In Search of Ace Representation // it’s ace awareness week!

ace awareness week.jpg

All this week — the 23rd to the 30th October — is Asexual Awareness Week! It’s pretty self-explanatory, but it’s a week to raise awareness about asexual, aromantic and anywhere-along-those-spectrums experiences. (Although I don’t know why all these weeks start on Sunday. MONDAY IS THE START OF THE WEEK?? But anyways haha.)

I actually missed ace awareness week last year because I didn’t even know it existed until it came around… So this time I was especially determined to write something. I mean, I still got the dates wrong but pfft, I’m writing this in advance.

If you don’t know what asexuality is — and no, it’s not just for plants — then it’s basically just a lack of sexual attraction. That’s it! There are also people who identify as aromantic, which is a lack of romantic attraction, and people who identify as demisexual/romantic (when you only experience attraction to people you’ve known for a long time) or grey-sexual (a general time for people who are somewhere in between).  But I’m not here to you to explain what asexuality is… Whilst obviously that’s extremely important, it’s also in many other places across the internet, in a much more eloquent way than I can put! I’d recommend the Ace Awareness Week site and the AVEN wiki as a starting point.

So, after that little intro bit, I decided to talk about some misconceptions people have. Although of course raising awareness is super important, my personal experience is that people know the technical definition but don’t always understand what it actually means. The diversity of ace and aro — I’m kind of using this to mean all people who identify along those spectrums; I hope that’s alright —  is SO WIDE. Yes, some ace people aren’t interested in any relationships. Some ace people are interested in relationships, or other options like queerplatonic relationships. Some ace people are also gay or bi or trans or any other identity, Some ace people want to have sex. Some ace people don’t. (But that’s not the same thing as celibate.) Some ace people can experience certain kinds of attraction, in certain situations. You can’t just say THIS IS WHAT AN ACE PERSON IS LIKE. I mean, you can’t do that for anything. But in my personal experience, asexuality = the plant one to many people.

Yet despite all this intersection with other identities, there are barely an ace characters in books and the media? It’s estimated that 1 – 4% of people are asexual, which is kind of similar to the percentage of redheaded people living in England. I can name SO many redheaded characters, yet I can count the number of asexual ones on one hand. Often there will be a character who seems like they’re ace, but the word is never actually mentioned? I mean, I feel like this is getting better for asexuality, although I’ve never seen aromanticism mentioned once. And sometimes it isn’t always needed, like perhaps in a fantasy setting where society works differently.

It’s just so frustrating to still see media where a lack of attraction is seen as something inhuman. Take Sherlock — which, I’m going to be real, is very far from the paragon of representation, but anyway. Sherlock’s just this unreachable icy guy, and it’s like his apparent lack of attraction means he’s a psychopath? *sighs* And Steven Moffat literally said asexual people weren’t interesting to write about, ugh. (This show is problematic in so many ways, I know. And yet I still watch it. Kind of.) I will headcanon Sherlock as asexual until the end of time just because of that — because all the characters keep saying how can you manage without a relationship?

I don’t want it to be that way. I just want characters who are ace and aro without being any less human; without abstaining or choosing the high moral ground or something. Characters who are just people. Because romantic love isn’t always the most important, you know?

I enjoy reading romantic stories — like, I enjoy them even more than I enjoy romance in real life. I read a book like Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun and marvel at all the love there. (Of many kinds.) It also makes me kind of sad, though… I don’t know if I’ll ever have that, or even if I want to. Currently I identify as grey-asexual, but it’s fine if that changes in the future. And it probably will, because it’s sort of a deduction game… It’s a lot more difficult to tell the absence of something. I don’t think I’ve ever had a crush, but maybe I have; maybe I just didn’t know what it felt like. I’ve spent SO LONG searching things on the internet trying to tell if I’ve felt it or not.

Quite honestly, the internet has educated me about asexuality more than anything else. Some parts of mainstream media still sneer at identities like demisexuality. (I’ve seen it with my very own eyes. I have not forgiven that newspaper.) I obviously only have my own experiences, and I’m still very much learning, so I don’t mean for this post to be anything like speaking for the whole community. I just wanted to say my little bit, and I really hope to see more great books with ace representation in the future.

do you have any ace/aro book recs for me? any headcanons? read any cool things for ace awareness week? let me know!

