April 1st, 2011 // 8:34 pm @ admin
The York Writing Festival was absolute heaven. Tiring, but wonderful. Everyone was so friendly and approachable, ready to share experience and expertise. It was a great opportunity to make contacts, find out what agents and publishers are looking for, and talk about books and writing non-stop for three days. Now I’m at home I feel strangely disorientated, as if I’ve left a part of myself back there in York.
We stayed on campus, very comfortable rooms with en suite shower and loo –– even a hairdryer –– and it was a short walk from our accommodation to the Exhibition Centre where most of the action was, though we had to dodge ducks and Canada geese who thought nothing of sleeping in the middle of the path and weren’t going to move for anyone. Once past the geese, there were workshops, discussion panels with agents, publishers, book doctors, and valuable ten-minute one-to-one discussions about one’s work, not to mention Blackwell’s table crammed with books that I for one couldn’t walk past without buying something.
As to what agents and publishers are looking for, they are, as ever, looking for a story with an interesting concept, strong plot, excellent characterisation, fresh individual voice. For children, there’s still a demand for Young Adult and teen fiction; more stories in the 8-12 range are needed, but be sure you break this age range down: there’s a big gap between 8-year-olds and 12-year-olds. Vampires are passé; adventures set in space may be the next big thing; boys won’t read stories with female protagonists; historicals are sought-after.
I won’t be thanking the Canada geese who drowned out some of the speakers and woke us up in the morning. I would, though, like to say huge thanks to the Writers’ Workshop who organised it so well, also the publishers who donated all the books in our goodie bags, and all the speakers, especially Nicola Morgan, Julia Churchill, and Vicky Blunden and Elizabeth Haynes who were lovely and inspiring. And Mari, Delyth, Miranda –– it was great to meet you, and Miranda, if you read this, do let me know if your book gets taken on! Good luck to you all, and I hope we meet again –– maybe next year?