Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I last did one of these, but I haven’t been to a book event since the New Voices event in January, authors don’t really come to Scotland very often and as I’m a student, I can’t even really afford to get to the few events that happen in the North of England, let alone further South. However, I made an exception for this event, going all the way down to London and back in two days because these three authors are three of my favourites, and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see all three of them together, plus it had been forever since I last saw my friend Hannah (who you guys probably know as my YALC partner-in-crime, we go together every year), so I decided to make my bank account scream in despair and pay for trains to and from London and an overnight hotel room so that Hannah and I could go to the event together.
I had to get the train pretty early on Monday morning, as it takes over five hours to get from Stirling to London Kings Cross, but thankfully it was a direct train, so once I was on there, that was it. Frustratingly, the train was delayed by half an hour and then we were held up further on the journey, so I got in forty minutes later than I was originally expecting. Still, I had great reading material on the train, in the form of Jennifer Mathieu’s Moxie, so it wasn’t so bad!
When I arrived at Kings Cross, I headed straight for the Travelodge where I was staying the night, and pretty much just had the opportunity to change shirts (when you’ve been on a train for five hours, you get a little sweaty!), activate the WiFi on my laptop and watch a little TV before I had to head out again to meet Hannah.
Hannah, of course, was late. I don’t know if I’ve told you guys this before, but Hannah is notorious in our friend group as being the “late one”, so of course, I was there, stressing, checking that we could still get the train out to Crouch End and make it to the event on time and naturally just as I am considering jumping on the next train and letting her make her own way to the event, she shows up!
We then got on the tube to Blackhorse Road, before changing to get the train to Crouch Hill, where the event was. Hannah and I hadn’t seen each other since Christmas, so naturally we had A LOT to talk about, as we always do. We were cutting it a little close in terms of making it to the event, but we got to Crouch Hill just in the nick of time.
Only once we arrived, we got sent the most roundabout way to get to the shop possible, involving an awful hill and several very windy roads! I was so glad I went with Hannah rather than going on my own like I originally thought I might have to, because Crouch End at night is not the nicest place!
We did manage to make it to the bookshop, and luckily, even though we were ten minutes late, the authors hadn’t been brought out yet. We were provided with drinks, and then took our seats, proceeding to be the annoying people who arrived late and then made everyone stand up to reach our seats (not that there were assigned seats or anything, but the ones further at the end were better than the closer ones). It was a bit of a tight squeeze as it’s quite a small bookshop, but we made it work.
The three authors were then brought out (to much cheering from us in the audience) and the event began. The moderator did have a tendency to ramble a bit, which was a little annoying, but she did ask some really interesting questions (we never did get the answer to what Neal, Victoria and Samantha would name their episodes of Black Mirror were they to write one!) and the three authors bounced off each other really well, so it was a really fun and engaging event. Oftentimes, these panels can be kind of dry, but that wasn’t the case with this event, Neal, Victoria and Samantha all had great answers to the moderators questions and it was really fun to hear about their books and their writing processes and reading habits (authors have just as massive TBRs as us guys!).
Once they were done with the discussion, we had a chance to ask questions and I actually asked Victoria for some writing advice as I’ve been struggling with how to get people to root for my main character (she’s not necessarily the most likeable) and her advice was really helpful, she said that she doesn’t believe in likeable main characters and that it’s more important to make your characters relatable by making their motivations clear, so hopefully this will improve Tiffany’s story!
When we had finished asking questions, the bookshop staff got us to form a line so the authors could sign our books. It was quite a small shop, so getting everyone lined up was a bit of a challenge, but it wasn’t a particularly large event so even though the signing line curved around, it moved relatively quickly.
I was having a ridiculously clumsy night, so I knocked several things over in front of Neal, Samantha and Victoria which was slightly embarrassing. I also had a lot of books with me, so logistically speaking, it was a bit of a nightmare. Thankfully they were all really lovely! It was my first time meeting Neal, and I definitely had a bit of a fangirl moment. He actually asked to get a picture of me, as he’d never seen all four UK editions of the Unwind dystology together, which was a little weird, but kind of cool, usually, I’m the one asking for pictures! I told him what a big fan I was of the series, which he appreciated and he signed all five of my books for me, which was lovely.
I had met Samantha before at YALC, but I didn’t get too much of a chance to speak to her then, so it was nice to get to see her again. I told her about Underground Magicians and how her picture of the Paris Catacombs partly inspired me to set it in Paris and how I loved that she talked about wanting to go somewhere different with each Bone Season book because that was something I was trying to do with Underground Magicians as well. She was so lovely and wished me luck with my story-I admitted I was having a bit of writer’s block with it, but Neal, Samantha and V all said there was no such thing and you just have to find your way through, which was really encouraging.
I then got my last couple of books signed by V, one for me and one for Nicola, and had a minorly embarrassing moment where I was trying to juggle all of my books but she was really sweet about it.
Once Hannah and I had got all of our books signed, and I had rearranged myself, we got a picture with all three authors and then went to pay for our books (we’d both bought some from the shop, as well as me bringing my own down from home) before leaving.
We then made our way back to Kings Cross and started a desperate hunt for food (as neither of us had had time to eat) before eventually ending up at a Pret. It was after 10 o’clock by this point, so finding food was a little difficult!
Once we’d finished eating, I walked with Hannah back down to the Underground and then we said our goodbyes, as she was heading back to Windsor and I was heading back to the Travelodge to stay overnight. It was a short reunion but definitely worth it as we had an awesome time at the event, and I’m glad I came all the way down from Scotland for it. I’m definitely ridiculously excited for YALC now, and I hope they start announcing authors soon.
Here’s the picture of Hannah and I with the authors at the event, and pictures of my signed books:
Us with Victoria, Samantha and Neal-in terms of author photos, this is definitely one of our better ones! There is a horrific photo of us with Maggie Stiefvater that will never see the light of day because it is so embarrassing, but this one is actually quite nice!
These are all my signed Neal Shusterman books (all the Unwind books + Scythe). I have to say, his inscriptions are probably my fave author inscriptions I’ve ever had, I didn’t even have to ask him to write “Nice Socks” in one of mine (as it only occurred to me after that I should have and then I found out he’d done it anyway!).
And my signed Schwab, I have to say, I love her signature, she has a very pretty and distinctive one! This is actually the last Schwab book I have to get signed until she brings her new ones out this year.
So that’s it, my whirlwind trip to London! Was anyone else at the event on Monday night? Has anyone been to any of Samantha, Neal or V’s events before? Let me know in the comments!
I will have my review of Moxie up for you guys very soon, not sure if it will be tonight, but definitely tomorrow at the latest!