Why I Love LGBTQ+ Retellings

‘TIS I, actually writing something for Pride Month! *dances* I’m rather excited to write this post, because I kept writing some very angsty depressing posts about conversations I’ve had with people and it was Not Fun. (There is a time for depressing posts. But right now I just feel like being excited.) (And I HAVE SO MANY OTHER POST IDEAS THEY ALL CAME AT ONCE.)

So! Today I decided to write about something I love a lot, which is retellings with queer characters. THIS INCLUDES ALL RETELLINGS. Not just fairytales. Which sort of applies to every book if you want to get philosophical, but I guess I’m mostly talking about tropes as well…?

ANYWAY. A big reason why I love queer retellings is because I think that they give the story way more nuance than just…a straight relationship. Perhaps it’s rather self-indulgent, because in most cases I would rather about queer characters. But there are so many novels with straight romances that I don’t feel too bad.

Especially with fairy tales, the original story is usually pretty old and so is rather rooted in your typical gender and historical constraints. I feel like if you’re going to rehash a story that’s been told so many times over and over, it’s important to make it original. Also, it really sucks to never see yourself in these stories.

Loads of people are irritated because Russell T. Davies’ adapation A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the BBC apparently wasn’t’ true to the original. (He cut some lines about suicide which worked fine in the 16th century but not today and ended with same-sex relationships.) And it was really fun! QUEER SHAKESPEARE FOREVER. I saw another adaptation of it at the Globe the other week where they put in a queer relationship so I feel pretty good. Anyway, RTJ said: “I find it hilarious that people get up in arms about Titania kissing a woman, but they’re perfectly happy with her kissing a donkey.” That encapsulates a lot of my feelings.

a midsummer night's dream gif.gif
Titania and Hippolyta; source

Ash by Malinda Lo is one of my favourite books. It’s an f/f retelling of Cinderella with way cooler fairy lore. But when I first read it at the age of around 9 (probably) I didn’t understand the romance. I knew that Cinderella was supposed to end up with the prince and I didn’t understand why she ended up with a girl.


I feel sad for younger me. I didn’t get the obsession I was supposed to have with boys but I didn’t know there was any other option. I really hope that in the future we don’t end up with kids growing up like that. And I think an important way to do that it is more diversity in kid lit. (Because also, let’s remember that I used to call the peach pencil the ‘skin colour’ pencil.) I find it really frustrating that people think showing kids there are options other than being straight/cisgender/allosexual is ‘pushing an agenda on impressionable minds’ or whatever. -_-

We deserve to have fairytale endings too. We deserve to go on grand adventures and spaceships and ride dragons. Retellings allow different experiences to be written into stories where before they were erased. They let us say: this belongs to everyone. I mean, I guess I’m talking more about older works of literature. In those not everything translates the same way as it would have done at the time. The audience reaction changes, you know?

I think that part of the reason I do like fanfiction (although I can’t deny that itS many flaws) is because I can read happy stories with queer characters. I guess it’s another kind of retelling, in a way. If I’m irritated at a book with no diversity — I still maintain that Keira Cass’ The Selection would have been 100% better with queer characters; SO MANY OPPURTUNITIES — then I can go and read something where the girl does end up with the girl. And they fight supercomputers together and save the world.. I can read stories about agender space pirates. I can read stories about asexual wizards. I don’t know any books with genderqueer characters that aren’t coming out/self-discovery/self-affirming kind of thing.

Those stories are important, but I wish there were more queer characters in other narratives.  I think it’s such a shame that we don’t have more queer characters in fantasy and sci-fi, because there’s such potential in a created world. Does homophobia still exist? The gender binary? Does magic or virtual reality make it way easier to change your gender presentation. *sweeps hands* SO MANY THINGS. If you’re creating with a new world there are so many opportunities to play with dynamics in society. Like in a dystopia: where there’s prejudice between, like, people of a different District, is it okay to be queer in the Capitol? I don’t understand why people can be perfectly okay reading about aliens and elves but say that being non-binary doesn’t exist. *scowls*

Overall: KEEP RETELLING ALL THE THINGS. Make it something that shows me something new about the original trope. Because I do not want to read another straight we’re-playing-Romeo-and-Juliet-in-the-school-play-and-I-have-a-crush-on-you.

do you like retellings? shakespeare fan? got any queer ya recs for me? i’d love to hear!

