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.

I’m Not Going to Romanticise Poetry

My great-uncle sets crosswords. I’ve personally never set (or solved) a crossword in my life, but I like to think that it’s not all that different from how I write poetry.

The pretty-language part of poetry is, for me, all about hiding your meaning in your words. (Scrap all that creative inspiration stuff.) It’s like playing the Association Game: you’ve got to find something that’s related, but at the same time as different as you can get it, and by the end you can see no relation to what you started with at all; you’ve chosen your path so well that you can’t quite remember your way back through the maze. Logic tells you that is related, and you know it’s true, but it also feels a little bit like cheating.

So, despite the fact that I can’t solve a crossword to save my life, I hold a glimmer of hope that I’ve inherited some of my great-uncle’s crossword-setting skills. I’m now off to use them in an excellent manner by reading Pierce Brown’s Golden Son – which is to say, not using them at all!

Writing: Forests

I found this story in my desktop a few weeks back, and I’m honestly quite surprised by it. I wrote it for school a little over a year ago, and it’s probably as good as anything I write now – I think it was supposed to be about metamorphosis, but it’s more like a very short retelling of Alice in Wonderland plus kitsune. I enjoy making my writing a bit more archaic – ‘rather’, ‘and such’, ‘it is’ etc. – and I think that it’s worked well in this narrator. As ever, let me know what you think; I’m just starting out on my writing journey, so it’s always wonderful for me to hear feedback!


Forests

Forests are not what you think they are.
Many youngsters these days will tell you forests are stupid and boring, and they’d far rather be at home playing on their iPods and Xboxes and all of that nonsense children have nowadays.
This story is about a forest, and I am certain that the forest that I am going to tell you about is not stupid or boring at all. In fact, it is rather exciting, and a little frightening if you are easily scared.

I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not my story is true, but, for the moment, sit down, and listen to my tale.

A sensible child named Alise, around six or seven years old, was standing at the gate of a the forest with her grandparents. After much protesting from a certain younger member of the group, Alise’s grandma had eventually persuaded Alise to experience ‘at least some culture on this wretched trip’.
“But, Grannyyy,” she whined, in a last-minute effort to out off this seemingly unavoidable visit. “Do we haaave to? Can’t we just go back to the toy shop instead?”
But her grandmother with a firm ‘no’, telling her that there were always toy shops back in England.

With a last resentful look at her grandparents, Alise went right ahead and stepped into the forest. It wasn’t at all like the forests you found in England, or indeed anywhere in Europe. This forest was dense and verdant, the trees stretching up higher than Alise could see, the little light that managed to creep through the canopy tinted green.

A well-educated adult might have been rather excited by all this, but since Alise was only a child, she was not. The only function forests served was to play in.
This was when the first flash came, a tantalising glimmer in the fringes of Alise’s vision.
Her voice was lit with excitement. “Did you see that, Grandpop? Over there?”
Before her grandfather could reply, she saw another flash from the bush on the left and could resist no longer.

Alise ran headfirst into the leaves, oblivious to the shouts of her worried guardians. The bush, she realised, was not a bush at all but the entrance to a tunnel of branches, the not-quite-semicircle of warped trunks twisting and stretching above Alise’s little brown head.
It was then she saw the fox, a beautiful rusty red, run off past the corner. Alise ran as fast as her legs could carry her, running to catch a glimpse of that lovely russet tail. And she just kept on running, and running, and running, following the flashes of light through the tunnel that she hoped would lead her to the fox.

The dirt track seemed to stretch on forever, unchanging except for the occasional leaf or twig lying broken on the ground. Still, the lights kept glimmering, disappearing when she came near like a star when a cloud has passed over the sky. But Alise didn’t see her little fox again, and she was starting to worry about what had become of Granny and Grandpop, but she didn’t want to turn back in case the ending was just over this next hill, or round that second corner. It would probably take longer to get back than go on, Alise told herself, sensible child that she was, and she did so want to see what was getting the fox in such a fuss.

