Hi all! If you haven’t heard me excitedly shouting about it for the last month, or are new to the blog, then you might not know that I had a very fun bookish weekend this weekend: on Friday and Saturday, I was at YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention held at Olympia in London where for three days at the end of July, UK, Irish and some American authors come to sign their books, do panels and workshops and there are agent talks and it’s all generally just a lot of fun! This year, I went with my friend Hannah again (yes the one who appears in all these posts, she has her own book blog now, BooksLifeandOtherOddities, so you should definitely follow her) but we also added a new face this year, Hannah’s friend, also called Hannah (yes our group chat was incredibly confusing), so we go to show off YALC to a newbie, which was fun!
I had organised all my stuff the night before, so basically all that was left to do in the morning were some last minute checks that I had everything and then I was on the bus on the way to the station. I spent the entire journey down to London finishing Children of Blood and Bone as I was hoping to meet Tomi Adeyemi on Saturday (more on that in the next post), which by the way, I am absolutely obsessed with now, you guys were not wrong, that book is AMAZING.
My journey from Kings Cross was a bit of a nightmare because they stupidly decided to do engineering works on the Olympia line on the biggest weekend of the year for that station, so I first had to get an tube to Edgware Road, which then got stopped for a while at a red signal and then finally a tube to High Street Kensington, where I then got a bus to the convention centre. Unsurprisingly with all that, Hannah and Hannah both beat me there! We got some food from the Tesco Express and then some cash out before we headed into the convention centre.
Once we had put our extra bags in the cloakroom, we arrived just in time for the talk on pitching and submission letters in the Agents Arena, which Hannah (YALC friend Hannah, not new Hannah, this is going to get super confusing) and I both really wanted to go to, so we all went into that. It was really helpful, I took a lot of notes and feel a lot more prepared now for querying than I had before. We had to practise elevator pitches and I was completely awful at it, could not get either of my novels down to two lines! Some people came up and read their pitches but Hannah and I were too nervous to (new Hannah did though and hers was really good, she’s an author though, so it’s understandable!).
After the submission letter talk, they had several other agents come in and join Danielle (the agent who had been giving the talk) and we then had the opportunity to have five minutes to pitch our novels to the agents. I was really nervous but I decided to do it, and I’m glad I did, because the agent I pitched to, Polly Nolan (PaperFury’s agent!) was so lovely. She said she actually thought she had heard of my blog (I was wearing one of JennieLy’s lanyards with my blog name on it) which was so nice to hear, gave me some great advice on my book and said she thought it sounded very marketable, which was wonderful to hear! Of course, I would still want to keep writing it whatever, but it is great to hear someone in the industry say they think your book would have a chance at selling well.
After we had done all of the agent talks we wanted to, it was nearing the time for the panel we wanted to go and see on the Centenary of Women’s right to vote in the UK, so we had our lunch (I had a chicken and bacon sub and a really big bag of quavers, it was great) and then went to Waterstones so that Hannah (YALC friend Hannah) could buy Hero At The Fall for Alwyn Hamilton’s signing which was soon after and I could buy Louise O’Neill’s book (The Surface Breaks) for her signing. I also convinced Hannah to buy Louise O’Neill’s book Asking For It, because you know, I’m a book pusher and it’s a really great book.
We then headed into the panel and it was good, if a little bit loud, we might have actually enjoyed it more if we hadn’t been so close to the front! It was interesting to hear all the writer’s points about feminism and voting and female characters in YA, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with all their answers (there was a little too much focus on strong female characters having to kick butt rather than different kinds of strength and one of the authors was talking about Ballet Shoes as an example of where the more masculine female character isn’t described as plain, which she totally is, she mentions on more than one occasion being jealous of her older sister who is seen as prettier than she is). For some reason, it had gone completely over my head that Katherine Webber was American, so I was a bit surprised when I heard the American accent, even though I totally shouldn’t have been!
Anyway, after the panel, we headed to the signings. Alwyn’s queue was ticketed, so we got our tickets and then left to go to the other signings we wanted to. Matt Kileen’s was thankfully short, so we went to see him and I told him how great I thought his publicity team’s proof packages were. I probably should have said how great I though his book was, but it was what came into my head at the time! We also went to Sally Nicholls’ signing line and got her book signed, that was relatively quick as her queue wasn’t too long.
Once we had got those signed, we went to find the seating area, because we were a little bit tired after having quite an intense morning! I have to admit, YALC really should improve their seating, bean bags on the floor and a couple of chairs aren’t good enough, especially for people with disabilities who need to sit.
