Last weekend was the highlight of the year: YALC. The Young Adult Literature Convention. In London. Every year, the UK (and European!) book community descends on the Olympia Conference Centre to celebrate all things book.
Every year, a group of us get together for #cafeya organised by the wonderful Karen (@karenbultiauw) and Demet (@books_polished). I met my bestest YALC friends this way last year and it was great to be back at Holland Park Cafe to catch up and plan our attack for YALC. As well as old friends, it was great to meet new faces – I heavily recommend joining in next year, as meeting up beforehand on the Thursday means you have friends to queue with, eat lunch with, sit around with all weekend… During the meetup, the heavens opened and my trainers turned into puddles – and while we were walking to a nearby pub, we were hit with a spot of torrential rain. The British Summer, eh?
Friday was the first official day of YALC. Waking up at the crack of dawn, I headed over to Olympia and the VIP YALC queue at 8am, to be greeted with people already queuing?! I had expected to be the first in the queue! Laden with food, a few books, my battery pack and a phone with notifications for ALL PUBLISHERS turned on, I stood in the queue counting down the minutes until YALC officially begun. Kalie (@abitkales) hit the My Kinda Book stand first for the elusive There’s Someone Inside Your House proofs by Stephanie Perkins then whipped round the other stands – my arms were aching with books before I’d even had chance to grab my YALC tote bag!
The first (and only, for me) panel of the day was Heroine with Mel Salisbury, Amy Alward, Laura Eve, Sophia Bennett and Alwyn Hamilton, chaired by the wonderful Anna James (who has a book coming out herself this autumn) – this was a great panel that was funny and filled with feminism. I didn’t go to many panels this weekend, but the ones I did attend I was very glad I did. I was very tired all weekend and so I wasn’t as focused as I could have been!
Friday was a great day for proofs and new releases alike – I grabbed copies of The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James (review coming soon…) and A Change Is Gonna Come (#ChangeBook), a BAME anthology I just know I am going to love. I also got an early copy of Daughter of the Burning City from the HQ stand, Alex and Eliza from MyKindaBook (which as a huge Hamilton fan, I am looking forward to!) and Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin, which I read and loved last year, but didn’t have a final copy of. I knew Wolf by Wolf would sell out before Ryan’s signing on Sunday, so needed to grab a copy fast!
Friday was also characterized by frequent spottings of Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame, and ended with a trip to the in-house Pizza Express with Kalie, Lily and Ellen.
Saturday was another early start, getting to the queue again for 8am. I was exhausted. Properly, considering going home and sleeping all weekend, exhausted. I soldiered through, sitting on the luxurious pavement outside Olympia, dreaming of the exclusive YALC proofs inside. Except, when we got to the YALC floor, there were no proofs to be seen. *sob*. Obviously, proofs are a huge bonus, but it was a little disappointing to be so tired and to have been waiting for so long for nothing. Alas, I spent my morning wandering around the stalls, scoping out books to buy and caving into Kalie’s suggestion of purchasing The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (which I am now very excited to read!).
Now, at 11.30am, I took part in a stunt with Hot Key Books – I was given a blonde wig and sunglasses and a t-shirt and went around YALC in disguise – although apparently I was still recognisable – handing out ‘US Passports’ or samplers of E Lockhart’s new book, Genuine Fraud. In exchange, I got to sit at the front of the E Lockhart panel with Holly Bourne – which was amazing, by the way – her definition of young adult was *so* on point. Essentially, she said where a mystery is defined as a book where there’s a terrible murder, YA is a book where a character grows or goes through a transformation of some sorts – I think, do not quote me on this! Afterwards, I got my brand new copy of We Were Liars signed by E Lockhart and I can’t wait to dive into the extra content (also, it’s a beautiful new edition.)
I headed from YALC fairly early as I went to see Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in the evening – but not before purchasing a candle I am obsessed with, Butter Beer from Geeky Clean. If you haven’t checked out her products, what are you waiting for?!
On Sunday, I waddled over to YALC with my suitcase full of books, my backpack full of books, my tote bag full of books, and a tote bag full of snacks.
My only panel of Sunday was Writing for Social Change, which I loved and was so inspiring – I need to get on and write my novel! Catherine Barter, Nikki Sheehan and Ryan Graudin were so inspiring, and Non Pratt (with newly-shaved head!) was a wonderful host, as always. Afterwards, I got my books signed by Ryan (including a proof of her upcoming book, Invictus!) and then headed down with Kalie to the LFCC marketplace to look at the funkos and alpacas.
I got some amazing pieces of art for my wall – there’s some really cool stuff on sale at Comic Con, although of course all the real fun is upstairs at YALC.
I stayed around for the end of YALC, picking up some more books – Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and Now I Rise from the Penguin stand’s 3 for £10 offer.
Now… time for the book haul:
Did you attend YALC? Please share your own wrap-ups and thoughts – and tweet me at @annalisebooks!