Writing the Teen Voice

Date Saturday 12 June 2021
Time 3:30 PM
PriceA Free Event

A Facilitated Discussion with the team from teen and Young Adult literary Journal Paper Lanterns 

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Writing the Teen Voice


In recent years, Irish and UK writers have produced a significant body of Young Adult (YA) literature, and Young teen and YA novels are as popular as ever. With the help of Netflix and other streaming sites, these stories are being adapted and produced for the screen too.

We are delighted to welcome to the Belfast Book Festival, the team behind Paper Lanterns; A literary journal for readers and writers of Teen and Young Adults literature who publish a quarterly journal that includes a vast range of work including creative writing, non-fiction, book reviews, and artwork by teens aged 13–18, as well as adults and international submissions. The publication has proudly published works by teen and adult writers who represent these diverse communities in Ireland, the UK, and around the world.

Come along and join the Paper Lanterns team as they discuss the idea of writing the Teen Voice. But what is the Teen Voice — or rather, whose is it?

In this facilitated discussion, the team will talk about the adult writer writing for teen readers, as well as the voice of the teen writer exploring and documenting their own experiences. The discussion will look at the delicate balance and relationship between writer and reader, and how representation of the Teen Voice and the teen experience matters in literature.

Representation in literature is proactively diversifying; more voices are being welcomed to share the YA literary space and represent a broader teen demographic. These include neurodiverse young people, young people of colour, and from the LGBTQIA+ community. 

There will be an opportunity for you to submit questions as part of this live event. 

Looking to buy a book by one of the writers involved in this year's programme? Check out our official Festival Bookstore partner, No Alibi’s, who have created this special Belfast Book Festival page on their website which features the books and collections of the writers at the 2021 Festival. Plus they are offering a 10% discount on all of the Festival titles! 


The Paper Lanterns Team includes: 

Amy O’Sullivan having completed her undergraduate in English Literature and History at Trinity College Dublin, discovered to her joy that she could read books for children and young adults and count it as study. She went on to complete her Master of Philosophy degree in Children’s Literature in 2019 and as part of Amy’s Master's, her dissertation won the 2020 Irish Society for the Study of Children’s Literature Master’s Thesis Award. She worked for the Dublin Book Festival and worked in publishing, and she is now working as a civil servant. 

Grace Kelley studied Drama and English at Trinity College Dublin, where she specialised in playwriting under the tutelage of Marina Carr and she spent a year of her studies in UC San Diego, where she was taught by writer/filmmaker Chris Kraus. Grace has recently completed her Master of Philosophy degree in Children’s Literature at Trinity College Dublin. Grace’s writing has been shortlisted for The Red Line Book Festival and The Allingham Festival and has been published with Sond er, Palm-Sized Press, Red Line, and Reflex Fiction.

Maggie Masterson was a children’s and young adult librarian in the Chicago suburbs, where she also sat on the committee for the Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book AwardHaving moved to Ireland to complete her Masters in Philosophy in Children’s Literature at Trinity College Dublin, she studied the illustration of fairy tales and thought about books as souvenirs of childhood. She conducted bibliographic research in the Pollard Collection of Children’s Books. She is currently working on her PhD at Trinity, researching the construction of girlhood in the children’s literature archive.

Sheena Wilkinson was described in The Irish Times as 'one of our foremost writers for young people', and has published eight young adult novels, both contemporary and historical. She has won many awards, including the overall Children’s Books Ireland Book of the Year in 2013 for Grounded. She has been nominated three years running for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest children’s literature award, and her most recent novel, Hope against Hope, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and the KPMG Children’s Books Ireland Awards, as was its predecessor Star by Star. Sheena lives in County Down and when she’s not writing she’s usually walking in the forest or singing, sometimes both at the same time. 



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