Yesterday we had the absolute pleasure of attending an event with Candice Carty-Williams at Deansgate Waterstones in Manchester. They were trailing a new kind of event that was open to the public however allowed bloggers to take the lead afterwards. Candice stuck around for a chat with the bloggers and we got to ask as many questions about Queenie and about her publishing career as we could.
I’d known about this event for a while now, and Queenie had been on my radar for quite some time, and i was thrilled to get the chance to speak to Candice about her novel. For those who don’t know, Queenie is a contemporary novel, all about Queenie, who lives in London and is trying to find her way around young adult life. She’s twenty-five, works for a news company and generally is meandering her way through.
I luckily had chance to start reading Queenie before the event, and i absolutely love the way it was written in such a humorous and honestly, real way. Candice has a flare for real-life writing, and seems to make the most of a lot of real-life situations being absolutely hilarious. This mixed in with a lot of conversation of valued topics such as race and mental health, it makes for a pretty great novel.
Now to the event, it was set up to be a regular author Q&A, hosted by one of my lovely best friends, Kimi. She started off by asking Candice some questions of her own about her publishing start to her career, and if that had chanced the way she’d written at all. Candice also revealed that the bulk of Queenie had been written in JoJo Moyes cottage, including some advice from JoJo herself. As any new writer would, Candice was very wary of sending her work to such an acclaimed women’s author. She also said that JoJo had been a huge help through the rest of the process of writing the book.
It was really interesting to listen to Candice talk, and especially to learn that even now, even though the book is released, Queenie is still incredibly loud in her head. After the Q&A, they opened the floor to audience questions, where people asked anything from ‘were you thrilled about the different coloured covers?’ to publishing advice from Candice herself. It was actually one of the more interesting Q&A’s for a while, and i really appreciated the discussion the audience got going through the questions. Also it helped a lot that Candice did state that nothing was off limits during that time, which is always useful when you’re trying to think of author questions!
Candice signed books for everyone and hung around for a little while to chat to everyone. It was such a relaxed atmosphere and a really lovely change to what i’m used to from book events. There was a chance for the bloggers to take over, where we sat in a circle with Candice and got to ask whatever we wanted to. I really appreciated this time to have an author really appreciate the bloggers and let us ask anything. I particularly was interested in a couple of aspects of Queenie that hadn’t overly been mentioned before.
One thing that i absolutely love about the book is that Queenie is twenty-five. It’s such an underrated age in adult fiction, and a lot of the time any adult fiction features someone who is middle-aged and has their life together (this is a complete generalisation, see Bridget Jones). However, Queenie is still in a very entry level job, has broken up with her boyfriend and is trying to find her way through life in her twenties the best she can.
In a lot of ways, i really relate to her on that level and i found it incredibly refreshing to have a character such a similar age to me, going through a lot of the general life ups and downs that people in their twenties do. Candice herself said that Queenie is in her mid-twenties because Candice is quite interested in the idea of the ‘quarter life crisis’ (which is honestly, very relatable). And Queenie is going through that quarter life crisis in the book, and that’s something that Candice really wanted to explore.
A question that i also really wanted to ask was about the diversity in the book. A big topic at NYALitFest this year was diversity and when is there ‘too much’ diversity in a book, is there any time when you think you should stop yourself from putting anything else in? So i asked this to Candice, considering there is so much diversity and representation in Queenie. She said that there was never a time when she thought it was too much because that’s exactly how her life is. She has always had a very diverse friendship group and many different people have come in to her life, and she wanted to reflect that in Queenie, and it felt very natural and normal to do so. This is quite a similar answer to what was discussed at NYALitFest, and i really love this movement of books that is truly representing everyone because that’s how the real world works.
Candice also revealed that her favourite character to write was in fact Kyazike, just because of how bad-ass she is and what a wonderful woman she is. She seems like a lot of fun to write, especially her dialogue so i can see how Candice enjoyed writing for her so much!
Queenie is such a wonderful novel and it definitely holds a special place in my heart as a book that i think came to me at the perfect time, with representation of someone my own age. It’s also helped by the fact that Candice is absolutely wonderful and one of the most kind-hearted bad-ass ladies i’ve had the pleasure to meet recently. She really is lovely, and has written one bad-ass book.
If you get the chance to pick up Queenie, i highly recommend you do so. It’s out TODAY and will either make you laugh out loud or cry, guaranteed.
A huge thank you to Candice for coming to see us at Deansgate, and a huge thank you to Kimi for organising the event and keeping us all in check!