Monday 7 October 2013

LFCC Discussion Panel and meeting Malorie Blackman & Meg Rosoff

This Sunday I attended the London Film and Comic Convention with my mum. I hadn't been overly keen to go until I heard there would be a YA discussion panel there hosted by none other than Malorie Blackman, suddenly I couldn't get there fast enough.

-This post will be long, I will write up what was said at the YA Panel for those of you who couldn't be there. If you want to skip straight to that bit, got to the photo of the 4 people at a desk by the London banner.

We set off just before 7 in the morning to catch a train to London. The talks we wanted to go to weren't until the afternoon but tickets would be given out from 9am and we didn't want to miss them, so we decided to get there for the start.
After walking down the wrong road (sorry mum!) and wondering where on earth we were going we arrived just after 9. I got ticket number 6 to the YA talk and my mum got her ticket to the 'Stargate' talk.
So with 3 and a half hours to pass we set off round the hall. Mum queued up and got autographs from Michael Shanks, Lexa Doig and Suanne Braun (all Stargate actors). Then we ambled round the stalls.
If I had won the lottery I am telling you now I could spend a fortune in this place. There were loads of cool t-shirts, awesome Harry Potter merchandise - my favourite was a small model of the Hogwarts Castle, intricately made and beautifully crafted and selling at a couple of hundred pounds. There were Hunger Games merchandise, cool costumes, jewellery, books and collectables of any and all descriptions.

Anyway, at 12:30 my mum then went to her Stargate talk and I sat in the 'Artists' Corner, did a bit of doodling. Here is the Owl I drew:
It's not brilliant and I am no artist, but I think it's cute.
I then sat and finished reading 'How I Live Now' by Meg Rosoff.
Once her talk had finished, we then wandered round for another half hour and my mum bought me a copy of Rosoff's book to get signed later. Then we made our way to our next events. My mum had some photo sessions booked and I was eagerly awaiting the YA Book Panel.

I made my way over to the author table, and sat to wait. I didn't know if the authors would come out before the talk or not but I was ready if they did.
Turns out they didn't so I went and queued up for the talk, eager to get in and hear what the authors had to say.

The Panel was titled 'YA books to film'. and we were introduced to Meg Rosoff, Lucy Christopher, Anthony McGowan and Malorie Blackman.

Malorie Blackman was leading the question and asking the questions to the other authors. First up was Lucy Christopher who's book 'Stolen' has been optioned for a film.

Lucy herself has been writing the Script for the film with an American Screenplay writer. She explained how it was a very different experience writing a script than a book but was a good experience. And gave her the chance to put things in that she had wished were in the book and make some changes to things she no longer liked - for example the kidnapping in the book happens in Bangkok and Gemma is then taken to Australia which would actually be very hard, so in the film, the kidnapping will happen in Australia.
She is hoping for 'Jason Stackhouse' the actor from 'True Blood' to play the male role in the film. Having never watched True Blood I don't really know who he is, but I'm sure it will be good.

Anthony McGowan then started to talk about his book 'The Knife That Killed Me' which he wrote after hearing a lot of stories in the news about Teen Stabbings.
He confessed that unlike Lucy with her film, he has had very little to do with converting his book into a film, he saw the script at each stage and agreed to it but had very little input otherwise. It has been converted to Screenplay by 'Marcus Romer'.
The production on the film has been completed and they are now waiting for a release date. It was going to be October but now looking nearer to Christmas.
He also discussed a major change, in his books he never writes teens with phones, when he was a teen he never had a phone so he doesn't put them in, which of course changes some situations - he gave the example that if you were waiting for a friend by the cinema these days you would just call/text, but if you don't have phones it complicates the scene - which happens in the book, but they had to change it for the film, especially as all teens these days tend to have phones - even demonstrated by the audience around him.

Meg Rosoff was next up to talk, her book 'How I Live Now' has just been released in the cinemas and is a 15 certificate.
The book is written from within Daisy's head - seen through her eyes and told through her thoughts which had to be adapted and changed to make it into a film.
But seeing the events bought to life on film made Meg realize just how violent some of the events in the book were. As you only get a view from Daisy's mind in the book, you can read it without being shocked or disturbed by it. She said many 11 and 12 year olds read it and enjoy it, but when asked by parents about taking the kids to see the film, Meg has to say no. It is not suitable for that age. This spurred some comments about other books that have to contend with that - the film being released but not suitable for it's fan base. Is there a way around that? It depends on the film.

