An Audience with Sabaa Tahir and Samantha Shannon

Having only just returned home after YALC, last week I found myself back on a train on the way to London. This time it was only a flying visit to the capital to see Sabaa Tahir at Waterstones Picadilly, and then I had to get back home as I had a work event the following morning (who needs sleep, right?)

I had been intending on rereading An Ember In The Ashes and A Torch Against The Night before the release of A Reaper At The Gates, but time got IMG_20180626_201527_962away from me, and although I picked up Reaper on release day, I had only just finished Ember and just about managed to squeeze Torch in before YALC.

This second trip came around really quickly (took me very much by surprise!) and all of a sudden I was in a bit of a race against time to finish Reaper before I went to see Sabaa. I really wanted to finish it before the event, just in case of spoilers. Now, apart from the panels I’d been to at YALC, I’ve never been to an author event before, and while I was sure there wouldn’t be spoilers revealed for Reaper, I didn’t want to take the chance! However, things kinda fell into place for me – I ended up having a couple of days off work due to some dental issues, which sucked, buuutt it did give me a chance to do some reading. I flew through the first three parts of Reaper, then reality hit and I had to go back to work, so I ended up finishing it on the train – but it was totally worth it!

OK, so first things first, as I said the only things like this that I have been to before was a couple of weeks ago at YALC, where I also saw Samantha Shannon chair the ‘Amongst the Stars’ panel. I attended a couple of panels over the YALC weekend, but enjoyed this one the most (and not just beca20180807_191834use Jason Momoa randomly wandered through!). I am in no way an expert about these sort of things, but I thought Samantha was by far the best moderator of the panels I saw, and she didn’t disappoint again. She really seems to have researched the authors and books that she is there to talk about, and especially in this case, she genuinely seemed to be a fan of the Ember series (unlike some panels/moderators at YALC, who seemed more interested in talking about their own books than the people they were supposed to be interviewing). I managed to catch her for a little chat afterwards and she was so lovely, she signed my copy of The Bone Season and we talked about moderators and interviews, and the best way to chair a panel.

The main event! Sabaa Tahir is just as wonderful in real life as she is on Instagram. Funny, articulate and thought-provoking, she gave great answers to the questions from Samantha and various audience members, and had us all laughing most of the way through. It was so interesting to hear more about her writing and editing processes, and how she motivates herself to hit her targets. For me the most interesting part was her description of how she went about creating the world of Ember – the Empire – and the effort she puts into naming her characters (the revelation that one of the characters in Reaper was referred to as ‘Jimmy’ for most of the editing and reviewing until she found the perfect name was probably my favourite tidbit from the evening – the confession that the first draft of Reaper contained a dragon was not – I have to say good work Sabaa’s editors!)

Of course after the panel we were able to get our books signed, and Sabaa was again so lovely, taking the time to have a personal conversation with everyone, and takin20180807_210345(0)g pictures with those who wanted them. It was another long queue, but having the opportunity to chat to fellow bibliophiles while we were waiting just helped to enforce the conviction that the bookish community is one of the most awesome and friendliest out there. I also met a couple of girls I recognised from Bookstagram (thepinkbibliophile and the_queen_of_books24) – who were so lovely even though I was super awkward and nervous about introducing myself.

Had to rush away after getting my books signed in order to catch my train home, and still didn’t get back until 1 in the morning (getting up at 07:30 was particularly painful) and then I had an allergic reaction to something I came into contact with at my work event (I should really learn my lesson about volunteering for work stuff) hence why this is a little later than I wanted it to be. Still not really sure about how this whole blog thing works, so if anyone comes across this and has any tips – please send them my way!

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