We loved the ‘Be True to Yourself’ event at Waterstones Piccadilly

On Monday 14th March we attended the ‘Be True to Yourself’ event at Waterstones Piccadilly, and had the sheer joy and ultimate honour of being in the same room as four incredible authors – plus one author-to-be.

The panel consisted of Jandy Nelson, Lisa Williamson, Alice Oseman and Sara Barnard, and was chaired by Katherine Webber. We won’t lie, seeing the line-up online a few weeks ago had us squealing with excitement, and we were not disappointed!

After the enormous crowd (sold out event, guys!) had all settled into our seats, the five awesome women walked down the aisle and brought with them an excited yet awed hush. None of us could quite believe we were in the presence of such fabulous literary geniuses!

Each author took their turn talking about identity, and how the characters in their novels struggle or thrive with this concept. Katherine also asked them about their use of love in their work. All the different kinds of love, not just romantic.

Jandy Nelson, author of ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ and ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’ delighted us with some insights into her characters’ feelings towards one another (Noah and Jude, the twins from ‘I’ll Give You The Sun’, were especially fascinating!) and explained how she had wanted to write ‘The Sky Is Everywhere’ exclusively in verse once upon a time. However, she then realised she had to be Lennie and write her full inner monologue instead, which we’re very glad she did!

Lisa Williamson, author of ‘The Art of Being Normal’, discussed gender identity, and how her characters David and Leo were unlikely friends brought together by their struggles with this. She also claimed that she ‘still thinks about’ Leo and Kate, and their potential romance, even now.

Alice Oseman, author of ‘Solitaire’ and recent release ‘Radio Silence’, talked about her time in education and how that inspired her somewhat to write. She also commented on how the best friends in ‘Radio Silence’ don’t get together, they’re 100% platonic despite being a guy and a girl, and how she deliberately made that the case because she was tired of the endless YA romances.

Sara Barnard was introduced as the writer of ‘a love story with no romance’: ‘Beautiful Broken Things’. She told us about starting writing her debut aged 13 and how she wanted to just focus on female friendships, with little or no romance included in the story. Her characters also struggle with their identities, especially Suzanne who is working hard to overcome her difficult past.

Hearing all these authors talk about identity and love, then answer various audience queries about their writing processes and sources of inspiration, was simply magical.

We had to giggle when the wonderful conversation on the panel had to end and immediately the entire audience rushed up to the front to get their books signed by (or just chatter with) Sara, Alice, Lisa and Jandy.

It’s safe to say this event was a tremendous success, and made us feel all the things.

These wonderful authors then carried on to another ‘Be True To Yourself’ event in Leeds the following night, and tonight they will be finishing off the mini-tour in Liverpool. Details for these events can be found on the March UK YA events page.

We wish them all the best!

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