sitting next to me about book signings and ALL l the books I TOTALLY NEED TO READ. When the authors came in I attempted to guess who was who, because I am professional and mature. ;)

When they were introduced, turns out I was actually pretty accurate! I’d seen Holly Smale at panels before, and I think I spotted books journalist Anna James cosplaying Eleanor from E&P at YALC? But don’t ever quote me on that. I guessed Holly Bourne from my memories of her author photo, which left CJ! (Just by the way, in this post HS = Holly Smale, HB = Holly Bourne, CJ = CJ Daugherty even though it totally should have been CD, and AJ = Anna James).

First of all we started with stating the belief with stating that the authors thought feminism was the belief men and women should be equal in social, political, and all things. (I am very tired of people telling me they’re not a feminist because it’s only women’s rights. FEMINISM IS GENDER EQUALITY, thanks.) The first question Anna asked was “What makes a book feminist to you?”

CJ: For me, it’s putting girls in positions of normality and equality. The girls do things wrong sometimes and do things right sometimes, and the guys do things wrong sometimes and things right sometimes.

HS: I think it’s the same thing for me; it’s putting both girls and also boys and showing there’s no female and male in terms of how people think and act. It’s also about showing  that strength can be physical but it doesn’t have to be, that it comes from many different places. We’re all breaking that feminist egg in different ways to make one big omelette!

HB: I wanted the link in my trilogy to be feminism; it’s kind of ABC of feminism for teenagers. But a book that doesn’t explicitly write FEMINISM isn’t less feminism. A feminist book is just pushing back at the gender construct bullshit pushed on us from birth. (A few cheers. Because YES THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS.)

I really agreed with all the authors said! I mean, I spent a lot of the evening agreeing. But I thought it was very important to mention that a book doesn’t have to explicitly mention feminism or have a typically ‘strong badass female character’ to be feminist. It’s just a book with well-rounded characters of all genders!

“You’ve all alluded to this strong female heroine thing. Are we past that? Does it have any worth now?”

CJ: I don’t think so. I know I’m writing aspirationally, about characters who are brave enough to take chances and hoping it will inspire me to do the same.

HS: It’s not about showing girls who are flawless and strong. Being able to shoot a squirrel is a great talent to have; we’d all like that very much. But it’s about showing everything that’s part of a person; creating real and not flattened out women is the step towards feminism.

CJ: You can’t be brave unless you’re afraid of something. If you aren’t brave, you’re reckless. As adults we address things that frighten us every day of our lives, and then you have to do the scary thing. We’re introducing teens to that idea.

HS:  I had to deal with a lot of crap like ‘Oh, I’m not reading a fluffy book about models.’ Putting a character who is scared of the world of make-up is bravery; it’s something we as women have to tackle on a daily basis — how much of ‘being a woman’ do we sign up to in order to be feminist?

HB: With Katniss Everdeen, she’s too busy saving the entire world to worry about boyfriends, and with Evie I wanted it to be a feminist novel — but she also just really wanted a boyfriend because she thought it would mean she was normal. The boys in books I read about as a teen were not the boys dumping me on the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve, which is a story I always bring up! You can be a feminist and want to have a boyfriend. For Evie bravery was leaving the house; I wanted to take back that bravery is saving the entire world from a guy in a robe.

HS: I’d have been much more interested in that series if Katniss had been a bit shit at shooting things.

HB: Or she got her period when she was stuck up a tree and she just dripped blood. She never had her period!

HS: Bringing in romance is difficult. It’s about not changing yourself for someone you love; it’s about finding someone who loves you for being you. (11:39)

AJ: I studied an adult novel where the man was the one entirely changes. Why is this still so unusual?

HS: How I Met Your Mother wouldn’t have worked if Ted was a woman. Everyone would have gone ‘What is it, the 1950s?’ We’re watching this because it’s a man’s search for love.

