YALC 2017 Recap

Today I am very excited to be posting something that I’d been anticipating writing for a while: my YALC 2017 wrap up! In my Christmas bookish haul I said that my main present had been YALC tickets, so this post really has been planned on for a while. I had such a wonderful time, with my sister Bex for all three days, and with our friend Liv as well on the Saturday and Sunday, and I cannot wait to share more about the event.

I kicked off the Friday by very cleverly telling my sister that I definitely had my ticket as we left the house – and realising on the train that I did not. Fortunately there was someone at home to email it to me, so it all worked out in the end, but the morning was absolutely not without its stresses (we also managed to miss our train by under a minute, and had to make a mad dash to another platform on the other side of the station to catch a different one).

Still, we made it for the Collaboration panel, featuring Tom Ellen, Lucy Ivison, Katharine Corr, and Elizabeth Corr, with Melinda Salisbury as chair – although we did go in about ten minutes late as we had been distracted by the wondrousness of all that the stalls had to offer (also the layout was completely different to 2015!). Then, I queued up to get my copy of Doing It by Hannah Witton signed, as it is a fab book and I am a massive fan of her YouTube videos. The next panel and workshop hadn’t really grabbed either of us, so we instead opted to chill out and have a wander around for a while.

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Next up was a Juno Dawson signing (she always signs books in the coolest way, and Margot & Me is just too brilliant), and then I went to a workshop called Art Eating Art. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it at first, as I’m not much of an artist, but I actually really loved it. We got to write and think creatively about stories based off an arty stimulus, and I enjoyed doing so much that I might do it again at home. We all received a proof of Lydia Ruffles’ new book too, The Taste of Blue Light, and had the chance to get it signed, which was very exciting!

I did three more signings next, getting my copy of The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon signed and stamped, as well as One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus and both The One Memory of Flora Banks and a proof I had snagged earlier of The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr. I managed to find Alwyn Hamilton too, despite missing her signing, so my copy of Traitor to the Throne was signed after all.

Finally, to round off the day, we attended the YALC Zine workshop. I did not get very far with this at all – both the zine and the reading list I wrote about in it – but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?! We headed home with aching feet, but pumped for a second day.

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On Saturday we started off by attending the New Voices 1 panel, with Alice Broadway, Gemma Fowler, Carlie Sorosiak, Vic James, Karen M. McManus, Ed McDonald, Josh Martin, Hayley Barker, and Katherine Webber as chair. There were a lot of people on the panel, so there weren’t as many questions, but I thought it was fascinating to hear about their different journeys to publication and their experiences as debut authors.

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We then chatted to one of my faves, Carlie Sorosiak (she’s lovely and talented and you should all go read If Birds Fly Back), and I got my copy of Showstopper by Hayley Barker signed (it sounds amazing, and I’m so excited to start reading), before heading off to a panel on Writing from Real Events, with Phil Earle, Julie Mayhew, Jason Wallace, Will Hill, N D Gomes, and Anna James as chair. I particularly enjoyed listening to Will Hill, as I adored his novel After the Fire, and so liked hearing about the research behind it. I followed that up by getting Dear Charlie and a proof of Blackbird from the day before signed by N D Gomes.

Next up was the Unconventional Romance panel – Saturday was definitely a panel-intense day – with Jennifer E. Smith, Ayisha Malik, Patrice Lawrence, Paige Toon, and Lauren James chairing. I thought Lauren was a wonderful chair, and I loved hearing about books that I’d read as well as some I was more unfamiliar with. Lots more have been added to my (already overflowing) TBR!

Then there was another panel in which Holly Bourne interviewed E Lockhart, and I attended a part of this, but ended up chatting to Eleanor from Eleanor Read a Book, who I know from Twitter, at the back which was also highly enjoyable, as she was really friendly and had an excellent outfit too. More signings followed, this time for Jennifer E. Smith, Maggie Harcourt, and Lauren James, until it was finally time for the #teenbloggerschat meet up.

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I honestly had such a great time at the meet up, as I got to meet in real life some people who I’ve known on Twitter for over a year. We chatted, acquired badges (I’m a big fan of badges at YALC), and took some really cute group pictures. There was also a weird video of us saying ‘Merry Christmas’ filmed for one of the moderators who couldn’t make it, which hopefully he enjoyed and didn’t find too weird.

I met E Lockhart and had a book signed by her after that, and then it was time for something I think a lot of people had been waiting for: Non Pratt’s head shave. The wonderful Non raised a vast sum for charity (over £2400!), and as a result she had agreed to shave her head at YALC – this was based off a concept in her latest (amazing) book, Truth or Dare, in which the characters do dares to raise money for one of the protagonist’s brother, who has a neurological disability. This was when a truly iconic moment happened, and Benedict Cumberbatch walked through in the middle of the shaving! He’d been wandering around all weekend, but I hadn’t seen him until then, and his confused expression was certainly funny for us all. Mel Salisbury during the shaving was also funny, with her inner Slytherin coming out to get things done.

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The beginning of Sunday was very time-pressured as I accidentally overslept, and so missed our train and had to wait for the next one. Luckily, we ran into Kate, Holly, and Anna at the station, so we had good company for the wait and journey! Then there was the first panel of the day, New Voices 2, chaired again by the wonderful Katherine Webber, this time featuring Anna Day, Catherine Barter, Penny Joelson, Simon James Green, Orlagh Collins, Karen Gregory, Cecilia Vinesse, Sarah Carroll, Harriet Springbett, and Tamsin Winter. Once again, I got to hear even more publication stories, and interestingly a lot of them were very different to those from the preceding day, which just goes to show how many different paths there are to publication.

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Next were signings for Penny Joelson and Simon James Green. It was such a pleasure to meet Simon, as Noah Can’t Even is honestly such a funny book, and he was so lovely in person. I got my copy dedicated to my whole family, as there’s only one member of the family left to read it, and all the others loved it – my mum said it was the funniest book she’s ever read! The Writing and Social Change panel was the one to follow, featuring Catherine Barter, Ryan Graudin, Nikki Sheehan, and Non Pratt as chair, and I got my copy of Troublemakers by Catherine Barter signed afterwards too. It was so lovely to meet the author of such a wonderful book (which I’m hoping to review soon, as I recently realised I haven’t posted a full review, just a mini rave review in a month releases post, and this book deserves to be shouted about). I got to have a nice long chat with Honor and Perdita Cargill too – the lovely and friendly co-authors of the fantastic Waiting for Callback books.

I actually only went to one more panel that day, the Life Advice Panel with Hannah Witton, Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, and Chelsey Pippin as chair – I loved how frank and honest they were, and how reassuring they were about life and making mistakes. They are all just such brilliant people! The Catherine Doyle signing followed, where I finally got my copy of Vendetta signed (another brilliant book in a fantastic series).

The rest of the day was spent either chasing after proofs (with varying degrees of success) or chilling, giving our feet a much needed rest. There was a fair degree of book buying too, as many prices started to come down towards the end, but I shall be talking more about my purchases and proof haul in my YALC haul, hopefully up soon!

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I feel like I’ve already written reams on YALC, but could write so much more. I don’t know if anyone would want to read any more though, haha, so I think I’m going to wrap things up here. The whole YALC experience was just such an incredible one in so many ways. I got a whole load of proofs that I am so excited to read, I got to see more of some of my favourite authors and even have books signed by them, and I got to talk to some of my favourite people, bloggers, and authors. It was truly a privilege to be able to connect with like-minded people, both those that I knew online beforehand and those who I met for the first time. I had a wonderful, amazing time, and just want to say a big thank you to those behind YALC who organised and orchestrated everything: you guys rock.

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