I went to YALC for the first time this year! The Young Adult Literature Convention takes place annually for three days from Friday to Sunday in July, as part of London Film and Comic Con. This year I attended with two friends on the Sunday. I was really excited to finally go as I had been looking forward to it all year. Not only was it my first time attending YALC, it was my first time attending any kind of event like that. Following the advice of various bloggers, I brought a small, wheeled suitcase with me, which worked really well.
The day could have started better, as my train was cancelled and the next was delayed, but I still managed to make it in time for the first panel at 10am, which I really wanted to attend. So I headed straight for the stage when I arrived. The panel was called ‘New voices of YA fantasy’ and the authors on the panel were Adrienne Young, Bex Hogan, Christine Lynn Herman, Kesia Lupo, P. M. Freestone and Rachel Burge. It was really interesting to hear about how they found becoming a debut author and about the worlds they created for their books.
Next I went over to the signing area to get my copy of The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge signed. This was the only thing that didn’t go smoothly, everything else was well organised, but they need to make the signings run better. A virtual queue system was running, so you get a ticket with a number, so there aren’t tonnes of people waiting at once. But, from what I could gather, they had the virtual queue tickets available at the start of the day, so when I went over to the signings the virtual queue numbers were already pretty high.
Fortunately for Rachel Burge’s signing I had ticket 44 so didn’t have to wait too long. However, later when I went to get The Last Namsara signed by Kristen Ciccarelli, I was number 129! I then had the problem of not knowing how long I would have to wait, and didn’t want to go too far and miss my number being called. So I ended up missing the ‘New masculinity’ panel, which my friends said was really interesting, so that was disappointing. I felt it needed to be clearer that you could get a virtual queue ticket at the beginning of the day. There was no information about it. Beforehand, all the information I could find online said the virtual queue would only be implemented if queues got long, which is completely different to what actually happened. So that was a little frustrating. But it was great to meet the authors and get my books signed.
I only went to one workshop, which was a world building workshop by fantasy author Bex Hogan. It was interesting to hear an author talk about their world building progress, although it did feel more like a mini talk than a ‘workshop’.
We went to the final panel of the day, which was ‘Monsters and their makers’, featuring Kristen Ciccarelli, Natasha Ngan, Samantha Shannon and Taran Matharu. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first panel we went to, although all the authors had interesting things to say. Rather than having a discussion around the topic, the chair just asked each author individual questions about their own books. It was an interesting subject matter, so I think if it had been done slightly differently, it would have worked better.
There is so much to see and take in! Loads of publishers have stalls there selling books, running raffles and giving away freebies like bookmarks. Between the three of us we didn’t manage to win anything! I got a nice free tote bag from Harper Voyager for entering a raffle, which came in handy. I bought just 3 books, which was rather restrained I think! I got copes of Furyborn by Claire Legrand, Romanov by Nadine Brandes and the special collector’s edition of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I didn’t get the book I really wanted though, which was the Illumicrate edition of Once & Future, as they had run out of stock. That was the only problem with going on the Sunday as I think many stalls had run out of some stock.
I had a great experience at my first visit to YALC, and am excited at the prospect of going back again next year!