So today was the final day of YALC and possibly the busiest yet! So much going on with huge crowds, readers browsing the stall, people in amazing costumes walking past and some brilliant panel talks to listen to – we had a wonderful time!
Serious things first – the panel talk I attended was called “Bringing Sexy Back” and it was a discussion about sex in YA novels (apparently a continuation of a similar talk from last year’s YALC). Chaired by James Dawson in a gorgeous outfit with a dragon sitting on his shoulder, it featured authors Non Pratt, Louise O’Neill, Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen. They began by answering the question “Is sex a big deal in YA?”, and the conclusion was that yes, it does matter to the reader as for a lot of them it’s something new, something they want to know about. However, the panellists went on to say that YA is responsible for connecting the emotion to the experience – it needs to be more sensitive. Reading about it is very different from eg seeing it in a movie, as reading is a more private thing.
Among other things, they mentioned that there are still issues with parents (not librarians, who have been accused of being “gatekeepers” in the past, the panel hastened to add!) as not all parents are happy about their teenagers reading books with sex in them. But the consensus was that you have to give teens access to the books they need in order to learn and the stories have to be realistic. Authors need to foster better relationships between girls and a huge issue is how the media portray women, pitching them against each other and tearing them apart for the way they look or what they wear – that has to stop! Both male and female friendships are important.
The authors were asked if there were subjects they wouldn’t write about and answered “things that are real in the world should be available to read about”. It’s now forty years since the very first YA book with sex in it was published (“Forever” by Judy Blume) so why is it still such a big thing? Good question!
Now to the not so serious matters – the costumes! I couldn’t stop taking photos of all the fantastic outfits and can’t resist sharing the best ones with you. I also got to indulge my love of all things Thor even if a couple of them were on the small side 🙂 (A selection below)
All in all, it was a fantastic final day and I can’t wait for next year – a huge well done to the organisers of YALC who kept it all running so smoothly! Thank you from the Paisley Piranhas.