Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reading Matters 2011 - Part 2

Part 1 of my Reading Matters wrap-up is here.

Performance of scene from City of Bones

Cassandra Clare:
Cassandra's session also started with a performance from the theatre troupe (and they performed the same scene from Wednesday). Again, I'll do a dot-point recap:
  • Cassandra had a broken toe (which I mentioned in my Wednesday post) and she told us the story of how she broke it - by dropping her suitcase on it at Boston airport (ouch!!)
  • We were then treated to a reading from Cassandra's upcoming novel Clockwork Prince, the second title in the Infernal Devices series.
  • Cassandra then talked candidly about why she became a writer and she said that the shared quality of writers is that they all have peculiar interests that obsess them. She then shared a couple of hilarious stories - one involving her driving around with Holly Black in the boot of her car (as part of Holly's writerly research!) and the other about an urban exploring expedition at the abandoned Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island (which ended with Holly and Cassandra surrounded by NYC police officers).
  • Cassandra Clare

  • The research process for Clockwork Angel was then discussed and the way immersed herself in the Victorian era by reading period cookbooks and etiquette guides to help create the sense of London in the 1870s. She also loves walking around London to get a sense of setting and to capture small details that contribute to the world of her characters.
  • Cassandra commented that she found that kids read "for the characters they love" and that they read to find out what happens to these characters and how they react in situations and respond to the world around them. She also noted that teen readers ask very different questions at appearances and events compared to adults (like "what is Jace's favourite colour? When is Alec's birthday? - details that Cassandra hasn't always thought about!).
  • Session drama - during question time, one guest asked a question which revealed a major spoiler! The audience was very vocal with their annoyance (though I expect most of them had already read the book). Without giving it away, it was about the ending of one of the books and was a pretty big bombshell. In regard to the bombshell, Cassandra said she wrote it hoping that it would "make you crazy and also make you want to read the next book". Well played Cassie!
Terribly blurry photo from the Damsels in Distress panel

The Damsels in Distress panel was chaired by Leesa Lambert (manager of The Little Book Room) and featured Lucy Christopher (Stolen), Ursula Dubosarsky (The Golden Day) and Leanne Hall (This is Shyness). Each of the above titles feature a young women place in some kind of predicament and below are the highlights of the discussion:
  • Ursula said she felt a few of her books are about isolated women without male authority figures.
  • Lucy suggested that young damsels are so prevalent in young adult fiction because "we need them" and this makes readers want to read on - to see how the damsels react and respond to the distress (and importantly, can they save themselves?).
  • Leanne agreed and commented that what makes the character interesting is what they do in distress". she hopes (and personally I agree) that she hopes girls in YA can rescue themselves - not necessarily in an ass-kicking action sequence and physical strength but in other ways too.
  • Lucy talked about the way she needs visual images of her characters in her head (she spotted a private school girl in London and 'found' her Gemma) and talked about her writing process, including going to the outback and writing pages of notes in Gemma's voice. She also spoke of moving from Wales to Australia as a child and the way the she was terrified and excited by the landscape, which went into Stolen.
  • Leanne talked about her own experiences as a "morbid teenage reader" and about stories being the "way of knowing you're not alone in the world".
  • One of the things I found to be most interesting that came out of the panel, was the idea of Ty in Stolen being a villain but also having "elements of Prince Charming" (Leanne Hall said this) and the novel being a "deconstruction of the Prince Charming myth". Lucy commented that there is a mix of fan reactions, many can't decide to love or hate him. Lucy researched Stockholm Syndrome as she wrote the novel, and actually changed the ending on the advise of her publisher.
  • On the topic of leading men and Prince Charmings, Leanne described Wolfboy as "too busy navel-gazing and full of angst" to be a proper hero (awwww, I love Wolfboy!).
  • Sorry! I didn't get a lot of quotes from Ursula, but there were quite a few on Twitter.
Jenny Niven, the program co-ordinator then came out to launch the schools program for this year's Melbourne Writers Festival. Yay! You can check out the program here. The youth sessions (which by the way, are not only for schools - anyone can go) will run from Monday August 29th to Thursday September 1st. Each session is $7 (and there are a few free events too) and feature both international authors like Maggie Stiefvater, as well as plenty of homegrown, local talent.

Parts 3 and 4 will be posted tomorrow and feature Cassandra Clare, Markus Zusak and Melina Marchetta (in a total made-of-awesome panel), Kate Burridge, Ron Brooks and some amazing cover art).


Shirley Marr said...

I think I have a girl crush on Leanne Hall! I'm so bummed to have missed this event, but reading your blog makes me feel all wow so thanks once again for the awesome:) I'll visit again to catch parts 3 & 4, till then... stay beautiful...

Miss Friday said...

Haha, I think I do too - she is pretty darn awesome!
and thanks Shirley, you're sweet comments have totally made my day (and all the time spent deciphering my scribble seems worthwhile)

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