At long last, I bring you the Sarah Rees Brennan and Holly Black UK Tour:
Thursday 31st October - Sunday 3rd NovemberWorld Fantasy Convention in Brighton
Monday 4th NovemberDark Mirrors: Gothic Fiction with Holly Black and Sarah Rees BrennanWhere: Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EBWhen: 6.30pm-7.30pmTickets: Free, but booking is essential. To book tickets, email email@example.com or call 020 7437 5660More info: http://www.foyles.co.uk/Dark-MirrorsTonight we journey to dark places with two of the biggest names in teen fantasy. The walled cities known as Coldtowns are the hellish creation of Holly Black, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles and now The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Within them, quarantined monsters mingle with humans in a neverending, decadently bloody party, which, in an all-too-recognisable twist, is shown on TV 24 hours a day.Kami Glass’s hometown of Sorry-in-the-Vale, the setting for the new novel by Sarah Rees Brennan, Untold, plays host to an uneasy blend of natural and supernatural. Conflict threatens to bubble over at every turn between the non-magical townspeople and the sorcerers who yearn to rule over them - and seventeen-year-old Kami faces her own internal conflict, as the sorcerer she’s been bound to for her entire life is torn from her.Join us to find out for yourself how these two inspirational authors create their magical worlds, unforgettable characters and breathtaking stories, and hear their tips for creating a gothic novel of your own.Tuesday 5th NovemberAn evening with Queens of Gothic fiction, Holly Black and Sarah Rees BrennanWhere: Waterstones 93-97 Albion Street, Leeds LS1 5APWhen: 6.30pm-7.30pmTickets: £4 / £3 for Waterstones Cardholders, available in-store or by calling 0113 2444 588Join us at this Bonfire Night special with bestselling YA authors Sarah Rees Brennan & Holly Black, who will be discussing their new books, work, inspirations and top tips on becoming a writer! Sarah’s new novel Untold and Holly’s new novel The Coldest Girl in Coldtown will also be available on the night. The evening will include a talk, Q&A and signing session.Wednesday 6th NovemberGothic Fiction with Holly Black and Sarah Rees BrennanWhere: Seven Stories Children’s Book Centre, Ouseburn Valley, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 2PQWhen: 6pm-7pmTickets: £3 per person (including admission to the centre). Call 0845 271 0777 ext 715 to book.More info: http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/whats-on/events/117476/gothic-fiction-with-holly-black-and-sarah-rees-brennanJoin teen authors Holly Black and Sarah Rees-Brennan for a fun event talking about all things gothic fiction. Holly Black is the US author of bestselling contemporary fantasy books, including The Spiderwick Chronicles and her new book The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Sarah Rees Brennan is the Irish author of Unspoken, Untold, and her bestselling Demon’s Lexicon trilogy. Come along to hear all about their books, writing and inspirations – and find out their top tips on how to write a book of your own.Thursday 7th NovemberMeet Teen Authors Holly Black and Sarah Rees BrennanWhere: Waterstone’s Liverpool One, 12 College Lane, Liverpool L1 3DLWhen: 6pm-7pmTickets: Tickets are free, but booking is essential. Please call 0151 709 9820.Join teen authors Holly Black (US author of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and the bestselling Spiderwick Chronicles series) and Sarah Rees-Brennan (Unspoken, Untold, The Demon’s Lexicon) as they talk about their books, their inspirations and their writing – and discover their top tips for writing stories of your own. Tickets are free but spaces are limited – get yours soon.
I am super excited to be going on a UK tour (Liverpool! My mum’s from Liverpool so I specially want to EVENT there) and super excited to be with Holly Black, who as all know is a lady of Gothic splendour and a wicked delight forever. I promise shocking tales. Spoilers. Spoilers for everything! Prizes. Skits. Anything you wish. Come see us, and kidnap me and take me to a bonfire if you like!