“Do you think writing YA is a different experience to adult fiction? Sometime’s it’s perceived to have more of a responsibility to its readers; is that valid, and how do you deal with that?”

CJ: I wasn’t going in with an audience in mind. It was just like: words on a page, brilliant! It was only once my readers started feeding back about feminism and saying that my MC Ally was always getting rescued. I made the series about her going from that girl to the girl who rescues herself.

HS: I’ve always been a die-hard feminist. When I was four I hit a boy with a stick for saying I wasn’t allowed to be an airplane pilot! The Borrowers was one of my favourite books, because Arrietty was just this kickass genderless girl. It seemed natural that I would write a feminist book.

HB: You have  responsibility to not corrupt children with swear words that they couldn’t possibly know, or talk about sex like there isn’t porn on the internet. You need to pander to that so people buy your book. But you also have a responsibility to be honest to teenagers, and that’s the one I always side with. Pretending the world isn’t there is very damaging.

HS: It’s just about being true to your character and the book you’re writing. It’s about showing people our version as authors of honesty. I feel like I’m responsible for showing girls what they’re capable of and who they can be inspired by.

Personally I really dislike when books are ‘dumbed down’ for teenagers. Yes. I know not everyone wants to read swearing — and it’s totally cool if you don’t; books are allowed to have warnings. But everyone at my school, like, swears the entire time. I hate books that pretend the world is all wonderful unicorns; I’d much rather read an honest book and characters. (I just really hate taboos in children’s & YA, guys.)

“Feminism is cool right now. How do you feel about the way we talk about feminism at the moment?”

HS: I would rather have people being feminists than saying they’re feminists.

HB: Actions not words is what the suffragette cause is about! We need to use both.

HS: People say we shouldn’t call it feminism because it causes people to move away, but I’m like, we shouldn’t have to change the word feminist just because people are scared of it.

HB: Two women a week die in this country because of domestic violence and people are worried about branding? All over the world half the human population are so much more buggered and you’re worried about a word not emasculating you? I don’t have time for that when people are dying.

“What place do you think men have in the conversation? Emma gets a lot of criticism for dumbing down the message with her #HeForShe campaign.”

HB: I’m very pro-men — I’m pro-human. I do think when you’re in a position of privilege it’s important to listen to the oppressed group rather than talk. My anger isn’t coming from nowhere; listen to my anger, and try to understand rather than getting your feelings hurt. It’s tricky when men want to talk. But if someone wants to talk to me about intersectional feminism I think I should listen.

CJ: We don’t win by making men invisible in the debate; they’re 50% of the population. I’m so happy when men say they’re a feminist.

HS: Having one gender talk at another is the problem we’ve had for thousands of years. It’s about not making women objects to look at and men people to listen to.

“What’s next? How do we move the conversation on?”

HB: This is really obscure, but if you’ve ever seen that episode of Buffy where she creates the spell that unleashes all the slayers — that’s what I’m trying to do with the Spinster Club books. I wanted to release all these feminists and inspire young people to change things in a positive way.

HS: It’s about saying feminism isn’t necessarily about scary hairy women shouting at you. It’s about keeping the conversation going. But it can’t just stay in books; you have to bring it into your real life.

Now it went onto questions! To avoid confusion when authors were being addressed, the two Hollys asked to be called S and B which apparently is a thing from Gossip Girl. I’M SO SORRY I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT GOSSPI GIRL. But there we go. I haven’t transcribed everything for this section; I just summarised the answers instead. :)

“I’m a reception teacher and I’m already seeing sexism in four and five year olds. Would any of you be interesting in making a feminist picture book?”

Holly Bourne recommended the feminist picture book My Big Shouting Day, as well as suggesting the recommended reading lists of the diverse picture books charity Inclusive Minds. “That really scares me, what you just said!” CJ Daugherty said that maybe picture books were lagging behind, although there was a movement to reduce engendering in toys and books. They also talked about the new more diverse Barbie dolls — in the 60s feminists swapped the voice of GI Joe with the voice of Barbie!

