Here we are, 2 weeks after YALC, and my gosh. I still don’t think I’m quite over the introvert hangover. I can’t be the only person who really needs to like be ALONE after weekends like this, can I?
For all, yes, YALC is exhausting, it’s also wonderful.
It’s bookish goodness for 3 days.
It’s friends who you don’t get to see very often.
It’s putting names to faces that you’ve only seen in their tiny little twitter face.
It’s standing in lines to meet your favourite authors.
It’s finding people who love the same books as you.
It’s telling authors that you loved their book so much it made them cry.
It’s speaking to publicists who have been so lovely and generous.
It’s learning about new books and finding new authors.
It’s seeing those people who you always get to see at these kinds of events.
It’s fangirling over that one person who you follow online, who you try and be all cool about and just end up being all shy and coy (lol, if you know me, YOU KNOW THIS).
So anyway… I thought I’d wrap up MY YALC experience because as we know everyone has their own experience and everyone experiences it differently.
I had a quieter YALC this year than I’ve had in the past – there weren’t as many panels I wanted to sit and listen to and there weren’t as many books I needed to be signed as I’ve had in the past (which is good because it meant less queuing and less carrying of heavy books!). There were things I was DYING to see and people I was dying to meet, but I was glad of a quieter YALC.
I got the chance to sit in on some wonderful panels this year, from interesting insights into the world of toxic masculinity, fantasy, new voices (always one of my favourite panels) to social media in YA, it was all covered this year. It’s always lovely to see some faves again (shout outs to Queen Mel, Sara Barnard, Laura Steven, Bethany Rutter and Dhonielle Clayton, who is a hilarious chair) and meet some new faces, whose books I’ve either read or am planning on reading. It was great to finally meet Bex Hogan (Viper – a wonderful book, you should all read it NOW), Sarah Maria Griffin (who is hilarious), Yasmin Rahman (whose book I immediately ran and bought, and then consumed in a matter of hours on my train home) and Samuel Pollen (The Year I Didn’t Eat, which destroyed me).
I love the broad range of panels that you can go and sit in on at YALC – there’s always something for everyone!
One of the best things about YALC is of course the bookish fun that can happen. I didn’t take as many pictures of the stalls and things this year (I guess I was having too much fun to!) but I always love how each of the publishers themes their stalls. The Penguin stall has amazing books which could be turned around so you could see the blurb on the back; Usborne had a WONDERFULLY bright stall and Scholastic’s stall was all seaside themed. The Walker YA stall had a hilarious “How you’re going to die” Scythe themed wheel, and when I spun it, apparently I’m going to die falling down a manhole while reading a book – it seems likely to be honest.
While I was at YALC, I managed to pick up samplers for 3 of the books I’m most excited for (you can find out all about those in a week or so when I do my #SamplerSunday blog post!): Melinda Salisbury’s Hold Back The Tide, David Owen’s Grief Angels and Laura Steven’s The Love Hypothestis. I am not going to lie… I had tunnel vision to get these. The publishers ran out of the samplers in the first two days, so I was CHUFFED when I managed to get my hands on them. (LBR for a sec, the first thing I did when I got into YLC was run to the Scholastic stand and get a Hold Back The Tide: I know where my priorities lie!)
I love that since I’m around bookish people I get to spend a lot of time reading. On the train down, I read The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg (Disney World meets dark, dystopian robot land) while my friend Charlotte read Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff. I also got quite a lot of reading done in the YALC house too. I was very lucky to be sharing an AirBnB with 4 of my favourite bookish humans, so it meant for plenty of reading time. I got all of The Kingdom read and then got through Evernight by Ross Mackenzie too (this was BLOODY BRILLIANT, again more on that next week). On the train back to the homeland, I read All The Things We Never Said by Yashmin Rahman (which I had picked up having heard Yasmin talk about it and I needed it) as Charlotte read Slay by Kim Curran (a book I adore… it’s such fun!)
Something else which I love about YALC and the stalls is that they’re almost always interactive. There was one this year about which superpower you’d have, who you’d like to be stranded on a jellyfish with and random others. My favourite one was from My Kinda Book to link in with the release of No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter (we all know I love this book, if you haven’t preordered it yet, please do, Bethany is a doll and this book is SO SO SO SO SO GOOD). The gorgeous pink hearts you can see are messages of encouragement people were leaving for strangers. Standing reading some of them gave me a proper lump in my throat: people can be so compassionate and kind. Some of them were hilarious too!
YALC always hosts a ton of workshops too and these can range from crafty, to chats, to writing workshops with authors and they’re always really well attended. I don’t go to many, in fact this year was only the second time I’d ever attended a workshop (I think!). Akemi Dawn Bowman (author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue) had a workshop this year about self care and we had the chance to create an anxiety bracelet, so Charlotte and I tottled off to make bracelets. It was so lovely to just sit and be calm and creative in what had been a busy day of bookish goodness. We both created rainbow bracelets and I am still wearing mine now!
For anyone who follows YALC on twitter, you know that there is always a special guest appearance of a celeb or two who are just passing through. My firt year it was Benedict Cumberbatch; last year it was Jason Momoa, and again, this year, Momoa appeared. It’s always funny seeing these super famous celebs just sauntering on the YALC floor. I think I might’ve even spotted a few other celebs who were checking out the YALC floor at a fee points over the weekend. (And yes, Momoa is as gorgeous in real life as he appears).
#TakeawayYA is not a staple of YALC: it is a tradition of me and my friends! #TakeawayYA was a hashtag started by my friends Cora, Kelly and I at our first YALC house 3 years ago and it’s something that has just STUCK. People always comment about how hilarious it is. It’s basically just me and my friends sharing the takeaway that we’re having. I love that we’ve created this daft tradition that is sticking around and I hope itstick around for years! (If you search the hashtag on twitter, you should get a few years worth of takeaways ha!)
And I think that’s it for my YALC experience. There is a whole lot more to say. I have a whole list of thank yous to say, but I have one of my ‘Letters to…’ coming up to say thank you to some people, so keep tuned for that in the coming weeks!
If you have any questions about YALC, or about what I got up to at YALC, please holler at me, I know everyone’s experience is different and I’d be more than happy to talk about my experience. I can’t talk for everyone!
Speak to you all soon,