I feel the White Queen, a TV series about the War of the Roses, needs more Richard. But Aneurin Barnard is rocking it so far. I think he’s just fantastic.
But this reminds me of watching the White Queen on Sunday night, and tweeting that I was yelling for Richard, just a sprinkle more Richard, RICHARD!
I was about to launch into a series of tweets about the White Queen, including my eagle-eyed search for the zippers in the costumes, when the writer of the TV series tweeted at me that there would definitely be more Richard soon!
… ‘DEAR SWEET GOD,’ I thought to myself. ‘SHE CAN SEE ME! ABORT! ABORT! THIS PARACHUTE IS A KNAPSACK!’
Now, I’ve got nothing against the screenwriter seeing me, or talking to me. It’s all fine. I’d just forgotten that she could, and remembering gave me a shock.
You get into the habit of thinking that the internet is your living room, and then you think to yourself:
Wait. This room is made of glass, and being broadcast to a billion channels.
AND I’M NAKED.
Internet invisibility is something we all believe in, and it’s something that’s never true.
Which brings me to—being on the internet, and seeing stuff, not about your writing, but about yourself.
Of course, it’s tricky to disentangle the two: sometimes people will say ‘SRB’s not funny’ and they will mean ‘SRB’s books do not tickle my particular funny bone.’ I remember one writer getting sent a link that said ‘SCREW YOU AUTHOR NAME’ and they were like ‘WHAT OH MY GOD’ and they were told it wasn’t personal (and indeed, the link had specific book critique in it and not specific-hatred-of-how-the-author-smelled) but said writer, of course, found it very hard not to take ‘SCREW YOU, MY NAME’ personally. It was their personal name. This stuff is TANGLED UP.
But if we try to separate out the writing stuff from the personal stuff, though that is difficult… I’ve seen a lot of crappy stuff about myself on the internet. I saw it—because it was on the internet, and so was I. Sometimes I found it, often it was sent to me. There is a LOT OF IT.
I’m not thin, I dress so badly, I behaved very rudely that one time, that joke was so inappropriate, I’m not a lady, I should think of the children more, I’m often wrong about stuff, I shouldn’t be talking because I’m an author, as an author it is my absolute responsibility to be talking but I should be saying different stuff, please engage and learn, DO NOT ENGAGE, I’m a bitch because of a conversation that happened, I’m a bitch because of a conversation someone made up in their head because they don’t like me, I think a lot of myself don’t I, I’m not as smart as I think I am, I’m not as pretty as I think I am, I’m not as awesome as I think I am, I have the wrong friends, I chose to write on the wrong topic, I’m wearing the wrong bra. (No, really, the bra came up.)
And of course, boy, it’d be nice if I was wrong a lot less often, I appreciate being corrected so as to be less wrong in the future. And quite often an author shouldn’t be talking—an author weighing in about their own book (‘That’s not what that meant!’ ‘My work is a timeless masterpiece!’ ‘You misinterpreted me!) is often a conversation-killer. Also, a writer could potentially get their readers to go after someone, and that is deeply uncool. It’s not always appropriate for a writer to talk, and sometimes I’ve misjudged that badly. Some of the crappy stuff about me on the internet is quite true! But all of the crappy stuff builds into a strange twisted picture of a monster.
I’ve seen a lot of really nice stuff about myself on the internet, too, and that’s awesome, but it isn’t any more me than the awful-bad-wrong-nightmare-monster of me.
Sometimes I wonder why I keep looking at stuff on the internet, and I wonder why in God’s name I keep talking about stuff on the internet.
I mean, I have looked sorrowfully about myself, and thought, there are mega-popular authors who have done things I think of as utterly awful who are not getting flak in the same way as I am. And there are ways to avoid being criticised a lot: don’t talk about important stuff, be very apologetic, shut up, don’t talk to anyone who might cause a problem in future, don’t talk to anyone who has a problem with you, back off, shut up.
