I needn't have worried. The lovely Jan Jones had put me in a house with fellow new mummies, Cally Taylor and Rowan Coleman, and they were perfectly placed to share my anxiety about leaving the baby, because they had done the same. They also had the wine situation firmly under control, which left me free to enjoy the wealth of knowledge, inspiration and humour the conference had to offer.
|The only photo I took at the Conference - those two little blobs are the wild bunnies|
I met while looking for the laundry room. They weren't actual RNA members but I hope
to see them at the next conference...
I caught the end of Kate Harrison's session on the state of publishing now (a fab analysis of a survey she had done amongst other authors to see what they thought of the seismic changes in our industry), had a one-to-one meeting with Gillian Green of Ebury Press (who gently pointed out that my novel title sucked and there was a much better one jumping up and down in my synopsis), massaged Cally Taylor in a drama workshop on using all five senses, discovered what the fiction imprint of Ebury Press is looking for and then laughed all evening at the Gala Dinner, with the brilliant Kate, Rowan, Cally and Miranda Dickinson.
Despite my intention not to drink much (I had my own session to deliver at 10.30am on Sunday morning and didn't want to be too bleary-eyed; also, I planned to enjoy my first night of uninterrupted sleep in over eight months and alcohol tends to keep me awake), our kitchen was far too lively for me to want to leave it, so several hours and glasses of wine later, I staggered up to bed. Considering I haven't drunk for a year and half, I was chuffed to wake up the next morning without a hangover - result!
My session - Going All The Way - was about sex in YA books and whether we, as writers, should include it. I'd been a little nervous about some of the terminology I planned to use in front of a room of lovely RNA ladies but I needn't have been - thanks to many a discussion about Fifty Shades of Grey, my language was practically prudish by comparison. We had a great discussion at the end of the session about banned books, age restrictions and how sex in YA was perceived generally - I think we could have carried on talking for ages, which is usually the sign of a good workshop.
Then it was onto Julie Cohen's fabulous session on what Pixar movies can teach us about writing - it turns out the answer is plenty. Julie broke down several films to show how tight the structure, plotting and characterisation is, and showed clips from Wall-E, Finding Nemo and Up. I found everything Julie said inspiring, despite blubbing my way through most of it (I blame the baby hormones, although she did show the opening sequence from Up and if you don't cry at that you are clinically dead). She also confessed that her students used to call her Dory, from Finding Nemo, and now I find myself thinking of her as Dory too...
Once RNA Chair Anne Ashurst had wrapped up the conference, it was time to head back home. I shared part of the train journey with Cally, then got my head down for some writing and was reunited with my baby before I'd really had time to miss him.
I can't recommend the RNA Conferences enough - the company is fabulous, the content is excellent and I found it totally restorative to be among other writers who got what I was banging on about. Next year's conference is in Sheffield - can you make it a week, Jan?