Saturday 5 April 2008

The Sands of Time Conference

This was an extremely interesting conference, held at the University of Hertfordshire. Most of the delegates were there as academics – or as one delegate put it aca-bloody-demics - interested in reading children’s and Young Adult Literature, with some interest in how it is used politically, and to do with culture and identity. I was there as a writer who is also an academic how has studied the Young Adult Novel in depth and has noticed that many Young Adult novels are to do with identity.

There were other writers there – Alan Gibbons, Berlie Doherty, Beverley Naidoo, Anne Cassidy and Elizabeth Laird. Also, many of the academics have also written books, but I guess their concern is not so much with sales and royalties as we writers are, but with the esteem which the books bring. I guess, though, that amounts to the same thing, in a way. It was good to mix again with other writers. Of course I’m not as well-known as they are, but we share experiences. And they did gawp when I mentioned that Waterstones are selling me three for two.

Alan’s talk at the end really gave food for thought. Though the publishers are hard-headed business people and embedded in capitalism, they rely on subversive texts to feed their sales. A bit like Aunty, really. Yet Aunty – aka the BBC is delightfully independent, but should tow a government line even though it does not have to obey the advertisers. Interestingly, it can speak reasonably freely.

On a personal level, I’m beginning to see how important it is that I stick with my writing and that I really do get it as good as I possibly can. It was really good brushing shoulders with those five and I did mange to speak for a long time over dinner with Alan and Berlie.

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