Hi everyone! If you follow me on Twitter or read my YALC planning post then you’ll know that not so long ago I made my way to London for a weekend of YALC goodness. YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention and is hosted at the same time as London Comic Con. This was my second time going to YALC and I had such a wonderful time. My overall favourite thing about YALC is being able to spend so much time with my bookish best friends as we don’t often get to spend much time together and YALC gives us 3-5 days to do so!
This post is going to be about the event itself. I’ll talk a bit about the panels I went to, the authors I met and the general highlights for me. I’ll be doing another post later in the week/next week about the books I hauled whilst there (I was actually well-behaved this year!)
Once again I travelled to London on the Thursday (YALC being Friday-Sunday) to emet with my bookish friends Steph, Rosie and Cora. We all shared an Air BnB for the duration of YALC weekend which was just the best. We don’t get to see each other even half as much as we would like to so being able to have a proper little bookish break together is a great treat for us all. We picked up our wristbands on the Thursday this year which was something we couldn’t do last year – I just about escaped being given the wrong wristband which would have been so annoying! Then we just chilled (well not literally because it was the hottest day EVER) and read books (obviously).
Day One of YALC was a lot of fun. There’s something so incredibly lovely about being in a room full of like-minded, book loving people. I definitely felt like this year was going to be more relaxed and I enjoyed a few panels as well as meeting some new authors and catching up with familiar faces.
The first panel we went to was the Industry Panel with Chloe Seager, Chloe Coles and Annalie Grainger chaired by Bethan Garrod. This panel was really interesting as all of the authors are also part of the book industry as either an agent, bookseller or editor. It was great to hear about their jobs as well as how this affected them querying their own novels. Chloe Coles had us in hysterics with her bookseller stories – she’s definitely my kind of person!
The next panel we went to was the Centenary of the Women’s Vote with Katherine Webber, Sally Nicholls and Sheena Wilkinson chaired by the lovely Alwyn Hamilton. I was desperate to see this panel because I adore Katie and Alwyn. It was great listening to the way in which feminism crept into each of the authors’ novels as it happened in such different ways.
Our third and final panel of the day was the Where Will You Be In Five Years? panel with Sara Barnard, Non Pratt and Sally Green chaired by Katherine Woodfine. This was to celebrate 5 years of YALC and also to look at how far the authors had come in 5 years and what they hoped for going forward. It was amazing to hear how Sara Barnard had only begun her writing journey back when YALC was beginning and now she has four published novels with one on the way. Non Pratt was delightfully hysterical as always and I loved her little tips and ideas of how to set goals.
I was lucky to meet quite a lot of lovely authors on the Friday of YALC. I was particularly excited to meet Annalie Grainger, author of In Your Light, because I couldn’t want to gush about the fact she used actual Welsh language in her book and how much this delighted me. And gush I certainly did. It was a lovely moment when she recognised me from Twitter and thanked me for my review too – we even discussed her coming to my school to do a talk which was amazing. I also got to meet Chloe Coles, Chloe Seager and Alice Oseman all of whom were incredible kind and funny. They all signed either books or my journal for me. We also went to see Katie Webber and Sara Barnard to whom we are definitely old faces by now. It was lovely to catch up with them and have a natter.
On the Friday evening we attended the Floored Quiz which was being held by MacMillan and beautifully hosted by George Lester. Last year Steph and I were on the winning #TeamBarnard, this year we certainly fell from grace with #TeamRalph (aka Lisa Williamson) coming a wonderful last place. We did win sweets though! We still blame Melinda Salisbury for her ridiculously challenging dinosaur round!! The Quiz was definitely a big highlight of the weekend because we got to meet Kat from MacMilland properly and catch up with Bea who is one of our fave publicist people! I also got to hang out with a great group of blogger friends – old and new!
Saturday began with QUITE the mission! It was the signing for Floored and our mission was to leave YALC with ALL seven authors having signed both our finished and proof copies. It took quite some time and dedication but we managed to do it and I also got all of the authors to sign my journal for me too. It was definitely a bit hectic getting into 7 different queues but I was so pleased to get my books signed by everyone. All in all that meant we got to chat with Sara Barnard, Melinda Salisbury, Non Pratt, Tanya Byrne, Eleanor Wood, Lisa Williamson and Holly Bourne – all of whom are absolutely wonderful people.
