I know this is a bit late, but better late than never right?
During the last weekend of July I attended YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) which is held every year at Olympia in London. This was my second time going, after attending the Sunday last year. This year I decided to go for the Friday and Saturday as those were the days I was most interested in.
I arrived at the venue at around 11am on Friday, and instantly bumped into my good friend and fellow blogger Rose (Life Amongst The Pages) and her friend Gabi. This was their first time at YALC so I walked around with them for a bit and helped them get used to the surroundings. I like to think I helped them out a bit.
It was then time to go to my first workshop which was ‘Make Your Own Bookmark’ with Jenn from Literary Galaxy. I’m not the most crafty of people and was a bit nervous but luckily I was sitting with Rachel (Rachel’s Readings) and being around someone I knew helped me relax. Jenn was great at explaining how to make the ribbon bookmarks step by step and came around each table to check we were all okay. I did have a few slip ups but I was incredibly proud of my finished bookmark and am treasuring it! I went for a Disney Princess (Beauty and the Beast) inspired theme.
It was then time to go to the Contemporary New Voices Panel featuring Kate Mallinder, Anna Mainwaring, Clare Rees and Dan Freedman. As a big lover of Contemporary YA I was really interested in hearing more about the genre and how the authors got into writing it. It really was a fascinating panel and having only read Kate’s book Summer of No Regrets, I went and brought Tulip Taylor by Anna Mainwaring at the Firefly stand as that was the book that intrigued me the most out of all the panelists.
I had a bit of spare time after that so I managed to sit down in the Chill Out Zone, put some books on the book swap shelf and eat some lunch. After resting for a little while I had a wander around all the stalls to see what they had to offer. I picked up a few books during my wander which were Tulip Taylor by Anna Mainwaring, Last Bus To Neverland by Sophie Cameron (which was the mystery book I picked up from My Kinda Book) and I got given a proof of What She Found in the Woods by Josephine Angelini. I also picked up a few samplers and entered some raffles to win some proofs but unfortunately I didn’t win any, which is okay. I also managed to bump into Emily (A Short Book Lover) and have a catch up, which was lovely!
The last thing I did on the Friday was go to Holly Bourne’s workshop ‘Is it romantic or just creepy?’. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but the name of the workshop pulled me in and it ended up being a really fun 45 minutes! It started off with Holly talking about her upcoming book The Places I’ve Cried in Public and doing a short reading from it (and let me tell you..it sounds amazing!). We then got started on the activity – basically Holly would read out a scenario from a well known film and we had to decide if it was romantic or creepy. It was such a laugh and really did get you thinking!
After that workshop I decided to call it a day and head home to rest up ready for Saturday.
Saturday came around quickly and after a frustrating train journey I arrived at Olympia at around 10:30. My first point of call was to go to the Orion Books stand and enter the raffle for a chance to win a proof on Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Unfortunately I didn’t win but I did manage to pick up a sampler. I then went and met up with my friends Issy and Alice. Alice had been to YALC before but as it was Issy’s first time I helped show her around and stuck with them for a while. It’s great being able to wander around on your own at YALC but sometimes you just need to meet up with friends and socialise. I also picked up a few more books – Becoming Dinah by Kit De Waal, Faceless by Alyssa Sheinmel , Take A Chance on Me by Beth Garrod and I got given the Penguin Bingeable box set (which is essentially a huge sampler of all their upcoming titles) and a proof of Alex Sparrow and the Zumbie Apocalypse by Jennifer Killick. I also, yet again, entered a few raffles to win some proofs but alas I had no luck.
It was soon time to go to the Chiller Thrillers Panel with Sif Sigmarsdóttir (A Sharp Edge of a Snowflake), Karen M. McManus (One Of Us Is Lying & Two Can Keep A Secret), Holly Jackson (A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder), Emily Barr (The One Memory of Flora Banks, The Truth and Lies of Ella Black & The Girl Who Came Out Of The Woods) and M.A. Bennett (S.T.A.G.S & The Island). This was the panel that I was most excited about over my two days at YALC and having enjoyed all of these authors books I couldn’t wait to hear them talk about their work. The panel itself was filled with great discussions, including Holly Jackson admitting how much she loves murder. I love how each of these authors has a different approach in writing YA Thrillers and in turn, it did really inspire me. I was also spotted by Emily Barr and Sif Sigmarsdóttir during the panel which was amazing!
I did want to get my copies of One Of Us Is Lying and Two Can Keep A Secret signed by Karen M. McManus but her signing queue was very long and my VQ ticket was in the hundreds. I did keep going back and checking what numbers were being called but it was very slow moving, and I had another signing and workshop I wanted to go to so I had to prioritise them, which was a shame.
The one signing I went to was Lucy Powrie. I loved The Paper & Hearts Society so much and was looking forward to meeting Lucy and telling her this. She was so nice in person and very humble. I asked her about book two and how she was getting on with writing it and it was overall a lovely, yet short conversation.
The final thing I did on Saturday was go to the ‘What Have You Done Today To Make You Feel Proud’ workshop with Stripes. I ADORED Proud Book and wanted to show some more support for it by attending the workshop. It started off with Juno Dawson (who compiled the book) saying thank you to all of us who have been supporting it. We then heard Dean Atta, Moira Fowley-Doyle and Simon James Green read extracts from their stories/poetry that was featured in the book. It was then time to create our own cover art for Proud and also write a message on a big poster featuring the original cover art. I’m not a very arty person but I kept my cover art simple, yet colourful. Overall, it was a really lovely way to round of my YALC 2019.
Overall I had a really enjoyable time at YALC and loved meeting bookish people, attending panels/workshops and buying books, however there were a few things that I think could have been done better.
Firstly, I was sent to the Comic Con entrance instead of the YALC entrance on Saturday, despite showing the steward my YALC ticket. This was really frustrating as I wasted time walking to that queue, when I could have already been inside YALC. Luckily, I managed to speak to a supervisior about this who was very apologetic.
Secondly, the seating in the ‘Chill Out Zone’ was quite frankly a joke. There were only a few chairs dotted around, as well as a few inflatables. Luckily, I don’t have a disability so am able to sit down on the floor, but for those with disabilities it just wasn’t on. This really needs to be sorted next year and made comfortable and accessible for all.
Also, I witnessed a few people with extra help bands not be given the extra help they needed. For example a guy in front of me queuing for Holly Bourne’s workshop asked if he could sit at the front and showed his extra help band. However, the steward said he couldn’t as there were already people sitting at the front who had got there first. This really upset me and I felt really sorry for this guy who now couldn’t attend this workshop. In my opinion, and I’m sure others will agree with me, more training needs to be given to volunteers and stewards in regards to extra help bands.
Lastly, some publishers went back to doing ARC drops but had them as first come first serve. This wasn’t really fair to disabled attendees or people who arrived a bit later (I did hear of incidents where people were knocked over in the rush to get some of these ARC’S) Also, some of the publishers were doing comeptitions where to win an ARC you had to find little clues and prizes dotted around the event space. Yet again, for someone with a disability this is almost impossible.
I don’t mean to put a downer on what has been primarily a positive post, but I just wanted to flag these issues up. Hopefully the organisers will see from the feedback that something needs to be done for YALC 2020.