We turned up at the Guildhall on Friday night not sure what to expect. We were, however greeted warmly and shown to our seats, where we settled down for the opening event. The panel, comprising David Almond, Cressida Cowell, Julia Green and Gill Trueman, all gave fascinating and very different insights concerning their views about children’s literature and young adult fiction. It was interesting to learn how often your favourite authors from younger years never actually set out to be children’s writers (such as David Almond, author of Skellig) but they have come to absolutely love it. I was particularly hooked as Cressida Cowell (author of How to Train Your Dragon) is one of my own favourite childhood authors. Julia Green, a lecturer in creative writing at Bath Spa University and herself an author, put forward a very valid case as to why we might like to join a creative writing course and what it might offer us after university. Gill Trueman, a junior school librarian, presented views on libraries and reading in primary schools that were passionately discussed among the panel and audience.
It was also wonderful to go meet Cressida and David after the panel and have the opportunity to have books signed and ask them some burning questions about the stories that helped create a part of our childhoods. When I came back from talking to Cressida I was surprised to be talking to Gill McLay who was absolutely lovely and infectiously excited about her work. She opened our minds to the different jobs you could consider in the literary world. Later, when we got to the party at Waterstones, we found that John, her husband, was similarly witty and enthusiastic. It was also delightful to meet Rachel Bright (of Brightside Studios) and find out how she started her career as I am also very passionate about both writing and drawing. Meeting David Almond again was great and it was brilliant for someone as busy as him to take the time out and have a chat about us and even discuss embarrassing business cards! Julia Green was lively and brimming with encouragement for creative writing classes and Anne Mcneil was super at taking the time to tell us about working at a big company in the writing world.
Thank you to all the wonderful people we met not just on Friday but Sunday too – you were all amazing and very helpful!