“Do you think you can write outside your gender? Do you think a male author can write a woman the same way a woman can?”

All the authors agreed that it was definitely possible, if portrayed responsibly and sensibly; not just for an element of representation. “How do you not emphasise the difference and close the gap? It’s a fallacy to say that our experiences are the same.” CJ talked about her co-writer on The Secret Fire, Carina Rozenfeld, who usually writes from a male POV, and said she thought Carina was successful — “She didn’t patronise them; she treated them as equals.” Hollys Bourne and Smale added that male writers can write female characters badly, for example in the movie About Time! Who was — well. Very manic pixie dream girl.

“I’m 16, and when girls say they’re feminists boys say things like ‘When are you going to stop shaving?’ How do we let girls know these things aren’t all actually true?”

Holly explains that her third book addresses cognitive dissonance — having two conflicting beliefs at the same time — and that it’s difficult to be a feminist in every single action you do; “There’s no perfect feminist.” Anna added that asking “Why?” is a good way to respond; then people will either have a thing that you can tell them is wrong or will realise it’s nothing. It’s difficult to combine maybe wanting to be attractive but also wanting to be a strong woman. The world and media is a myriad of problems we as feminists have to sort through. “Feminism is in your head; it’s about being able to do what you want to do and not what society tells you you should do,” said CJ.

“How did you come up with the premise Manifesto on How to Be Interesting [by Holly Bourne]?”

“I had a massive fight with my boyfriend, because I discovered he was popular at school,” Holly said. After taking a train to London in a fit of rage, Bree’s whole story “downloaded” to her head. Which both Holly and everyone else agreed would all be lovely to happen again. “Just get angry and go to London!”

“How do we keep feminism going after it fades as a trend?”

Holly Smale said the trend right now is for very overtly feminist books, but even if the trend morphs into something different women’s voices will continue to be heard in fiction. CJ talked about the new young generation of feminists, which was lovely to hear because at least for me, young people are passionate about feminism.

“We’ve talked a lot about male and female, but not much about nonconforming genders or even disabled characters. What’s your view on that?”

CJ started straight off by saying that this should be the next wave, but that publishing moved very slowly. People also want to get it right — “although that isn’t an excuse for not publishing it at all”. Holly Smale said that you have to tell the story that you personally have to write the story you want to tell, and you have to make sure you and publishers are listening and encouraging all kinds of stories. CJ finished by saying she hoped that more diversity would also be seen in writers as well as books.

After this we all got our books signed! My copies of Geek Girl had all been a YALC, and much to my disappointment/dawning realisation, ALL MY HOLLY BOURNE BOOKS ARE ON KINDLE. But I got her new Spinster series one, How Hard Can Love Be? signed. And promptly read it. ;) It’s fabulous, for the record. Overall I had such a great evening and I came home so excited by feminism and books and EVERYTHING. So this post ended up being way longer and more detailed than I intended it to be. :P

what did you think about the authors’ responses? talked about feminism with anyone recently? have you been to any great book events? :)

Playlist: sea creatures

I like mermaids. I love mermaids. All kinds of mermaid mythology. For my final art project at the end of last year, I even ended up doing a sort of mermaid self-portrait. (Even though I’m not very good at art, I actually really enjoyed painting that, and I also thought it was decent.) Our teacher let us listen to music, so I made an entire mermaid playlist for that. IT WAS AWESOME.

