Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) 2015 - Friday

Hi guys!

I apologise for not writing a post in so long - I was busy with so many things that I kind of ceased to both blog on here AND vlog on BritishBiblioholic. But hey, I'm back now, and this post is all about the Friday of the Young Adult Literature Convention - or YALC - that I attended this past weekend as part of London's Film and Comic Convention (LFCC). I am breaking my recap of the event into three separate blog posts - one per day - as otherwise I think it'll be too long and a bit daunting for even the hardiest blog reader. Enjoy!

Friday 17th July

I caught a train from Leeds to London King's Cross on Friday morning, arriving in London at about 1pm. Because I had to go to my hotel, check in and sort out my bag to take to YALC with me, I don't think I actually entered the Olympia building (this year's location - SO much bigger than Earl's Court Exhibition Centre 2, which is where LFCC and YALC were held last year!) until after 3pm, but that was okay. I was lucky enough to have a weekend ticket for YALC, which meant that I had priority access to the YALC spaces, I could use the special YALC entrance, I could get a free goodie bag of some amazing freebies from publishers, agents, authors and publicists, and also I could still get into the full LFCC convention. To gain access to the convention I was given an orange wristband which had 'YALC Weekend' written on it, and I had to wear this all the time so staff could see that I hadn't just sneaked in somehow. (Which, let's be honest, seemed pretty impossible to me!) On my way in I happened to bump into M. G. Harris, author of the Joshua Files series and currently Gemini Force One, who had been in the queue behind me. The last time I had met her prior to this had been when I was 12 and had just started high school the year before, so it was incredibly strange to see her again having turned 18 and having finished my A-Levels.

When I arrived on the second floor of the Olympia, which was almost exclusively housing YALC, I almost immediately met up with Chris (@yablooker on Twitter, my partner in crime in running the YA Fictionados, and the author of The Young Adult Blook Club blog) and we planned out the different events we wanted to go to.

Being strangled by Darren Shan...
Admittedly, due to when I'd arrived, I'd missed the Thrills and Chills panel (2:30pm-3pm - featuring Darren Shan, Will Hill, Dawn Kurtagich, Lou Morgan and Matt Whyman), but I hadn't been interested in seeing it - only in meeting some of the authors doing it. Darren Shan's signing went on for absolutely AGES, meaning that I did get to meet him, but both Will Hill (who signed from 3:15pm-5:15pm) and Moira Young (who was on the Apocalypse Now panel which followed, and who signed from 4:15pm-6:15pm) seemed to just disappear when I tried to find them to sign my books! It was a bit upsetting to not meet either of them, but I know that there will be more opportunities for me to meet them both in the future. For now, I can be content with the fact that Darren Shan strangled me for a REALLY long time while Chris took photos - one of which you can see on the left. He criticised me afterwards for looking happy about my impending doom, but it was Darren Shan - what can you do but smile?! (He put my photo in this Facebook post on his official page too!)

I met Darren Shan at around 5:25pm, after I had waited in his queue for around ten minutes. Chris and I strategically waited for his queue to go down beforehand by browsing the various publisher stalls - including those of HarperCollins, Walker, Electric Monkey, Penguin, Bloomsbury, Hot Key Books, and more - and also by picking up our free goodie bags and filling them up with even more goodies from the freebie table. I was tempted to buy so many books but I knew I had to refrain incase anything in the main convention (guaranteed to be so much more expensive) caught my eye.

After meeting Darren Shan I was approached by Lisa from CityofYABooks, who I didn't recognise until AFTER we'd hugged, greeted each other, and then stood there awkwardly for about a minute looking at each other. (I'm sorry!!) We'd been talking on Twitter for weeks and it felt amazing to know that I was finally meeting some of the people I'd only ever seen on a screen beforehand. We talked about the possibility of collaborating in a video (as you can see in my vlog, which is embedded in the very bottom of this post) and then went to stand in the queue for Virginia Bergin, author of The Rain and The Storm, together. At that point, however, Derek Landy's talk was about to start. I knew it would be practically sacrilege (in terms of my reputation as an extreme fan) to miss it, so when my Mum offered to wait in the line for me to get my book signed on my behalf, I practically ran into the event space and sat down in the first seat that I found. Which, as it turned out, was further away from the front than I thought it was, but significantly further away from the back, which was around a hundred rows behind.

As can be expected of Derek Landy, the event was funny, witty, and ultimately entertaining all round. For the most part, he spoke about his new series, Demon Road, which follows a sixteen-year-old girl called Amber as she is chased across America by a pack of demons. It sounds thrilling, just as witty and brilliant, and I am really looking forward to reading it. (I actually have a proof copy of the first book, Demon Road, which is due out on August 27th, but I haven't gotten round to reading it yet. I feel like a terrible fan admitting this fact publicly, but... I can't read more than one book at a time, okay?!) After the actual 'talk' part of the event, he accepted questions from fans in the audience - one of which was the ever-recurring 'will there be a Skulduggery Pleasant movie?'. I actually asked Derek this same question in my interview with him a couple of months ago - you can read that here.

