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5 things we learnt at The Riff Raff July meet up

With the sheer volume of talent in our debut author line up, we knew that the third Riff Raff meet-up was set to be a belter. What we didn’t know as we took our seats at Effra Social on 13th July, was just how fun and inspiring the night would turn out to be.

Amy Baker | The Riff Raff

From a mesmerising dystopia to a laugh-till-you-cry coming-out story, our authors’ books took us around the world and covered themes of work, growing up, identity, family, culture, regret and ecology, to name just a few. We listened, we laughed and learnt a lot: here are just a few.

1. PowerPoint presentations can be hilarious (who knew?)

When Living the Dream author Lauren Berry told us she was going to supplement her reading with a PowerPoint presentation…well, we were sceptical.

We should have known better. Lauren took us on her journey to publication that included drinks on her book birthday, hundreds of edits (and an equally long list of editors) and her final three tips for writing a book:

1. Know loads of people.

2. Don’t take rejection personally.

3. Try not to smoke all the cigarettes.

Lauren is so astute and her book is even better. A Riff Raff author through and through.

2. Trust your instincts, trust your book.

These were the big takeaways from Megan Hunter, who had our audience spellbound as she reading from her debut, The End We Start From.

Megan described ‘discovering’ her book rather than planning it; she developed an instinct for what was right and wrong so advancing her narrative became second nature.

“Your book knows,” she said. We just love this idea.

3. You don’t have to understand the words to appreciate the beauty.

Luiza Sauma’s debut Flesh and Bone and Water is set between London and her native Brazil, hence Portuguese words are woven into her English text.

It did not matter one jot that we didn't always understand their meaning; the sound was captivating and added such texture to the story.

Describing how she wrote such fully-fleshed out characters, Luiza said: “I liked my characters. Treat them with respect and they won’t become stereotypes.”

We’re nabbing that one.

4. We are all outsiders together.

We interviewed our fourth author, Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, for The Riff Raff podcast so we were already aware that she is supremely articulate; we didn’t bank on just how wonderfully she reads. Her novel, Harmless Like You, came to life during animated, expressive reading, proving just how important it is for writers to also be good readers.

Rowan talked to us about sometimes being an outsider looking in. If she is, then we are too, and wouldn’t most writers describe themselves in a similar vein?

Rowan epitomised what The Riff Raff is all about: as writers, we are all outsiders together.

5. YA books are not just for YA audiences.

“Coming-of-age stories have an appeal beyond the people living it. We’ve all been there,” said our final author of the night, Simon James Green. His debut book, Noah Can’t Even follows Lincolnshire lad Noah as he comes

out, grows up and deals with his mother’s Beyonce tribute act…

Simon was glorious: our audience hooted with laughter from start to finish and it’s little wonder as Noah Can’t Even is a joyous celebration of LGBT issues. We have a feeling that is destined for bigger and better things.

Like what you've read? Want to come along to the next Riff Raff meet up on 10th August? Buy your tickets here.


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