But that old playlist was also little disorganised. I realised when I was compiling this new one that I had two ways I wanted it to go, because there are two kinds of mermaid music I have: the soft guitars and ocean noises and relaxing vocals, and the dark electronic pulsing. In other words: the surface, and the seabed, which is a line I stole from lauren Aquilina’s Ocean. ;)

It turns out I actually had to narrow down songs to put on here. More songs than usual. I have sooo many ocean-themed songs! I hope you all enjoy this playlist, even if you’re not as mermaid-crazy as I am hehe.

sea creatures

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i lost my head somewhere between the surface and the seabed. (a playlist in two parts: one for the lulling of the tides on the sand, and the other for the deathly quiet of the depths.)
listen on spotify / youtube

side a. seabed
merewif – willow beats
water me – fka twigs
drowning – banks
bloodflood – alt-j

side b. surface
the water – johnny flynn ft. laura marling
sailingsong – a fine frenzy
sea creatures – soak
ocean – lauren aquilina

Also, although it didn’t fit onto here, Siren Song by Bat For Lashes is a beautiful haunting mermaid-song. (I have so many other mermaid song recommendations, but that will have to do.)

do you make playlists for projects? what are your feelings on mermaids? what mythological figures fascinate you?

Chronicles at Hogwarts: Epilogue – Indira Marshall

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I can’t believe the Story Mash Up has come to the end! I’ve had such a fantastic time reading everyone’s chapters and seeing how the plot developed. Especially since I had such a different idea of what might happen to start off with! :P But before I have to let these characters go (*sniffs*), we’re each going to be posting our epilogues following the events of the day.

The Story Mash Up is a collaborative writing project hosted by Joan @ Fiddler Blue where we all write a chapter following the lives of our characters at Hogwarts. (Which I sadly do not own. So copyright JK Rowling!)  You can read all the previous chapters here:

Chapter I: Indira by me @ here
Chapter II: Aislin by Joan @ Fiddler Blue
Chappter III: Min Hye by Michelle @ The Writing Hufflepuff
Chapter IV: Yokitori by Tasha @ The Bookgasm Blog
Chapter V: Percy by Ash @ Teabears & Co.
Chapter VI: Dalton by Vineeth @ The Lousy Design
Chapter VII: Ashley by Kaycee @ Kaycee K

I’ll be linking everyone’s epilogues here once they’ve been also been posted. :)

{Ashley} {Yoki} {Indira} {Aislin} {Min Hye} {Percy} {Dalton}

epilogue: indira

Indira hovered in the door of the hospital wing, watching the visitors drift out to head to the Quidditch match. The stone walls were dappled with sunlight, but it didn’t do anything to ease the tension in her clenched fists. Breathe, she told herself.
“Hello?” Emily asked, voice hesitant and quietened by the distance. Because obviously her bed was all the way across the other side of the room, forcing walk in front of all the other patients to reach her. Indira didn’t see why scratches on the arm required the patient to be bed-bound. She couldn’t even

Indira hovered in the door of the hospital wing, watching the visitors drift out to head to the Quidditch match. The stone walls were dappled with sunlight, but it didn’t do anything to ease the tension in her clenched fists. Breathe, she told herself.

“Hello?” Emily asked, voice hesitant and quietened by the distance. Because obviously her bed was all the way across the other side of the room, forcing walk in front of all the other patients to reach her. Indira didn’t see why scratches on the arm required the patient to be bed-bound. She couldn’t even understand why Emily was even still in the hospital wing. It was a waste of space –

She took another deep breath, released her fingers from their fist, and stepped out of the shadows. She kept her eyes down walking all the way over to Emily’s bed.

She looked down at Emily’s crinkled brows. “Hi.” Bloody hell, it would have been better to do this when there were more people around, not less; her voice echoed so unpleasantly in this empty room.

“So,” Emily said, fiddling her own hands in her bedsheet. “Who forced you to come?”

“No one forced me to come,” Indira said sharply, then tilted her head and relented. “Well. Maybe – maybe it was the Ravenclaw girls and Min Hye. But they didn’t exactly force me.”

“You’re missing a Quidditch match.”

Emily’s voice was pointed. Through the crosses of the window, Indira could see the Quidditch stands and hoops. Her team captain usually got too carried away to take notes on tactics by the end; she could be losing Slytherin the Quidditch cup for this.