7 Books That Would be Better With LGBTQ+ characters


I recently had a conversation with my friend where I said I wanted more diversity in a book, and she asked, “Do you just mean a gay character?” I mean, besides from the fact that queer does not equal gay, I did think about this for a bit afterwards… Why do I want so many books to have queer characters? (Because I definitely do. It’s a priority daydream of mine.) I suppose it is slightly selfish, but it is nice to see parts of yourself in fictional characters, and it’s also weird when diversity isn’t there because…the real world is diverse. Even if all the Valentine’s day adverts on the Tube will make you believe we are all slim, conventionally attractive white straight people. *coughs*

YES. This is slightly a Valentine’s day post, even if I’m a) quite late and b) somewhat cynical towards the date. I thought this post would actually be quite well timed. I’ve been DYING to share my thoughts on books that would be improved by queer characters for ages. (As I said: something I think about frequently). But even though I’m mostly talking about books that feature varying degrees of romance I think it’s also worth noting that I’d really love to see LGBTQ+ characters in books where there isn’t necessarily romance. That is the hope and the dream.

1. The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer SCARLETT BENOIT IS BISEXUAL 2K16. I do like Wolf, but to be quite frank I think Scarlet was also a little in love with Cinder and Winter. Everyone is in practically love with each other. But I like this Scarlett headcanon in particular. (Queer space pirates are my literal dream.) There are four — five counting Fairest — straight couples in this series and it just felt a bit boring for me. :/ I also found it really unrealistic how, like, there weren’t even any minor LGBTQ+ characters such as in Throne of Glass or The Grisha. Hmm. I don’t know if it was Levana’s iron rule, but it would have been super easy to do during a ball scene or something.

2. The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare  Tessa Grey is canonically polyamorous. Tessa Gray is canonically polyamorous. It is literally stated she is in love with both Will and Jem. (Go away, annoying guy who says you can only be in romantic love with one person. Jeez.) Why have such a fight over Jessa and Wessa? Herongraystairs is a way cooler ship name, anyway. 😛

3. The Selection series + The Heir by Keira Cass Well, statistically there’s at least one LGBTQ+ character in every single Selection. (Unless they vet queer people out of the process. Depressing, but also possible.) It’s been a while since I read The Selection itself, but I just finished reading The Heir and I can absolutely say it would have been improved by a plot of Eadlyn realising she was asexual instead. NO, PARENTS, it is not your child’s duty to marry and have children! Maybe you could just leave her alone and get a democracy! Or she could have been a lesbian as well. There were a lot of descriptions of Neena. Or polyamorous, because there is literally a part where Eadlyn says she’s in love with all the boys. Or someone could get mad that only cisgender boys and girls could enter. Any of this would have 100% improved this rather dragging book. (And series. SORRY. It was fun but in retrospect thoroughly irritating.)

4. Wool by Hugh Howie Juliet is a lesbian, and that is all. She fell in love with some random dude over the course of about a weekend and I was very irritated because CUTE SASSY MECHANIC HELLO. Such a wasted opportunity. *shakes head*

5. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling I refuse to believe that every HP character is straight. JK Rowling can say what she wants and I will headcanon what I want. I’m still not really over the lack of queer characters (and also intersectional diversity beyond that) in Harry Potter, because…it’s just so popular? It would have reached such a wide audience. I do realise that there’s maybe more publicity on diversity now than when the series was still being published, though. I am happy about the Cursed Child casting — I think it’s really important to consider different interpretations of characters, and to remember that the movie isn’t, like, the be-all and end-all. Everyone imagines characters differently!

6. Lorali by Laura Dockrill Lesbian mermaids. Bisexual mermaids. Asexual mermaids. Non-binary mermaids. ALL KINDS OF QUEER MERMAIDS J U ST I CAN’T EVEN WITH MY UNDERWATER FRIENDS ALRIGHT. This was such a unique book that I just really wanted it to feature some queer mermaids. (I did just download a lesbian mermaid eBook. I’m quite excited.)

7. The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare This is an MG book. WHY DOES IT NEED ROMANCE? I would have been totally cool if there was no romance. But there is a very boring straight romance that adds nothing to character or plot development. *sighs* I’m now aggressively pretending Cal and Aaron are in love.

are there any books you think would be better with characters? I HAVE SO MANY MOORE AAH. what do you think about valentine’s day? enjoy it?

Feminism, Fangirls and the Fandom

feminism fangirls fandom

I am a really big advocate of all things fandom. I love to be a fan, and I love to talk to other fans, and I love fanfic. In short: I love being excited about things! I didn’t always know what fandom was – for me now, being active in the fandom is not just liking something, but liking something and connecting with other people about it. (Probably over the internet, but not necessarily.)

