YALC – the Young Adult Literature Convention – happened this past weekend and it was amazing! I had the most fantastic time, as indeed I did when I attended the event for the first time last year. I left YALC feeling inspired by the authors I’d met and the panels I had watched, fulfilled because I’d looked forward to this year’s convention since the moment the last one finished and I enjoyed it just as much as the previous one – if not more! – and just…content (although I did have quite bad backache and shoulder-ache from all the books I either purchased or got for free…no matter, though, the awesome books were all definitely worth it!).
Here are some of the things I loved about this year’s YALC!
- YALC this year was bigger and better! Last year YALC took up only about half of the second floor of the building, but this time we had a whole floor to ourselves! There was much more space for publishing houses’ stands and for the HSK Waterstones shop. It was so much fun to walk around the whole space and browse all of the fantastic stands – there were so many wonderful books on offer at each stand and I loved being surrounded by piles and piles of novels, as well as the traditional YALC Wall of Books.
- FREEBIES! I queued very early on Friday morning outside YALC and the wait for the doors to open was definitely worth it as when we all entered there was a large table full of freebies, from books, samplers and proofs to wristbands and posters. What I loved most of all was that there was a bucket of wrapped up books with little teasers on them (such as ‘contemporary romance’, ‘coming of age’ etc.). The mystery of what book might be inside was really exciting and it was a lovely idea! Inside the package I picked up was a proof copy of Harriet Rooter Hapgood’s ‘The Square Root of Summer’, and I’m really looking forward to reading it as it is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while and heard good things about. Additionally, lots of the publishing stands were giving away proof copies of their upcoming novels – I was particularly excited to pick up copies of ‘The Deviants’ by C. J. Skuse which comes out in September and also a copy of ‘A Torch Against the Night’ by Sabaa Tahir – that last one had me over the moon and put a massive smile on my face because I loved ‘An Ember in the Ashes’ and I was not expecting to receive an early copy of this sequel. I’ve heard glowing reviews of both of these novels. On the Friday of YALC, I went home with 18 books (unfortunately for my back!) and at least 10 of these were free!
- I was also ecstatic to be able to buy slightly early copies of two of my most anticipated upcoming reads – ‘Nevernight’ by Jay Kristoff and ‘Royal Tour’ by Amy Alward. I’m currently reading ‘Royal Tour’ and having just as much fun doing so as I did reading ‘The Potion Diaries’. I also picked up samplers of ‘The Graces’ by Laure Eve and Laini Taylor’s ‘Strange the Dreamer’, both of which I am very excited to read!
- COVER REVEALS! The covers for two of my most anticipated books of 2016 were revealed at YALC – the third book in ‘The Sin Eater’s Daughter’ series by Melinda Salisbury, which we found out is going to be called ‘The Scarecrow Queen’ (what an awesome title!) and the cover for ‘Wing Jones’ by Katherine Webber. Both covers are stunning! Melinda Salisbury was also giving out copies of a short story she has written, set in the Sin Eater world, and I can’t wait to read that. Her storytelling skills are simply amazing!
- It was fantastic to attend the exclusive YALC ‘A Monster Calls’ panel featuring Patrick Ness and the young actor who is going to play Conor in this upcoming film. I read ‘A Monster Calls’ just before YALC in anticipation of this event and it is a wonderfully poignant and beautifully written novel. We watched the trailer at the start of the panel and it was phenomenal. I cannot wait to see this film as it looks like it truly captures the spirit of the novel. It was really interesting to learn how the book came about – the original idea for the story was Siobhan Dowd’s – and how it was adapted for the screen, as well as to hear from Lewis about his audition experience and the challenges involved in filming this movie.
- All the panels I attended at YALC this year were really enjoyable and interesting. I wish I could have attended more of these and of the workshops and the events in the agents’ area, but unfortunately I could only attend the convention on the Friday and half of the Saturday this year. The panel I was most looking forward to this year was the panel about magic on Friday morning and it did not disappoint! It was fascinating to learn more about the magical systems in the novels of Sally Green, Taran Matharu, V. E. Schwab and Melinda Salisbury, and more about what inspired them to write their fantasy books. Additionally, I really enjoyed the panel about rebellions in YA – it was a very though-provoking panel as the panelists discussed the different forms of rebellion, from smaller, individual acts to large-scale acts, and also how far one can go with rebellion in YA- with regard to violence, for example. I left the panels feeling very inspired to continue my own writing projects.
- Finally, it was wonderful to meet the authors at YALC! I especially loved meeting V. E. Schwab as she is my absolute favourite writer – if you haven’t read ‘A Darker Shade of Magic’ or ‘This Savage Song’, correct that immediately! I asked her about her book titles as I think they are all amazing and she told me that ‘A Gathering of Shadows’ went through seventy different titles before that one was chosen. I’d never imagined that! It was also great to meet Melinda Salisbury, Taran Matharu and Alwyn Hamilton, three more of my top authors. The signing queues were very long, but the authors made time to have a conversation with each of their fans which I thought was very generous of them. I imagine their wrists must have been aching from all the signatures!
I would like to say a huge thank you to all the team behind YALC for all their hard work and for making it such a special and fantastic event! YALC is my favourite weekend of the year and attending it and meeting authors, bloggers, vloggers, readers and publishers brought me great joy. It also reminded me of what a warm, inclusive and welcoming community the book community is and how wonderful it feels to be a part of that. I’m already excited for next year’s event….but in the mean time I am going to read the twenty or so books I got at this year’s event!