She sighed. “Believe me, I know. I…they thought it would be better to come if it was, you know. Quiet.” You are going to do this well, she repeated to herself for what must been the twentieth time this morning.

After a moment’s pause, Emily said quietly, avoiding eye contact “You know that I’m sorry. I – I didn’t…”

“You didn’t mean to reveal that I was a werewolf to the entire school?” she sneered. Her voice must have been loud, Emily’s eyes darted around at the other inhabitants of the hospital. “It’s fine. They were going to figure it out sometime. It might be better – oh, Merlin.”

Indira really had wanted to not turn this into a bitter revenge speech. She rubbed her temples, trying to recall the somewhat severe list of how-not-to-mess-up Min Hye had given her. (The Hufflepuff commentator have appeared sweet, but she certainly wasn’t the pushover Indira had anticipated.)

“Okay, I’m just going to start that again. I have literally no idea what you thought you were doing and I don’t think it was alright, but – anyway, I’m supposed to be forgiving you.” She swallowed, and her eyes drifted to the light silver scars on Emily’s arm. She said a little quieter, “That doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven you now, but I’m probably going to.”

As soon as Indira finished speaking, Emily shook her head with vehemence. “No, it – it shouldn’t be you doing this. I acted awfully. I was just tired of all the stupid Muggleborn stuff. I mean….Slytherins aren’t always the most welcoming lot.” She looked up at Indira, giving a weak and hopeful smile. Indira could feel her walls crumble like a stale biscuit.

“I’m not going to argue with that,” she said, returning the smile with what she hoped was warmth. They kept smiling at each other, and Indira stared a little helplessly for a second before looking back down at her hands. The knot that had remained in her stomach for so long felt like it was finally loosening. And it was wonderful. “Although it would be good if you could, like, not try and reveal me as a werewolf in the most humiliating way possible again.”

Emily pushed herself up so she was sitting against the backboard. “I’m not going to argue with that.”

If Indira was going to try and start this year anew, now was her chance. “So…” she said, her eyes drifting out the window again to the Quidditch players swooping around the pitch. “Do you want to come to Hogsmeade after the match with me?”

Emily fixed Indira with a serious glare before pushing aside her bedsheets. “Madame Pomfrey must never know.”


I’ve had SUCH an amazing time with this project and it’s been wonderful to meet so many lovely new people! I’m really looking forward to reading all the epilogues, and I hope you are as well. :)

January Favourites!

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YES. It’s back to monthly favourites! I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve done a good one — November was basically taken up by NaNoWriMo, and I missed December’s in light of all the new year round ups happening. So yay, here we go!

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Okay, technically I read this in December. BUT IT WAS FABULOUS. I actually enjoyed it more than The Grisha, I think — the whole thing just felt more polished. And I totally hadn’t realised that it was a heist novel, which was a lovely surprise. (I LOVE HEISTS.) Altogether, I’m now just slightly weeping in despair.

2. In the Heights  HELL YEAH MUSICALS. Ugh. So much excitement this month. Admittedly, I went to see this because I got into Hamilton, but I thought it was such a fabulous musical in its own right — totally going to be buying the soundtrack! It was at King’s Cross Theatre, so the stage was kind of over where the railway line would be and the audience sat on the two platforms? I’m sure there’s a name for that kind of stage. Sandwich stage, maybe. I thought that was really effective as well as the awesome music! LIGHTS UP IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS UP AT THE BREAK OF DAY

3. A Hero At the End of the World by Erin Claiborne This was a lot like Harry Potter. But also not, because it’s Harry Potter if Ron was more of an idiot and killed Voldemort instead of weedy Harry and then Harry worked in a coffee shop and met Draco. So, not that much like Harry Potter. I mean, it was really good as a comment of Chosen One tropes, much like Carry On! Like a Carry On written by Douglas Adams. Plus, Big Bang Press is awesome — it publishes fanfic authors and then commissions fanartists to draw the cover. This is generally a super pretty book.

