Bookish Event: In Conversation with Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan

I was lucky enough to go and see Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan at Waterstones Piccadilly earlier this week. Maureen Johnson, Queen of Teen winner 2012, is author of the award-winning Shades of London and Scarlett series while the wonderful Sarah Rees Brennan’s is author of the best-selling The Demon’s Lexicon and The Lynburn Legacy series. It’s hard to sum up Thursday’s event so I think it’s best to start off with a photo from the first few minutes…

So where are Maureen and Sarah...?

So where are Maureen and Sarah…?

That is not an empty shot where my timing/photography skills were so poor that I didn’t manage to get Maureen and Sarah in the shot. No siree. They’re in that photo and virtual cookies for you if you can guess where 🙂

… Yes Sarah and Maureen were hiding. They randomly decided to hide behind the banners in Waterstones Piccadilly, the flagship (and largest) bookshop in Europe. And if that doesn’t make you adore them, I don’t know what will.

So that kinda set the tone for the rest of the event. It was more a comedy stand up performance cum catch up with best friend – with the audience as deliriously happy flies on the wall. It was a hundred miles an hour with topics changing faster than you could say “Pleeease tell us what happened to Stephen?!”

MJ and SRB Book Stack

The Name of the Star and The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

The event started off with an earsplitting squeaking contest (as you do) followed by Sarah and Maureen sharing lots and lots of anecdotes. I tweeted a snapshot summary which you may have seen if you follow me (if you don’t, you should!) and that wasn’t even a fraction of it. Behold a list of only some of the topics covered in the space of just one hour:

  • Chilling in cemeteries a la Sarah (she’s searching for Emmeline Pankhurst’s grave)
  • A flirting and stalking peacock that took a serious liking to Maureen in Ireland
  • Greencest and the potential continuation of A Study in Sink, Maureen’s John & Hank Green/Benedict Cumberbatch charity fanfic…
  • Sarah’s 3 minute book summaries – and a demo with Fifty Shades of Grey no less, which was obviously hilarious
  • Dinosaur porn – it’s a thing, ask Sarah who is highly knowledgeable on the topic…
  • Crazy fan experiences, featuring fairies (who wanted to buy Sarah’s books using their currency of buttons) and The Hoff although not at the same time, which is a shame really
  • Benedict Cumberbatch and Maureen thinking “he would do it a number of times” – you can make of that what you will…
  • Cabbie lies, wherein Maureen and Sarah masquerade as NASA experts and “those doctors that treat babies” when making small talk with taxi drivers
  • Why rational adults are not allowed in YA novels – “because they wouldn’t let our protagonists engage in plot” duh.
MJ and SRB

Sarah and Maureen speaking about approximately 50 million topics

One serious moment saw Maureen speaking about her Coverflip project, where she called on her thousands of Twitter followers to re-create covers of popular books imagining that the authors were of the opposite gender. Twitter responded, brilliantly illustrating the different biases for covers created for female authors and male authors. Maureen explained that in the publishing world readers hold a lot of power: “reading culture is changed by readers demanding change from publishers” and that it is our responsibility, alongside authors, to call for the changes we want to see.

Maureen and Sarah signed their books and gave out little goodies. The third book in Sarah’s Lynburn Legacy series was also on sale – a month before the release date which was a treat! All in all, it was the best fun I’ve had in a while and I seriously can’t remember the last time I laughed so much.

MJ and SRB Signed Books

Signed goodies!

Have you been lucky enough to hear Maureen or Sarah talk at an event? Are you fans of their books? Let me know in the comments below!