So, last weekend, I was lucky enough to spend the day at YALC, aka the Young Adult Literature Convention. YALC is the brainchild of former Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman, and takes place at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in London alongside the London Film and Comic Con (LFCC).
I only went on the Saturday this year, because I’ve never been to a convention before and a) I didn’t really know what to expect and b) I work full time and whilst a whole weekend of geekery sounds delicious, I also know myself well enough to know that I would bloody knackered come Monday. Also: money. Putting a bookworm in front of that many books at slighty-cheaper-than-retail-price?
I can just about hear the soul of my bank account in its death throes.
ANYWAY. Onward I went to Olympia, accompanied by my only slightly unenthusiastic boyfriend for a day of book lovin’. We arrived at about 9am and the queue was already incredibly long, so by the time we got inside (accompanied in the elevator by a polite Transformer) I was itching to get my hands on the holy grail of YALC: free bookish stuff!
The stalls, most made up of publishing houses and their YA imprints, didn’t disappoint and I came away with lots of lovely things like postcards, bookmarks, posters, stickers, badges, sweets and excerpts from newly released and upcoming books.
Special mention for the ‘blogging not jogging’ sticker from the Penguin stall, which is basically life and now has pride of place on my laptop.
YALC is great for fans of YA, but it’s especially great for the bloggers among us. Lots of the publishers were happy to chat about blogging and whilst many had sign up sheets for newsletters (always handy for news posts or heads up about new releases), a few actually had sign up sheets for blogs, which is a great way to get your contact details on their radars. The staff on the YA HQ stall (a new Harper Collins imprint) were particularly awesome – asking me for my twitter handle so they could follow me, and then giving me an uncorrected proof of Dear Charlie by N.D Gomes, which I can’t wait to read!
There were also a few interactive things dotted about, like a super cool Harry Potter colouring wall, a beautiful display wall full of books complete with comfy Penguin deck chairs for a reading break, robes from the Harry Potter films and a doodle wall where you could write down what Harry Potter meant to you.
With the release of the Harry Potter and The Cursed Child script and world premiere of the play taking place on Saturday, as well as the Mugglenet Potter Party taking place at YALC on the Sunday, the celebration of all things Potter was plain to see. It made my heart happy and nostalgic and fluffy like a pygmy puff all at the same time.
Post Pottering about (ha), I made a beeline for the pop-up Waterstones stall which was both gorgeous and very, very dangerous. By some miraculous restraint I wasn’t aware I possessed, I managed to only buy two books.
TWO BOOKS. My god maybe I’m an adult. I did buy a sofa last weekend, so maybe that had a subconscious adult-ing effect on me.
I walked away with a beautiful peachy copy of Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall and an essentially essential copy of What’s A Girl Gotta Do by Holly Bourne. Essential because duh, feminism, but also because I desperately wanted Holly to sign it later on that day.
I did come very close to buying physical copies of ACOTAR and ACOMAF (pictured book is sadly a library copy) at the Bloomsbury stall, but managed to sate my desire with a cute free bag that I had spotted a few other people toting and used my Rhysand spidey sense to track down.
Once I was satisfied that yes, I had probably exhausted all of the free things on offer, I pretended not to watch Chris Riddell, (Children’s Laureate, incredibly talented illustrator and author of the Goth Girl books), do a portrait of a girl at a stall like a stalker because I was too scared to interrupt and ask for a photo. Life.
After being a creeper, we headed over to the theatre area to listen to Holly Bourne, Sarra Manning and Sara Barnard talk about friendship in YA in a panel called #SquadGoals. It was really interesting to get an insight into why each author writes friendship in the way that they do, with a focus on how they go about creating realistic female relationships. There was also some chatter about feminism and girl power which made me feel all like YAAAAS.
Then it was on to the signing queue. I passed the time waiting for Holly Bourne by checking out people’s cosplay, the best of which was two girls dressed up as Harry and Ron on Christmas morning, complete with Weasley jumpers. Totally filing that one away for the next fancy dress party I’m invited to.
I was superbly nervous when it was my turn and despite losing most of my ability to have a conversation like a normal human being, Holly was absolutely lovely, and chatted away as she signed my books.
Special mention for the fella here, who ran out of the signing queue to buy me that copy of Am I Normal Yet? after I confessed that I had borrowed a library edition and didn’t have one for signing. I still don’t know if he did it out of undying love for me or the fact that he can’t bare incomplete sets of anything…
I was also lucky enough to meet Lisa Williamson, author of The Art of Being Normal, who made a surprise appearance at the David Fickling Books stand. Annoyingly, I didn’t bring my copy of TAOBN because I didn’t think she would be there on the Saturday, but I managed to get a poster for her to sign instead. Once again my powers of communication deserted me and the best I could come up with was ‘I loved your book’ (sure she hasn’t heard that one before), but she was utterly lovely – very smiley and friendly!
After raiding the stalls one last time, my shoulders screaming under the weight of books and lovely free things, we happily trundled on to the next most important destination of the day: Nandos.
That’s it for Part 1 of my YALC round up! Don’t forget to swing by tomorrow to check out Part 2, which will be full of handy tips and tricks if you plan to go in 2017. If any of you went this year, I’d love to hear what you got up to! Feel free to leave a link to your round up posts in the comments. 🙂