4. Carol by Patricia Highsmith I do know that this was originally called The Price of Salt. But my edition was called Carol, so. I didn’t want to confuse you! Even if it kind of had a gross cover. Everyone seemed super taken with the recent film, and the book had a ton of recommendations — I mean vintage lesbians — and it didn’t disappoint. UGH, the writing was sooo nice. <3

5. As You Like It This started a bit slow, but THE SECOND HALF WAS FABULOUS. Have I mentioned how much I love the faek relationship trope? (Shh, I know it’s Shakespeare. He obviously liked this trope too.) Also, Rosalin was really cute. And Celia was played by Patsy Ferran of Jim in Treasure Island last year! Yeah, the director literally just made Jim a girl with no explanation and it was great. *nods*

6. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson Kind of weird and literary. I feel like I’ve been rather literary in my reading recently. I haven’t quite finished it, but it’s lovely to be reading something just…well-written. Yeah. Not that other books aren’t, but the prose just reads particularly well for me. *hums*

Stuff from around the internet:

  • I’ve been feeling a lot of podfic love lately, so I recorded two Carry On ones of my own!(As in, audiobooks of fanfiction.) The first one was for a Christmas gift exchange on Tumblr, and it’s of a wonderful fic about Agatha, and the second one is a chaptered (!!) WIP. AAH I’M REALLY EXCITED TO BE DOING THIS.
  • ‘so instead, you don’t question the expiry date on your forever.’ — Nirvana @ Quenching the Quill wrote a beautiful piece of writing about childhood.
  • Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout talked about all the wonderful ways in which villains die, and which ones are best. *cackles*
  • An Overthinking Teenager @ Mixolydian Musings reviewed/flailed about Carry On, AKA my heart and soul. ;) She’s also reached 500 followers recently, congrats!
  • ‘You, you’re busy kissing all the tornadoes in Kansas good night.’ — Topaz @ Six Impossible Things shared a poem about love which I fell in love with.
  • Safah @ oh how i wander is doing a series on Whitechapel Art Gallery, feat. wonderful art of both visual and literary kinds.
  • Our Harry Potter story mash up will wrap up next Sunday, but in the meantime you can read chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7.
  • Rainbow Rowell revealed the blurb for her World Book Day short story Kindred Spirits? AND IT’S ABOUT STAR WARS. Literally. It’s about people queueing up outside the cinema to see The Force Awakens!
  • Susie Day tweeted that she was writing a sequel to the Tumbling, AKA the most adorable short story ever.
  • I almost died because of the Ladies of Hamilton Ham4Ham. I need a Hamilton where everyone is a girl. I NEED IT. I’M SUPER IN LOVE WITH ALL OF THESE GIRLS UGH. Especially Morgan Marcell.

    (This needed embedding. But if it isn’t working, see the clip on YouTube!)
  • Noelle Stevenson (of Nimona & Lumberjanes) wrote an essay about why Boba Fett is a lesbian. Yep.

In the diary:

  • I went back to school. That was, you know, alright.
  • I got a haircut! Yeah. Another one. Here is a webcam selfie that I definitely didn’t take just now. Potentially not the best I have looked ever, but this is for the Good Of The Blog. This is Documentation. ;)
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  • I SWAM 100 LENGTHS. It was for fundraising. But still! Look at how active I am!
  • Although I thought it was a bit too soon to put it on my faves, I’ve been listening to Fun Home all afternoon. It’s a musical about Alison Bechdel, and it’s super gay and super awesome. YAY. :D
  • I’m…actually planning my new project? Normally I’m a complete panster, so that’s pretty cool. And obviously I’ve also been putting together an inspiration playlist, because that’s basically the first thing I do when I write. Hopefully I’ll be sharing that in the future!

