Hi everyone! If you haven’t seen me excitedly squealing about YALC for the last month or so, that’s okay, you haven’t missed much, just the usual business of fangirling excitedly about spending the weekend with my friends and meeting loads of authors and getting books signed and generally just adding many many books to my TBR. If you’re not familiar, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention, created by Malorie Blackman five years ago, when she was the Children’s Laureate, it’s the biggest convention for young adult readers in the UK, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
My YALC experience this year was a little different, as I usually go down on the Friday morning, since I don’t live very far out of London but this year, as my parents were already down in London, I went down on the Thursday night. I’m not going to lie, I was quite stressed out about getting down this year since a lot of trains were cancelled due to the hot weather. I spent the entire day at work obsessively checking the trains and getting increasingly more and more stressed as I saw all my trains getting cancelled. Thankfully, I managed to get out of work slightly early and get on a train to Brighton which stopped at St Pancras, otherwise I’m not sure what I would have done!
So on the Friday morning, as I was staying in Clapham Junction with my parents, I didn’t have far to go at all to get to YALC, I just got on an Overground train to Kensington Olympia, which was only about ten minutes and that was lovely, it took a lot of the usual stress out of the morning of YALC. I was a little confused when I got there as to which queue was which, as there were two, but after going to get my food from Tesco, I was directed to the one day queue. I had seen a much longer one but it turned out that was the queue for people with three day tickets.
Whilst I was waiting, Hannah (my friend, you might know her as Books, Life and Other Oddities) arrived, and the queue actually moved quite quickly because it was very short. We had our tickets scanned, and after a quick bag search, we headed up to the YALC floor. We made a beeline for the Waterstones where I bought a copy of Malorie Blackman’s new book, Crossfire. I then realised that I couldn’t find my phone, and panicked because I had literally just had it to use our tickets to get in. We retraced our steps and eventually went back downstairs and found it with the Showmasters staff on the front desk.
After that little fiasco, we got VQ signing tickets at the table for all the signings we wanted to go to that day (they were giving out tickets for all the authors at the beginning of the day as a precaution) and then headed over to the Agents Arena for the pitching workshop. I’d want to get to YALC by 11 on Friday, specifically so I could go to that workshop, but I didn’t find it as useful as I’d hoped? Most of the advice was pretty similar to the talk from last year, and the agent spoke quite quietly so I couldn’t really hear her. Still it was good to know that I’m on the right track with my submission letters and that there’s nothing I’m doing wrong there.
We had a while after the agent’s talk, as our first signing wasn’t until two, so we wandered around the stalls for a bit. I bought a couple of books from the HarperCollins store, Sherwood for me, and a book for a friend as well. Hannah spotted a couple of HarperCollins books that she wanted too, but decided to come back later for them, as she didn’t want to carry them around all day (fair enough!). I also bought Gina Martin’s Be The Change, as that’s a book I’ve been wanting to read, I think what she did with her upskirting law is so awesome and I’m super excited to read it.
After wandering for a bit, we both decided that we were hungry and that it was time for lunch, Hannah had brought food from home and I’d got a meal deal from Tesco. Hannah had also brought Cookie Dough brownies, which were delicious. We had lunch right near the book swap and Hannah had brought some old books to swap, so she found several more from the book swap that she wanted. I didn’t have any this year, as I left most of my unwanted proofs in Scotland (and to be honest, probably could not have fit many more books in my bag!).
When we were done with lunch, we saw an announcement that Hot Key Books had hidden bats around the centre, and to win an ARC of Into The Crooked Place, Alexandra Christo’s new book, which Hannah and I were both really excited about. We don’t usually do well at these kinds of things, but Hannah spotted a bat on the YALC sign, so she won the ARC! I did try to find a second one, but sadly, I was beaten to it (we really want to know where they hid that fifth bat because we couldn’t find it anywhere!) and Hannah is going to lend me Into The Crooked Place when she’s done!
