Have you read Part 1 of this story? If not, find it here.
We were listening to Charlie Higson and Arabella Weir talk about their books. No connection to their books, but they obviously were good friends. Charlie told the story about how he scared his kid writing the zombie series. I’ve heard it before in a smaller setting three years ago – but it was still funny. He did the voices too this time. And of course he said he possibly couldn’t work on Doctor Who if they asked, because he was busy with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde series for the television. (so there, I tied one loose end from the last post, didn’t I?).
I loved that book as a child. I think subtly it taught me about people could be both black and white – sometimes as a young person it is hard to assimilate what you see around you unless someone put it in a book.
Anyway, there we are in the front row, tweeting and checking tweets and hoping Charlie or Arabella won’t mind us looking at our phones, right under their noses (and skirts). And I saw a tweet say – the Judy Blume / Patrick Ness conversation was in the first floor.
First floor where all those dressed up people had turned up in droves, ten times more than the first day? First floor where big sets for SyFy TV was setup and first floor where people who were afraid of sunshine moved from one merchandise shop to the other? This was Big Bang Theory coming alive in the worst possible way.
I tweeted back – but that’s not the YALC floor. Are you sure?
Patrick Ness tweeted back adding Judy Blume to the conversation – Yes, it is in on the first floor, take it from me, I am interviewing her and I’m sure.
Okay then, we had to make our way downstairs, through throngs of people who would be doing the same. Michael J Fox was already in session in that big hall. It was running late. Yes, we knew it would run late, because people didn’t know where to queue for the show – so they interrupted every session on Day 2 to tell us where to queue to see Michael J Fox. Everyone except those who wanted to see him knew where to go.
Christina and I decided we were going to try hardest to get to the front row seats. She said let’s a scot show you how it’s done. I laughed. I’m from India. Crowd, getting seats, jostling in sweat, I can do it. This is what I’ve trained for all my life. Leave it with me. Well, we hoped.
When the big shutters were opened and the crowd rolled out, we waited ready to pounce into the hall. Perhaps like Spiderman hauling ourselves into the stage with spider glue.
That’s when it happened. Judy and Patrick (see how familiar I’m getting, next I would be cooking lunch for them), came through. We were literally at the door. No choice, they had to go past us. Judy gave us the biggest smile and hello. We hello-ed back. I hollowed out. Then Patrick and then I thanked Patrick for tweeting back.
Then the mad rush to get seats. Ha, ha, never challenge an Indian person about getting seats. Go to India and see how creative we are with hand-kerchiefs. I found three seats for the three conference-teers. Right in front of Judy. She couldn’t miss seeing us.
Anyway, enough of the trailer before the actual movie. The actual interview was fabulous. She was warm, funny, direct, frank and genuine. It was brilliant, she referred to her husband George often and he was in the front row seat too and he asked a question that perhaps many wanted to ask.
Patrick was brilliant – you can genuinely see the affection and warmth between the two people and of course UKYA authors had turned out in droves and many fans.
I had told myself I wasn’t standing in queues for signing. I hadn’t bought a single book or picked up a pamphlet or a button or a sticker so far. But I decided I was going to stand in the queue and meet Judy Blume and read her book and read all her books – how come I never read any of her younger books?
I had brought money in the Unlikely Event I had to buy a book and I did buy her book (and more…, more on that later) and stood in the queue. A very friendly person perhaps from her publishers took pictures on our phones for all of us. So that was good. I have this Unlikely Moment caught on camera.
Judy did recognize me from the encounter at the entrance and from making inevitable eye-contact from the stage and she asked – Have We Met Before? She was amazing – even if everyone knows it, I am going to say it.
The funny thing is – if I told anyone at work or anywhere different to my book circle, people won’t understand the celebrity status of the writers we revere. Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell, Patrick Ness, Tanya Landman and so many people I know, I’ve met, I have made friends with – they are celebrities to the children of many generations, celebrities to other writers – but they are not YouTube stars or Hollywood Icons or recognizable BAFTA names or Heads of State or anything. They should be – we would have a better education policy.
So this moment of meeting Judy Blume and Chris Riddell and hanging out with award-winning writers after Day 2 of the conference – is special to me and those like me. Who cares if others don’t understand? Isn’t that what Comic Con is all about – we love this stuff and we get out once a year to celebrate this and who cares what you think why we are dressing up? I get it I think.
So if you thought meeting Judy Blume and Chris Riddell and listening to Malorie Blackman and two days of hanging out with now-best buddies would be the end of it – you’d be disappointed.
Again thanks to Facebook – a librarian friend said there’s a fringe party after the event at the pub- are you going? I checked it out – I saw some friendly faces in the Facebook event. So I asked if I could go and of course the friendly folks that YA authors are said Of course.
So after Day 2 at YALC we headed to the pub. All the glitterati of the YA author scene were inside the venue in a party. We hung out in the pub until slowly people trickled in.
I met some wonderful authors, some I’ve met before a long time ago and some only on Facebook. I got to meet Anthony McGowan again and he introduced me to Caroline Green and then Jo Cotterill was there, Lucy Coats without her Cleo headgear, Lee Wetherly, Liz Kessler, Sarah Mussi, Lydia Syson and loads of other people.
Tanya Landman had come down just for the YALC party and she had promised to sign my book (well her book, I have a copy, er, you know what I mean). We ended up talking about diversity in books and jolly good she said she would help with any initiatives I might kickstart. So watch this space for that.
They talked and I listened most of the time. It was totally Unlikely. Here were a bunch of award-winning writers, with amazing talent and track-record and I was in the same space-time continuum with them. How Unlikely was that?
It was a weekend of Unlikely Events and one I wouldn’t forget. I’ve made new friends, forged new connections, learnt from the speakers and more importantly brushed shoulders with the masters of today’s UK YA scene. An Unlikely Blessing for sure.
Oh btw, I chickened out of Day 3 of YALC and I’m writing this. So the introvert did assert herself again – but I’m glad she hid away for Day 1 and 2.