Left and right the little girl turned, over hills and roots and more dirt track. Those short legs were becoming rather tired by now, and Alise was quite ready to give up when the tunnel broke apart and light came streaming in to her squinting blue eyes.

The trees, though still tall and imposing, were changing shape and growing as Alise watched. The grain changed and twisted as buds began to sprout and grow. From each those buds, a delicate white blossom grew, and when it was time for the blossom to fall they tumbled down over Alise in glorious white clouds of perfume and beauty. The leaves grew long and green before starting to bronze and then they, too, were falling to the ground in a fiery autumn dance.

Alise reached out to touch a nearby branch of a tree to her right, and frowned. It felt different, somehow, from what her eyes were telling her. The branch felt cold and lifeless, horribly ugly. Alise felt a curdling in her stomach as the world around her twisted and changed shape yet again, this time into a nightmare world.

Branches stretched over Alise, clawing at her hair. The undergrowth withered and died. Everything that had only moments before been full of life was now dead, as if the effects had been reversed to the opposite extreme. Alise twisted and turned this way and that, trying to free herself from the leering branches that stretched across her vision. Twigs scratched her face as she searched for a way out of the horrible nightmare forest. Then, something even more extraordinary happened: Alise saw a flash of red feathers, behind a tree. It was the exact same shade of red that her little fox had been. She darted towards it, desperate now. But fate seemed to be against Alise, and she tripped on a root, tumbling to the ground. Her fingers were outstretched, and by some miracle they just managed to brush the bird’s russet feathers before the world went black.

Alise awoke in the tunnel of trees to the sound of her grandma calling her name.
“Alise! Alise, are you there?”
By her guess, Alise’s grandma was only about two corners away from where Alise lay. She picked herself up, and took a last look back at the beautiful trees that Alise knew were rotten at the core. Just before she started walking, Alise thought she saw a flicker of red in the distance.
But Alise wasn’t entirely sure how much she could trust her eyes anymore.

The Start of a New Year

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I can’t believe we’re almost coming to the end of this year! I know it sounds clichéd, but it really does seem like only yesterday that I was writing the same kind of post last year. I don’t want you to bombard you guys with stats, since you’ve probably been getting a ton of these posts coming into your inbox, but ‘ve noted down a few achievments for the past year and stuff I’m excited about for the future.

Looking Back at 2014

Click here for a wonderful infographic of my stats produced by WordPress!

    • This year, I rekindled my love of words.. The library came into excellent stock, and I came across excellent books. This was the year I discovered Rainbow Rowell, The Mortal Instruments, The Grisha…the list goes on.
    • Not only did I fall back in love with reading – I also fell back in love with writing. I wrote and read stories far more frequently, and I even started a project during NaNoWriMo. My love of poetry was rekindled by the wonderful Topaz Winters (no, I’m not going to stop mentioning this!) and from there I’ve been bewitched by other beautiful poems. I’ve written a few of my own, too!
    • I read my first comic…ever? After much bugging. I was finally convinced by my friend to read the webcomic Nimona, and I am SO GLAD I DID. I binge-read all the available pages on a Wednesday afternoon and then had to suffer the next few months on just two pages a week. TORTURE. Anyway, I’m feeling a bit bereft now that it has ended, so if you guys have any recommendations then those would be great to hear.
    • I’m the same height as my mum. FINALLY. I don’t think I’m going to be a tall person exactly, but my one goal is to be taller than my mum. And we’re the same height!
    • I discovered the fandom. It’s a really fun community, but sometimes it bugs me that people tend to forget the flaws in books/movies.

