Survive and Thrive: The #YASurvivalGuide event

On Tuesday, I braved sunshine, sweat and the Oxford Tube to head down to Waterstones in Kensington for an event I’d been looking forward to for ages – A Young Adult’s Survival Guide, with the four fantastic authors Non Pratt, Holly Bourne, Lucy Ivison and Tom Ellen (who is too cool for Twitter). I’d been looking forward to the evening for ages – especially as I’d been lucky enough to be selected as a winner in the Walker’s Books giveaway, and had brought my shiny new Truth or Dare book and necklace along with me.ya01The city outside was sweltering, but the shop itself was cool and air-conditioned. I grabbed a glass of water, found a seat, and watched the authors (and a visiting Barry Cunningham) gather at the front.

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I couldn’t wait to hear from the authors – I’m already a big fan of Holly Bourne and Non Pratt’s work, and while I haven’t yet read any of Lucy Ivison or Tom Ellen’s books, their new novel Freshers is now on its way to my reservation shelf in the library. (It was so hard not to just buy everyone’s book on the night, but I’m moving house soon, and I already have more books than I know what to do with. No matter how beautiful they look…)

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The talk was set up as a panel discussion, but it felt more like a chat between friends at the pub. The authors talked about their books, then moved on to their uni experiences (which involved swapping some stories that I’m not sure I should share, but let’s just say that kissing can be a risky business).

It wasn’t just talking, though – a first for any book event I’ve been to, there were also games, which were amazing. The first was a round where the audience read out real or made-up university societies, and the authors had to guess which. The last one in particular made me giggle, as they discussed whether the ‘Viking Society’ was real or fake – as a former member of Oxford’s equivalent re-enactment group, I knew full well that yes, there are some people who like to spend their weekends dressed up like it’s 800AD and hitting other like-minded people with blunt swords.

The society discussion turned to the presence (or absence) of feminism societies, and Holly Bourne passed around one of her resources that she uses for school visits – the Feminism Bingo card.

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I got all but one of them, which would be great if it wasn’t actually completely terrible.

The final game – and my favourite – was Truth or Dare, involving pre-written truths and dares. As many of them had been written by seven-year-olds, they were largely quite adorable – one of the best being “What’s the hardest maths you can do?” The recurring “What do you think of Non Pratt?” also raised a lot of laughs, as did the dare ‘Become an egg’, which Non carried out with aplomb.

The evening ended with a signing, and with me gushing over Non Pratt and Holly Bourne in probably an extremely cringey way. I left the shop with the high that I always get when I’ve been to a really good story-focused event – and enough inspiration to write a good 700 words of Sigyn on the bus journey.

Truth or Dare is next on my to-read list, with Freshers following after. I can’t wait to get stuck in.

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About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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