Thoughts on UKYA and the Blogging Community from Alexia Casale

The UKYA community is All Good Things. The people are lovely: kind, generous, open-minded, clever, interesting and appreciative. Everyone is welcome.

The attitude to ambition says it all: people work hard to achieve things, but have no time for doing others down or climbing over them. UKYA is about achieving by trying your best and being rewarded for it. It’s about competitiveness that is turned inwards to effort, to developing skills, to being as good as possible. And there’s an understanding that you can be generous and kind to others without diminishing your own fortunes. UKYA is about the fact that if we support each other in doing our best, not only can we all achieve a lot, but we can be happy doing it: we can be surrounded by lovely people and we can be lovely back. Coming from a background in the theatre and academia, it is such a breath of fresh air. Decency and niceness, rather than slyness, is what gets rewarded.

What makes UKYA so different? I think it’s the fact that bloggers have crafted the community, then invited everyone else in. They set up the ‘rules’ and created a space in which these rules are self-reinforcing. We don’t generally need to police each other. We can all see that to belong – to deserve to belong – we’ve got to behave in kind. Kind being the operative word.

Bloggers do what they do out of love and passion. Money isn’t a factor (in fact, blogging tends to be quite an expensive business). Recognition is nice and very much appreciated, but mostly what’s desired is enough recognition to be invited to participate in extra book-world activities. It’s about doing bookish things, not be lauded for them per se.

The fact that blogs are based online helps to reinforce the fact that what you look like and where you come from doesn’t matter. It’s all about who you are as a complicated, unique person: what you produce and offer to others, and how you treat people. The fact that it all spills over into offline activities says everything else that could be said: the bloggers who are the foundation of UKYA are as lovely offline as they are online. It’s not show or pretend or only possible from a position of anonymity.

These are the principles that everyone operates by in UKYA. There’s an integrity to do people treat each other: integrity in understanding how to be kind and passionate at the same time; how to be welcoming and inclusive, while still being competitive and ambitious in positive ways.

And I love being a part of that. I am so grateful that the bloggers who have create UKYA aren’t just welcoming and open-minded about other bloggers, but everyone: authors, publicists, editors, illustrators and anyone who wants to be part of this community. It really is an ‘everyone welcome’ world. The only qualifications needed are a commitment to being good to others and a love of books (though an equal passion for caffeine, chocolate and cake are much appreciated).

So thank you. Thank you for creating this world and inviting me in. Thank you for buying my books and reviewing them and talking about them… but equally, thank you for letting me talk to you about other people’s books, for debating what literature is and what it can be, for discussing politics and history and all sorts of social issues, for talking cosplay and film and anime and storytelling in all forms. Thank you for making UKYA a community I feel proud and honoured to be part of: where I can count on people to be kind to me and others. Where I don’t have to play games or politics (or, rather, fail to fit in because I can’t, won’t and don’t do this).

From YALC and other festivals to book launches, and from #ukyachat and #ukyaquiz to quizzes and polls and posts, there’s something for everyone. There is so much knowledge and excitement and wonder in our world because of what our bloggers have created. Thank you for letting the rest of us play in the sandpit.

Thank you for being a huge support in our careers, not just in terms of publicising our books but giving us a support system through the ups and downs and loneliness of writing.

Thank you for all the work and time and passion you put in to create this amazing community across both the web and ‘real space’.

But most of all, thank you for the principles and integrity that you brought to founding UKYA so that it’s a truly good place to be. Above all, I love that fact that the community you built values kindness even above books.

Alexia Casale


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