Looking Ahead to 2015

    • I want to learn how the American school system works. It is just SO DARN CONFUSING. Even after reading all these books about kids in high school (?) I still do not understand which age corresponds with which year. (And honors classes?? What are they?)
    • I want to do a Goodreads reading challenge. I only just got my GR account, but I’m going to start at 60 books for 2015 and see how I go.
    • I want to finish a writing project. Preferably the one I started during NaNo, but you never know! I don’t want to block myself in 😛 To be honest, I just want to keep writing – as long as I keep practicing and improving and enjoying, I don’t want to stop
    • I want to watch some of the older episodes of Doctor Who on Netflix. I came onto the bandwagon way too late, and now I’m suffering.

And of course, there’s a whole load of books and movies like:

    • Nimona! In paperback!
    • Frozen Hearts, by the aforementioned blogger and teen writer Topaz Winters
    • ACOTAR and Throne of Glass #4
    • Fairest and Winter
    • CARRY ON SIMON GUYS IT’S HAPPENING OH MY GOSH
    • Insurgent, Mockingjay Part II, Big Hero Six, The Scorch Trials
    • News of Paper Towns and Eleanor & Park movies?

And, finally, I want to keep blogging and I want to keep happy. 🙂

Happy New Year! How was 2014 for you? Do you have any goals for the coming year?

Poetry: Bittersweet Fall

blogpoetry

Merry Christmas! My house is finally my own again, as is the computer (mostly). I have tons of poems on my desktop just waiting to be revised, but I’m not sure if I want to publish them. I think I should stop writing such personal poems…

Anyway, I only realised after I wrote this that it kind of turned into Ten Things I Hate About You, but hey, I like that movie. I spent a good deal of time whilst I was writing this trying to find synonyms for the adverb ‘even’, but it’s still not the same as before. :-/ Any critique is very welcome – I’m only just starting out, so I’m looking to improve.

I’ll be reviewing the year and setting some goals for the next one in an upcoming post, so do look out for that!  Also: I got the Spirited Away soundtrack for Christmas, and I am completely in love with The Dragon Boy. Because Haku. And brass.


Bittersweet Fall

well I hate that you can still
make me smile, even though I
say that I’m over you; even though
my eyes never meet yours, you can
still find my hand under the table.

(I say that but you know I don’t mean it –
I never do.)

well I hate that I was drawn to you
like a moth to a lampshade, irrepressibly.
I was never deserving of your love,
I have realised; you were not
looking for these dust-ridden wings of
mine, you were looking for a butterfly to
run away with you to paradise.

(and I am sorry I could not take you there.)

well I hate that I was so taken in
by your dazzling jewels and trinkets;
I, who opposed everything you stood for,
had further to fall than all the rest.

(and my, I did.)

well I hate that you still rule
the day and I am confined to this darkness;
I suppose it is beautiful in its own way
but that just reminds me of how
you described me like I was something good,
something special. I guess
you know now I’m not the moon, or the stars.
I’m nothing.

(how I ache for your light, your warmth.)

well I hate how they look at me with pity,
though they have stooped lower than I.
what makes me worthy of this crime?
I think it was the way that you were too good
even for them: you were invincible –
no one dared touch your golden skin save for me,
and my fingers are still singed.

(I opened this box of evil upon myself;
it was I that did this.)

well I hate that I am still brooding
over your face; however much I
tell myself to stop you just don’t seem
to go away.

What’s Up With Me and NaNo? part 2

Okay, this isn’t so much of a ‘what’s up with me and NaNo’ as a ‘what’s up with me, NaNo, books, school and pretty much everything in between’. Let the ramble commence!

What’s Up With Me and NaNo
In your absence, I have become a master thief, stealing a variety of different things including:

– a large amount of plot from the roleplay I started like 2 years ago
– and also one and a half characters from said roleplay
– all the best jokes I overhear, because I’m terrible at humour
– the name of my cousin’s friend whom I have never met, but doesn’t sound awfully nice
– my own backstory, slightly changed to become my MC’s backstory

And probably some other things too.

