Saturday, 25 July 2015

YALC RECAP/EXPERIENCE

Hi everyone!

YALC took place last weekend at London Film and Comic Con, and I (along with my Mum and sister, who don't even read) had the pleasure of attending. In case you don't know, YALC is a Young Adult Literature convention here in the UK, kind of like a much smaller BEA. You can find out more information on the website here!

I was only able to attend one day of the convention (Saturday the 18th of July), and although I would have loved to be there for all three days I still had a really amazing experience. I got to meet multiple brilliant authors (including my favorite author! Ahh!) and listen to some really interesting panels, as well as picking up some really exciting books and free swag. I also saw Hayley Atwell's hair.

I posted my YALC haul (and swag giveaway!) a few days ago, and today I wanted to tell you about my experience at the event and what happened during the day. This is going to be long. You've been warned.

PS: please ignore my face in all these photos. It was a really long day and I was a sweaty mess. Also ignore my awful photography. 
First of all, I had to wake up at 4:30 am. HALF FOUR IN THE MORNING. I am not a morning person. It was awful. I was supposed to be wearing Shadowhunter cosplay (including runes, of course) but I ended up not having enough time to get ready and I was too sleepy to put on anything but a sweater and jeans. That was a shame, and it meant I got really jealous whenever I saw anybody in a shadowhunter outfit. I would've looked so badass!

By 5:30 I was on the train speeding towards London, and by 8:30 (after getting three separate tubes, which was pretty stressful for a non-Londoner) I had finally made it to the Olympia center. Then I had to find my way in. 
My mum and sister just had general London Film and Comic Con tickets whereas I had YALC ones, so I had to try and get to the second floor where YALC was held on my own. Luckily this was a lot easier and quicker than I thought it would be, and within twenty minutes I was inside Olympia with my wristband on. Phew!
The first thing I did was get my goodie bag and visit the FREE SWAG TABLE. I was one of the first people on the floor, which meant I got to choose from the full selection of book marks, postcards, chapter samplers and more that were available. Obviously, I picked up everything I possibly could and I now have a lot more free swag than I could possibly need. Yay! I also picked up a ticket for the Cassandra Clare signing as soon as possible, which I was VERY glad about later on.
 Afterwards I visited all of the publisher stalls and picked up even more free stuff, as well as purchasing some fabulous new books. You can see everything I grabbed or bought in my haul
Honestly this was one of the best parts of the day- only people with YALC wristbands were allowed onto the floor, so it was really nice and quiet. I loved talking to everybody at all the publishers stands, and everybody I met was so lovely!
After I'd managed to get four full tote bags, fill them with stuff, and chat to everybody at the publisher stalls I decided to go downstairs to find my Mum and sister in the main London Film and Comic Con section. This was a lot harder than it sounds, mostly because the whole thing was CHAOS and I kept getting distracted by...well, everything. As well as being my first big book event, this was my first experience at a convention and I had a great time looking at everything that was going on. This was also the point in the day when I saw some of the best cosplays, which was really cool.

Whilst I was trying to find my family I stumbled across the area where Hayley Atwell (star of Marvel's Agent Carter and all around badass) was doing photo ops with fans. The actual area was sectioned off so you couldn't see inside, and I didn't have the ticket needed to get in or the patience to wait outside, but I didn't let that stop me.  I pressed my face up against a gap in the barriers and...I caught a glimpse of Hayley Atwell's hair! I'm pretty sure it was her hair, it looked like her hair. Then I fangirled like a crazy person and ran away before anyone could tell me off.