We then found out that the book was actually optioned for a film 10 years ago in 2003 and the first version of a screenplay was written. The first Director was someone called Thomas Vinterburg (think that is how you spell it) and they originally looked at casting 'Kristen Stewart' as Daisy. Back then she was basically an unknown actress with potential. But Thomas dropped out, the film got pushed back and then Kristen became Bella in Twilight. After that she didn't seem right for the part anymore.
Now it has been directed by Kevin McDonald and Daisy is being played by the fabulous 'Saoirse Ronan' whom you may know from 'Lovely Bones', she is a fabulous actress and I look forward to seeing how she plays the part.
She is staring opposite George MacKay who plays Edmond, turns out they are dating in real life and Saoirse actually asked for him to be her co-star in the film.
Meg says the only thing she misses is an aspect of 'tenderness' from the film that you get from Daisy's thoughts in the book.

They then got asked questions as a panel.

1) Which are braver, books or films?
-Lucy - you can do more with books, be riskier. It's a way to get right inside a characters/persons mind.
- Anthony - do you mean pushing boundaries? because there are boundaries in everything you do, but books do tend to push against them more.
- Meg - books!

2) Which YA book to film do you rate?
- Anthony - Kestrel for a Knave
- Lucy - Hunger Games. Was worried about it because she loved the book so much and Jennifer Lawrence wasn't how she pictured Katniss, but 5 minutes into the film she was captivated. :D
- Meg - didn't like the HG film, but did like Harry Potter - although only seen the first one. But said they haves ome of the best actors in England in those amazing roles! -too right. :D

3) Should books have ratings/age certificates like films?
- All - NO!
-read what you want, you will find what you love in the end.
-Age ratings may help parents/grandparents etc when buying books for kids, but ultimately they should be able to decide for themselves what they want to read, most will have had parents guiding them anyway and an idea of what is suitable.

4) What were your favourite books to read as a Teen and what are they now?
- Meg - A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle as a Teen and now - whatever she read last that she didn't hate!
- Lucy -Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
- Anthony - Catch 22 by Jospeh Heller
-Malorie - Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier as a Teen and like Meg, she tends to swap favourites depending on what she recently read and loved.

That was the end of the panel, after applause we left the talk area and I sped round to the signing desks to meet them. I queued up first for Malorie Blackman and ended up about 3rd in the line. 
I was so psyched to meet her, she has been in my list of all time favourite authors for a long time and I have followed her online for ages and have seen all the good things she has worked for, she inspires me and I couldn't wait to meet her. I wasn't disappointed she was welcoming, friendly, funny and seemed really interested. We had a quick talk and I of course got a bit flustered, but she was awesome and signed my book for me. We got a photo together:

 I look a bit shell shocked! And I thanked her for her work supporting libraries (as a library assistant, I know how many closures and cuts are threatened and she is working hard to stop it).
Best moment ever!!!

I then moved over to Meg Rosoff, after hearing her talk on the panel I was more excited to meet her, she seemed funny and witty and very nice, and that is exactly what she was when I met her. We had a quick talk, she tried to guess my age and came out with 18. I am 25 but nearly everyone I meet thinks I'm around 18, so I wasn't offended and told her she was bang on guess with everyone else. It's Ok to look young. :D She then signed my book and I got a photo with her as well.

I didn't get a chance to talk to the other 2 authors, but I met Lucy Christopher at a library event a couple of years ago and she was lovely and I'm sure Anthony was too. :D

All we had to do then was get home. It was just gone 4, we had been there for 7 hours and our feet were killing us! Was definitely worth it though. We had a super day and it was altogether very interesting. One I will always remember.

Sorry that was so long, but I hope you found it interesting too. I definitely want to go and see 'How I Live Now' at the cinema, and I am curious to see how 'Stolen' turns out when it is made.
Thanks to the awesome authors for giving their time to be there.

Look out for July next year, where Malorie is planning to host the UK's biggest YA Book convention as part of LFCC Summer. You can read more about it here
I can't wait!!!

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