In conclusion, a large part of my January has been spent thinking about cute actors. Yes. I needed the motivation for going back to school, right? :P

how has your month been? what’s the weather like for you right now? (it’s grey and dreary here.) read any good books recently?

The Happiness Tag

the happiness tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Christina @ fairy skeletons for this tag. Although it’s a lovely sunny day as I’m sitting at my computer, the whole…back-to-school stretch of winter feels ever so long. I don’t know. All the new year new you kind of things in the papers get tiring.

I’m happy right now! I mean, I think I am generally more happy than not. But it’s such a weird balance — it’s like I have to tread sp carefully to protect that feeling of feelgood. I have to remember to do this thing and remember to not do that. Or to check all those stupid superstitious things that I know are in the right place. (Do: go outside before lunch. Reply to your emails. Listen to nice music. Don’t: spend the entire day reading that one book. Spend an hour worrying over one paragraph in an email. Listen to music that makes you feel horrible and disconnected.)

We talk about happiness so much. I don’t know. I always just — it’s just feelings; things that do and don’t make my chest ache. I can’t say if it would work for everyone, but it was really lovely to think about some things that make me happy. <3

songs: Sinners, Lauren Aquilina. Paris, Magic Man, Shake the Sheets, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. Carry On My Wayward Son, Kansas. One Day More, Les Mis. Non-Stop, Hamilton. Bloom, The Paper Kites.

books: things written by Rainbow Rowell. A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab. Tumbling by Susie Day. Solitaire by Alice Oseman. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. Legend by Marie Lu.

films: Whisper of the Heart. My Neighbour Totoro. Ten Things I Hate About You.

words:: superfluous. altruistic. endeavour. sojourn. visceral.

scents: tea. hot cross buns. frying bacon. (or frying onions.) the smell of grass after it’s been raining. bookshops. christmas pudding.

miscellany: talking to a friend you can say anything to. finally creating something good. a sunny day. inside jokes. happy coincidences.


Starting Revolutions in Dystopian YA: a 7-Step Guide

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Revolutionaries, are you secretly the protagonist of a YA dystopia? Find out by checking yourself against the symptoms below!*

You have always played by the rules. You know everything you do is for the good of society. You are going to do your parents proud. Your think your life is going to be nothing special, predictable, and you will probably marry your nothing-special, predictable best friend whom everyone thinks you are in love with for no apparent reason.

But you are Different. Nothing about your actions or thoughts suggest it, but you know it deep in your bones. You go along with the others, yet you are somehow…not like them. You try to quell this individuality. Because if you try hard enough it will go away.

You are about to come of age. Soon you will be that magic special number which means you are a functioning adult in society. A little like a debutante. In fact, you might actually be a debutante. During this coming-of-age-ritual, something important will probably happen in relation to your love life. (Because the government holds a deep interest in the love lives of teenagers.)

But now something has gone disastrously wrong and ripped a hole in your nice predictable life plan. The nice plan that you didn’t really trust anyway went wrong — how is this possible?!? Well, anyway, you have now seen the light and know that you’ve been living under oppressed rulers all your life. You have vowed to get out of that dark place.

The Different and brooding love interest — possibly the same as the ‘something disastrously wrong’ — has awakened a flame inside of you. Your latent Differentness has started to show itself. You are In Love, now the most beautiful and amazing couple anyone has ever seen. You are made for each other. Your love is far more powerful and Different and world-changing than any other teenage love. You are, of course, just like every other teenager in love.

Some fighting happened, but other people did it. You didn’t get to see that much actual revolution-ing. You were probably too busy making moon eyes at The Love Interest, or maybe feeling guilty about spending too much time with The Love Interest. Anyway, one of your dearest friends who you only met like a week ago died in the fighting. You have spent the required amount of time crying and being meaningful, and currently you are angry enough that you might even do something reckless. (Like the reckless thing everyone told you not to do.)