But trying to make yourself invisible doesn’t work. You can make yourself smaller, but while you may be less noticeable, you’re also… well, smaller, trying less, avoiding more, doing less.
Internet invisibility isn’t true, and that goes for me and for you. But there are benefits to the great glass internet elevator. I have read Diana Wynne Jones’s essays, and thought ‘I wish I’d known she thought like that, I wish I’d had a chance to talk with her’ and the internet gives more of us a chance to communicate more. I think that’s great. I know I’ve learned a lot from the internet: I’ve had some people tell me that they’ve learned something from me, and that’s awesome and humbling.
I think it’s important to keep talking and to keep listening.
I remember seeing once ‘I wish Sarah Rees Brennan would act more like (Author Name Redacted).’
I remember it especially because Author Name Redacted had actually written to me saying she wished she could speak out (about feminism: that was the subject under discussion) but she was terrified of the reaction if she got it wrong. And I was like, well, yeah, I hear you, getting it wrong feels awful!
But then I saw that, and I thought to myself: well, that’s someone saying, boy do I like it when a woman is silenced because she’s afraid. She’s much better than when she’s talking. If only we could do that to more women, specifically THAT ONE, GET HER.
And oh my friends and oh my foes, I’m not here for that.
Being a person on the internet is complicated: if people have any idea who you are, they probably have a very weird idea of you.
Internet villains and internet heroes are pretty easy to create. If someone’s decided to think negatively of someone, everything feeds into that. If someone’s decided to think positively of someone, they’ll often think much too positively of them.
Of course, positivity can turn into negativity, especially for ladies, because ladies are held to very strict standards and you know, once they’ve made a mistake, they are worthless wenches indeed.
Plus, the longer a lady’s around, the older (horror) and more outspoken (DOUBLE HORROR) she’ll get and the more time she’ll have to make mistakes, as flawed people will.
I have a good friend who says that women have a ‘three-year rule’… that’s the longest a lady can be in the public eye before people start to hate her.
Of course, that’s famous people. I am not talking about famous people. Famous people often just cannot be on the internet. Angelina Jolie and Beyonce are not on it for obvious reasons: they would go completely doolally if they saw all that stuff on the internet. Same goes for J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins, who you really don’t see a lot of on the interwebs either. There’s too much nastiness and too much worship to cope with.
I am distinctly not-famous, so I can’t even imagine what that would be like. I’m not saying everyone should be on the internet, or that people shouldn’t take breaks. Everyone has to decide what they can cope with.
But for those of us on the internet, who have a little bit of that stuff to cope with, and who are thinking about how to cope with it…
I remember going on a website, and seeing someone say ‘sarah was a flawless princess, as she always is’—and that was pretty awesome to see! But a year later on the same website, I saw ‘SRB, that dumb bitch, so tired of her.’ Which was not awesome. But neither of them were true. Neither of them were about me, not really.
I’m not a flawless princess. I’m not a dumb bitch, either. (Sometimes I’m a smart bitch. Sometimes I’m kind of dumb but likable. Sometimes I’m a princess, largely of imaginary lands.)
Being a person on the internet is complicated, but that’s because being a person is complicated, and in the new internet-tastic age there are new ways to be a person and interact with people.
We are not, ever, invisible or unheard. And that’s terrifying, but it’s beautiful too.
BASICALLY i’m really angry because it seems that nowadays a lot more young adult books are geared toward girls rather than guys which is fine but i’m a guy and while guys *can* read about girls falling in love with the perfect guy while trying to save the world… it’s not really that relatable. ok also sorry if i sound sexist. anyway do you have any book recommendations more geared toward guys?
This was not addressed to me, but it came up in the Shadow and Bone tag so I’m going to respond to it briefly.
1. Would you have skipped reading Harry Potter if it had been told from Hermione’s POV (or assigned POV)? Would you have skipped reading Percy Jackson if it had been more explicitly Annabeth’s journey? Then you would have missed out on two incredible, game-changing series.