After that we honestly just milled about for a while, all the authors we wanted to see on the Friday were in the afternoon, our first signing wasn’t until 3, so we had the luxury of being able to be quite chilled about what we did. We confused a lot of people by sitting on the tables next to the workshop area, but it was quite nice to have somewhere to sit that wasn’t the floor! Hannah bought Enchantee from My Kinda Book, as I’d been telling her since January how good it was and she’d been desperate for a copy (I couldn’t lend her one, as I got it from Netgalley) and she also got the Grisha trilogy from BKMRK. I saw two of the books that I’d bought at Foyles the week before and could have got at YALC for cheaper, which was annoying (and have since seen someone post a picture of the third in their YALC haul) but oh well, at least I saved the bag space!
Our first signing of the day was at 3, and it was Laura Steven. We had relatively early tickets in her signing queue, so it didn’t take long before we got through. I got A Girl Called Shameless signed, and Hannah got her sampler of Laura’s upcoming book, The Love Hypothesis. You’d think we’d speak to authors about their books, and we did a little, we commiserated about everyone having a Danny, and she told us an awkward story about her “Danny” that didn’t make it into the book but we mostly fangirled about her dog, Obi! She didn’t seem to mind though. She’s such a lovely person, I hope I get to see her at another event when her new book comes out.
Once we were done with Laura’s queue, we had a bit more time before our next signings (Derek Landy and Eoin Colfer) so we just chilled for a bit again, it was nice not to be running from one signing to the next like we had been in previous years, and it gave us some time to rest our feet. We had relatively early tickets in Derek’s queue, so we didn’t have to wait all that long after his panel before we could go over to the signing queue. I definitely felt like the queues were handled better this year, my only complaint was that in previous years, they had a little whiteboard which showed what numbers they were at in the virtual queues, so you didn’t have to be constantly asking (but I’ll get to that more in my post for tomorrow).
As always, Derek was awesome and so funny. I told him that I’d read Bedlam since the last time we met, and that I really enjoyed it. He asked us if we had any questions, but honestly, I didn’t have any that weren’t spoilery and Hannah isn’t caught up on the new series yet, so I couldn’t really ask any (though he seemed to quite enjoy teasing Hannah about revealing potential spoilers). I did ask if he knew how many books there were going to be in this new arc and apparently he does but isn’t allowed to share yet and Hannah was very pleased to find out that Vex is in Bedlam. We also got our annual awkward photo with Derek to add to our growing collection.
Once we were done with Derek, we made it over to Eoin’s queue, and thankfully we had quite low numbers for that queue as well so we didn’t have to wait too long for that queue either. Hannah and I both read Artemis Fowl when we were teenagers and are really excited for the film, so it was really cool to get to meet Eoin. Only I had a book to sign though, because Hannah had lost her copy (which I bought her for her birthday when we were in school) but it did mean that she had a good story to tell Eoin!
By the time we were done with Eoin, we had to head off pretty sharpish, as I think it was just after five, and we had dinner plans with Zoe and Hannah (our other friend who came to YALC with us yesterday). They both got a bit annoyed at us, because it took us a while to get across London in peak time traffic, but we got there eventually!
After Hannah gave us a tour of her work and we picked up her phone charger, we headed off for dinner at Conchigilia, this lovely Italian place that we really like. I had a delicious pizza, as did Zoe and the two Hannahs both had pasta. It was great to get to catch up with Zoe as I haven’t seen her in a while, and the other Hannah as well and we had a really lovely meal.
Once we’d finished dinner, we headed our separate ways from Oxford Circus, the two Hannahs and I back to Clapham Junction and Zoe back home. All in all, it was a really great first day of YALC and we were all very excited for the Saturday!
Us with Derek Landy!
My Friday signed books
My Friday Book Haul
My signed Laura Steven
My signed Artemis Fowl
One of my signed Skulduggery books (I only need two more signed now and then I have the full set!).