But seriously, guys, I’ve only just remembered how good roleplays are for writing. I was a pretty active RPer around a year and a half or so ago, but not so much anymore. If you join a ‘literate’ RP, you can meet up with some excellent writers, as well as getting the chance to practice character creation and play around, like writing as an utterly evil and selfish character. Hehehehe, that was fun. I was only aiming for 15k, but I’m more than on track since I’ve now got up to the point where I can write up to 500 words in 10 minutes. (Although only in short bursts, sadly.) I’m hoping to continue my novel/novella throughout December and the following months. 🙂

What’s Up With Me and Books
WELL I WENT TO SEE MOCKINGJAY OKAY AND IT WAS SO…SO…intense.

Yeah. I hopped along to the cinema on Friday night with my wonderful friend Anna, mockingjay pin in hand, and basically spent the entire time either a) fangirling or b) clapping my hand to my mouth in horror. Despite its darker nature, I thought it was as good, maybe better, than the other films. (Although the book wasn’t as good as THG or CF, so I had lower expectations.)

I took a visit to the library this afternoon, and came back with around 12 books, including the entire Raven Boys series. (‘Cause, you know, why not?)

Library Books

What’s Up With Me and School
I’m being flooded by homework, and once I’ve finished this up I’ll be going to revise the final draft of my English essay. *sighs* However, I’m participating in my school debate which I am pretty excited for, because the movement my friend and I are arguing is:

This house would make the Cruciatus curse Forgivable.

I thought it was very lucky on my part, because everyone else got the usual things such as ‘This house would ban zoos,’ and ‘This house would only go on holiday in the UK,’ and such. Those ones are still perfectly respectable, but they’re not from Harry Potter.

What’s Up With Me and Everything in Between
1. I keep stumbling across fanfiction for Supernatural, which I haven’t even watched. Can I do that? Anyway, now I kind of want to watch it, despite the *coughs* large episode number.
2. I’ve been sucked into the Snowverse again, and I spent an hour in bed on Thursday night mentally writing my Simon Snow fanfiction.
3. I keep getting the urge to call people ‘honey’. Where is this coming from?
4. I went to see the sixth form production of Anything Goes, and it was excellent, although slightly different in tone to last year (‘Anna Karenina’).

What’s up with you?

Writer

ARGH. This poem has been such a wily little thing – first, distracting me during school so that I couldn’t do the homework, then dragging me away from NaNo, and all the while being such a pest and urging me to rewrite about a billion times. And, to make things worse, I have tons of other drafted/mentally drafted posts that I really want to get posted. *grinds teeth in frustration*

To sum things up with a quote, I feel like a reverse black hole of words:

“Do you ever feel,” Cath asked Nick Tuesday night, “like you’re a black hole – a reverse black hole…”
“Something that blows instead of sucks?
“Something that sucks out,” she tried to explain. “A reverse black hole of words.”
“So the world is sucking you dry,” he said, “of language.”
“Not dry. Not yet. But the words are flying out of me so fast, I don’t know where they’re coming from.”
“And maybe you’ve run through your surplus,” he said gravely, “and now they’re made of bone and blood.”
“Now they’re made of breath,” she said.

 – Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Anyway. I’ve recently inspired to write poetry again by the wonderful Topaz Winters – please, please, go and read some of her stuff – and I have four or so half-finished poems sitting unloved in my documents. Hopefully you’ll be seeing some of them soon, but maybe not until December.


Writer
If poetry is the truth,
then the truth is nothing but feathers scattered to the wind;
each word binds my fingers further into falsehood.
Yet I remain as I am with my weapons at the ready:
I will write.

I will write, and you will read, and we will wield our pens
like swords, in spite of
everything.

I will draw the words from the stone as Arthur drew his blade,
as no one has done before,
and if I cannot then I will still try.
I will search for the wings that will allow me to fly,
up,
off,
and
into
the sky.

New site design??

