Young Adult Fiction is one of the most important areas of publishing, for reasons discussed below , Yet the UK has no conferences specifically devoted to it. There’s a lack of critical discussion and even awareness of what YAF is. In particular, many readers fail to recognise that there is a large subsection of YA fiction that is aimed at readers chronologically aged 13 or 14+ rather than at 11+s with a reading of 14 are more. YAF writers are often a small add-on to children’s book conferences rather than an integral part of them. Although YAF is emerging as an important area of academic study, there are no academic conferences devoted to it there either.
That’s why, earlier this year, when I got a part time job running the MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University , the first thing I did was to persuade Trent to host the UK’s first ever one day national conference on Young Adult Fiction. (Obligatory plug: I teach an undergraduate module on YAF at NTU and, from next semester, the MA will also have an option on Children’s and Young Adult fiction.)
A bunch of people, including the writers Anne Cassidy, Nicola Morgan, Bali Rai and Celia Rees have been helping me to think through the contents of the day. The full line-up has yet to be agreed, but other writers who have agreed to appear include Keith Gray and Melvin Burgess, who will be the keynote speaker. The Guardian’s Children’s Fiction editor, Julia Eccleshare, will appear on a panel, as will David Fickling, who is a publisher and the renowned editor of writers including Philip Pullman and Mark Haddon.
It should be an interesting, memorable day of vigorous discussion that raises the profile of Young Adult Fiction and also, I hope, helps to define it. Tickets for the day (including lunch) are 35 pounds plus 6.12 VAT (25 + 4.37 for students in full time education). Sorry, no under 18s: Turning Point is aimed at writers and people involved in promoting YAF, rather than its core readers.
If you want to book for the conference, or be put on a mailing list about it, contact Simon Dawes, at the Nottingham Trent University, Faculty of Humanities, Clifton Lane, Nottingham NG11 8NS. To email Simon, put a full stop between his two names, then add @ntu.ac.uk (you can contact me the same way). He can take payment by Switch or credit card via the net. Cheques payable to Nottingham Trent University.
Turning Point will take place from 10.30-5.30 on Saturday 27/11/04 at NTU’s Clifton campus, which is ten minutes by car from junction 24 of the M1 or the same by taxi from Nottingham’s main train and bus stations. Information on overnight accommodation is available from Simon.