We only focused on going to one panel on the Saturday because we had some other plans but the panel we saw was FANTASTIC. It was the My Body, My Way panel with Laura Steven, Laura Dockrill, Charli Howard and Charly Cox chaired by the incredible Dhonielle Clayton. I absolutely LOVED Dhonielle as a chair, her questions were very insightful and you could tell that she had really studied and taken in the books by the other authors. She was also incredible funny. I loved this panel so much that it may even have been my favourite of the weekend because it took such a delicate but honest look at women. I definitely came away from this panel feeling empowered and I know I need to pick up books by the authors on here that I haven’t read yet.
The last event of the Saturday was the Big YALC Quiz hosted by my favourite Katherine Webber and featuring a whole host of YA author faves on the two teams such as Mel Salisbury, Non Pratt, Juno Dawson and Alwyn Hamilton. This quiz was hilarious. We had so much fun and I definitely blew my own mind and some of the authors’ when I managed to successfully guess a particularly difficult pictionary round with A Wrinkle in Time. Juno Dawson made an exclusive announcement that the title of her next YA book will be ‘Meat Market’ and it will take a very honest and gritty look at the fashion industry. We also had a bonus Jason Momoa entrance during the quiz and you can imagine the screaming that went down! Made even funnier by the fact that one of the teams had called themselves ‘Aquaman’ for their team buzzer and he appeared literally as they all shouted ‘AQUAMAN’.
Saturday was a brilliant day for catch ups. Steph and I went for coffee with Katie Webber and found ourselves joined by a few author friends (I guess this is what they kind of are now??), we saw Jason Momoa several times and met new friends. As well as the Floored authors, we also went and chatted to Tom Pollock, Karen Gregory and Alwyn Hamilton all of whom kindly signed either my books and/or journal.
Sunday was definitely a slightly quieter day in the way that I didn’t have any books to get signed and so we enjoyed a day of attending some panels and chatting to lots of bookish friends around the place. It was definitely a very relaxing way to bring YALC to an end. We managed to pick up early copies of Holly Bourne’s new book Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? and picked up our ‘Kindness is Contagious’ pins from the lovely folk at Usborne.
Our first panel of the day was Bring a torch it’s dark in here with Vic James, Kerry Drewery, Anna Day, Nicky Singer and William Sutcliffe. I love a dystopian book and so I thought this was a brilliant panel. I particularly loved hearing from Vic, Kerry and Anna about their books as I was more familiar with their stories.
The final panel we went to at YALC was the wonderful Real World, Real Me with Akemi Dawn Bowman, Eve Ainsworth, Holly Bourne and Lydia Ruffles chaired by the fantastic Lisa Williamson. I loved that Lisa asked each of the authors to bring along their writing snack because it led to a really fun opening of the panel. Whilst I do enjoy a banana like Holly Bourne, Eve Ainsworth was much more on my line of thinking by bringing multiple snacks along with her rather than the whole contents of her fridge! I loved listening to this panel because there was so much talk about mental health and the way it is represented in books. I definitely need to pick up books by Lydia, Eve and Akemi and I’m looking forward to reading Holly’s new book too.
I had such a fab time at YALC this year. It is so lovely to be with friends and meet new, like-minded people too. The feeling of being recognised as ‘Kelly from Twitter’ or ‘Kelly’s Rambles’ is still one that warms my little heart and it was great to catch up with new and old faces in person. I’m not going to name names as there are honestly SO many of you that I finally got to meet and chat with but it was so lovely. It was also great to catch up with some of the publicists that I regularly work with but rarely see in person such as Team Usborne and Team MyKindaBook!
There will be more from me about YALC with book hauls and THE incredible competition that I won later this week. But for now I’ll leave you with a picture of my signed journal pages, including an entire spread from the ever lovely Melinda Salisbury!
Did you go to YALC? What was your highlight?
Do you think you would like to go to YALC next year? Who would you hope to meet?