We kept going back and checking if our numbers were up in Alwyn Hamilton’s queue after that, but it took quite a while, so we mostly sat and waited. We did explore the stalls a little, I bought Bygone Badass Broads from the Abrams Books stand which I am super excited to read. By this time, I was also desperate for the loo, so I was quite thankful for the break. Alwyn’s queue took a long time to get moving, because she wanted to make sure she chatted a little to everyone which I thought was super sweet, but I think the staff supervising the signing were getting a bit stressed with how long it was taking!
We finally got to Alwyn’s line, but even near the front, it was still going quite slowly. We noticed that Louise O’Neill was doing her signing quite close by, and were told that she was about to leave and we really wanted to get our books signed. A man in Alwyn’s queue very generously agreed to save our spot for us, so we dashed back, grabbed our books and got Louise to sign them before she left. Naturally we didn’t really get a chance to talk to her much as she needed to leave, but we told her we were looking forward to reading them and she thanked us for coming!
Then it was finally our turn in Alwyn’s line! We’ve been to so many of these by this point that she knows who we are by now, and she said it was lovely to see us again and we just chatted for a few minutes about the con and all the fun we’d been having. We asked her about her next book and she said she’s currently editing it at the moment and I got to actually commiserate with a real life published author about editing woes because I am also editing at the moment-WHAT IS THIS LIFE! We got a photo and then left, having reached I think peak fangirl for that day!
Alwyn’s signing was our last signing of the day, so we had some time to chill a bit after that. We sat for a little while and then we wandered around the stalls as we hadn’t really got a chance to see many of them yet. I picked up This Is Where It Ends from the SourceBooks stand, which I was pleased with, as I got it for £2 cheaper than I would have if I’d bought it at Waterstones earlier (there were a couple of times through the weekend where I saw books I had already bought that I could have got cheaper at YALC, so it was nice to finally get a win on the money front!).
We wandered round more of the stalls, Hannah (new Hannah) chatted to a lot of the stall holders, but Hannah and I mostly just wandered looking at all the pretty things. We spent a while at a new stand that I don’t think was there the past few years, that sold cool bookish mugs and I got an amazing one that says “If My Book is Open, Your Mouth is Closed” which is basically my motto for life. We finally stopped at the Hot Key stand and all three of us bought a copy of To Kill a Kingdom, which was part of the 3 for £10 deal. All of us had quite a light book buying day, Hannah (new Hannah) bought four books, To Kill A Kingdom and then the first three Throne of Glass books, which I told her she should buy (yes, I do book pushing even on people I’ve only known for a matter of hours) and Hannah (YALC Hannah) bought I think five books, Asking For It, Hero At The Fall, To Kill A Kingdom, Caraval and The Raven King. Honestly I preferred it that way, because everything I bought this year is something that I really want to read, so I won’t have to worry about losing interest in it, like I have done with some books I’ve bought in previous years.
We decided to head after that, it was only about 5.15 and the con was still open for another hour or so, but all three of us were quite tired and we didn’t want to hit all of the stalls on Friday, otherwise we would have had nothing to do on Saturday. So we then left and headed off to have dinner at the Pizza Express near Olympia. Hannah (new Hannah) wasn’t particularly hungry, but Hannah (YALC Hannah) and I were, so I had Lasagne and Hannah had pasta. I also polished off a rather delicious cheesecake dessert. There was a thunderstorm outside so we chatted for a while inside the restaurant about our day and general life stuff before leaving.
We then had to go our separate ways as Hannah (YALC Hannah) had to head home and Hannah (new Hannah) and I, had to go to our Travelodge in Kingston. I was a bit nervous about sharing a hotel room with someone I hadn’t met before that day, but I shouldn’t have worried, we talked pretty much constantly on the journey back as we’d got to know each other over the course of the day and despite me worrying that Kingston might be a bit far out, we actually made it to our hotel in about an hour.
So yeah, we made it to our hotel and just kind of chilled for a bit before heading to bed relatively early (I mean it was 11.00 but that is pretty early for me!) as we were both quite tired from our intense day of bookish fun! Our first day at YALC was definitely a success though and we were both super excited for the next day.
My signed copy of Orphan Monster Spy
My signed copy of Hero At The Fall
My signed copy of Things A Bright Girl Can Do
My signed copy of The Surface Breaks
My Friday haul, purchases on the left, signed books on the right (The Surface Breaks is both a purchase book and a signed one!).
Us with Alwyn Hamilton
A quick selfie between stall shopping!
Enjoying dinner after a hard day of YALCing! Sorry for the blurry photo 🙂