So. I’ve been a little…unhappy with the way my blog looks, and I’ve been playing around with various header/colours schemes and whatnot. After spending such along time looking at page after page, I can’t really tell what looks good anymore so if you could tell me if you COMPLETELY HATE IT WHAT HAVE YOU DONE like it or don’t like it, that would be great.
EDIT: I’ve reverted my site to its old colours whilst I get myself a new header. So if you’re wondering where the said changes are, they’re not actually there at the moment!

NaNo is going alright; I’m still ahead of my goal, but I keep getting distracted by other things. (Books. Fanfiction. A little poetry. Also, homework, which sucks.)

I’m not feeling too great today, but hopefully I’ll schedule some more stuff over the weekend.

(Oh, and MOCKINGJAY COMES OUT NEXT WEEK! *squee* I mean, they kind of ruined it by making it into two parts in order to get more money, but I’m still pretty excited.)

Bookish Bingo, Chips, and NaNo Music

Bookish Bingo

Aggh, I’m so sorry for leaving this as long as I have. I’m participating in Bookish Bingo which is by Great Imaginations. I think this is the first real community book thing that I’ve done. Plus, if you stick around to the end of the post, I’m giving a general update on life (i.e. food), NaNo, and my noveling music.

The Bookish Part
So, the books I ticked off from holiday bingo in October were:
Reread: Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Green cover: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Romance: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (I feel kind of embarrassed. But it was still fun.)
“Ice,” “Snow,” or “Frost,” in the title: The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill (I’m still partway through this one, but I’m hoping that I do actually finish it.)
Black cover: The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting by Holly Bourne
Set during Christmastime: My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins
A book that was a gift: I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, as seen in my October favourites. It was a birthday present from a friend. And OHMIGOSH IT WAS AWESOME
Orange cover: Castle in the Air by Dianna Wynne Jones. At least, the edition I read had an orange cover.
Fall Autumn or Winter release: Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
Steampunk: House of Many Ways by Dianna Wynne Jones. (Again.) Does this count as steampunk? I don’t know many steampunk novels, so I’m going with yes.

The Food Part
And it’s an extremely short (but delicious) part. I go to Girl Guides every Monday evening (it’s not like you think it is; it’s cool) and, for some reason we went down to the chip shop and got bought an entire bag of chips. Each. I hadn’t had real chips in such a long time, and my confusion over the Monday opening was overtaken by that delicious…golden…crispy…soggy with vinegar…salty…mmmm

The ‘How’s NaNoWriMo going?’ Part
It’s going okay. I’m ahead of my daily goal at the moment. I have an actual plot now. Some of the songs inspiring me are:

I. Love. Studio. Ghibli.

(Apologies for this slight mess of a post. I have English homework to do. *cries*)

What’s Up Me and NaNoWriMo?

Nanowrimo 2014 v2

November.

For your average person, November is not a good month. It’s not close enough to Christmas to feel the wintery cheer; it’s probably cold, dark, and drizzly. Altogether, not great news. But look! Over there! A blue badge sitting behind that tab! What is it, you ask? The unassuming icon of Nation Novel Writing Month, of course. And it’s been giving me a real headache.

I participated in NaNoWriMo both last year and in April for Camp NaNo. Both times, my novel fell apart and I was left with 10k. I was determined to do it this year, and I have been commenting as such on preparation posts and other participants’ blogs. But at the same time, I had no fixed idea and I knew from last year that I really didn’t have that much time.

Still, I’m going to do it.

I’m not aiming to write an entire novel. 30 or 40k words would be my minimum for any satisfactory book (I tend to draw things out), and there’s no way I can make time for that considering my writing speed. Instead, I’m aiming for 20k. Maybe 15. I’ve told myself it’s a short story, because if I call it a novel my brain freaks out and I have to get every detail perfectly planned out.

I might disappear on you in the coming month. I’ll be scheduling some posts over the next few days, though, and I’ll probably still be replying to comments and stuff. I hope you understand, and if you have any tips then I’d be very grateful.

Are any of you planning to do NaNoWriMo or NaBloPoMo? Are you getting in as much of a muddle as me?!