Review: The Art of Being Normal: James Dawson, Lisa Williamson and Sam Hepburn
It was a stellar line-up at this Ilkley Literature Festival panel event, which was very much appreciated by the large audience that came to see three top Young Adult Fiction writers talk about their work.
I am a huge fan of new writer Lisa Williamson, whose debut novel The Art of Being Normal has just been nominated for the Carnegie medal. She was so lovely and humble on stage, and offered wonderful personal advice to new writers, including telling the audience about her experience working with the Golden Egg Academy. I found her warm and encouraging, which will have no doubt translated to the younger members of the audience.
James Dawson needs absolutely no introduction. He spoke with such personality and flourish, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His book, All of The Above, is humorous yet touches on a wide range of issues. Yet James wasn’t preachy or school-teacher-esque – he treated the audience like his friends and he was a joy to listen to.
Sam Hepburn offered wonderful insight into her own experiences. She was a strong character on stage and didn’t allow herself to be outshined by the two other panellists. Her reading towards the end of the event was also beautifully performed.
This is one of the best panel events I have been to, mainly down to the wonderful questions asked by James Nash. He controlled the discussion subtly yet powerfully, offering a masterclass of how to chair a panel event. The conversation flowed freely and respectfully, yet didn’t go off on a tangent so the audience could keep track of what was going on. James Nash, for me, allowed the magic on stage to unfold and without him I’m just not convinced it would have been the same.