2. There is no shortage of fiction (literary, genre, children’s) that focuses on male protagonists. I think it’s possible that the popularity of YA speaks to the hunger for more female protagonists. I don’t see why that should incite anger.
3. Also, what YA are you reading? Sure, there are stories that follow the formula you describe, but it’s also pretty reductive. I think if you do a little looking, you’ll find a category brimming with fantastic stories, new worlds, action, and adventure. Yes, there’s often a romantic element, but most of the YA I see coming out now doesn’t focus on that as the ultimate goal of the story. It’s more about the hero or heroine’s journey and there isn’t always a happily ever after in the offing.
Also, I’d point out that there are frequently romantic elements in stories that focus on male characters or multiple POV and this is true across all genres. Tom Clancy, George R.R. Martin, James Patterson, John Grisham, Stephen King—the heavy hitters don’t shy away from romantic entanglements. Maybe we cut them more slack because they’re presented through the male lens?
If you’re looking for male protags in YA, literally the first that come to mind are Finnikin of the Rock and its sequel Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta (high fantasy), The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith (horror/fantasy), Taken by Erin Bowman (dystopian), and Looking for Alaska by John Green (contemporary). I don’t know if these are “geared toward guys.” They all have different focuses for their narratives and different levels of romance. In the end, I think it depends on the guy.
Finally, regarding sexism: Saying that you don’t like romance in your stories is different than saying that you can’t relate to female characters. I’m not sure which is true for you because they kind of got conflated in one statement “finding the perfect guy and saving the world.” If you didn’t like Bella’s story because it focuses largely on her relationship with Edward and that’s not your thing, I get it. But if you can’t relate to Buffy or Katniss or Jane Eyre or Jo March—any girl with a job to do who might fall in love or lust or whatever along the way—that makes me kind of sad.
There’s room for all kind of heroes and heroines and some of our greatest stories happen to be love stories too. Love, friendship, sexual attraction— all essential parts of life. It’s only when girls or women become the audience that we start to turn our noses up at something that we all care about.
Leigh Bardugo, what a lady.
Sadly, there are a lot of people who would have skipped Harry Potter if Hermione was the protagonist. There are amazing books out there which are not becoming cultural phenomena because of sexism. The books which got there despite it are to be much applauded—and get a lot more sneering than Harry Potter and Percy.
This reminds me of the post that was going around about YA (FOR KIDS?! ABOUT GirLS? TEENagE GIrls?!)… that was reblogged by feminist blogs, that made me see absolute red.
A girl saving the world shouldn’t be sneered at. A girl having a romance shouldn’t be sneered at, either.
And of course, as Leigh points out, MOST BOOKS HAVE ROMANCE IN THEM. Where are the people moaning ‘Oh come on Stephen King, less love, more beetles that cause the apocalypse!’
Whereas a lady writer can write SUE STABBATIA VS THE BEETLES OF THE APOCALYPSE.
PUBLISHERS: Time for a pink cover.
READERS: Ah, another silly girl book about love.
AUTHOR: Yeah, the love of a woman for a machete…
There is a study showing that in a classroom full of girls and guys, if the girls are talking the same amount as the guys, it’s perceived as the girls taking over the discussion.
Men tend to talk more than women.
And yet there’s a myth that women are way, way more talky. Because women are meant to be *silent*, so people don’t like it—people criticise it and sneer at it—when women talk.
How much worse, if women are being the stars and saving the world? The fact they’re doing it at all in some books is seen as them doing it WAY TOO MUCH, the women are dominating the conversation! Will nobody think of the poor guys?
Feeling hard done by in this circumstance is natural, because we’re raised in a messed up world. But readers, writers, people of the world, think about if you really want to say that girls can’t save the world, can’t be the heroes, or that love is stupid.
Think of what people are losing up there in that giant No Girls Welcome clubhouse.
Don’t be angry that women are not silent.