YALC (Young Adult Literary Con) takes place as part of London Film and Comic Con (LFCC) and it is a fantastic celebration of young adult literature in a safe place, showing off that just because it’s called young adult doesn’t mean there isn’t something in it for everyone. It also allows people who are far more comfortable in the introverted world of books to also head just downstairs and see what comic con is like. It was a huge amount of fun to explore purely as a fan with a love of all things literary.
Getting in early means getting to look around all the stalls without the big crowds. And there were a lot of stalls to explore with a variety of publishers selling books below the usual retail price. Everyone there is willing to talk about books and make recommendations. Also there are some stalls with Indie authors selling their own books. I spent a lot of time with these authors and they basically adopted me as their mascot by the end of the con! Even letting me use their tables as base camp so my friends could find me and letting me leave my things there. I mean I did buy all their books and engage them in conversation!
I’m not going to list all the authors in all the panels I went to! There’s way too many! Also, I mainly attended panels to help with my own writing (though I was having far too much fun to really make notes!).
The Behind the Magic panel talked about how the setting of your book can become a character in its own right, and that in order to create characters that exist in a magical setting, it’s important to go through the rules and boundaries of that setting first by figuring out your magic system. And that while you don’t want to limit things too much so that you find your way blocked later, having restrictions is a good thing.
The Fantasy London panel followed a similar vein with three writers talking about how they all use London as the main location for their novels but they are all set in different time zones and use the city in very different ways, putting their own spin on a familiar place.
Friday’s signings involved heading down into the main LFCC. It was a lot louder down there than it was in the YALC section of the convention centre, with a lot more people all moving around heading to different places. It can be a bit overwhelming in that sort of environment if you’re not used to it, but having a gameplan always helps. And the Virtual Queuing system really helped with organising things.
According to Ben Aaronovitch (author of the Rivers of London series and also writer of several Classic Doctor Who episodes), a signing is never complete unless he’s asked to sign Doctor Who, even if it is a book signing! Though he seemed pleased by how much I said I enjoyed the episodes.
This was my big cosplay day, dressed as Kevin from Welcome to Night Vale. I spent all day carrying around a very adorable looking glow cloud (all hail) and discovered that Simon Mayo (author and Radio 2 DJ) is a fan. I also may have convinced Derek Landy that he should listen to it too.
I’ve got to admit, Saturday was the highlight of my weekend. I couldn’t stop laughing at the panel on inspiration for horror novels. What can I say, the authors are engaging. Derek Landy recounted a story where he wrote a scene in one of the Skulduggery Pleasant books where a very over powered magic wielder was picking up people and throwing them like darts. Apparently this was frowned upon by others working on this book and it was changed to fence posts instead. Exploding people is not appropriate for a YA novel it seems. Good to know! Also in this panel Alex Scarrow managed to at least twice bring the conversation round to dissolving people. If it wasn’t the main theme of his novel I’d be a little concerned!
Now, I’ve always been vocal amongst my friendship circles about my love of Alex Scarrow’s writing. He’s not a very well known author but one that has really captured my interest. And apparently he was just as excited to meet me! Most people know him purely for his YA series Time Riders. And while that’s what got me into his writing, my real love is his adult novels. To the point where I had to track down a paper copy of one of them after reading them all on kindle. His reaction to me asking him to sign it made the struggle to find it totally worth it.
Lots of carrying around books. This is where my rather impressive haul (not all pictured) becomes a downfall. Because damn those books were heavy! This is where befriending people behind the tables is an advantage because they let me leave their stuff with them all day! Though I did help to pack up their stuff afterwards. It was only fair!
Seeing as it was the release day of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, there were Potter themed events happening all day. Which I managed to miss all of! Instead I spent my time at a fanfiction writing panel due to the fact I write a LOT of fanfic and, standing in line to meet Maggie Stiefvater. There were a ridiculous amount of people there to see her, to the point they had to enforce a Virtual Queue system as they do in the main con, something that hadn’t happened at all that weekend in YALC! I managed to sit with my new writer friends and eat a whole pizza before it was my turn to even join the queue! But I got everything I wanted signed in the end (Maggie even awarded me bonus points because I also got a book signed on behalf of my best friend, who was a member of the crew for the con so couldn’t go herself).
Overall, conventions are amazing. There’s something for everyone, particularly if you do find a smaller and more specialised con. My write up of what I did is one account of the very few things I actually managed to attend. There was so much going on I would definitely need to be able to split myself into half a dozen people to have even a slight chance of doing all of it!
I’m already looking forward to YALC 2017!