I had an entirely different post written for today, but having just spent some of the weekend at YALC I couldn’t resist telling you about that.
YALC – the Young Adult Literary Convention – started last year and was the brainchild of Malorie Blackman. Organised by Booktrust and held alongside the London Film and Comic Con, it’s an opportunity for fans of YA fiction to come together, meet authors and bloggers and talk books. Comic Con has been running for years and is an excuse for comic, fantasy and Sci-Fi fans to dress up as their favourite characters. The YALC part was slightly more restrained, but there were still plenty of people in the most fabulous costumes. Some were suffering for it too – Lucy Saxon, who was talking on the Young Author panel, couldn’t actually sit down in her costume and so had to stand as she answered the questions!
Others had enormous dresses in a Disney princess style, or carried fearsome Game of Thrones style weaponry. Some were in multicoloured face paint which had a tendency to run as the day got hotter. And it did get hot – not as hot as last year, which was held in Earls Court, but still pretty warm.
But what we were really there for was the books. There were thousands of them. Lots of the publishers had stands where they were not only selling their current books but promoting their soon-to-be-published titles too, with sample chapters you could take away. There was also a reading area which had some of the latest titles hanging from beautiful coloured ribbons on the wall.
There were lots of panels and workshops, with topics under discussion as varied as being a young author, feminism in YA and blogging for beginners. All the sessions were packed and had enthusiastic questions at the end. I just loved it – wandering around meeting old friends and new ones, catching up with Twitter friends for the first time in real life, and buying books, of course!
I finally got to meet MG Harris, the author of stacks of books including the Joshua Files. She’s as lovely as I expected. I spoke to lots of different bloggers and also got to chat with CJ Dougherty and Charlie Higson – as you do…
I also (and I’m not recommending this behaviour, OK?) managed to sneak into the Green Room. Only authors and bloggers who were speaking on a panel were supposed to be able to get in, but Keris Stainton and I were smuggled in by Liz Kessler and Lisa Williamson, who both got to show off their custom-made tote bags.
Green Rooms traditionally have lots of lovely food and drink and are an oasis of calm for the celebrities away from the general public. Rumour has it that last year, when the Green Room was being shared with the rest of Comic Con, a popular YA author was thrown out by Carrie Fisher (the original Princess Leia in Star Wars) for not being a proper celebrity! There was no such nonsense this year, and everyone was welcome (even the gatecrashers!). However, the YA team had clearly attacked the provisions like a plague of locusts, and by late morning there was one bottle of water and a solitary packet of crisps.
Check out #YALC on twitter to see lots of photos of the venue, the costumes and all the other fabulous people who were there. (As ever, I forgot to take the long shots). If you didn’t make it this year, I can recommend going next time. You’ll need strong arms to carry your haul of books though! This is what Stacey Matthews managed to collect in just one day….