On Friday 14th September I ventured into central London to go to the Special Snowflake Convention held at the Waterstones on Kensington High Street.
I went to the event with one of my friends, who I’d told about it two days prior, as I had forgotten that she liked Holly Bourne’s books, despite the one who’d initially recommended them to her (which I’m sure if something that other manic book reviewers suffer from too). Although I was stressing that we’d be late, we ended up arriving half an hour early, so we popped into the Starbucks next door to have a drink to while away the time until 1800, which is when it began.
For the first 45 minutes there was mingling time, of which my friend and I did not particularly excel at and resorted to making small talk by the snack table, on which were pretty good cupcakes, popcorn, vegetable crisps, and quite suitably, snowballs (as I’m sure that was the closest that they could get to snowflakes). There was a couple stalls at which we could join in at, an origami workshop where we made kindness viruses, and a face glitter stall. The origami was harder than I thought, although I don’t excel at origami so I don’t know why I thought it was going to be easy, and whilst the glitter seemed fun, I didn’t want to be the only one with some, and we ran out of time anyway.
The main structure of the talk was a Q&A / interview-style thing where Lucy would ask Holly questions about her new book, on which the event was based, Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?. Holly shared that her favourite character from AWALAS is Lewis and her second is Sophie, she also explained how she couldn’t read back on certain scenes in the novel because she empathises so badly with Lewis that she doesn’t want him to witness him going through it all again because she loves him as a character so much.
During the talk one of the most interesting pieces of information that I picked up on was that Holly has never been taught creative writing. I don’t know about you but for most authors that I think to be good I assume that they’ve formally learnt their craft, and when she revealed that she hadn’t, I was quite surprised. Due to this, she explained, most of the time when she uses various literary techniques, she isn’t aware of it, and it was only a book ago that she became aware of the “point of no return” in writing, after someone complimented her on her use of it.
Once Lucy had finished asking all of her questions it was opened up to the floor so I took the opportunity to ask Holly a question. Prior to this, however, I thanked her for including the new grading system, which everyone laughed at thankfully as I wasn’t sure the audience there, as they were mostly over-teens, were going to understand. I tend to be a fan of the way Holly ends her books, so I asked her if she knew how they were going to end before she started writing. Her answer was that she knows how her novels begin and end, in addition to the point of no return. Another thing she has to know, which I’ve never heard another author say before, is the first line of the novel; she explained that she can’t begin her writing process until she knows what it’s going to be, and, as a result, she knows the first line of each of her novels by heart.
The talk was a really interesting one, and it was nice to listen to Holly speak at length about her books, as, despite meeting her at signings twice before at YALC, I’d never actually gone to one of her talks.
Afterwards there was an opportunity for book signing and mingling again. I managed to catch Lucy for a chat before she left, as she was exhausted from coming back from Naxos, Greece earlier that day. We talked about the education system and how Gove is changing it for his kids so that they get the education that he wants them to have, creating this rush of alterations over the past few years. She asked us what if we were still in school, what subjects we were taking and said Year 12 was her favourite year of school because of all the parties and it freedom it brings, and wished us well for the upcoming year. She seemed genuinely interested throughout the conversation, which was super good as sometimes I feel as though when people meet influencers and youtube personalities in real life sometimes it can be disheartening, but Lucy was so genuine and lovely it really warmed my heart.
Right before the end, my friend and I managed to make conversation with a few other girls that had come to the event, two were from the year below us and one from the year above. What was really refreshing was being able to talk about mental health without skirting around the subject or with some people who don’t really understand where you’re coming from. Of course we all had different experiences and different views as we were at various stages of recovery and life in general, and it was pretty interesting to listen to what each of them had to say. We made sure to exchange Instagram handles and then said goodbye and made the trek back home.
In the future I definitely want to make an effort to go to these events, and especially to talk to the people there as everyone comes from different locations within London, and even outside of the city. It’s always great to interact with people from other backgrounds who have gone through different to you and sometimes it ca be hard to do this when you’re stuck in this routine of school and talking to the same people.
Have you gone to any events and met new people recently? Were they book events or other type? Tell me in the comments below.