On July 29-31 I spent the weekend at YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) at London Olympia. I’d been to signings and met authors before (J.K. Rowling, Audrey Niffenegger, Sarah J. Maas, E. Lockhart to name a few) but I had never been to a dedicated convention – it’s fair to say that I was more than a little excited.
Friday passed in a blur: I spent the day obtaining as much free merchandise as one human could possibly carry, which included a fair few proof copies, bookmarks, pin badges, tote bags, postcards and posters. I also purchased too many books – when there’s an offer of a free t-shirt or a 3 for 2, I’m there. I spent an hour or so looking around LFCC itself, finding all the available Harry Potter merchandise (I bought a Platform 9 3/4 watch and a set of four spell bracelet beads) and discovered I’m really better suited to the relaxed YALC atmosphere.
Saturday in some respects was more relaxed: I had been to the majority of the YALC stands so I had more time to browse and pick up what I wanted, rather than everything that was on offer. Despite this, it was the day I met Malorie Blackman, author of one of my favourite books of all time, Noughts and Crosses. I wasn’t overly stressed about meeting her – indeed I cracked a joke and she burst out laughing, we had a photo and she signed my books – but it was a big occasion nevertheless. I also headed down to LFCC to buy a Harry Potter jumper I had seen, but neglected to buy, the previous day.
I cannot fail to include the midnight launch party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Piccadilly, which I attended with a few of the MuggleNet crew. We arrived almost two and a half hours before midnight, and got to explore the amazing efforts to transform the store into Hogwarts – it truly was remarkable! There was a costume contest, drinks reception, live Quidditch matches being played all evening, sweet shop, sets and props from the films and so much more. At midnight we sang happy birthday to Harry and Jo, before collecting our much anticipated books.
Sunday was the MuggleNet Potter Party. I may not have ever mentioned this, but I am a London Critic/Reviewer for MuggleNet and am therefore staff. However, I wasn’t involved in the successful event, so got to enjoy it with other Potterheads. We had party games, authors as our house captains/prefects, a quiz spanning the entirety of the series, a cosplay contest and much more.
Panels attended over the three days (best in italics):
– Behind the magic: exploring magical systems in fantasy YA – Sally Green, Taran Matharu, Melinda Salisbury, V.E. Schwab
– A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness
– Fantasy London – Samantha Shannon, Ben Aaranovitch, V.E. Schwab
– Join the Rebellion! Resistance and protest in YA – Alywn Hamilton, Julie Mayhew, Simon Mayo, Kass Morgan
– To Boldly Go… YA in Space – Malorie Blackman, J.P. Smythe, Eugene Lambert
– Ask YALC! – Holly Bourne, Juno Dawson, Rosalind Jana
– #MorallyComplicatedYA – Melvin Burgess, Louise O’Neill, Manuela Salvi, Emerald Fennell
– The Raven King – Maggie Stiefvater
Authors met and books signed:
The Summoner – Taran Matharu
A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness (+ photo)
This Savage Song – V.E. Schwab (+ photo)
Noughts and Crosses, Chasing the Stars – Malorie Blackman (+ photo)
Alwyn Hamilton (+ photo)
Books signed (author not met, purchased at YALC):
The Sign Of One – Eugene Lambert
7 Days – Eve Ainsworth
A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas
Way Down Dark – J.P. Smythe
Contagion – Teri Terry (proof)
Goldenhand – Garth Nix (proof)
Other books obtained:
The Moonlight Dreamers – Siobhan Curham
The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski
Whisper To Me – Nick Lake
Twenty Questions For Gloria – Martyn Bedford
Blame – Simon Mayo
The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book – E. Lockhart
The Deviants – C.J. Skuse (proof)
Stealing Snow – Danielle Paige (proof)
Dear Charlie – N.D. Gomes (proof)
Saint Death – Marcus Sedgwick (proof)
I had the best three days and definitely intend to return for YALC 2017 next summer – though I might bring a suitcase with me next year!
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