DeptCon debrief

A week ago, I flew to Dublin for a wild weekend of YA. Such is my FOMO that as I watched the lineup for DeptCon3 getting steadily more stellar, I realised there was absolutely nothing stopping me from heading to Ireland for the sake of books alone, so I booked my flights and started to get excited. Call it post-YALC withdrawal if you like, but nothing sounded better than the idea of spending another couple of days in a room full of people, listening to other people talk about books. (When I put it like that, I feel like I’ve just written out my longterm life/career goals…)

Armed with little more than my passport and brand new fringe, I landed in Dublin and headed straight to Easons to stare at books. I did get a little wandering in, too – as you probably know, I am 100% autumn trash, and there’s nothing better than a city break during the colder months.


It was my first ever DeptCon, but I’m a seasoned attendee of YA events, so it was great to see a mix of old and new faces. Edinburgh’s Ink Road imprint was well represented, with three of their authors appearing on the Saturday, which gave me a sense of “hometown” pride. It was also great to finally talk to Daiden from SYP Scotland – evidently we had to be in Ireland to do it?!

I am of course burying the lede because I MET ARIANNE! We snacked and fangirled together and it was completely marvellous. If you’re not already following her blog, you really should be, because her smart, thoughtful, brilliant reviews are more than worth your time.


It’s a laidback convention with lots of laughs – occasionally tipping into hysteria, particularly on Friday night! In between the hilarity (who will ever be able to forget one author’s elimination in the very first round of the Harry Potter spelling bee? D.O.B.B.I.E. does not spell Dobby…) there was plenty of insightful, fascinating chat about books and writing. Peadar Ó Guilín did a brilliant job of chairing Philip Reeve, M.A. Bennett, and Will Hill as they talked about the common threads between their very different novels. Deirdre Sullivan similarly drew out the complex themes of Lydia Ruffles, Sally Nicholls, and Pooja Puri’s books in a discussion I could have listened to all day; of those three, I had only read The Jungle, but I now can’t wait to read A Taste of Blue Light and Things a Bright Girl Can Do. One of my favourite of all the panels was the roguishly titled Prosecco & Secrets, which was both very funny and very revealing. It was fascinating to hear about what emerged as two opposite schools of how to write a novel: on one side, Dave Rudden and Melinda Salisbury, who shoot a movie in their heads and write it down, writing for plot, and Alice Broadway and Moïra Fowley-Doyle, who, er, seem to be making it up as they go along, but in a supremely poetic and beautiful way.

I spent most of the panels cross that nobody was asking me which fictional character I’d invite to a dinner party. (It’s obviously Jonathan Strange.)


As if spending two days in a dark room thinking about books wasn’t enough, I got some time to myself on Sunday to do touristy things and promptly… went to the library. Trinity College’s Old Library, to be specific. Be still, my Ravenclaw heart! I hope I can go back to Ireland soon – my pals went to Giant’s Causeway on Saturday, and I missed out because I wanted more quality DeptCon content, but I would really like to visit someday. It is, after all, only a short plane ride away, Ryanair willing! I’m seriously considering DeptCon4 already…