I was lucky enough to attend the first Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London this weekend.
This was my first experience at a convention/conference and it certainly WAS an experience. It was quite strange to be at an event within a massively popular event. YALC took place within the London Film and Comic Con which I’m sure a lot of you will be aware is massively popular. So amongst the bookish people, I found myself surrounded by some fabulous costumes including Spiderman, Poison Ivy, Elsa, Dobby and many, many more crazy costumes. I was impressed with how creative some people got.
There were far too many people though and it was absolutely baking inside. Oh my goodness.
Where the hell are the books?!
Despite being crowded there were a lot of things to see, and when I finally got in despite having an Early Bird ticket, my sister and I could NOT find the Book area. We got there at the end. Us bookish folk were shoved to the back, but that’s okay, because I was surrounded by books and my kind of people. I also got tickets for the panel that I wanted that day. Woohoo.
Ooh, I found the pretties!
The set up of YALC was lovely. Books everywhere and plenty of opportunities for those to pick up swag like badges, bookmarks, pens, wristbands etc. I loved that Hot Key Books arranged a book swap. Book lovers could swap one book for another. There were also plenty of places to purchase books from authors appearing at YALC and many more books.
The First Panel
The panel I went to on Day 1 was The End of the World as we Know it: The Ongoing Appeal of Dystopia. This panel included Malorie Blackman, Patrick Ness and Sarah Crossan. Malorie introduced YALC in Klingon and in costume. Of course. There’s no other way when at LFCC. I felt like this panel was incredibly interesting and brought up some fantastic comments about Dystopia. We learned that no author on the panel really wanted to write a Utopian novel…because where’s the fun in that? I think some very valid points were made about how readers look for escapism in their reading and how it’s interesting to believe that in a world that’s turned crappy, that there’s a glimmer of hope somewhere.
I have to admit, I didn’t have a good experience with the signings. I don’t think it helped that the authors I really wanted to see were the hugely popular and wonderful Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness. I queued with my sister for an hour for Malorie Blackman, only for our line to be cut and be told that Malorie had to attend a talk 😦 Not her fault, but lots of fans were left disappointed. We gave up with Patrick Ness, just too many people and too little time for singings. We weren’t too disheartened though. We had had an amazing time.
I also loved catching up again with some lovely friends and spotting the bloggers I knew of, but I was too shy too approach.
Day 2- The day of 3 panels after another. Because…why not?
Trying to keep this day short and snappy, because I’ve wittered on a lot already and who knows if you’re even reading this far. Well done if you are! 😉
- We got in much quicker. Yay, us!
- It was less packed. I could breathe. Always a bonus.
I book swapped…
- I managed to swap some books I’m not going to re-read and once I went back to the stand I had noticed they had gone. It gave me a really happy buzz to know that some book lover was going to enjoy my pristine condition books.
The three panels…
- The first panel was I’m Too Sexy For This Book with Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles, chaired by the newly crowned Queen of Teen, James Dawson. This panel was incredibly funny. It’s the first time I’ve seen all of these authors and they just made me howl with laughter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase ‘sexy time’ used so much. The panel spoke about sex within YA. It was hilarious. The tone was er… pretty low and there were innuendos flying everywhere. Everyone seemed to be loving the panel. It certainly was a highlight of the panels I saw. Despite the hilarity, some important points were covered and covered sensitively by this panel of talented writers and the chair. Taboo seemed to come up a lot and how sex in YA can often stop school libraries stocking the book. It certainly made me reflect.
- Next up was Crossover-Not Just For Kids with Matt Haig, Meg Rosoff, Anthony McGowen and Nick Lake. It was chaired by David Maybury. He didn’t quite have control over the panel, but it wasn’t surprising with the rowdy bunch of authors he had! 😉 What I found fascinating about this panel was that no-one could really define what crossover was. I think Nick Lake made an interesting point when he said young adult readers are much more open-minded about genres. I completely agree and think that this is such a positive thing for the genre, if we can call Young Adult a genre. Sometimes adult readers can get stuck in one genre and never broaden their horizons. I know, I used to just read one genre…
- The last panel for me was Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves with Holly Smale, Julie Mayhew, Isobel Harrop and Tanya Byrne chaired by Sarra Manning. I absolutely loved this panel. I think they all come up with such interesting points. All of these writers are YA writers, but their books are very different. It was intriguing to see how they came to write their heroine. I think Holly Smale made a good point about wanting to create a character that does have flaws. It is SO important for readers to know their literary heroines make mistakes too. She also made such a good point about courage and courage not always being a physical thing, but for some, stepping out of their comfort zone is courageous. I totally agree. Last time I saw Holly talk, I found her quite inspirational and this hasn’t changed. I also loved that Julie Mayhew made the point that characters don’t always have to be likeable and that’s okay. For Julie as an author, as many authors I imagine, the most important thing is the character provokes a reaction. I completely agree with this. I often find myself not liking a character and I never see this as a negative thing.
With that, my sister and I decided to head off. I had a long journey home and I have work tomorrow! I went home with some lovely new books, a fantastic experience, some good laughs and a wonderful weekend spent with my bookish sister and like-minded people.