reading matters

The Centre for Youth Literature run a conference called Reading Matters, which is all about children’s literature. It’s a biannual conference and it ran over the past four days. I was invited to speak there and it was The Best. (I could only attend on the Friday, which makes me eternally sad).

There were SO MANY cool people there and I had a blast, so here’s some word vomit.

A couple of months ago, I was sent the books of people I’d be doing panels with. Everyone also got a copy of AS King’s I Crawl Through It.




The panel with Alison Goodman and Mariko Tamaki was called Invented worlds, real feelings and was chaired by Jess Walton. We spoke about how we write in worlds that aren’t the one we live in now (Lady Helen is set in regency London, also there are demons, Mariko Tamaki writes Supergirl comics, in Ida my MC can travel between parallel universes), why (mostly: because it’s fun), and how we signpost to show where/when the book or comic is set by using film and book references, use of the internet, things like that.

We also talked about how we try to write teenagers authentically. And basically, it’s by talking to them, IRL or online. It’s also pretty important to know that it’s not like we know what it’s like to be teens right now, because a lot of stuff has changed. So basically, to be compassionate, don’t talk down to them, don’t be didactic.

Next I had the panel Fresh meet: household names you don’t know yet with Nevo Zisin and Lance Balchin, chaired by Sam Forge. Nevo wrote the BEST book, Finding Nevo and it’s a memoir about the journey with gender (they ID as non binary), and Lance illustrated and wrote the books Mechanica, Aquatica and he also has a prose book coming out set in the Mechnica universe and the MC’s name is Liberty Crisp, which honestly is the best protagonist name I’ve ever heard.



We all did a reading from our books and I think people liked it:


And then we talked a bit about how we got published, how we liked the editing process (editors are The Best) and how we’ve found the whole thing. (I’m in love with Echo, my publisher)

And after this, I bought some books.



Introducing Teddy is one I’ve been meaning to read for a while, my friend Jess wrote it. It’s about a teddy bear who is trans and it’s adorable and very cute and I love it to death. I bought Spark by Rachael Craw because she is just the loveliest person, she came up to Nevo and I at the author dinner (I think she could tell I was a bit petrified lmao) and introduced herself and she was just super welcoming. I saw one of Jane Harrison’s panels and loved what she said about her book, Becoming Kirrali Lewis and so I bought that too. I finishedΒ  reading it yesterday and it was lovely. And I also bought the final copy of Nevo’s book because:


(I mean I was going to eventually when it was a etter move money-wise, but this deffo sped me up a little!!!)

Another thing that I loved was Will Kostakis’s speech at the end of the day, where he spoke about his queerness and his writing, but Michael Earp’s blog about it here talks about it better than I could.

Anyway, it was the best time and I’m so sad I only got to go to one day, but I’m so thankful they asked me to go to that one day. A super super big thank you so Adele Walsh, Samatha Forge and Karen Andrews who are EXCELLENT at their jobs πŸ’•

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