Finally I reunited with my mum and sister, and the three of us made out way back to the YALC floor just in time to attend the 'YA: the next generation' panel which started at 10:30. The panel included young authors Alice Oseman, Lucy Saxon, Helena Coggan, Taran Matharu and Samantha Shannon talking about their writing and the publishing industry. As a young writer myself who wants to be a published author one day I found this panel extremely interesting and I'm really glad I went to it! Also, just before the panel started Malorie Blackman was sat a couple of seats away from me but I didn't dare talk to her. 
YA: next generation panel
After that, it was almost time for Cassandra Clare's event. For anybody that hasn't heard me rant about this before; Cassandra Clare is my favorite author. Her infernal devices trilogy is my favorite series. Clockwork princess is my favorite book. Long story short, I just really love the Shadowhunters world.
I decided to stay in the panel area for the fifteen minutes before the two events, but I did get up to try and get closer seats. Me and my sister ended up being sat on the fourth row, so I had a pretty great view! The event was basically Cassandra and her friend Sarah Rees Brennan (who I have now met twice but haven't read any books by) talking about the Shadowhunter world; including what's coming up in the books and exclusive scoop on the new TV show. It was really exciting and I was totally freaking out the entire time, especially when Jem was mentioned.
 
Cassandra Clare!
Then it was time to get in line for the Cassandra Clare signing. The signing was ticketed, and only people with certain number tickets were allowed to get into the queue at a certain time (for example, numbers one to fifty got to queue first, then fifty one to one hundred). I was lucky enough to be number 47 which meant I got in the very first queue, but I know some people didn't know they had to get tickets earlier on and ended up with numbers in the three or four hundreds. Crazy! 
When I finally got to the front of the queue (which took a lot less time than I was expecting because of the ticket thing), I handed my book to Cassandra and then completely forgot how to function as a human. I also forget to take any pictures because I was freaking out. There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but all I got out was this...
CASSANDRA: Hi
ME: Hi! *awkward giggle* *dies inside*
CASSANDRA: who's your favorite character? (she was taking votes to see who her most popular character was)
ME: Jem. Definitely Jem.
CASSANDRA: Good choice!
ME: yeah. Thank you! *walks away* 
It was really awkward, but Cassandra was super sweet and it was great to meet her again. I'm so happy that I got my copy of Clockwork Princess signed because it's my favorite book!

By the time I'd finished meeting Cassandra Clare it was about one in the afternoon, so we decided to get some lunch and take a little break before we tried to go to any more events. At two we were told tickets for Carrie Hope Fletcher's signing were available, so me and my sister went on a frantic mission to get them. After a little while running around the floor, we ended up with ticket numbers 85 and 86 and went to sit down in the panel area in preparation for Carrie's YALC book club panel at 2:30. We managed to get seats on the SECOND ROW, which made my Carrie-obsessed sister very, very happy. 
Carrie's panel
The panel included Carrie, Samantha Shannon, Malorie Blackman and Holly Smale talking about books, writing and more. It was really interesting, and all the ladies on the panel were totally hilarious and brilliant. After the panel finished there was a little while before me and my sister were allowed to get in the queue for Carrie's signing (only numbers 1-50 were allowed the queue first) so we went for another look around downstairs and found some more really cool cosplayers. 
Finally we got in the queue, and after about 10 minutes we got to meet Carrie.My little sister is a huge Carrie Hope Fletcher fan and only went to meet her, so I was really happy that she got to do it! Carrie was just as lovely in real life as she is on screen and it was a pleasure to meet her!
After that I got in the queue for the Patrick Ness signing, but it wasn't moving at all so I left my mum there saving my place whilst I jumped in the (much shorter, and quicker moving) Malorie Blackman queue. I hadn't been planning to meet Malorie, but I'm so glad I did! All I remember about our conversation was that I told her noughts and crosses broke my heart and she seemed really happy about it. Thanks, Malorie.
The Patrick Ness queue was still moving really slowly and as we were quite close to the back we knew it would be ages before I could get my book signed. At this point my Mum was starting to panic a bit that we were going to be late for our train back, so we decided to leave the queue and have one last look around the floor before we left the convention altogether. It was a shame I didn't get my books signed, but I didn't want to miss the train and get stuck in London forever!

I didn't miss the train, thank god, and by 10pm I was back home with four full tote bags and a ton of awesome memories. The only thing I'd say to improve is that a lot of people didn't know that some signings were ticketed, and I thought some signings that should have been ticketed weren't (Patrick Ness, for example).
I had such a great experience, and I just want to thank everybody who was involved in organizing the event! THANK YOU!

-MIA

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