Singapore Writers Festival: “Instalove” – Romance and the YA Novel

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.

SG writers fest 2015 - instalove

Bean bags galore. Made the event seem cozy.

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:
SG writers fest 2015 - instalove
SG writers fest 2015 - instalove 2

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.
SG writers fest 2015 - instalove 4

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:
SG writers fest 2015 - instalove 5

Fangirl pic of the day:
SG writers fest 2015 - instalove - Rachel Hartman fangirl

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.
Seraphina - signed copy

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.


14 thoughts on “Singapore Writers Festival: “Instalove” – Romance and the YA Novel

  1. I’m glad you had a fun time at the event and that you got to meet Rachel! Seraphina was one of my favorite reads as a blogger πŸ˜€ oh wow, if the romance subplot hadn’t been in the original draft then the story…wouldn’t be all that different tbh. LOL. As much as I liked Kiggs in book 1, I was much more invested in Seraphina’s relationships with her father and Orma. Those two relationships were much more important.

    Sidenote: I LOVE THAT SKIRT.

    Hmm, the other two lady authors sound cool so I’ll add them to my GR. As for romance in stories, I don’t think romance should be a “necessary” plot element but I do enjoy the stories if there’s some romantic tension involved πŸ˜‰

    • Seraphina was a pretty good one, wasn’t it? I really need to reread it so I can pick up the sequel. Actually that’s true, the story wouldn’t be that much different even if the romance subplot wasn’t there. The story wasn’t really focused on the romance.

      I figured a book event was the right time to wear my book skirt. πŸ˜€

      I also don’t think romance is necessary in YA novels, or in any other category, but I do enjoy reading a romantic plot that’s very well-written. ❀

  2. Pingback: Launch of Dragon Dancer at SWF 2015 | A Wolf's Tale

  3. Oh, I love your pictures. Plus autographed books! Sounds like a fantastic day, so cool that you got to meet Rachel Hartman.

    Interesting view on romance in books – I’m a big fan of romance subplots myself, but hate it when it feels forced (or even worse, when it’s the insta-love trope). She kind of put the Seraphina/Kiggs subplot on the backburner in Book 2, didn’t she?


    • The book nerd in me thought it was a pretty cool day! πŸ™‚

      Same, I’m a big fan of romance when it’s done well. And for me, that usually means slow burn. Most of the books that I’ve adored have some element of romance in them.

      I haven’t read the sequel yet so I wouldn’t be able to comment on the romance subplot in it, unfortunately.

  4. Pingback: Best of 2015 | Chachic's Book Nook

  5. Hi Chachic! I discovered this post late, but what a lovely roundup of the event! I had loads of fun at the panel, especially hearing what the audience had to raise about the topic of insta-love. Rachel and (the other) Joyce were delightful company. Looking forward to next time! πŸ™‚
    Joyce x

    • Hi Joyce, thanks for dropping by to comment! It was a fun panel to attend. πŸ™‚ good to know that you also enjoyed yourself. I hope there will be more events like this in the future.

Comments are like chocolate. :) Maraming salamat / thank you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s