You have done the reckless thing and freed the country in one heroic blow. Despite not actually doing anything other than the reckless thing everyone told you not to do, you have been greeted as a hero. the whole world is free and peaceful and happy. Suffering will never again happen, all thanks to you. You said you were only doing what your instinct told you, and The Love Interest congratulates your modesty but says you really should get some kind of reward.

You finish on a bittersweet note, standing over the grave of tragic friend holding hands with The Love Interest as the sun sets. Finally, you realise that you need to get over the death of tragic friend and move on in your life. To show you have done this you kiss love interest. You ride off into the (improbably still setting) sun. The End.

*This is not a medically approved list. (It also does not apply to all YA dystopian novels ever.)

Beautiful People: Writerly Resolutions and Goals

beautiful people

I swear that I’m trying to be a better writer this year. So I’ve decided to — finally, I know — link up with Cait and Sky for Beautiful People! I realised halfway through writing this that maybe it would have been better to go in with an actual functioning WIP, but STUFF CONVENTION. I did it anyway. I have to start somewhere, right? :P

what were your writing achievements last year?
The Glass Kite Anthology workshop over the summer was awesome. I got longlisted for a poetry competition as well, which was pretty nice? Yeah. *nods*

tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
*manic laughter* WHAT WRITING PROJECT? No, seriously, I don’t really have anything I’m working on right now. (Though I wish I could say I did.) It was fun to get out my NaNo idea, but I’ve been working on that for ages and to be honest I just want something new. Maybe one of those many space opera retellings that I’ve been thinking about. (Guys. SO MANY THINGS ARE IMPROVED BY SPACE, okay?)

list 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.
1. FINISHING STUFF.
2. Writing frequently and not just going crazy during one month a year.
3. Making actual plans with actual plot.
4. Thinking at least a tiny bit about what I’m writing and not going mad just to reach my daily goal. sensing a trend? pfft
5. Yeah. Just generally be more organised in the how and when I write.

are you participating in any writing challenges?
Um, not right now? I DON’T KNOW. But I’d like to. (Is NaNoWriMo a writing challenge? Because despite the complaints of literally everyone I know, I’ll probably be doing that again because I can’t write in any other situation.)

what’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
I don’t have either of these, although it would be pretty cool! This year I’d really love to become more involved generally in the writing community — and to actually produce something decent to show you all. I’m hoping those two things will go hand in hand… I can provide you with many virtual cookies & hugs if you can nag at me to write!

do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?
Pfft, every book is research. ;) No, actually: I jus downloaded a copy of Henry V because I got some awesome ideas from seeing it on stage. I mean, I generally think it would be fun to read Shakespeare when it’s not being slaughtered by English lessons. But that one in particular.

pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?
Hmm, doing this link-up with basically no WIP might have been a silly idea. But I want to make sure that I get to know all of my characters, not one or two. I always intend to write with a really small cast of characters, and then realise halfway through that it’s not going to work and adding some stupid filler ones. To be honest all elements of my writing in their current state need improvement in their current state. XD

do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?
I might go back and edit my NaNo novel. Who knows. Yeah. I’m hoping to get a chance at editing… I think I need to let go of my perfectionism, since I always end up rewriting rather than editing the original. (I think it has got better, in all fairness, but I really do want to start something new.)

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?
HAHAHA. Filling the gaps in my reading material is my basic writing motivation. It’s very self-gratuitous. The things I most enjoy reading about are a) dark storylines, b) revolutions, and c) girlkissing. (Okay, it’s possible that those aren’t actual holes in the market, but there you go.) On a more serious note, I also really want to see more diversity in fantasy and general friendships happening.

what do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?
If you haven’t grasped this already: AN ACTUAL FINISHED MANUSCRIPT. An idea that I reasonably like. Yep. And some more poetry would also be good, though preferably not tacked on as an afterthought like it appeared to there!

do you have any 2016 writerly resolutions? what would you like to see more of in books? just here for the cookies? oh well, here you are… *hands plate* ;)