Last Saturday I ticked something off my bucket list – I finally went to YALC. For those of you not in the know, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, which takes place within London Film and Comic Con. A weekend dedicated to all things YA, it is basically a YA lover’s dream.
I have wanted to go to YALC since I discovered it existed and this year I decided to go for it and buy a ticket. Having ever only read about it through blogs and tweets, I didn’t know what exactly to expect, but it turned out to be the best day of the year so far, without question.
When I first arrived I was slightly overwhelmed. There were just so many books! Yes, it is a book convention, but I never imagined there would be so many. All the big publishing names had a stand and they all had offers. And did I mention the freebies? Bookmarks, badges, posters, flyers…there was so much amazing bookish swag that I felt like I was in heaven.
One of my favourite things was the Harry Potter at 20 wall, where everyone had the chance to write down their most special memory about reading the books. Reading all the postcards was quite emotional. It is wonderful to know that a book series can touch so many lives and can have a lasting impact decades after it was first published.
As well as all the book stands there were also book panels taking place. I went to four of them. First up was Genre-bending, which was a very interesting discuss about genre in YA fiction. I must confess, apart from Samantha Shannon, who chaired the panel, and Ben Aaronovitch, I hadn’t actually heard of the other authors on the panel, however having heard all about their work I am now keen to get copies of their books. Genre is something I wrote about as part of my MSc Publishing dissertation, so it was great to listen to these authors talk about it and how they see it as a marketing concept.
Next up was the Unconventional Romance panel, which was right up my street. I adore a good romance novel, so I relished hearing from the authors on the panel and how romance fits into their writing. One of my favourite books is The Geography of You and Me and the author, Jennifer E. Smith was part of this panel. Afterwards I got my book signed by her and she was so lovely.
After another wander about it was time for the Myth, Magic and Fairy-tale panel. I was particularly excited for this one as I am a big fan of these types of story. I hadn’t heard of many of the authors on the panel but they were all really interesting and I discovered so many new myths and fairy-tales listening to their discussion. There was also a cover reveal for Deirdre Sullivan’s new book at the end of the panel and that was a great way to end it – there were lots of oohs and aahs when we saw how pretty the cover is.
The last panel I attended was probably the one I was most excited for – Laini Taylor. As you will know if you are a reader of my blog, Laini is one of my favourite authors. I was thrilled when I learned she would be at YALC on the Saturday and there was no way I was going to miss her panel. She is such a lovely person and so down-to-earth. It’s fascinating to listen to her talk about her writing process and how she crafts her beautiful prose. I loved Strange The Dreamer and it was great to hear her talk about it again having now read the book.
YALC was so much fun. I could easily have bought hundreds of books, but because I knew I had to fit them in my suitcase I limited myself to just six. There were so many more I wanted to buy, so I have added them to my wish list. Being surrounded by books and authors and others who love YA was such a brilliant way to spend my day. I will definitely make a point of going to YALC again next year. I might even go for the three-day pass next time.