Since there isn’t going to be a YALC this year (thanks, coronavirus), and I never got around to posting my blog about YALC 2019, I figured I would finish and share it to make up for the lack of YALC in my life this weekend! I started writing this post in August 2019 so I have updated the bits I’d already written accordingly.
Just like that, my favourite event of the year has already been and gone again. For anyone who doesn’t know, YALC is the Young Adult Literature Convention which runs every year, just upstairs from LFCC. With panels and signings from famous authors and the possibility of multiple Jason Momoa sightings, it’s pretty much the only event worth going to in London in the summer.
2018 was my first YALC, so returning felt like coming home. Being surrounded by bookish people for three days straight definitely makes you feel like you’re in your element. I got to meet so many incredible authors and publishers and lovely bookish people!
For a lot of the author signings, a Virtual Queueing system was in place, whereby you collect a numbered ticket and then numbers are called in 10-number segments (eg ‘anyone up to number 50 can queue now’) so that you don’t have to spend hours queueing for one author and can do other stuff, and the event floor doesn’t get clogged up by people queueing. I don’t know if I just understood it better, but the VQ system seemed much more organised and efficient the second time around. In 2018 it was a bit chaotic and I missed my chance to meet Tomi Adeyemi as a result. At YALC 2019, however, I didn’t miss any of the authors that I really wanted to meet, not even big names like V.E. Schwab or Samantha Shannon!
My weekend was bookended (no pun intended) by wonderful Holly Bourne moments. On the Friday, I got to speak to her after her workshop ‘Is it romantic or is it just creepy?’ and tell her how much of an inspiration she is to me and my writing. Then on the Sunday, I won the very last proof copy that Usborne was giving away of her new book, The Places I’ve Cried in Public (which I later reviewed in this post). I really didn’t think I was going to win that one – they were only giving out six copies over the whole weekend, two a day, by way of a raffle. I bought three raffle tickets, but it was actually my very first one that I picked up on the Friday that got pulled out for the final copy on the Sunday!
When I was queueing for the Sarah Maria Griffin signing, I noticed that the people in front of me were holding a Furby and giggling excitedly. I was a bit confused but I admired the energy. They went up together and presented the Furby as a gift, and I must have been visibly befuddled because the person behind me leaned in and explained that it is well known to her Twitter followers that Sarah Maria Griffin loves and collects Furbies. V.E. Schwab at the next table over was noticeably disturbed by the Furb and said, “That’s so creepy” with a nervous laugh. (However, by the time I got my Schwab books signed, the Furby had mysteriously moved onto her table…) When it was my turn to get my copy of Other Words for Smoke signed, I was delighted to find out that Griffin was also doing one-card tarot readings with each signing. The reading she gave me was really positive and it made my day! She slipped the mini-card into my book, where it still sits to this day.
One of the great things about YALC is that it shares a green room with LFCC, so you’ll often see famous actors walking across the YALC floor to and from the convention below. Jason Momoa sightings are particularly common, and definitely one of the highlights of the weekend. I spotted Momoa five times over the course of YALC 2019, including the moment he tried to sneak past an ongoing panel to the staircase and my friend blew his cover by calling out, “Hi Jason!” much to his embarrassment (and our delight).
I’m really sad that there is no YALC this year – I should have been there today, this very weekend – but I’ll just have to go twice as hard next year! Plus, there are some really fun virtual events taking place over the three days for #YALCAtHome, so we’re not completely deprived. Bring on YALC 2021!