EVENT: Orion Blogfest

Here is a bit of writing all about my first ever bloggers’ evening, which Stevie Finegan at Orion was kind enough to let me come along to. First of all: it was a great evening. I love Carmelite House, partly because the offices are glass-walled and I am a terrible nosy person, partly because of the art of all their authors’ names on the wall, and also because it’s in one of the best locations in London – right beside the river. I’ve been to a lot of Rooftop Book Clubs there and the view from the rooftop garden is maybe one of the most exquisite in the entire city.

At the blog fest, my nosiness was extremely satisfied by getting to see another part of the building on the bottom floor. There were incredible cupcakes and then a chance to hear what Orion (specifically the Gollancz imprint, which is fantasy, sci fi and horror) is releasing this year. Here’s a cool story bro: I am not actually particularly into fantasy or sci fi. Robin Hobb is my favourite author ever and I love a bit of timey wimey stuff in my fiction (which, speaking of: I have a beautiful pristine hardback of Elan Mastai’s All Our Wrong Todays on my to be read pile and I CANNOT WAIT to get into it). But on the whole, sci fi and fantasy is something that I need to get a little more experimental about. This evening definitely made me feel like I wanted to branch out. Here are some of the releases I’m most excited about:

  • Crosstalk by Connie Willis (released August 2017). It’s described as Rainbow Rowell meets Sliding Doors, which is essentially perfect for me because Sliding Doors is totally my shit. It’s a more commercial title and focuses on a couple who have been given the ability to read each other’s thoughts, and the miscommunication that arises from that. This is my favourite sort of sci fi, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which innovations aren’t the focus of the story and rather help us to learn about the characters in ways that we otherwise couldn’t have done. I’m not big on spaceships – give me intricate, difficult human relationships any time. This book sounds awesome.
  • Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This by Tricia Sullivan (released September 2016). Focuses on a character called Charlie, who has the ability to influence other people’s dreams. Apparently it’s fun and funny but it also goes to dark places – which, lbr, is the best sort of book.
  • Wild Embers by Nikita Gill (released September 2017). Poems about empowerment, identity and feminism. I checked out her instagram here and there are some really pretty poems. It’s awesome that they mean so much to so many people. Making poetry as popular as she has isn’t easy.
  • Mirror, Mirror by Cara Delevingne (released October 2017). So I love Cara Delevingne for absolutely no reason that I’m aware of. She’s the only nepotism model who’s actually any good (lookin at u, kendall and bella and oh my god HAILEY, let’s not forget hailey) and she also seems to give very few fucks, which is an attitude that I enjoy. Her book is a ‘twisty coming of age story’ which is for fans of We Were Liars and The Girls – which I am, so tbh I think I’ll probably enjoy it. I know we’re supposed to get up in arms about celebs writing books and taking up space on the shelves but frankly there are more important things to think about. Plus this could actually be an awesome example of an #ownvoices novel, because the book is partly about sexuality. I’m hoping she includes an f/f relationship in which neither of them dies. That would be delightful.

The whole evening was great fun. I definitely felt a little starstruck when Joanne Harris came in and I loved hearing her, Dan Vyleta and Ed McDonald talk about their new books. I also loved hearing about Kristen Ciccarelli’s book, The Last Namsara. It isn’t the sort of book that I’d immediately pick up at a shop but I had a flick through it and it looks great – really solid writing and a grounded setting. I’m looking forward to reading it properly.

The quiz was awesome and we did not come last (even though we should have won the quiz team name macaroons – our name was We Know Nothing, Jon Snow, partly thought of by YOURS TRULY). I love meeting book people – a community of likeminded people is something that’s quite rare to find, and as you get older (I’m an ancient old crone, as demonstrated by the way my mary lou manizer seeps attractively into my crows’ feet) it is sometimes hard to figure out where exactly you find friends. School’s out, work can get complicated – so you have to go to places full of people who care about the same shit that you do. A lot of people at the Orion Blog Fest were into books that I’m personally not big on but there’s nothing that’s more engaging and delightful to be around than enthusiasm about something creative. There is literally nothing better than a room full of dorks talking and learning about what they love – except for the moment where the room full of dorks was suddenly silenced when the pizza arrived.

It was a fab night – thanks for letting me come along, thanks for my brand new stack of books, and thanks to everyone I spoke to for being so nice to this blogging novice!

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