YA Historial Fiction – Guildford Waterstones

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I did it, I finally did it. I attended my first ever YA book event (and the crowd goes wild!) I was so nervous and I really don’t know why!? Images flashed through my mind that I would be the only person there (with my friend that I dragged along) and it would be unbelievably awkward – because … and please, don’t judge. Give me a second, *hides behind a mountain of pillows* I have not read a SINGLE book by ANY of the authors.

I know, shame on me.

So my friend and I arrived early, found our seats and excitingly discussed what would be in store for us. I have never read any YA Historical books and this was the main reason why I wanted to attend. I wanted to learn something and have more insight into this particular genre. Plus getting to meet these talented female authors – a complete bonus. I was definitely not going to miss out on this.

Sophia Bennett, Alison Goodman, and Catherine Johnson walked into the room, took their seats, all smiles. Excitement buzzed throughout the air. Then, it began.

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The Walker rep started the evening by asking the first and probably the most important question, what are the books about!? Why did you want to write in this particular period? TELL ME EVERYTHING.  I eagerly sat on the edge of my chair, pen and paper in my hand; because you know, I’m cool like that.

Alison GoodmanThe Dark Days Pact

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All the way from Australia, Alison dived into her second book in her Lady Helen series. Set in 1812 she describes this series as Buffy meets Jane Austen. Hella cool!? (I tried to watch Buffy when I was younger – too terrifying.) Though, as a mature *cough* adult now,  I very much love the world of the supernatural.  And as a fan of Jane Austen (having read a few of her novels) this particular book stood out for me. Alison talks how she writes as many facts as fiction, wanting to portray what life was like especially for a woman in the 1800s. Her main character, Lady Helen is thrown into the world of the supernatural, wanting to fight and kick-ass but having one major issue; she is a woman in 1800s. She is Lady who MUST act and present herself in a proper manner. The way Alison described Lady Helen made me feel that this is a totally bad-ass woman and she does not stand for this, act-like-a-lady crap. She is going to go out and save the world because she can and if she wants to do it wearing a dress, then she will!

I generally thought the whole concept of this book was awesome and will definitely be getting my greedy hands on a copy.

Catherine JohnsonThe Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo

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Catherine Johnson, what a complete babe. I totally felt her energy as she began talking. You could see her passion for this book and how much she enjoyed writing it. Lady Caraboo was, in fact, a real person many, many years ago. Mary Barker (our main character) pretended and fooled an entire town into thinking that she was a princess from a faraway kingdom. And so we, Princess Caraboo! Cool, right?! One more bad-ass woman who has decided, Nah, I am so done with this life, I am going to be someone different. She creates her own language, writing, religious rituals and convinces academic that it is the real deal. COOL.

What makes this book really interesting is Catherine re-creates Lady Caraboo’s life with her own version. BUT FEAR NOT, the historical facts are still within the depths of its pages.

Sophia Bennett Following Ophelia

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The story follows Mary who tries to become a Pre- Raphaelite muse for an artist in Victorian London. But unsurprisingly, this is seen as COMPLETELY unacceptable during the 1800s. Mary must seek out her dream in secret *hush* and reinvent herself as Persephone. Sophia discusses the extensive research that went into the writing of Following Ophelia and by golly I really, REALLY did not realize. What kind of dress would Persephone/Mary have worn? What colour would it have been? But it makes sense, yeah? Historical fiction would totally need a lot of research *face palm*

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One topic that was brought into discussion and I think it’s obvious. (Well I hope it is) FEMINISM. How could three female authors with three, very different female characters not bring this into the discussion. I’m so glad it did. Each agreed that Feminism was just not a thing back in the 1800s. Women were told that they had to act a certain way, be “ladylike”, the usual blah blah. All three authors agreed they wanted their female protagonists to do something in their narratives. Take control, defeat the baddies, lie a little, achieve their goals!

I think this message is super important. I was sat amongst young females and it made me so happy for them to hear this message; to hear for myself and my friend.

My first (not my last!) book event was magical, delightful and intriguing. I have a taste for it now. Craving more by the minute! I will also definitely be reading all three of these books that I have mentioned! Maybe if you’ve read them, leave me a little comment about what you thought about them?

Happy reading all.

R x

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