Fandom has not just been about discovering the community. It’s more than the actual fandoms themselves: although I’m pretty new to everything, it’s essentially been my doorway into learning more about feminism and diversity and current issues. It’s really interesting to look at the demographics of the fandom in comparison to that of the characters in fanworks.

Personally, I feel as though the fandom – through the way I experience it – is largely women. But I often see articles saying talking about being a girl geek as though we’re in a minority? Maybe this used to be more true; I’m not sure. (And sadly I don’t have a TARDIS.) Is a fangirl different to a fan or a geek or a nerd? I don’t feel like it should be, but in my mind it’s more closely linked with someone…kind of like Cath Avery. And also maybe like me. I thought this was just my brain, but it seems like it’s true that the creators of fanworks (I’m kind of using this to talk about fanfic, art, edits, podfic, all that kind of thing) are mostly female.

The gender disparity is really, really wide when it comes to fanwork creation. It’s quite unusual for me to see a fanartist, writer, or blogger who isn’t female. I mean, It’s difficult for me to talk about fandom as an entire entity because at it is essentially ‘I like something and I participate on the internet about it’, and I am definitely not capable of collecting statistics for the entire internet. But as someone young and new in the fandom, the concept of ‘fan’ as a male role bemuses me because coming into the fandom in recent years I’ve never experienced it that way.

Do I think we shouldn’t call ourselves fangirls? For a while, I thought that it was kind of a negative term, but it can better to change those views than the actual word itself. Although some fans might get on your nerves, that’s not everyone! I find that in most part people who call fangirls stupid etc. don’t tend to be part of the fandom. I’m happy to call myself a fangirl. However, even within the fandom I think there’s negativity towards people who are quite fierce in their shipping. (Also: I keep trying to find a place to put this stat, but I haven’t found it yet. Apparently most slash shippers are LGBTQ+, which admittedly was not something I had thought. It feels like there’s an idea they’re mostly straight?)

Even as I say that the creators of the fandom are predominantly women, the subjects of their works are usually men. It’s a really strange relationship. Probably because it’s strange how mainstream media is populated by white men… I mean, fic is even more overwhelmingly male than actual published fiction. Fic is still remixing something already there, and what’s already there tends to be men.

I have a lot of strong feelings about fanfiction. I would happily give a fully PowerPoint-ed presentation explaining why it is an excellent thing. There’s this idea that it’s all terrible and terribly written, and whilst there are some maybe less good examples, they’re not the only fics out there. There are also trashy books, in case you hadn’t noticed. (I like some fics more than books. I admit it.) And one of the things that I enjoy the most about fic is the diversity, because I kind of end up wanting everyone to be queer and that can definitely happen in fic.

The spectrum of diversity and representation in fandom is really varied. In canon queer elements tend to stay in subtext a lot; even though there’s starting to be more representation of LGBTQ+ characters and same-sex relationships in mainstream media, it’s still not…that much. Whereas most fanfiction on AO3 features a non-straight couple.

RETURNING TO MY POINT. I love fanfiction because people write pieces that are both diverse and well-written. You can find awesome fics about queer characters that both a) don’t erase their queerness or struggles and b) have excellent plots and writing. can we have this in books as well pls Or you can even write it yourself! But, I mean, whilst fic can have a really diverse cast in relation to sexualities, there are less fics with characters who are any gender other than male. If you go into the Archive of Our Own tags and plug the numbers into a calculator, the ratio of f/f to m/m is about 2:15. Which is a lot. There was a great conversation on Twitter about LGBTQ+ characters in YA fiction and the media — about the fetishization of m/n/, and the lack of f/f — which is also very true for fanfiction. And here is another post about queer girls as a cautionary tale in literature, including some stuff about the fandom. Fic isn’t without its problems.

I love the fandom. I am ever-grateful to it. It would be nice if fanfiction and books could help each other out over a nice cup of tea — the only way to do it, darling — and then I can find even more things to be excited about than before.

Top Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity

It’s that time again! I’ve noticed that I seem to be participating in TTT (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) round every month, so from now on I shall try very hard to do this meme monthly. (Permission is granted to bug me about if it I forget.) This week’s topic is my top ten books that celebrate diversity of all kinds. I’d like to read more diverse books, but these are the favourites from the ones I’ve read.

