Auld Reekie and me

Would someone pinch me?

Because I'm still not sure I can believe what I was doing just over a week ago.

On Saturday 18th August I was, ahem, appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival, talking about my book Cracks and dystopian fiction in general along with SD Crockett, author of the excellent After the Snow.

The rather nifty theme of the discussion was, 'Is dystopia the new vampire?', in reference to the fact that this genre has taken off in a big way in the young adult book market. We talked about why this might be, the obvious trigger being the huge success of The Hunger Games.

I shared my own theories of what makes this genre appealing to young people. The teenage years are a time when authority in general can be hard to take. It often seems as though the sole purpose of adults is to stop you doing what you really want to do.

These books also often focus on issues that feel particularly potent to young people. For example, in the brilliant Ugllies Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, everyone gets the opportunity to be made 'pretty' by extensive cosmetic surgery. It comes at a price, of course, but the idea of all imperfections being erased in one day, with no scarring and no pain must be pretty alluring when you are enduring those self-conscious years.

And when I wrote Cracks I thought about how intensely private you want to be as a young person. My character has to cope with the indignity of people being able to see his innermost thoughts. All his secret hopes, desires and dreams have been laid out for the authorities to see. Bad enough at any age, but when you are fourteen, this might seem a fate almost worse than death.

There were some great questions from our chairperson, Eve, and the live audience. Despite my decidely wobbly legs before it started, the whole event ended up being enormous fun. I was sorry it was over when our hour was up.

I had only ever visited Edinburgh very briefly once before this but I can honestly say I fell in love with this amazing city, where history and culture, both high and low, can be found everywhere you look.

It was only when preparing for the event that I remembered I'd also loved this genre as a teenager. There was considerably less of a choice then, and YA Books didn't even exist in their own right. But I remember the huge impact Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451 had upon me, also the movie Blade Runner.

So if the powers that be ever fancy inviting me to the Festival again, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be free...


Gillian McDade said...

This is really bizarre but I had a dream last night, that we met in Edinburgh! Many congrats on it Caroline, and glad it went well :)

Debs Riccio said...

Wow, sounds like a pretty perfect place to have been. Well done, what amazing memories for you!

Caroline Green said...

Thanks both. Gillian, hope I didn;t do anything too bizarre. If your dreams are anything like mine, I probablt did :)

Thrifty Gal said...

Sounds like a blast! Well done you.!

DT said...

That sounds like a MAJOR thumbs-up to your talents as a writer. The vampire train has to reach a terminus at some point, and, as you say, dystopian fiction has a rich heritage. Does anyone remember a book called The Guardians, about the Conurb and the County? I only recently recalled it (vaguely) and realised what an influence it is on one of my own books.

Now, when do we all need to synchronise our diaries, so we can accompany you next time you're doing a speaking gig? I can do the slideshow clicky bit!

Caroline Green said...

Now there's an offer! Thanks Derek!

I don;t know The Guardians...must look it up.

Thanks for the comments, all.