Last Saturday I had the best day. It was fun, it was exciting, it was inspiring, it was exhausting, it was great. Last Saturday I attended Bath Children’s Literature Festival. It was a complete fluke that I went; I didn’t even know it was a thing until the Monday before when I happened to snag the leaflet off the checkout at Waterstones (If you want to know what I bought in Waterstones on that Monday and also on the Saturday, click here). If I am honest I wasn’t even entirely aware that said leaflet was for the Children’s Festival, I had been sort of hoping that it was another Bath ‘adult’ Literature Festival, but imagine my excitement when I discovered that they were going to be hosting a YA day. The excitement was followed by even greater excitement when I finally realised, after 3 years of living in Bath, that The Forum, where the YA events were being held, was not only on my bus route but was opposite New Look!
I was originally only booked to see two panels: Tough stuff with Meg Rosoff, Kevin Brook, and Claire Furniss, and Identity with Jenny Downham, Lisa Williamson, Alison Rattle, and Harriet Reuter Hapgood. However, they were so interesting, and I enjoyed them so much that I also stayed for a third panel. This end to the day comprised a very entertaining talk with David Levithan and Rachel Cohn entitled ‘Hey! From the USA’.
All the talks and the people I met throughout the day were highly interesting, they were thought-provoking and enlightening. Raising questions about YA literature, as well as literature in general, I have a feeling that it’s going to be a long time before I stop thinking about the panels. Questions were asked, and answered, about whether there’s a limit to the topics that YA can/should cover, how those issues should be addressed and framed, whether there should always be hope and a resolution (a positive one – Kevin Brooks argued ‘no’). As well as questions about the legitimacy of the writing and who should be writing certain stories; is it okay to write a character who has a life entirely different from your own? Is it okay, for example for a white middle-class author to write the life of a black refugee?
Being new to the world of literary events I didn’t know what to expect so it was a lovely surprise, on top of the panels and the people, to find that there was also a chance to meet the authors and to get books signed. Well, of course, I had to take advantage ….
All the authors I spoke to were so accommodating, happy to answer all my questions and seemed to take a genuine interest in what I, and everyone else, had to say and ask – a massive ‘Thank you!’ to them! Also a huge ‘Thank you’ must go out to the staff of both the festival and The forum. They were so helpful and accommodating, looking out for me (I went alone) and dealing with all my stupid questions – ‘are you sure it’s okay for me to take this tote bag, I’m not sat on that chair and I don’t want to take it if it’s not meant for me?’ without so much as an eye roll. They really were amazing.
After such a fantastic (just in case I haven’t used enough adjectives yet) experience, I will be sure to keep a better eye out in the future for other literary goings on. 🙂
Have you ever been to a literary event? To Bath Literary festival? Are there any you would reccomend? Let me know in the comments!