Today’s fun activity was a panel event that was a part of Singapore Writers Festival. The event title was “Instalove” – Romance and the YA Novel with Joyce Chua, Joyce Chng and Rachel Hartman as panelists. My friend Liyana of LiyanaLand mentioned that she will be attending the event so we made plans to meet up and hang out.
I actually found out about the event when I saw Rachel Hartman mention on Twitter that she’s in Singapore for the Singapore Writers Festival. Seraphina was one of my favorite reads back in 2012, and it’s rare for authors I read or follow to make it to this part of the world. So it’s always a cause for excitement when one does. I’ve been following Singaporean author Joyce Chng on Twitter for a while now and I’ve been meaning to read her fantasy novel, Rider, but just haven’t found the time to do so. Joyce Chua is a new-to-me author and I will be checking out her debut novel, Lambs for Dinner.
The event started with the authors saying a little something about the romances in their books and then reading excerpts:
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take detailed notes on the discussion so I will just share what I remember off the top of my head. The topic of whether romance is necessary in a YA novel was broached, and the authors answered that of course, it isn’t. There are many wonderful stories out there that do not have romance. And also they mentioned that there are many different kinds of non-romantic love that can also be highlighted in YA (e.g. platonic love, family love). Rachel mentioned that in the early drafts of Seraphina, there wasn’t any romance. But her editor persuaded her to add it in, so she did but she wanted it to be the kind of romance that speaks to her so she made it a very nerdy romance. Joyce Chua mentioned that one of her favorite authors is Sarah Dessen, who mainly writes contemporary YA novels. These books usually have romance in them but the main theme is character growth, and the romance is more like a secondary aspect.
I thought it was pretty cool that the venue was packed. The bean bags gave the whole thing a cozy and laidback vibe but I could tell that the audience (or most of it) was listening to the discussion, which was proven when several people wanted to ask questions.
After the Q&A, there was a book signing for the three panelists:
Fangirl pic of the day:
It was lovely to meet Rachel! She was super nice and friendly. We had a bit of a chat because during the panel, I remembered she mentioned that she’s not a big fan of romance in books. Which I told her I found a bit surprising because so many YA fantasy classics have romance (Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, Tamora Pierce and of course, I mentioned my all time favorite Megan Whalen Turner). She said that for her to like romance, there has to be something different to it, not the usual fare. I found that interesting because that’s something I can definitely relate to. I mean, we don’t want romance to be boring, right?
My US hardcover of Seraphina is back home in Manila so I bought two copies (one for a friend), which Rachel very kindly signed. Now I have a copy to reread before I start Shadow Scale, which is patiently waiting on my Kindle.
Sunday well spent! If I’m still in Singapore next year, I should check out the SG Writers Fest panels early to see which are the ones I should join.