1. Adaptation by Malinda Lo What I love about this book is that it has exciting extraterrestrial-goings-on without erasing the diversity of the characters. I mean, all of Malinda Lo’s books that I’ve read so far are great, but this one is my most recent!

i'll give you the sun
2. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson I flail over this book a lot. There’s a lot of purple prose, but it’s an amazing book about family, love and not fitting in. It also has the most beautiful design ever so NO EXCUSES! (Just kidding, of course it’s totally your choice. But I did enjoy it a lot.)

love hurts
3. Tumbling by Susie Day Tumbling isn’t even a book. It’s an original short story published in the Love Hurts anthology – which in itself includes some great diversity such as in Humming Through My Fingers and Gentlewoman – but this one is my absolute favourite. It’s about two girls who meet through Tumblr (through Sherlock, at Speedy’s Café). There’s musings on popular culture and worrying about internet relationships and what happens when the freedom the internet allows is taken away. (“Tumblr is where I am the best me, ordinary, pain-free.”) I AM THE ONE-MAN FANDOM FOR THIS ALJIDFNA;DIkihfaedoi. It is SO BLOODY CUTE BUT ALSO SERIOUS AND if you don’t want to spend 8 quid on it then I wouldn’t blame you, but for sure flick to this story in the bookshop and give it a try.

merida gif

miseducation of cameron post
4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth I’ve just read this one after hearing a lot of good things, and it was awesome. It’s about queer teenagers growing up in rural America (? I AM SORRY MY GEOGRAPHY) in the 90s and it was so great. I also wasn’t very educated about the issues it covers so it was really good to read about those whilst it still being a good book, you know?

shadows on the moon
5. Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott Another Cinderella retelling, yes. But this one is a Japanese-fantasy-fusion with a kind of fierce and not-so-nice Cinderella. Who is bitter and wants revenge. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun read and it does include diversity in many different respects.

every day
6. Every Day by David Levithan (Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve read this so I’m not 100% sure how much I’d enjoy it now.) Every Day is narrated by a character who changed bodies every day. There are so many different stories from the bodies A inhabits, and it’s a really interesting dynamic to explore – the person inside doesn’t change, per se, but everyone else has to see a different body.

eleanor and park us
7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell God, you guys are probably sick and tired of me banging on and on about this book! I’m not entirely sure if it belongs on this list, since a lot of the issues like the racism Park experiences aren’t resolved (and also there’s to be a whole debate about Park’s eyeliner and is he gay?) but, yes. I feel like I haven’t included much on here in terms of social diversity, and Eleanor & Park addresses issues like poverty, abuse and body image alongside racism.

aristotle and dante
8. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz This one’s another recent read; I actually, um, read it all in one go, so I’m still slightly gathering my thought. I did enjoy it, though – it was cute and it includes some great diversity.

9. Wonder by RJ Palacio Wonder’s been thrown around a lot in bookish circles so, yes, it’s probably nothing new. I don’t know if it’s an accurate representation but it’s message is so uplifting, and all the viewpoints make it feel so honest.

the rest of us just live here
10. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness Yep. Here it is again. SORRYYY. I just seem to have a serious soft spot for this. Again, it isn’t perfect, but it covers a lot of different issues without it taking over the whole thing.

What do you think of participating monthly? What would you put on your list? Got any good book recs? 🙂

I Meet Malorie Blackman & Patrick Ness

love hurts book launch malorie blackman

At the beginning of February, I attended my first book event: the book launch for Malorie Blackman’s romance anthology, Love Hurts. It was an amazing experience to hear actual published authors and I’m definitely hoping to attend an event like it again (it helps that it only cost like £5 a ticket.) Read on for my adventures, though don’t take them as an actual exact account because I’m writing from memory and not a recording or anything. ha my organisation skills

I am antsy throughout the whole train journey. Granted, it’s partly because of my Chemistry test tomorrow (which I haven’t yet revised for) but it mostly because I have no idea what to expect of this evening. I’ve never been to a proper book event before, let alone with Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness, i.e. superhuman beings.

When I arrive, it is actually a very civilised event: wine and orange juice are on offer, and there’s a small group of chairs set out in one end of the bookshop. The first thing I do is a buy a copy of the book; I start to read it whilst sitting in my chair until the authors are announced and I blanch slightly: in my fangirling, I actually kind of forgot about the other members of the panel, Catherine Johnson and James Dawson. I haven’t read anything by Catherine Johnson, but I read James Dawson’s book Say Her Name for my book club and it’s fair to say that I strongly disliked it. I feel a bit guilty.

