Friday involved me being on two panels.
The first was entitled ‘Guiding Star: discussing the Lodestone award shortlist’ and was moderated by the wonderful writer, Charlie Jane Anders. It also featured three other great writers in the form of Tasha Suri, Dr. Mary Watson and Nicole Kurtz. Our job was to discuss the nominees for the newly minted Lodestone award for YA fiction and speculate on which one would win.
Building up to this event, having known I was on this panel, I had spent an awfully long time reading the books on the list as soon as it was revealed. My Kindle was loaded with most of them (only Tess of the Road was unavailable in ebook for some reason) and they formed my holiday reading. The list, for those who didn’t know, was:
- The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
- Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
- The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
- Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
- The Invasion by Peadar Ó Guilín
- Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
Our brief was to gush about them and gush we did. Though we were also suitably critical. After all, I am a BSFA reviewer, and there is an ancient oath we reviewers must take to never give an unbalanced review. It was interesting to see where we agreed and where we disagreed, especially on some of the different interpretations of each work, and we each presented a different favourite to win the prize. My personal bets were on Peadar Ó Guilín to take it, partly because I always love his writing (and I nominated him) but also because I felt it apt that a local talent would win it. Of course, as we all know by now (unless you don’t, in which case SPOILERS!) Children of Blood and Bone took the award – a book which I think would make an excellent Anime adaptation.
Overall, I considered the nominees to be a great mix of writing styles and character diversity – incorporating gender, ethnicity, disability and trans issues in different but always entertaining ways.
Though, one final thing to say about this panel was the location. We were located at Point square, in the Odeon cinema which basically meant we were sat at the front of a small cinema. This made me feel that we were less like a group of authors and reviewers doing a panel and more like the cast and crew of a new Hollywood blockbuster lining up to introduce the premier.
My next panel was heading into more adult areas with a talk on Romance. Specifically, an ‘Introducton to SFF romance’. In this I was harkening back to my days as a romance writer (my introduction to the audience did say I was a ‘lapsed romance writer’) and the panelists were all there to talk about how romance can be better incorporated into SFF. In this were moderated by Cora Buhlert, and joined by Darlene Marshal and Jeffe Kennedy. We started with the SFWA’s definition of ‘romance’ which lays down some rules for what ‘SFF romance’ should look like, including ‘there must be a happy ever after or happy for now’ ending and ‘romance must be a substantive part of overall character transformation’. This is to distinguish from ‘Fantasy with Romance elements’. With the rules laid down, we started to discuss examples and give thoughts on how romance can drive a plot. In all a very useful discussion was had. It (along with other discussions had later…) led to me making a decision about ressurecting a particular character from my repertoire.
I also got time to attend two panels as an audience member. One, entitled ‘let’s do the time loop again’ was an entertaining discussion moderated by E. Lily Yu which touched on all the many and varied examples of time loops in SFF and fantasy and came up with some interesting thoughts on some classic tropes. It was, however, unfortunately impossible to say how many times the panelists and audience had been forced to endure the panel repeating… The other was moderated by my old friend, Russel A Smith and looked at Black Superheroes in TV and Film. This one looked back to the days of Blaxspoitation and forward into what is hopefully going to be a more diverse future in comics, TV and film.
The day ended with more Barcon work… hanging out with F.D Lee and associates where we each frothed about each other and shared reviews… incidentally, her review can be found here and our discussion not only led me to want to bring Helen back for more torment but also made some ‘character arc driving decisions’ about her that will hopefully be seen when the story I am working on at present is published…