Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Simon & Schuster Children's Event

Mark and I headed off to S&S's offices to attend their Young Fiction evening: Make 'em Laugh.

It was chaired by the ever charming (and funny) Graham Marks. He chatted with Jo Nesbo (yes, I know, who would have thunk that Mr. Nesbo excelled at kids writing too, not just crime writing!) Waterstones prize winner Katie Davies (exceedingly pretty and very clever) and new friend to MFB, Tamsyn Murray (she who wrote My So-Called Afterlife but who has a series of books out for younger readers from S&S later this year called Stunt Bunny).

We got front row seats, cos we are greedy like that. I asked two SCBWI friends along - Sue Eves and Mo Oakley and made them sit in the front row too. They were shocked by this but soon enjoyed themselves as they had an unobstructed view of the proceedings.

Each author read a piece from their books and Jo Nesbo stole the show doing a reading from his Dr. Proctor's Fart Powder - the prose, combined with his fantastic Norwegian accent, won us all over and we were literally rocking with laughter.

Both Katie and Tamsyn read extracts from their novels and I know I'm a bit biased but I'm really looking forward to Tamsyn's Stunt Bunny books - they sound very clever, i.e. the use of language and the play on words came across as quite good, for confident readers. I also quite liked the fact that the story's been written from the bunny's point of view - but before anyone rolls their eyes: it works, trust me! And I'm not someone who is fond of talking animals.

The dialogue ranged widely from how humour is perceived in novels to points of view in the books; how the adults in the books are supporting characters only, leaving the younger folk the chance to experience it all for themselves. I started writing down various answers but then got caught up in the conversation and uh, I didn't write down the rest! But, trust me: it was very interesting listening to these peeps chat about their work etc.

Some photos from the event:

Panel and moderator being introduced.

Authors chatting before getting down to business.

Tamsyn Murray showing off her Pepper Potts good looks.

Below: Jo Nesbo reading from his children's novel to great amusement from the audience.

Graham Marks did a wonderful job of putting everyone at ease during the talk. As moderator he asked questions of the panel and it was intelligent thorough questions about their books, their writing, and of course, the importance of comedy in novels.

The authors handled themselves truly well. I think everyone was a bit in awe of Mr. Nesbo who is terrifically charismatic and of course, amusing. But I think both Tamsyn and Katie definitely gave as good as they got and although nerves were apparent, especially with Katie Davies, you could tell all three authors were very passionate about their writing and had strong feelings about comedy being written into novels, but not used as gags.

Questions from the audience at the end of the evening was short and soon everyone mingled over drinks and various nibbles. It was a fun and relaxed evening, more like hanging out with some friends, to be honest. This is the way to do it.

Thanks S&S peeps for inviting us bloggery types along. It was a lovely evening and it was good being able to meet these authors and hear from them about what makes them and their books tick.


Rachel Green said...

Good to see what goes on!

Unknown said...

Thanks for inviting me Liz, I hardly ever sit in the front row but it wasn't so scary, after all.

Authors are under so much pressure to perform these days and I thought they each showed off their USP. Jo Nesbo's words of advice to writers facing decisions about their writing will stay with me 'create your own universe...' where you are in charge.

Thanks Liz and lovely to meet Mark too

Luisa Plaja said...

Oh, this is wonderful! Thank you for the great write-up. I can't wait for Stunt Bunny, and The Great Hamster Massacre sounds so good! I loved reading Doctor Proctor - and so did my son. I'll be showing him this page later. (I wish we could have read the book in a Norwegian accent!)

Tamsyn Murray said...

Thanks for this, Liz, so pleased you had fun. It was like hanging out with friends, wasn't it?

And thanks for the Pepper Potts comparison *preens*. I think I look enormous next to tiny Katie!