Thursday, 21 April 2016

'Women in YA' Event Recap 30/10/15

(One book from each author at the event!)

This event was a while ago now, but I thought I'd write about it anyway, because it was one hell of a good time!

The 'Women in YA' event was a UK tour that consisted of these authors at the particular date that I went to see them on:

The panel was all about strong female leads in young adult literature, and about weaving feminism into books. It was a really interesting discussion between author and audience, and got us talking about the need for the inclusion of topics such as periods and female... well, you know.

I think the very fact that I can't even say the word proves that this is a universal issue in both literature and society. Men are made to feel very comfortable about... knocking one out, let's say, whilst women are made to feel as though it is some unnatural act. For boys it is "just a normal part of growing up", whilst the girl equivalent makes us "dirty". Reclaiming these acts and other processes like periods is important in the progression of feminism, because the more these bodily functions are talked about, the less blasphemous they become within society, and therefore women will be oppressed less overall. 

It is a simple formula, but one that works.

Also, let me just say that I took my mum to this panel. I'm sure she was as comfortable as me when this topic came up.

As well as all that lovely stuff, there was the mention of the manic pixie dream girl trope, and why this is something that needs to end if women want to be taken seriously in literature. A very interesting point that was made by the authors was that sometimes publishers have wanted to take their female protagonists and 'round them out', meaning essentially that they are made less of a person and more of an acceptable, quite character that won't cause much controversy. This was quite the insight into how much authors have to fight for their female characters and made me feel proud that these author were sat in front of me, having beaten the system.

(A message from Holly. Very relevant about female characters in books.)

They briefly mentioned the use of GoodReads and the gif reviewers, and that was quite a laugh! It is always great to see authors let their hair down and make fun of the more critical of the critics out there. Rightly so, too!

After the discussion, it was time for questions from the audience, and I asked how they each created characters. CJ said she sits with a notebook and plans them out, Alexia says she writes them until they write their own story, Holly bases her books on her own personal experience and is almost like therapy, and Melinda recommends sites or books with lists of names, which CJ also recommended. Sometimes if you give them a name and call them, they will come and write the story for you! (The characters, not the authors.)

At the end of the event, we were allowed to talk to the authors and have a chat, as well as getting our books signed. Poignantly, Alexia gave me this advice to end the night on:

"Write what no one else can."

Overall, it was one hell of a strong and sassy event, and if it ever comes your way I would 100% recommend getting a ticket!

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