So, the third YALC (the Young Adult Literature Convention) took place as part of London Film and Comic Con just under 2 weeks ago. I’d been to both previous conventions, but only for one day each time, so this was my first time going for the whole weekend. I was a bit wary about this – I’d heard horror stories about how crowded the Saturday got – but as it turned out, it was fine and I had an amazing time.
When they announced which authors were attending, I searched out the books I knew I already owned by them and tried to read all of them so I would know if I wanted them signed or not. I then accidentally extended this list a week before the convention by acquiring more books. Oops? I didn’t get through them all, but I did make a good dent in my list and, more importantly, knew which books I didn’t want to keep. (That doesn’t, by the way, mean I didn’t like them. It might have been that I knew I’d never re-read them and therefore wasn’t willing to keep hold of them.) I still took 26 books with me to get signed and yes, my case was incredibly heavy.
But YALC itself! I didn’t make it to as many panels as I would have liked, and I’m still sad I missed the Fantasy London one on the Friday afternoon because I was in the signing queue for Patrick Ness, but the ones I saw were really interesting. My favourites were probably ‘She who laughs last laughs the laughiest’ (about humour in YA), ‘Join the Rebellion!’ (about resistance and protest in YA) and ‘You Know Me Well’ with David Levithan and Nina la Cour, hosted by Juno Dawson, which was hilarious. I apparently didn’t make it to any panels on the Sunday, but that was mostly because I chose to explore the main LFCC floors for a little bit. However, I did find myself sacrificing the panels for the sake of being in signing queues early for quite a lot of the weekend, and it’s something I’ll be more aware of next year. Maybe I won’t take quite as many books with me?
The upside of that, of course, is that I met everyone I wanted to meet. I fangirled shamelessly at Chris Riddell, and I’m over the moon that my already-signed-by-Neil-Gaiman copies of ‘Fortunately, The Milk’ and ‘The Sleeper and the Spindle’ are now also signed by Chris, as well as the beautiful new edition of Neverwhere. I had lovely conversations with Sarra Manning, Patrick Ness, Alywn Hamilton, V E Schwab, Frances Hardinge, Maggie Stiefvater, Ben Aaronovitch, Holly Smale, Lauren James, David Levithan, Nina la Cour, Nat Luurtsema, L A Weatherley and Non Pratt, and they were worth missing the panels for. Some of them had signing queues so long they went on for literally hours, but they still had time to chat to everyone – special shout-outs there to Alwyn Hamilton, Patrick Ness, V E Schwab and Maggie Stiefvater.
The other thing I love about YALC is all the publisher stands. They are all, without exception, staffed by people who really love books and they contribute so much to the general atmosphere. I loved going from to stand to stand chatting with them and yes, collecting freebies, but mostly just the chatting. I’d pick a favourite, but I can’t, because they were all fabulous.
In fact, the whole weekend was fabulous. There was such a great atmosphere throughout the YALC floor that I came away with the warm and fuzzies for the entire UKYA community. Everyone was so friendly that it was easy to start chatting to people in the queues and I came away with a couple of actual friendships. If you’ve been thinking about whether or not it’s for you, I would definitely recommend it. I had such a good time this year. I was shattered by the end of it, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Now, I just need to get on with reading all those books…