I was delighted to discover Bookworms recently, a gorgeous new children’s bookshop in the newly renovated Piece Hall in Halifax - think a spacious stone piazza, a bit like Covent Garden, but in the heart of West Yorkshire. So it was an honour to be invited to speak at the first meeting of their new YA bookclub.
The booksellers I’ve met since becoming an author are passionate, knowledgeable and innovative, and Katie, Louise and Sarah at Bookworms are no exception. They have a brilliant range of children’s and YA titles, and they’re bursting with ideas for working with authors and supporting local writers.
They supplied me with tea and biscuits, as we set up a circle of chairs and waited to meet the teen readers. Due to the snowy weather, this first group was small but perfectly formed, and it was a real delight to hear from local teenagers who had enjoyed reading Eden Summer. One reader, Niamh, said she’d enjoyed reading Yorkshire dialect in fiction. This feedback meant the world to me! I felt so passionate about representing my local landscape, and the speech patterns of our region, and it was brilliant to hear that she enjoyed seeing this reflected in the novel.
When I was a teenage reader, I didn’t often see northern girls like me represented in fiction, so it makes me very happy to know that I’ve created something that speaks to these YA readers.
Louise asked me questions about writing Eden Summer, and I described how the book came about - characters first, elements of autobiography and research second – and I confessed about my disastrous first draft! I described working on the second draft with my supervisor at Leeds Trinity University when I was studying for my PhD, and the processes of editing it for publication.
The group concluded with each reader recommending a beloved book, and this was my favourite part – hearing these readers speak with such enthusiasm. One reader, Bluseph, described movingly what Lisa Williamson’s The Art of Being Normal had meant to them. Hearing readers speak with such conviction and passion is the most inspiring and motivating thing for me, especially as I’m in the very early stages of writing a new idea, and I’m feeling a little daunted about the task ahead.
I’d thank to say a huge thank you to the group and to the team at Bookworms – best of luck with your new YA bookclub! I have the feeling it’s going to be fabulous.
Bookclub photographs by Katie at Bookworms