After Derek's talk, the crowd burst from the event space and ran to join the existing queue which had started to form whilst the talk was still going on. In an act which is, for me, quite strange, I neglected to join the queue with the rest of the fans and instead met back up with my Mum, who had succeeded in getting Virginia Bergin to sign my copy of The Rain. She told me that she'd talked to Virginia quite extensively about me, and that Virginia had seemed very happy that I had someone so supportive of my hobbies and interests (i.e. writing, blogging and vlogging). She also said that Virginia had told her to tell me to try and find her at some point over the course of the weekend so that we could talk personally, and I did finally achieve this on the Sunday (which I'll discuss in the blog post for that day later on!)

Chris and I decided to go and sit on the beanbags in the corner after Derek's talk in order to wait for his queue to go down. Neither of us can lie - they were SO comfy and we felt like we could stay there forever, just looking at all of the books which were hanging on the famous YALC book wall. However, after a while we did get back up and left the building in order to visit the Tesco store across the street. We re-entered through the YALC entrance and returned to the 2nd floor, where the Harry Potter Party was now in full swing. M. G. Harris tweeted to us both asking where we were at this point, and just as we thought about going into the party (as Derek's queue was STILL huge), she and her daughter, Lilia, approached us. Lilia and I instantly descended into a massive conversation about YouTubers, fanfiction and Twitter, whilst M. G. and Chris discussed books that are of substantial interest at the moment. Our two conversations - happening across each other, as Lilia and I were opposite each other, as were M. G. and Chris - seemed to come to an end at roughly the same time, and it was this point that I realised that I'd missed the Page and Screen panel earlier on, and thus the signings by both M. G. and Jamie Anderson for Gemini Force One. Having four books from the Joshua Files in my bag as well as Black Horizon, the first book in Gemini Force One, I quickly asked if it would be possible to now get my books signed. M. G. said yes, much to my delight, and so now I have all of my books signed by her. The third book in the Joshua Files, Zero Moment, I already had signed (we decided) because she had pre-signed many copies of the book when it was released. It puzzled us both that, despite meeting before, my copy of Invisible City, the first book in the series which I read for the Leeds Book Awards in 2009, was unsigned prior to this second meeting. My short review is STILL up on the archives, which you can find here, which reads:
The book was great. Definitely on my list of my top ten books. M.G. Harris did an excellent job with this book, and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out. Excellent book, everyone should read it!  
Georgina gave Invisible City 5 out of 5 and now plans to read Blood Ties.
TweIve-year-old me had good taste in books.

After M. G. had finished speaking to Chris (as another conversation had started) and signing my books, we parted ways and agreed to perhaps meet up the next day if we crossed paths again. By this point, Derek's queue was only a few people long so we both went and joined onto the end. As I got closer and closer to the table, it became apparent that three people were sat at it rather than just one, and after a moment I realised who the other two people were. One was Nicola Carthy from the HarperCollins' childrens team (who I've crossed paths with a scary amount of times now), and the other was Laura Jordan, Derek's girlfriend. I'd met Laura a couple of times previously as well, so when I reached the front of the queue, I was greeted with 'Hello Howlett!' by Derek and 'Hello Georgina!' by Nicola and Laura respectively. The running joke is that I'm running out of things to get signed, and this was very apparent to me this time around. At my first signing of his in 2011, I had taken 16 books to get signed. This time, I had three, as well as a few of the merch pieces that I had taken from the special Demon Road table which had been set up.

Sick of me, or else staring dramatically into the distance...?
Meeting Derek again was just as fun an experience as it ever has been. He made fun of me, I made fun of him, he signed my books, chatted about various things, and we finished with a picture (which I CANNOT ever leave without now - I always have to go back if I forget). He reminded me of his second event on the Sunday, and I promised to see him again then, and then he left. And at this point, around 8pm, staff had started ushering everyone out as the convention was over for the day. Not much could have made that first day better than it had been.

Overall Friday Feelings

The YALC experience this time, even on this one day, had improved SO much since last year. The increased space for the YALC convention meant that moving around was easy, stalls were available and books were much easier to purchase, and the events didn't have to be ticketed - anyone could turn up and watch them. The signings themselves were also more organised; the queues this time didn't merge with each other confusingly, and there were Showmasters staff and YALC volunteers around at all times to ensure that order was maintained.

Although I was disappointed to not encounter Will Hill or Moira Young, I easily managed to see everyone else that I had intended to meet - excluding Virginia Bergin. The one issue I had, and that I continued to have over the course of the three days, was that many of the signings I wished to go to were running at the same time as the panels. This meant that cumulatively I missed certain panels or certain signings, and I brought back an almost equal amount of unsigned books as those I HAD managed to get signed. Perhaps the timings or organisation of the schedule can be even further improved next year, maybe with bigger breaks between panels and signings which run through these breaks so that the likelihood of people being able to get to all of the events that they want to is increased.


Coming soon to this space...!

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