The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that the above is not even a picture from YALC. (It’s LFCC.) That’s because, as usual at events, I took criminally few photographs at the time. Let me paint a picture with my words.
This year I went for the whole weekend and I am STILL WEARING MY WRISTBAND AS I TYPE. I went for the Saturday of YALC 2015 and had a smashing time, but was disappointed to miss some of my favourite authors on the Friday and Sunday. Serious FOMO kicked in. There was only one possible solution. And so, this is the story of 72ish hours of UKYA excitement…
I went to Coventry’s Noodle Bar and Southend’s Mangetout on Thursday, so I’m not sure how my body was even functioning well enough to get me to Olympia before noon. #humblebrag Somehow I made it in time to catch the end of The YA Book Prize panel. I’m a huge fan of the prize, having “shadowed” it on this blog both times round, and so this was a panel where I could be assured of having read all the books being discussed! Afterwards I wandered the publishers’ stands, and spotted this tremendous stack of postcards for some obscure sequel no one’s really bothered about.
Publishing 102 was a great introduction to career paths within publishing. Having been to many talks like these already, I worried it would be a repeat of what I already knew about the industry. I actually learnt a lot. This event was the first time I’d ever heard someone refute the idea that if you just “get your foot in the door” you’ll be able to work your way from, say, production to editorial in no time. Also, Nina Douglas really got me fired up about publicity!!! I’m still not entirely sure where exactly my future lies within the industry, but I feel increasingly confident that I’m gonna be a publisher one day.
I then left the Olympia and walked down the road to the first chain coffee shop I saw, ordered a sandwich and an americano, and sat on my own for a while. I read a ton of #YALCtips posts in the run up to last weekend, mainly because I was excited rather than because I wanted tips. Plenty of people advocated these planned breaks and I found them invaluable. I don’t consider myself an anxious person, but turns out if you put me in a hot room full of strangers and people I only know off of the internet, I want to get out of that room after a while.
Back to YALC and the Fantasy London panel! I had planned to stan Katherine Webber, chair extraordinaire, at all of her panels but sadly I missed her earlier one that day. This one was great, though. VE Schwab seems to be the coolest person ever?? I love that she hung out at YALC all weekend and kept signing stuff for people and generally being friendly. Maybe I should’ve said hi. Anyway, the authors all drew from real life London to build their disparate fantastical Londons in different ways, which goes to show how inspiring the city is. At one point during the weekend, I’m pretty sure I said to my girlfriend “LONDON IS SO INCREDIBLE” with tears in my eyes. (Followed by “YOU CAN’T LIVE THERE THOUGH.”) My favourite snippets from the panel were VE Schwab recounting walking through a London graveyard as a morbid child and realising all of the graves were older than her country, and Samantha Shannon talking “dystopia on a global scale”.
Then we had Michael Grant in conversation about Front Lines. Well, mainly in general conversation to be honest. I enjoyed all of the “in conversation” events because they gave the authors the opportunity to relax a little and have a more in depth discussion. Michael Grant is always entertaining and I had a lot of fun listening to his tales of cigar smoking and autocannibalism. I also got him to sign my treasured Animorphs books and freaked out a little bit because I HAVE BEEN A FAN FOR FIFTEEN YEARS. FIFTEEN YEARS OF IT… IN
AZKABAN ANIMORPHS. (Apparently Katherine was in town too??!!?!?!?!)
Despite all the cool things I saw/did/bought, I left YALC on Friday slightly down. I don’t ever expect myself to be shy or nervous, but UKYA world is so tiny and seemingly tight-knit, I felt a little lonely that day. The community prides itself on being inclusive and friendly, and is absolutely right to do so, but I think that actually makes it harder when you feel on the outside of it. I am writing this mainly because I know I’m not the only person who struggled with this at times over the weekend.
However, the people I did get to talk to on Friday were uniformly lovely, including Non Pratt, who made my day by actually knowing who I was! And signing my copy of Unboxed which I read half of on the train back to Essex.
My impromptu picnic date with Christopher Moore @yablooker of the #YAtakeover was also pretty fun – we talked writing, reading, and crème pâtissière. If you’re reading this Christopher, my top books of the year so far (now I’ve got Goodreads open) are Dietland by Sarai Walker, Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff, and You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan. Favourite new-to-me-but-not-the-world-at-large books are Anne of Green Gables and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
Okay, tune in next time for the Saturday recap. Thanks for reading if you got this far!!