However, my nerves are mostly eased when the authors begin talking. The first question asked is of why they wrote the love stories they did, and I am pleased to note that Viola from Chaos Walking is pronounced Vy-ola not Vee-ola. “There is no debate,” Patrick Ness says when asked about the pronunciation. “I wrote the book.” He continues, in answer to the question, to say that he wanted to break a stereotype he often say in YA novels: that of the brave, foolish boy (sometimes also a werewolf) and the shy girl who’s beautiful behind her glasses. “Why can’t they both be brave? Why can’t they both be foolish? I tried to write teenagers like the teenagers I knew, not the ones I read about.” There are nods of assent. Patrick adds that whilst there are some great ‘should-be’ writers like David Levithan, he tries to write books showing more how the world ‘is’. James Dawson steps in to admit that in his first book, he wrote a relationship how he would have liked to have in his teenage years rather than what it would probably actually be like. “It was too perfect, too neat.” I agree strongly with this, because to be honest I really disliked the romance in Say Her Name. I decide to try another of his books at a later date to see if it’s any better.

The next topic we talk about is controversy and hope in YA novels. Patrick Ness jokes that some of the darkest stuff he’s read was in a children’s writing competition, and I kind of agree; writing darker things is my default setting. There are also some pretty dark YA novels out there (I’m looking at you, Kevin Brooks) so I am interested when The Bunker Diary is mentioned. Whilst I personally quite liked it, there was a lot of controversy when it won the Carnegie Prize. I am therefore very pleased when Patrick says that it is a hopeful book: “Even the bleakest books can be hopeful, because they tell the reader that they’re not alone, and that’s the most hopeful sentence there is.”

Malorie and James go on to mention Melvin Burgess’ Junk, another controversial Carnegie medal winner, saying that it knocked down the doors for authors to write freely. I haven’t yet read Junk, but I read The Hit by the same author and that was a book that didn’t skip over any sort of dark subjects. It was frighteningly real. Patrick agrees with James and Malorie, and adds that he doesn’t think there are any taboo subjects. “It’s all about how you cover them,” he says.

It is brought up that Cassandra Clare was turned away from publishers because of Alec’s sexuality. Have the authors ever been told what they can and can’t write? “No,” Patrick says, “but that might just be because I’m quite imposing. I think that spite is necessary for an author.” He goes on to say how he’s actually surprised at how little criticism he has received for Seth in More Than This, and was slightly miffed when school reading list including it was banned – but because of a different book. Malorie Blackman says that she hasn’t ever been told to write something or take something out either: “I write what I like.”

Then, questions open up to the floor. The first is about writing about people you don’t know about, especially if they have a different background or sexuality. Malorie says that you don’t, because then she would only have written one half of Naughts & Crosses, and I am pleased because then I’d only be writing about unsporty girls who do nothing but sit in their rooms on the computer. (To be honest, I do think I need to get out more. Experience stuff.) Catherine Johnson jokes that if that were the case, she could only write about Welsh Jamaicans. There is general agreement over this, though Malorie does note that you have to get your research right as with any character.

Someone else asks what book the authors would give to their teenage selves if they could. Patrick Ness immediately steps in and says he hates those kind of questions, because he can’t go back and give himself that book, but says he would have liked the Harry Potter Manuscript: “So I could publish it,” he says. James Dawson answers with Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle, because it is about LGBT characters without being specifically about LGBT issues. He also adds that the idea of giant praying mantises would probably have appealed to his teenage self. Catherine Johnson supplies the author Sarra Manning, and I take note because I’m feeling a little thin on the ground in reference to good romantic books at the moment.

Spoils of war
Spoils of war

The talk is concluded with a signing. They tell us we’ll be sent up in lines, but everyone gets up immediately and I figure I’m the only one who has to be at school by 8 the next morning so I go and get in the queue. I feel quite bereft at forgetting my copy of A Monster Calls, but I did bring Malorie Blackman’s Noble Conflict (and of course, the actual Love Hurts book). The people in front of me seem to be book event veterans and that eases my anxiety slightly, but I’m also exceedingly nervous because HOLY COW IT’S PATRICK NESS AND MALORIE BLACKMAN. The only thing I say when Patrick Ness asks how I thought the talk was is “Great” but to be honest I’m standing within like a metre of four actual published authors so I don’t feel too bad.

Though it pains me, I leave the bookshop without once taking a look in the Teen section. I do read Love Hurts all the way home, though.